A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. --Forest E. Witcraft

Friday, December 30, 2011

Four Squirts

In our hotel shower, there are dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.  The kids think they are great.  After his shower, Buddy reported that he used three squirts of shower gel, four squirts of conditioner, and two squirts of shampoo.


Okay, the shower gel and the shampoo, I understood.  He doesn't use conditioner, so I asked if he used the conditioner before or after the shampoo.

Buddy said that he used the conditioner first.  So I asked if he washed it all out with the shampoo.  He stated he didn't put it on his hair!  I asked where he did put it...

His ARMPITS - two squirts each to make them smell good!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Battle of the Wills

Bedtime was a challenge last night with BB.  He knows how to climb out of the portable crib, and he didn't want to stay in it!  I tried to lie down on the bed with him, but after 45 minutes when I thought he was asleep, he popped up less than 5 minutes later to come find me.

So, the battle began.  I picked him up, hugged him, told him good night, put him in the crib, and left the bedroom of our suite.  He promptly got out, opened the door, and came to find me.  I scooped him up, put him back in the crib, and left the bedroom again.  Out he comes.  Repeat for about twenty more minutes.

Eventually he didn't come out of the bedroom, but I could hear him out of the crib playing with the room phone.  This time after I put BB in the crib, I closed the door, but stayed in the bedroom about three feet from the crib.  He ran into me after he climbed out.

Three times I scooped him up after about five steps.  On the fourth time, he climbed out and plopped himself down on the floor.  End result...


He stayed asleep this time!  I guess we both won a battle.  I'll take it.  Hopefully the next night will not take quite as long!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Snow

We are finally on vacation in snow!
Big change for us desert dwellers.


This is BB's first exposure to snow.


He was amazingly stable.


Lesson from big brother,
who last saw snow four years ago!


Lovin' it!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweets is Here!

It is almost too good to believe, but Sweets is at my house tonight!  Her dad agreed that she could go with us on our winter vacation.  Luckily our plans let us be flexible right up to the last minute.

Sweets told me that after her dad said yes on the phone, she started crying.  He then started to get upset and asked her why she was crying.  She told him she was so happy! 

When I hung up the phone after hearing yes, Buddy was so excited, he shreaked with joy!  He has missed her so much.  They virtually grew up as twins for about 3 years before Sweets moved to her dad's.  I think May would have screamed, except we were in a public place.

Although I'll be up very late packing (I'm no where near ready), I am truly happy that Sweets will be joining us on our trip.  I really didn't think this would happen, but nothing is impossible in God's hands!  This time prayers were answered as I had hoped!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Favorites

BB found this favorite from Santa waiting for him...



May was not excited at all about her new game!


Buddy was shocked and decided a 3DS was
much better than a skateboard!


We all went to church Christmas morning.


The biggest hit of the day!!!


BB's absolute favorite
...even when he was too tired to keep going.


BB found his vacuum the first thing
the day after Christmas as well!

It Happened

We saw Sweets on Christmas!  Her dad brought her and her sister over about 6pm (three hours after he promised, but I'll take it).  They were all in good moods.  My family was still here.

We had several presents for Sweets and I had a couple for Lil Sis too.  They were happy and enjoyed playing with May, Buddy, and BB.  They stayed a couple of hours.

Sweets' dad agreed to let me call a relative on her mom's side of the family to talk with the girls.  It led into a few of those family members coming over to visit the girls as well.  Everyone got along, and it really was a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


From Our House To Yours!

Monday, December 19, 2011

So Sad

Sweets has been calling whenever she can.  She has not been with us for three out of the last four weekends.  This is the first that has happened since early 2008.  At least the one weekend she was with us was the weekend of three concerts for which she has worked all fall.

Saturday I asked to take Sweets out just for dinner by her dad's home on either Saturday or Sunday evening.  Her dad said no and that he would call me Sunday to discuss things further when he had a member of his family who could be an interpreter.  He never called.

His English has never been great, but we have been communicating well enough for years.  Now, all of a sudden, he doesn't understand anything and can't talk to me directly.  I think he just wants an excuse to not talk with me because he knows I'm upset with him.

Tonight he finally talked with me on the phone after Sweets urged him.  I asked if Sweets would be allowed to come to my house for any of Christmas.  He said he would call me tomorrow with an interpreter.  I told him it was an easy question that needs a yes or no and that I knew he understood what I was asking.  He finally said no, which is what he had already told Sweets.  She was unwilling to accept it until he actually told me, because he has changed his mind so much in the past. 

He couldn't answer when she could come again, but it sounds like it could be a long time. 

I told him that tomorrow night I would bring some of Sweets' things that I knew she would want for Christmas and afterwards.  He was okay with that - I'm relieved he didn't object. 

Sweets is devastated, as not only can she not come for Christmas, but she also will miss our planned vacation the week after.  I reassured her that we would see her tomorrow night and I would ask again if we could just stop by and see her on Christmas.  We'll see, but I'm not too hopeful. 

My emotions over the last week have gone from anger, to denial, to fear, to sheer sadness.  Poor Sweets - she turns 9 and her whole life changes: sister moves in, no Thanksgiving, no weekend visits, no Christmas at mom's, no winter vacation.  How I wish I could fix things for her, but my hands are tied. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Liking Santa...

from a distance only.


Last night we went to a foster and adoptive family Christmas Party.

BB watched Santa walk all around the room.


BB also loved the crafts, coloring sheets, and paper on the tables.


I finally got him close to Santa again without screaming.


But he was not about to leave my arms!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Relief, Almost

I'm so glad my semester is finally complete. I delivered by paper yesterday and have been able to focus on work and catching up on so much more.

Friday and Monday are May's finals.  It is a fairly new experience for her.  Time management and prioritization are NOT her strengths.  Memory, intellect, empathy, problem solving - yes.  Reading, writing, planning, organizing - NO.  We have had our share of battles this week as I get frustrated with studying and assignments that haven't been done and she gets upset that she has to stay up, follow through, and finish.

She has three tests Friday and two more on Monday.  Then her semester is done too!

Buddy is doing fine but really wanting more time with mom.  I think BB is having the same issue.  Hopefully, this weekend will help remedy that situation.

As for Sweets, her dad said tonight that she could not come to my house again this weekend.  He would give no reason, simply kept repeating "no".  She is very upset, but I think she almost expected it.  Her focus now is to be able to come for Christmas.  I really hope he starts thinking about her instead of himself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Tuesday

  • skipped work due to school
  • scrounged to locate money for May's lunch 
  • got kids off to appropriate locations, with help from Miss M
  • studied for my family law final
  • got distracted and cleaned up some paperwork
  • studied some more
  • loaded and ran the dishwasher
  • wrote some of my 10 page paper which is due Wednesday at law school
  • packed my computer and notes and left the house
  • stopped to get lunch and studied some more
  • dropped off a deposit at the credit union
  • walked in the rain from the parking garage to the law school
  • took my final
  • had my computer battery die with three minutes left of exam time*
  • thanked God that I had just typed my last three words and autosaved
  • borrowed a power cord from the IT folks who were available during finals
  • successfully uploaded exam (according to IT folks)
  • received call from Miss M that she arrived home to back door wide open
  • drove home in the rain, taking much longer than usual
  • learned Miss M determined wind blew door open
  • plugged in computer and cell phone, which also ran out of battery
  • read email from teacher that May asked for help on her own today (PTL!)
  • picked up May from counseling appointment
  • got Buddy ready for school concert, to which Miss M delivered him
  • bought ink for my printer
  • grabbed dinner on the go for May, Miss M, and myself (boys already ate)
  • met Miss M and BB at school concert
  • listened to most of concert but BB and I left after Buddy's class sang
  • put BB to bed
  • emptied the dishwasher
  • worked some more on my paper
  • received a call from Sweets who is doing okay
  • congratulated Buddy when he returned home
  • talked with May
  • tucked Buddy in bed
  • talked with Miss M, including figuring out BB's therapy schedules
  • finally finished writing my paper (after midnight)
  • rewarded myself by catching up on blog reading
I'm SO glad it's Wednesday!

* Less than 3 hours of battery power when fully charged? Time to replace the old laptop.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend's Almost Over

I'm so glad that this weekend is almost over.  To say things have been hectic is a total understatement.  Here's a review...
  • May did another FANTASTIC drama performance last night, and my parents thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • Sweets did not make it to the concert on Saturday, but Buddy had a great time, frozen yogurt and all!
  • BB has taken to screaming for attention a LOT.  Grandpa really doesn't like it (neither do the rest of us).
  • Buddy finished up his soccer this week.  I think we may have found his sport.
  • May is serving at the Christmas dinner at our church tonight.
  • I took one final last week, but I have one paper (which is about 3/4 done) and one final left before my semester is over on Wednesday. 
  • Buddy has his school concert on Tuesday.
  • I'm severely behind in Christmas shopping and other preparations.  Soon...
  • Everyone has been able to stay healthy.  PLEASE let it stay this way.
To summarize, we have had something beyond the normal work and school load 11 times in the last 13 days (concerts, rehearsals, performances, etc.).  This is after I deliberately decided NOT to have the kids participate in two activities they normally do this season, including the Christmas pageant at church with all its rehearsals. 

After Wednesday, my stress level will be drastically reduced, just as May enters finals!  Hopefully next weekend, we can actually get ready for Christmas and set the tree up.  I hope Sweets can join us!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yes, Again!

He is MAD again, just like here and here.  Sweets' dad is so busy being mad that he can't see straight.  Another referral was made to CPS regarding Sweets, so there is an investigation in progress.  Apparently, he didn't get home from work in time to meet the investigator Friday, so he is just fuming about who called instead.

I drove over to talk with him Friday night following May's drama program at school.  He said Sweets was staying with him.  I reminded him about Sweets' mandatory concert Saturday morning and offered to bring her back after it was over.  He still said no, but said the relative who will watch her and Lil Sis while he works will take her.  I'll believe it when I see it (and it will reinforce the fact that there are miracles)!

Sweets was very upset and crying and didn't want to let go of me.  She spent the whole half hour plus I was talking with her dad curled up in May's lap in the car.  Sweets is scared, worried about when she will get to come to my house again.  She just missed Thanksgiving, and I know she is now remembering when she missed vacation during spring break.  Christmas is around the corner and she was already concerned.

****************************************************************************

On a brighter note, last weekend's Children's Chorus concerts were wonderful on Friday and Saturday nights!  The four choirs all performed well, and the combined numbers were beautiful.  The quality of the music was amazing.  I am so happy that my three oldest have the privilege of being in this marvelous group.

Sunday night, May had a school choir concert.  Then on Wednesday night, her choir from the Children's Chorus had their independent performance (like Sweets and Buddy's choir does this Saturday).

Then Thursday night May had dress rehearsal, followed by the first of two drama productions for her drama class at school.  There were five skits/acts, and one was a monologue of JUST HER!  She was FABULOUS, Irish accent and all!  She was also in the cast of another group skit.  I am so proud that this timid, shy child came out of her shell and did a solo performance in front of a room full of people.  Tomorrow night is a repeat performance, and my parents get to attend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Again?

I talked with Sweets' dad last night about picking her up after school today.  He told me someone had called CPS about Sweets again, and an investigator was coming to the house at 4pm today.  Therefore, Sweets was staying with him.

I reminded him that she has another concert tomorrow and told him I would pick her up after May's program at school tonight.  He said he would call me.  Of course, he also said he would have Sweets call me back last night and that didn't happen. 

My stomach is churning.  An hour before that call, Sweets talked with me and thought I was picking her up at school.  I hope he has talked with her. 

Following a court hearing for Lil Sis after Thanksgiving, everyone was reasonably positive that things were going well, even with Lil Sis now living with them too.  They will have social workers visiting a few times a week for up to 90 days to check on them and provide assistance as needed.  But no one was concerned that there were any significant issues.

Honestly, one of the girls would have to be seriously hurt before any change would be made at this point.  There have been many drop in visits by case managers and other social workers over the last month.  Nothing is going to change.  Even Sweets has had a bit more positive attitude since Thanksgiving weekend.

For Sweets' sake, I hope today's investigation goes smoothly and pick up occurs sometime today as expected.  She will be extra upset about not coming if she also misses the concert (which is mandatory) followed by a Christmas party. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sweets is Here!

I picked up Sweets at 11:30am this morning because her school had early release.  She was so happy I was there.  After not coming all last week, I think she was worried something would happen and she wouldn't be able to come again.  My stress level has reduced drastically now that she is asleep in bed at my house.

This is the big concert weekend for my three oldest in the Children's Chorus.  Buddy and Sweets sang with their choir for a news station today.  It was supposed to be a nice outdoor shot, but just a couple minutes before the cameras rolled, after all the warm up and practice, it started to rain!  We had about three minutes to walk 1/2 a block, get 70 kids and almost as many parents into the lobby of the studio, and get organized to sing.  It went amazingly smoothly!  The kids did great and sang lovely.

The next two nights are their formal performances with all four choirs including almost 300 kids.  Both venues are about an hour away from our house, in two different directions.  May then has a school Christmas concert at a church on Sunday evening.  It will be a crazy weekend!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Escape Artist

BB managed to escape after getting out of the bathtub recently.

Here is where I found him less than a minute later.


Trying to escape again!  Out the front door!


Who, me?


Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Hours Later

I went to Vital Records today and
secured BB's official certified birth certificate with his new name!

It only took about thirty minutes.

I stopped next at the Social Security Administration.

Over ninety minutes later, I walked out of SSA
having successfully requested a new SS card for BB.

The best line of the day was from the SSA worker who stated,
"We don't listen to the attorneys.
They can't tell us what to do.
We have our own rules."

This was the result of me requesting a new SS #,
holding the paper from my attorney with the SSA rules!

Thankful

I am thankful for my family, both the one I grew up in and the one I am raising now.  Sunday afternoon we celebrated Thanksgiving so my sister could be with us, as her work schedule did not allow joining us earlier.  We had a wonderful time just being together and totally stuffing ourselves!  May said a beautiful grace before we ate.  I am so proud of how she is blossoming and maturing.

Sweets was not able to join us, but she did call and have the opportunity to talk to everyone.  I think that lifted her spirits some.  She keeps telling me how much she misses us.  My heart aches for her.  I hope and pray her dad can make some positive decisions for her soon.

Monday is another day and the start of a very busy week.  Various kids have four concerts this week and four performances next week.  Wow!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not Saying

Remember when you were told, "Unless you can say something nice, don't say anything at all"?  Well, that's where I am right now. 

I didn't hear from Sweets for three days.  Two calls were not returned.  On Thursday, we did talk on the phone and I was able to wish her Happy Thanksgiving.  She seemed to be doing all right, although she was full of "I miss you." 

Today she called and said her dad said she couldn't come to my house this weekend.  She said it was because she told on her dad to a person of authority in Lil Sis's case.  I talked to her dad, and he repeated that she wasn't allowed to come to my house, saying Sweets was not listening to him and that she said she hated Lil Sis.  Keep in mind, these two girls have never been able to go more than about an hour without getting into a fight, even with good adult supervision.

I'm worried, but praying hard.  Although Sweets is most worried about missing our Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday, I'm more worried that this is the start of something else.  I'm trying hard to trust God, but this is when I want so much to be in control and it is so obvious that I am not!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So Far So Good

This weekend we had multiple celebrations as Sweets turned 9.  I took her out Friday with May, and we had a nice girls evening out.  It wasn't planned that way, but things changed, and Buddy just couldn't hold it together, so he and BB stayed home with my mom and went to bed.

Saturday morning was a full choir rehearsal where cake was served in honor of Sweets and a couple others for their birthdays.  That afternoon, a couple close friends came over and we had a small family celebration for Sweets followed by dinner out with my parents at one of my, and now the kids, favorite restaurants that serves the best fajitas anywhere.

Today was Sweets' official birthday party at a pizza joint by her dad's house.  Other than all the guests (including dad) arriving more than forty minutes late (for an hour and a half party), everyone had fun.  She enjoyed herself and got to play with more tokens that she has ever had on one day before. 

Lil Sis seems to be doing just fine.  Multiple of the cousins are girls her age, and she enjoys playing with them.  I think she has been tossed around so much in her short life that this move did not phase her as much as one would expect.  She was happy, and it didn't seem to bother her that Sweets left for the last two days.

I talked with Sweets' dad, and he admitted that he had intended to stop letting Sweets go to my house for six months after Lil Sis moved in.  Fortunately, he has had a change of heart.  I hope that sticks.  As of now, I am picking Sweets up next Friday evening for the weekend.  He wants her to spend the first two days of the break with him.  That works out fine, since we are celebrating Sunday due to my sister's work schedule.

I went over the hectic schedule for the two weeks following as Sweets' choir performs four times in ten days at four different locations.  So far so good! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How?

Lil Sis was moved to Sweets' dad this week after fourteen months.  He barely manages with Sweets, and yet he now has a six year old to care for as well.  Today was her first day in kindergarten at Sweets' school  Apparently, all went well. 

He is jumping through all the hoops right now.  That is good.  The question is how long can he keep it up?

The girls are enjoying each other, but I'm very skeptical that this is truly a honeymoon period.  Usually when they play together for more than a couple of hours, they start fighting.  Maybe the dependence upon each other will cause them to get along better.

The girls' maternal relatives who have been caring for Lil Sis are beside themselves.  They can't understand how CPS has painted them the bad guys and moved Lil Sis just like they did Sweets.  It is such an iffy situation.  It is definitely not in the girls' best interests, but that doesn't matter when it is reunification with a parent.  All that matters is whether the parent is minimally (and I mean MINIMALLY) adequate.

Sweets has been telling me that her dad keeps saying once Lil Sis moves in, she won't be able to come to my house anymore.  Last night her dad said Sweets was going to stay with him this weekend.  I reminded him that she has a major choir rehearsal on Saturday along with birthday plans.  The choir is several miles away, and I know he doesn't want to get up Saturday morning.  We had also jointly agreed to have her party at a pizza place near his house on Sunday so all her cousins could come (I'm paying).  He gave in, but said she can't come next weekend, which just happens to be Thanksgiving. 

I'm trying to deal with this one day at a time.  We'll see how he is handling parenting both girls after a week.  My family is getting together next Sunday instead of Thursday, so my hope is that he will at least let her come Saturday night and Sunday after spending Thursday through Saturday at home.

I just keep praying...

Loss

Our beloved dog of over eight years left us on Monday.  Sandy was such a sweet dog and so loved children.  Sweets grew up with her almost from the beginning.  My sisters picked this special pet for my family because of her disposition and tolerance with all the little kids.


Up until the last week, she never even let us know that she was having trouble. Then all of a sudden she virtually quit eating and drastically slowed down. A visit to the vet Friday determined that she was seriously ill. I prepared the kids, especially Sweets when she came for the weekend.

By Sunday I was worried Sandy wouldn't make it through the night. The kids had a chance to say good-bye. There were lots of tears Sunday night and Monday morning. My sister came and went to the vet again with me.


Rest in peace, Sandy.  We will miss you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Respite

This weekend we are watching a little boy for respite.  He is such a delightful child! 

Unfortunately, BB only saw green.  BB was so jealous any time we gave attention to our guest.  BB also has a lot to learn about sharing.  Our visiting munchkin has been a great sport.  He just points and says "Baby" whenever BB lashes out. 

Yesterday and last night our visitor had terrible diarrhea, which resulted in a NASTY skin irritation in a very delicate area.  I ended up taking him to the ER as it got worse between this morning and naptime.  We were in and out in less than three hours, of which one hour was waiting for a test result.  I SO love our Children's Hospital!  Our poor little guy now has two ointments and some oral antibiotics to help him.  The nurses couldn't believe how calm he was.  They insisted he should have been screaming, but all he did was whimper one short time.  I just want to cuddle this little one, as he has obviously had to sooth himself for much of his young life.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring great improvement before he goes home.

Note to self: Next time get copy of form giving placement foster parent permission to seek medical care AND note from such placement parent giving me permission to seek medical care.  (Luckily we were able to reach placement parent on her cell phone.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I Confess

We eat out entirely too often.  Usually, I just give in, because it is easier to let someone else do the cooking, and I get tired of hearing little voices not like what gets put in front of them at home.  I justify this bad habit by saying I don't have time to cook, that my day is too busy and hectic already.

Well, today we actually ate at home for all three meals.  I'm not sure when we did this last.  But we made it, and no one suffered!  Breakfast was simple, but no one minded.  For lunch we cleaned out leftovers (most in styrofoam) from the fridge. 

For dinner, we had a masterpiece, even if some didn't like all of it.  I put a roast in the crock pot this morning, with ingredients to make a nice mushroom gravy.  We had white rice, the old fashioned kind, and a lovely vegetable medley of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

May and I even made a macaroni salad to have later in the week for lunches!  I'm telling myself that I'm going to start being better at eating at home.

I do confess, though.  When we went shopping at C*stco, I did get the kids a little treat between meals!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Night, Night

Tonight as I put BB to bed,
I told him "Night, Night" like I always do. 

Tonight he said back, "Nigh, Nigh".

Those were the sweetest words I heard all day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

brings...

*** Spider Fairy ***


*** Little Red Riding Hood ***


*** Skeleton Man ***


and a
*** Duck ***
in constant motion!


Quack, Quack!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baptism

Today BB was baptized.


My uncle was here from out of state;

my sister flew in for the day;

my other sister joined us for most of the day
after working late last night;

my parents stayed in town following the adoption
earlier this week.

This is the first time the WHOLE family
has been together in a long time!

What a wonderful way to celebrate!


He is so stinkin' cute!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Official

BB is now a forever member of our family!


Isn't he just the CUTEST?


I can hardly believe that

I am the legal mom of three

and the psychological mom of four.

Praise God for all of His blessings!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big Boy

I think I'm renaming Baby Boy to Big Boy!  We went to the doctor for a well check today.  BB was 90% in height (34 in) and 75% in weight (29.5 lbs).  The doctor picked him up after examining him and was shocked how solid he is!

Oh, BB threw a couple of whopper temper tantrums in the doctor's office as well - one in front of the nurse and one in front of the doctor!  Joy, Joy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Countdown

Less than one week...

BB will be part of our family forever!

It is hard to believe that a year and a half ago,

a sweet tiny baby boy was brought to me,

bundled in a blanket

with one diaper and one empty bottle.



He was adorable.

HE STILL IS!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sigh...

BB definitely has found a mind of his own and is growing an independent side to his personality.  He knows what he wants and what he doesn't.  If he gets what he wants, he is such a joyful and fun child.  When he doesn't, well, let's just say he's not.  BB has taken to throwing fits on the floor, pulling hair, pinching (hard!), screaming, and throwing things when he is upset.  I tend to ignore him when he gets in one of these moods, but the other kids try to help.  Today I put my foot down and told them to stop unless they were told to help or asked first.  We can't reward this kind of behavior.

Starting around dinner tonight, BB started getting upset.  Yes, he was tired, but there had to be more.  Because he is still not talking much, it is very hard to guess.  He raises his arms up, but he doesn't point.  Back to dinner...first he kicked and threw a fit getting into the high chair.  Then he dumped his plate.  At least the food stayed on the high chair when he threw his plate on the floor.  Next, piece by piece, he started throwing the food on the floor.  He did eat applesauce and drank two cups of milk.  Then he started screaming and kicking again.  Nothing helped.  I finally took him out and put him in the bathtub.  He screamed through most of the bath, which is very unusual.  After he got out, he calmed down as I got him ready for bed.  He got his milk and went to bed nicely. 

About 15 minutes later, he started crying and screaming.  He was definitely tired.  I thought he would just wear himself out and go to sleep.  No such luck.  He was still throwing a fit about an hour later.  By then Sweets and Buddy were ready for bed.  It was pajama ride time!  I went in and picked up BB.  He sniffed and hiccupped and finally calmed down.  I knew if I put him down again, he would start all over.  Instead, he threw the next fit getting into the carseat!  I turned on lullabies and drove a few miles.  We needed to get gas anyway.  BB calmed down relatively quickly and sat quietly while I pumped gas.  We drove back home, not rushing at all.  As I turned into our neighborhood, he was still staring out the window.  May poked me as we approached our street.  He was finally out.  I drove around our subdivision, trying to find houses decorated for Halloween to keep the middle two occupied.  It worked.  When we got home, I was able to transfer BB to his bed (no small feat!).  He is out for the night!

I thought things might get easier after mid-terms/finals, as we moved into fall break.  Nope, just found enough time to breathe and catch up on everything that has been put off, postponed, or ignored for days or weeks.  I do feel like I have accomplished a lot, but this list is still long.  At least the most important stuff is completed.  I'm so glad I have one more day tomorrow before the chaos starts again.  Being home both yesterday and today has really helped me catch up.  Maybe next week won't be so crazy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Seed

This afternoon we went to the birthday party of one of my former foster children.  She is now 8 and doing so well!  At the party I met one of the neighbors, who had brought her little girl.  We talked, and through conversations with others, she discovered BB was being adopted by me out of foster care.  That started a whole new conversation about foster parenting and adopting.

Oh, how I love to share my experiences, both good and bad, on this subject.  I probably talked her ear off!  For a long time, I thought she was just curious.  I felt like maybe I was planting a seed.  Later on, she shared that she had several siblings and couldn't imagine her daughter growing up as an only child.  She shared that she and her husband had been considering foster care, but they never got around to figuring out the process.  Wow!  Maybe I was watering and nurturing the seed instead.  I gave her some info, as well has my phone numbers, and told her to call me anytime!

Later in the day, we visited another foster family with whom we have been friends for a few years.  I found out that newborns are being put in shelters due to a severe shortage of foster parents in our area.  A year ago, they had cleared almost all kids under 10 out of shelters into foster homes.  Now they are not only filling the shelters, but they can't even find homes for newborns.  That has never been a problem before!  I was told they are even calling the juvenile detention center looking for beds for the older kids.  Oh, my heart - it makes me so sad!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gadget Baby

BB LOVES GADGETS!

Yes, that would be my cell phone.

Anything with buttons,

Anything that comes apart,

Anything that makes noise,

Anything that has a cause and effect,

He loves!

We may have an engineer in the making!

PS - After several calls to technical support, downloading firmware,
rekeying licenses, and hours of syncing,
I finally have two of May's books on her new MP3 player!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Surprise (aka whoops)!

Yesterday was a day off from work.  After two doctor's appointments in the morning, I was home organizing paperwork and trying to get my taxes in order. 

Yes, I filed an extension, and time is almost up - nothing like true procrastination!

A little after 1pm, the doorbell rang.  I went to see who it was, thinking it must be a salesman. 

Whoops!  It was BB's case manager.  The first words out of my mouth:  I thought you were coming on the 30th.  Her reply, "It is the 30th."  Boy, did I look dumb.

The house was bordering on disaster.  Miss M had taken BB to therapy.  I had totally forgotten about the appointment!

Luckily, this is the same adoption case manager I had for both May and Buddy.  She has kids of her own and was totally not phased.  She wasn't even worried that she didn't see BB.  I am so thankful.

I signed the final paperwork for the adoption.  Everything is ready.  We are just waiting for the hearing at the end of October!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Dance

Today I am doing the happy dance!  After my law school class this morning, I stopped in to check exactly how many more credits I needed to graduate.  The answer:

12!

This means that after this semester, I only have two more semesters at half-time before I am done!  This is a whole semester earlier than I anticipated when I originally switched to half-time.  Those summer classes made all the difference!

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter!  Only two more semesters (or one plus summer if I really want to kill myself stress out, NOT).  This will be a huge help, since tuition has skyrocketed in the last couple of years.  I have to say it is getting exhausting working 30+ hours a week, taking 6+ credit hours per semester, and raising four kids, one long distance.  I am so ready to have law school behind me!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So Not a Geek

Well, I now have the MP3 player and my computer can see it.  It even says that it synced with Windows Media Player, which can finally play Mae's books on my computer.  BUT the MP3 player doesn't seem to have the books.  It has some playlists, but doesn't recognize the format.  Guess I'll have to spend more time on the phone with technical support.  I HATE this stuff!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Toast

After much troubleshooting and telephone wait time for technical support, Mae's special CD player for her audio books is officially toast. She needs this for her school textbooks due to her dyslexia. This is the second device that has broken right at the one year mark. It's amazing how each managed to become unusable during the first month of school!

I've decided to go a different route this time. These special audio books only play on certain devices, but now a commercial MP3 player is available at less than 1/5 the cost of the special CD player. I sure hope it works. Perhaps it will be more durable as well. Off to the store!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sheer Panic

I fixed scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning.  There were just a few eggs left, so I decided to hard boil them for lunches this week. 

As we were driving away from church, I remembered:
THE STOVE WAS STILL ON BOILING THE EGGS!

Total panic set in as I interrupted my daughter and told her we had to get home immediately.  We had left home over an hour and a half earlier. 

I still had to drive about three more miles.  Some of those red lights stayed red forever!  Yes, I well exceeded the posted speed limit on more than one street.

Praise the Lord!  All that was ruined was the eggs.  The water was gone; one of the eggs had broken open, and the smell was not appetizing.  But ALL WAS WELL.  Even the pan looks like it will clean up.

After the crisis was averted, I started shaking.  May stepped up, bless her heart.  She asked me if I wanted to lie down and offered to take care of the other kiddos.  I calmed down and said a healthy dose of prayers, thanking God for his blessings.

I'm giving myself permission to eat out the rest of the day without guilt!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Respite

We had a two year old boy for respite today.  I was curious how BB would do.  Both boys played great together!  Although they both wanted the same toy sometimes, they negotiated the situation well.  Our guest did not fuss all day.  BB whined a little, but not much, considering the bigger kids were paying much more attention to the new kid on the block!


At the end of the day, the boys had a blast in the bathtub. 


Buddy got in with them.


They started cracking up as he poured water over their heads and his.


They all got in on the fun!


It was a great way to end the day!

And yes, they all went to bed nicely too!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

All Done

Tonight at dinner, BB signed and said "All done!" 

This is HUGE!!!

You see, BB doesn't talk at all yet.
He babbles and takes turns with you,
but he doesn't say real words.

He has been in speech therapy for over two months.

He will say "Hi" when playing with a phone,
but he won't say it to a person.

He will wave bye-bye.
BB may have said "bye" once out of the blue.

He only "talks" on his terms, never when prompted.
It is almost as if he refuses if he knows we expect it.

BUT, today he said "All done" more than once,
in context, when asked!

YEAH!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finalization is Coming!

I received an email with a date near the end of October
when BB's adoption will be finalized!

The plan is to have him baptized the following Sunday.

It seems to have taken forever,
and yet,
it seems to have gone by so quickly.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day at Home

We spent almost the entire day at home (all but dinner).  That is pretty unusual for us, because we typically have errands to run or places to be on the weekend.  Instead, today was a day focused on cleaning up and organizing.  Unfortunately, although I know I did a lot, it doesn't look like much!

I did finish four loads of laundry, changed three beds, hung a shelf in May's room that used to belong to her great grandmother, attempted to clean some spots on the carpet, and sorted clothes.  Yes, many, many clothes of many, many sizes. 

You see, I have three closets and many drawers, plus boxes that don't have homes, full of kids clothes.  I do pass clothes on to others, and I have given some away to charity.  But I have this complex that I want to have what I need readily available in case a new child is dropped on my doorstep.

Thing is, I'm not planning on taking any new children any time soon.  I'm not sure if/when I will open for another placement.  With four to care for on a regular basis, I don't know if I can do justice to caring for another one.  But, for now, I just keep sorting and packing up the clothes.  I did pack a bag and a box to give a way!

The good news is, I found some pajamas for BB that fit him right now.  I also found the box of 24mo/2T boy's clothes that we will need for winter.  I packed away everything smaller than what he is wearing right now. 

I still need to sort through the closets and dressers of the three older kids to pull anything that no longer fits.  Oh well, there are still two more days this weekend, right?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Helpless

Sweets called tonight.  First, she was happy to talk with me and saying how much she missed me.  Then she was upset because she didn't want to wait until Friday to see me, and she is worried her dad will change his mind about letting her come to my house on Friday.  Finally, she started whining about being sad that I couldn't attend her assembly at school tomorrow afternoon, because her 4th grade class is singing a song that she really wants me to hear.  The phone call deteriorated from there with pleadings to come live with me.

Originally (last week) she thought her assembly was this Friday afternoon, so I told her to tell me what time and I would come early when picking her up after school.  I don't have to work on Friday.  She was excited; I was excited.  Then Monday she found out the assembly was Thursday.  I have to work, and besides that, 40 miles across town for an assembly to hear one song, well...

But boy, was it hard to feel her frustration and know that she is hurting and not be able to help her feel better.  I really wanted to skip tomorrow afternoon at work and just drive over, but it's just not realistic.  I was finally able to calm her down and talk her into going to bed (keep in mind this occurred after 9pm on a school night and her dad was outside with friends).

Aarrgh!  Yes, I'm feeling a little helpless at the moment.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Loving Lemons

BB loves lemons!

He makes a sour face, but he continues to eat it.

ALL OF IT!

He eats the entire lemon wedge,
rind and all!

If I peel the rind off,
he throws the pulp part.

I guess some lemon rind never hurt anyone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foster Friday - Maintaining Sanity

Today's Foster Friday contribution is an answer to the following question:

How do foster families maintain their sanity (or at least attempt to)
in this crazy world of Foster/Adopt Land?

Here's the short version of my answer:
  • Pray
  • Take time for me
  • Pick my battles
  • Ask for help
  • Stay organized
  • Be involved
  • Give permission to cry
  • Schedule vacation
Click on over to Tammy's blog to check out the rest!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Minutes

This evening Buddy came into my room as I was reading from a textbook to prepare for tomorrow's first class.  He wanted us to play together with his Lego men. 

I initially said that I was doing homework and suggested that he go play with his Legos.  He asked how long before he could come back and play with me.  I almost told him not tonight, thinking I still had over 40 pages to read for my first class and another book to crack open for a second class tomorrow.  BUT, I caught myself.  I told him I would play with him for two minutes, and then he needed to go play on his own.

We divvied up his 8 Lego men.  He wanted to play war.  So I started marching my 4 men, singing "Onward Christian Soldiers".  We marched the men to an imaginary little town with all poor people.  Then we decided we had to march back to get them some food.  His 4 men became the providers of the food, and all 8 men took it to the poor town.  We asked God to bless the poor people and told them Jesus loves you.  Then we marched away. 

I told Buddy that two minutes were over and I had to study some more.  He was happy to go off and play on his own.  But before he left, he asked if we could play for two minutes again tomorrow.

I'm SO glad I caught myself.  Those two minutes meant so much to BOTH of us!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pre-Teen Conversation

Tonight at dinner there was a discussion
about adults and children.
May declared she was a pre-teen.

I said I didn't know what I was going to do
when she turns 13 next year.

Her answer...

Love Me,

Feed Me,

Never Leave Me!

I so love my daughter!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Detour to the Merry Go Round

or whatever it is called.

On the way to choir camp this past weekend, we ended up taking a major detour.
Ultimately we had to kill three hours in a tiny town,
because the highway was closed due to a fire.
After eating dinner, we found a park where the kids could play.
Luckily, the weather cooled off and there was a nice breeze,
so it was very pleasant outside.

At the park, the kids found a merry-go-round, similar to this picture.

The LOVED it!  They had never seen one before!

All the parks and schools in our area have removed them for "safety".

This one was in great condition in a very well maintained, privately funded park.

Since being home, the kids are asking if we can go back to the small town,
so they can play on the merry-go-round again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Choir Camp

I took my oldest three to choir camp this weekend.  It is the kick-off for the year of Children's Chorus in which they are members.  Choir camp lets the almost 300 kids in chorus get together in one place for the weekend to start getting to know each other and the expectations of the directors.  It is an awesome experience and a great group of kids!

Miss M stayed with BB at home.  I talked to her on Saturday afternoon, and he was fine.  She shared that Saturday morning, when he first got up, he went looking around the house, as if trying to find us.  When he didn't come out from my room, she went in and found him sitting in my shower, just waiting! 

I talked to BB on the phone, and Miss M said he started kissing the phone.  I guess he really noticed we were gone!  Although he did just fine while we were away, he was really happy when we returned!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Foster Friday - Birth Family Relationships

Today's Foster Friday topic about dealing with birth families is near and dear to my heart.  Unlike many foster parents over a decade ago, I tried to build a relationship with birth parents for two reasons.  First, I wanted to smooth the transition home for children who would be leaving me.  Second, I was selfish and hoped to maintain a relationship with those children.  In most cases it worked, but it was not always a pretty picture.  For the first part of my story and to read other contributions on this subject, go check out Birth Family Relationships.

Now, here is the rest of my story about my relationships with the families of May, Sweets, and BB.  Unfortunately, there has been no contact possible with Buddy's family.

When May's case was proceeding to TPR, mediation was held with her dad, the only active parent in the case.  Although he was not able to care for a toddler, he loved her and attended his visits reliably.  She had a bond with him.  I told him I would still let him visit her on occasion if I adopted her.  Nothing was ever formalized, but I meant it.  May's GAL later told the judge in the case that he was convinced I would maintain this relationship.  Why he said that, other than to convince the judge to pursue me as the adoptive parent instead of following a lead on a blood relative who came up late in the case, I'll never know, because he barely knew me.  The GAL later offered to be a go-between when the adoption was final, because I was uncomfortable giving dad my contact information at that time. 

About every six months, I would try to call dad to setup a visit with May in a public, neutral environment.  Sometimes I couldn't contact him for over a year, but eventually he would call the GAL to pass along a new phone number for me to contact him.  We went to McDonald's, pizza, a park, a movie, or a restaurant for dinner.  Eventually, I invited him to meet us at one of May's choir concerts.  About three years ago, dad really turned his life around.  We have now exchanged email addresses and cell phone numbers.  Visits are two or three times a year, but May might call him once or twice a year as well.  The relationship May has built with her dad has helped her self-esteem and grounded her to her heritage.  Her dad truly appreciates May's life today and my role in it.  I am thrilled at how this relationship has turned out!

When Sweets was transitioning to her dad toward the end of her case, the situation was very unpleasant.  Sweets didn't want to go.  There was a major language barrier between her and her dad who primarily spoke Spanish.  Having spent almost four years with me, she couldn't understand why she had to move to his house when she was starting kindergarten.  Her dad and I marginally communicated in English, but I was not allowed to interact with him without the case manager present during the transition.  They broke almost every rule in the book to return her home, and I think they were worried about me sabotaging the transition.

Amazingly, after the move was complete, Sweets' dad allowed me to come visit her for a couple hours every other weekend.  Eventually, he let me take her to do something for most of a Saturday.  Finally, on Thanksgiving, he allowed Sweets to spend the night with me.  At Christmas, she spent a couple nights.  The case closed in January.  After that, Sweets started coming to my house for some weekends.  She was allowed to go on vacation with us that summer.  Now she spends almost every day she is not in school at my house.  Dad's openness to me remaining in Sweets' life was unexpected by all.  He was discouraged by the case manager and his own family.  I praise God that he listened to Sweets and her cries to see her "mom". 

Sweets has now lived with her dad longer than she lived with me.  He recognizes how much I love her and how much she feels part of our family.  He has now met my parents and sisters and understands that Sweets has them as family too.  We have had good times and bad times over the years.  If you have read this blog for very long, you have heard the struggles.  It is not an easy relationship, but it offers Sweets the best life I can give her.

BB's birth mom never participated in his case.  On the other hand, BB has two maternal aunts who have been there since the beginning.  When mom did not show for visits, CPS cancelled them, essentially cutting off contact between BB and his aunts.  After asking the case manager if it would be acceptable, I exchanged email addresses with the aunts and arranged visits with them about once a month.  This continued until BB was about nine months old and the case was moving to TPR.  Since then we have had visits about every three months.  We have now exchanged cell phone numbers as well. 

My plan is to continue these visits, even after the adoption is final.  Both aunts are very appropriate and enjoy time with BB.  One aunt has two little girls close in age to BB, so it will be great for him to grow up knowing his cousins.  Additionally, I have learned information about mom and extended family that I would not have otherwise known.  I have even indicated to the aunts that if mom gets her act together, I am not opposed to her visiting BB.  Unfortunately, that seems like it will be a long time in coming.

Foster parenting involves birth families.  There is no way around it.  Some birth families appreciate you.  Others can't wait to leave you behind.  I have been blessed that in most of my cases, I have been able to have a meaningful relationship with a birth parent or other relative.  This has also allowed me to remain in contact with many of my former foster children.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Day of School

May and Buddy returned to school today.  Buddy is in 3rd grade at the same Christian school he has attended since kindergarten.  May moved to 7th grade at the associated Junior High campus of this Christian school.  She has a ride in the mornings from her beloved teacher, whom she has had for the last two grades.  In the afternoon, she rides the bus back to the local campus. 

Buddy has an outgoing, fun teacher, and he loves his class already.  There are 16 students.  What a wonderful learning environment!  His butterflies have worn off, and his only remaining adjustment is to adapt back to a decent bed time.

May was very nervous, as change is quite difficult for her.  But she did a fabulous job today and seemed to enjoy herself.  She had no problem with her locker, a major accomplishment.  She also seemed to be comfortable changing classrooms and meeting her teachers.  I'm so proud of her; I can't believe how quickly she is growing up! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Tale

We happened upon a story being told at Lego.land on Saturday.

It was a tale of a Princess


and a Jester protecting the castle treasure


from a selfish, arrogant Blue Knight


and a stinky, devious Black Knight.


Volunteer "townspeople" were selected for sword fights


and jousting competitions.


The kids had a ball watching!

Buddy and Sweets loved their special parts!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last Hurrah!

This weekend we took advantage of our last chance to get away before May and Buddy start school this week.  I was able to pick Sweets up after school on Thursday, so she could go with us as well.  It was nice to enjoy cooler weather in San Diego.

We spent a fabulous day Saturday at Lego.land with good friends!


In the morning we went to the water park.


There was a great water play area for young children.  BB had a blast!

After lunch the kids rode some rides in the main part of the park.

Even BB rode one airplane ride.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture, but he loved it!
His main ride all day was the stroller.  He did VERY well.


He even played his favorite game peek-a-boo!


We saw a cute show late in the day.  Both Buddy and Sweets were picked as volunteers.
More on that episode tomorrow!

For now, everyone is home safe in bed after a wonderful weekend away!