2009 Christmas Letter

19 December 2009

Well, Merry Christmas! Time for the State of the Blain again.

Employment-wise, I am still with Pioneer Human Services, still working in the group homes. It’s been a rough year for our business, as the economic difficulties of the state government get passed along to the hideously expensive foster care system. For us, this means watching kids pushed to placements that aren’t quite ready for them, and that they aren’t ready for either, which gets particularly dangerous when it comes to young sex offenders. I suspect we won’t see things get better until someone is seriously hurt and the state is sued.

Ah, cheery stuff, I know.

My schedule has changed in the past few months. I’m now working in all three of our group homes, which means I’m working not only with the younger boys with behavior problems, but also the older boys who are categorized as sexually aggressive, including some who are registered sex offenders. I’m still doing three graveyard shifts and two swing-shifts, but they’re now spread out a bit, so I’m not quite so exhausted as I was under my all-weekend every-weekend schedule. One of the homes for the older boys is going to be empty enough that we will no longer have it fully staffed, so I will be moving my short swing-shift from there to the other home, hopefully on the same evening as my current graveyard shift. It’ll save me a whole trip down to work and back if it does. I’m still looking for other options that include things like not commuting 90 minutes each way to work, but, for now, I’m happy having a job.

At Church, I continue to serve as Family History Consultant. We survived the roll-out of the New Family Search this past year, and I’ve been able to help some people sort out some errors in the records there.

Early in the year, I spun to the right to move some things from the passenger seat in the car to the back seat, and felt a very strong pain in my back. It turns out that I had ripped some muscle between my ribs in my back, and strained some others as well, which led to some significant pain that prevented sitting upright, and, for a time, made breathing while sleeping problematic. I got to learn about anxiety, and found some useful support from friends who would let me come spend a day with them instead of staring at the same walls wondering if I was going to be able to sleep the next time I tried during the two weeks I was off of work. It was nice to get back to work after that.

One of the nice things from this job is that, for the first time in my life, I have paid vacation time. So I took off a couple of weeks in July for two vacation trips. The first was a road trip with my girls to Montana for my 25 year class reunion. If you haven’t yet noticed the pattern, this was not quite as easy as imagined. My car developed an overheating problem caused by the disintegration of the water pump’s impeller, along with some other problems that required time, attention and money. Thus, instead of the 20 minutes I had in mind, we spent three days in Wenatchee before we came up with the plan that worked. Emily’s boyfriend Shawn picked us up with his extended-cab pickup, and we made the trip in that. The time we lost in Wenatchee meant I didn’t get to go to all of the reunion events, or visit all the people and places I had in mind, but we did get to see Yellowstone Park and Flathead Lake, as well as visiting some important friends and family. I hadn’t been to my grandparents’ old place on Flathead Lake in thirty years, but was able to find it and reconnect with the lady who bought it from us. Sharing these experiences with the girls was very important to me, and Shawn was a good travel companion, making all of that possible when it was looking pretty bleak. We spent most of those nights camping (two of them, graciously, in the home of a good friend from school), so it wasn’t exactly posh living to get called into on no notice.

The end of that trip involved a small engine fire and towing my car from the summit of Stevens Pass to Marysville, where it got dropped off at the shop that finally (weeks later) got the water pump problem fixed. Then I worked my all-weekend schedule, and Emily and I flew to Baltimore for our postponed graduation trip planned for last year. We spent two days in and around Washington, DC while staying with a friend in northern Virginia. Then we drove over to Ohio to spend the weekend with my niece and her family, and then back to Baltimore to fly home. It was great to meet up with friends we rarely get to see, and to build more family connections. Hopefully, we can have more opportunities to meet up with more as time goes on.

Since then, I’ve been recovering from the $1000 hole the car break down blew in my budget, and getting along with life. I spend a great deal of time on Facebook (as some of you are well aware). I have just begun taking insulin to help control my diabetes. I have generated documents for my divorce and will be filing that in the next few weeks. And, like many here, am looking forward to the dedication of the Vancouver British Columbia Temple this Spring.

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas Season and a rich and powerful 2010.


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