Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Mommy "Must Have's"

Lately, I find myself completely surrounded by pregnant chicks.  They're everywhere!  And most of them are either having their first, or in my sister's case, her first in six years...  This time is different than the last baby boom two years ago though, because this time, I have experience!  After all, who better to offer advice on baby products and gear than someone who has had four babies in the past two years, right?!?  :-)  So, for all of my "new mommy" and "new again mommy" friends and family, I have compiled a list of products and gear that I absolutely can not live without. 

  • Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair - I love this high chair!  The seat and tray are the same size as a full-size high chair, but it attaches straight to the dining room chair, reclines for smaller babies, sits straight for older babies, and converts to a booster seat for toddlers.  It is awesome!  I don't think I'd ever settle for a full-size, stand alone high chair again.  They're too bulky, take up more room than I have, and I'd end up having to buy a separate booster seat when the kiddos hit toddler age anyway.

  • Plain old, ordinary cloth diapers - Oddly enough, I use cloth diapers for everything except diapering.  They make the best burp cloths!  I use them to clean off hands and faces after messy meals.  After they start to wear out a little, I use them as dust rags for the furniture.  And as their final duty, they work great to clean up hairballs and messes that the cat decides to leave for me around the house.  In my humble opinion, one can never have too many plain old, ordinary cloth diapers.

  • Lots of Links - They seem like such a mundane, simple little toy, but for some reason, these have been the favorites of most of my older babies (9-12 months).  Little Miss could sit for an hour just sorting them and putting them into different containers.  :-)  I also use them all the time to attach other toys to carseats, strollers, etc.  I lost one too many teethers, rattles, etc. and finally wised up and started attaching them to the stroller with the links.  Baby can throw their toys down, but they aren't going anywhere!  Mimi is so smart!  :-)

  • Hyland's Teething Tablets - OMG!  I don't know what it is about these little homeopathic tablets, but they are un-be-freaking-lievable!!!  The Booger Bear had the worst time when he was teething, and a couple of my friends told me to try these teething tablets.  Booger could be crying, fussy, drooling all over the place, chewing on his hands or anything else he could get into his mouth, and just plain completely miserable.  Within 5 minutes of giving him the Hyland's teething tablets, without fail, he'd have a complete turnaround.  I especially loved them at bedtime because they helped soothe him long enough to fall asleep.  I keep these things on hand all the time now for all of my babies.

  • Huggies Overnites diapers - LOVE me some Huggies Overnites diapers!!!  Most of my kiddos are sleeping through the night by the time they come to me, and there is nothing ickier than waking up in the morning to a soaked through baby (especially after you've already gotten ready for work).  I'm fairly certain the babies aren't too thrilled about it either.  I found the Overnites when I had the Booger, and haven't had a nighttime leak with any of the babies yet while using them!  They're like magic diapers or something!

  • A BIG Nasal Aspirator (lovingly referred to as a "snot sucker") - I always make sure I get the bigger nasal aspirators as opposed to the tiny little ones that usually come in the first aid kits.  The best "mommy advice" that I ever got was from my friend, Trina (who I lovingly refer to as Super-Mommy because she is AWESOME).  She told me, "Don't be afraid to use saline drops and the snot sucker thing."  ...and she was totally right!  Booger Bear (appropriately nicknamed for his chronic sinus infections) loved the thing.  :-)

  • Little Squirters Bath Toys - Seriously.  These things rock.  The little flat ones make awesome teethers (Booger and the Munchkin chewed on them almost constantly), and the rest kept all of the babies distracted enough in the bath that they never even realized when I was washing their hair.  The only thing that I don't really like about them is that the water never completely gets out, so once you use them as bath toys, you really can't use them anywhere else.

  • Dex Baby Dura Bibs - Love, love, love these bibs!  My sister found these years ago for the twins, and I inherited a few of them to keep at my house.  When I started fostering, I went out and bought my own stash.  You just snap up the "catch all" pocket, and the baby's good to go!  I've even used them as a "snack tray" in the stroller or when we're shopping.  Just throw some goldfish crackers or Cheerios in the pocket, and the kids have easy reach of their snack.  :)  They flatten out and can be easily wiped off.  I throw them in the washer (don't dry them in the dryer though!).  They actually have lots of animal and other styles.  I just saw the "Bad to the Bib" series today when I was looking for a sample picture.  I'm totally going to order these to add to my bib collection!

  • Take and Toss bowls with lids - I use these all the time for baby snacks, baby food, my own snacks, and even as containers to mix frosting colors during Christmas Cookie Decorating Day.  :)  I put dry cereal or oatmeal in them to send to daycare so they can be easily mixed.  And even though they are labelled as "take and toss," I wouldn't dare throw these puppies out!  They hold up really well in the top shelf of the dishwasher, so I just wash them and use them until they inevitably get lost.  I'm sure I'll end up moving my couch or other furniture and discover a treasure chest of take and toss bowls under there at some point.  :)

  • The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub - This tub is one of the least expensive, but in my opinion, the best!  It has a newborn sling, the reclining tub as they get a little older, an additional upright backrest for toddlers, and can be used in sinks as well as bathtubs.  I use this tub until the kiddos start trying to stand up, and then moved up to...

  • The Safety 1st Tubside Bath Seat - I initially bought this for the Booger Bear when he outgrew the tub, but refused to sit down in the bath.  I had absolutely no intention of chasing him around the bathtub and having to write up incident reports every time I gave him a bath and he inevitably slipped or hurt himself, so...  The tubside bath seat it was!  And I LOVE IT!  I used it for both the Booger and Little Miss in the last week she was with me, and I'm so glad I have it.  The babies seem to feel more secure, but still have the freedom to play in the "big" bath. 
  • Soft, water-filled teething rings - I tried several different teething rings and teethers for my babies, but the big "winner" as far as the babies were concerned seems to be soft, water-filled teethers that you put in the refrigerator.  If any of the kids had a choice, they always went for the soft teethers over the harder ones.

  • Flannel lap pads - I use these almost as much as I use cloth diapers!  They work great as extra protection on contour changing pads.  They are awesome for sheet protectors for small babies who still spit up throughout the night (although once they start moving around, it's anyone's game).  They also work great as liners for carseats, strollers, etc. to protect the seats in case of leaks.

But I think my #1 "Mommy Must Have" would have to be...
  • Plain old, ordinary short-sleeved onesies - "Why?" you might ask?  Well, I'll tell you...  It all stems from something that happened when the Booger Bear was with me.  Fortunately, it didn't happen to me personally, but the story that his Daddy told me after one particular visit put the fear of God and baby high-fives into me.  Yep...  Apparently, the Booger dug deep into his diaper and gave his great-grandpa a "high five" that he will likely never forget!  From that point on, I put a onesie on him every single day until the day he went home to live with his Daddy.  I wasn't about to be the recipient of one of those "gifts" that he had bestowed upon his Papa.  :-)  I happened to mention my love of onesies and my logic behind it to the Booger's dad and new mom recently, and his Daddy thought it was pretty funny.  He said that he always wondered why I had started putting those on him all the time.  I pretty much just told him that I was attempting to save the world...  One poop-free high five at a time...  ;-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

That is SO WRONG! (Or Maybe Not... They Might Be Onto Something...)

Ever since I started blogging, I've had people come up to me with topics or their own ideas about what I should write about.  I'll get random emails from people with photos attached saying something along the lines of "What do you think of this?!?"  That's actually how my first "That is SO WRONG!" post came into being.  A co-worker sent me a photo of high-heeled swimming flippers, and I felt the need to share.  I'll be talking to my BFFs about something and they will say, "You need blog about that!"  Or, like this evening, I will receive a random text from someone giving me my next blog post assignment.

From my BFF - "Blog idea...  PajamaJeans.  Saw them on TV.  I won't lie...  I would like a pair!  :-)  lol, seriously!  Check it out!  :-)"

So, of course, I did.

I have to say, what I thought was going to be another "That is SO WRONG!" post is kind of turning into a "They Might Be Onto Something Here" post.  I mean, seriously!  Who doesn't want a pair of pants that have "the styling of your favorite jeans together with the comfort of pajamas?!?"

"PajamaJeans are so comfortable, you'll want to sleep in them!"  (I freaking love to sleep!  And there's nothing more irritating than coming home from a long day of running errands in real jeans, only to have to change into pajama bottoms before taking a nap.  By all means, save me those thirty seconds!!!)

"Just because you're busy, doesn't mean you can't look sharp."  (So true!  I can ROCK those PajamaJeans!  Just you wait and see!)

"The secret is in the DormiSoft fabric."  (Seriously, people!  It's cotton and spandex!!!  Does it get any better than that?!?)

"High contrast top stitching.  Back pocket design details.  Even brass rivets, so they look like they were made by some European designer!"  (I have to admit, this statement worries me a bit.  They "look like" they were made by "some European designer."  I think I'd feel a little more comfortable if the actual designer stepped forward to claim their work, but then again, I don't know...  They do have brass rivets, people!  Them's "fancy" jeans!)

"Available in 8 sizes including extra small and plus sizes!"  (Awesomeness!  Because definitely, if it can fit an extra small super model chick it is totally going to fit me too!  They are made out of DormiSoft fabric, remember?)

"Run a few errands in sweats, and they start to wrinkle and sag."  (This, I would not know.  I am a firm believer that sweat pants were not made for short, chunky chicks.  I actually don't believe that sweat pants were made for anyone for that matter.  But I'm sure if I were a skinny girl, and I actually owned a pair of sweat pants, I'd probably hate it when they wrinkled and sagged.  Then again, if I were a skinny girl, I would totally dress like a high-priced call girl and wouldn't have a need for PajamaJeans at all!)

"For the first time, you can get PajamaJeans with DormiSoft for just $39.95!"  (Wait a minute!  You expect me to pay $40 for a pair of pajama bottoms?!?  Albeit, pajama bottoms that "look like" they were made by some European designer...  They are still pajama bottoms.)

"If you order now, you get this 100% brushed cotton t-shirt absolutely free!"  (Oh, well...  I suppose if I'm getting a free t-shirt...  I love me some free stuff!  And you know this little t-shirt is gonna look great on my chunky bod!)

So...  I haven't yet made the final decision on whether or not to take the PajamaJeans plunge, but if you see me "looking put together all day long" in some soft-looking jeans with high contrast top stitching and rivets, and rubbing my legs like the girl in the commercial, you'll know I caved (but I think I'll let Katie buy them first.  :-)

My Wild Ride (Part Three)

After Itty Bitty left with the angel couple for the weekend (read Part One and Part Two if you haven't heard the full saga), and Mom and I did our little "Happy Dance of Relief," my mom left, and I stood in the middle of the hurricane disaster zone that was once my home and basked in the sweet, sweet silence.

It was 7:45pm, and I hadn't slept more than a total of 4 hours in the past 48.  I was beyond exhausted.  Unfortunately, at that point, I was so tired that I couldn't go to sleep.  You know how you get to the point where you've been running on pure adrenaline for so long that your body won't shut down?  Well that's where I was...  So I got on the computer for a couple of hours and tried to wind down.  Fortuately, Little Miss slept her predictable 12 hours so by the time I was able to calm down, I slept like a log until she woke up.  Well, except for my own snoring that kept waking me up, having those full body twitches that happen when your body is so tired that you can't see straight, and swimming in a puddle of my own drool...  (And I wonder why I'm still single... ;-)  But I did get a full night's sleep.

The next morning, I heard Little Miss' usual sweet baby babble in the monitor and her trying to talk to me.  I always call myself  "Mimi" so it doesn't confuse the babies when it comes to their bio moms, and Miss tried so hard to get that to come out.  I would hear, "Mah-ay-eee-Mah-ay-eeee" every morning when she woke up and was ready for me to come get her.  :-)  I went up to get her, and she was all excited when she saw me (like she was every morning)...  But as we headed downstairs, I saw her excitment over seeing her Mimi turn into dread as she remembered that The Squalling One had been there when she went to bed the night before.

As we headed down the stairs, Miss got very quiet and hesitantly peered around the corner looking straight to the rocking chair where my mom had been rocking Itty Bitty the night before.  She looked at me questioningly, and I put her down.  She proceeded to search the entire downstairs...  living room, dining room, kitchen, my bedroom...  She finally went to the crib where Bitty had been sleeping the day before, looked inside, and realized that Bitty was nowhere to be found.  I honestly think if Little Miss could talk, she would have had the exact same reaction that the rest of had...  "And she's outta here!"  Instead, she turned around, looked at me, smiled, giggled a little bit, and ran up to me for hugs. :-)

Even though Bitty was away for the weekend, Little Miss still wasn't herself.  She was okay as long as I was in the room.  If she lost sight of me at all, she got hysterical.  My mom, dad, and brother-in-law had come over to help me finish switching bedrooms with Miss.  She was in her highchair eating lunch, and seemed interested in everything that was going on (as long as I was sitting in the chair next to her).  The men were even able to coax a few smiles out of her (which was huge because Little Miss was terrified of men for the most part.  I think she had finally seen my dad and brother-in-law enough to know that they weren't going to take her from her Mimi.)

My mom stayed to finish helping me move the small stuff, but it became clear that Miss still wasn't ready for me to leave her sight.  I had tried to move a few things upstairs while my mom kept her occupied, but she was totally onto us.  She would have a blast playing with my mom as long as she could see me and could come to "home base" (aka. Mimi) every couple of minutes for hugs.  By my second trip upstairs, Miss was hysterical, back to rocking herself, and sobbing like crazy.

(Let me just interject here that no 12-month-old baby should be put in a position of feeling like they need to comfort themselves.  When Little Miss first came to me, she spent more time rocking herself than she would allow me to rock her.  She had no idea that she could relax into my arms when drinking a bottle because they had been feeding her by having her stand in front of them.  It took three weeks to get her to a point where she no longer rocked herself over and over, to relax and let me comfort her...  So the fact that after only a couple of hours with Itty Bitty in the house and Little Miss had completely reverted back to her old behavior just killed me.)

After my mom left, I promised Little Miss that for the rest of the weekend, it would be "just her and me."  It took most of the rest of the day to convince her that things were back to "normal" for the time being, and that she could relax and be herself, but by Saturday evening, she seemed to be getting back to normal.  I think the fact that she had a brand new bedroom directly off of the living room and easy access to all of her toys helped out quite a bit.  :) 

By that evening, Little Miss would disappear into her bedroom for short stretches of time and come running back out to give me hugs.  I finally realized that she was getting back to normal when she had disappeared into her room for about 5 minutes and things got really quiet.  If you've ever been the mother of a toddler, you know that silence is not always a good thing.  I got up to check on her when I heard hysterical baby laughter coming from her bedroom.  "Oh boy...  What is she doing?"  Fortunately, I was greeted by the happiest, most heart-warming sight that I'd seen in days...

Out of all of her toys and everything that she had to play with in her new room, Little Miss had discovered the laundry basket.  She had dumped out all of the dirty clothes, turned the basket on its side, and proceeded to climb in and out, in and out, in and out...  For the next 24 hours!!!  She had apparently discovered the mecca of all toys.  She was in smiles for the remainder of the weekend, and I was so happy that what was most likely going to be her last weekend with Mimi ended with smiles, lots of laughter, and big time hugs and cuddles from my favorite baby girl.

(Stay tuned for the conclusion of "My Wild Ride" - Coming soon...)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You Know You're a Foster Parent When... Part Two

After writing the first "You Know You're a Foster Parent When" post, I came across some more that I thought were funny and soooo true!  Here are a few more for a little foster parent comic relief...

You know you're a foster parent when...
  1. You find yourself buying new stockings every Christmas.
  2. You've had family portraits taken every year for the past five years, and no two of them have the same people.
  3. Your church pew resembles United Nations.
  4. You consider a "prime" parking spot the one that is closest to the cart return, rather than the one closest to the door.
  5. You have three children named, Crystal, Chrystal, and Krystal.
  6. You carry an extra carseat in the trunk "just in case."
  7. You say things like, "I'm taking Little Timmy to jail so he can visit his dad" and "Baby and I are going to rehab today" and don't give a thought about the looks of abject horror on the faces of the people overhearing your conversation.
  8. Your 4-year-old asks, "Can we call the caseworker and ask her to bring us a new brother?"
  9. You open your garage door and passing cars stop, thinking that all of the toys, bikes, and baby furniture mean "Garage Sale!"
  10. Your local grocer tells you that if you ever decide to move, he would like advanced notice because he will have to lay off three employees.
  11. You consider going to the bathroom a "vacation" if no one knocks on the door.
  12. "Special" time alone with your husband is a full night's sleep in your favorite baggy jammies.
  13. You understand "teen speak," and find yourself using it in your everyday conversation.
  14. You have to carry a list of your children's names and birthdates.
  15. You find a urine stain on the carpet, and DON'T suspect the dog.
  16. You have to stop and really think when someone asks you, "How many children do you have?"
But still, my personal favorite is...

You know you're a foster parent when...

"Your heart is bigger than your brain."  :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That Is SO Wrong!!!

Um...  So, yeah...  I just had to share this because for once in my life, I am completely at a loss for words. 

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.  Believe me.  I have words.  I have LOTS of words about this one!  But first, I need to attempt to clear the frightening image of what you are about to see from my brain, wipe the "laughing tears" from my eyes, catch my breath, and locate the words that will accurately describe my feelings about the following:

(I apologize in advance if you feel slightly violated and embarrassed upon viewing this.  I know I sure did!)

Direct from last night's episode of "The Sing-Off..."  The all male group, On the Rocks, performing Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." 

Don't get me wrong...  These guys can sing!  They are definitely talented (hence their status of being one of the top six groups on this show).  My discomfort stems from their attempt at "choreography."  If I had just closed my eyes and listened to their performance I don't think I would have been scarred for life as I am now.

My initial reaction when the song first started was, "Wow!  That sounds real!"  Then the lead guy came out and started doing his "sexy walk."  I quickly realized that this guy is more feminine than I am, and I got a little worried.  As the song progressed, I realized that most of these guys are more feminine that I am, and all I could think was, "Really?  Are they serious?"

About halfway through the performance, the guys really start to get into it.  All of the body rolls and stuff...  And when the entire group got together and did that whole "spanking" thing...  I sat there, completely dumbfounded, mouth agape, and for once...  Speechless.  Then, they all got down on the ground and slithered forward...  "Oh, sweet Little Baby Jesus, tell me I did not just see that!"  And Lead Guy did that whole "reverse humping" thing... 


From that point on, I was laughing so hard that tears were pouring down my face.  "One lump or two? (in soprano harmony, no less!)"  The literal "pouring of the sugar" move...  More "spanking..."  Hands caressing the lead guy...  Lead guy caressing himself...  I was dying!!!  I was absolutely dying in hysterical laughter (and at the same time, wanting to poke my own eyeballs out with hot pokers and curl into the fetal position and cry for my Mommy to make it stop).

All I can say is that I am so unbelievably glad that I wasn't a judge on that show last night.  Although, I must admit, they handled it very well with comments like, "That was sweet alright!  I really liked the choreography." "You had some rather 'artistic' moments in there."  "You just can't help but smile when you watch that."  (You're not kidding! ;-)  Yep...  Very proud of those judges!  It took me a good 10 minutes to compose myself after that performance, so I doubt my "What the &$^# was that?!?" that I would have stumbled out between chuckles and blotting my eyes would have gone over very well.  :-)

As one of the judges said, "I really wish you would have owned it just a little more.  This is one of those songs where there's no turning back."  I'm not entirely certain that's correct though...  because I keep going back to it over and over again...  mostly in my nightmares as I see Lead Guy doing that reverse humping thing in the middle of the stage...  That was SO WRONG!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Wild Ride (Part Two)

Yep...  I called my Mommy... (If you missed Part One, just click on the link.)

Most of my family had been on a cruise that week, and they apparently had just pulled into the garage when I sent out my "Mommy SOS."  (And by "just pulled in," I mean that they hadn't even closed the garage door or unloaded their bags from the car.)  After a quick potty break, my mom and aunt came over and took over holding Itty Bitty so I could get Little Miss bathed, changed, bottled, cuddled, and in bed. 

The one good thing about the situation was that Little Miss is a fantastic and predictable sleeper.  Her bedtime routine consisted of us reading a book or playing for a few minutes, Miss pointing to the kitchen indicating that she was ready for her bedtime bottle, pushing her bottle away when she was finished, giving me a quick hug, and then pointing upstairs to her bedroom at precisely 7:00pm.  We would walk in the room, she pointed to her crib, I'd put her down, she'd grab her own blanket, roll over, and usually was sound asleep before I left the room.  And the best part was that she slept until 7:00am the next morning!  That was the only thing that helped get me through that night with Itty Bitty who woke up every 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drink 2 measly little ounces of her bottle.

Somehow the timing of the feedings that night worked out so that Itty Bitty was fed and asleep just before Little Miss woke up for the day.  Things were all fine and dandy until Miss realized that the squalling one was still there.  Then it was back to the squalling two.  I somehow managed to get both girls dressed and loaded in the car to get Little Miss off to daycare.  She was hysterical enough with Itty Bitty in the house.  I wanted to go ahead and keep things as "normal" as possible for her, so daycare it was!  I had Miss in one arm with her diaper bag and my purse on that shoulder, and Bitty in her carrier in the other arm.  Thank God it wasn't cold or raining, or I would have been in a world of hurt!

I thought I could handle Itty Bitty okay as long as Miss wasn't there too, so I didn't call my mom that morning.  She ended up calling me and told me she was coming over.  And I'm soooo glad she did!  Itty Bitty was a nightmare in this angelic little body.  The nurses weren't kidding when they said that she's used to being held all the time.  What they neglected to mention was that she was used to being held and walked around with all the time.  Bitty was not content with being rocked.  She wanted to be walked.  And she let you know it in an ear-piercing, nails-on-a-chalkboard, make-your-ears-bleed, constant wail.

Mom and I took turns walking and feeding Bitty so she would stop screaming and the other one would attack the remnants of the natural disaster that seemed to have also struck my household in the 24 hours that Bitty had been there.  How is it possible that something so little can wreak so much havoc on a household?!?  In 24 hours, I had accumulated more dirty laundry than I had during the previous week having been pooped on, peed on, and spit up on multiple times.  I had moved all of my bedding out to the living room and slept on the couch during the few minutes that Bitty would sleep because every little sound woke her up.  My kitchen had been taken over by dirty bottles because Bitty ate every 2 hours.  It was scary bad.

It was abundantly clear to me in that first day that a single, trying to work full-time, foster mom really should admit to herself that taking on two infants (a 12-month-old and a newborn fresh out of the NICU) by herself probably wasn't the best and brightest idea.  I knew that the girls had a hearing on Monday and that they were probably going to be placed with their dad, so I only had to make it through the weekend.  I did something I had never done before...  I called my agency and asked if they could find a couple to do respite for Itty Bitty over the weekend.

I've always used my mom as my "official" respite care provider for babysitting my kids, and my BFF took on Angel for a few days when she was with me, but I'd never asked to use another foster family.  I'll tell you though...  It was worth it!  This angelic couple offered to come over and pick up Itty Bitty that night and keep her until Monday morning after I got Little Miss off to daycare.  Based on how Little Miss was reacting to Bitty, and how she was already reverting back to some of her previous behaviors that she hadn't done in weeks, I knew it was the best for her to wait until she went home to her dad's before bringing her little sister into the picture permanently.

Before my weekend angels came to pick up Bitty, my mom stayed to cater to the little squalling one while I tried to give the bigger squalling one my as-undivided-as-possible-in-that-situation attention.  Poor Little Miss...  She couldn't understand what was happening.  All she knew was that I wasn't all hers anymore...  And for a 12-month-old who'd never had a mom's undivided attention up until she came to live with me, losing that after 5 weeks was devasting for her.  I was able to get her off to bed a few minutes before those nice, nice people who I grew to love more than just about anything that weekend came to pick up Bitty.

I realize that my mom and I probably didn't display the most appropriate reactions to having Bitty leave for the weekend, but upon shutting the front door, we turned to each other...  Breathed deep, cleansing breaths, and exclaimed (in the words of my sweet niece)...

(Stay Tuned for Part Three)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Wild Ride (Part One)

The past couple of weeks have been one major roller coaster ride in Foster/Adopt Land!  I received a phone call telling me to go to the hospital to pick up Itty Bitty (Little Miss' baby sister) because she was finally being released.  In that same phone call, they told me that there was a hearing the following Monday and that the girls would most likely be released into their father's care. 

Itty Bitty was a cute little thing...  That is to say, she was a cute little thing in the 2 hours total that she slept during the time that she was with me.  I knew I was in trouble when the first thing the nurses in the hospital where she had been staying for the past 5 weeks said to me was, "We're so sorry!"  "What does that mean?" I asked.  "Well," the replied, "She's kind of been our little mascot for the past five weeks, so she's kind of been held 24/7.  But we've been working on self-soothing today!"  ... TODAY!?!?!  Great.

Little Miss was at daycare, so I decided to bring Itty Bitty over to my sister's house so she and the twins could meet her.  My nephew could take her or leave her.  He was more interested in his Wii game.  Although he did sing her a lovely lullaby rendition of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in an attempt to keep her from crying.  My niece was all about holding her and being right beside her.  I call her our Little Mama because she's extremely nurturing and a great little 5-year-old babysitter.  :-)  She didn't leave Bitty's side for 30 minutes.  Bitty started crying again, so we did a diaper change.  ...And then she spit up...  All over the floor next to my niece...  That did it.  She was done.  As I packed up our things and put Itty Bitty in her carseat and she started squalling because she was no longer being held, my niece opened the front door for us and exclaimed...  "And she's OUTTA HERE!!!"  (She's in for a rude awakening in a few months when her new twin brother and sister make their grand appearance and she can't send them packing after 30 minutes.  :-)

I headed over to Little Miss' daycare where it quickly became apparent that I hadn't really thought through the logistical aspects of transporting a 5-week-old and a 12-month-old at the same time.  I loaded Itty Bitty and her carrier into the single stroller (because I wasn't about to buy a double stroller until I knew whether or not the girls were staying) and thought that I'd just carry Little Miss back out to the car.  Fortunately, the kind ladies at the daycare recognized that I had no clue how hard that was going to be and took care of loading Itty Bitty for me while I took care of Little Miss.

After the first 30 minutes with both girls, I knew I was in over my head.  Bitty was screaming because I couldn't hold her while I was getting Little Miss her dinner.  Little Miss was crying because there was this screaming thing stealing her Mimi's attention.  After her dinner, she had ravioli in her hair, desperately needed a bath, and was sobbing and clinging to my leg as I tried to comfort her and feed Bitty her bottle.  By the time Little Miss should have been in bed, we were nowhere near it.  I did what any self-respecting woman would do in that situation.

...I called my Mommy...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Butterflies...

I found this quote several years ago when I was at my lowest of emotional lows...
It came and hit me over the head because it was so true, and when I finally made the decision to stop "chasing happiness," happiness found me!

I think of my kids as my "butterflies..."

Going into my second Christmas in Foster/Adopt Land, I've tried to find a special way to remember each of my kids, whether they are in my arms or in my heart at the time.  So each year, I track down butterfly ornaments to add to my Christmas tree.  Something I can look at and remember each child who came into my life over the years.

Christmas number two in my foster/adopt journey, and I have five beautiful butterflies adorning my tree (hopefully there will be a sixth one before Christmas gets here).

My Immobile Munchkin (with me for one week before moving to the best family she and her big sister could have found before they were reunited with their mom almost a year and a half later)...

Angel (lived with me for almost 7 months) and the Booger Bear (my little boy for 10 great months before he went home to his daddy.  I am totally blessed that I still get to love on and spoil him from time to time too! :-)...

Little Miss (my sweet girl for a little over a month) and Itty Bitty (with me for just a couple of days before they were reunited with their daddy)...  I haven't even had a chance to write about the past couple of weeks with Little Miss and Itty Bitty!  I'll have to catch everyone up.  They've been gone for five days, and I am missing Little Miss like crazy right now.  I'm happy that CPS didn't drag out their case though when they decided that their daddy was the right place for them.

So there they are...  My five butterflies...  The "happiness" that found me when I wasn't even looking...  I pray for each of them every day.  I pray for the new little ones who will enter my home in the future.  I pray that I am able to give each of these kids what they need for as long as I am blessed to have them in my life.  And I pray that they know the kind of happiness that they have given me...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Have a Climber

Oh, sweet heck!  This child is going to be the death of me!  Ladies and gentlemen...  We have a climber, and the lengths I have gone to in order to prevent her one-track mind from resulting in bodily injury have been astounding.

Those are the stairs back there.  Originally, I had been using the box and the stroller to block them off, and that worked just fine.  Until today...  Little Miss climbed into, onto, over, and under her stroller more times than I can count.  So, the dining room chair had to come into play.  I can't wait for my dad to get back from their cruise so he can help me get the baby gate installed again.

I love my dining room table.  Unfortunately, it is exactly head height to Little Miss.  Hence, my dining room chairs now act as a baracade in order to prevent head injuries.  They also serve as refuge for the poor cat, who Little Miss just LOVES and can't get enough of.  Kitty Cat Tommie, however, has had more than enough of Little Miss.

I'm in the process of switching bedrooms with Little Miss, and during this morning's rearranging session, she discovered the window sill.  I must have told the child "no" 10,000 times and removed her from the sill as she climbed up into it.  She thinks Mimi's silly and playing a game.  Mimi got smart and pushed the twin bed up next to my queen bed so there is no way she can get to the window sill.  She was not amused.

Not only have I had to shut the doors to both the bathroom and the closet, I've had to add a baby gate because Little Miss has decided to pry open the cabinets as far as they will go with the safety locks, put her little foot into the cabinet, and attempt to get inside the 2 inch slat.  She is just stubborn enough to continue to try it even though it has yet to produce her desired result.

She is killing me...  She is absolutely killing me.  Thankfully, she's played so hard today that I am she is currently enjoying her second nap of the day.  :-)

The Proof...

"So who are these amazingly-gorgeous kids," you might ask?  Only my absolute favorite kiddos in the world...  New baby Little Miss, my twin niece and nephew Ka-Diva and Buddy, and that adorable little guy in the middle...  My Booger Bear!!!  :-)

The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of happiness and excitement with Little Miss (and soon-to-be Itty Bitty) coming into my life.  And just as exciting has been my newfound friendship with Booger's daddy (Kelly) and new mommy (Heaven).  What started with me sending an out-of-the-blue email to Booger's daddy telling him that I had put together a baby book for them and Booger to have, and wishing Booger a happy 2nd birthday, quickly turned into us becoming FaceBook friends, FarmVille buddies, and now weekend playdate partners in crime.

I hadn't seen Booger Bear since the morning I took him to daycare the day of the final court hearing back in March.  I look back now and realize that was probably best for both of us.  The first time I got to see him was a total surprise.  Heaven and Kelly are expecting a baby girl next year, and they had a bunch of 12-18 month little girl clothes that they had received from family that they thought I might be able to use for Little Miss (just goes to show how thoughtful these kids are :).  When they came by to drop them off, I opened the door to see all three of them

Booger Bear came in like he owned the place.  You could tell that he thought that he should know who I was, but that he couldn't quite place me.  He was insanely jealous of Little Miss (who was in my lap the whole time), and he wasn't really sure why.  :-)  He sat there and talked to me for 20 minutes like we were best buddies.  He's a smart little thing...  Talking in full sentences and carrying on intelligent conversations...  We talked about his animals, his love of lizzards, his girlfriend, and how he's glad he wears a diaper because his ferret bites his butt.  :-)

The next weekend, Booger's baby book came in so I asked if the three of them would want to meet at the park to pick it up.  I told them that I'd most likely have the twins with me, and they quickly suggested having a picnic with us and all of the kids.  It was an awesome afternoon!  The twins were really worried that Booger wouldn't remember them, but Heaven did a great job the night before putting together presents for the twins with Booger and talking all about them so he'd know their names.  When they got to the park, Buddy and Ka-Diva asked, "Do you remember us Booger?"  He just smiled really big and said, "Yeah!"  That made them feel so good...  And the fact that the three of them immediately picked up right where they left off was awesome!

Booger trying to get a smile out of Little Miss.  She's a hard sell.  :-)

Feeding the ducks (although Booger was feeding himself more than the ducks)

My little stairsteps...  Deep in thought (and nose-picking)

Buddy and Little Miss are already crazy about each other.  If anyone can get a smile out of her, Buddy can!

Ka-Diva, the little babysitter (she takes her role as "big cousin, soon-to-be big sister" very seriously.  She insisted on holding Booger's hand any time we walked anywhere, and she kept assuring Heaven and me that she wouldn't let him go anywhere dangerous. :-)  You can also see that Little Miss is trying to get Buddy to pay attention to her.  :-)

Just a good pic of Buddy...

Best friends...

Kissin' Cousins...  :-)

We had a great 4-hour day in the park, and Kelly and Heaven said that Booger hasn't been that happy or well-behaved in months.  I think part of them is secretly looking to me to help them get him through the "terrible twos."  He's a handful, and he knows he runs that house.  I don't want to overstep by correcting him or anything (definitely a hard thing to step back when I spent a year doing just that), but they seem to be paying lots of attention when I talked to him about sharing, being gentle, being safe, etc.  They seemed kind of shocked that he listened to me.  :-)  He's a smart kid.  You can actually reason with him and explain the "why" of things.  It was just an awesome day!  Booger kept asking me to hold him, and followed Buddy around like a little puppy dog the way he used to.  And that night, Kelly and Heaven said that his good behavior and total good mood carried on throughout the rest of the day.  :-)

I ended up inviting them to Little Miss' 1st birthday party the next weekend because the visit had gone so well, and they came (despite Kelly being INSANELY allergic to my cat :-)!  My parents and my best friends got to see Booger again for the first time, and he had a blast playing with Buddy, Ka-Diva, and all of the little friends he had when he was a baby.  (I'll be doing a separate post on Little Miss' party, but it was another great day with the people I love the most.)

Kelly, Heaven, and I talk almost every day.  They've even added my mom as a friend on FaceBook and talk to her too!  When I look at them and see how hard they are trying, and know how loved Booger is, it makes me realize that foster care does work.  Yes, they are kids...  But they are really good kids who are doing their very best to love and raise this little boy who I love so much.  And the fact that Heaven has taken him as her own makes me love that girl like crazy!  They've ask my advice on different things, and it makes me feel good to know that they value my opinion when it comes to our little guy.  I am constantly telling them how proud I am of them and how they are doing a great job.

I am so thankful for this new opportunity to be back in my Booger Bear's life...  To be a role model for his parents...  And to be able to be able to see firsthand how my role as Booger's foster mom has helped him, his daddy, and his new mommy become a family.  Foster care can work!  And these kids are the proof!  :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Healing Heart

My life is nothing like I thought it would be when I was younger...  I don't know how many teens or young adults imagine their lives 15-20 years down the road and think, "I plan to be a single foster mom!  I want to love other people's kids and get my heart broken over and over again as I let them go."  I know I sure didn't!  These past two years in Foster/Adopt Land have been one wild and crazy roller coaster ride of emotions.  There have been times when I thought I couldn't do it anymore...  Times when I felt like a complete failure...  Times when it hurt so bad, I just wanted to hide from the world...  When people hear that I'm a foster parent, they inevitably say, "I just couldn't do that!  It would hurt too much to let them go!"  My answer has always been, "Yes, it hurts.  It's horrible.  It's the worst pain I've ever felt.  But it's so worth it."

While that has always been my answer, I'm not sure I ever fully believed it until the past few months.  I went into foster care after many, many prayerful years.  I finally began to trust that God wouldn't have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated, so I threw myself into loving these kids with my whole heart.  I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until I began this journey.  But I can feel the change within me as more and more time goes on, and I know that can only be His promise to heal the hurt as I love these kids and let them go.  With each child who comes into and out of my life, I've found that I have a stronger sense of peace, a more compassionate heart, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find.

I look at Little Miss and feel so incredibly blessed to be the one who gets to keep her safe, to teach her new things, and to love her like a mother should.  I am counting the days until Itty Bitty gets out of the hospital and joins us so I can do the same for her. 

At the same time, I feel for their parents.  No matter what their situation is, these are their little girls.  People make mistakes...  Often bad mistakes...  And I have to believe that they can learn from them.  Even if they don't, and their mistakes continue to get the better of them, I can't help but feel for them. 

I know that my sense of empathy and compassion sometimes drives people crazy.  The "natural" reaction to someone hurting or neglecting a child is definitely not one of empathy towards the parents.  But I think that trait in me is partly what makes me a good foster parent.  I want to help the parents.  Especially the parents who so obviously love their children and who want to make positive changes for them.  But even if they aren't able to do that, I think my compassion for them helps my kids in the long-run.  If I'm ever blessed to be able to adopt any of my kids, I think I'll be able to better explain how they came to me in a way that won't leave them feeling abandoned or unwanted.  I hope that I can teach my children to have that sense of empathy and understanding for others.

One thing I do know is that God is healing my heart beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible.  Yes, it does hurt when my children leave my home and my arms, but His promise to heal that hurt has proven true time and time again.  And after every healing, I find myself more and more excited and filled with the anticipation of loving another one of these children who so desperately need me for however long I'm blessed to have them in my life. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Little Miss loves being outside, so we thought that it would be fun to get the BFFs together with all of our kiddos, and head over to the Pumpkin Patch for the morning.  The temperature was great, but it was really, really cloudy and a little drizzly at times.  Fortuately, we got a good 2-3 hours in before the thunderstorm (and as we found out later that day...  TORNADO showed up.  :-)

She looks much wiser than 11-months-old

 Hugs, Mimi!?!?

 It's like she knows she has admirers. 

Colton:  "You see, Baby...  It's like this..."
Little Miss:  "Um, yeah...  I don't think you know what you're talking about."

Tell me all about it...

Goofy girl...

Mm-hmm, that's right.  The boys love me.  ;-)

Freedom!!!  Running in the back of the truck...

Hard to believe this happy little girl is the same one who practically flips me the bird when she doesn't get her way.  :-)

Checking out the new shoes...

The best outtake photo ever...
Hamilton's half-dressed hindside in his Halloween costume.
Me and Rylan not looking so bad.
Little Miss playing with Rylan's hair.
and Colton, hand on forehead, looking embarrassed at being subjected to this photo session.

Seriously?  Katie sees my child pick up a discarded, used Dr. Pepper can, and what does she do?  She takes a picture!  No wonder the poor kid got a stomach virus.  Even Colton knew she didn't need to be chewing on that.  "EWW!  Trash!  YUCK!"

Colton:  "Baby, you really shouldn't eat trash.  Don't pick up whatever you've got your eye on."
Rylan:  "Mommy...  Little Miss is about to eat trash."
Little Miss:  "OMG!  Trash!!!"

We all hightailed it out of there when the black clouds started rolling in.  Fortunately, we had the kids loaded into the cars and were pulling out when the torrential downpour started.  We had a blast though, and definitely want to make this an annual excursion!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Telling Visit

Little Miss had her first visit with her parents since she moved in with me (her second since coming into care), and it proved to be extremely telling as to how this case might go.

Because I'm a single, working mom, the caseworker does all of the transporting and supervising of the visits.  When he brought Little Miss home tonight, he had his arms full of bags, and had to go out to the car to make a second trip.  When he came back, he explained how the evening played out.

CW - "So...  Basically, Mom showed up to the visit, but she was completely emotionally checked out.  There was just nothing there.  Everything that you see here (gesturing toward the bags) is from Dad."

As I unpacked, I found a new pack of diapers, wipes, formula for the week, three boxes of baby oatmeal (remind me to blog about what she has been fed and taught later), two new 2-piece outfits, a Halloween costume, a bucket full of candy (I'm hoping that wasn't for the baby), a bag of clothes and things from home, and a $10 bill. 

Apparently, Mom left immediately after the hour was over, but Dad stayed to talk to the caseworker.  He said that he was crying and that he just kept saying over and over, "I just want to be able to see my girls," and that he didn't understand why he couldn't have them because he didn't do anything wrong.  Miss was living with her mom at the time that everything came to light. Dad spends quite a bit of time at the hospital visiting Itty Bitty because there isn't much of a restriction on that other than the hospital hours.  All of those visits are semi-supervised because of the setting.  He just really misses Little Miss and wants to be able to spend more time with her.

It's going to be hard for him because he's young (caseworker wasn't sure, but thought maybe mid 20s) and has little to no support system as far as family or anyone around to help him with two infants.  There are also several questionable things that need to be researched and resolved before CPS makes a recommendation as to dad gaining custody.

It's still very, very early in the case, so there's no telling how it will play out.  All I can say is that it makes me very happy that Little Miss has a daddy who clearly loves her, and who she obviously loves.  Miss gets really excited and practically gives herself whiplash every time we see a blond guy in his 20s, so her dad must be blond (that, or she just has really good taste ;-).  I'm grateful that he cares enough to try to provide for her needs even while she's in foster care.  He doesn't have to do that, but the fact that he has speaks volumes.

Moving In and Gettin' Comfy...

Things have been going pretty well since Little Miss came to live with me.  The first 4-5 days were hard for her...  Lots of changes, and she absolutely REFUSED to lose bodily contact with me in the house during her waking hours.  That is, unless she was pitching a fit because she wanted to take a walk in the stroller.  Little Miss is an "all or nothing" girl, and the first 4-5 days could have been pretty bad if she wasn't such a good sleeper at night.

Things that made Little Miss happy:
  1. Walks in the stroller (I have lost 7 pounds from taking multiple walks every day)
  2. Being outside
  3. Shopping (I am now broke from daily shopping excursions)
  4. Eating (glad she was eating, because I haven't had the time!)
  5. Sleeping (I love to sleep too, we will get along well in that area :)
Things that made Little Miss unhappy:
  1. Everything else
Somehow though, on the 5th evening, everything seemed to click!  She somehow decided that Mimi (that's me) is actually a pretty cool person, and fun to be around.  We had gone shopping that afternoon with my sister so Little Miss was already in a good mood from an afternoon of enjoying one of her favorite pasttimes.  She took a nap (another favorite), woke up and got dinner (another favorite)!  Then I informed her that she needed a bath, and I was preparing for a battle.  Bathtime has not been very successful since she arrived.

I decided to use the infant/toddler tub because it was smaller and would hopefully not overwhelm her like the regular tub seemed to.  She initially started to cry, and I could see a fit approaching, so I (the Queen of Redirection) quickly got her attention by pouring water over her hands.  She started getting interested in that, and then I gave her one little bath toy which she immediately took and started playing with.  After she seemed calm and almost happy, I gave her one other small toy and started to wash her off while she was playing.  No tears at all!  And I even let her play a few minutes longer so she could start associating bathtime with something fun.  Success!!!

After bathtime we headed out to the living room for a little playtime.  In five days, this child had absolutely refused to leave my lap while we were in the house.  This day, however, she decided to sit next to me on the couch.  She still didn't want to get on the floor, but we sang songs, played pattycake, This Little Piggy, read books, and everything else I could think of for a good half an hour before we headed to her room for bedtime. 

It was still a few minutes early, so I thought I'd attempt to put her down on the floor and see how she did.  No crying!  :-)  She just started exploring her bedroom for the first time since she moved in!  I decided to let her explore and started working on sorting a tub of baby clothes.  I sat on the floor and started pulling items out, looking at the tags, and sorting.  Little Miss watched me intently for a minute, then came over, and started "helping" me.  She did exactly what I was doing.  Pull one article of clothing out of the bin, open it up, look at the tag, and then handed it to me.  She stood there and "helped" me until every last piece of clothing had been sorted.

Then she pointed to her crib and was ready for bed.  :)

In the two days since, Little Miss has not cried with me at all!  She's genuinely excited to see me when she wakes up in the mornings and when I get her from daycare.  We have fun together!  And I have a little giggle monster on my hands at times.  :)  I am so, sooo grateful to have these few weeks alone with her before her baby sister comes to live with us.  My Little Miss deserves some one-on-one Mimi time and to know that she's a special girl.  I'm definitely excited every time I see her have a "breakthrough" moment, and I love, love, love seeing her smile!  I'm eager to see what this next year brings...

Monday, October 25, 2010


It's amazing how quickly things change in Foster/Adopt Land when time usually seems to stand still in that world.  Last Monday, after over two months of waiting to get licensed by my new agency, I was about aready to go over there and ask if they wanted me to write up the homestudy for them.  Then, the phone rang...

The program director at my agency said, "Tammy, I have a few things to talk to you about."  What then came out of her mouth absolutely sent me reeling.

1.  She had two pages left to finish my homestudy.
2.  She just emailed questionnaires to my personal references.
3.  She's hoping my references will respond immediately because...
4.  She needs to get my licensing number right away because...
5.  She has not one, but two babies for me if I want them!

She had very little information on the girls other than that the 11-month-old had been removed and placed in another foster home on Friday after some questionable findings with her newborn baby sister.  The other foster home was a brand new home and had no experience with infants.  Older baby was placed with them on Friday, and by Friday night, they were already asking to have her moved because they were completely overwhelmed and had no clue what they were doing.  She said that if I was willing to take both girls, she was pretty certain they'd be mine if I said yes.  They just had to check with the caseworker and explain that I was a few days away from having my licensing number, but that I'd already fostered before so I knew what I was doing.

I said, "No."

It absolutely KILLED me to say "no" because being single, it takes months for me to get a placement unless the children are already in care.  Caseworkers want couples or stay-at-home moms, so if I get my placements the "normal" way, it takes forever.  The Booger Bear came to me from another foster home as well.  But I had no idea how I was going to be able to take care of a newborn and a soon-to-be one-year-old by myself!  So I told the director that I didn't have two cribs and that I was a little concerned about being able to handle that on my own, so as much as it was killing me, I thought I needed to say "no."  Then I did what any self-respecting adult would do.

I called my Mommy.

During that conversation, I ended up pep-talking myself into calling my director back and saying, "You know what!  Let's give this a try!"  And as of right now, I am so glad I did!!!

On Tuesday, she called me back and asked how soon I could take the 11-month-old already at the other foster home.  She said that the parents were nervous wrecks and that she wasn't comfortable leaving her there anymore.  I said, "I'm ready for her tonight if you want me to take her!" 

I still wasn't licensed, but they moved her as a "respite" placement with the understanding that she would be an official foster placement as soon as we got my number.  Her foster parents were bringing her over to my house themselves because they had some things to bring with her.  And I opened the door to the most beautiful little girl ever!  Understandably timid and scared, but she came to me and let me take over.  She even fell right to sleep and slept over 12 hours the very first night!

At that point, there wasn't much information on her baby sister.  Just that she was, in the caseworker's words, "a whooooolllle other ballgame."  So I took my "Little Miss" and started to do what I could to make her comfortable and to get her used to me before our lives become insane again when "Itty Bitty" baby comes home...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Must Apologize...

I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile.  This past week or so has been a crazy one in Foster/Adopt Land.  I have good reason...   She's 11 months old and the prettiest, sweetest little thing on the planet (if I do say so myself)...  I've been calling her "Little Miss," and the nickname seems to have stuck.  So "Little Miss" it is in Blog World!  :-)

Please pray for her and her baby sister who might be joining us at some point, as well as her parents and extended family.  This little one deserves the happiest, safest, most joyful life full of love possible.
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