Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giveaway Time Again!

"Trippin'" just hit 75 followers on Facebook,
so it's Giveaway Time again!!!
I LOVE doing giveaways!

I'm going with something totally practical this time.  A $25 gift card to the winner's choice of store, restaurant, etc. (as long as I can order it online ;-).

Entry into this one is easy!  (Okay, so I'm totally lying.  I'm gonna make you work for this one. ;-)  I'd like to bring back "Foster Fridays" in some form, but I need help brainstorming topic ideas.  That's where you come in!

Just leave a comment (either here on the Facebook page) with your foster care related topic ideas and/or any questions that you might have about the "Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How's" of foster care.  And as an added bonus, if you come up with 5 or more, I'll give you an extra entry! 

I will announce the winner on Thursday evening, and will (hopefully) have a new "Foster Friday" post this Friday.

Let the brainstorming begin!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Major Development - Advice Welcomed!

If you don't follow "Trippin'" on Facebook, you probably don't know the latest development in Monkey's case.  Definitely a HUGE turn of events since my last post where I was desperately trying to get Monkey extended visits with his parents who I thought were doing well...

Monkey had a visit yesterday, and his CASA and his attorney pinned down The Invisible One and crashed the visit.  They were both expecting to see Monkey with his parents and to discuss extended visits because the last we had heard (after court in November), the plan was to return Monkey after the next hearing in March.

After the visit, his CASA immediately texted me and said that The Invisible One would be calling me shortly.  Two minutes later, I got a phone call that completely floored me.  The gist of it boiled down to:
  • Mom flaked out and took off right after Christmas.  Don't you just LOVE how I (as well as Monkey's CASA and Attorney) am just now hearing about it?

  • Mom finally resurfaced last week, and is exhibiting behaviors similar to those when this case first started last May.  Basically, she is no longer an option and if Dad wants custody, he is doing this alone.

  • Dad works nights (9:00pm-7:00am) and before CPS will even consider moving Monkey home, Dad has to demostrate that he has a reliable childcare plan in place.

  • Dad wants to know if I would be willing to keep Monkey Monday-Thursday nights while he's at work.

  • I asked if I could start transporting Monkey to his weekly visits with Dad so I can get a better feel for this whole new development and see if I can figure out what's really going on here.

There is a lot to consider here.  My main concern is that both Dad and the Invisible One are just exploiting my love for Monkey in order to put an end to this case, and that once CPS is out of the picture, Dad will drop me like a hot potato.  Honestly, I think that if Dad can't do this without me, he shouldn't regain custody in the first place! 

I ended up telling the Invisible One that I wasn't saying, "no," but I wasn't saying "yes" right now either.  I told her that Dad needs to move forward as if I am not going to keep Monkey and that I would think about it.  I want to see if he is willing to put in the work and get a plan in place that doesn't involve the "easy" solution.  If he does get something lined up, but still would prefer Monkey stay with me, I think that would ultimately say that his intentions are good and that he truly does want the best for Monkey (maintaining contact with the only Mama he's ever had).

You can follow the discussion on Facebook and add you own experiences, advice, concerns, etc.  There is definitely a lot to consider, and my mind (and heart) are all over the place on this one.  Diane!?!?  If you're reading this, I could definitely use your advice!  I think you are one of the only single foster moms I know of who has been living a similar situation, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I definitely wasn't expecting this when I woke up yesterday.  It breaks my heart that Monkey's mom is having such a hard time.  I hate that there are some things that have such a powerful hold over people that they end up choosing that thing over their own child.  I've seen her with Monkey.  I've seen the love that she has for him.  I've seen her clean and sober and trying so hard to be a mom that he can be proud of.  Knowing that this has taken hold again is heartbreaking...  Especially for Monkey.  :(

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Hardest Thing...

It's the hardest thing in the world...  Doing the "right" thing when it means letting go of your child...

I have spent the better part of the past two weeks trying my hardest to find out what is going on in Monkey's case, and to try to get longer, unsupervised visits with his parents if things are still going as well as they were in November.  As far as I know, things are still on track to move him home in March, and I desperately want him to be able to spend some quality time with his parents before that happens.  How can he possibly feel comfortable leaving the only home and only Mama he's ever known when he's going to a strange house and people who he has only seen for one hour a week at a CPS office?

For me, this is the suckiest part of foster care.  Loving a child with my whole heart...  Wanting to be their Mama forever, but knowing that I won't be...  So my days consist of being the best Mama that I can be now, all the while working towards helping my children's biological parents be the best parents they can be when my babies leave.  Quite frankly, it sucks!  But I know that by doing so, I'm still loving and protecting my little ones to the best of my ability even after they leave my home. 

Why wouldn't I try to get parents who are doing well longer visits at home when it means my baby will know them better and be familiar with his new home when he leaves?  Why wouldn't I tell them everything that I know about their baby so they can keep his routine, know his favorite toys, and serve his meals the way he likes them?  Why wouldn't I push his caseworker to do her job and do what's right for this family when they have worked so hard and changed their lives for the better? 

I cherish every single day that I have with my babies, but when it's clear that their families are ready to be the best parents they can be, I know it's time for me to let go.  And it sucks.  Just sayin'...

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Feel Good!

I might not be able to carry a tune in a bucket, but Monkey happens to think that I have a beautiful singing voice.  I open my mouth to sing his favorite songs, and he clearly thinks that a chorus of little birdies is flowing from my lips as he smiles from ear to ear.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure his grin is necessarily a good thing.  He might be thinking something along the lines of, "Oh, this poor, clueless woman...  This is so pitiful, I just have to laugh it off!"  You know, kind of how there are some puppies and babies who are so ugly that you can't help but say they're cute?  I'm going to choose to believe that Monkey hears golden harps and angels singing rather than a croaking frog when I sing to him though. :-)

We are a fairly musical family regardless of our singing abilities.  Our babies are thoroughly entertained by our renditions of many a song.  Recently, Monkey (and I) had become bored with our usual "Little White Duck," and he thought I was just a crazy fool when I tried my hand at "Rockin' Robin," so I went to Christy's house to see what she used to entertain Pooper and Butterfly.  She and Ka-Diva gave a lively performance of James Brown's "I Feel Good," and the Mini Munchkins were clearly entertained so I knew I had to try it out on Monkey that evening.

I performed my heart out.  I danced what has since become a choreographed routine.

And I created a James Brown fanatic.

Monkey was clapping and cracking up, and I swear he made me sing that song at least ten times in a row that first night.

In the week since I first introduced Mr. Brown's lively little tune, I have caught Monkey "singing" it himself as he looks my way to get me to perform it again.  "Da-da-da-da (SQUEAL!!!)" ***shake head, shake head***  (The head-shaking is his favorite part of the choreography. ;-)  I am fairly certain I have sung that song about 25,000 times in the past six days. 

Thanks for the idea, Aunt Christy!  I now hear James Brown in my sleep.  Mostly coming from the baby monitor as Monkey sings, "Da-da-da-da (SQUEAL!!!)"  ;-)

A Message from Booger Bear

Got an awesome message
from Booger Bear this afternoon...  :-)

And people ask if we regret ever fostering...
They obviously don't have a Booger Bear of their own,
or they'd never have to ask!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

That Comment Makes Me Want To...

Yesterday, my online foster mommy BFF (aka. Mama Foster :-) wrote a post that definitely struck a nerve with me.  It was about "The Comment."  It's the one that foster parents by far hear the most, and the one that kind of makes me want to punch someone in the face.

That comment is usually followed by "Isn't it hard to give them up?" Seriously? You're seriously asking me that? What do you think?!? OF COURSE IT'S HARD, YOU TACTLESS WENCH!

To be clear, I have never struck anyone in my life, and I don't intend to start now.  But that comment repeated over and over by the same person every. single. time you see them...  I work with two of these women, and it's enough to make me want to smack them.

It does make me wonder what, exactly, they are trying to say.  Are they saying that they would love my kids more than I do, so it's okay for me to give them back?  Are they saying that I'm cold and unfeeling with a heart of steel, so it's easier for me than it would be for them?  Are they saying that I must have some kind of superpower that enables me to hand over these children who I love like they're my own without a second thought?  Why one earth would anyone say something like that?!?

Like Mama Foster said, "Obviously, fostering is not for everyone or right for everyone," and I whole-heartedly agree.  The world of foster care is hard.  It takes you on an emotional roller coaster that can be completely overwhelming at times.  It took me years of praying about it and a lot of soul-searching to finally make the decision to put my heart on the line and go for it, and most people have legitimate reasons for not being able to handle it.  But to those women who stop me in the hall on a regular basis and tell me how they could never foster because they just "love too much" and that they "couldn't let them go," I say to them...

"That's too bad." 

Because while you sit back and tell me how impossible it would be to love these kids and let them go, I am loving these kids.  And I will love them every day for the rest of my life.

Do I still break down and have myself a good, sobbing cry from time to time?  Absolutely. 

Do I wish I'd never put myself in a position to miss a child so much that I physically ache for them at times?  Not a chance! 

Because I can't imagine a life without ever having a little Monkey who called me "Mama," who danced to my horrific singing voice, and who smiled ear to ear every time he laid eyes on me.  I can't imagine a life without ever having a Booger Bear who begged to sleep with me every night because "Mimi's bed" was so much better than his, who ran up to me at random times just to give me a hug, and who to this day still randomly tells me "I love you!"  I can't imagine a life without the memories of all of my kids (even Itty Bitty who screamed almost non-stop for the few days that she was with me ;-).  I can't imagine a life where I sat back and did nothing while someone else stepped up and cared for these kids that I've loved so much simply because I was afraid of getting hurt. 

So the next time those women stop me in the hall and tell me how they won't risk loving these kids because they "love too much," I'll tell them...  "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Co-Dependent Relationship

Is it possible to be having PTSD episodes after only one weekend with a VERY determined 10-month-old and an obnoxious 15-year-old cat?  I really think those two will be the death of me.  I am highly tempted to lock them in a room together and see which one emerges victorious soon in order to put an end to this madness, but as Kylee pointed out, "THAT would be a hard one to explain to CPS."  She's a wise one, that Kylee...  ;-)

Now that Monkey is crawling at the speed of light, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep him away from Kitty Cat Tommie.  It wouldn't be so bad if that stinking cat would just avoid the child by keeping out of arm's reach, but he seems to think he still owns the place, and sprawls out on the living room floor with his tail (aka. "pull toy string") stretched out in front of the excited toddler.  Believe me when I say that no good has come from this scenario as of yet.

After two full days of unsuccessfully trying to keep these two separated, I had finally had enough.

"Cat???  Why'd she do this to you???"

Yep...  That's right.  I lured the cat to the other side of the baby gate with food and water, and I SHUT IT! 

"I feel ya, man...  This really stinks."

Before anyone goes and gets a panty wedgie because I locked the cat in what appears to be a small space with no litter box, rest assured that darned cat had free run of the entire upstairs if he so wished. 
"Don't worry, man!  I'll bust you outta here!!!"

It appears, instead, that my cat is some sort of masochist as all he wanted in the world was get out of there and back into the living room where he would no doubt be pulled around by his tail again.  This would result in him beating Monkey over the head with his paws, resulting in a shocked 10-month-old whose feelings then get hurt because "Cat" actually turned on him.  I swear, these two have a truly toxic, co-dependent relationship.  ;-)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The A-Z's of Motherhood to a Toddler (Part 1)

Now that Monkey is newly-mobile and quickly gaining momentum, I have left the "babyhood" stage of parenting and am re-learning "toddlerhood."  It's crazy how quickly you forget.  I only foster infants and toddlers.  You'd think after five under the age of 17 months in the past three years that I'd remember!  It must be that whole "selective memory" thing, because I seem to remember it being so very easy.  I am obviously delirious from too much baby talk and lack of quality sleep.

It's been a while since I've attempted an "A-Z Thing," so I thought (given the amount of material this subject provides) I'd give it a go.  I'm breaking this post down into two parts so it's not quite so long. 

Sure Signs That You Are Parenting a Toddler

Attitude - I don't know what it is about gaining the ability to crawl that turns my once sweet, innocent little babies into toddlers with an attitude.  In the past week, I have already had to use the phrase, "Don't you use that tone of voice with me, young man!" on my 10-month-old!  At 11 months old, both Munchkin and Little Miss came through my door in full "diva" mode.  And Booger...  Well, Booger was a booger!  God sure knew what he was doing when he planned the toddlerhood attitude and the "Terrible Twos."  They might be strong-willed little boogers, but they are so darned cute the rest of time!  How can you stay frustrated when they give random hugs and kisses and do that whole flirty smile thing?  :-)

Barricades - These little ones start moving, and they seem to locate everything in creation except their acceptable playthings.  I have a baby gate blocking the entry to the stairs, outlet covers galore, and have an awesome system in place for additional barricades.  I use my dining room chairs, boxes, and other small pieces of furniture to block off areas that I don't want the kiddos to get into.  One day, I will get to use my furniture for its intended purpose, but until then at least my Christmas tree is still standing (even if I can't see it behind all of the chairs ;-).

Clothing mishaps - Monkey has hit the "trying to help me' stage when I'm trying to get him dressed.  He sees a sock, he holds up his foot...  I go to put his arms in his sleeves, he quickly straightens them to get them through the holes.  This is all well and good if he actually makes the arm holes, but more times than not he misses, and what began as him "helping out" ends in hyperventilating panic attacks as he attempts to escape the "straightjacket" that Mama apparently forced him into.  It's like trying to dress an octopus with superpowers.  As the kiddos get older, you have the disappearing clothing to deal with.  You walk into the nursery, and your once peacefully sleeping, fully-clothed baby is stark naked and happily playing in their own poop.  It's madness, I tell you!

Disappearing furniture - Three years ago, I had a beautifully decorated home.  I had a great entertainment center, a coordinating coffee table, side tables, etc.  Three years later, all furniture that wasn't cushioned has disappeared.  The beautiful entertainment center lost its doors when I had to remove them after Booger kept running into them.  My huge coffee table found a new home.  The side tables are stored away and replaced with toy boxes and baby gear.  One day, I will be allowed furniture again.  But seeing as how I love fostering, I will probably be a white-haired old lady before I get to put the doors back on my entertainment center.  :-)

Exerting Independence - Little ones hit the toddler stage, and decide they are full-grown people and can do everything on their own.  They insist on feeding themselves, and what was once a 10-15 minute mealtime turns into a 45 minute ordeal.  Little Miss was all about the spoon.  Granted, more food ended up on her face, in her hair, and behind her back (don't ask) than in her mouth, but she would slap my hand if I tried to help her in any way.  Booger was known to spend 45 minute stretches attempting to stab individual peas with a fork.  Monkey is just now hitting the "insisting on only foods that he can feed himself" stage.  I keep telling him that he can't live on puffs and yogurt melts, but he doesn't really seem to believe me.

Food in strange places - Speaking of puffs and yogurt melts...  I was a little chilly at work the other day so I went to put on my jacket, and what did I find???  A yogurt melt stuck to the back!  I can't believe no one told me that was on there during the entire morning leading up to me getting into my office!  Now that Monkey is eating finger foods, I have found food in so many strange places that I can only assume he is sneaking it away from his highchair in his clothes and hiding it away for later.  I think toddlers hide their snacks the same way dogs bury their bones.  I know I've come across many a child with some kind of food in his mouth when I know I haven't fed him that particular thing for three days!  If that's really the case, Monkey is one smart kid.  Just stick a yogurt melt on Mama's back as a handy snack for later!

Good helpers - Kiddos this age always seem to want to be "good helpers."  Booger was my OCD Cleaning Baby.  He was obsessed with all things cleaning-related.  The vacuum cleaner, brooms, mops, the laundry...  He would bring me trash to throw away.  To this day (at three years old), he comes over to visit, goes straight into "his" room, pulls out his old toy vacuum cleaner and starts "vacuuming" my living room for me.  Such a good helper!  :-)  Little Miss was all about helping me sort laundry and put her toys away at the end of the day.  I already have Monkey helping me put his toys away too!  He just thinks it's a game right now, but hey...  If he can take the toys out of his toy box on his own, he can help put them back in!

Hoarders - On top of hoarding food, I've come to the realization that toddlers have a tendency to hoard other items as well.  I always wonder where their smaller toys go, and I usually end up finding stashes of links, blocks, books, etc. under beds, under couches, and behind larger furniture when I go to rearrange.  At one point, I ended up replacing three packages of Lots of Links because they kept disappearing on me, only to find every last link upon rearranging the living room and nursery.  Booger also had a fascination with socks (something to do with his laundry fetish, I think).  I always had to make sure that I put the dirty laundry out of reach, or I would inevitably come up one sock per pair short.  I never did find half of them!  There's no telling where he stashed them.

Injuries - They look innocent enough...  I mean, they're just big blocks, right?  Oh so very wrong, my friend!  I was so excited to get the "Stationary Plaything of Doom" out of my living room that I didn't think about the fact that it was 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.  In the last three days alone, I have tripped over, stepped on, turned my ankle on more small toys than I care to admit.  And if my injuries aren't bad enough, just look at my kids' foreheads!  Booger Bear had what we referred to as his "Super-Aerodynamic Baby Crawler Mode" where he would race across the room with his head low to the ground in order to pick up speed.  He might have been successful in travelling faster, but that sudden stop when his head hit a wall definitely put a damper on his fun!

Jealousy - Toddlers understand what is "theirs," and the first thing that they associate as "theirs" is their Mama.  The first time I ever experienced this was with Booger Bear.  I had gone to his daycare to pick him up for the day, when another baby fell down and was crying.  Booger was on the other side of the room playing, so I picked up Baby to comfort him.  That was my fatal mistake.  Booger whipped his head around the second he heard my voice, saw that I was holding another baby, growled a "War Cry" that would rival that of any heard on "Braveheart," and crawled faster than the speed of light across the room.  I swear, the boy clawed his way up my leg and into my arms before I knew what was happening!  When I put the other baby down, Booger stayed there in my arms giving the "Death Stare of Doom" to the other baby who dared encroach on his territory.  It was pretty funny.  :-)  Monkey has also hit the "she's mine!" phase.  You would think with four 8-10 month babies in the family that he would have learned to share me by now, but not so much.  ;-)

Kitty Cat Tommie in Hiding - A sure sign that my children have "made the toddlerhood conversion" is the sudden disappearance of my cat.  Poor Tommie...  We led such a quiet, peaceful life for nearly a decade together before I had to go and bring the miniature humans into the picture.  ;-)  He does well enough with them while they are immobile, but the second they learn to crawl and want to follow him around the house, hug him, pet him, pull his tail, yank on his whiskers, rip his hair out by the handful, etc., that cat goes into hiding.  Can't say that I blame him...  But Tommie also has a "Forget you, kid!  This place is MINE!" side to him when he decides to come and sit right in the middle of the living room and taunt the child.  It's like I'm parenting two instead of one.  "Don't make me come over there!"

Lots of love and cuddles - Toddlers have got to be the most loving, cuddly group of little people in existence!  Babies will snuggle, but toddlers know why they're snuggling.  They'll run up and give random hugs and kisses out of the blue.  They flirt.  They tell you they love you.  I still remember how my heart would melt ever time Booger would hug me, pat my back (because that's what I always did to him), say "I wuh woo..." and then lift his head, smile, and say, "KISS!"  Monkey is starting to do the same thing with the hugging and patting my back too.  So stinkin' cute!!!

Mommy deafness - I always enjoy those first several months of a child's life when they love to hear my voice...  When they look towards me with eager anticipation and can't wait to hear what I have to say...  Then they hit toddlerhood, and things are never the same again.  There's something that "clicks" in a toddler's brain that says, "If I pretend I can't hear her, then I don't have to do what she says."  I'd love to be able to say that the "mommy deafness" eventually goes away, but I fear it only evolves into more advanced stages known as "teenage muteness" and "wife deafness."  It is a worldwide epidemic for which there is no cure.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 coming shortly!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New "Do"

Monkey's "girlfriend" from daycare had a little fun with his ever-growing hair today. So funny! I think I'm going to have her do this EVERY day until his parents agree to let me get his hair trimmed. In fact, I might bring a little styling gel and let her REALLY go to town on it! :-)
Related Posts with Thumbnails