Facility Directory

I am currently working on another major update to the “Members Only” facility directory.  As of today there are 793 listings.  Over the next two or three months I will get the directory to over 1000 listings and hope to get it over 1200 listings. 

I believe that will be the last of the major updates and from there it will just be a matter of maintenance.  Deleting the occasional facility that closes and adding the occasional facility that I run across or finds me.

When I first started this website I estimated that there were probably between five and six thousand facilities through out the country.  I have since figured out that I was wrong and there are much less.  There also seems to be a trend where smaller facilities are being absorbed by larger facilities and though the number of houses may be the same or growing slightly they are being managed by fewer organizations.  Many of the organizations listed in my directory have multiple facilities in multiple states.

There may be a few hundred more facilities that exist, but will not be included in my directory, mostly because they don’t have a web presence and it is too hard to verify their existence.  As the web matures and they get a presence I will add them.

Politics And Dinner

Obama & McCain

I try to keep the boys up to date on all current events. Every night at dinner we talk about what is happening in the world and play trivia, it has just became a part of our cottage tradition. If we have a busy night and we don’t have our current events talk, everyone is lost.

One area I have stayed clear away from has been politics. Working in a largely evangelical setting and expressing any doubts or questions about the current Bush administration is a little uncomfortable to say the least.

I also don’t know how to respond to the boys when they ask me if I’m a Democrat or Republican. Most of my life has been firmly entrenched in the Republican ranks. I think I’m still Republican, just a little “Bushed out” at the moment.

Like most thirty something year olds reading this blog, my earliest memories were of a time when being President was the highest honor you could ever achieve. Ronald Reagan was the most powerful man in the world. The Gipper fought the Cold War single handed, ate jelly beans by the fistful and hung out with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In my 7 year old mind, President Reagan was larger than life.

On top of all that he took a bullet to the chest and checked himself into the hospital. I imagined he just took a few shots of white lightning and dug the bullet out with one of his Presidential pens. Thats some old hardcore cowboy stuff.

Remember Mohmmar Qadaffi? To refresh your memory he was a a Libyan terrorist that attempted to pull some punk moves on old Ron. The president set him straight by putting a cruise missile through the front door of his house. That did it for me- Ronald Reagan was the toughest man in the universe.

Even though there were the Contra hearings and he seriously underestimated/ under acted on the emerging threat of AIDS, we were proud of him. We knew who and what he was. If the President said it was so, it was so.

Nowadays the boys want to know and talk about Iraq. They want to know why the war is so controversial. They want to know why there is so much talk about getting a new president now and what the new guys want to do different.

It gives us a lot to talk about, and I find that having to keep all of my own personal opinions out of the conversation and just talk about the facts with the boys has actually helped me to form a clearer opinion of some candidates that I thought a few months ago were a bunch of flakes.

I’m hoping the race comes down to John McCain and Barak Obama. That, in my opinion will give probably some of the best debate a presidential election has had since the early 80’s. The boys are pulling for John Edwards, but I heard he just dropped out. (Tomorrows dinner conversation).

With a little luck maybe we will live to see a day when a President is once again someone a 7 year old can look up too. -Launch

Pushing The Limit

Messy Room
Every morning it’s the same drag. “Pick up your room”, “We’re not eating breakfast till you get dressed”, “Flush the toilet”, “Stop choking him”, “Pick up your room”, “Where’s your book bag”, “Stop choking him”, “Brush your teeth”, “DUDE STOP CHOKING HIM, HE’S TURNING BLUE!!!”.

It’s pretty much a familiar scenario played out across this great nation every morning in families with more than one kid.

Some mornings are worse than others, but for the most part the boys do a half way decent job getting out the door and to the bus in the morning. We even manage to knock out chores most days.

But, all of my boys would rather attempt a shortcut and have to re-do the task 100 times while spending all of their free time doing it, rather than take 5 minutes to do it the right way and be done with it. For example- bedrooms.

I can not even begin to tell you all the places I have found where they stash CLEAN laundry just to keep from folding it. I had a kid one time that put on four T-shirts and two pairs of pants to keep from spending the 2 minutes of arduous labor it would take to fold them and stuff it all in a drawer. I’ve found clothes out in the woods behind the house and hung from windowsills.

Every boy in the house knows that the first place I look EVERY blasted morning is under the bed. Yet every morning it looks like a Long Island scrap yard under there. Broken and twisted toys that I could have sworn I threw away the day before, candy wrappers and books. You would think eventually they would figure it out, I mean they are eight years old, but man- get a clue.

And the smell. Every morning it smells like they all went to a chili cook off in the middle of the night. I am convinced they retain gas all day in school just to go home at night and torture each other with noxious fumes throughout the night.

In all fairness I’m no joy in the morning myself. I normally throw on last nights clothes, take a swig of courage from the coffee pot that was left on all night long, shake out meds to the kids that need them while they make fun of me for having only one sock on. Sunshine ain’t my thing.

I would complain to my wife but every-time I bring up the boys laundry issues she is quick to point out that all of my CLEAN laundry that she neatly folded, is laying on my side of the bed. At least she has not complained about how bad I smell in the morning.

Once we all get out the door and see the bus turning the corner, we all smile. For all of us it means we lived through another pre dawn fiasco and are one step closer to sleeping in on Saturday. -Launch

Your Morning Coffee

Great video and an awesome way to start the day. Kinda helps keep things in perspective with the kids when you remember how that grace saved a wretch like me….

Also a great object lesson in how to best trash your baby grand piano. It looks like it doubles as a backyard grill. Oh to be rich and artistically tortured. -Launch

My Bucket List

I just saw previews of a new movie that got me thinking about life all over again. The movie stars Freeman and Nicholson and looks like it may turn out to be a good flick.

The part that has got me thinking is the basic plot of the movie; two guys, dying of cancer make a “Wish to do list”. Of course one of them is filthy rich and able to dish out the bucks for a little globe trotting.

The way I figure it, at best, I have only about 50 more years to get done whatever I want to do. Factor in my McDonald’s diet and it would appear I have less than 8 years to change the world.

Having said that, here is what I wish to accomplish before going home to glory.

1. Open a Boys Home.

2. Build a house.

3. Ride a Motorcycle from Key West, Florida to Alaska.  

4. Blow up a car. (It’s my list and it can be as creepy as I want it to be).

5. Build a Church.

6. Kayak down the Mississippi.

7. Start an alternative school for kids that can’t function in a already poor public school system.

8. Start a web site that would give positive reviews of Child Care facilities across the US to better help potential and current HP’s trying to find a place to fit in.

9. Home-school my daughter.

10. Collect hot sauce (Long Story).

11. Go deep sea fishing.

12. Go fishing with explosives.

13. Go fishing in a stream with one of them cattle prod things.

14. Write a book.

15. Smoke a Cuban Cigar.

16. Learn Greek.

17. Read Old and New Testament completely thru, front to back without missing a word. (Leviticus always throws me off).

18. Ride to Oceanside, California.

19. See one of my kids earn a Bachelors degree.

20. Find a good web site to buy my Bachelors degree from.

21. See the Alamo.

22. See the Grand Canyon and throw something in it. (A rock, cat, stick, etc…)

23. Drive a drag car.

24. Wear a gay pride t-shirt to a NASCAR event. (Hey Mike, I got tickets to Atlanta want to go?).  

25. Lose 45 pounds.

That’s what I have for now. Some of this stuff is actually in the works (#1 and #9). Others may have to wait until I complete the rest of the bucket list and I’m ready to check out. (#24) -Launch

The Belt

My Battle Gear

I catch a lot of flak from the boys about what I call my super HP belt. They say I’m a cross between Batman and a fat Inspector Gadget. Personally I believe I’m more of a Macgyver type of guy, possibly even better looking (I don’t know why my wife always laughs hysterically when I say that). She just shakes her head and goes about her duties knowing it’s futile to even try and talk some sense into me.

The problem is I love gadgets. Actually I love efficiency and being prepared. That is how the “Belt” has developed over the years.

 I wear a two inch wide black leather belt. I thought a white one would look better, but my wife refused to be seen with me and told me that my “Bee Gees” record collection was all she was going to tolerate from the seventies.

Here is my basic combat load I strap on before entering the cottage along with a brief explanation;

1. Retractable key ring. (I lost my keys HOURLY before busting old school custodial style).

2. Blackberry Cell phone. (I get all my emails immediately, my wife is always able to beep the walkie talkie and get me back on task and I can read the news/ HP network when I have a few moments in the day- usually alone in the restroom).

3. Chain Wallet. (Not only does it look Uber cool, I NEVER lose my wallet anymore).

4. Zippo Lighter in a leather case. (We burn lots of incense in the house. Anyone that has a house full of boys will understand. I also BBQ a lot and I take the boys camping very often. I also like having the power of fire at my disposal).

5. SOG multi tool pliers. (I really got tired of searching for a screw driver every time I had to tighten a screw. My wife got tired of me using all the butter knives for heavy construction purposes. We both can agree this is one tool that has been very cool. Works for every HP task, from tightening a bolt to ripping out loose baby teeth)

6. Clip on six inch folding knife. (I like to cut open cereal bags very dramatically).

That is the belt.

Now all of that does weigh a few pounds and my complete lack of a butt and bulging pot belly caused me to constantly be pulling my drawers up, so I have the Dickie Suspenders attached. 

Even I have some sense of style. I cover all my tools with a leather vest I wear all the time so I don’t look quite so nerdy. I also have a pen protector but that is whole other blog.

All of this may seem over the top, but it simplifies my life and gives the tools I need at my disposal in an instant. And that is worth the price of looking like an idiot. -Launch

Book Review – Kids Who Outwit Adults

 By: John R. Seita/Larry K. Brendtro

Disclaimer: This book review is my opinion of the book. If you have a different opinion of the book that is great. I know I have loved several movies and books that other reviewers have not liked and disliked movies and books that receive great reviews. I think we all have. If you would like to submit your own review, I may consider posting it. Otherwise feel free to share you reviews on the Forum. Thanks.

“Kids Who Outwit Adults” is my official introduction to “Positive Youth Development” the jist of which is rather than trying to control children and change their behavior you work to build a relationship with them and enlist their expertise about themselves to develop strategies for positive change.  It also focuses on recognizing the strengths of the child and building upon that, rather than looking at the negative behaviors and trying to change them.  In other words it is basically what I have always believed – Care about and build relationships with the children in your care and it will be much easier to bring about positive behaviors.

I think this is an excellent book and would be a good read for anybody working with or caring for youth in foster care or residential placement and everybody that might want to.  It is light on technique but very heavy on philosophy and theory and would be very helpful to build your foundation.  I wish it would have been available 11+ years ago when I became a houseparent.

It is also very good at relaying the perspective of youth in care.  The author – John Seita spent the majority of his youth in foster and residential care and brings first hand knowledge about the experiences of a youth in care and the things that make a difference in their lives.  The book also includes stories and insight from many other children that have been in placement and some of the techniques, both positive and negative, they have used to cope with their situation.

I highly recommend it for every program director looking to develop a program or looking for more positive things to incorporate into their program.  I also recommend it for all care providers and highly suggest you incorporate it into the care you provide.

The book is published by Solution Tree, Bloomington, IN.  Copyright 2005.  It is only available in soft cover and  is 147 pages long, though it is actually about 110 pages worth of reading. 

Click here for more information about this book at Amazon.com

I also have two other books on the same subject that I am reading: “Reclaiming Our Prodigal Sons and Daughters” and “no disposable KIDS”.  Check back for their reviews later.

 Click here to see other books

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What’s Your Attitude

I just got back from a three day conference on helping children with autism.  I was hoping to get information to help me with one of our children that has Asperger’s Syndrome.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of help with that situation but I did get a lot of good information I can use in other areas of my career.  In the very first minutes of the conference I got my most useful information and that was an attitude check.

The speaker was talking about many of the schools and groups he has worked with and how some had developed the attitude that: “I don’t have everything, so I won’t do ANYTHING!”  I immediately thought about times since I became a houseparent that I had the very same attitude.  I have thought other things also, like: “If administration doesn’t care, why should I?” or “This kid doesn’t have a chance, so why do I even bother?” 

The fact is that we will probably never have everything that we could use to make our job easier or better, but that doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility of doing what we can, with what we got.  Necessity is the key to invention and not having what we need might just lead to us developing new techniques that are far more effective than anything we might have been given. 

I’m not saying forget your facilities programs and create your own, but there are always things we can do to make things better and the biggest one is having a positive attitude. 

Besides that we can read books.  Most of the training I have received in the 10+ years I have been a houseparent has been OJT (being given the keys to a cottage and told, have fun) or through my own personal study, mostly from reading books and trying the stuff I read about.

I have also learned stuff by watching television.  I learned that the reasons kids in my house had pacifiers was because Ecstasy users grind their teeth and use pacifiers to prevent them from wearing them down by watching a news program about drug abuse.  I learned about Asperger’s the very same way, which made it possible to get our child diagnosed and on the way to receiving the treatment he needs.

I have found tons of information on the Internet that has helped me immensely and found assistance from other users on this site.

As far as my other comments, just because you or I don’t think an administrator doesn’t care, doesn’t mean that they don’t and even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t and every kids has a chance and it might just be you or I that makes the difference in their life.

Way Cool.

I was sent this video by someone I care about and have been praying for daily. The fact she even sent this to me means more than she will ever know. And it gives me a lot of comfort knowing she is on track or at least has the general idea.

Watch the video. Show it to your kids if you think they will get something out of it.

Bottom line, if this video doesn’t make you choke up a bit, or at the very least remind you of your walk in this life, then you are one hard individual. -Launch

New Kid In Town

Snot nosed kid

Nothing beats the feeling of having a new kid come in to the house. You all know what I’m talking about, the “Honeymoon Period”.

The first initial days everyone is on their best behaviors. It’s like a warm spring day, full of promise and joy. It’s a time when all the HP’s walk around saying “He’s the best kid in the house, I want to adopt him”.

Then at some point, usually within the first two weeks, cold hard reality settles in. The perfect kid that could do no wrong becomes exactly what you thought he was not- human.

We just got the perfect kid in today. He has been on campus for quite some time and is very familiar with all the staff and campus life. He is actually transferring from another cottage because of his age. He is the perfect child, at the moment.

Instead of dreading the conclusion of this honeymoon, I’m gonna enjoy it. Take the good moments while I can and deal with the issues as they come. In the past I got into a bad habit of waiting for the hammer to drop.

But I have to admit that after his first day here, he really is the most well behaved kid in the house….. -Launch