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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are You On Fire?

I ran this morning and was excited to pee without interruption.

Sad, I know.  When we first became parents a friend told me to create the bathroom rule. If you aren't bleeding and the house isn't on fire, no one is allowed to bother Mom while she is in the bathroom. I embraced this kind of advice.

As of late, I've been trying to have more patience with where the kids are at in terms of needing to know where I am to feel secure. This is normal behavior of toddlers. That's where my kids are at emotionally.  I've been answering the knocks with- I'll be out in a minute.

This evening the knock on the door came after an hour of Sarah and Smiley fighting their way to the top of my naughty list. 

Smiley: Sarah hit me.
Foster Mom R: Are you on fire?

I came out and asked Sarah if she hit Smiley.  She said yes but she hit me too.

Oh for the love! 

Was it on purpose?

I don't know.

Lord give me strength...

I went back to making dinner, trouble shooting homework and straightening up for the appointment that never showed.

I turn back around and Smiley has thetherapeutic feeling cards in her hand.

I forgot how to play this.

That's okay. We aren't going to play with that right now.

Not even two minutes later I came around the corner to find Sarah and Smiley with the cards spread all over the floor. 

Sarah is on night two of the week of not bringing all her homework home so I assigned her extra reading. I went up to check on her and found her and Smiley sound asleep a solid 30 minutes before bedtime. 

No struggle about monsters. No asking for the spray twenty times. No extra drink of water. No tears.

I'd give up peeing in peace of this was the result every night....

I'm sure this means that Smiley will be knocking on my door about a bad dream earlier than she has the last 6 nights but that's okay.  That's where she's at.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Motherhood Is Full Of Choices

I've gotten really good at making decisions since becoming a mother.  As much as my world revolves around foster care and parenting kids with trauma, some of what I do just comes with the territory of being a parent. 

For instance, at 1:30am on Sunday I found myself standing in front of my washing machine trying to decide if the Urine/Fecees cycle or the Vomit cycle was more appropriate for the sheets that I had just stuffed into the machine. I went with vomit and hoped for the best.

When I got home tonight I had to decide if my 5 year old was being truthful that their class earned a prize and tomorrow is pajama day. Since she was excitedly telling me before I even got in the house I decided it was true. If it's not she'll look silly in front of her friends. That is what we call natural consequences and I use them often. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Stay Busy With Me

This week was the first week of no Bio Patent visits and it was rough. We've shed buckets of tears. Sleep is scarce and everyone is helpless.

Reasons this week for crying:
I'm scared of the toilet flushing.
I can't reach my socks.
You asked me to put my shoes on.
My sister is in trouble.
I can't find my toy.
It's dark outside.
We arrived home to our driveway.
I didn't bring my homework home.
I forgot my backpack.

We also played 20 bazillion questions with Mom as we held her hostage in the minivan on our way to and from everywhere this week. We covered all topics from ice to vultures. We asked Mom to turn the music up and put on a song only to talk over it each time. Even after we promised not to. Mom offered to rub our backs to help us fall asleep while we layed for 10 minutes with our eyes wide open. 

The therapists call this "Stay Busy With Me".  Because if Mom is staying busy with me, she can't forget me or leave me.

That's the root of the behavior driving Mom insane. Being forgotten. And it's such an uphill battle to prove otherwise. Because they have been forgotten.

The Bio Parents forgot visits and birthdays and phone calls. They missed meetings and court. They forgot to care for and protect. Over and over and over again.  

We can't let Foster Mom R be by herself for 10 minutes because she might forget us. And it's exhausting all of us. Even the dog. He went into his crate tonight just to chill and the kids were all like- why is he doing that? My response? He feels safe in there. Maybe he thinks he can't hear crying if he's in there. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Come Join Me On Facebook

Check out Love's a State of Mind on Facebook! I'm aiming for a community of bloggy friends to offer each other support and place to share more frequently about the shenanigans of the Quartet and R Family. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I have a post in the works about our trip. It was great. We had fun. 

Rentry has been tough. The kids have also started to realize the changes in phone calls and a lack of scheduled make-up visits means return home is not likely. Simon (6 year old 1st grader) actually asked "how come last time we went away and missed our visit we made it up ahead of time and this time we didn't?".


I answered: Because this is the schedule right now. We will talk more about it in therapy this week.

Sarah then shared that she was sad because she "feels like she isn't going home to Mommy". She then sobbed in my lap for a long while. I didn't confirm or deny. I just tried to hold her and remind her that none of this was her fault. This was a big deal for my attachment challenged kid. 

Little Miss Smiley has continued with the crying over every.little.thing. Last night she went to bed because she was crying she had to wait for me to get up and help her with dessert. This morning it was because she didn't have any matching socks. (Seriously, where do the flipping socks go?). We are trying to use silly and outrageous but it's kind of like having the terrible twos in your five year.

Stella is fixated on homework as of late.  She is a diligent student but she's having a hard time concentrating and I think we need to have her evaluated for ADD. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'll keep telling you...

We are always working on reassuring the kids that they are safe. It's going to take years to overcome their experience with multiple and inconsistent caregivers. We had a moment this week that told me Sarah is hearing us say:

You are safe. We will take care of you. We will protect you and we will keep showing you and telling you until you know it.

Waiting in line for Buzz Lightyear she turned to me and said:

"You are the best Mom I ever had.  I'll keep telling you until you know it."

She was 100% sincere.  It was so sweet. And a little sad when I think about the fact that she has a list of Mom's she's had. She's hearing us say those words and that was a huge deal. 

I did get a text from Sheila. I didn't get it until a few days into our trip but she had texted asking me to set up a phone call since "no one told me that there was no visit this week and next week". Kind of hard to tell you when you walk out of meetings and don't attend others. I then got an email from Caseworker #3 confirming that Sheila had been informed of the next visit date and that phone calls would no longer take place as the kids weren't handling them well.

I'm honestly not sure how I'm going to reply to Sheila. I feel like I need to at least acknowledge the text but I don't really want to engage her. I'm not interested in being her emotional punching bag and I feel like that's where it will head. 

I have a 19 hour drive home to think about it.....

Saturday, October 4, 2014


We had an Administrative Case Review (ACR) this week. In our state they are required every 6 months to go over the case plan with the caseworker, bio parents, foster parents, CASA, and whoever else might be part of the plan. It's a third party review that everyone is doing what they are supposed to and that the plan supports the goal.

When the Fab Four lived with me these ACRs would take 2 hours because everything was in both English and Spanish. The last one we had for the Quartet was about an hour and the reviewer really gave the case worker, Willow, a hard time about medical appointments.

This ACR was quick and painless. We were done in 30 minutes. It was a little goofy because the case plan we were reviewing was based off the return home goal. Since the goal changed to Substitute Care the plan pretty much goes out the window in terms of focus on the bio parents. This ACR was all about the kids. And I got to do all the talking.  It was the first time someone said to me, "do the kids have all they need?" And I felt like they meant it.

I was expecting Sheila to attend which typically makes the hard conversations about consistency and behavior even tougher, but she didn't show.  (On court days she typically runs 30 minutes so the meeting was over if she did attend.)

The caseworker put an end to the weekly phone calls. I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision. We'll see how she reacts.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Time For a Break

18 months ago I write this post about dreaming of taking other children to Walt Disney World. Well on Friday, we leave to do just that.

It's kind of a crazy time for our family. We all really need a break. The kids think we are going on a long trip to Wisconsin Dells. Tonight we had a two hour crying jag from Smiley. It's the first time I've doubted we were ready for this kind of trip.  I am hoping getting out of our element will get us  unstuck.

The crying all the time is getting old. I tried silly, I tried dancing, I tried modeling breathing techniques. None of it worked.

Here's where it gets tough. How do you prove to a kid that knows you are going to leave her, that you aren't going to leave her. I hate that kids even have to have someone prove it.

So much pain. So unfair. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Smiling Faces

Gabby called me via Face Time this weekend.  We happened to be at my Parent's house so they got to see Gabby and Jelly Bean.  I was so happy they called.  It was great to see their smiling faces and I was even happier they had a chance to catch up with my parents.

Its a natural separation and I'm no longer worried about losing contact with them.  I know our relationship is important to Gabby and now that she's old enough to facilitate that relationship, I feel she will always keep track of me. Its good to see that we helped a family make lasting changes.  It makes all of the stress and fear a little easier to swallow.

I Miss My Other Mommy

The therapists mentioned that often kids have a sense about the goal changing to TPR even though they haven't been told.  This seems to be true for my kids if the conversations and big feelings we have been witnessing this week are any indication. We've had several nights of crying fits at bedtime by Smiley and Sarah.  This week brought on statements of "I miss my other Mommy" and "I'm worried my Mom won't call".

Smiley has been doing a lot of crying.  We've determined that this is mainly about her attachment to me and her need to make sure I will take care of her.  Its exhausting.  As of late, she's not been able to get her pajamas on, brush her teeth, or finish homework without my either doing the task for her or right next to her, step by step.  I made the mistake of responding to her cries last night reminding her that her Mom should be calling today.

This set Sarah off.  We had a long conversation about her worries that her Mom would not call and the reasons why she can't live with her Mom.  She told me she was confused about that part.  She doesn't remember her Mom not being able to take care of her.  In reality, she only ever lived with her Mom for a few months at a time.  She spent her 1st year of life in foster care.  Then she lived with her grandma, then an aunt and uncle, and at some point back to her Mom.  She came back to Illinois and went to live with a family friend, then 2 sets of foster parents and then finally with me the last 9 months.  She sobbed in my arms.  The deep, body shaking of grief. It was heart breaking. I can't fix it. And I can't protect her from it.

Sheila did not call on-time.  Sarah was already aware that Mom had missed the call.  An hour after the call time I received a text that she was late because she was shopping for the kids. She won't see the kids for three weeks.  She is very much in denial about what is happening.  She wanted to call later tonight but as Sarah had already cried about the miss call time and moved on with the night, I felt it was best to leave it alone. 

I'm really struggling to understand how you can be shopping for the kids and then decide shopping is more important than calling them. Especially since just a few days ago she was texting about having more calls.  The responsible thinking just isn't there and that's the reason why she isn't parenting any of her kids.  I'm not sure that the calls are really in the kids' best interest at this point.  I think the only one who is really benefitting from them is Sheila. 

The Administrative Case Review this week should be interesting.  I'm wondering how productive it will be given she walked out on the meeting with the caseworker after court. Its going to be very hard to hear that the department no longer has to provide services.  She is also not going to like being told phone calls with the kids are at my discretion.