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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crazy Busy

It has been non-stop around here.  This weekend we had family over and celebrated birthdays - photos soon.  We finished spring breaks - not a small feat when you are dealing with four different schools (at least two have the same schedule).  Tonight I took Sweets back to her dad's, as her school starts again tomorrow. 

Precious has slept over seven hours about three times now - hooray!  She is eating like a champ and is staying awake more and more during the day.  I can't believe she is already two months old!

BB is really trying to talk.  Once in a while a word comes out that can be understood, but he is now persistently repeating to try to get us to understand.  He is pointing more and actually mimicking - a huge step forward.  His therapy format changed about a month ago, and I think it is making a big difference.  It's amazing and hard to believe that he is now two years old!  Where did those two years go?

Buddy is enjoying one-on-one time with my uncle, also taking in a couple of sporting events.  He is a typical boy, enjoying electronics, reading Wimpy Kid books, and annoying his sisters.  He is on the verge of being nine years old!

Sweets had a fabulous spring break, spending all but two days of her seventeen days off here and with my sister.  She flew unaccompanied to visit my sister with no problems or fears.  She loved all the horseback riding and personal attention.  She also settled in here and many of the recent behavior issues subsided.

May will be a teenager in a couple of months - unbelievable!  I'm adjusting to parenting a little differently as I try to let her start sprouting her wings while still trying to make sure she meets all the necessities.  Life is challenging on this front, but we have also had many enlightening moments.  She is taking confirmation class at church and seems to be enjoying it.  She is truly blossoming, not to mention also a huge help with the little ones!

I'm working a lot, trying to get through two classes at school this semester, working on finishing taxes, and juggling a bundle of appointments.  I keep thinking things will slow down, but then I see two major choir concerts in the next two months, tax deadline and court for Precious in mid April, a big paper and a final exam at school in April, kids' school projects due in May, and several more doctor appointments.  Slowing down doesn't seem too realistic in the next eight weeks.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Natural

Sweets is home. She had a fantastic vacation!
She is a natural on a horse.
My sister said she improved dramatically each day!
She made a new friend.
Best of all, she got to be a kid
and not worry about what was going
to happen next for four whole days!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cowgirl

Sweets called today. She is having a wonderful time!

video

She is getting to ride a horse at a ranch and claimed she even got to trot and gallop.

I'm so happy this opportunity worked out for her! I think my sister's having fun too!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Slippers

BB loves, loves, loves shoes.  He strips his own off almost immediately and finds others to wear.  It doesn't matter what kind or who they belong to.  He wears all kinds of shoes.

Tonight I had on slippers.  He was fascinated.  So I went and found him a pair of slippers.


He LOVED his new slippers!


He went around showing them off.  Then he took them off and found another pair of shoes!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adventure!

Ever take five kids through security at the airport by yourself?  It's definitely an adventure!

Sweets flew to my sister's tonight.  She was so excited to fly by herself.  I talked to her briefly after she arrived, and she said she met three new friends.  She knew the names of the two adults who sat by her (and probably got their ears talked off).  She also talked about another nice girl who was flying by herself that sat across the aisle.  Bottom line from her - it was fun!  She and my sister will have a blast for the next four days!

Because Sweets was flying unaccompanied, I needed to take her to the gate and wait until the plane was in the air.  When I checked Sweets in at the ticket counter and checked her bag, I told the lady I had four other children I needed to take through security with me.  She said, "We usually only allow one other."  I said, "Well, I'm a single mother of five, so I don't have a lot of choice."  Her jaw about dropped off.  I'm pretty sure she was thinking, "Why me?" as she told me she needed to see them all and asked all their names and birthdates for the passes to go through security.  She spelled one of the four correctly, but I guess it didn't matter much, because they didn't have ID. 

I had BB and Precious in a double stroller.  We walked up to security and I gave the man our passes with my ID.  He asked for May's ID.  I told him she didn't have one; she is twelve.  He looked her up and down and said he though she must be at least 15.  Then he looked at me like I was nuts.  Thank goodness Sweets started talking away!

We got the little ones out of the stroller.  May carried Precious through as I tried to corral BB as I folded up the stroller.  My barrette set off the metal detector; at least they let me take it out and try again so I didn't have to get wanded. 

I had only the diaper bag, and Sweets had her backpack.  I made sure both BB's cup and Precious' bottle had less than four ounces.  It didn't matter.  They still had to "test" the bottles.  I'm thinking, they let four ounce bottles of shampoo through, what's the deal?  But we finally made it.  Actually it took way less time than I expected; it was just hectic.

Everyone did fine.  We brought plenty of snacks.  BB only screamed a little, but it was so loud you didn't notice too much unless you were right next to him.  Sweets got on the plane.  The others watched out the windows while I fed Precious.  All in all, it was an interesting adventure!

Friday, March 16, 2012

She's Going!

Sweets' dad signed the Power of Attorney!  Tomorrow evening she will be on a plane to visit my sister for four days.  They are both quite excited!  We need to pack (and do laundry)!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Take Me Back

Sweets is struggling.  She gets along wonderfully, and then she snaps.  Today Miss M took Sweets, Buddy, and BB swimming (yes, the pool was heated).  They all had fun, and BB is remembering being in a pool again.  On the way home Sweets and Buddy got into an all out fist fight in the back seat.  I arrived home shortly after they got home, and Sweets is complaining about Miss M because she took away swimming for the next two days.

I took the kids out to dinner with a friend tonight.  First Sweets wouldn't get out of the car.  I finally told her to stay in the van; I would lock and alarm it and come back and get her later.  Then she wanted to come in with us.  I told her she had to behave, and she agreed.  For the most part, she did fine during dinner.

After dinner, as we were preparing to leave, she laid down in the booth, claiming she was tired and refused to move.  I told her she could go straight to bed when we got home.  She huffed and puffed out of the restaurant and then fussed about where she was going to sit in the car.  Finally, she got mad and said she didn't want to be here, to just take her back to her dad's house. 

She went on and on about how she didn't care if she missed things.  She didn't care that she wouldn't go to my sister's, because her dad wasn't going to sign the paper anyway.  She didn't want to be watched by Miss M.  She wasn't going to have any fun.  She should just go back to her dad's house. 

First, she never said take me home, only to her dad's house.  I found that so sad, but yet so in line with her thinking.  Home is with me, but her dad calls the shots.

Second, I told her I wasn't taking her home or dealing with her dad tonight.  I was too tired.  I said we could call him tomorrow, knowing full well she won't want to.

Finally, I told her that I was sorry she had to feel so frustrated.  I was sorry that she often didn't know what was going to happen.  I was sorry that her dad hasn't signed the paper yet.  I was sorry that he didn't do what he promised more often than not.  I was sorry her life was hard.  [Don't think this is harsh; these words are less harsh that what she says about her dad.] 

I told her that I did care and that I would continue to care, even when it was hard.  I said if I wanted easy, I could have stopped fighting to make her life better a long time ago.  I was going to keep on trying to make her life better.  I was going to continue to care for her.  I was going to keep trying to do what was best for her, whether she liked it or not.

Sweets got quiet for a little bit.  Then she told me she was sorry.  I asked her, sorry for what?  She said she was sorry that she was making me frustrated!  I told her thank you and gave her a big hug.  I said we should start over, and she agreed.  She did great the rest of the night.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Step in the Right Direction

Sweets is here for spring break!  When I picked her up today, her dad gave no indication that he expected her back anytime soon, so we'll go with that.  It should be a good week!!!

The best news is that her dad said she could go to my sister's house for four days via an hour airplane ride!  Sweets is very excited, as May has done this a few times before, starting about age eight.  Sweets has a two week spring break, while the other two have only this first week.  Sweets is really looking forward to the trip during the second week!

The only down side is that I don't have a signed power of attorney from her dad yet, and I won't let her go out of state without that.  It's just too risky.  On a positive note, her dad did meet me at a notary; he just didn't have acceptable identification.  Hopefully, we will get this taken care of this week and not have a repeat of last year's spring break incident.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love that Smile

Precious has started to smile.  It is so cute!  She is the most adorable baby, especially all dressed in pink!

So much about Precious reminds me of BB.  I always said he was the best and easiest baby.  Precious is too!  She is calm and content unless she needs something (food or diaper change).  She enjoys being held but also likes the bouncy seat and the swing.  She is even generally happy in the carseat!

Precious is doing well holding her head up, sometimes.  Other times, when she is resting face forward against your shoulder, she flips her head back and forth, almost like she is rubbing her cheeks. She likes to sit up and/or be vertical.  She also likes to be on her stomach.  She can turn her head back and forth in this position too.

She eats really well.  I'm so happy about this, because I was worried initially.  Early on, you really had to play with her to get her to eat.  Even then, she only drank about an ounce or two at a time.  Now she consistently chows four ounces, occasionally more.

Precious is usually a good sleeper.  Most nights she will now sleep about four hours straight, be up to eat, and then sleep another three or four hours. 

We have been fortunate that she has not been sick at all.  She has only had a few major spit ups.  She also loves baths, just like BB.  I'm looking forward to her being able to sit up in the sink!

Precious is such an unexpected blessing.  I really didn't know if I would continue to do foster care after BB.  Seventeen years is a long time.  With three permanent and one pseudo-permanent children, I felt like I was pretty much at my limit. 

Then last fall I heard from a family member that BB's mom was pregnant again.  At that moment, she wasn't using because of where she was.  But uncertainty abounded.  I kept my license just in case. As it turned out, it was needed in January when Precious was born.  More uncertainty... Would mom participate?  Was there a dad involved?  We seem to be approaching the same situation as BB's case - nothing. 

This is definitely not my plan, but then neither was BB.  God's plan is always right; I'm just trying to figure out for sure what it is.  Still nothing is certain, just more uncertainty.  Only time will tell.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

GAL

I spoke the the GAL assigned to Precious recently.  The GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) is the person who speaks for the best interests of the child in court.  In my jurisdiction, this person is also always an attorney.  She is the same GAL who was previously assigned to BB.  Here, as long as attorneys are still practicing in Juvenile Court, they get reassigned to any new case or reopened case for a family they previously represented, whether it is the GAL or an attorney for a parent. 

When I went to the first court hearing for Precious, the GAL was stuck in another courtroom, so she was texting a substitute attorney who stood in with confirmation of what she wanted to say.  (Love technology.)  I guess the first hearing in this case was so routine, she was okay without being present.  The down side was that I didn't get to talk with her.

So, I spoke to her this week.  I learned two new things about this case:

1. Her position to CPS when she was assigned was that Precious' case should immediately procede to TPR, since one of the grounds for severance is a previous TPR within two years.  Her opinion was that mom has not changed anything since the first TPR; we shouldn't even waste time.  She was overruled by CPS, who wanted to give mom a change, albeit a short one.  Unfortunately, mom seems to be not participating just like with BB.

2. By CPS standards, my home is considered a kinship home for Precious because her brother is a permanent member of our family.  CPS will not look for another placment (assuming reunification fails) unless I say that I am not willing to adopt Precious.  A relative can request to be a placement, but CPS's position is that they would prefer Precious stay with her brother.  Wow!  The child actually gets preference over an adult relative.  I was actually shocked when she told me this, because I've never heard of this priority before.  I guess it is only relevant if the first sibling's adoption is finalized.

I've got some serious thinking and praying to do!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Deja Vue

I was feeding Precious in the early hours of the morning.  As I looked down on her sweet face, I saw BB all over again.  They look so much alike.  They are both so beautiful!