** big sigh **

So this is what lettuce looks like after it bolts, in case you were wondering. I was wondering because this is my first year growing a few plants and I had no idea what bolting really was. Now I know.

We're one week into our time with 'R', our Fresh Air child. It's certainly been a new experience for us. The girls love her to pieces. Only lately are she and 'A' having trouble playing together, and I figure it's because they've spent so much time together. I keep trying to make them have quiet alone time in the afternoon while 'H' naps but they refuse to be separated, even though they bicker a bit.

For me, it's been tiring, and most of the exhaustion is around the food issue. We don't eat meat, eggs or dairy and I do offer a number of kid-friendly meals here: pasta with a variety of sauces; peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; pancakes; blueberry muffins; and then other things that some kids like such as hummus, pickles, black bean burritos and pizza with tofutti cream cheese & veggie topping.

Does she like any of it? No. She wants to go back to her fast food diet. And the things she does eat here, like pasta with margarine and toast with margarine? Those things she wants to eat in huge quantities. Two, three, four helpings. Giving structure to meal time is a whole new experience for me, because my kids eat a bit of foods that are basically healthy and when they feel full, they stop eating. I'm trying not to make food a big issue with 'R' but it's not something that can be avoided.

On the plus side, she's really enjoyed it up here. She lives in the Bronx and her access to the outdoors - and to larger indoor spaces - is limited. When she got here, I showed her the bathroom downstairs, and later when it was time for a bath I told her to go to the bathroom to get ready and she was blown away when she saw we had a bathroom upstairs. "You have TWO bathrooms?" Well actually we have 3. She also told the girls that they are so lucky to have our backyard. She really appreciates it.

Our only real "incident" so far has involved the cats. 'R' has treated them horribly from the minute she came here, despite all that Jeff and I had told her about how to act with them, what to do and what not to do. Finally we told her to leave them alone and ignore them but she couldn't do that either. She reminded me of those kids you see at the zoo who get the animals in the cage all riled up. It came to a head when Grace felt cornered by 'R' and lashed out a 'A' who was standing right next to them. Grace scratched 'A's leg with both paws. I can't have this happening in my house. I called my Fresh Air contact to tell her what happened and to let her know that with 4 days left to go, 'R' was definitely going to get scratched.

My Fresh Air contact and I agreed on a solution that felt right to me: 'R' is to not enter a room if the cat is in it and is to avoid the cats at all times. If the cat scratches anyone in the house again, 'R' will have to be placed with another family until it's time for her to go home.

It broke my heart to tell her she might have to leave, but I can't live any other way. Of course, right after I told her all of this she went and antagonized the cat again, but she's learning that she can't be near the cat and things are definitely much better.

So, will we do this again? Host a Fresh Air child? We can't have 'R' come back, because of the cat issue. And the food and her disrespect of people and animals is tiring, even if it is a good experience for her. We're still open to trying again with a different child. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I'm wondering how long this post will be up before the Thought Police find me and ask me to take it down. If you do an internet search for Fresh Air Fund experiences on both websites and blogs, you'll be hard pressed to find a description of a visit that is anything less than glowing. They must get rid of the negative ones somehow because I find it hard to believe that no one would post about it. And trust me, we're not the first family with a less than positive experience.


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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!