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
Our little Precious got her cast off this morning. She didn't like the process much; I think the sound and vibration scared her. She was upset through the x-rays and the doctor's exam, and that's not like her.
Initially she would not put weight on it. When we got home, she got a long and playful bath. Then she took a much needed nap. Precious was willing to walk the rest of the day, although she did fuss a few times when she would start walking.
She seems like she will be off and running again soon. No bike riding or jumping for a few more weeks, but otherwise, she should be back to normal in a week or two according to the doctor.
In 10 days, it will be National Adoption Day. This is always a big day in our county with lots of news coverage. This year is different though.
In 10 days, Miracle will be part of our forever family! This happy, easy-going baby is such a wonderful joy to be around. I am so happy she joined our family.
In 10 days, we will celebrate. Although this is my fifth adoption, it is my first experience with National Adoption Day. I am looking forward to the alll the events at the courthouse and the reaction of the older kids to truly celebrating adoption.
We had a fun afternoon at an old park that has several old amusement park rides. They are mostly for younger children; my oldest three could only ride on four out of the approximately dozen rides.
I took a half day off of work and loaded up my six kids and my mom in the van and met my friend (another foster and adoptive parent) and eight of her thirteen kids at the park. We had coupons to buy-one-get-one-free for the all day ride wristbands. Then it was "ride until you drop" for the kids.
They had a ball! BB and Precious totally enjoyed themselves. BB had no fear on any rides. Precious did fine on the slightly faster rides, when she was held close by one of the older kids.
The weather was beautiful and the park was not crowded. It was definitely a day the kids will remember!
Oh, the trials of parenting that we sometimes pass through. Today I discovered that not only Buddy, but also BB, was desperately in need of new tennis shoes. Well, it so happens that I also noticed that the store where I normally buy the kids shoes was having a "buy-one-get-one-half-off" sale. I checked the size for BB and took Buddy to the store on the way to cub scouts. I told him he would have to pick quickly, because we didn't have much time - twenty minutes to be in and out of the store, to be exact.
We found his size, and I showed him his choices. That's when the meltdown started. He hated ALL of them. Buddy fixated on one pair of shoes that were $10 more than all the others. I told him no; I wasn't spending the extra money when the others would be fine. He had four choices. I asked him to pick and went around the corner to get a pair of shoes for BB.
When I came back, Buddy said he didn't want any. I told him that either he would pick a pair or I would choose, because he couldn't continue to wear the ones with holes. He stood up and started to stomp off. I ended up picking a pair and paying while he stood by the door scowling.
In the car, he started fussing and whining. I told him that wasn't going to resolve anything. At least he had a new pair of shoes. I explained to him that many children don't get to choose shoes at all. They are lucky to get a pair that fits, and sometimes it is from a food bank or other used clothing store. He couldn't really fathom that thought, commenting that we lived in America where that didn't happen. I assured him it did, probably right down the street from us sometimes.
As we approached cub scouts, he calmed down and offered to pay the extra to get the other pair of shoes. I told him I would think about it, but that after his fit, I wasn't so sure. He apologized and really tried to make amends.
During cub scouts, I took BB's new shoes home and let him try them on. They fit and he LOVED them!
When I picked Buddy up after cub scouts, he was in a good mood and nicely asked if we could exchange his shoes. I said we would go check. We returned to the store and tried on the pair he wanted. I had picked up his money while at home and again explained to him that if he wanted these shoes, he would have to spend his money for the difference. He agreed and we went to pay.
Surprise, surprise! The shoes he wanted were on sale for 45% off, but they weren't marked. That made them less than the first pair. In addition, the sales clerk had not reduced the price of the first pair due to my AAA discount. She commented she was so glad we had come back, because she felt bad she had forgotten. We walked out of the store with the pair of shoes Buddy wanted, he didn't have to pay extra, and I got a refund of over $6. Sweet deal!
On the way home, Buddy again apologized for his behavior and offered me the $10 because he threw such a fit. I told him he didn't have to pay me the money, but that he should consider this a learning experience. I also reminded him that if he wanted to wear the new shoes tomorrow, he would need to get up the first time I woke him and dress without any fussing. Let's hope the morning goes smoother than tonightl
Precious is sporting a hot pink cast on her leg. She will have it for three weeks. Apparently her bone should completely heal by then, four weeks total. The doctor said that she will then walk funny for up to two weeks due to being in the cast. After that, she should be good as new. She seems to be doing just fine! Here's hoping and praying all goes exactly as planned!
Sweets told me today that she had won an award. Two of them, actually. It seems that her school was having jump rope competitions in each class as part of their Red Ribbon Week, themed "A Healthy Me is Drug Free".
Each class had three jump rope competitions: single (yourself turning and jumping), long rope (you jump while two others turn), and double dutch. Sweets won the first TWO!
She said she jumped for 15 minutes in single, longer than anyone else. She then went last in long rope, and the teacher told her she could stop after 5 minutes because she had beaten all her classmates again. By the time her double dutch turn started, she said she was so tired, she messed up after only a couple minutes.
Note that Sweets does not jump rope on a regular basis. In fact, she is not a fan of too much exercise, other than swimming in the summer. This is huge, and a big boost in her self-esteem.
I'm really proud of her and let her know. Congratulations, Sweets!
Today was one of those days. From the minute I walked in the door about 4:30pm until the little ones went to sleep, there was crying, fussing, screaming, fighting, whining, and attitude. Enough already! We made it. Everyone is in bed. I talked with each of the big kids before they went to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!
We are attempting to settle into a new normal around here. Nine months ago I thought this year would be a little easier, calmer, and that more would get done (all those pesky piles and projects that keep building up). Well, this year hasn't turned out that way at all.
First, I've had some health issues that have slowed me down. I'm fine for now, but I just can't move as quickly as I used to. Unfortunately, this culminated a few weeks ago when I pushed it and seriously pulled a muscle in my side. It hurt even to breathe. I had to call in reinforcements and begged my parents to please come help. Thankfully, they are awesome and came as soon as they could. My mom has been here ever since, helping wherever she can. I'm doing much better but have to constantly remind myself not to push things. This is HARD.
Second, we added our precious Miracle to our family. I wouldn't change this for the world. She is truly the easiest baby ever, but another child, especially an infant, is more work. The other kids have had to adjust too. The big ones help quite a bit, but there is also some whining and complaining associated. The little ones have to be watched to make sure they don't smother their little sister with love!
Third, our wonderful nanny of over five years, Miss M, let me know in the spring that she would be leaving later this year. This was a hard decision for her to pursue other avenues in her life. I spent hours and hours on the computer researching and looking for a new nanny, as well as sending out feelers in every direction I could. After many interviews and a couple of dead ends, we finally found a super new nanny with all the right experience. She has been helping us out for about a month and has now assumed the full-time nanny position.
Fourth, the school situation has changed this fall. BB now attends developmental preschool three mornings a week and goes to daycare those afternoons. He and Precious and Miracle have therapy the other two mornings and stay home for naps in the afternoon. Buddy switched to the elementary school campus of the Christian school where May has attended junior high for the last two years, and May started high school on the junior/senior high campus. They both ride the school bus for over thirty minutes each way, but so far that is working out fine.
Fifth, we added a dog, Daisy, to our family about a month ago. She is a perfect fit! She is well trained, mellow, but still likes to play. Daisy is about four years old and lived at a rescue shelter for four months before we found her.
Finally, Sweets' dad is both more and less of a challenge to deal with than in the past. More because he is unpredictable and avoids talking directly to me whenever possible. He talks through Sweets but plays her as a pawn along the way. Less because he is less involved most of the time. Since bio mom moved in last spring, he seems to be gone most of the waking hours, but he still insists upon control and decision making (as in bio mom can't make any decision that has an effect longer than bedtime). So, most of the time I just tell him when I will pick Sweets up and bring her home. Sometimes though, he gets upset with her and tells her she can't go anymore because she has been gone too much. Usually that fades before the following weekend but just upsets her in between. The never ending saga!
Miracle is six months old. She has been in our home five months. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time can fly by. Miracle is a very easy baby. She is such a joyful child, with a huge grin!
At six months she is 13 lbs 13 oz. She has started eating baby cereal and L.O.V.E.S it! She can hold her own bottle most of the time. Her favorite resting position is still with both hands tucked behind her head, no matter what position she is in. She can roll all over the floor and has even rolled over in her bed. She likes standing in the stationary walker and playing with toys on the tray. She loves interacting with people but can also entertain herself. She really likes to babble and make sounds. No teeth yet, but I'm sure they are coming. Her hair gets curlier every day!
Last night was a first. Miracle sat by herself! May and Buddy were playing with her on the floor and kept encouraging her to sit. Finally they ran back and got me to "come see" what Miracle can do. Sure enough, as long as she didn't look over her shoulder, she stayed upright and balanced sitting on the floor.
This little baby is such a beautiful little girl. I feel so sorry for her birth mother, but I am so happy God has chosen us to be Miracle's forever family. TPR is complete. The remaining steps are to transfer the case to the adoption unit and get the paperwork filed. I am very hopeful we will have the same adoptions case manager that we did for Precious' adoption. If so, everything will go very smoothly once the case is transferred. I'm hoping for November!
Parental rights were terminated for Miracle's parents today in court. I listened to the short testimony of the case manager followed by the findings of fact and orders of the judge. A sadness came over me during the findings of fact, as the judge said, "No parent has ever visited this child." What a crying shame!
I'm very happy that Miracle is with us, being loved on by all of us, and that she will have the opportunity to grow up with her siblings and know members of her birth family. We had a visit with aunts and cousins of the three little ones a few weeks ago. This was the first time they met Miracle, and they couldn't believe how much BB and Precious had grown since spring.
Next steps: transfer case to adoptions unit and contact attorney.
Today was the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) hearing for Miracle. This is where 4-5 trained volunteers review 20+ case files and meet with whoever shows up for each case on one scheduled day. Everyone involved in a case (foster parents, bio parents, case managers, therapists, lawyers, CASA, even family) are invited to attend. The FCRB listens to everyone who wants to make a statement or request and then makes a written recommendation report to the court regarding the case. They also have a standard list of questions that they must answer for each case, like "Is the case plan appropriate?" and "Is there compliance with the case plan?" An FCRB hearing is held every six months for every case where foster children are placed out of their parents' home. It is often the best avenue for foster parents to make a request for therapy or other needs to the court. In my county, there are many different FCRBs to handle all of the cases, but a given case always goes to the same FCRB (people).
I took Miracle with me to the hearing because they always like seeing the little ones and because she is just a joy to be around (not biased here or anything). I made my statement regarding her progress and status. I did let them know that she has been recommended for occupational therapy (OT) twice a week and now the pediatrician is also recommending physical therapy (PT) as well. I'm really hoping these can be done either together or back to back. The case manager came in a little late and confirmed that the case plan was already changed to severance and adoption and that termination of parental rights (TPR) should occur later in August barring any unforeseen circumstances. She also said that there has been no contact with mom or any possible father since before the case was transferred to her in April.
Since Miracle's case is so new (March), they still had a lot of Precious' case notes in the file (files are per mother). When compared to old notes in the case file which indicated a lot of the issues Precious had early on, the review board members were thrilled that Miracle was doing so well even though she is so little (41% height, 17% weight, < 5% head circumference). They were also very happy Miracle was present today and very pleased that she would be adopted with her biological brother and sister.
When it came time for the standard questions and the FCRB "findings", they answered everything as one would expect, but all the comments made to summarize stressed moving this case along. They want TPR this month. They want the case transferred to adoptions ASAP. They confirmed my adoption certification was still valid (a major hold-up in adopting Precious). They stressed getting reports done. Bottom line, they don't want to see this case again in six months; they want the adoption finalized!
Miracle was evaluated for OT. She is doing very well, but OT was recommended because she is very stiff and at risk developmentally. We see the pediatrician tomorrow for her four month well check and will discuss it.
Precious bops around like a little Shirl*y Temple lately with all her curls. She is pointing more and trying to communicate but resorts to crying and temper tantrums frequently. I think the terrible twos arrived early.
BB had his first day of developmental preschool today. It is just under three hours. Then he rides the school bus to daycare for lunch and nap and play. He was exhausted tonight but I think he loved the day.
Buddy arrived home from Ohio this afternoon. He had a wonderful time. After he gave me a hug and said he missed me, he told me he left his DS in Ohio and then asked when he would get to go back again.
Sweets seems to be liking sixth grade. She and May participated as leaders in Sunday morning's worship service which was led by the youth. Sweets is very excited about moving up to the church youth group.
May is still working on finishing her summer online math class. Thursday night is final registration for high school, when a decision must be made about which math class to take. I believe she can pass this class if she gets with it!
My computer is toast and out to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, I don't have a very recent backup. I'm so glad I'm not still in school. Besides getting everyone back to school, children's chorus starting again, multiple routine doctors' appointments, and general schedule coordination, so many annoyances keep popping up like the computer, a plumbing issue, the pool cleaning system, van a/c problem, and new alarm system city permit requirement, to name a few. I need more hours in each day!
It's hard to believe that it is August already. The summer has gone by so quickly. Sweets is almost done with her second week of 6th grade and it sounds like it is going well. BB has "Meet the Teacher" this Friday night for his developmental preschool which starts next Tuesday. May and Buddy have "Meet the Teacher" next Thursday and start school a week from Monday. Children's Chorus starts with a meeting on Tuesday night. Several doctor's appointments are set up for next week. Whew! Yep, "summer" is about over. Unfortunately, the 100+ degree days will be around another month or two. Rain, you can come any time!
We had a nice weekend at a friend's house. The blow-up jumper and water slide in the backyard kept the kids occupied for two days (and made a muddy mess of the yard, but it will soon dry out in this heat). The snow cone machine was the bonus! The adults mostly relaxed in the air conditioning with cool drinks.
After several loads of laundry Saturday morning and getting everything else ready and packed, we headed up to our friend's in the afternoon. Their family has 13 kids. So with my 6, we had a full house. Her youngest two and my youngest two are virtually the same ages (18 months and 4 months). All the other kids have a playmate close their age; her three oldest are 17-19 and great helpers.
With other visitors stopping by, I think we topped 23 kids and four dogs at one point! Amazingly, there were no disasters, and the volume was kept at a reasonable level. Eating was by grazing with yummy offerings in several crock pots to go with chips, tortillas and buns, including bean dip and cheese for nachos, taco meat, barbecue beef, and spinach/artichoke dip, as well as veggie trays and popcorn. Everyone slept Saturday night, and we enjoyed pancakes and eggs for breakfast. What a great staycation to end the summer. My friend enjoyed celebrating her birthday as well.
We got home late Sunday night, after taking Sweets home. She had a good first week of school and is ready for the next one. This is a good sign for her, as she has historically struggled with the end of summer and going back to school. There are positives about her bio mom living with them.
Everyone else was quite ready for bed. We were exhausted, especially May after returning from her trip. She had a wonderful time and really connected with others who went.
I'm really glad we had an opportunity to relax and enjoy time with friends before this busy week and the upcoming chaos as school starts. Ready, set, go!
Life has been C.R.A.Z.Y.
Somehow I thought that when I finished law school, things would slow down. I really didn't take on anything new. Well, except a new baby, four months later. But Miracle is so easy; she really doesn't seem to be the main cause of the craziness. I think everything got so out of control, that I have spent months trying to get things back in order. Not my house, mind you. It is still a disaster, and don't even look at the carpets that needed cleaning over a year ago.
We made it through the end of last school year and May's graduation. We got Miracle settled into our home and BB into daycare. We adjusted to even more chaos dealing with Sweets' dad and now her bio mom who is still living with them (another post on that later). Summer plans were made and carried out. Now, somehow, summer is almost over!
We all enjoyed a wonderful week in Big Bear, CA at a family reunion. We had about 40 people in three cabins. The weather was beautiful. The kids loved playing together. I enjoyed relaxing. My good friend went with me and helped with the little ones. I would definitely call the week a success!
May returned this evening from a week-long church mission trip to Grand Rapids, MI. Eleven youth from our church went and met other youth at a church conference and then went out into the community on service projects each day. She had a wonderful time and has many more stories to tell. She is finishing up an online summer school class and will be getting ready to start ninth grade. Can you believe this little one is now entering high school? Neither can I.
Sweets started school last Monday. Her district has modified year-round school, so they start very early but have three lengthy breaks during the school year. She is adjusting to sixth grade and switching between teachers. She is still at the same school, so she will be fine.
Buddy enjoyed a week with my parents while May and I were on the choir tour. He has decided he really likes it at grandma and grandpa's house. He even asked to ride with them to the reunion and enjoyed the trip (note there is no DVD player in their car like there is in the van, so that's a major thing to overcome)! He attended a three day Cub Scout day camp and had a blast. He has also been on two Cub Scout field trips and enjoys working on the achievements. On Tuesday, he flies to Ohio to spend a week with my uncle. This is the rescheduled trip from June. Buddy is quite excited. He and May start school in two more weeks.
BB has recovered from surgery and is doing extremely well. He SLEEPS! He no longer snores and you can barely hear him breathing. I'm sure he is getting deeper sleep and he only infrequently wakes up in the middle of the night. I'm so glad having his tonsils out has made such a difference for him! BB is also doing very well at daycare. I have to admit that when I registered him, I was already making plans for which daycare he would go to next if he got kicked out. We haven't had a single incident! Although it took over two months before he stopped crying on the way into daycare, now he walks right in. He always reports that he has had a good day. BB starts developmental preschool the week after next. He will go three half days and then go to his current daycare for lunch, nap, and the afternoon. He will still have OT and speech therapy at least one of the other two mornings.
Precious looks like a little Shirley Tem.ple when her hair is fixed just right. She has only a few words, but boy can she be heard! She may be arriving at the "terrible twos" a little early, but I'm hoping her need for temper tantrums is short-lived. She is becoming very independent and has definitely learned to stand up to her brother. She has adjusted well to Miracle and loves on her instead of being jealous.
Miracle is such a sweet and usually quiet baby. She interacts with facial expressions and has a wonderful smile. She is starting to babble and make other noises. She likes to be held, and she is able to sit up with support. BB often comes up to her and kisses her. He wants to hold her and has helped feed her many times. I think there is a special bond between those two already. Miracle definitely looks a lot like her brother and sister. I'm so glad these three will be able to grow up together.
BB had his tonsils and adenoids out last Friday. BB was a rock star as he woke up from surgery. He amazed the nurses by asking for water. He then downed one glass of water, two of apple juice, and two popsicles within about an hour. We moved to a room, because the doctor insisted on monitoring his sleep overnight.
BB had a great day Friday and continued to drink. He was also generally calm, only a couple of small fits when he couldn't get rid of the IV in his foot. Unfortunately, he spit out about half of each dose of pain medicine given to him during the night. By Saturday morning, he refused to swallow and tried to talk through a mouth of saliva. We had an awesome nurse, who was able to get pain medicine in him. About an hour later, BB was drinking again. One more day of blocks and TV, and we came home after the evening dose of pain medicine.
He continues to mend and is drinking well and eating a little more each day. Hopefully he will start sleeping better once he heals completely and the swelling goes away.
My parents and Miss M held the fort down at home, with lots of help from May and Sweets and Buddy. I am so grateful for family and friends who are willing and able to help. Thank you!
The simplest gesture can sometimes leave a huge impression...
This evening I had a meeting at home scheduled with a therapist to evaluate Miracle. She let me know she would be toward the later end of our meeting time, so I decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work without all the kids. Unfortunately, it took longer than expected, so that by the time I was loading the car, I should have already been home. (Luckily she ended up being even later.)
I was stressing as I closed the trunk and pulled my purse and papers out of the grocery cart, not to mention sweating in 100+ degree heat. As I was about to decide how far I was going to walk to put away the cart, a very nice teenager asked, "Want me to take your cart?" She and her mom had just finished loading groceries into their car next to mine, and she was about to put their cart away.
I replied, "That would be great! Thank you very much!" That simple act of kindness was just what I needed at that moment in time. As I got in my car, I wished I would have said more.
I am celebrating! BB went poop on the toilet! Yeah, too much information for some of you, but trust me, this is a BIG DEAL. BB learned to pee in the toilet over a year ago, but he wanted NOTHING to to with potty training. It became a control issue, so I dropped it.
When Miracle came, I needed to put BB in daycare at a center. Since he was already three but not yet potty trained, he went to a special class that focuses on potty training of older two year olds and three year olds. The teacher is amazing, and peer pressure helps. BB has been staying dry most of the time at daycare where he is taken consistently every hour with everyone else.
At home, he still had control issues at first, but then I instituted jelly beans! He gets three baby jelly beans whenever he pees on the toilet. Now he is willing to sit and try, and he usually can get at least something out.
Yesterday, I took BB and Precious to therapy (OT and speech). Before it started, I checked their diapers. BB had poop, so I cleaned him up and asked if he wanted to go potty. He sat on the toilet, and SURPRISE - poop came out. It shocked him as much as it shocked me. I made a big deal and he was very proud. Hopefully, he can repeat this, now that he connects what it feels likes.
Finally, I have a glimmer of hope that BB might get potty trained this year. It would be nice to have only two in diapers again! Ha ha!
It is so nice to have everyone back under one roof again. My parents have been a huge blessing and have been here the last two days to help with childcare for Precious, BB, Buddy, and May while I worked. This evening I picked up Sweets and Miracle. Miss M is not here this week due to a family emergency. We so miss her and hope all is well.
Everyone was excited to be back together tonight. It seems like Miracle has grown and changed so much in just over a week! Sweets and Buddy are having a slumper party on the floor of his room tonight. Thank you, Lord, for my fabulous family!
Today May and I returned from the San Francisco bay area, concluding a six day Children's Chorus tour. Two touring choirs (middle school and high school) totalling just under 80 choristers plus almost 20 adults flew to SF Tuesday morning. That day we visited Fisherman's Wharf, ate sourdough bread bowls, biked to the Golden Gate bridge (well, some of us almost did), enjoyed dinner at Bubba Gump's, and crashed hard that night.
Over the next few days, the group participated in a choral clinic at Chaticleer plus attended one of their marvelous concerts in Berkeley, visited Alcatraz, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and Six Flags in Vallejo, sang for mass at historic Mission Dolores, rode a cable car and other forms of public transportation (totally new for most of the kids), went on an evening dinner cruise on the bay, and performed in a joint concert with a local children's choir following an afternoon choral festival.
It was a very busy, but well organized and outstanding trip! May loved it and is very excited to continue in this high caliber group. This is her fifth year (but first year in touring choir), and she has the opportunity for four more!
To make it possible for me to chaperone, the other kids went various other directions. Sweets went home to dad's, but she wasn't upset about it because her bio mom seems to be making the days better than they have been before. Hopefully, I will pick her up later this week, and then we will find out the rest of the story! Miracle went to respite in the foster home where she was first placed. They were very happy to have her back and I'm sure she was well loved.
BB and Precious went "on vacation" at my friend's house. They now have 13 kids, bio, adopted, and foster. Two more fit in just fine (grin), and mine are used to visiting there and know the family well. Apparently, they didn't get homesick much at all. BUT they both were VERY happy when I walked through the door this evening to pick them up!
Buddy had a last minute change of plans. He was supposed to fly to Ohio to visit my uncle. Unfortunately, a last minute emergency in Ohio made that impossible and his trip was postponed less than an hour before he boarded the plane. The flight May and I were on was delayed, so we were still at the airport when my parents and Buddy had to cancel his flight. He came and found me (luckily we were on the same airline in the same terminal) and he was so upset. I told him we would reschedule his trip. He spent the week with Grandma and Grandpa instead. At first he wasn't too happy about that, but it sounds like he had a great week after all and will be home tomorrow night!
Whew! Now that that week is over, as well as all that went into getting through the end of the school year and preparing for these events, maybe I can catch up and get back to more regular blogging.
This morning was a court hearing for the new baby's case. At a friend's suggestion, she will be called Miracle here on the blog.
Everyone was present in court, except any bio parents. No parent has even contacted CPS since mom's initial contact. Mom never had any visits and was late to the very first hearing. She hasn't showed for the second and third hearings.
Miracle has a different judge than either BB;s case or Precious's case. This judge is much slower and more cautious in moving away from family reunification. However, in this case, with two prior terminations and no parent making any effort, the INITIAL case plan was set as severance and adoption.
Next court hearing is end of August and TPR will likely occur then unless something radical changes.
Miracle's case is like a whirlwind from the moment I learned about her. She is an absolute doll and is doing extremely well. I love when she smiles back. Hopefully, her life can move forward quickly and be drama free, at least in this arena!
We have welcomed another little one into our home. She is the bio sister of BB and Precious. I picked her up Thursday from the foster home where she was placed directly from the hospital a month ago.
The case manager did not review the case file in detail and decided she did not have my contact information, even though she knew both siblings had been adopted. Eventually CPS contacted me and wanted to move the baby.
Court was this week and bio mom did not show. Seems she is AWOL again. This tiny little girl was born drug exposed (like the other two) but has suffered no obvious symptoms. She was born full-term at 6 pounds, but at one month is already over 8 pounds.
She is very sweet, easy to sooth, and sleeps well. Precious is quite jealous but already coming around. BB was in awe and wants to help constantly; he is very protective. Buddy can't wait to hold her, ALL THE TIME. He said he wants to learn to change diapers! May just returned from a week of 8th grade camp this afternoon and was excited to see her. Sweets is not here, but knows we have her.
People will ask Why? Don't you have enough? When are you going to stop?
I have prayed and prayed over this decision. Yes, I knew the baby was coming. I just had no idea when or what state bio mom would be when the baby was born. It was not a sure thing that the baby would even be found by CPS, let alone pulled. But I knew mom was pregnant.
For a long while I didn't know my answer, if I received the call. Then I truly believe the Lord was asking me to take one more. As if to confirm my decision, last Sunday's sermon spoke volumes. It was a call to action, listening to the call of God.
I trust that He will provide, that I can do this. Will it be easy? Of course not. Possible? Definitely, with His help!
May is a huge help with the little ones. She frequently reads BB a book or two or more in his room at bedtime. The other night I listened in from the hallway.
May was reading a Disney book. She was reading with feeling and expression. She was using voices. She was not struggling. BB was eating it up!
This event may not seem like much, but it is HUGE! May is dyslexic. She could hardly read at all for many years.
At the end of second grade, she was two years behind, barely knowing what sounds letters make. That was after eighteen months of private tutoring and a year in reading resource (special ed). She spent two more years in pull out resource classes for reading and almost maintained being two years behind. But her self-esteem tanked. Everyone made fun of her and called her dumb. She did not like school.
I switched her to a private Christian school for fifth grade. God truly orchestrated this move!
Two years earlier, I met the principal at this private school the spring Sweets was four and I was searching for a kindergarten for her.* This principal heard my family's story and just LOVED on us. She met May as a result and later learned, after I enrolled Buddy in kindergarten a year later after my fabulous experience with Sweets, that May was struggling with her dyslexia in public school. She told me she would be returning to teaching and would be teaching fifth grade the following year, the year May would be in fifth grade. This teacher was a speech specialist and had previously taught a student with severe dyslexia who was by then very successful in high school.
I completed an application for May to attend this private school as she was completing fourth grade. Her IEP (special ed plan) was provided to the school with all her records from the public school. I received a call from the newly hired principal in June saying that despite her high intelligence level, they could not accept her, because her special needs were more than that school could handle. I was devastated, as she hated school by then.
I asked the new principal to reconsider and eventually resorted to begging, saying May needed to go to a new school. I solicited the teacher for help, since May would be in her class and she was willing to teach her. I told the principal I would agree to a one quarter trial period; if the school would just accept her for one nine-week grading period, I would agree to disenroll her if it did not work. The principal brought us in for a pre-admission interview, a standard practice at this private school. At the end of the interview, he asked May to read him a couple short books. Keep in mind, she just finished fourth grade. The books were second and third grade level. She struggled through part of the second grade book and could barely touch the third grade book. But, he accepted her!
The rest is history. This teacher taught May for fifth and sixth grade. Now May has followed her to the junior high school and had her for some of her classes in seventh and eighth grade. The other teachers have also been just as awesome and work with this teacher to adapt teaching methods to be most effective for May. Last year she was reading at grade level. YES!!! She still struggles with schoolwork, but now she is succeeding.
Now May can read out loud to her little brother and not stumble. I am SO PROUD of her!
*Sweets has a late fall birthday and missed the public school cutoff for kindergarten. This private school tested her and accepted her a year before public school would. I felt it was imperative for her to start that year. If she went to live with her dad, she did not need to spend an entire school year in front of the the TV or dropped off with different people each day (he would never send her to daycare). If she stayed with me, she needed to be ahead of Buddy, who was only four months younger but at that time developmentally a year younger. Sweets is now in fifth grade, the youngest in her class, and one of the smartest.
BB and Precious sit in the middle seat of the minivan. BB faces forward on the right, and Precious still faces backward on the left, in full view but out of reach of each other when strapped into their car seats. The other day they were having a ball laughing at each other.
BB would make a silly sound and start laughing. As soon as he would stop, Precious would laugh at him. When she stopped, he laughed back at her. And so on and so on and so on for several minutes. It was so cute!
So much better than when he hits or pushes her every time he passes her in the house!
Buddy joined Cub Scouts last summer. This was our family's first experience with Boy Scouts, and so far it has been a really good one.
In March, the Cub Scout pack held their Pinewood Derby. About a month before, the boys were given a box with a block of wood, wheels, and directions. They did get some help during one of their meetings to actually cut out the car based on a pattern of their own choosing.
I contacted our minister at church and requested a male mentor who might like to help Buddy with this project. A gentleman volunteered and worked with Buddy to make the car (we'll call him Mr. P). Mr. P came to cub scouts the night they cut out and sanded the cars. About a week later, Mr. P took Buddy to his son-in-law's house to finish the car in his garage where "he had a tool" for everything! Buddy named his car the Boss.
The scout leaders helped Buddy attach weights the night the cars were weighed to make sure they were all close to 5 oz, but not more. Then the week of the race came and all were invited.
Eight cars raced three at a time, first in eight qualifying races, followed by four final races. It was quite an elaborate wooden race track.
The Boss took second place in its first race, just barely being edged out of first. Buddy's car won its other two qualifying races and moved to the finals with three other cars. Mr. P was so excited, probably even more than Buddy. The Boss raced three times in the final races and took first and second places.
Certificates and praise were awarded to all the boys who raced their cars. Then the winner was announced. It was Buddy and the Boss!
Buddy couldn't believe it, and Mr. P was beside himself. All the boys had fun. I think the spectators did too! What a neat experience, one Buddy will always remember!
March is the month of Spring Break. First Sweets had over two weeks of Spring Break which ended Monday. May and Buddy have a week and a day which started Monday. Get the picture?
I really wanted to do something special for the kids, but the only way to make it work was to take a long weekend. After talking with a friend, who is also a foster and adoptive parent (of 11 no less), we devised a plan. I would leave my two little ones with her and take three of her kids that line up in age and gender with my three older ones to Disneyland. Sound like a plan to you?
Hotel room for seven reserved; discount tickets found; coordination with school for each child to miss one day either before or after spring break; vacation scheduled at work; lots of snacks purchased and packed. Then the weekend before, the stomach virus hits Precious followed by BB. Oh, no! Did I forget to mention that my friend just accepted a newborn infant as a foster placement?
All last week was touch and go. The hotel had a 48 hour cancellation policy. I called 48 hours in advance and explained the situation and the manager agreed to let me cancel 24 hours in advance with no fees if necessary. (When I did finally checkout, it was with the manager I talked to on the phone that night. He remembered and said he was glad the kids felt well enough to come. I will so go back to this hotel again!) As it turned out, by Thursday both little ones were on the mend, and we decided to go ahead with the plans.
Friday we left and drove to Disneyland. We arrived after 11pm at the hotel. We spent three days park hopping between Disneyland and California Adventure. It was really nice. The kids all had fun. No major meltdowns, although there were definitely tired kids. Tuesday we checked out and drove home.
BB and Precious did really well too. They enjoyed their time at my friend's and each had a playmate close to their age as well.
When I returned to work on Wednesday, I heard many comments about taking six kids to Disney on my own. Many involved the words "crazy" or "nuts". That's okay. I enjoyed it and so did all the kids! In my mind, that's a successful Spring Break.
I attended an all day training session today to fulfill my hours for my foster care license. They call it the Spring Training Blitz here, where hundreds come to get their required training hours in a single day. There were seven morning trainings to choose from and seven afternoon training sessions.
In the morning I went to a session on motivation. The trainer was excellent and really knew her stuff. She was a child and family therapist. Unfortunately, she spent almost the entire time talking about developmental stages and what happens when kids experience trauma or are otherwise interrupted during those stages. She shared many reasons why kids lack motivation, but she didn't really get into how to help them become motivated other than to say that they need to learn what they missed during each developmental stage.
A couple take aways from this class:
Kids can't process working to change more than three things at a time.
The more you externally motivate, the less a child develops internal motivation.
The afternoon session that I attended discussed keeping children safe in the digital world. Topics covered included internet safety, password strength and security, monitoring software for both computers and smart phones, and rules regarding electronic devices. I thought this training presented some really good information. I signed up for an email which will outline how to set the privacy settings on social media.
This day was made possible by my fabulous friend, also a foster and adoptive parent, who watched all of my children along with her brood. We all met for an outdoor barbeque to end the day.
Precious' social security card came in the mail today. I went to vital records and picked up her certified birth certificate about a month ago, and then went to the social security administration a couple weeks ago. I now have BOTH legal documents! This is when it truly feels like the adoption is complete to me. She is 100% part of my family!
Sweets and Buddy were the acolytes for our traditional church service this morning. They light the candles on the alter in the front of the church at the start of the service.
We arrived early to get their white robes and purple stoles on. BB was taking it all in and said he wanted one too. The acolyte garments are stored in the choir room closet with the choir robes, and the (old) little white children's choir robes were right beside them. So, in an effort to avoid a fit, I threw a little white robe on BB's head and marched him out the door after the big kids. Next stop - back of church.
BB sat on a chair right be side Buddy and Sweets waiting for the service to begin. I sat beside him holding Precious, who I was planning to keep with me in service instead of taking her to the nursery since she has been sick. The time came and the music of the prelude started. Buddy and Sweets lined up behind the back pew and had their candle lighters lit. BB walked over right behind them. He looked at me; I looked at him and waved him to come back to the chairs.
I knew what was coming next as Buddy and Sweets started to process down the aisle between the pews! I almost shoved Precious at the usher who had been watching this entire scene thinking it was so cute. I quickly moved over and swooped up BB - he only made it past two pews (I think there were lots of grins!). Luckily he didn't scream and I held him up and whispered in his ear with the play-by-play as his brother and sister finished their job. Then BB softly said, "out the door," after the big kids disappeared behind the choir loft through the side doors.
He happily got down and went out the back door with me and Precious to find them. Then he went willingly to the nursery without his robe, since the other two had taken their's off to go to Sunday School. Overally, it was a successful part of the morning!
Precious is sick. Took her to urgent care tonight after running a fever off and on for three days. Today junk started discharging from her eyes. Unbelieveably, she was still in happy spirits most of the time, until the middle of the night. I just wasn't ready for another long night.
She has an ear infection, and she had lots of wax buildup deep in both ears. After medication, she is happy again! Precious has been a very healthy baby. I think this may be the first time on antibiotics.
Despite not feeling well and an ear infection, Precious now walks across the room on her own! Imagine what she will be like when her ear clears up! I bet she'll run across the room!
Today we ventured out to the zoo. The weather was beautiful. We went with another foster and adoptive family. Between us, we had three adults and sixteen children ages 1 to 13. Yes, it was quite a crew! We had fun, despite no naps and a late lunch. After the zoo, we all invaded a buffet restaurant.
This weekend I'm providing respite for a three year old girl. She is pretty easy, except she doesn't like to eat or drink anything that is not junk food. Although bedtime has brought a few tears, she has done very well so far.
Last night I went to pick up Sweets and Lil Sis, who was going to visit her maternal aunt and uncle. What normally takes two hours took over three, as they were not home when I got there, despite me having called when we were twenty minutes out. At the time of the call, I found out later they were on their way to dad's friend's house, about five miles in my direction. So, I backtracked five miles only to discover after picking up the girls that their bags were at dad's - five miles back the other way! Argh!
In addition to the driving fiasco, Sweets has had another puppy, courtesy of dad, for about three weeks. She already decided to stay home two weekends ago, because she was afraid that the dog would be gone when she got back. Last weekend, a friend watched it. This weekend she wasn't going to come, because she couldn't find anyone to watch the puppy and dad "doesn't want it anymore." At 3:15pm on Friday, she called and asked me to pick her up because she had found someone to watch the dog.
I had a difficult discussion with her. We talked about all the other times dogs have been an issue at her dad's house. It seems like about every six months to a year the story replays itself:
Last summer, dad offered her a dog on the condition she couldn't leave to go to my house. A year ago, dad got Sweets a dog but told her she had to take it to my house or stay home. Two years ago, Sweets smuggled a dog to my house and we ended up finding it a new home.
There have also been two other dogs over the years that just "ran away" while she was gone.
I reminded Sweets that spring break is coming up and asked her about finding someone to watch the dog for two plus weeks. I know she won't want to miss some of the opportunities planned, but I also know that she and her sister like playing with the dog for the two hours after school before their dad gets home when there is nothing else to do.
Lil Sis is here tonight too, since the aunt and uncle had another engagement, and another relative was unable to care for her as planned. Amazingly, bedtime wasn't too bad! Now it's my turn!
Today BB had outpatient surgery on his eyelid, because it was drooping to the point that it may start to cover the pupil. The doctor figured this procedure would become absolutely necessary eventually (when the eyelid overlaps part of the pupil), and it was already considered medically necessary to do at sometime. My position is that if it is inevitable, let's get it done as young as possible so he remembers as little as possible.
BB was a champ. We went to the surgical center next to the children's hospital. It's in the same building as this doctor's office. Check in went smoothly - no insurance issues at all (yeah!). When we were called back to pre-op and met the nurse, BB told her that the doctor was going to "fix his eye". AMAZING! I had not told him that. I had just said we were going to see the eye doctor. He has already seen him twice, as well as seen another eye doctor (non-surgeon) about every six months since he was six months old. I couldn't believe that BB picked up on this!
BB liked his special pajamas, colored briefly as the anesthesiologist and then the doctor stopped by, and then went willingly with the OR nurse through the door to "find the animals on the wall". He was in there just over an hour before the doctor came out and said everything went very well. I waited about 10-15 more minutes before they brought me back to the recovery room. That's when the fun started!
Because he needed to not touch his eye, they had put splints on his arms to prevent the elbows from bending. He DID NOT LIKE them. He was already starting to fuss as I walked in, and eventually it took two nurses plus me to control him as they gave him two more doses of medicine into his IV. In the meantime, he had wiped his eye on my arm, on the sheet, and had one splint part way off.
Eventually he calmed back down and we were able to take off the splints, let him drink and eat a popsicle, and finally get dressed. In the meantime, the doctor had come into recovery following his next surgery. Luckily, he checked on BB and said all still looked really good. We put the splints back on his arms to go out the door for the ride home. Two bags of goldfish were a good enough bribe!
My little escape artist managed to get both splints loose enough that he could move and bend his arms by the time we were part way home. Thankfully, by then he understood that if he rubbed his eye, it would hurt more instead of less. He did fine once home and the splints came off for good. Actually, he did incredibly well the rest of the day.
I haven't let BB see his face in the mirror. As Buddy put it, "It looks scary." I'm hoping it looks a lot better by tomorrow. We drive across town to check in with the doctor in the morning.