Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Hooray of the Day!!!"

Today's "Hooray of the Day!!!"...

Today, I salute you,
Mr. King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls!

Monkey had you for the first time tonight,
and you were apparently the
he's ever had in his entire life.
(all "almost" ten months of it, that is...)

I've had four kiddos eating finger foods
in the past three years,
and you haven't let me down once!

HOORAY for Mr. King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls!!!

Your yummy goodness
makes toddlers actually EAT some of their dinners.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweetest Gift Ever...

The morning after Thanksgiving, I took Buddy and Ka-Diva to work with me.  I apparently started something last year when I brought them up to decorate, and they had been looking forward to going back to my work all year, so I couldn't disappoint them.

I was the only person in my department, so we had the run of the place.  We stopped and bought donuts and chocolate milk.  We decorated for Christmas.  We worked on art projects.  And when we ran out of things to do and still had an hour left before I was scheduled to leave, we decided to work on our Christmas lists.

The twins and I sat at the computer and searched the big toy store website so I could get some ideas for them (and pass them along to my sister).  After each kid had a full page of ideas, they wanted to work on a list of what they could get for their mom.  I love how 1st graders think!  Their list consisted of:
  • Christmas decorations
  • Kindness
  • Dolphins
  • Help with the babies
  • Clean their rooms
  • Help with the laundry
  • Quiet in the house when the babies are sleeping
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Foot rubs
I think they know their mommy well.  :-)

After their list for Christy, they wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas.  I pulled up my Amazon Wish List and showed it to them.  Lots of "boring" things on there...  You know...  The stuff that you need, but never buy for yourself.  They looked at me like I was crazy when they saw that I really wanted oven mitts.  ;-)  When my online list didn't appeal to them, they asked me what I liked, and I mentioned that I love butterflies.  I told them that butterflies make me happy and that I think of all of my kiddos (including them) as butterflies because they make me happy too.  I vaguely remember saying that I'd love to have a butterfly necklace someday.  Then we went on with doing other things, and then it was time to go.

Fast forward to yesterday (Christmas Day)...

My family takes turns opening our Christmas presents.  You get to enjoy seeing each others' reactions to their gifts, it gives everyone a better opportunity to bond and visit with each other, and it makes the fun last longer than the crazy free-for-all method of gift opening.  When it was my turn, I pulled a gift from Buddy and Ka-Diva.  This was the first year that Christy took them shopping so they could pick out a gift for each of us, just from them.

Imagine me, totally surprised and a little teary-eyed, when I opened my gift to find a butterfly necklace (with earrings) because that was definitely my reaction.  I couldn't believe that a couple of 6-year-olds actually remembered a conversation that we had a month before!
I said that very thing to the twins, and Buddy answered with "I remembered!  I put it in my brain!"  :-)

I really do think this will go down in the books as one of my favorite gifts ever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paying it Forward

I recently received a "Thank You" card and $20 in the mail after I had returned a birthday card and its contents to the sender.  It was from an elderly woman who had sent her granddaughter a card and quite a bit of cash to a non-existant address at my apartment complex. The mailman had delivered it to my mailbox three times! I ended up getting another envelope and mailing everything back to her with a note explaining what had happened. I certainly never expected anything in return, but I felt better knowing that the poor woman wasn't going to lose all of that money. Getting that "Thank You" card in the mail made my day. 

Fast forward two weeks to this morning...  I went to my Sonic (I call it "my" Sonic because I stop there just about every morning to get my Route 44 Diet Coke with lime and extra ice), and I swear ten hours later, I am still grinning ear to ear.  You see, I never carry cash, so I rarely am able to tip my carhops.  Today though, I happened to have a $20 bill in my purse (the same $20 bill sent to me as a "Thank You" for simply doing the right thing), and I thought "This is perfect!!!  It's time to pay it forward!  I think a carhop is about to have one very Merry Christmas!" ;-)  I ordered my little $5 meal, paid with my $20, and told her to keep the change. 

You would have thought she'd just won the lottery.  :-)

She asked me twice if I was sure.  She shrieked.  She giggled.  She jumped up and down on her skates, and thanked me over and over.  Then she wished me a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a happy every other holiday of the year.  I left there knowing that I just made that girl's day, and in doing so, I made mine too!  There's nothing better the feeling that you get when you do something kind and unexpected for someone who truly appreciates it.

Throughout this Holiday Season, I have witnessed and experienced more random acts of kindness than ever before. 
  • My kids (current, past, and future) and I have received clothes, toys, etc. from family, friends, and even a neighbor that I had never met!  She just came by one afternoon, introduced herself, and told me that she had seen that I had a baby boy and wanted to know if I might be able to use some of the things that her son had outgrown.  She came back with a HUGE tub of clothes, and Monkey is very much stylin' in them.  :-) 

  • Early last week, my sister was the recipient of a "random act of kindness" when an old man stopped her in a store parking lot, asked her if she had kids, and then handed her a sealed envelope.  He said, "Here is some extra spending money. Merry Christmas!" and drove away.  It had $40 inside!  I know she was thrilled silly because she called me as she was pulling out of the parking lot.  She had some unexpected expenses come up that week with quite a bit of car trouble, and that $40 paid for the Christmas shopping that she had just done at that store.

  • I've had foster family friends with new placements recieve help with Christmas gifts for their new children.  One family received a huge delivery of diapers and wipes.  Several have had meals brought to the house to help out during the crazy adjustment period (I know that I never think to eat during those first couple of weeks after getting a new little one).  Some have had offers to babysit bio children during all of the initial medical and other foster care-related appointments that come up immediately after a new placement, etc.  People always think to help parents after the birth of a baby, but it is rare for anyone to think to help after the placement of new foster children in a home.  I was really happy to see so many people banding together to help so many of my friends and their new children.

  • A mom of another baby at Monkey's daycare saw me put his formula in his basket, and she offered to give me a can of hers because her baby recently switched to soy.

  • I've noticed that doors have been held open more often than usual.  People have offered to let others go before them in line at the checkout more than usual.  I've heard a couple of drivers in drive thrus offer to pay for the orders of the car behind them.  I've read articles about layaways being paid down for random strangers. 

So many amazing things happening...  And I can't help but wonder what the world would be like if each of the recipients of these random acts of kindness went out and paid it forward to someone else.  Sometimes, a gesture that might seem small and insignificant to you, might mean the world to someone else.  I know that simple $20 bill has already made the days of at least two people.  :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Name This Item...

Upon first glance, one might say this item is an "exersaucer."

It's an entertaining device for infants to hang out in and play with toys.
It encourages jumping and balance.
It provides toys within a baby's reach and gives mommies everywhere
several minutes of peace as their babies entertain themselves.

At least, that would have been my answer three weeks ago.
Not so much anymore.

I now maintain that this fun-looking piece of baby gear is, indeed,
an Evil Torture Device
apparently used to entrap newly-mobile infants the instant they learn to crawl.

Up until three weeks ago, Monkey loved his jumper and his exersaucer!

The kid learned to crawl, and he now pulls the whole
"writhe, squirm, fuss, spread his legs as far as humanly possible" tactic
in an attempt to avoid being placed in the
Stationary Plaything of Doom.

If I do manage to somehow wrestle him into the
bucket seat from which there is no escape,
Monkey immediately expresses his displeasure with an angry shout and frustrated cry
that I can't help but hear and understand.

I am fairly certain that all of our neighbors within a five block radius
think I am using the child as a pin cushion or something
as his blood-curdling screams are rather hard to miss.

The good news?
It seems I can finally get the bulky exersaucer and jumper
out of my living room!

The bad news?
They are being replaced with a toy box filled with small,
sure-to-be-stepped-on, hard objects
that I'm pretty sure will cause this Mama immeasurable pain
and lead to lots of mumbling of made-up bad words
in an attempt to avoid actually cursing in front of the child.

Fun times, indeed!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Scary, Hairy, Overweight Man in Red...

You know those Santa pictures where the child is screaming hysterically and Santa either looks downright miserable, stoned, or completely out-of-place happy?

Yeah...  I got one of those today.  Totally wish I could share the whole thing, but you get the idea...

In Monkey's case, it's not so much "Stranger Danger" as it is "I WANT MY MAMA! Complete and Total Separation Anxiety Meltdown Mode."  Ever since the week that Monkey was home sick with me, he has developed a serious case of separation anxiety if he knows I am nearby, but I'm not actively engaged with him.  Add that to me plopping him down in the lap of a hairy guy dressed in red velvet, and you get one rather unhappy 9-month-old.

HILARIOUS picture though...  (I am so bad!)  :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's Time for a Giveaway! :-)

It's time for a giveaway!!!


When I had my first official giveaway this past summer, I made a promise that I would have another when "Trippin'" hit 75 followers as a "Thank You" for publicly announcing that you are coming back repeatedly and reading my ramblings.  :-)  Well, the time has come, and I love that it happened over the Christmas season! 

I struggled on what exactly I should give.  I wanted something that my readers could use, but also something that might be helpful during the Holidays.  I decided on a $25 gift certificate to Snapfish.  If you guys are anything like me, you take tons of photos over the holidays. Snapfish is a great place to order prints, photobooks, cards, calendars, gifts, etc. and capture all of those Christmas memories.  (And if you keep an eye on their email specials, you can get some amazing deals!  I go crazy with their photobooks.  They have a "Buy One, Get Two Free" special quite often, and I use it.  I have been making monthly photobooks for Monkey's parents, and they love them.)

Entry into the drawing is simple...  You can have up to four entries by choosing one or more of the following:

1)  Become a follower on the blog.  (If you're already following, just let me know in a comment.)

2)  Become a follower on Facebook.  (Same here, if you're already following, just let me know in a comment.)

3)  Leave a "Shout Out" comment about your favorite blog and tell us why you love it.  I know there are tons of great blogs out there that I don't know about yet, and I'd love to hear what you guys are reading.

4)  Share your favorite Christmas memory or holiday tradition. 

Simple as that!  I will announce the winner on Monday night, so be sure to check in after Monkey goes to bed (probably around 7:00pm CST.  He's fairly predictable.  ;-)  I will most likely also be adding a second prize when Facebook hits 50 followers.  I've had a couple of requests for the "Super-Cool, Mega-Sized Day Planner" that I gave away during the first drawing, so I think that will be the prize for Giveaway #3.  The timing is perfect as we enter a new year!

Good luck everyone!  Thank you so much for coming back to my little blog!  The online friendships that I have made through this site mean so much to me.  I know a gift card and a calendar aren't really a HUGE "thank you," but hey...  It's free!  And who doesn't like free stuff, right?  ;-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Highlights from the Hearing...

I know it's a couple of weeks overdue, but now that Monkey is finally healthy again, I want to update everyone on the happenings of the hearing.

I got to the courthouse, and they were running a few minutes late (no shocker there...  those things are NEVER on time), so I sat in the hallway outside of the courtroom and waited for Monkey's case to be called.  I noticed his parents a few rows down, but didn't say anything.  They were busy talking to one of their attorneys.  After a couple of minutes though, Monkey's dad must have pointed me out to his mom because she got up and walked towards me.

She looked great!  It is so obvious that she is working hard to get her life back under control.  She had a big smile and as I stood up, she gave me another huge hug.  And I was completely floored when she started to talk to me.  The first thing said to me was that she was sorry for her English the first time we had met.  She said that she has been working hard on her English lately though.  The story she told me was adorable, and made me like her even more than I already did.

She said that a few weeks before, when Monkey had just learned to clap, he was apparently just clapping away during his weekly visit.  She said, "He was looking at me to do something, so I knew he wanted to play 'that game.' (Patty Cake)  I sang the song, but in Spanish.  He look at me like I crazy!"  She went on to tell me that Monkey's dad pointed out that I speak English, and that's when she realized...  "Monkey is an American ENGLISH baby, so I work on my English hard so he can understand me." 

Then she won me over completely when she told me that she wants to learn how I do Patty Cake so he gets what he's expecting!  If you remember my letter to my Chunky Monkey before the hearing, you might remember that one of my big concerns was that they didn't know the "right" way to play Patty Cake.  The fact that his mom asked me on her own made me want to cry buckets of happy tears.  :-)

I gave her a couple of photobooks and prints that I had for them and she took them back to Monkey's dad so they could look through them.  She came back after a few minutes with a few of the pictures and lots of questions.  She wanted to know stories that went with the pictures, what all new tricks Monkey has so they can practice with him during visits, etc.  While we were talking, I glanced over at Monkey's dad.  He was looking through the photobooks with the biggest smile on his face.  Every time he'd turn a page, he'd chuckle to himself.  His dad may have some issues, but you can't fake that kind of love.  He gets all goo-goo, ga-ga over our little Monkey, and that's good enough for me.  :-)

When it was finally our turn, we headed into the courtroom.  It was totally uneventful in the sense that nothing major or unexpected happened.  Next (and hopefully final) hearing in March, as expected.  However, Monkey's dad somehow managed to start arguing with his attorney in front of the judge.  I've learned that Monkey's dad will argue with his own leg hair if given the opportunity, so it wasn't a huge shock.  But seriously, dude...  JUST SHUT UP!!!  You're not helping your case here.  His "arguments" tend to be mostly trying to get you to see things his way.  I've witnessed a couple myself and have heard about others.  He will go on and on and on and on, repeating his points over and over and over until you either give up and say, "OMG!  Fine!  You win!  Just puh-leeze stop talking now!" or just stop talking to him altogether and remove yourself from the situation.

Other than that, everything went well.

I visited with both Monkey's mom and dad after the hearing.  Some of the highlights in conversation were:
  • Monkey's dad insisting that the most important first order of business was going to be to get Monkey a cat because he can see how much he loves Kitty Cat Tommie.
  • Both of his parents thanking me again for loving and taking care of their son and telling me over and over how they can see how happy he is.
  • Monkey's mom asking me what kind of foods he's eating now and if was okay if they brought a  snack for him for his visits.  She went on to assure me that it would be a healthy snack.  I gave her several ideas of foods that he likes, and told her I'm sure they'd have fun with his snacks because he is just now learning to eat finger foods.  (Sidenote - She must have been hanging on my every word because they brought ALL of the snacks that I mentioned to the next visit and sent them home for him. :-)
  • Monkey's mom telling me more about her background, her fight with cancer, how they felt when they learned she was pregnant, the doctors telling her to terminate the pregnancy, her addiction, her lack of self esteem because of the surgeries, etc.  I had heard most of it before through the Invisible Caseworker, but hearing his mom tell it made it more real.  She told me that she knows that she messed up when she had Monkey (her words...  "I know I did this."), and that she is working hard to be a good mom and to be someone that he can be proud of.
  • Monkey's mom letting us know that she just had her latest PET scan a couple of weeks before the hearing and that she is still cancer-free!

But the thing that has stayed with me the most after two and a half weeks has got to be Monkey's mom telling me almost apologetically, "I know how much you love him, and how much you are going to miss him when he leaves.  But we need him..."  It is very rare to have bio parents even acknowledge that I have been raising their child, let alone thank me or acknowledge that I love them and that they know I will be hurting and miss them when they leave.  I think it just shows how caring his mom is...  The fact that she is genuinely concerned for my feelings in all of this...

As much as I love my baby boy, I really think I am okay when it comes to him going home to his mom and dad.  They have worked so hard and have come so far, and the love that they have for Monkey is apparent in everything they do now.  As much as it's going to kill me to lose another piece of my heart when he leaves, I know that I have been exactly what he and his parents have needed in order for them to be a happy, functioning family.  My prayer is that the transition is a slow and easy one, and that his parents continue to be the best parents they can be for him.  I really do believe that this family will be one of the success stories.  Everything I've seen with them over the past several months leads me to believe that this will work out exactly as it should.  Even if it breaks my heart into a million pieces before it's mended again...  Because it will be mended again...  And I'll get to be there for another baby who needs me just as much as Monkey (and all of my others) did when they first came through my door.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You Can't Touch This!!!

Yes...  Someone is in DESPERATE need of a haircut!

(It should be noted that while this is indeed a monkey, it is not my Monkey.
It is, however, a remarkable representation of what his hair looks like at the moment.)

Foster care can definitely bring out the "crazy" in people, and that is very, very evident when it comes to bio parents and their children's hair.  One of the things that caseworkers and agencies stress over and over again is "Never cut foster children's hair without getting permission from the bio parents first!"  No problem!  It's easy enough to ask.  What I never imagined in my wildest dreams was that actually receiving permission to perform that much-needed task would take an act of Congress.

I have a theory as to why bio parents are so unreasonable when it comes to hair care.  I think that hair care is one of the few areas that bios still have some control, and they use it...  Even if it means their 2-year-old sports a rat's tail down to their ankles.  I suppose, in some ways, it's understandable.  Many of these parents are trying to hold onto whatever parental control they can have, and if hair care is all they can get, they will take it.  Often times to the extreme!

In Monkey's case, I don't think it's an issue of control.  I think it might actually be a cultural thing.  A cultural thing that doesn't bode well for poor Monkey...  After I was initally told "no haircut," a friend of mine said to me...  "I hate to tell you this, but if his parents are 'old school,' our people don't believe in cutting a baby's hair until after their first birthday...  Something about them going deaf if you do."

Poor Monkey...  He already looks like a troll doll on the verge of becoming Billy Ray Cyrus in his extreme mullet days.  I hate to think what he's going to look like three months from now after his 1st birthday!  My poor baby's gonna end up looking like an English sheepdog by the time he goes back to his parents (who, I am certain, will promptly get him a haircut).
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Residual Effect of the Fever

I do believe that I am losing brain cells as I type.

Monkey's new favorite thing...

The Wiggles!!!

I tried to change the channel,
and the little snot YELLED AT ME!!!

We have come to the conclusion that his new fascination
with these frighteningly odd men must be a residual effect
of the ridiculously high fever that he was fighting all last week.

How could his preference in television shows have changed from
America's Next Top Model and the Kardashians to this seemingly overnight?!?

That is SO wrong!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster is a German word which means "dearest" or "beloved". It is also used to refer to as someone's "favorite" and the idea of the Liebster Blog Award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers that deserve more recognition and encouragement.

I was nominated by Teresa over at Foster Care: Our Love Story.  I look forward to her posts every day because I just know that it's going to be something that I can completely relate to.  I love that one of her "Reaction" options is "I Totally Get It!"  Because, really...  There's nothing better than knowing other people who have been or are going through the same things you are (even if you only "know" them online ;-).  Thank you so much, Teresa, for nominating me!  :-)

There are certain rules that come with the Liebster Blog Award:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you've sent the award to forward it on to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

I am a HUGE fan of blogging, and I have several "Must Reads" as soon as I see one of their posts in my feed.  Teresa already mentioned two of my absolute favorites when she nominated Mama Foster and Cherub Mamma.  These two ladies are like foster mama kindred spirits, and I feel like I know their stories almost as well as I know my own!  :-)

Some of my most recent favorites are:

1) Small Town Joy - If you're not familiar with Joy's blog, definitely check her out.  She has a way of detailing daily life in Foster/Adopt Land, and showing all of the ways that God molds us, holds us, and shapes our lives into something truly amazing when we let go and allow Him to do His best for us.  This is one of the blogs I read when I really need to gain some perspective and remember what's most important.

2)  Always and Forever Family - A "Foster Friday" panel member and already an adoptive mom, Debbie and her husband are quickly learning to navigate their way through the crazy world of foster care.  I've been following Debbie's journey almost from Day 1, through training classes and licensing frustrations.  With their first placement of a sibling group of two young girls, it's exciting to relive all of the joys (and the emotional roller coaster ride :-) of being a new foster family through her.

3)  Letting Go of Mie - Another of my favorites!  Mie's blog has the perfect combination of daily life as a foster parent, informative posts about foster care and relevant issues, and weekly blog features like "Foster Care Friday," Tuesday's Tears," "Thankful Thursdays," etc.  And she does a great job keeping up with them!  I think that Mie's blog is one of the most informative ones that I've come across, and I always look forward to hearing her thoughts.

4)  Learning to Abandon - Kylee is a college freshman with more passion for hurting children than most people twice her age.  She offers a unique perspective in her blog (and as a "Foster Friday" panel member) as a long-time foster and adoptive older sibling that is hard to find in blog world.  Her faith in Christ, her desire to spend her life advocating for these children who need a voice, and her overwhelming love for her family are so clear throughout her writing.  Kylee is truly an amazing young woman with a huge heart and an awesome spirit, and I am so happy that I have "met" her.

5)  Finding Wonder in the Mundane - Rachel's story is heartbreaking, miraculous, and inspirational.  She writes with an openness and an honesty that you rarely find.  Her fierce passion and raw emotion leave you breathless at times, and you find yourself feeling like you've truly experienced what she's going through.  Fair warning...  If you read blogs at work and are in an open environment, it's probably best to wait until you're at home to read Rachel's stuff.  You will either burst into hysterical laughter, sob uncontrollably, or find yourself shouting through the computer at whatever mean person went and hurt our Rachel.  She is amazing, and I hope she knows it!  :-)

I could go on and on with "favorite" blogs.  I love reading all of your stories, and I have learned so much from all of you.  I had to pick five though.  Those were the rules!  :-)  So if you haven't read these ladies, definitely go check them out.  :-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From: Mama

I was wrapping my first batch of Christmas presents today,
and ended with this one...

To: Monkey
From: Mama

As I wrote my name, it occurred to me that this is the first time I've ever written that for one of my little ones.

I've always been "Mimi" before.

From: Mama

I know I won't get to be his Mama forever,
but I get to be his Mama right now. 

From: Mama

Bittersweet, but perfect.
Pretty sure I felt my heart smile and cry a little at the same time...

Where'd She Go???

I know I've been missing for a little while.  It's been a CRAZY weekend/week!  Monkey's been fighting a nasty viral infection, complete with a trip to the ER with a 105.7 fever and a follow up visit with his pediatrician confirming that yep...  He's sick.  (Really?  I already told you that!)

I haven't really had time to update here, but I've been posting on the F@cebook page.

The good news is, he seems to finally be on the downhill slope of this thing!  He's still not eating well (but who does after they've been sick for that long, right?) and he's really tired, but the fever has been down today for the first time since Saturday.  YAY!!!

I've got a few posts in the works, but until then...  If you're just missing Monkey and me, check us out on FB!  It's kind of funny how a sick kiddo can still provide some entertainment.  :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

He Says "Mama"

I was SO looking forward to the day that Monkey started saying, "Mama."

Perhaps I should have been more specific with my wish.

I have yet to hear my name accompanied by anything but a cry, a whimper, a whine, or an angry scream.

"Maaaaa-maaaa!!!  Ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, BA-BA!!!"


I now ask for Monkey to say, "Mama, you are an extraordinary woman!  I love you more than Berry Bananas!  You make me happier than my rubber duck and Kitty Cat Tommie combined.  In conclusion, YOU ROCK!!!"

But I will settle for a happy-sounding "Mama!"  :-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Plural Marriage

I think Ka-Diva's obsession with all things "wedding" must have rubbed off on her twin brother.

Buddy recently said to my sister, "Mommy, when I get older we are DEFINITELY getting married!"  When Christy told him "I can't because I am already married to Daddy," Buddy said, "You can marry me too. You only go to jail if you marry three or more people."

I never realized that, Buddy!  Good to know!


Mimi Rocks!

Yep...  Mimi ROCKS!!!

And now Booger Bear is going to rock out with his super-cool Buzz Lightyear guitar!
(or "retard" as he calls it...)
Trust me...  We're working on the correct pronunciation of this one, BIG TIME.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Most Important Thing

I know!  I know!  I haven't done the play by play from Tuesday's hearing yet.  I'll probably get to it this weekend.  Probably.  (Nothing like hanging out in Procrastination Station!!! :-)

In the meantime...

Cutest thing I've seen in a while (besides Monkey's smiles, of course)... Monkey's daddy sitting in the courthouse pouring through the photobooks that I brought, smiling and giggling to himself as he looked at the pictures and thought no one was watching... :-) 

Favorite quote from Dad - "Most important thing! We MUST get Monkey a cat!" (after seeing how much Monkey still loves Kitty Cat Tommie)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quick Update

Things went well! 

Next court date in March, but he might be able to start transitioning home after January. 

I had a GREAT visit with his parents! 

I'll write more tonight, but I leave you with my favorite quote of the day... 

"I work HARD on my English because Monkey is an American ENGLISH baby, and I want him to understand me!" ~Monkey's Mom   :-)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parenting "Fail"

Oh...  Mama just had a parenting fail!

Me, working on Christmas Lists on the computer.

Monkey, playing in his stationary jumper
right next to me...

Or so I thought because the music was playing away!

Poor baby was sawing logs on top of his keyboard!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby Makin'

Baby makin' through the eyes of a couple of 6-year-olds... According to Buddy, he knows "it's yucky," and that's why my sister won't elaborate. 

Ka-Diva recently informed my sister that she knows exactly how babies are made.  You never really know what these kids are going to come up with, so Christy was almost afraid to hear it! 

That's when Ka-Diva said, "The mom and dad go to the doctor. The doctor puts a big egg (which my sister believes she envisions to be the size of a chicken egg) inside of the mommy's tummy and then it EXPLODES into a baby!!!"  

Crazy thing is...  In our family, that theory really isn't that far from reality!  ;-)

And then we have Aunt Tammy who gets a phone call, and then a nice lady brings a baby to her house about 2-3 hours later.

Yep.  If we don't have these kids thoroughly confused by the time they hit the age of actually needing to know where babies come from, I will be shocked.  Right now, I think they believe that babies come from a doctor in Las Vegas (where Christy's reproductive endocrinoligist was located) and the nice foster care ladies who come to Aunt Tammy's door with babies in carseats!  :-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What They Don't Know...

My Sweet Chunky Monkey...

Your permanency review hearing is only one week away, and while my head tells me that I have every reason to believe that you will still be "mine" for a while longer, I can't help but worry and wonder if this is my last week as your Mama.

There is so much that your Momi and Popi don't know about you, Baby Boy!  How could they possibly get to know you in one short hour a week?  The thought of sending you to a strange home with people you barely know and who barely know you breaks my heart.  They don't know the simplest things like what/when you eat/sleep.  That's easy enough to tell them.  But it's the little things...  Your little quirks and the the nuances of your personality that I want them to know...  Things that I know they will learn on their own, but that I want them to know up front so you won't have to wonder why they aren't doing what you want them to do.

How will they know that you rub your eyes when you're finished eating?

How will they know that the fastest way to calm you when you're whining in your sleep is to rub your forehead?

How will they know that you love to brush your teeth, but only with the tooth/gum rubber finger thingy with a tiny bit of baby toothpaste? 

How will they know that "Duh" means "rubber duckie" and that "Da" means "cat?"

How will they know that you love a handful of stuffed animals in your crib so you can snuggle up with them in the morning when you wake up, but that they need to stay out of your arms at night or you'll never go to sleep?

Do they know the words to your favorite song?

Do they know the "right" way to play "Patty Cake?"

How will they know your tickle spots and your favorite way to be tickled?

Will they learn that your favorite toys are your Lots-o-Links, and that as long as those things are attached to your carseat, stroller, jumper, exersaucer, highchair, crib, etc. you are perfectly content?

Will they know that you don't care much for cartoons or TV, but if the Kardashians or America's Next Top Model happen to be on in the background, you become completely enamoured and stare at the television in "man mode" where nothing or no one can get through to you?

How will they know that your high-pitched cry means that you want a bottle, and that your fussy whine means you're tired and need a nap?

How will they know that you drink exactly three ounces of formula before you stop and burp.  Twice.  and then go on to finish the rest?

How will they know that when you flap your arms and kick your legs while in your "paratrouper stance" when you're playing on the floor means that you are finished and you want to be picked up?

Will they know that you get a long "night-night" hug just before I lay you in your crib and that if you don't get it, you whine until you do?

How will they know that you are a hot-natured little guy, and that you prefer to sleep with the ceiling fan on, but snuggled up with your fuzzy blankie?

Will they play the "blowing kisses" game with you?

Will they understand that I have been your entire world for the past six months, and that you are bound to miss me and wonder where I am?

Will they tell you that I love you to the moon and back like I tell you every night, and that I miss you more than words can say?

There is so much that they don't know about you, my sweet baby boy...  But I know they'll learn.  I did.  And I just pray that if this is our last week together, I can find the right words to say and the most important things to tell them that will help you adjust quickly.  If this is our last week together, I pray that I can let you know every day just how much you mean to me.  If this is our last week together, I pray that I have the strength to say "goodbye" and let you go.

You're my world, Baby Boy...  and I love you more than words can say...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Acceptable Excuse for Respite?

I have been looking forward to this day for over a year! 


The girls in my family have a tradition.  Whenever a new Twilight movie comes out, we get together and go to see it.  This year though, as the big day started drawing nearer and nearer, I could feel the panic setting in.  This year, I have a baby!  A foster baby, at that...  And all of my approved babysitters are family members who are a part of our movie group!

What's a shirtless Jacob buff to do?!?  (To clarify, I am not shirtless.  I like shirtless Jacob.  There is a distict difference.  Trust me on this.  ;-)

I rarely use respite care that isn't a family member.  In fact, I've only used it once before with Itty Bitty.  But when it came to seeing my movie, I have to admit I was seriously considering contacting my agency to find an approved respite care provider for Monkey.  I had posted my dilemma on FB, and mentioned that my last resort was going to be to beg my dad to sit at my apartment while Monkey slept since he was the only background checked family member left who wouldn't care to go to Girls' Night.  While awaiting his reply, I began forming a rough draft to my agency's Family Specialist...

My Dearest Nice Lady,

     You've always been my very favorite person in Foster/Adopt Land.  You know that, right?  ;-)  I am writing because I have a desperate need for respite care this weekend.  A dire emergency has arisen, and I have no idea what I am going to do!  You see, there is someplace that I absolutely must be on Saturday night, and all of my approved babysitters will be there as well.  I don't really want to leave Monkey with a stranger though.  How would you like to keep him for the evening?  You know you love him!  Have I mentioned that you are my very favorite person in Foster/Adopt Land?  ;-)  Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. 

Your August Foster Parent of the Month
(Doesn't hurt to remind them of that, right? ;-)

Note how I neglected to mention the exact nature of my "emergency."  I wasn't sure that a desperate need to ogle a shirtless Taylor Lautner would qualify as an acceptable excuse for paid respite care.  Although I think that any self-respecting woman would agree with me that it should be!

Fortunately, I didn't have to send my plea to Nice Lady after all.  My mom graciously offered to forego the movie and sit with Monkey so I could have a Girls' Night and enjoy my nearly jailbait imaginary boyfriend for the night.  Yep.  My mommy definitely loves me!  :-) 

I am excited like a giddy schoolgirl!!!  I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!!! 

THANKS, MOM!!!  :-)

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here Comes the Bride!

Ka-Diva has been absolutely obsessed with weddings lately.  She watches all of the wedding shows on TV.  She has imaginary weddings where she makes poor Buddy stand in and play different parts.  She has big wedding plans.  What 6-year-old girl doesn't?

She had been hounding Christy to let her try on her wedding dress for quite a while, and last month, Christy decided to humor her and let her try it on.

She looked in the mirror wide-eyed and exclaimed, "I look beautiful! I am saying YES to the dress!!!".  :-)

My mom recently took Ka-Diva to her very first wedding.  She planned out her wardrobe and accessories for weeks leading up to the big event.  After a full morning of "beautification," complete with matching nail polish, curled hair, and a tiara fit for a princess, Ka-Diva declared herself fit for the wedding.  In fact, she declared herself possibly too ready...

"I'm nervous he is going to think I am the bride and ask me to marry him since I look so beautiful!!"

Mom said that Ka-Diva looked at the bride as though she were a celebrity princess, and that the bride made Ka-Diva's night very special by being unbelievably sweet to her.  She stopped to pose for photographs with her...  She invited her into the bridal room while she and her bridesmaids were getting ready... 

Ka-Diva has since been telling people that she and the bride are FRIENDS now!  ...and she has the photo to prove it.  :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Taking Turns...

The Big Twins and Christy were playing a rhyming game on their evening walk last week.  Christy would say a word like "cat" and they would have to say something that rhymes.  Buddy said he wanted to take a turn and have Ka-Diva and my sister say something that rhymed.  Very chivalrous of him!

His word was "considerate"...

Little toot.  :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Rate Your Pain"

My sister and her family have been a bunch of sickos the past week or two.  The other day, Ka-Diva came home from school with a fever and miserably sore throat, so she and my sister headed to the urgent care clinic to get her checked out.

The doctor told Ka-Diva to rate her pain. "0 is no pain, and 10 means you are crying."

Her response...   "If I had no pain why would I be at the doctor?!?".

Yep...  That's my niece!!!  ;-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful - Day Nine

When I first started fostering, I knew absolutely nothing and absolutely no one in the crazy world of Foster/Adopt Land.  I am a planner.  I like to prepare.  So one of the very first things I did was start this blog, and began to desperately search high and low for other foster family bloggers in order to get some realistic idea of what I was willingly getting myself into. 

Day Nine:

Today, I am extremely thankful for you!  My online foster family friends...

Over the past three years, I have "met" an amazing group of women who have proven to be a constant support system, a sounding board on those days when I just need to vent, and a daily inspiration to me throughout this journey. 

There's just something about being able to talk to a group of people who completely understand what you're going through because they have been there themselves.  I can say just about anything, and you all just "get it."  You understand all about the conflicting emotions involved when you are fostering, but want to ultimately adopt.  You "get it" when I say that I want Monkey to have more visits with his parents in one breath, and "I'm his Mama" in the next.  You know exactly what it feels like to love these kids so much that you will let them go. 

You know when I need a virtual hug, a good laugh, or a "OMG!  I can totally top that one!" story.  It's always nice to know you're not alone, and being able to follow along in your journeys...  To hear your thoughts and feelings about your own experiences...  To share all of the ups and the downs that foster care inevitably brings with each of you has helped me in more ways than I can say.

I have learned so much from all of you, and I can't thank you ladies enough for all of your support, the camaraderie, the laughs, and your friendships.  I am so grateful for the online friendships that I have made over the past three years!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you!!!  I wouldn't have maintained what little shred of sanity that remains without you!  :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"That Mom"

Yes...  I have become...

"That Mom"

The mom who dresses her infant
in "Baby's 1st" holiday outfits...

I'm sure my BFF is
shaking her head at me right now.

But what can I say???

My kid can ROCK even the CHEESIEST
of turkey and "ugly Christmas sweater" apparel!

I mean, seriously...

This kid is stinkin' cute!  ;-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful - Day Eight

Being a single, full-time working parent is hard.  Being a single, full-time working foster parent adds an entirely new level of stress and responsibility that can sometimes be rather overwhelming.

Day Eight: 

Today, I am thankful that I work with a group of amazingly-supportive and understanding people.  When I first started navigating my way through Foster/Adopt Land, I had no idea how crazy it could be.  My first three placements were insane, and I felt like I was a huge burden to my co-workers as I seemed to miss more days of work than I was there.  They have been behind me 100% though, and have willingly picked up the slack when my home life inevitably interferes with my job.

Fortunately, I have learned ways to better control CPS' invasion of my daily life, and have managed to keep its interference with my job down to a minimum (well, as "minimum" as it can be anyway).  It seems to have become second nature to everyone at the office as well.  When I received the call that Monkey was on his way late one Sunday night, I called and left a message for my boss telling him that I got a new little one and that I wouldn't be in the next day.  When I called on Monday morning to check in, he had already gotten the ball rolling on my FMLA paperwork for me.  He and my "partner in crime" both told me to "do what I need to do" and that they'd "handle everything there."  My boss ended that conversation with "so I guess we'll see you part-time for the next couple of weeks while you do all of his initial appointments, and we'll get you back full-time after that!"  It cracked me up that he seems to be an "old pro" at this foster care thing now too.  :-)

On top of picking up the slack during the times that I have no choice but to be out of the office, my co-workers have always genuinely cared about my babies.  They spoil them rotten when I bring them up to the office on the third Wednesday of the month (the one day a month that I take off for home visits).  They are always on the lookout for coupons and good deals for baby things.  They bring clothes and toys that their grandbabies have outgrown for my "on-hand stash."  They bring totes and other bags that they come across because they know it kills me to send my babies home with their things in trashbags. 

They offer advice when I ask for it...  Listen to me vent when I need to...  They humor me and ooh and ahh over what must have been hundreds of baby pictures over the past three years...  And they have given me shoulders to cry on (and have cried with me) when I have had to say "goodbye" to my babies.  Foster care touches so many people...  Not only does it have an effect on the people directly involved, but it can impact the lives of everyone in ways that many people don't even realize.  Watching my co-workers rally around me and my kids has proven to be a huge eye-opener for me, and has made me appreciate even more what amazing people they truly are (I thought they were pretty great before I started fostering).  They are certainly under no obligation to be there for me and my babies, but they are...  and for that, I am truly thankful.

I really do work with some awesome people.  If I had the money, I would give them extra just for being fantastic people.  Or a really fancy solid gold trophy!!!  Fortunately, they seem to appreciate the occasional gift of morning donuts and chocolate every once in a while.  They're a pretty easy to please bunch. ;-)  But they are definitely a group of people that I am thankful to call my friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beautiful Dreamer...

I had quite a beautiful dream last night.

I dreamt that I came downstairs in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, and Tim McGraw was in the middle of my living room in all of his "cowboy sexiness" in an outfit remarkably similar to this one!

Crazy thing is, that's not the part that I found the most exciting.

As I tried to make sense of why this gorgeous man was in my living room, I suddenly noticed the smell of freshly-dried laundry, heard the dishwasher running, smelled the lemony-goodness of a newly-mopped kitchen floor, and realized that Mr. McGraw was in the process of running the vacuum over my living room floor! 

Let me tell you, there is nothing sexier than a man who can vacuum and leave perfectly symmetrical carpet lines. 

Kind of reminded me of my dream of a Lawnmower Man from years ago...  Somehow though, I think Tim McGraw may trump Sweaty Lawnmower Man.

It really was a good dream...  :-)

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful - Day Seven

(From Booger Bear's lifebook...)

Dear Booger Bear,

When I decided to try foster care, I never could have imagined how one little person could change my life so completely.  You stole my heart from the moment I opened my door and you flashed that two-toothed little smile at me.  I quickly learned that the best sounds in the world are your baby's laughter and the little "I Yuh You's."  I learned that baby hugs and kisses and "cuddle time" with your little boy can make a bad day turn around in an instant.  In the year that you were with me, I learned what it means to love unconditionally.  I learned what it means to be a mom.  

Day Seven:

I am unbelievably thankful for the little boy who came into my life and changed everything.  The year that he was "mine" was one of the best years of my life, and losing him was by far the most painful thing that I have ever gone through.

But...  "Everything happens for a reason."

Little did I know at the time, Booger Bear was brought into my life for so much more than I had originally thought.

Because of this little boy, I not only became a mother to a son, but I gained a "daughter."  I gained a "granddaughter."  I gained a very unique family tree in the sense that my son is my grandson and his Mommy is his sister.  (Let me tell you, that makes for some interesting conversations! ;-)

I gained a first-hand view of how foster care can work.  I think that was something that I desperately needed.  I honestly don't know if I could continue fostering if I had no hope at all that it could work.  But I see every day that Booger is loved and care for, and that gives me hope for all of the little ones who come into and out of my life.

I am so very thankful for every moment that I have with this little guy.  I am so grateful to his parents for including me in their lives and for truly making me feel like a special part of their family.  I realize how rare it is to be able to have such a close relationship with these children after they return home, and I know how blessed I am that I have that with Booger Bear.  He always has been...  and always will be...  my "very special boy."

Thankful - Day Six

I have an awesome family.  We're close.  We love being together.  We depend on each other for support, and we are there for each other.

Day Six:

Today, I am thankful for my sister.

Your siblings are the people you will know the longest in your life.  If you're lucky, you'll get one like mine.  :-)

Christy is the best friend I could ever ask for, and I have no idea how I would live without her!  We had a discussion once about that very subject and mentioned that we wished we "had a backup, just in case."  ;-)  The few years that we lived in different states were filled with multiple hour-long phones calls every day and constant emailing, and I think the distance and all of the talking helped bring us closer than we'd ever been up to that point.

We know and we keep each other's secrets. 

We know each other better than almost anyone.

We have the same mannerisms and tastes, and have been known to purchase the exact same items at the store during completely separate shopping trips, only to discover what we had done when we show up wearing the exact same outfit.  :-)

We continue to attempt sister roadtrips, even though we always have interesting "adventures" (or misadventures, as the case may be ;-).  We're just certain that if we try it enough times, we'll manage to get one drama-free trip before we're done!  :-)

We share our kids with each other, and love that we can brag about them to each other all we want because we know the other sister is just as invested in our kids as we are in theirs. 

Christy is an amazing mom, and I learn so much by watching her relationship with her kids every day.

We have been with and supported each other through the best and the worst times of our lives.  We listen to each other vent when we're angry, cry when we're sad, share our happiest moments, and laugh when we have our Bipolar Girl episodes (those tend to run in our family...  I'm more the "bipolar" one.  Christy is the "anxiety attack over something as simple as the balloons at her 3-year-olds' birthday party" one.  It's all good.  We know this about ourselves, so we can laugh it off later. ;-)

Christy is my best friend...  my constant support...  and quite honestly, one of my favorite people on the planet.  I love her like crazy, and I wouldn't change a thing about her.  She is strong, loving, determined, kind, outgoing, intelligent, funny, and the best sister anyone could ever ask for.  God really knew what He was doing when He put the two of us together for life, and I thank Him every day for giving me "my best friend...  my sister...  my other half!"  :-)
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