foster care, parenting

LICE!!!!

One of the things we were warned about in our PRIDE classes (Foster care classes) is lice. Lots of kids come into care with lice and it should be the first thing they are checked on when they come in the house. Because there is nothing like taking a terrified child that was just torn away from his or her family and putting him or her under a light to search their hair for bugs. That’s not traumatizing. Not at all.

So before kids came to us, I was told of a specific treatment for lice that worked on multiple outbreaks. This was told to me by a mother of 12.

Two weeks ago I got the phone call. Fiona (6) had live lice. Time to pick her up. The first thing I did was call that mother of 12.

The treatment is this:

For the next three days:

Wash hair in Blue Dawn. Let it get really sudsy. This kills the live lice.

Spray hair with a mixture of half vinegar, half rubbing alcohol. Let it dry. This kills the nits and eggs. This irritated Fiona’s eyes so I had her wear goggles on day 2 and 3.

Cover hair with olive oil and cover hair in plastic. We used a shower cap. This prevents lice from jumping into bedding and reinfecting.

3 days later we are lice free.

Now I’m putting drops of tea tree oil on all their scalps to prevent new lice from hopping on since it’s a school wide outbreak.

 

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foster care, parenting

3 kids 3 cats not an instant of peace

It was a school night. It was one of those nights where you struggle to get everything done and all you want in the world is to lay your head on the pillow. We had the tutor and the behavioral specialist appointments in the house at the same time. Fiona (6) was destracted and not paying attention to the tutor. We had told her to sit in a solid chair (no wheels) and when she didn’t listen, the behavioral specialist told us to physically move her. She did that dead weight thing where kid’s muscles go completely loose and the body sags to the ground. The tutor wound up on the floor with her (god bless her!) and they did their sight words down there. Meanwhile, Mason was refusing to eat, instead interrupting both the tutor and the behavioral specialist at every point. The door bell rang and we got in trouble with the master’s association for having too many cars parked outside. My face went red and the behavioral specialist had to calm me down.

Finally, everyone leaves. I send the kids up to put pajamas on but no one is listening. I go upstairs, put their pajamas on, tuck them in, while Lucas is toddling around downstairs babbling away and Joe is sitting in his recliner. I finally close the bedroom doors only to see our overly friendly black cat squatting outside our bedroom door with clumps of poop popping out. I scold and give chase, watching the clumps pop out down the steps, across the living room and into the dining room. I yell, “Joe- poop” and continued for the cat. Joe yells “Lucas,” who had taken the moment to reach down and grab the ball of cat poo with one hand. Said hand was clasped just before reaching into his curious mouth. I grabbed the cat, threw her into the closet with the litter boxes and started picking up stinky brown balls that made a trail through out the two story house.

What a day!

foster care

Little Engine Who Could

Today we went into court expecting the parents rights would be terminated. The parents have not shown up to court since over a year ago. The parents have not done one thing on their case plan. The parents have not passed a single drug test (only take them when cornered). And today they showed. A trial date has been set and they are contesting the termination of parental rights. Which they have every right to do so. That’s our legal system. If rights are terminated after trial, they have the right to appeal. It’s their right.

In the meantime, we continue to be foster parents when I just want to be the parent.

In the meantime, caseworkers, attorneys, and guardian ad litems still visit monthly.

In the meantime, I need a court order to take them on vacation with me.

In the meantime, if surgery is needed, I also need a court order.

In the meantime, I have to defend every bruise, scratch and bad day because I’m not “that” kind of foster parent. (Newly walking toddler = lots of bumps and bruises!)

In the meantime, they can be taken at a moment’s notice because the system deems it necessary.

My worries continue with no end in sight.

In the meantime, I go home, and I’m still Mommy.

In the meantime, I nag for them to eat their vegetables.

In the meantime, I tuck them in at night.

In the meantime, I get them showered, fed and ready for the school bus.

In the meantime, I turn sight words and ABCs into games.

 

At the end of the day, the parents haven’t done anything to show they can care for these kids. I have to keep my head up, my anxiety down, and stand by the side lines. While I think these thoughts, my heart breaks for the parents because they are in an impossible situation.

foster care, Mommy Life, parenting

I am not the best Mom

I had this ideal of what kind of Mom I would be. I’m artsy craftsy. I love to get down with kids and color, play with slime, create collages and play with legos. For our respite kid, that’s what I did. I played inside with crafts and outside playing tennis in the street. At 7:30 he took a bath, 8:00 he went to bed, 9:00 lights out.

That was a fun week.

It’s different. By the time our two (then three) came to us, we were exhausted. With our older boys who were here for 5 days, I literally didn’t sleep. I went 48 hours at one point. With the infant and his issues, we were lucky to get two hours of sleep at a time. We aren’t spring chickens and the kids had us wiped pretty much immediately.

Now a days, I wake at 5:30, toddle downstairs and make my coffee. I check email, facebook, and the county arrest page. At 6:00 I hear Fiona loudly open her bedroom door, go to the bathroom, forget to flush, slam the door and start playing in her room. About 6:15 I coral her into the shower. I wash her hair, set the timer, and let her do the rest. Then I lead her into her bedroom where she has to be dressed because it’s too cold. I have breakfast set up, send her downstairs, send the 3 year old into the shower. He has to be carried because he likes to fake sleep, even though the baby has been talking or pounding on the crib since 5:45. I wrap him in a towel, send him to his room. Yep, he can dress himself. I grab the baby, open the dreaded diaper, then put him in the shower. He stands playing in the water while I wash, then I wash him, and hand him to hubby who is holding a towel. Then I run downstairs, do Fiona’s hair, nag her to brush teeth, bruth Mason’s teeth, dress Lucas, brush Lucas’ teeth yell about socks and shoes, and get them outside where the school bus picks Fiona up at the end of the driveway. We take about fifteen minutes each morning to do sight words while they jump around, yelling, and waking the neighborhood. Then I’m out the door, for 8-10 hours of work where I get texts from caseworkers, guardian ad litems, doctors, school nurses, and field it all.

I try to leave at 5 but sometimes wind up as late as 6, come home, tell kids to finish dinner, try to feed the baby as he throws dinner on the floor, ask myself why they won’t eat their vegetables. Three days a week I try to get the boys out of the way while Fiona is being tutored. Otherwise Mason is in the tutor’s face talking and Lucas is stealing her pencil.

At 6:30 we get ready for bed. It’s pajamas, brush teeth, bedtime story and tucked in. Between 7 and 7:30 the kids are all in bed and we are pretty much drooling on the couch trying to keep our heads up. Maybe we hold a conversation or maybe we stare blankly at the television.

Weekends are one fun day where we go out and have adventures (playground, festivals, you name it) and one lazy/cleaning day. The boys abide by this pretty well and are happy to watch movies and fumble around in the living room or if they’ve been good, in our room. Fiona won’t have it. She’s up and down and all around, glued to my side. I want to be fun mom, but it’s do laundry, sit for a few minutes, write out checks, sit for a few minutes, check account balances, close my eyes. I want to be the fun mom, but a lot of times I feel like swiss cheese. Everyone’s taken a piece of me.

 

 

foster care

What is was supposed to be

This was supposed to be a mommy blog. You know: Look at the cute things the kids did. Can you believe that actually happened? Are fourteen month olds supposed to be able to open the front door. What it actually is turning into is one big rant against the system.

What is parenting supposed to be? Tiring? Yes. Absolutely. You get up, get the kids ready for school. Pick them up from school/daycare/bus stop. Do homework. Eat dinner. Maybe go to the playground. Read a story, brush teeth and bed time. Instead parenting is nag, nag, nag, don’t sit on your brother, nag, nag, nag, eat your dinner or you are going to bed, did you want to go to the playground, don’t run behind that car! Go To Bed!!! This sounds like any tv sitcom. In our house, I feel like I’m the conductor and the kids are smashing on the drums twenty four seven.

Even good days are quickly over run by bad behavior, tears, and cranky over tired children that can’t get enough sleep no matter what I do.

Add in the appointments, the tutoring, the doctors, the teachers, caseworkers, guardian ad litems, and now attorney ad litems. We use an app called COZI to track all of our appointments. This weeks list makes me want to hide under my desk and never come out. Yesterday there was a conflict between an appointment with a doctor (that we knew about) and an appointment with an attorney that NO ONE told us about. And we got scolded because we did not attend.

How it’s supposed to be? We work as a team in the best interest of the child. I honestly think there should be help, especially for cases where kids have medical issues. The “system” staff is overworked, underpaid and a lot of times too scattered to know who is who and what is what. That team mentality doesn’t seem to happen too often. Each individual is working frantically to get the bare minimum done. There are definitely good people in the “system” and we have individuals who are a godsend to us. But a lot of times, it feels like we are banging our heads against a very strong wall.

Why continue, when kids, adults, and professionals exhibit bad behavior. Because those kids have so much potential and need someone to keep screaming at the top of their lungs, banging their head, and advocating for them.

Sorry for the rant.

foster care

Get me off the Roller coaster!

Foster care is not for the faint of heart. I am a very emotional and anxious person with a big heart and that can be a serious disadvantage when dealing with the rigors of the “system” in the foster care world.

First you have the biological parents. You have sympathy/empathy and anger towards them, especially if they are doing NOTHING for their plan and have substance abuse issues.

Second you have really difficult conversations with the foster kids. Whether they’ve been with you a day, a year or (I’m assuming) ten years, the talks are hard. Mason (3) asked what my last name is and what Joe’s last name in. Then Fiona, the 6 year old half sister, states clearly and with intent, her last name. Joe and I just look at each other. Mommy and Daddy have to explain that their biological parents love them but can’t take care of them.

Third, you have an entire system of people judging your every move. Every cough, diaper rash and bad hair day can be used against you. Any one can come into your house and pull those kids out at a moment’s notice. There is always an element of fear, especially if you are hoping to adopt.

If you are on the road to TPR, every congratulations on “potentially” being able to adopt is actually a tragedy. Your new family is due to a traumatic event that will never be healed. Foster to adopt always ends in heartbreak for someone.

I’m sitting here, sweating it out, waiting for a text from the caseworker. He is on his way to speak to the biological parents.

foster care

Weekend Warriors

Before becoming insta-family of 5 or insta-mommy to 3, we had Fiona on weekends only. We started with every other weekend. We’d make it an event. We did the water park, the playground, the library, the mall play area when it rained all weekend long. We went to festivals and farmer’s markets. We had a lot of fun but I worried that Fiona would think it was all fun in our household.

The first few overnights, there were tears each and every night. She’d cry herself to sleep.

She needed to be dressed. She couldn’t dress herself, put her socks on or her shoes. Every little detail required help. She didn’t flush the toilet. She didn’t turn lights off. She didn’t close doors.

Nag, nag, nag, nag. . .

She and Mason fought for our attention. They’d be by my side constantly. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Yes- Fiona called us Mommy and Daddy immediately because we were Mason’s “Mommy and Daddy.” Some think that’s wrong, but as far as Mason understood, women were Mommys and men were Daddys.

Joe and I had a push – pull argument. Should we take Fiona? Is it too hard? Can we handle 3? The answers in order: yes, yes, no.

We went to a local festival with a friend and her two year old. We were getting food for five, pushing a stroller through gravel, and trying to find a picnic bench in the shade when I turn around and realize Fiona was missing. It was the longest ten minutes of my life. At that point, Fiona couldn’t say our first names- never mind our last, or a phone number. We had no proof she was our child or in our custody. I ran around screaming her name at the top of my lungs. A mother wound up bringing her back to us (Joe was standing in one place with the stroller.)

That was the exact point when I realized I was attached. I got down on her level, held her shoulders, and told her teary eyed never to do that again. She scared me.

After that, I think she attached too. I really became Mommy.

Another thing, after that I put laminated index cards in their pockets with my name and phone number. . . just in case!