Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cutthroat Brutality of the Holiday Family Gingerbread House-Making Contest

Ahhh... the Holiday Season. For many families, it's a time to come together in love and celebration. My family has chosen this time of year to promote our competitive spirits and trash talk each other as we compete in our Annual Gingerbread House-Making Contest.

I'm the oldest grandkid on my mom's side of the family, and about six or seven years ago, Cool Cousin Tammy thought it would be fun to start a new Christmas tradition and get all of kids together at my place a week or two before Christmas to decorate Christmas cookies for the grown-ups Santa Claus. The kids loved it, and as the kids have grown, Christmas Cookie-Decorating Night began to evolve. We didn't want to give up our night, but cookie decorating is for babies. So last year, we tried our hand at making a gingerbread house (along with about 10 dozen cookies).

One of my aunts and her family moved out of state several years ago, and started an annual contest within their family to see who could decorate the best gingerbread house. Not to be outdone, the family down here wanted to give it a try. We had to call the "Gingerbread House Hotline" (aka. Aunt Linda) to figure out how the heck to put the thing together that first year, but my cousins and my niece and nephew managed to put together a beautiful house for their first attempt.

This year, with the addition of Angel and the Booger Bear to the family, we decided to up the stakes a little and have a full-fledged contest. The trash-talking began the week leading up to the big night. I believe I said something on Facebook about seeing those losers soon, and my cousin told me to "BRING IT!" because they were "SO going to win." My aunt added, "Let's get ready to rumble!" Families made plans and began drawing up secret blueprints and artistic renderings of their future homes.

And then, the night arrived... Everyone had on their game faces and bags of secret supplies. As we began pulling out our gear, we checked out the competition. ...and the trash talk and complaining began anew. People tried inventing new "rules" at the spur of the moment upon seeing what other people had brought. But, not having made official "rules" prior to the contest, anything went.

Everyone broke off into their teams and started building. Well, some of us started building. One team spend a good half hour attempting to construct their gingerbread house, to no avail. Oh, the whining... the crying... the yelling and blaming amongst the team members... the "whoa is me's..." I do believe some of it might have been caught on video. If so, I will track it down and post it for all to enjoy. :-) Their team almost admitted defeat when a wise woman (my mother) said that it looked like a natural disaster had hit it. And then, their dream was alive again (so to speak).

NOOO!!! Say it isn't so!!! Santa??? Frosty??? (And yet the Christmas tree is still standing :) What twisted, sick, sadistic people came up with this mess?!?

Now that's just not right! Aunt Amy was in on it too, but didn't want her photo associated with the madness. They now swear this was their plan all along, but I have my doubts. Little did Aunt Amy know when she said, "Let's get ready to rumble," she might have been psychically-predicting the impending doom of the avalanche's destruction of their house.

The natural distasters continued to plague other houses as well. My brother-in-law and sister were attempting to build their house when an "earthquake" hit. It was dropped on the floor. After a bit of repair work, my 4-year-old nephew took over to work on the curb-appeal of the house. We entitled this one "The Earthquake Damaged House of Many Colors."

Note the excellent use of colored-candy decorations. I think he ate more than he put on the house though. :)

Angel took the minimalistic approach with her Classic Cottage. I think she might have done more, but the natural disasters must have moved their way to Angel's house because a sink hole seemed to have opened up under the house and the walls started buckling.

There has been much debate regarding the nature of Mr. Gingerbread Man's reclining status at the front door. Casualty of the avalanche? A little too much wine at the office Christmas party? Did he catch a glimpse of Angel's cell phone bill (note it hasn't left her hand)?

The final entry in the contest took the brunt of the complaints that night. My niece and I built a beach house, complete with sand, water, umbrellas, and Mr. Gingerbread Man laying out on a beach towel. I think everyone was just bitter because we were natural disaster-free. (Although, if they were smart, they would have hit us with a bucket of water and created a monsoon. ;)

My nephew wanted his picture too. He insisted that he "helped" us. I think he ate more "sand" than he added though... Hence the frenzied, glazed-over "high" look in his eyes. :D

All in all, it was a great evening! Voting commenced that night on Facebook. I thought OUR house was the best, but my twisted Facebook friends just LOVED the thought of Frosty buried under a house. Sick people! I swear! :-)

So next year, we're hoping to go cross-country and compete with the rest of the extended family and friends. Nothing brings family closer together than trash talk and sugar highs! :-)

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Bully

Everyone knows that the Booger Bear has a bit of an ornery streak. I've witnessed it at home when he antagonizes Angel. Angel tries to love on him, and he decides it would be fun to pinch her and say, "Ow!" When he's feeling especially bully-ish, he instigates it himself.

He's a tricky one, this almost 14-month-old... He draws you closer by blowing kisses your way. He smiles and flirts. He might even give you a hug. Then, when you least expect it, his true intentions surface. "Ow!" he shouts. The poor, unsuspecting soul usually panics and thinks that they somehow hurt him. Angel and I know better. We know to run. Because when the Booger shouts, "Ow!," hands start making bodily contact in the form of a pinch, a hair tug, or a slap. ...and not OUR hands... The Booger's.

He knows that he can't really get away with it with me. He didn't appreciate his first "Time Out" session, and now immediately "apologizes" by hugging me or kissing wherever he pinched. But with Angel on the other hand, I truly get the full effect of being a mother of two. He "greets" her every morning with an "Ow!," a slap, and a chuckle. Angel, not realizing that she does it, cracks up and says, "Ow! Stop that!" He keeps it up until Angel starts whining like a 6-year-old and the Booger is just howling and laughing away. I fully expect to hear myself shouting, "Don't make me come back there!" or "Do I have to pull this car over? Cause I will!"

So yeah, I knew the Booger Bear was a bit of a bully at home... I didn't really believe our sweet little boy could actually be that bad at his daycare though. That was until the first time I decided to surprise him by picking him up early...

The Booger has a best friend. Hunter is the "Big Boy" in the class. The Booger Bear, as I mentioned before, is the baby. Our boy's not stupid. He knows to get in good with the big guy. Better to be "besties" with the bully than to get bullied on yourself. They get to daycare at the same time ever day. They eat breakfast together. The teachers tell me they are ALWAYS together. So I wasn't really surprised when I walked in that day to see the Terrible Twosome together, standing outside the crib of their sleeping friend. I was, however, a little disturbed by what they were doing to that poor boy.

They hadn't seen me come in, so I got to watch as they came up with their brilliant plan. Poor James... Sleeping, unsuspecting little James... The Booger Bear and Hunter must have decided they wanted their friend to wake up (The daycare calls the three of them the Three Musketeers.) The boys stood and watched James for a few seconds when the idea must have come to them simultaneously. They turned to look at each other, got these mischievous grins on their faces, and proceeded to turn back to the crib and start POKING their sleeping friend! James must be one sound sleeper because he didn't budge, but Hunter the Booger kept looking at each other and cracking up as they continued to turn back and poke poor James.

I couldn't help but laugh. I suppose that wasn't the most "parental" response to physical abuse, but the looks on their faces were hilarious. They were so stinkin' ornery! Then the Booger saw me, and the ornery grin turned into his angelic little smile. Both boys blew me kisses as if they hadn't just been tormenting their friend three seconds before.

Yep... We have a little bully on our hands. Fortunately, he's cute too. If I'm going to continue receiving calls from the principal's office, at least the cuteness acts as a buffer. His daddy will be in for it when he's older though. And I will laugh and laugh... :-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Enough is Enough Already!!!

So I have a question to all of you seasoned foster parents out there... Is it ever okay for a foster parent to say, "Enough is enough!!! Something's got to give, and it's not gonna be us!!!"?

You see, I've had the Booger Bear since May and Angel since June. Although they are mother and son, because they came into care at different times, it's opened up a whole new can of worms as far as people involved in their case(s) and the number of monthly appointments that we have and strange people coming into our home. On any given day, we have AT LEAST two CPS-related appointments (ex. therapy, medication monitoring, visitations, parenting classes, training classes, home visits with case workers, CASAs for each child, attorneys, court dates, etc.). We try to cram in all of the mandatory doctor and dental visits as well as our routine visits that we would have regardless of CPS on the two days a week that we don't have standing appointments. My 13-month-old has his own dayplanner, for crying out loud!!! AND IT'S FULL!!!

It's bad enough that these kids are living in foster care. Why on earth does the system make it WORSE by forcing them to have no life outside of CPS?!? One case worker even had the nerve to ask why Angel isn't involved in any extra-curricular activities! Another asked when she was going to start job-hunting! SERIOUSLY!??! I asked them when, exactly, they proposed we schedule something seeing as how Angel has appointments EVERY FREAKING DAY for those people! You expect her to WORK too?!? You're all freaking crazy.

As you can tell, I'm a wee bit fed up. I put my foot down as far as scheduling things during the school day. Angel IS NOT missing school unless absolutely necessary for her HEALTH. PERIOD. Fortunately, she has a fairly short school day, so we have been able to schedule things later in the afternoon. UNfortunately, I am a single parent trying to work full-time, and having to take off work constantly is going to get really old for my boss and co-workers. I try to make everyone schedule evening visits, but it doesn't usually work out that way. The CASAs have been great about coming in the evenings, and luckily we have case aids who are able to transport the kids to and from their weekly visitations. Everyone else though, is making it rather difficult.

At what point (if ever) is it okay for me to say, "No, I CAN'T take off work to do a home visit at 2:00!" or "I'm sorry, but Angel is going to take gymnastics and her classes are every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5:30-7. We're busy. You can come at 7:30 or on Friday night at 6."? Can I ask a therapist who can't work around our schedule for a referral to another therapist who CAN, or do we just have to suck it up, miss work, and potentially get fired all because she was "really busy this month."? I'LL SHOW YOU "REALLY BUSY" LADY!!!"

I think I need better meds, or maybe MY OWN therapist. But I don't DARE schedule an appointment for MYSELF! I'd end up having to miss it anyway due to a surprise visit from a case worker or a last minute mandatory training session. Fun times! How on earth do people do this with FIVE foster kids?!? It's definitely a full-time job and seems to require a lot more patience than I have at the moment. Fortunately, I'm a wee bit OCD and an organizational freak, so I'm getting a pretty good system going as far as all of the paperwork goes. UGH!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Call from the Principal's Office

The call every parent dreads... You look at the caller ID, and it's your child's school. GREAT! Guess we're in for another trip to the doctor!

I answer hestitantly, "Hello?"

The voice at the other end says, "Hi Tammy. It's ******* (the principal). I just wanted to call and let you know that your child got bitten again."

Me, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? That's the second day in a row!"

Principal, "I know... Well, apparently your child is a little bit of a bully, and it seems the other kids are retaliating."

My 16-year-old you might assume? Nope! The 1-year-old!!! It seems we'll be having more lessons on the importance of sharing and keeping our hands to ourselves.

The Booger Bear is the "baby" in his class, and has "Little Man's Syndrome." What he lacks in age, size, and motor skills he makes up for in attitude. He wants WHAT he wants WHEN he wants it, whether another child is playing with it or not. His teacher said that he's been known to spot a toy that another child is playing with from across the room, go into his "Super-Aerodynamic Baby Crawler Mode," race across the room with his head low to the ground in order to pick up speed (I do believe TACKLING was involved on more than one occassion), and rip the toy out of the hands of the unsuspecting child.

The morning after the latest "biting incident," I was saying goodbye to the Booger and told him sternly, "Now I don't want to see another incident report today, Buddy. You need to SHARE and BE NICE." One of the other mom's overheard me and lamented, "Oh no!!! It was J?!?" Apparently, it was HER son who's been biting him every day. I assured her not to worry about it because the Booger started it and needs to learn to share. If he gets bitten enough, he'll learn eventually.

We ended up finding the "good" in the situation. At least the kids seem to be best friends because they're always together. Hitting and biting and toy-stealing aside... :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

I thought I'd start putting some of my favorite quotes on here too... My absolute favorite, and the one that is closest to my heart is...

I found this quote the year after Bipolar Girl became medicated and started to turn things around. It seems like I had spent most of my adult life chasing things that I thought would make me happy, but everything always seemed just out of reach.

It wasn't until my year of getting myself together that I finally realized that I needed to stop focusing on what I didn't have, and start focusing on all of the good things in my life. Amazingly, within a year of me deciding to stop chasing butterflies, they found me! Their names are "Angel" and "Booger Bear", and I've never been happier.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Boy & His Bubble Bath

Totally secure in his masculinity, the Booger Bear enjoys a good bubble bath every now and then... Granted, he spends more time INHALING the bubbles than he does relaxing in them, but he seems to enjoy himself. :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Flu, a Water Leak, and a Birthday Boy

Ladies and gentlemen... We have a 1-year-old!!!

The couple of weeks leading up to the Booger Bear's birthday were rather hectic ones. I ended up having to take Angel (the Booger's mama) to the doctor for what turned out to be a really bad sinus infection. We left with a Z-pack... and another little gift that kept on giving for the next two weeks... Influenza A!!! Fun times!!!

We didn't realize at the time that Angel had the flu. She'd be fine for a couple of hours, and then suddenly turn sheet white and look like she was going to pass out. This went on for about 5 days, but her fever never went over 99.5 so we just thought she was still fighting the sinus infection. It wasn't until the dreaded call from the Booger's daycare on Monday morning and another trip to the urgent care center that we discovered the "gift" that we had received on the previous visit.

It's amazing what a difference one week can make. When Angel I went the previous week, there were four other people in the waiting room. The following Monday when I walked in with the Booger, it was standing room only! Folding chairs had been set up, and everyone was wearing masks! Not exactly a confidence-booster... But I figured by that point, the damage had already been done. Booger had a 102 fever. He'd be the one getting everyone else sick at that point.

After a 2 hour wait, we finally made it in to see the doctor. They took one look at him, did a flu culture (the whole q-tip up the nose thing), and sent him back for a chest x-ray because his breathing didn't sound right. Fortunately, no pneumonia... Unfortunately, he tested positive for Influenza A. They prescribed Tamiflu, but there was none to be found at any of the 5 pharmacies that I tried. The pharmacists and doctors all said that would probably be the case seeing as how everyone and their dogs all have the flu right now. I was told to pump him full of all of the fluids he would take and alternate Motrin and Tylenol and wait it out.

The poor baby was just miserable. He had no energy at all. He just laid on me and quietly whined for days. Angel swore she was going to try to avoid him because she was starting to feel better, but how do you avoid an adorable little baby who just wants hugs because he's sick? By Tuesday, Angel and I were both sick too! Fortunately, Angel wasn't nearly as bad as she had been the previous week, but I had to try to take care of all of us when I felt like total doo-doo myself.

To make matter worse, I woke up Tuesday morning to get the Booger his bottle, and walked right into about an inch of standing water! It was everywhere!!! My bedroom, my closet, the living room, the kitchen... Apparently a pipe going to the hot water heater busted overnight, and I now had a lake in my house. It took apartment maintenance, two plumbers, a carpet guy, and 6 separate trips in a week's time to get the carpet back to normal! Unfortunately, we still have a nice little cut-out hole in the drywall where they had to cut through in order to get to the broken pipe. But at least the baby was so puny he had no desire to get down and play on the floor.

The rest of the week went on about the same way. The Booger's fever would go away for most of the day, but then would spike back up right before bedtime, so daycare the next day wasn't an option. By Thursday, we were BOTH still sick, so I had to go and make the executive decision to cancel his big birthday party that was scheduled for Saturday. :-( I didn't want to, but there was no way I was going to be up to setting up, organizing, and refereeing all of the families the way I felt. We had gotten permission to include Angel's family and Daddy's family as well as my family and a few close friends, so it was going to be interesting to say the least on a good day. Having to referee when I felt like passing out at any given moment wasn't going to happen. And the baby was still having meltdown moments so he wouldn't have been his usual happy self. It made no sense to torture the poor baby (or myself for that matter), so no big party.

By Saturday night, the baby was starting to feel quite a bit better. A couple of people stopped by to bring him presents, and Angel and I decided to throw him a little spur-of-the-moment party on Sunday (his actual birthday) at the house. We had the family come over, decorated with the luau decorations we were going to use at the big party, bought ("bee-yoons") balloons, and even braved up and baked a two-layer, marble cake with chocolate frosting! Angel and I had a good time planning the last-minute party, and the Booger seemed to have a really good time. I felt like warmed-over poo by the end of the day, and the house is STILL a disaster, but I'm really glad we decided to do it. It was his 1st birthday after all! You can't miss your 1st birthday!

Opening a present the night before his birthday. (Well, crawling on top of the box anyway...)

The Booger in his new ball pit that Mommy (Angel) and Mimi (me) bought for him.
After a long day, cake, ice cream, and even a little pizza, the Booger was worn out!

The poor kid sawed logs for two straight hours (and he NEVER snores!). He had a really good time though, so I don't regret it one bit.

(I tried getting a little creative with the pictures. No full faces... Just lots of fun...)

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day at the Zoo

Angel, Booger Bear, and I were all off on Labor Day, so I had the oh-so-brilliant idea to take the kids to the zoo for the first time. I say, "oh-so-brilliant" rather sarcastically because apparently the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex had the same idea.

Being the super-nice foster mommy that I am, I had gotten permission for the Booger's daddy to meet us at the zoo for the day. So he was able to be there for the baby's first trip to the zoo. My aunt was also in town that week, so she spent the day with us as well.

It was about 2,000 degrees outside seeing as how it was the first week of September in Texas, and all of the animals were hiding or sleeping in the shade. We spent quite a bit of time in the Texas Gulf and spider and bugs buildings because they were the only air conditioned places around. Not a whole lot of fun for Angel who is terrified of fish and me who really, REALLY doesn't care for insects. But at least it was cool in there. :-) .

The Booger's favorite part of the day was trying to bribe ice cream off of complete strangers and going under the misting cooling system in one part of the zoo. He seemed to like the petting zoo, and he was always very excited when he saw the animals toys. The elephants and other larger animals had big balls. (...okay... That didn't sound quite right, but you know what I mean...) Booger's demeaner went from, "Yeah, yeah... It's a big exotic animal..." to "OMG!!! BALLLLL!!!!" He also really enjoyed the poi pond. ...not because of the huge fish... but because there were ducks!!! Heck! If I'd known he'd be that excited about ducks, I would have saved myself $35 and taken him to the park down the street with the duck pond!

We were able to have some fun though. My aunt and I make our own fun, and we got Angel in on some of it. She refused to save my Aunt Linda from the scary alligator though. I had to step up and be the true hero in that frightening situation. My Aunt Linda was so scared... Her life was in danger! And Angel wouldn't save her. :-(

Angel did ride the super-fast runaway mechanical horse however. She's a little speed demon on those things. My aunt said she wasn't afraid until Angel dropped the reigns. Then she clung on for dear life. :-)

After battling the heat, the crowds, and the wild animals for a few hours, we all wised up and decided to go swimming instead. All in all it was actually a pretty good day. Everyone seemed to get along (thank goodness), and the kids had fun even though it was rather miserable out there. At least we got to end the day with a dip in the pool, and we got some good pictures out of it. We were even able to get the first-ever picture of the Booger with both his Mommy and Daddy. That alone made it worth the trip. Pictures with both his mommy and daddy will be a very rare commodity for Booger, so we were happy we could get it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

...And I Said "I Will NEVER..."

Parenthood definitely changes a person. Over the past month and a half since becoming a foster mom, I've found myself doing things that I SWORE I would NEVER do when I had children. There must be some kind of weird pheromones that ooze from children's pores that cause adults to do unspeakably odd things when it comes to their care.

So what have I done that has caused me to cringe you might ask?
  • Butt-sniffing - Yes, it took all of one day for me to pick up the fully-clothed baby and sniff his rear end to see if the offending odor was coming from him or the catbox. The first time I saw someone perform the butt-sniffing maneuver, I wanted to cry. I remember my Aunt Amy, who I always thought of as extremely cool and sophisticated, picking up my tiny baby cousin and sniffing her hind end. I was MORTIFIED! "Say it isn't so!!! Please tell me you didn't just do that!!!" After one day with Booger, however, I quickly learned the logic behind the baby bottom sniffing. It's a hassle to take off all of the clothes only to discover a dry diaper. And trust me when I say you DO NOT want to take your finger and pull at the diaper to "take a peek." I learned that the hard way.

  • Spit-cleaning - I have always thought the most disgusting thing my mother ever did to me was the whole "licking her fingers and wiping my face" thing. I can still remember how it felt. SO GROSS!!! I swore that if there was only one thing that I would never repeat with my children, the spit-cleaning thing would be it. So imagine my dilemma the other morning when I noticed that the baby had dried something on his face, and I didn't have a wipe or any water handy. I'll admit, I did think long and hard before licking my fingers and rubbing away at his face. "Will he remember the trauma of being spit-cleaned at this early age?" "If I do this, will I scar him for life as I was?" "Will spit-cleaning spread nasty germs that will make him sick?" Ultimately, my need for a clean appearance won out over my need for sanitary conditions, and the baby made it into daycare with a clean face and, hopefully not, overly-scarred ego.

  • Self-Banishment - When I was a teenager, I always thought it was cool that my parents would make themselves scarce when I had my friends over. They would go to their bedroom, and my friends and I would have the run of the house. So cool of them, I thought... But then the selfish side of me had me thinking. Well, when I have kids, there's no way I'm going to let them push me out of my own living room! They're just going to have to hang out with me, or find someplace else to chill! That was all fine and dandy until I suddenly found myself with a 16-year-old foster daughter and a houseful of her friends. The first night they were all over at the house, I found myself sitting OUTSIDE on the patio talking on the phone while they were all watching TV (the TV that I had been watching until they showed up) in my living room. And you know what? It worked for me! I had a little peace and quiet, and the kids were all in the next room where I could walk in on them at any moment to see what they were up to. My parents actually knew what they were doing! Imagine that! ;-)
  • Playing "Detective" - I was always irritated that my mom seemed to know every little thing I did. My sister was so convinced that Mom was psychic that she would just confess everything before Mom even had a chance to question her. I was a pretty good kid. I never really got into much trouble, but that was because I was convinced that my mother was spying on me. I would never do that to my kids! But now that I have a teen of my own, I know that I was right about her spying on me. I know, because I've had to do it myself. Parents are SO much smarter than we ever gave them credit for! I know when my girl is "embellishing the truth." And it's amazing what kind of information and proof you can get from the Internet and stay-at-home neighbors.
  • The Soothing Car Ride - I'll admit it. I've done it a few times already even though I swore I'd never resort to it. Crying, fussy, sleepy baby absolutely refusing to go to sleep... He's done everything he can think of to keep himself awake. He talks, he sings, he slaps his head, he "jumps" in my arms, he blows spit bubbles, he plays with my glasses, he picks my nose... ANYTHING he can think of to stay awake. After about 45 minutes of this, I'll admit Mimi (that's me) has resorted to loading Booger in the car and driving on the bumpiest road I can find. Mimi is a smart woman. He's usually out before I leave the parking lot. While I don't want to make it a habit, I will admit the occasional soothing car ride works miracles. :-)
  • To Bathe, or NOT to Bathe - Yeah... I'll admit it. There have been a few days where I have let personal hygiene slide for a few extra minutes of sleep. I'm not ashamed of it either. Sleep is a good thing. I never really thought that I would forgo cleanliness for beauty sleep (especially seeing as how "beauty sleep" doesn't really work if you stink), but when you go from eight hours of sleep a night and two-hour naps on the weekends to six hours of sleep and NO naps, you'll do just about anything for a few extra minutes of rest. With a baby and a 16-year-old in the house, it seems that I am always awake for one reason or another! In my defense, I always smell myself first to make certain I'm not too rancid before deciding to forget about a full-fledged shower and shampoo. And I promise, it's not a regular occurrence. For the most part, I'm clean. :-)
Yep... I've found myself doing lots of "I would NEVER's" over the past couple of months. I suppose it's all good though. I never thought that I would have a baby and teenager at the same time, but it's turning out to be the best thing I've ever done. So what if I'm a butt-sniffing, spit-cleaning, car ride-soothing, smelly, self-banished detective!?! These kids are worth it!!! :-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Farkly Frustrated"

Hi, my name is Mimi... And I am addicted to Farkle.

What began as an innocent attempt to relive my teen years through the electronic version of one of my favorite dice games quickly developed into massively emotional highs and lows known in the Farkle World as episodes of "Farkle Fever," "Farkle Frenzy," and "Farkle Frustration."

In the past couple of weeks since rediscovering the game (thanks alot, Lori!), I have spent God only knows how many hours clicking away at the mouse and dreaming of 1's and 5's. "Do I roll?" "Do I stay?" "Do I risk farkling and losing all of my points?" OH!!! THE PRESSURE!!! So what if it's after midnight and the baby will be waking up at 5:30 for a diaper change and his morning bottle? "MUST BEAT HIGH SCORE!!!" "MUST BE #1 IN THE RANKINGS!!!"

I have no idea how many times I have growled at the stupid computer for "Farkling" me when I was rolling all six dice. "Farkle Frustration" does strange things to people. I have found myself muttering bad words under my breath and making faces at the screen. I get mad and think that by playing another game, I'll teach the computer a lesson. I refuse to accept that the computer doesn't care one bit whether or not I'm mad at it.

I tell myself I won't stop until I have beaten my high score. Unfortunately, I had one insanely good game, and my high score is so high that I don't think I'll EVER be able to beat it! But does that stop me? OF COURSE NOT!!! Nope... I continue to sit at the computer night after night, clicking away at the mouse "rolling" the dice, trying to get those 1's and 5's.

Hi, my name is Tammy... And I am addicted to Farkle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Be 16 Again...

Wow! I didn't realize that it had been so long since I'd last posted! Life has definitely been crazy now that I am the foster mom of an 8-month-old (whose shortened nickname of "Booger Bear" appears to have stayed with him :-) and his 16-year-old bio mom (who I will refer to as "Angel" in my blog). It's going really well though, and I couldn't be happier!

Angel's been with me a little over a week, and it seems to be working out well. It turns out that she and I have quite a lot of common interests (ex. photography, arts and crafts, same taste in music for the most part, same taste in foods, etc. We even like the same shampoo!). I coached gymnastics for several years, and she was into competitive gymnastics and cheering before she got pregnant. The first night she was home, we sat and talked for a couple of hours. A friend of hers ended up calling me because she was worried about Angel not checking in with her. Angel got on the phone and apologized for not calling. She said that she was "having so much fun that she forgot." :-)

Angel and I have a good routine going so far as far as caring for Booger and the house. The dynamic between Booger and Angel is more of "big sister, baby brother" so it has made it easy for me to take on the role of Mama. The only problem is that he already knows Angel as "Mama" or "Mommy," so I'm calling myself "Mimi." Angel has taken on quite a bit of the household chores (including the cooking!), so it works out really well for both of us. She gets overwhelmed by caring for Booger, and I hate doing housework, so it evens out. :-)

I have to admit, I had forgotten what it was like to be 16. In the past week, I have met a boy who Angel told me was "maybe my boyfriend." In five days the conversation went from, "I'm not sure if he's my boyfriend or not." "He's my boyfriend." "My boyfriend is smothering me!" "I'm avoiding my boyfriend." ...and finally, "I broke up with my boyfriend." Too funny! I think my sister and I have BOTH had that same conversation with our mom at that age too. :-)

I also got Angel her own cell phone last week. THANK GOODNESS we made a deal regarding unlimited texting! I told her that I was going to give her an allowance for all of the help that she does around the house, and she asked if I could deduct the $30 a month that it would cost for unlimited texting on her cell phone. No problem! And thank goodness I agreed!!! Because in the past six days since she got her phone, she has sent and received nearly 2300 messages!!! (Although she never would have done that if she didn't have unlimited messaging. She was really good about it when I let her have my cell phone during the day before hers came. She's also great about keeping an eye on her cellular minutes because I didn't get a big calling plan for that.) 2300 messages in six days!!! That's nuts!!! I told her not to come whining when she gets carpal tunal. I know she hates doctors, but that will be her own fault. :-)

So far, things are going really well with my new little family. Everyone continue to keep us in your prayers!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm Gonna Be a... Grandma?!?

Wow! What a difference a week makes!!! It looks like I'm gaining a 16-year-old foster daughter as soon as tonight!

The Booger Bear had a visit with his mommy yesterday, and I went along to meet with her and all of the caseworkers. We ended up talking for almost two hours. Baby J's mom really needs a stable place she can call "home," and has made the decision to go into foster care herself. Because of her age, they wanted the decision to be hers. She's really scared, but she seems like a great kid who's just had a rough go of it growing up.

I don't think she realized that I was seriously considering having her come live with me. Ultimately, she wanted to be with Baby J, but I think she was under the impression that she'd be living somewhere else for a while. She seemed happy when she realized that I was planning on having her live with us (well, as happy as a trying to be brave 16-year-old will openly let on anyway... :-)

It will definitely be an adjustment for both of us. She's been pretty much on her own most of her teen years, and I've been a single woman living on my own for quite some time now (I won't be pointing out that it's been almost as long as she's been alive). She's used to answering only to herself, and I'm definitely not used to being the mom (or is it grandma?) of an 8-month-old and the mom of a 16-year-old. And certainly not all in one month's time!

I'm sure we'll have some battles because it seems we're equally strong-willed, but we seem to have a lot of common interests and we both love Baby J and want what's best for him. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and is definitely making long-term plans and is thinking ahead as far as what is going to be best for the two of them. The first thing she asked me when she realized that she could live with me was, "Would you mind if I apply for a job at the such-and-such down the street? School just got out today, and I'd really like to start saving money." Would I mind if you get a job?!? Heck no! Go for it! Save away!!! She had already said that she wanted to get a job ASAP, and that was before she knew she could live with me, so the fact that she asked me if I was okay with it was a good start.

I really hope she is willing to accept the help and stability that I'm offering. She's so independent, and openly admitted that she has trouble accepting help from people. But she also realizes that she needs to try to accept what's offered, if not for her sake, then for J's. I've just had a soft spot in my heart for this girl since the very beginning, and I've felt the "mother hen" coming out in me when it comes to her (possibly more-so with her than with Baby J.) She's going into it knowing what I expect from her so there are no surprises there, and also knowing that I have a lot to offer her and J as far as stability and an actual extended family that she can depend on.

Just keep us all in your prayers for a while. It's definitely going to be a bumpy road until we can find what works best for our little family. But I'm hopeful that everything will work out in the end.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I "Look Like a Mom"

So I was walking into work the other day, quite proud of the fact that I had actually managed to make it out of the house without J's bodily fluids on my clothing, and I even managed to curl my hair and put on a little bit of makeup when I passed a friend of mine who looks at me, smiles, and exclaims to my BFF walking with her, "I swear, Tammy just looks like a mom now!"

WTF IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!? I spent a couple of days pondering her comment, wondering what exactly she meant by that. Do I look loving and maternal? Do I have a "happy mommy glow?" Or do I look like death warmed over from lack of naptimes and early mornings that I'm not accustomed to?

Today, the three of us went to lunch and she said the same thing. "You just look like a mom!" I braved up and asked, "What are you trying to say? I don't know whether to be offended or flattered." Apparently, I have that "I'm tired, and you're lucky I'm fully-clothed as I bless you with my presence" look about me. I'd agree with that, I guess. I spend so much time making sure the kiddo looks presentable, I don't really think much about what I look like. As long as I manage to brush my teeth, put on deodorant, and (occasionally) don a bra if I'm going in public I feel pretty well put together. :-) And if I manage to get in a shower after the Drool Monster goes to bed, I think the day has been a whopping success and I am one hot mama (at least during the 10 hours before the Bodily Fluid Machine awakens).

I did catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror last Friday afternoon. I was frightened. My mom was sick thanks to me and Baby J, so I ended up watching my 4-year-old niece and nephew and the Booger Bear most of the day so my sister could work. She came over around 3:30 to take over so I could get some work in that evening, and I ran inside to (what I thought was just) throw on some lipstick and head into work. What I saw when I looked in the mirrow was scary bad. My hair was plopped up haphazardly on top of my head in a hairclip so the baby wouldn't keep pulling it. Yet somehow, there were several strands that had broken free and were flying around all over. I had been supervising water gun fights in which I ended up the unsuspecting victim, so I was sopping wet. I had spit up, drool, and snot stains (along with something orange... sweet potatoes?) all over my t-shirt. And I had somehow managed to make it through the day with smeary baby fingerprints all over my glasses.

How did this happen?!? I could have sworn I'd looked half-way decent that morning! Look at me now! I "look like a mom!" :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An Email from the Booger Bear

My mom has been watching the Booger Bear (aka. the Drool Monster, aka. the Bodily Fluid Machine) for me this weekend so I could go into work and try to make up some of the ridiculous amounts of time that I've been having to miss because of all of the fostering appointments. Yesterday, after a few hours, I received the following email from my sweet little baby.

I told my mom that I didn't really get it because he goes right to sleep for me. :-) "Spoiled rotten to the core..." Please! He's an ANGEL! Then again, it's quite possible that I've begun to develop that "love is blind" thing where I just don't see it. He's just so damned cute!!! Even his "I'm very frustrated right now, and I need to express my anger through facial expressions" expression is cute! He purses his whole face inward and looks like an old man without his dentures. Then he whines/grunts/cries all at the same time. It's freaking hilarious. I suppose I shouldn't laugh at Baby J's obvious frustration, but I can't help it. At least I know that if the crying is accompanied by "the shriveled old man look," J's not really in any true distress. I usually wait for the tears before jump to do his bidding. :-)

I never understood before now how parents in stores and restaurants could simply ignore their child's temper tantrums, whining, or crying bouts. Over the past couple of weeks though, I've come to realize that the only cries I really pay attention to are the ones where he really needs something. I guess that whole, "mommy deafness" thing works both ways. The kids don't hear when mommy is telling them to do something they don't want to do, and mommy's ear don't hear whiny voices. I get it now! It's God's way of preserving the parents' sanity. It might drive everyone else nuts, but I think my child is perfect. :-)

"Spoiled rotten to the core..." Never! ;-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Week One Update

The Drool Monster has been with me for a whole week, and things are going great. He's still a happy little flirt, and seems to be milking his irresistible cuteness for all it's worth. :-) The only problem we've had this week has been that Baby J got a really bad cold last weekend, which he promptly gave to Mama Tammy. Baby J got over his nastiness in two days. Mama Tammy, on the other hand, ended up getting an upper respiratory infection from it and now has no voice and a nasty cough. Try singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" when you can't even force a whisper out of your mouth. I'm getting a complex too because he keeps laughing at me whenever I try to talk to him. I can't even give him a hard time about being the one who did this to me because I CAN'T TALK!!!

We're getting a good routine going. Well, as good of a routine as you can get when you're dealing with CPS. I don't think I've had a "normal" day since he was placed with me. The ultimate goal once all of the initial appointments are over with is to have my mom pick up Baby J around 8:00am during the week so I can get ready for work without having to fight baby drool. Her back probably can't handle taking care of him all day five days a week, so hopefully my friend Melissa will be able to pick him up from my mom's a couple of days a week.

After I pick him up after work, we come home and load up in the stroller for our evening walk to the mailbox and to take out the trash. (I'm LOVING the hugantor stroller that a couple from work gave me. I can put a whole garbage bag of trash in the storage compartment! Just what the stroller manufacturers were shooting for, I'm certain. ;-) We play for a while, we take his bath, and then we wind down by reading a book and singing a couple of songs. Around 7:30-7:45 or so, it's final bottle and lights out. He's out by 8:00, and Mama Tammy can do grown up things again. Like clean the house, pay bills, and shave my legs.

So things are going amazingly well other than some problems that I'm having with CPS and, once again, the TOTAL lack of communication. I won't even get into it other than to say, "If you expect me to get this baby to the doctor within 14 days, it might be a good idea to get me his Medicaid number and an UPDATED list of doctors who are accepting new Medicaid patients." I have wasted literally about eight hours of my life on the phone with doctors, the insurance company, and the case managers with absolutely nothing to show for it. Fun times. At least home life is going well, and I can overlook some of the CPS BS. Now that I think about it, maybe I should blame CPS for my lack of a voice! It's probably what happens when you talk in circles for eight straight hours. I think I'm going to make THEM make a doctor's appointment for me and just tell me when and where to go. Especially now that I can't even call to make an appointment. THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO HEAR ME!!!

I'm off to see who won American Idol now. I had to let it record so I can watch it faster and have time to blog and bathe. Mama Tammy is smart that way. :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

So Far, So Good...

Day Three with the Drool Monster (who I might upgrade to the Spit-Up Monster), and things have gone amazingly well! He's just a happy little thing and for the most part only cries when he's hungry, sleepy, or needs a new diaper. We ventured out today to visit the ladies up at the office (after two shirt changes for me and one outfit change for him). He was his charming little self and won everyone over immediately. :-) He waved and smiled at every person who walked by and the CFO even taught him how to "high five." He must have thought that was a "guy" thing because he then wanted to high five every man he saw. :-)

He seems to be extremely well-adjusted. He's definitely been on a schedule, and you can tell he's been well-loved. He's definitely on track developmentally, and is a smart little thing. He picks up new games and things after only a couple of demonstrations. He's all about trying to copy funny faces and make silly noises. He's been sleeping 11-12 hours a night, takes two hour and a half naps during the day, and can pretty much tell me when it's time to eat if I happen to be off by a few minutes. He loves to play with the "big kids," loves bathtime, and is pretty good at entertaining himself for about 20 minute stretches at a time if I need to do things around the house. As long as he's got his toys, he's good to go. He lets me know when he's ready for Mama Tammy time by grunting really loud and then flashing the dimples when I ask him if he's pooping. You have no idea how many times I've checked his diaper to see if he is actually poopy! I tried to tell him the story about "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" but he didn't seem to understand the moral. :-)

I did, however, have my first "Mommy Panic" episode tonight. He had kind of a rough day today... We ended up getting off schedule (CPS doesn't really ask when it's convenient for the baby), so he was pretty cranky by the end of the day. He went to bed just before 7:00, so I sat down to catch up on all of the season finales that I've missed this week. At about 8:45 I heard him scream. And I mean blood-curdling scream! Like someone was stabbing him or something. And then he started crying hysterically. I ran in there, and he was still sort of sleeping. I don't know if he had a nightmare or really bad gas pains or what (he's been seriously gassy today). I checked to see if he'd had a diaper blow-out (I'm kind of expecting one soon), and looked to make sure there wasn't a spider or anything that might have bitten him, but he was still half asleep, and he immediately fell right back to sleep when I started rubbing his back. I, on the other hand, spent the next hour trying to make my heart settle back into my chest. It was horrible. I am officially traumatized. Welcome to Mommyhood. :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Drool Monster... :-)

Baby Boy (my little Drool Monster :-) is here! He's a super-happy little thing (7-months-old), and so far, seems to be settling right in (fingers crossed). We'll be venturing out tomorrow morning to visit Mama Tammy's work friends because they all want to spoil him, and we have a play date with my friend Melissa and her 1-year-old little girl tomorrow afternoon before naptime.

My sister brought my 4-year-old niece and nephew over tonight so they could meet him and we could go play on the playground and take a little walk. He lit up when they came in, and seemed to have a good time with them. He doesn't seem to know a stranger. All smiles and flirts. :-) So far, the only time he really cries is when he's getting tired or hungry, and even then it's not too bad. He just kind of whines and frowns, but get huge tears. I think he just knows how to milk it. :-)

My case manager actually had a home visit with Baby Girl (my Immobile Munchkin :-) today before she brought Baby Boy over, and she's doing great. My friends from foster care training have her and are also taking in her older sister! They are AMAZING! I'm so glad that they are able to give her everything that she needs.

Well, I'm gonna check on the kiddo and head to bed! Good night, everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Let's Try This Again...

I'm glad I beautified last night, because I'm getting a 7-month-old baby boy tomorrow! :-) No body cast... No medical problems... Just a little guy who needs a stable, loving home...

YIPPEE!!! Time to hit the stores and stock up on 6-9 month baby boy clothes, baby food, diapers, and formula. At least I have 24 hours to prepare this time. :-)

The Power of a Scent

"What scents immediately bring you back to childhood?"
There is a quote by Diane Ackerman that is so true.
"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains."
For me, there are so many scents that immediately transport me to other times and places.
  • Coppertone suntan lotion - It has to be Coppertone, because that's what my mom used to slather all over us at 5:00am the mornings that our entire extended family headed out for the lake. My grandparents had a boat and a camper, and the whole family (my parents, my sister, my two aunts, and my grandparents) would go camping for the weekends. Some of us would sleep in a tent, some in the camper, and my aunts would sleep in the boat. It was always fun to watch the grown-ups water ski building pyramids and stuff. I always thought my family was SO COOL. :-) And whenever I get a whiff of Coppertone suntan lotion, I always think of family camping trips.
  • This leads me straight into Noxzema - After several days at the lake, you tend to get a sunburn no matter how much Coppertone your mom put on you. I have never been able to use Noxzema for its intended purpose of facial cleansing because I always associate it with the excruciating pain of a bad sunburn. One whiff of the stuff and I tend to cringe.
  • The ocean - There's nothing like the smell of the ocean! And try as they may, candle and air freshener manufacturers just can't seem to harness the scent. :-( Personally, I think they have neglected to include the rotting seaweed and seagull poop in the equation. Yeah, it sounds disgusting, but if you ask me... That's all part of what makes the ocean smell like the ocean.
  • Honeysuckle - When I was a little girl, we had a honeysuckle vine in our backyard that was also mixed with blackberries. My little sister and I would always "sneak" back there to pick berries and honeysuckle flowers because we weren't supposed to (there were bees), but I have a feeling my mom knew what we were up to. Mom's know everything. To this day, the smell of honeysuckle makes me smile and feel like I'm getting away with something. :-)
  • Hay, horse poop, and wood shavings - I know, I know... It might not sound appealing to a lot of people, but I love the smell of being in a barn! It reminds me of my Grandpa Jim. If a heart can smile, that's what mine does when I smell a barn. It just makes me think of happy times. And if you mix the barn smell with my Grandpa Jim's cologne, it's even better! :-)
  • Perfume-maker smell - Growing up, I had a little toy perfume maker. I would spend hours mixing the perfect fragrances together. Granted, they all smelled exactly the same... Kind of like flowers and soap mixed together... But I thought I was really doing something special. And the funny thing is, every once in a while, a woman will walk by wearing what I would swear is one of my perfume creations! I guess I should have patented them. I could be rich! :-)
I have a lot more (ex. cherry tobacco, smoke, roast beef, Drakkar Noir), but these are the big ones. What about you? Are there any scents that immediately bring you back to childhood or take you somewhere else?

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Feel Pretty!!!

Oh, so pretty! I feel pretty... and witty... and gaaaay!!! :-)

With a potential foster placement looming as early as tomorrow, I realized that tonight might be my only chance in the foreseeable future to beautify myself. I have colored, plucked, bleached, shaved, popped, and everything else that I could think of that I might not be able to do very often as the single foster mother of a 7-month-old. Goodness knows, I won't be feeling overly-sexy by the end of the week if I'm covered in drool, spit up, poop, snot, and baby food. :-) Although, I hear that some men find that whole "motherly" look attractive. But the more I think about it, the more I find that thought a bit disturbing.

I'm still waiting to hear from my case manager about a 7-month-old baby boy who needs to be moved from his current foster home. She called me on Saturday to ask me if I'd take him, and is now taking her own sweet time in getting the transfer worked out. You've got to love how CPS expects YOU to drop everything at a moment's notice, but they can pick and choose when they want to contact you. Hopefully this will work out, and I'll get him tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am beautiful! :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Foster Friday"

I mentioned in a previous post that I planned on doing a segment called "Foster Friday" so here it is for week #1!

After my experience with my first placement, and the lack of communication when it came to the baby's actual condition, I thought a good first topic for "Foster Friday" would be:

What questions should a foster parent ask before accepting a placement?

Asking questions didn't exactly work in my case. I specifically asked if Baby Girl was immobile! But I'm sure I could have asked more pressing questions in order to get better answers and more information. Do any of you have any advice?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Best News Ever!!!

Oh my gosh!!! I just found out that Munchkin is with friends of mine from foster training! Her new foster mom didn't realize that I was the one who'd had her originally. She's going to start keeping me updated and I even get to see her for her 1st birthday this weekend! You have no idea how relieved I am to know for sure that she's in a great home. :-)

Anyway... I just had to share.

50-Yard Move & Munchkin Update

I get my keys to the bigger and better apartment today, and I'm so excited! :-) I've got to get in and baby proof tonight and tomorrow. My case manager is probably coming by tomorrow afternoon to do the health inspection (I no longer want to strangle her. I'm over it. :-) and the fire marshall is (hopefully) coming on Monday. I'm going to unpack like a mad woman this weekend so the place will be ready to go for a new placement when one comes up. Fortunately it's not as time-sensitive as it would have been if I'd still had Munchkin. She wouldn't have been allowed to move into the apartment until all of the inspections were completed.

I talked to my case manager yesterday, and Munchkin is doing really well in her new two-parent home. As much as I miss her, it makes me feel a lot better knowing that I made the right decision for her. I'm trying really hard not to let people's comments get to me. They weren't there. They don't know how impossible the situation was for one person to handle alone. I know they mean well when they say they wish I would have stuck it out for the six weeks that she's in the cast. I wish I could have too! But the reality of the situation was that I would have had to take six weeks of unpaid leave from work in order to care for her. We might have been happy to be together, but there are things like food and diapers that we would quickly run out of without an income. We would have been evicted for failure to pay rent too. How happy would she have been then?!? As heart-wrenching as it was to let her go, I know I made the right decision. I hope that people can respect that even if they think I was too hasty to give her up.

As far as the 50-yard move goes... I'm going to start hauling a few things over there tonight. My niece and nephew will be with me all day tomorrow, so I'm not sure how much I'll actually get done. They're 4-years-old. I think they'll be excited to help for a little while, but it's gonna get old fast. I'll put them to work while I can though! I'm not totally against child labor. :-) Maybe I'll wear them out and they'll take a nap in the afternoon so I can get some more work done. (Yeah, right.) The movers come Saturday morning to haul most of my stuff over there, and the cable guy comes Saturday evening. I can't survive without my DVR and the Internet! Besides, I have to be able to wow all of you with my witty sarcasm. :-)

So, it's gonna be a busy long weekend. But the two-story, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with the enormous patio is going to be soooooo worth it! :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Most Memorable Childhood Books

I just realized that I haven't done a Journal Jar question in a while. Here's a good one!

"What were some of the most memorable books you read as a child?"
Reading and books have always been a big part of my life. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to lay there every night while my mom read a chapter out of one of the Little House on the Praire books.

As I got older and began spending more time reading on my own, my mom let me have all of her old Trixie Belden books from when she was a girl. Those were the best! I'm dying to track down the complete collection somewhere so I can have it to pass down to my kids.

Then I graduated to the Nancy Drew Case Files. My best friend and I were hooked! She had a huge crush on Ned Nickerson, and I was always amazed at how the seasons seemed to change, but Nancy stayed the same age. :-)

I loved to read! In fact, I would hole up in my room for hours just so I could read a book in one sitting. My parents always used to joke that grounding me or sending me to my room wouldn't be punishment at all. They would threaten to ground me to the living room. :-)

There were quite a few other series that I liked, but Little House, Trixie Belden, and Nancy Drew Case Files were the big ones.

Feeling Better

I'm feeling much better today. I had one little meltdown last night when I was taking out the laundry and came across some of Munchkin's clothes, but I'm really doing a lot better. I miss her so much, but I know I did the right thing for her by letting her go to a two parent home.

I could definitely use some more positive foster care stories, so if you have any please send them my way! I'd also really like to get more foster parents' advice if you have any. I think I'm going to start doing "Foster Friday..." where I post a question or fostering topic and have other foster/adopt parents give their advice or relay their experiences. I think it might be a good place for other foster/adopt parents to go to get some help and it might help provide a little insight to non-foster parents as well.

I really do appreciate all of the encouragement! Thank you, everyone, for all of your support!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What a 1st Experience!

Wow... It's definitely been a crazy week and an INSANE first placement when it comes to fostering. We found a two-parent home for Baby on Sunday, so she's not with me anymore. :-( I have very mixed feelings about it. She was such a good little baby. So happy considering everything that she had to deal with. But she needed to be in a two-parent home. There was no way that a single, working mom could handle the amount of care and attention that she needs right now while she's in that body cast.

I've been super-emotional the past couple of days after having to let her go. I know I did the right thing for her, but I miss her so much already. I'm sad, I'm frustrated by the entire experience and dealings that I've had with my case manager, her case manager, her social worker, the Medicaid people, etc. ...and I'm just about ready to punch the next non-foster parent who tries to offer me advice!

I know people mean well, but really! How can you offer someone advice when you haven't even seen the baby and don't know a thing about the situation!?!  I've had people telling me to be patient with her because she's scared, hurting, etc. First of all, I'm not stupid. I expected her to be upset and fussy, but she surprisingly wasn't. She took to me immediately and smiled from the get-go. She was a happy, tough little thing. The only time she ever really cried was at night when she was having really bad stomach pains and from not being able to breathe. The problem had absolutely nothing to do with her. The problem was that she needed more physical care and attention than one person could give her for the next 6 weeks while she was in a body cast! She needed a stay at home mom (not a single mom who has to work full time!).

I've endured comments from people telling me to "tough it out" for the next six weeks. Easy for them to say. They're able to go work (or they don't have to work because they are married and have backup)! They're probably able to sleep too. Poor Baby Girl had bad allergies on top of everything else, and couldn't sleep laying down. I had to sit up with her most of the night while she slept propped up in my arms. I'll bet they haven't been carrying around a baby in a body cast 24-7 either! And now that we found a better placement for her, I get to hear comments from people about how "convenient" it is that I can just "send her back" because she wasn't a "perfect" baby. That's ABSOLUTE CRAP!!! I thought she was a perfect baby! It was the match itself that wasn't good. I honestly think they just wanted to find a placement for her because she was being released from the hospital and it was late at night.

I'm in serious need of good foster care stories! If any of you have any, send them my way! I'm so discouraged by this whole situation, I'm starting to question if it's even something that I want to put myself through.

*** If you happen to be one of the people who tried to offer me advice, please don't take the rant too personally. I know you meant well. It's just been a long, physically and emotionally exhausting week, and unless you've been in a similar situation or actually spent some time with Munchkin and me during the week, I don't think anyone can really understand. For those of you who were there helping me out... THANK YOU!!! I couldn't have managed the week without you! :-) ***

Friday, April 24, 2009

Better Day

We've had a pretty good 18 hours thanks to my friend Melissa's good ideas. She has a one-year-old daughter herself, so she was able to come up with some good things for the baby. The HUGE lifesaver is that she actually fits in the stroller that I have fairly comfortably! (Melissa ROCKS! :-) I think it makes her feel more mobile and it allows her to (sort of) "sit" up so she can see. She loves getting outside and going for walks, and doesn't mind sitting in the stroller and watching me do dishes or other house things as long as we're constantly "talking." :-)

I didn't even attempt to make her go to bed last night. I just entertained her until she literally fell asleep where she lay around 10:30pm. She didn't even flinch when I moved her to her crib. Unfortunately, I was to the point of being so tired from only 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours that I couldn't fall asleep myself until 1:00am. You know how you get SO tired that your body does that flinching thing just when you're about to fall asleep? That was me. :-) But Munchkin slept straight through the night until 7:00am, so that's a great schedule for me if she sticks with it. I'm a night owl too. Today, I started really working on getting her into a routine as far as nap times, meal times, etc. So far, so good. It's been working pretty well. Hopefully the rest of the day goes as smoothly.

It's still a huge guessing game as to where she's at developmentally. I don't think she even knows what a spoon is, so we're working on just figuring out what to eat. She picks things up pretty well though as I teach her things. I just don't think anyone has ever taken the time to work with her. So sad...

Even though she and I are bonding really well (luckily, I'm more stubborn than she is :-) and learning to cope with her cast, I still think she needs a stay-at-home mom (preferably with a HUSBAND who can help her out!). There's no way I can be a good enough mom for her by myself and still do all of the paperwork, follow up appointments, etc. that I'm supposed to get done. And I'm MOVING in a week!!! Why on earth would they give me a baby in a body cast a week and a half before I'm supposed to move?!? I'm doing good just to make it through the day-to-day tasks. And I really do need to go back to work because I'm not getting paid while I'm out!!!

I just really hope they can find a more suitable placement for her really soon. I don't want her (or me) to get super-attached and then have to move again. I know it will be better for her in the long run.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is "Basic?!?"

Oh, sweet Lord... I now know why so many people are so frustrated with the foster care system. I'm single. I am certified for Basic Level of care. And what do they bring me? A little girl who is about to turn 1-year-old in a week... Completely immobilized from the armpits down to her ankles due to a broken left femur. She also has a corrective helmet that she has to wear 23 hours a day for a skull malformation. And to top it all off, she either has a cold or is allergic to my cat because she can't breathe.

She can't lay down because she can't breathe. She can't be situated on her stomach because she can't hold her head up from the weight of the helmet. She can't even SIT because of the body cast. Where on earth did they come up with her just needing "Basic" care?!?  She can't go to daycare like this!  I can't take off work for 6-8 weeks while she's in a body cast!  What were they thinking even calling me about her!?!

Apparently somewhere between HER case manager and MY case manager, she went from "being immobilized from the waist down" to "has a big cast on her leg" (SINGULAR). HER case manager hadn't even seen her... An aide brought her over from the hospital. And being my first placement, I didn't realize I was allowed to say, "Uh... This is NOT what you told me to expect!"

I talked to her case manager yesterday (she STILL hasn't seen her), and told her about her condition and the level of care that she actually requires, and she said "Oh, yeah... I think we need to see about reclassifying her." YOU THINK?!? They are going to try to get her into a home that's better equipped to take care of her. There is NO WAY that I can give her the level of care that she needs.

I am SOOOO frustrated, angry, depressed, TIRED, and DIRTY!!! Luckily, my mom and my sister have helped as much as they can, and a one of my best friends is on her way over to help out so I can at least take a shower. I feel like a complete failure, but I also know it's not MY fault that they completely misrepresented the situation. And I swear, if one more person says another word about how "convenient" it is that I can just "give her back," I'm going to beat them with a stick.

So, a word of advice to those of you waiting on your first placement... Be sure your case worker is VERY clear on the situation before accepting a placement. I specifically asked if she was immobile, and see where it got me. Know that you can say no if the placement is clearly not what your were led to believe before you sign anything! BE ASSERTIVE!!! Also, no amount of prep work prepares you for the actual number of people who will have free access to your home. On top of having to try to take care of this poor baby, my phone rings off the hook from people I never knew would be "scheduling a time to come to the house." Seriously??? I can't even go to the BATHROOM without backup! And don't get me started on having to find the time to schedule 10,000 doctors appointments around visitation with the family and visits from the workers as well as time to fill out the 100,000 logs and forms the agency requires. I finally had a chance to schedule her follow up with the orthopedic, and now her case manager wants me to reschedule it. GRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

Like I said, "This is 'basic?!?"  It's taken me the better part of two days just to type this little update. I want to cry. I have cried! I don't know if I'm cut out for this whole motherhood thing after this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Whining Works!

Who knew?!? Apparently whining works. I got my first placement last night. :-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is This What It's Like???

I feel like I've been "foster pregnant" forever!!!

I guess I can be thankful that I don't have the back pain, inability to sleep, pregnant lady wobble, and the constant urge to pee that actual pregnant women experience, but I have definitely hit the "COME ON, ALREADY!!!" stage of the waiting process. I'm seriously considering attempting the tried and true methods of bringing on labor in the hopes that they might help with getting a foster placement as well. Spicy foods, exercise, lots of sex... I realize they might not get me a child any faster, but they might make me feel a lot better! ;-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mr. Pickles Has to Go!!!

I've lived in some crazy places over the years... And while they have been improving with age (and income), I have recently discovered that nothing can compare to the NIGHTMARE that is Mr. Pickles.

Mr. Pickles' reign of terror began about two weeks ago when he and his owner moved into the apartment complex. It had been long week, and I had just settled down and gotten all cozy to catch up on some of my shows when suddenly, the INCESSANT YAPPING began. Now, a few minutes of barking is fine. It's to be expected. I have no problem waiting for a dog to calm down after his owner leaves the house, especially because I'd never heard this particular bark before, so I knew that this was an unfamiliar location for him. But after about an hour of continuous, high-pitched, yapping, I'd pretty much had enough. I threw on my shoes and set out on a journey to locate the source of my misery.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one ready to strangle that mutt. The moment I stepped out of my apartment and headed out in the direction of the yapping, I saw that one of my neighbors had already located it. The poor guy was standing below the balcony of an apartment on the other side of the swimming pool, begging the dog to shut up. "Shut up!!! Shut up!!! For the love of God, just shut up!!! I'm trying to sleep!!!" (Yeah... That's gonna work. Just reason with the mutt.) Unfortunately, seeing as how the dog was on the second floor balcony and his owner was nowhere to be found, there wasn't much anyone could do to stop the barking.

The ritual continued every night for about a week, when one morning I was on my way to the car to head to work... And I heard a familiar high-pitched yap. This time, it was close by. "You and me is gonna have words, buddy!" I start to turn around only to hear the owner say (in that obnoxious baby talk voice that newlyweds use), "Mr. Pickles, you silly boy... You come back here. You come back here to Daddy." (DADDY?!?)

I turn around to see Mr. Pickles the Pomeranian Pup and his "Daddy..." in matching outfits, no less!!! You have got to be kidding me. I so wish I'd had my camera. It explained SO MUCH! No wonder Mr. Pickles yapped like a diva. He probably gets everything he could ever want. Smoked salmon for dinner, his very own feather bed, a wardrobe with more designer labels than I could ever dream of having... He probably thought he was being severely mistreated having been forced to mingle with the commoners out on the balcony.

While I had initially thought that I might be able to force Mr. Pickles out of the complex, I have a feeling I would probably lose that battle. Dog owners who dress up in matching outfits with their pooches tend to be a wee bit crazy (even crazier than me!). So, I will be moving to the far side of the complex on May 1st. I need only suffer the sovereign reign of Mr. Pickles for two more weeks. Let's pray I don't lose my mind before then.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Still Here!!!

I'll admit, I've been slacking a bit on the blogging. It's a little more time-consuming than I thought trying to pack for the 50-yard move, yet maintain an "acceptable" household by foster care guidelines, and still have time for family stuff and holidays.

I promise, I haven't given up on the blog. In fact, I have about 20 postings that are "in progress" right now. As I think of good topics, I type in the title and make a few notes so I'll remember where I was headed when I originally came up with the idea. You'll probably be bombarded after I get in the new place. You'll be so sick of me, you won't even want to get online. ;-)

As far as Foster/Adopt Land goes, I'm still waiting. I've lost count of the number of potential placements now. There were three children last week, but they all ended up being placed with other families. I'm waiting on word for a little one-year-old boy who would be a legal risk placement (meaning parental rights will most likely be terminated and I could probably adopt him). And I'm still waiting to hear more about a possible matched-adopt of a 10-year-old little girl. I'm starting to think it's never going to happen, which is INSANELY frustrating because I know I'd be a great mom. So I'm single. I have a decent job and plenty of family and friend support. So I'm not going to be the "preferred" stay-at-home mother. My mom is going to be a stay-at-home Nana, and that's just as good!

It's just extremely frustrating because I'm here, willing, and able to take care of these kids who need the help, and I'm still being passed over for "better" parents just because there are two of them! Any of you men want to get married? All you have to do is agree to not use foil, pass a criminal background check, and double lock your medications (along with about 10,000 other things I won't mention). My best friend offered to pretend to be my lesbian life partner if I thought it would help. It probably would, actually. If none of you men take me up on the marriage offer, our commitment ceremony just might be scheduled soon. Keep an eye out for the invite!

So, that's about it on the update. Not much to report other than the typical bunch of waiting. I plan on blogging a little tonight. I can't decide between "Mr. Pickles has to Go!" or to try to finish up "Fanny Packs... and Other Things that Just Aren't Cool." I might do them both. I also have to get this week's "If" Question of the week out too. I'm such a slacker! :-)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"If" Question of the Week - Week 3

"If you had to choose the best advertising campaign ever created, which one would it be?"
I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of commercials. I tend to watch everything pre-recorded on my DVR so I can fast forward to the "good" stuff. I switch stations on the radio as soon as the commercials start playing. But there is one ad campaign that I just can't get enough of. It just tugs at my sarcastic heartstrings and often makes me weep with hysterical laughter. It is the "Real Men of Genius" campaign from Bud Light.

Of course I'm going to share a few of my favorites. :-)

Everyone knows this guy, but we usually love him anyway.

And how could you not fall in love with this man?

This one, however, is my absolute favorite! The man who invented the great taco salad...

And if the television commercials weren't hilarious enough, they went and did an entire radio campaign that usually has me pulling over on the side of the road because I'm laughing too hard to drive!

I'm from Texas, and this cracks me up because it's SO TRUE. Seriously. I haven't noticed a huge rush on New Hampshire tattoos, but I believe one out of five tattooed individuals proudly sport some homage to the great state of Texas. Heck! I'm actually planning to get one myself! Bluebonnets (the state flower ;-)...

And if that one isn't funny enough, who wouldn't appreciate the truth in this one? Who doesn't appreciate the "game-winning tips" and "subtle psychological ploys" of the "shirtless pro sports heckler?" :-)

There are so many more that I want to share... Mr. Professional Figure Skater, Mr. Local Hometown Football Hero, and Mr. Men's Room Toilet Paper Changer are also very dear to my heart. I might add more later. But for now, "We salute YOU, Mr. Real Men of Genius Campaign Creators!" You guys are freaking hilarious.

What about you? If you had to choose the best advertising campaign ever created, which one would it be?
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