Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Panic Face

I received a panic-stricken phone call from my mother this morning.  She was calling to do a sanity check on me.  :-)

To be fair, I can't say that I blame her.  After all, she was the one who came to my new apartment several years ago to unpack me while I sat in the middle of the living room floor crying for absolutely no reason.

She and my dad have bailed me out of more impulsive decisions than I care to admit (thankfully, the "bailing out" has never been jail-related! :-).  My "impulsive episodes" tend to be financial.  Like moving from Texas to Oregon because it was pretty.  Moving back to Texas a year later because no one stopped to help me when I got a flat tire.  (If I had been home, I would have had my flat tire changed, the tires rotated, and would probably have been provided dinner while it was happening!  Texans ROCK!!!)  I've moved an hour and a half away from work back to my hometown because I was sick of living in an apartment in the city and just needed some peace and quiet.  That move lasted 8 months, when I got sick of commuting three hours a day and I moved right back in to the same apartment complex that I had just left.  I've dropped out of college to work full time.  I've quit jobs to go back to school full time.  Yep.  Most of my more impulsive decisions made when I'm off my meds tend to be what we refer to as my "Multi-Thousand Dollar Brain Farts," so I can't really blame my mom for panicking when she saw my last post about the possibility of purchasing a six bedroom home so I can take in troubled teens.  :-)

I hope I was successful in assuring her that, while I may be a little touched in the head, I am not stupid.  No, I have absolutely no intention of buying a large home in the country where I can rehabilitate teenage gangsters through handbell choir music (although, how cool would that be if it actually worked?!?).  While I am considering renting a house (that I can afford) close to work, and possibly increasing my fostering age range and number of children slightly, I'm not doing anything until I've been on my new medication for a couple of months.  I'm pretty sure everything is going to be just fine.  I did, after all, finally find something to wear to Monkey's 1st birthday party on Sunday, so the world is no longer coming to an end.  ;-)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time to Take the Happy Pills!!!

I've struggled with anxiety, depression, and bipolar tendencies my entire adult life.  The past couple of years though, have actually been pretty good, even with all of the insanity and emotional highs and lows that come with foster care.  I weaned off of my meds, and haven't had to take any kind of medication for nearly two years!
Lately though, those feelings of wanting to snap the heads off of anyone who dares to look at me funny slight irritability, having a burning desire to quit my job and open a group home for troubled teens impulsive thoughts, and moments where I burst into uncontrollable sobs because my Diet Coke has gone flat inappropriate emotional responses are back.  The good thing about all of this is that after 20 years of dealing with it, I've pretty much learned to recognize when I'm in need of medical intervention vs. just being an emotional "girl."  Crying during sad movies and Hallmark commercials = Perfectly normal "girlie" response...  Having a full-on hyperventilating, forced to breathe in and out of a paper bag, feeling like my heart is going to explode, panic attack because I don't know what I'm going to wear to my 1-year-old's birthday party = Not so much.

So I made an appointment to get back on some anti-crazy meds.  I figure I should probably do that before I go and do something completely irrational...  Like buy a six bedroom house...  or take in several teenage gang members and live the dream of driving around in a Partridge Family bus while making music with my new little family...  or move to Fiji and live in a shack on the beach while making a living by selling handmade flipflops made out of seashells.

Fortunately, my current impulsive ideas are more along the lines of wanting to break my lease and rent a house that I can (mostly) afford, take in one specific teen, possibly open up to a sibling group placement with one baby and one older sibling, and perhaps buy a minivan.  :-)  And course, attempt to promote my lullaby singing career on YouTube.  Monkey tells me I have talent in the lullaby singing department.  And I did successfully serenade an entire ER full of people (although unintentially) with my musical rendition of James Brown's "I Feel Good" during a recent trip to the children's hospital. ;-)

If I still want to rent a house and take in multiple kiddos after I've been on my meds for a little while, I'll probably do it.  But until I know it's not just Bipolar Girl talking, I need to try to avoid the multi-thousand dollar brain farts if at all possible.  :-) 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All He Needs to Know...

It's a strange thing to attempt to put everything you know about your child down on paper, but we've come to the point in Monkey's case where I feel like I need to do just that.  Last night, I sat down at the computer and began writing about my baby...  Everything that I could possibly think of that might help his dad when he goes home next month...  But mostly, everything that I could think of that might help Monkey...

Practical things like sleeping and eating schedules, what he's eating now, clothing, shoe and diaper sizes, medical history, etc.

Specific things that Monkey loves like his favorite foods, favorite toys, favorite TV shows, favorite songs...

And the special, "good to know" things that will be easier for Monkey and his dad if he knows them up front. Like how Monkey is extremely hot-natured, and will suffocate if you put him in a blanket sleeper to go to bed.  Lightweight pajamas only, or he'll have a fit after a couple of hours and it will take forever to calm him down. Or how Monkey wants two fuzzy blankets and his stuffed bunny rabbit to cuddle up with in his crib, or he will let you know in no uncertain terms that something is missing.  Things like how Monkey has a really sensitive gag reflex, and even though he is eating all table foods now, you still have to be careful with what you give him when it comes to size and consistency.  Warnings like "He loves the cat, but he also loves to pull him around the room by his tail.  You might want to wait until he's a little older before getting him his own kitty cat."

Sure, it may be going overboard (especially because Monkey will still be with me half of the week), but his dad really does seem to want to make things as easy as possible for him, so hopefully he'll take my novel and use it to his advantage.  The more comfortable Monkey feels, the easier it will be on everyone.  :-)

Still not sure of the next court date, but for some reason March 21st keeps popping into my head.  I vaguely remember hearing that date during the last court hearing.  In the meantime, I get to plan my Monkey's first birthday party (I've been assured he'll be with me for that), and just enjoy him and all of his silliness.  I still hope his dad doesn't panic when I give him a "Book o' Monkey" to memorize over the next few weeks.  :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I am absolutely MORTIFIED right now. I was looking up this barn for a blog post that I am writing about being traumatized as a child (the stinking thing MOO-ED every time you opened the door). I didn't expect to find the EXACT toy, but I guess "VINGTAGE" toys are all the rage. "VINTAGE!" Oiy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

She's Giving Me Whiplash

These past ten months dealing with the back and forth and instability of Monkey's mom have been exhausting.  The past few weeks, she's been so all over the place that she's kind of giving me whiplash!  There are times when I get so aggravated I just want to shake her and scream, "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?  DO YOU NOT SEE THIS UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING BABY BOY RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU?!?  DO YOU NOT SEE WHAT YOU ARE MISSING BECAUSE YOU CAN'T GET YOURSELF TOGETHER?!?"  The sad thing is, I know she does see him.  I know she does want to get better.  She will go for three months and do really, really well.  But inevitably, the depression takes hold and she falls right back into the behaviors that made her lose him in the first place.

Since Mom relapsed right after Christmas, she has seen Monkey twice.  She disappeared for a month, and her first visit with Monkey happened to be the first week that I began transporting him.  She was twenty minutes late, came running in, scooped him out of my arms, and began hugging and kissing all over him.  Monkey freaked out because this strange woman who he barely knows (and likely didn't remember at all after a month) came in and stole him from his mama.  I ended up having to leave because as long as he knew I was there, things weren't going to go well.

The next week, she was 20 minutes late again, but she was more in control of herself.  She brought a ton of new clothes for Monkey like she tends to do after she returns after one of her disappearing acts.  She tried to let him warm up to her before taking him from me.  She was much calmer and not nearly as desperate as she was the week before.  He did end up going to her, but got a little fussy and was looking towards me.  I tried to reassure him and told him that he was going to play with toys and have fun with his Mommy, and she just got a sad smile on her face and said, "That's okay.  To him, you are Mommy."  Monkey did better, but kept trying to crawl into the lobby because he could hear me, so I left again.

Last week, Mom no-showed.

When Monkey's dad got to the office for his visit and saw that his mom wasn't there, he immediately asked, "Is she in treatment?"  I could see the hope in his eyes, and that made me like him even more.  Even though his parents are no longer together, his dad still wants her to get well.  He wants her to be a part of Monkey's life.  But he told me that he just can't expose Monkey to the instability.

I wish I could say that "yes" Monkey's mom went to rehab.  Unfortunately, we're pretty certain that's not the case.  The caseworker who supervises Monkey's visits told me that the week before, when Dad got to the office, Monkey was just finishing up the visit with his mom.  He heard his Daddy, speed crawled into the lobby and straight into his daddy's arms, and from that point on wouldn't have anything to do with his mother.  I know it really hurt his mom's feelings, but really...  What did she expect???  Monkey's dad has made every single visit that he was aware of.  The only times he has missed has been when The Invisible One went and changed times on him and didn't clarify when they were going to occur!  Monkey knows and loves his dad.  He's unsure of his mom.

Monkey's mom had called the caseworker the night before the visit and asked if she could change her visits to another day so she didn't have to see Monkey's dad.  He told her "no," because they are going to have to learn to work together for Monkey's sake.  Dad will be getting full custody, but as of now, her rights aren't being terminated.  She was upset, but assured him that she would be at the CPS office at 8:00 for her regular visit the next day.  She never came.

I think what bothers me the most is that I like Monkey's mom!  I have so much compassion for her because of everything she has been through.  Over the past ten months, I have seen her at her very best as well as at her lowest points.  I think the fact that I've seen her try so hard and succeed for months is what gives me hope that eventually she'll be able to conquer this thing and be the kind of mother that Monkey deserves.  I know she wants that.  She told me herself that she wants to be someone that Monkey can be proud of.  But until that happens, at least I know that Monkey will continue to be in good hands with a daddy who he loves and who loves him enough to want to keep the only mama he knows in his life.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Well...  Ready or not, here we go!  We are getting closer to Monkey's 10-month hearing, and it looks like he will be going home to his dad at that time.  Still not sure of the court date, but it will most likely be mid-late March. 

I have been taking off work to transport Monkey to his weekly visits for the past several weeks, and have had the opportunity to spend more and more time with his dad.  A few weeks ago, I posted about the possibility of keeping Monkey at night while his dad was at work.  I've been extremely guarded, and my initial instincts of thinking that it was The Invisible One's idea in the first place proved to be correct.

But...  I decided to offer to keep him.

(I know...  I know...  No lectures until you hear the whole story, pretty please! ;-)

Things I have learned and experienced first-hand over the past several weeks:

    *  While the initial idea of me keeping Monkey at night was The Invisible One's, his dad genuinely would prefer me to keep him. 

     *  Dad didn't know until this week that I was even considering the possibility, and he did do the work to find childcare for Monkey.  The fact that he did the work was a major deciding factor for me.  If he hadn't, I wouldn't have offered.  He had found a licensed, homecare, overnight facility that got really good reviews, and who would have kept Monkey overnight and through the morning so dad could sleep.  But when The Invisible One told him earlier this week that I had agreed to keep Monkey if his dad was okay with it, he was relieved.

     *  Dad and I had a long conversation after Monkey's visit this morning, and he told me that he was so happy that I offered to do this.  He told me all about the center that he had chosen, but said several times that Monkey doesn't know them.  He said that Monkey loves me, and he knows that I take such good care of him.  He said that he knows that Monkey is going to be sad when he leaves me, and that this would be easier for him.

     *  Dad doesn't want to have his daughters watch Monkey (like Scary CASA Lady and The Invisible One told me the other day) because of a strained relationship with their mother and school and work issues for the girls.  He said that his older daughter (who I learned is 26), is excited to help on the weekends, but can't during the week.

     *  Dad's backup is actually his brother who owns his own business and can be here if he's needed.  He told me that he trusts his brother more than anyone, and was trying to reassure me that Monkey would be in good hands with him if I couldn't watch him for any reason and Dad couldn't get off work.  :-)  Early in Monkey's case, they had considered doing a homestudy on his brother as a relative placement, but his parents decided against it because he lives about 90 minutes away.

     *  Monkey's dad has been nothing but kind, respectful, and appreciative towards me from the very beginning of this case.  He's kind of shy, and when he gets desperate, he will argue with his own toenails, but the more contact I have with him, the more I like him.  He has been steady, has done everything they've asked of him (and then some!), and really does seem to have Monkey's best interests at heart.  When we talked today about the logistics and details of how this would work, he promised me that I can depend on him and that I don't have to worry about him paying me or being late.  I honestly have no worries about any of that.  Monkey's dad has been so consistent over the past ten months that I'm inclined to trust him.

But I honestly think the major deciding factor for me has been in watching the interaction between Monkey and his dad over the past several weeks.  I remember the exact moment two years ago when I knew that Booger Bear was going to be okay when he left me.  His dad was on his way to pick up Booger for one of their afternoon visits, and I told Booger, "Hey Booger!  Daddy's coming to get you!"  His face lit up and he ran to the front door and waited for his daddy to come, all the while talking about what all he and his daddy were going to do when he came.  Over the past few weeks, seeing the interaction between Monkey and his dad, I see that same excitement and ease in Monkey.  He's not hesitant to leave my arms and go to his daddy.  In fact, today he was having a hard time deciding who he wanted, throwing himself from his daddy to me to his daddy to me!  Today was my definite "My baby's going to be okay" moment.  Babies have great instincts when it comes to people.  If Monkey loves and trusts his dad, I think I can give the trust thing a try.  :-)

So today, we worked out the logistics of how this will work.  Everything was going great until he said, "It would be from 8:15pm to 1:00 the next afternoon on Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon."  WHOA!  HOLD THE PONIES!  I HAVE TO WORK!!!   So, of course, I did what any woman about to lose her baby would do...  I called my Mommy!  Well, first I ran my idea past Monkey's dad, and he was comfortable with it, so I told him that I would ask my mom to make sure she could do it.  She said "yes."  She doesn't want to lose Monkey any more than I do.  :-)

The plan is for Monkey to be at my house from 8:15pm to 1:00pm on Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon and then from 8:15pm to 7:30am Thursday morning.  His dad is off Thursday-Saturday.  Monday through Wednesday, my mom will come to my house and watch Monkey when I have to go to work until his dad picks him up by 1:00 at the latest.  This way, his dad can sleep and Monkey is always with someone he knows and loves.  I'm just going to pay my mom out of what his dad pays me.  Heck!  I'd give her all of it if it means I still get to have my Monkey four days a week!  :-)

I'm still not completely committing long-term.  I told The Invisible One that I will do this on a trial basis while CPS is still monitoring Monkey's case so I will have a buffer there if I need it.  I don't anticipate any problems, but if for some reason things don't work, I'll know that CPS will still be there to make sure Monkey is okay.

There's lots more to tell, but this post has already turned into a novel!  Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on Monkey's mom and details from the last few visits...  In the meantime, wish us luck!  Big changes are coming our way, but I'm optimistic that everything is going to be okay.  :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Common Sense

Sometimes, I get the feeling that I am the only person involved in Monkey's case who has any common sense whatsoever when it comes to figuring out a viable childcare solution for him once he goes home to his dad.

Case in point:  The conversation that I had with The Invisible One and Scary CASA Lady on Tuesday...

Me:  So what are dad's plans for childcare during the day while he has to sleep? 
(Dad works nights.)

IO:  Oh, he doesn't sleep much.  He said he'd sleep when Monkey sleeps. 

Me:  Monkey is cutting out his morning nap, and you're lucky if he sleeps an hour and a half in the afternoon.  Dad needs more sleep than that!  So what are his plans?

IO:  Well, he said that his daughters can watch him.

Me:  How old are his daughters?

IO:  One is 17 and one is mid-20s.

Me:  Isn't the 17-year-old in school during the day?  I thought the 20-something works full-time?

CASA chimes in:  Oh, I think dad's plan is for the weekends and summer when the 17-year-old is out of school.  He said when he has to sleep, he'll have his daughters watch him on the weekends.
(He's only going to sleep on the weekends?  Well, that's a comforting thought!)

Me:  Well, isn't that awesome?  What about the other nine months out of the year

They both look at me as if I have sprouted a third eyeball.

Sometimes, there are certain kinds of stupid that just make my eye twitch.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Downhill Slope to "Normal"

The past couple of weeks have been really hard for me and my family.

Two weeks ago, we lost my grandpa due to complications from a ruptured abdominal aorta that occurred right before Christmas.  Last week, we lost my grandmother to cancer.  My grandparents divorced years before I was born, and I never really knew my grandmother.  But my heart is breaking for my dad.  :-(  I can't even fathom losing one parent.  The fact that he lost both of his within a week of each other just doesn't seem fair.

In the midst of all of the loss, both Monkey and I got sick.  Me with a sinus infection and strep throat, and Monkey with some "mystery illness" that lasted all month long.  On the 31st, I took him back to Urgent Care for the 3rd time in a month.  This time was different almost immediately.  They took him straight from triage, bipassed the usual curtained treatment area, took him straight into an actual treatment room, hooked him up to pulse ox, and started running tests and treatments.

Five hours, one chest x-ray, one deep suctioning of his sinuses, one RSV test, one strep test, and two breathing treatments later, we finally got out of there knowing everything that he didn't have, but he was breathing much easier.  They sent us home with a home nebulizer and a prescription for more Albuterol than I've ever seen in one place. 

The good news is, after a week of treatments, Monkey finally seems to be getting better!  No more horrific coughing attacks at night...  No more wheezing and raspy breath sounds...  No more fever...  Finally taking his bottles again...  He still has the runny nose, but he's had that for nine months, so I'm not too concerned.  :-)  I'm just relieved that they finally found a treatment that would work for him!  I think Angry Bipolar Mama had finally had enough, and they were scared of me.  :-)

Needless to say, the past couple of weeks have been rough.  With all of the loss, the illness, and the big changes going on with Monkey's case, things have been pretty hard.  Fortunately, we seem to be on the downhill slope to "normal" now.  Well, as "normal" as anything ever is in Foster/Adopt Land anyway.  :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feeling Better

I have to admit, I am feeling much, much better about my decision to not make a decision regarding whether or not to continue watching Monkey at night after he is returned to his father.  Thank you, everyone, for your advice, input, and support!  It definitely helps to know that my initial instincts are the same as everyone else's, and my love for Monkey isn't clouding my judgement when it comes to this situation.

I am going to start transporting Monkey to his weekly visits and just get a better feel for what is actually going on here.  I'm going to tell The Invisible One that she and dad need to move forward as though I am not going to do this (because chances are, I won't).  Right now, I am wearing my "Seriously Questioning Their Motives" face.

I love my little Monkey like crazy.  I'm his Mama.  He's my baby boy...  My little Chunky Monkey...  My Patty Cake...  But I'm not going to allow my love for that baby to be used to wrap up his case with a nice, pretty bow.  Dad needs to prove that he can do this without me.  Because if he can't, then he shouldn't regain custody (not that my opinion matters one bit).
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