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I just got a letter informing me that I made the Dean's List. Yay!

Today I worked from 9a-3p, came home and had a bit of a kip, picked the boys up from an overnight they had with their mom, went grocery shopping with Luke and the boys, and spent about 2 hours behind the house sifting soil for the tomato beds. It's now 10pm.

I got half of the bed done and six tomato plants in. The boys and a bunch of neighbor kids played in the sandbox up front while I worked in back. I'd say that I'll be done with most of the heavy lifting by the end of the week. Then it's just maintenance and watch everything grow.

I've got all of Jerome's clothes washed but I still need to pack them away and move things around -- put his TV and bed up in the attic and get his dresser upstairs for the boys to use. Mike's over at Sylvia's tomorrow, and I won't be able to get the dresser up without him so that'll have to wait.

Oh, and tomorrow I'll mow the lawn across at the guerrilla garden.
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I've got a meeting with Jerome's lawyer on Wednesday. I'm not sure how it's going to go -- he mentioned the mental health court and that would be great if Jerome would be compliant but I really don't see that happening.

Yesterday was Sunday, and I spent most of the day in the garden. I got the third bed weeded out and planted with quinoa, sweet corn, and beets.

I've got my first vertical farm tower up and have begun to plant it. I paid one of the guys next door to help me with the digging and filling, and the neighborhood kids helped me plant pumpkin, cucumbers and unfortunately, some zucchini -- unfortunately because I had a brain fart about the zucchini and forgot how they shouldn't be planted near pumpkins. Oh well! Oh, and we also put some peas in the vertical planter. I'm going to also plant strawberries, tomatoes and lettuces in there. I can't wait to see how it does.

Filling it up, the whole thing took on a bit of a tilt. Not much, a few degrees, but I'm keeping my eye on it.

It makes me think of Mike. He's gone this weekend on a trip with Sylvia. I need to write about us some more, but I -- it just seems like I say the same things over and over.

Anyway, now I've got the first vertical planter up, I need to get the second one up, and the rain-catch roof that'll unite them. On the back end on the house, I've got the greenhouse all ready for when the weather gets cool, and the same guy who helped with the vertical farm is helping to dig the tomato beds in the back yard. I should have the tomatoes in by the end of the week.

Also, I'm going to ask the art studio at the corner if some kids would like to come down and design and make a mosaic for between the planters, under the rain-catch. I need to get out there with my camera!

No word yet on nursing school...
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I feel like I've been rolled in a carpet and beaten with sticks. But last night I got a solid eight hours of sleep, so at least I'm not exhausted on top of it. Which is good, 'cause I gotta bust out a dinner today.

In my family, Thanksgiving is all about the carbs. We'll have a turkey, but more importantly mashed white potatoes, Grandma's Rice Ring, chestnut stuffing, baked sweet potatoes and rutabaga (swedes?). Hmm, and also a jello thing made of orange jello, shredded carrot and crushed pineapple, steamed broccoli in the rice ring, an apple salad (waldorf) and cranberry sauce (both homemade whole and the canned stuff.)

Ok -- the boys just got up and now they're having some cereal. Yay for cereal!

Yesterday I wanted to quite my job. I didn't want to enough to actually quit, but I really wished hard for it for a good half hour.

Things that are good in my life right now:

-- The little boys are healthy and happy.
-- All of my children, their wives and children are healthy and happy.
-- Mike and I are making enough money to pay our bills.


That's three really, really big things.

Next week, there's a court hearing for Jerome, and we're expecting some good news. I know that the DHS plan continues to be reunification, but I don't know how things are going to work.

So, something that I haven't talked much about is that Mike and I are buying a house. It's old and needs a new roof, and we're getting it on land contract for $1200 down, payments of about $525/mo. Total sale price is $35,000. Here it is on Zwillow. There are pictures of the lovely woodwork.

It needs a new roof to the point that there's been some significant damage to one of the upstairs ceilings, but we're handy and Keith does roofing and we can call down a couple of sons for the weekend and knock it out. Downstairs, there is a small fireplace in the living room, and the room is L-shaped, so we can make a bit of a playroom there. There's a small formal dining room and the kitchen is ok. Upstairs, there's three bedrooms and a sun room. We won't be able to have our big bed, but we have a queen that Jerome is using, and we'll use that.

There's only one bathroom and there's an attic and a basement.

We've been talking to Jerome about how he's going to work things out with the kids. He knows that he's not quite up to taking care of the kids 24/7 -- even if the DHS declares him fit. So we're thinking that we can sell the double-wide modular we're in (it needs a new roof, too, and we might be able to get 8K for it) and when we redo the roof, we can raise it up a bit and make an apartment for Jerome there, with a bedroom, bathroom and living/kitchenette.

The yard is very small, but there's a community garden and a park.

I'm really hoping that after the court hearing, Jerome will at least be able to parent the kids here while we're at work. About 3/4 of my pay is currently going for childcare. The boys really love the center, though. We're applying for a grant to cover the childcare expense, but I don't know if they'll pay us back for what we've already paid out. We'll deal.

Okay, the cereal is done, and the boys are heading to a morning bath. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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Wow, I've had a great week. I mean, A Great Week. I got a new job, and then I got another *ever better* new job. Also, once I am trained with this company, I can work just about anywhere, if I have the need.

I began working as a Volunteer Fellow at the Obama for America campaign, here in Lansing.

Working on the campaign, I met a very interesting woman who happens to be a lawyer (solicitor) and will help us with Jerome's adoption papers, and let us pay her monthly, which we will actually be able to afford.

I've been walking around my trailer court and registering people to vote. They are so happy to see me! It is very cool. Yesterday I spent most of the morning at a local Democratic convention meeting where I submitted a party resolution about addressing climate change. For real! I wrote it on a piece of notebook paper and handed to the resolutions dude. He said he'd type it up and put it up for a vote at the next meeting. Then I went to a UAW picnic and manned the Obama table and signed up more volunteers.

We haven't heard anything about the little boys; I will call the Marquette DHS office tomorrow.

Also, today I am cleaning up a bit around here, doing laundry, taking a walk to the garden to see if it has survived since I planted it -- I don't have any fencing and the wildlife might have eaten it -- as well as go about with the voter registration clip board. Pork chops with mushroom gravy are in the crock pot, and we'll have that with potatoes and a salad for supper.

Edit: this is what functional mania looks like.
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If you've been reading this journal for any length of time, you've probably read me writing about Jerome.

Back in August of 2010, Lindsay and her baby Trentyn came to live with us. In September, Trentyn's dad, Jerome, moved in, too. Lindsay was pregnant with their second son, Zari. During that time, we also had Michael and Mel and their girls living with us and then we had Sam and Kayla and their daughter Torrin.

It was not an easy time. But over the last two years, a strong bond has grown between Jerome, Mike and me. Last September, when I went away to South Dakota, Lindsay and Jerome were kicked out of the trailer court for driving the neighbors crazy screaming at each other. Living with them, I would say that it was equally their fault.

They moved into an apartment, lost the apartment, crashed on people's couches and finally had their kids taken away. Last month, Lindsay signed off on her parental rights; she's met someone new and either doesn't have the ability or the will to jump through all of the hoops to get her kids back from foster care.

For a while, about 3 months or so, we all talked about Mike and me adopting Trentyn and Zari. Mike and I knew that Lindsay was going to give up custody of the boys, and we were afraid that Jerome wouldn't be able to get them back from foster care.

But do you know what? Jerome has not missed a day of visitation, and has so far accomplished almost all of the requirements of his child protection social worker. He now has some unsupervised visitation, and is looking for a larger apartment. I have to say that I'm glad that he's had to go through this process. He's a much better parent and the counseling has made a real difference in how he deals with stress.

Last week, Mike and I asked Jerome if he would let us adopt him. His eyes got big and he gave a little grin and said yes. Then he looked down at the ground and shook his head. When he looked up, his smile was huge and he said, "Hell, yes!"

We thought that we were going to have to go out of state to adopt Jerome, because I'd read that Michigan did not allow adult adoptions. But it does! So now we just have to save up a little money and jump through some easy hoops.

Of course, we aren't as close as the boys I've spent a lifetime with, but that's ok. We love Jerome and Jerome -- well, he really wants to love us. He says that we've never let him down, and no one else in his life has ever been that way for him.

So, here you are internets -- my seventh son, Jerome:
two big pics )

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