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Nothing like your car catching on fire to ruin a vacation.

But we muddled through, and really, looking back, everyone in the family, kids included, made great choices even under stress, and we handled the crisis as best we could have.  And although 3 of our 6 vacation days were spent dealing with stupid car issues, the other 3 were much fun!

And I think we managed to avoid sounding too incompetent to the kids’ parents and to the caseworker.  Even though the car problem we encountered was pretty random and not something that results from, say, avoiding repairs or whatnot, it still makes me feel stupid to have had it happen.

The extended family we visited was so wonderful and especially welcoming to Aaron and Allie.  The night before we had to leave, Aaron was seriously trying to talk our host into letting him live at her house.  And on the road home, he told me it was a sad car ride because we were leaving them.  But once we got back to our house, he told me he was glad he came back.  What a sweetheart.  His emotions are so real and honest, no manipulation involved at all.

So, we are home.  We did get a new ride – we had to buy it while there, but we like it, it fits us all, and it should suit us for a while.

Back to the regularly scheduled daily whirlwind.

I emailed Lulu for some assistance, so now a very nice sounding foster family will watch Mark and Nikki this weekend.  They have a 4-year old girl for Nikki to play with, and 13-year old son for Mark to idolize, plus a dog, a pool, and the kids can bring their bikes.

Rosie wasn’t able to help as they were already traveling out of town, and I got a call back from one of the first homes I called, but they only had a 12-year old son and no way to accommodate bikes.  I’m glad I asked Lulu for help.

And so after going through all my trouble, I decided to get us put on the respite list!  There aren’t really any respite homes listed in my area; they are either 30 minutes north or 20 minutes south.  I know there’ve got to be other foster homes in this area, so maybe this will be a good way to meet them.

So now I’ve just got to make sure I get the right forms filled out, the emergency contacts done, etc.  Oh yeah, and get the car’s tires and alignment done before we leave, get Mark and Nikki enrolled for school, clean up for home visit tomorrow, take Mark to counseling tomorrow night, pack, and on and on and on.

So another one of the added stresses of the last few weeks is a trip we’ll be making next weekend.  It is about six hours, and Husband will be in a conference for two of the three days.  When we originally thought Mark and Nikki would be back home at this time, we planned on bringing our three kids and staying at a cousin’s house.  Well, since we didn’t feel comfortable bringing our three and leaving them behind, the choice was either all five kids or none.

All five would be stressful but doable, but would eliminate the cousin’s house.  Leaving all the kids at home would be easier – our three can stay with Husband’s parents, and they’ll love it –  but unfortunately for Mark and Nikki, they can’t stay there so we need to find respite.  So that’s what we decided to do.

And that’s where all the trouble has been.

I don’t want to try Eliza’s foster family because of some tension between them and Mark and Nikki’s biological family plus I’m not sure Mark and Nikki are ready to spend three full days with their sister yet.

So I’ve been cold-calling families on our county’s respite list, and so far, am 0 – 3.  (However, I did talk to a really awesome foster mom not too far from us, and she told me to keep her number around because she’d love to help us in the future – it just won’t work for this weekend.)  As each day passes though, I know I’m less likely to find a respite home.

That leads me to lean more towards using Eliza’s foster parents and just dealing with the fallout, but I found out yesterday they might be moving next weekend.  I did call them and she left a message last night, so I guess I should stop goofing around on a blog post and call her.  It just stresses me out so much when there are no good solutions.  (Maybe I should just leave our three with in-laws and bring Mark and Nikki on our trip.  Wouldn’t that be crazy??)