Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Two days ago I saw a lot for sale on ebay about an hour north of us. It included a pack n play, nothing special, but mine wasn't either, a swing that looked adorable and which I don't have, and a great Eddie Bauer bouncy seat that zips all the way around to use outside and can also be reclined as a bassinet. I was very interested in those, but in addition there was a travel system with stroller, infant car seat, and base, a baby bathtub, bottles, a bottle warmer, a jumper brand new in box, and a booster car seat! It was obviously pick up only, and was at a bid of only $40! So, I watched it and got it Monday night for $50!!! Less than what I paid for the other car seat, got an awesome swing and bouncer, and am selling the rest at a garage sale this weekend and will most likely make back the money I spent, thereby only spending gas money to drive up to get it. I got it yesterday with the boys, with a side trip to IKEA for a table I needed, and LOVE it! The pack n play isn't great, but I'm setting up mine today because I think the bottom of the "new" one will fit, I can put a sheet over it, and no one will know the difference! :) Yay!!!!
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The other day Olivia was playing dolls. I overheard her talking to one, saying that soon they would be adopted and then there would be a big party! She is so funny. I think she may be more excited about the party than the adoption! :)
"...how attached are you to Little One? I cannot imagine having a child (even with the problems it seems Little One might have) for 8+ months and then going through the separation. How do you handle this emotionally? "
You are so right. It is hard. It helps, I guess, in a weird sort of way, to know that Olivia and Braeden are "permanent." I tell myself over and over that I am Little One's foster mother. That doesn't stop me from bonding. From feeling very much like his mom, not foster mother. From going to him in the middle of the night when he is crying. From comforting his fears, his anger, his sadness. From feeling overly protective with regards to visits. With regards to the agency seeing him as another "case." With regards to his future.
I want what is best. I know in my heart that if he can be with biological family, he "should" be. But the unknown is scary. The unknown people, situations, etc. The stories heard of other children returned to "family" and then seriously injured or killed. But there are success stories too. Many. I know this, but it isn't easy. And while I will definately grieve if he leaves, I worry most about the ones who have no say in this. Little One himself. And Olivia and Braeden. They didn't "ask" to be a part of this ride. They didn't have a choice.
Any move for Little One, whether to mom whom he visits weekly, or to Grandma whom he's seen once, whether a good or not so good placement, will be hard. He already has attachment issues. Moving again after being in our stable placement, for what it is, will be rough. And Olivia and Braeden, who have a "little brother" will grieve. I talk to them about it, We talk about taking care of him while his family works on helping themselves to take better care of him, we talk about his possible leaving. But how much of that can a 3 and 5 year old really understand??? They, Little One, Olivia, and Braeden, are who I worry about for this outcome. I knew going into foster care, I knew accepting placements, that there is a potential for "losing" this child, I knew what I was getting into, they didn't.
One of the hardest things, is that when he was first placed with me, actually even before that when I only knew of him as a possible placement, the current cw at the time said that she was almost positive he would not go home and that he would be a possibility for adoption. That has been at the back of my mind. I've contemplated names for him. We call him his given name followed by a name I would choose for him were he "mine." Before this news of grandma, I was under the impression that we were trying for return to mom, that that most likely would not happen, and that I would then be able to adopt. And while nothing is guaranteed in this maze of a system, that has been in the back of my mind. I tried to put it out of my mind. I know what happens all the time when cw say one thing and then something else happens. I know, yet how do you cut off hope? How do you put up the kind of wall to keep out feelings of being a mom to this little one? You can't. You can only do your best, one day at a time, and pray that God makes the decisions that are "right" for this little love. I pray. I worry. I grieve when it turns out different from what I think it should be. I try to just do my best.
I hope that helps shed some light. It's a hard question. :)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
She told me that his Grandma was in town recently, from Alabama to visit. I knew she was here and they had scheduled an additional visit for him that week for that reason. I didn't know where she was from. The CASA worker then went on to tell me that she was upset that the agency hadn't called her to be a part of the visit. Inside I was thinking, "OK, why would you need to be a part of that?" But then she said that mom "still wants him back." (OK, I know that, that's why his goal is return home.) BUT, that if she "can't have him" she wants Grandma to be his Guardian, like she is for his 3 year old BROTHER!!! I NEVER knew he even had a sibling!!! So, she said the agency is thinking about this, I guess. I mentioned something about a interstate compact and how they take a long time. She said they talked about somehow getting around that by making her a private guardian, not subsidized or something.
Now I understood why she was upset they didn't let her know of this visit and ask her to be a part of it. HELLO! The CASA worker was appointed to be Little One's voice for his future. How can she fully do that if they are thinking of placing him with a relative she has never met? Not only that, but the Grandma cares for her own elderly parents and the 3 year old brother. The brother, supposedly, has some major issues. Not sure exactly what. She wishes she could have seen him and viewed these "issues" because, as she said, if they are due to environmental factors she doesn't want Little One to turn out similarly.
She pretty much asked me what I thought he needed as far as a placement. How do you make a call like that? I told her honestly that I had no idea. I don't know his family AT ALL. Just because mom talks junk about me doesn't mean a lot. I understand her jealousy, her fear of the unknown, me. I have never even met her. I also know nothing of Grandma. Who am I to say he should or shouldn't go to either. That's partly what CASA is there for.
I told her what I could. I told her I was concerned about his future development. He is doing great right now, but is showing me some signs of attachment disorder. He has some sensory issues as well, which the developmental therapist and I are looking into. We filled out a profile and it will be "scored" this week. We are also looking into oral motor issues. With the exception of bread and crackers, he tries to swallow pretty much everything. If the piece is big enough he will chew, but he swallows about everything without chewing, or tries to.
His next court date is July 10, of course it's one day after we leave for FL, so I won't be able to go and hear what is said. I wish I could. I wish I could meet them. I doubt at that time any major decision would be made. So even if they started going toward Grandma right away I don't think it could happen anytime real soon. If he lives here 4 months beyond that, he will have been here a year. At that point, if they did terminate mom and decide to move him somewhere else, I COULD appeal the decision based on the fact he's been here a year and I'm a stable long term placement. I overrule others if parental rights are terminated and he's been here a year or more. Would I even want to make that decision?
I don't think a move will be good for him no matter who it is to, even mom. Not because she's not a good placement, I don't know that, but because he's been moved so many times already. BUT, at least he knows mom. He sees her every week. Grandma he's seen once. So much info, so much to pray about. I pray for God's will. I pray for open doors to the "right" decision.
The car got us to Tennessee and back just fine. The day after returning, we went up to the train station to Chicago and back, just fine. And the next day we went 45 min north to spend my birthday shopping and riding the mall carousel, and the car got us there and back just fine. And the very next day, after dropping off two of three children, the car died. It gave me two hours with just one child to arrange a rental, towing, etc. What perfect timing. What a blessing.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Today Braeden and Olivia began Little Farmers Camp at our park dist. It's from 9-11 this week for 3-5 year olds. They have a small farm right there, so they do inside activities and then go out to the animals and do things there as well. Little One and I dropped them off and then it began. Last night the CD in the van started acting funny. Not skipping, but kind of going on and off. We were home so I just turned it off. This morning we only had to go a few blocks to drop off the kids, I turned on the CD and it started doing the same thing. After letting them off, the radio did the same. I pulled into Big Lots parking lot and my turn signal didn't turn off. Then the car died. It wouldn't start. It just clicked away.
I have had soooooo many problems with this car!!! It is a money pit of utmost extreme.
After getting a hold of the car dealership, finding out there were no loaners available, they told me which towing co. to call who would put their bill on my final bill at the dealer. I got a hold of my friend J and she said that after ballet they would come get us and take us to the rental car dealer. I got a hold of the rental car co. and they got a car for us for a mere $38 / day! Yuck. I of course had towing and rental coverage on my insurance before this van. I took it off because I was given it as part of my extended warranty for the van. The warranty expired recently. Do you think I thought of putting rental coverage and towing ins back on??? NO!
We got the rental in time to pick up the kids from "camp." The dealership called a bit ago. The van needs a new alternator. With that, the towing, an oil change I was due for, and the rental, we're looking at about $700. YUCK!!!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
While we were there, guys were at the house replacing the main water pipe in the basement. It went well. I spent yesterday unloading the van and putting things away, cleaning, putting away things in the basement to clear the way, getting groceries, etc. We also went to the splash pad to get out for a while.
Today we timed things perfectly and the guys called on the drive home from the train station to say that they were done. It looks good. They cleaned up and I just had to let the floor dry as it was still wet from cleaning. Tomorrow I will put things back.
Tomorrow our local park is having it's annual kite festival. The last two years it has rained, so I'm hoping that tomorrow is a go. Monday Olivia and Braeden are starting at Little Farmers Camp. They will go from 9-11. Olivia is mostly there as a helper for Braeden. She's also doing gymnastics camp and World Traveler camp, so this one is extra. :) We're in for lots of fun still this summer. :)
We had a great vacation. I want to make that clear before I share that our "bad luck" followed us all the way to TN! Satan was set on messing up our vacation, BUT we did have a GREAT time!!! :)
The majority of the trip went GREAT. I was actually surprised how well it went. I tried some videos on Little One when he started getting antsy. The only ones he liked, and really liked where he was laughing, were the Little Einstein DVDs. I only have two. I stopped in IN to pick up a new one and we made it a rest stop and stretched our legs. Started back in the car, tried the DVD, it wouldn't work! We just played the two we had quite a bit. We arrived in the area amidst a huge thunderstorm. With that and an unclear map on getting onto a certain road, we went out of our way about an hour. Not a huge deal, but I had planned the timing pretty well and we should have arrived right at dinner time. The last hour, which shouldn't have even happened, Little One cried and cried and cried because he was hungry. He had done so well the rest of the trip! I had packed just so, so that the snacks for the trip were accessible, but the rest of the food really wasn't. I had bought a loaf of bread on our way out of town and finally ripped it open and just threw two pieces in his lap. I have a lovely picture of him, splotchy red face, tear streaked cheeks, and shoving a piece of bread in his mouth! Poor buddy!
We did finally make it to the cabin - LOVE IT - LOVE THE VIEW! - BUT, no electricity or water! I spoke with a man out walking down near our cabin with his little girl. He said power was out from two downed poles due to an accident. There was light enough outside, so I threw together some PB sandwiches and applesauce for dinner. After putting the kids to bed I put my swimsuit on ( we were in a totally private area, no one around! :) ) and went in the hot tub on the back deck overlooking the mountains. Gorgeous!!!! Here was my view:
I sat there soaking in the relaxation and praying the electricity would come on, and it did! I had thought that the water was related to the power being that we were up in the mountains??? Not so. No water still. Being as late as it was, I hit the hay and called first thing in the morning about the water.
That day the kids and I went into Pigeon Forge for the day and had a blast. We went through the Dinosaur Walk Museum (Not really worth the money, but the kids loved it. I of course forgot my camera.! ), shopped at The Christmas Place which is like 8 stores all connected, with Santa and the works, and headed back to the cabin. Still no water so I called again. They said that someone had been out and it wouldn't be able to be repaired anytime soon and we would have to move. WHAT?????!!!!!! I was practically in tears on the phone. I was so upset. I scoped out tons of cabins to pick this exact one for the view, hot tub, loft for the kids, etc. I asked where we would move to. Oh, well it's a new "cabin", an upgrade for free. I could care less about the cabin itself. It was right in town, no view, no yard, no hot tub, I could've stayed home. I finally got them to refund me 10%. Whoop tee do. So, while the kids napped, I packed up everything. No easy feat.
After they got up we waited for them to call with directions to the new "cabin." While waiting, Braeden did some little jump, turn, twist thing on the floor, feet flew out from under him and he went down hard. His top left side of teeth went through his bottom lip. Blood was everywhere and I was really afraid he was going to need some teeth out. They didn't seem like they were going to stop bleeding and his bottom lip got HUGE. We did the best we could with what we had and after a while he seemed better.
I finally called, since they don't seem to know how to use a phone to contact me, we got the directions, which were wrong street names by the way and took extra time to actually find, and we went to the new cabin. NOT a cabin, a freaking new duplex with beds about ten feet off the ground with the boxsprings and pillowtops. I was scared they'd fall out. Flat screen TVs in each bedroom and living room. Stainless appliances. It was nice, don't get me wrong, but like I said I could've stayed home for that, that's not what we came here for.
Anyway, we're not even "moved in" when the phone rings and it's "them." They say that they're sorry but didn't realize that this "cabin" (which of course they've told me there's nothing else) is being rented in two days so we will have to move again at that time. Are you kidding me! But, they are now going to refund us 50% of our trip. Well that's good I guess. But, do you have any idea what it's like to pack, unpack, etc for an adult and three kids??? Plus I brought tons of refrigerated food so we didn't spend excess money. Ahh... life.
The next day we went and hiked up 1.3 miles to a waterfall. I had researched beforehand and found one that was paved for strollers. It was quite a walk anyway with Braeden "helping" push (or is that pull?) the stroller, but well worth it. It was very neat, but a little scary with Olivia and Braeden as we were basically in the middle on a rock formation. I was scared of them falling off...
The hike down was much easier since it was downhill. Braeden hopped on the back of the stroller and away we went! :)
The day we had to again pack up and move you wouldn't believe. We were supposed to go to their office to "check out" and get the map for the new cabin in the morning, but then could wait until the other cabin had been cleaned to go there. We packed quickly and headed for the new cabin. Are you kidding??? I was a little scared driving to our first cabin because it was in the mountains and the roads were a bit steep. That seemed like baby hills compared to what we drove this time. I wanted to cry. I couldn't believe how steep these hills were. We finally got there and found a steep drive to park at the top and then a huge set of stairs that had to be climbed to get up to the cabin set up for a couple. It had a kind of loft with a bed, all open to below. A tub basically out in the open, and a tiny living room, table, and kitchen. That's it. I called. There was no way I was hiking three kids and all our stuff up to this cabin where I and three kids were going to basically share a room. No way. I said is there nothing available? They put me on hold and finally came back to say that no, nothing else was available but that they had just gotten the call that our original cabin had water now. Oh. My. Gosh. On the way to this cabin I had also realized that in the midst of packing yet again, I had forgotten the pack and play at the second cabin. They said no problem, just go back and get it on your way to the old/new cabin.
We went back and the cleaning people had already been there. I didn't see the pack and play. I called from there and was told that they would contact the housekeeping people and have them bring it to the office. Which would mean another trip back later. Our original cabin was about 25 min out of town. Fun with three kids. I made Little One a "bed" of blankets on the floor for a nap once we arrived back at our beloved original cabin.
We got the call that the pack and play was there and we could pick it up. We made the trek back to get it and did dinner and went to a park since we traveled all that way. Upon arriving back at the cabin, and removing the pack and play, I noticed two things. One, they didn't know what they were doing and my pack and play which took no time to set up and take down now took over a half hour to get to go up. Two, the bottom was not there! The bottom part that folds in four sections and lays for the "floor." Gone. I called. They would get in touch with someone and see what they could do.
Next day, went to the office myself (since no one bothered to call me.) As I walked in under the big neon lit VACANCY sign (remember, they have nothing.), I knew I didn't like these people much. The people there knew nothing of my pack and play so I went over it again. She called the people now staying there and they hadn't seen anything but someone was getting ready in there right now. She would call later. I did not hear from her again.
The next day we went into Gatlinburg. It was so much fun. We went to Ripley's Aquarium which was awesome! The kids got to touch horseshoe crabs and Braeden touched a stingray (Olivia was a little scared!). It was well worth the money! We then rode up a huge mountain in a tram which was amazing (kids under 11 are FREE!!!). At the top they have rides and much more. We didn't go to do that stuff so I talked to them about it, but it was still hard for them to walk past. Braeden and I then got ice cream at Ben and Jerry's! Love it! Olivia does NOT like ice cream! :) We went to a candy store for her and watched them make taffy. She had three pieces of it and a small bag of gummy bears. A very fun day!
I called the office again our last morning. "Oh, sorry, we didn't see anything in the cabin." Thanks for calling. How would someone just throw away that piece of equipment and not the rest? Where did it go? I was so not happy. It was left at two supervisors would go there themselves after these people checked out and look for it. If found, they would send it no charge, if not, they're not responsible for anything left in the cabins. Do you understand I had to pack and repack three children and myself because of your mistakes/water/whatever??? I didn't touch the pack and play, your house cleaners did and part is missing. How is that my fault? I didn't hear from them so I'm guessing they didn't find it. I now have two weeks to buy a new one before my parents come and we all head up to our family reunion for a weekend. So not happy.
On the way out of town I stopped at WalMart to exchange Little One's DVD. STarted our trip home and put it in, it didn't work EITHER! Finally in IN, the next Wal Mart we saw, we returned it, got a refund, and bought a different title. Wouldn't you know, he didn't like this one as much as the other two! :) This trip went well too, with one exception. For TWO HOURS, Little One played his really not much fun game. He would cry and cry, red and splotchy, barely breathing practically, I would give him his blanket, he would giggle, hide his face from the sun with it, etc, then THROW it on the floor and cry like he was dying, all over again. FOR TWO HOURS!!!! Not kidding. I called my mom in the middle and explained the lovely background and she couldn't believe his crying, and then how it magically stopped when I gave him his blanket. Not easy while driving either. :) But we made it and they did ok. :)
BUT, like I said, all that (JUNK) aside, we had a great vacation!!! In fact, Little One even started walking!!! I have a video I will try to upload and put on here. I don't think you can really see his face. :) I'm glad to be back, but the kids do miss it. Braeden kept asking on the way home, Are we sleeping in our mountains tonight? :)