Never Say Never!

There once was this toddler from Nantucket.

Okay, so maybe not from Nantucket.  Middle of Nowhere, Texas more like it.  Anyway, this toddler.  He is about a year and a half old.  He is related to my three.  He also has two older siblings.  I’ve been following him from a distance for the last two years (from pregnancy).  Seems people have the need to tell me things.  

Well, I specifically asked if this child had CPS involved in his life and was told no.  I thought maybe that was a possibility since I knew that there was a relative *very* involved in his life.  That relative seemed normal enough (if Facebook is any indication. Ha!).  

So, of course, I was lied to and CPS *is* involved.  Recently, CPS took custody of the children but initially left them with this relative.  Good…maybe.  But when this all happened, people felt the need to tell me things.  Maybe it *wasn’t* so okay with this relative afterall.  Well, once CPS took custody, they were responsible for this little guy and his half-siblings so they requested a homestudy on the relative.  

Once I found out that CPS had taken custody, I immediately called multiple people trying to find the right worker.  If they could stay with the family, GREAT!  But if not, the one child is kin (a relative, in our case, via adoption) and we wanted him.  And since we’re a licensed foster home and *could* take all three, we were willing to take all three IF we were needed.  

I *really* hoped things weren’t as bad as they kinda sounded.  I mean, really, can you *really* trust gossip?  And the gossip in that area is *bad.*  It is amazing what all I’ve heard from up there since my kids were adopted!  It simply cannot all be true (or at least it doesn’t seem it could be but how things have played out over the last couple years suggests some things have been untrue also).

Anyway, it took some work, but we finally let some key people, including the current caseworker, know that IF needed, we could take all three kids (chances are they would have been split up had they just gone through the system due to circumstances locally).  

So then I get the call. Caseworker says there were significant concerns found in the home.  She didn’t outline what they were.  She asked if we still could take all three children.  I answered, yes.

So this morning, three little kids will have their world rocked because the multiple adults involved (or not so involved as the case may be for some) didn’t just do what should have been done.  I want to be angry because I know the kids will be upset, scared, and probably angry.  I want to be angry at them because they should “know better.”  I know darn well that they love these kids, so why?!?!?!

At the same time, I know that it isn’t that simple.  People do better when they can do better.  Many times, neglect and abuse are passed down generation to generation.  Life is hard in some places making stress more challenging so floors don’t get vacuumed and toilets don’t get clean.  Addiction is *really* hard to overcome with the best of help, much less just what the social service organizations in an area may have set up.  Depression and other mental illness can’t just be handled with a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  Poor choices often snowball burying whole people and families, even areas.  

So this morning, as I await the arrival of three precious young children, I hope the best for their parents, grandparents, and other relatives.  I hope that somehow things can work out for them.  In the meantime, their little people will be safe and well-cared for.  

Oh, the title of this post?  I said “no more sibling group of three!”  I have said period, never, not happening, don’t call.  But obviously I couldn’t just let the little guy go and he shouldn’t be separated from his siblings.  So here we go again :)

Behavior is Communication

On a recent support group, someone posted about a very young child having huge fits that lasted 30-45 minutes and were destructive also.  The question was how to get the child to stop.

I didn’t say it at the time, but I don’t think the goal really *is* to get it to stop.  I mean, the long term goal may be, of course, but right now, I think the questions are “what is the child trying to communicate?” and “how can I best help the child?”  In time, because we stay calm, help the child get her needs met, and help her learn some life skills.  

In the end, though, different things work for different kids.  This first suggestion I listed almost sounds shocking, but I think if you’re matter-of-fact, empathetic, not punitive, it can really work.  Well, it did really work.  I’m much more likely to do a mix of the second two suggestions, but again, all kids are different.

Some ideas:

* Put her outside. “Outside voices go outside” and outside tends to be calming. ECI completely agreed with this idea for one of our toddlers a few years ago. And it really helped and worked. I do think you have to be careful about HOW you do it.

* We have had MANY kids that sitting very close to them, quiet, matching their degree of eye contact, or pulling them into your lap and rocking with gentle touch and soft speaking like you would an infant (shhhh, “I see you’re upset,” “Those are big feelings; I’m here for you.”). IMO, this teaches kids that big feelings are something you can handle and that you still love the child when she has them.

* Matching intensity by stating what they are really saying in words. This is good because usually screaming is something they do because they don’t know what really to say. Giving words for their feelings helps. Matching intensity tells them that you understand HOW they feel it.

The point with any of these things is to give them something they need. If they need a skill, you’re giving it. If they are needing acceptance and loving they hadn’t gotten prior, they are now getting it.

Punishment is rarely necessary for a 3yo and it often takes away from better discipline and need providing.

If you feel it *is* necessary to discipline further, whether that discipline includes punishment or not, doing so when everyone is calmed down will make more of a healthy impact. You can even make it more related to the situation. For example, using the calming jar (Pinterest) may be a good situation for a time out because it also is something the child could use in the moment later. Better discipline options like making amends and/or serving others will work well after everyone is calm.

Trying to discipline when people are out of control is just going to frustrate everyone more.  The 3yo is not going to want to apologize to her sister.  The 5yo doesn’t care that you have now taken his screen time and will send him to bed early because he wouldn’t just sit on his bed for five minutes.  Your just making the 11yo angrier and more focused on himself and his perceived injustice by grounding him for increasing amounts of time.  And it rarely *works.*  It isn’t likely to control him.  It certainly isn’t teaching him self-control.  And people can’t learn *well* when they are so upset. 

It is just so important to remember that behavior has little to nothing to do with how the child feels about us.  Instead, behavior is communication.  It tells us if our child is working from a place of love or fear.  It tells us if our child has needs for us to meet.  It tells us if they are lacking certain life skills.  Negative behavior is a call for help.  And when children can do better, they will do better.  That behavior communicates that they are starting to feel safe, secure, heard, loved.  It tells us that they have gained skills and tools they will need in life.  

Behavior is communication.  

 

I have really neglected my blog

Things were crazy.

I was having some health issues.
I was having a bunch of tests and such to have surgery.
I was back in physical therapy.
I have NO doubt that Doc will end up with a RAD diagnosis (and her brother was soooo anxious, poor guy).  
I still was having issues due to losing Monkey, especially as the anniversary of that was approaching (no doubt that losing another “supposed to be forever” placement in there didn’t help either).

So we took some time off.  

It was GREAT! 

I continued physical therapy.  I had surgery towards the end of April.  

We reopened primarily because of a possible adoptive placement (12yo girl).  But we said we could take ONE foster baby at a time (0-2yo girl or newborn boy) while pursuing adoptive or legal risk placements (ideally, one girl 0-12yrs old, though we have inquired upon some sibling groups also).  

Well, Squishy got here a month ago at just a couple days old.  And he is AWESOME and WONDERFUL.  I’m not even biased either :)  At this point, I’m willing myself to think just a month or two in advance, reminding myself how awesome it would be if these parents actually managed to get their stuff together to be able to parent him.  

Anyway, so we are about to start our school year.  The kids have progressed nicely over the last few months, making great strides academically.  So we’re looking forward to a stellar school year.  Hopefully I can post a little more about that.

Along those lines, we believe in early learning so I can post some about our journey regarding what we do with Squishy also.

I’ve lost about 60 pounds and feel better in a lot of ways.  I am hopeful to continue losing weight and gain some muscle.

Heidi is a great dog and we can see some real potential in her now.  Progress has been slower in some ways than expected, but she’s awesome.  I sure do love that dog. 

So hi again.  I look forward to seeing what is happening with all of y’all also :)

 

 

Just Busy

Well, maybe not JUST busy.  I may be a bit overwhelmed, excited, etc also :)

Obviously, our household is pretty busy naturally.  Add that Doc and Professor just really do keep me on my toes.  I hope they get a great home with a TON of patience.  I hope the mom will be knowledgeable about severe anxiety and attachment issues.  I hope she will be gentle yet effective regarding sleep issues and poop.  I hope she will love all three kids dearly.  I hope she will be able to keep them and any siblings who come along.  

(note:  I’m using “she” generically.  I am fully aware that some foster dads are AWESOME.  I also know they may have two foster moms or two foster dads where they are going next.)

I am trying to get things set up for us being a non-foster home.  We have sold a number of items already.  I packed up a few things.  I need to get a couple boxes to pack up a little more.  Seeing as CPS couldn’t give us even 24 hours last time, I just want to have their stuff ready for them in case we have a repeat.

But I’ve also been working on what *I* am doing.  I’ve had an increase in number of doctor appointments.  I have a few more scheduled as they leave.  I have a procedure I’m in the process of getting pre-surgical testing done for.  I have plans for some additional training for Heidi.  I have some diet and exercise things started (and boy is it hard!).  We have grand homeschooling and field trip plans.  And I’m planning a trip to Disney (on a major budget).  

I’ve also been dreaming of silly things like turning the hot water heater up to a temperature that will allow me to ENJOY my showers.  And we’re going to leave the shampoo on the side of the tub!  Oh, and I’m going to store canned/bottled drinks in their cardboard boxes ON THE FLOOR of the pantry!  Aren’t I a rebel?

Anyway, excuse the hodge podge of a post.  Right now, so many things are changing and I’m so excited about it.  There is some sadness and worry too; but mostly, I know this is what we need to do right now.  

BIG NEWS!!!!

Well, many of you have already heard somewhere else, but….

I have really appreciated all your support over time. So I wanted to share some big news.  We have decided to close our foster home.  I really feel like this will be best for each individual of our family, each relationship of our family, and our family as a whole.  I have such peace about this decision.  Honestly, it is more than that.  I’m about ready to jump up and down and throw a party!

ETA: We ended up being put on “inactive” which gives us 12 months to decide whether or not to close our license altogether.  That allows us to jump through a number of hoops to get restarted more easily than starting all over should we decide to foster in 6 or 12 months. 

OB: Fear = Freeze

The following post was from a little over two years ago.  A post on a group reminded me of it.  That and I’ve been going NUTS with this child’s “staring” rather than answering when I speak to him. I really wish I was as empathetic as I used to be.  I’m working on it.  I saw a few other posts when looking for this one.  Maybe I can get back to being more gracious.

A week ago, we had a situation come up that really helped me see how solidly T-lo is operating in a state of fear rather than actually being *here* sometimes.  All the other kids had gotten down from the table. T-lo was playing with his second piece of broccoli.  He had eaten the top off the first piece.  It had been 20-30 minutes.  This is something we struggle with not stressing about due to his growth issues.

I turned his chair to help him down (we have one of those bar height tables AND he has a booster seat).  I picked him up and told him “I love you. No matter what happens I love you. I. Love. You.”   He looked terrified.  I asked him what I had said sure he couldn’t have heard me or he would seem so scared.  He said, “get down from the table.” I tried again and he replied, “eat.” I tried one more time and he went back to his first answer. The child was so terrified when I picked him up, that he could only guess what I had said.

I hugged him tightly and a few moments later repeated what I had really said. This time he heard me. “I love you too, Mama.”

So that was quite an education.  A lot of times he seems to blank out, zone out, just not be there when we say something to him.  Or he’ll start crying though what is being said or done is not cry worthy (sometimes, quite the opposite).  It’s like he’s responding to something else.

Anyway, but something else has happened.

Since then, T-lo is eating.  It’s not perfect.  Not every meal, especially breakfast, is devoured; however, he’s eating more every meal without us  reminding him, bribing him, helping him, feeding him….It is just amazing that he is eating so readily.  One night, he ate a big piece of sausage while I was at the doctor’s office.  When I came home and got my plate, he helped me eat mine.  He just kept taking another piece and another piece.  The next day at lunch, he ate a LOT of food.  In just a few days, he ate more than he had eaten in a full month prior.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the feeding issue (and therefore his failure to thrive) is solved.  I am thrilled with his progress.

As those who read my blog know, T-lo still has major feeding issues.  We *try* not to stress about it as much as we used to since obviously he isn’t going to perish because of it, just be teeny (and yet, gene-wise, he could naturally be pretty small and so it works out….I think).

Would it be?

This weekend, we went down to “the farm.”  Two brothers own it together.  One of them is married to my sister-in-law (and has been for 30 some years so we say it is Aunt N’s farm).  It is a small property of land.  At one time, I believe they did have animals out on it.  They haven’t since their own children have grown up though.  With as much work as they are doing out there, maybe the will again.

But it was BEAUTIFUL.  And peaceful.  And just what I needed.

I almost didn’t go.  Doc and Professor are still so deep in trauma (especially fear and defiance and food issues) that I didn’t think I wanted to take them anywhere.  And my three have been trying to deal with their own issues triggered by the littles’ issues (probably a good topic for another post). And taking a baby sounded like WORK.  And did I want to deal with certain family members?  And really, I just want to stay home.

And then I needed to take broccoli and cheese casserole.  But while we were shopping, hubby told me to make a dessert too.  All while the house is a mess and I have five children who need me ON THE FLOOR.

I suggested hubby take Tumbler, Swimmer, and T-Lo.  If our young adult children wanted to go, they could.  But in the end, I just couldn’t bear backing out.

There were a few little hiccups, but it was WONDERFUL!  Absolutely, perfectly, amazingly awesome! And I got some of the greatest pictures!  Well, the best pictures were the less “staged” ones, but of course, those have family member kids, foster kids, etc.   I sure wish I could share pics of Professor, Doc, and Little Lamb too!  But here is a good sampling :)

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This last pic is Daddy with his little ducks.  Doc hadn’t yet changed into the outfit I had planned for the day (she had jeans, boots, solid black long sleeve and a pink jean jacket).  But she’s cute both ways!

I had recently read a book (oh, I meant to do a review of that book) with a dairy ranch as the main setting.  Since then, I had done some research about finding such a thing.  This trip definitely bolstered that interest.  The house wasn’t huge (doesn’t need to be really); but can you imagine the freedom my kids would have outdoors?  Plenty of room to climb trees, shoot cans, fish, play with sticks, making crafts with pine needles, whatever.  And no traffic.  And your neighbor is down there if you need him, but not 1/5 an acre over.  And the dogs could run and play.  And I could BREATHE!

Would it be so perfect ALL of the time? Something tells me we’d still have a little stress :)  However, it does seem like it would be a whole lot easier to relax in such a nice, and much slower, setting.

So I looked at land again yesterday.  Still costs money.  But maybe it will be an option at some point.  Maybe if they make the adoption tax credit refundable so families like ours got any of it (I’ll explain about that one day.  I made mention of it HERE.).

Well, my sister-in-law has said we’re welcome to go down as we wish.  And I WISH!  LOL  I’m asking hubby to ask her about a certain several days.  And then she also said she’d like to do a get together family wise every couple months.  Good!  Honestly, I’d go back TODAY if I could!

 

System is Unfair to Parents

Okay, generally, I think that parental rights over the children’s needs is a huge problem in the child welfare system.  However, I recently had an experience that showed me how unfair it is to parents also.

We often hear about how parents are delusional, not taking responsibility, unable to comprehend what they’d done, etc.  However, it may be that the system has fed into that a good deal!  Here is an example of when this happened to two parents.

Meeting with approximately 23 people, parents included. Caseworker, lawyers, D.A., kinship workers, CASA, supervisors, foster parents, etc are also there. Children have been in care a couple months when this meeting took place. It is not believed these parents will ever get things together enough or keep it together in order to be able to parent.  Wording below is not exact.  Specific circumstances will be generalized.

Facilitator:  What is the date the children were taken into care?  Is that the date permanency is based upon?

Caseworker: Date in question.  Yes.

Facilitator:  What were the circumstances that led the children to be removed from the home?

Caseworker outlines domestic violence, extreme neglect and filth, concerns of specific abuses.

Facilitator: any previous cases with this family?

Caseworker: Yes.  There have been X cases including ____.  Caseworker outlines number of times children have been in care, kinship, have had home-based services as well as the reasons for these cases.

Facilitator: Have the parents been offered a caseplan?

Caseworker: yes (it is about this time that I wonder why the caseworker pauses three full seconds before answering each time).

Facilitator: Mom, what services have you completed.

Mom lists numerous things she’s taken care of (imo, impressive considering how short children have been in care).  Most things have not been finished, but basics have been started.  For example, she’s half-way through parenting classes and has gone back to counseling and for medication management.

Facilitator: Is there any services mom is not compliant with?

Caseworker states that she has addressed each item on the caseplan though she states a clarification to one item that seems to me probably doesn’t matter and can’t be held against Mom.

Facilitator asks dad the same question.

Dad is not nearly as concise as mom was, goes off a little in left field, is chastised by mother, does that for each caseplan area.

Facilitator again asks caseworker about compliance and Caseworker confirms he has addressed each thing.

Facilitator asks what the goal is.

Caseworker: Reunification with parents

Facilitator: Concurrent?

Caseworker: Adoption by a non-relative

Facilitator: Kinship?

Caseworker briefly discusses the failed kinship placement as well as that grandmother is involved but unable to take the children. Mention is made of DNA testing, a named father for one of the children, no other known possible family members at this time.

Facilitator: any known reasons why RU (reunification) will not occur?

Caseworker: not at this time

Facilitator asks foster parents about each child, basically wanting to know that all are up-t0-date on medical, dental, and immunizations as well as any special needs are being addressed.

Facilitator: When is the next court date?

Caseworker answers.

And that was that.  Discussion afterward among the parties is about how useless the meeting was.  They also discuss how that meeting makes it sound like there is no reason the children wouldn’t be returned shortly.  No wonder Mom thought it was possible before the end of the year!  She was redirected to think no sooner than Spring, but still!  I mean, if a parent thinks, “a case plan is a list of the things I must do adequately in order to have my children returned to me,” there is no wonder the parents may think they are getting their kids back sooner than possible!

Why would there not be things on their caseplan that detail what else they will be judged upon so they can try to address those things as well as have a more realistic view of why the children are not being returned at any given time (possibly ever).

I have had several cases that this has happened with now, including my children’s.  CPS had NO intention on working with the parents another time after the history.  They didn’t meet the requirements not to receive a caseplan. The caseplan included the basics they had done several times and didn’t include anything else the parents needed to prove. In their case, what really happened was that family quit enabling them and they were incapable of following through with the caseplan on their own in part due to poor choices.  But what if they had done it all (with or without help)?

I absolutely think parents should be given a chance or two.  It is best for children to be raised by their parents when possible.  However, multiple chances, case plans that aren’t realistic, etc seems like it just sets kids up to not have permanency year after year.  My kids had nine homes, eight cases, over five years before TPR (termination of parental rights).  Most kids I’ve had who have had TPR or headed that direction have either had extreme circumstances which suggested strongly that the parents would not be able to do enough or keep it up or multiple cases which backs that idea up.  And yet each has had a basic caseplan and official goal of RU.

Again, I just think it is unfair for the children to be in limbo and with the issues that come with it.  And I think it is unfair to the parents to have it suggested they just need to do XYZ to get their kids back when that obviously isn’t (and can’t be!) the case.   I also think that the options available to the department as well as the parents should be covered with the family occasionally.  But again, I think they need to have a fair case plan in the first place so they can more accurately see what is going on in the case in order to evaluate the options.

Just weird and in my opinion, wrong.

 

Dear Foster Momma of a Stranger’s Child

I feel so incredibly inadequate so much of the time.  And when kids like Monkey get hurt because I couldn’t save them from the system, I really wonder if it is worth what all we’ve tried to do.  I cried through the beginning of this post by another blogger:

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child.

Discipline Reminders

So I used to be a great parent.  Really.  When I had two kids, I was.  One kid was probably THE easiest kid on the planet.  The other was pretty challenging naturally.  But we worked together, focused on relationship and them learning self-discipline and all was grand.  Really.  I didn’t think we had anything that anyone else couldn’t have.  It was a choice.  I put in a good bit of effort when they were little and reaped what I sowed.  I wasn’t living in some fantasy land, I simply had set us up for success.  We lived very peacefully.

And I tested this out!  I did some parent-coaching.  I worked in a childcare center.  I had a home daycare.  I took in kids to tutor and even teach full time for a period, often for behavioral reasons. Really, I felt I found THE answer.

So when we started fostering, I thought all I had to do was continue that trend.  Be firm, consistent, and use good strong positive discipline.  Between that being nurturing and meeting needs, I figured that a couple weeks into placements, we’d be successfully peaceful.

Reality is MUCH different.  My kids *are* great.  And in a short time, they DO know we love them, will meet their needs, and know we’ll be firm and consistent.  They know we won’t beat them.  They know we’ll help them figure out how to do better next time.

But where my big kids probably got punished once a year (really!), my littles have punishment included more often. So when I was looking through some old posts looking for something, I found the below and thought that the reminders were good for ME.  Maybe someone else will find them helpful also.  I know that when I’ve coupled empathy and these ideas, I’ve done the best with my kids.  And they’ve responded well.

Punishment – usually not related to situation, usually in order to deter that choice in the future or “pay back” for the current situation. It is often something that cannot work by itself. Includes: lecturing, time out, spanking, taking privileges, taking items, grounding, making them do chores, etc.

Natural Consequence – Something that happens naturally. You stand on the chair, you may fall. Some natural consequences are not appropriate (the natural consequence for jumping off a building is plunging to your death so we don’t allow children to jump off skyscrapers). But many natural consequences are very effective.  Many of us do dishes immediately after supper because it is easier to scrub wet mess rather than dried on food off plates.

Logical Consequence – related and reasonable.  These are things like having a child move to another toy area if he isn’t playing nicely in the original one. A child may well feel punished sometimes. Sometimes parents can turn a logical consequence into a punishment by overdoing it. For example, logically, you would require your child to get up from watching tv in order to finish the chore he was supposed to do an hour ago. Logically, he now misses the end of the show. Taking TV for the rest of the week because of it is punishment.

Built-in Logical Consequence – Thing you build in to teach a value, life lesson, etc. “You may X after you Y” is often a built-in logical consequence. Work before play would be one.

Someone asked: If a kid breaks a rule, what do you do to encourage him not to break it again? Especially if it’s a rule that he has repeatedly broken and doesn’t seem to respect at all?

We all probably get into this thinking especially if it is a behavior we want to disappear NOW or at least SOON. Generally though, we don’t get to control people to that degree. We can try. But…but then:

  • we are sweet and want our home to be more peaceful and not include bullying
  • it is hard to control people all the time, so
  • we get inconsistent, use threats (like, “if you do that again….”), etc

The idea with training kids is not really to get them not to break rules. That should be, in time, a side effect, IMO. Instead, discipline means to teach and guide. It means to give them values, morals, life skills, tools, opportunities to learn and practice self-control, reasoning and problem solving skills, etc. That means, sometimes, we’re going to have mistakes. But the mistakes are opportunities also. See the difference in thinking? One is to get kids to do or not do certain things. The other is to get kids to the point where they can figure out what to do and not do as well as why and how.

In my experience (direct as well as what I see), it is a lot more work at first to discipline children with the long term in mind. However, that work with young children or new children to the family is worth it when your 8, 10, 14, and 19yos are making good choices with little (often asked for) direction.

Key things I do?

First, focus on relationship. I live on the floor with my littles (and I have a lot of littles!). We read, play, build, tickle, pet, rock, hug, kiss, do educational things, etc ALL DAY LONG.

Mommy Magic, Uh-oh, and Choices are covered in this blog post: http://hfamcourse.wo…/05/discipline/

Give kids skills and tools by modeling, formally, whatever you need to do. One book to help systematically is Raising a Thinking Child by Myrna Shure. Remember you’re modeling. Sometimes I hear my littles talk like me also. I can be proud when they ask someone nicely. Sadly, I, too, have heard things in play that make me sad I’ve taught that.

I have found it *much* harder to use *only* positive discipline with my littles. Before, I used to say if someone is using punishment semi-regularly, they probably need to look into beefing up the good strong discipline. I still agree that is the case. I’m just the one working on it these days. My big kids were punished probably about once a year and even those times probably were not necessary or best. I wish I could get down to once a month at this point <sigh>.

Like I said, I have found it *much* harder to use *only* positive discipline with my littles. Traumatized children *are* much different.  There is a lot more at play than when raising your bio children.  Before, I used to say if someone is using punishment semi-regularly (or more), they probably need to look into beefing up the good strong discipline. I still agree that is the case to a degree. I’m just the one working on it these days.

So, the above is a reminder for me.

Reading

I absolutely love, love, love hearing my son read.  He just keeps getting better and better.  And as he does, his little brothers have more and more interest in learning also (one is decoding and the other recently learned all his letter sounds). He is picking up books reading here and there and everywhere.

SAY!
I like to read books Mom!
I do! I like them, it’s the bomb!

And I would read them in a boat.
And I would read them with a goat…
And I would read them in the rain.
And in the car. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will read them in a box.
And I will read them with a fox.
And I will read them in a house.
And I will read them with a mouse.
And I will read them here and there.
Say!  I will read them ANYWHERE!

I do so like to read them, Mom!
Thank you!
Thank you!
Reading’s the bomb!

(Thanks Dr. Seuss! :) ).

Rooting for the Kids!

“It is so kind and generous for you to share these pictures with the parents.”

I really don’t think I’m any different than most people in a lot of ways.  In the end, it is all about the kids for me.  And I truly believe that supporting the parents, even when it looks unlikely they will be able to have their children returned, even if they’ve already lost parental rights, is the right thing to do.

As readers may remember, I got three children about six weeks ago.  Professor is three.  Doc is two, and Little Lamb is four months.  There is a bunch of weirdness with this case.  Mostly, when everyone is looking long term, based on what has been seen so far (and this isn’t the family’s first case), it looks as if the parents aren’t able to function well enough and what they can do, they can’t continue long term.  Obviously, that isn’t the best situation for the children.  It isn’t that the parents don’t care or are unwilling to do right; they simply seem incapable.  It is expected that the children will need a forever home and people involved are making sure the children are in a pre-adoptive home so they won’t need another move down the line (hopefully).

It is a really weird feeling sometimes when we are helping and supporting the family while hoping these may be our forever children, finishing out our family.  if they can do this, it would be the BEST thing for the children.  Sure, we may be able to give the children more in terms of education and opportunity and a nice home.  And we’d adore them.  But children really do better with biological family IF at all possible.  And yet, if they simply are not capable of parenting, we would love to be best for them!

So by looking at photos with the kids and providing photos/updates for the parents, we are encouraging their bond.  By sharing photos, they see the children happy in a variety of activities.  The current photo album includes various dressed up shots, from a haircut (nails done too!), from at the park, rough-housing with my oldest son, from the sport I put them in, before/after surgery one had, etc.  On top of hopefully giving the parents peace about how their children are doing, it establishes a relationship between the parents and us.  We aren’t adversaries, but part of a team to make sure the right situation happens for the children.  And lastly, should they not be able to parent full-time, we have opened the door for an ongoing relationship as long as it is safe and healthy to do so.  We have shown that we are respectful of their relationship with the children.  They know the children are happy and healthy and safe with us.  They see that we are willing to give updates and photos (at least).

Again, it is just a weird situation.  I have found myself defending parents, pointing out strengths, hoping the best for them.  I have found myself extremely empathetic of what they have been through and are going through.  And yet, sometimes I get so angry at what they’ve done to their children, what their children are going through now (confusion, for example), etc.  And I doubt whether certain issues are things people can overcome.

Tug-o-war.  But regardless of who is “winning” moment to moment, I am rooting for the children.

In the end, my hope is that the children gain permanency.  I want them to get to where they will be FOREVER.  I want them to feel safe, secure, confident.  I want them to be happy and healthy.

 

 

I don’t want to….

“I don’t want to get beat.”

“I don’t want to get killed.”

That is what my little Professor told me when he knew I was angry.  I had tried to hide it.

“Professor, if you are going to poop on yourself, you’re going to have to clean it up.  Stand in the tub til you are clean.”  I handed him wipes and a Wal-Mart bag.  I walked out.  He cleaned up pretty well.  Of course, there was poo in a few places despite my trying to contain it.

“{Adult Daughter’s name….argh.”

That is when he looked up at me, in the hallway, and said it.  It was so matter-of-fact.

ETA:  I thought maybe I should finish this story when I told hubby about it.  It might not surprise you that not long after all this, Professor pooped himself again (how come kids who don’t poop over-much generally can poop so much when they need it to say something?).  I put him him the tub with wipes and a Wal-Mart bag.  He “cleaned up.”  He had poop ALL over him.  I put him back in the bathroom and told him to clean up, giving him more wipes.  He comes back out clean-ish. I walk back to the bathroom to put him through a quick shower and saw it.  Poop smears all over the carpet.  Goodness.  My daughter steam cleaned the carpet.  I started him bathing.

Then we went to the park.

I had planned to write about something else today, but this made me cry.  I walked out the outside trash with his wipe bag and wondered if I can continue doing this.  How much more heartbreak for my kids can I handle?

OB: House Rules

Originally posted on Old Blog on February 10, 2011

Okay, so one of the forms we have to fill out, for each child, is one that outlines the rules as well as positive and negative consequences associated with those rules.  It is my opinion that rules should be general and that everything falls under one of a handful of rules. Actually, they probably all fall under, in some way or another, the first one, but…  And of course, I completely get that littles will need plenty of time and exposure to understand what these big words and concepts mean. We obviously did pretty well teaching the first two so I’m pretty confident with the next set :) So here are the rules and consequences for our home:

Be Respectful

  • of yourself,
  • of your parents,
  • of others, and
  • of property

Take Responsibility

  • for your chores,
  • for your education,
  • for your choices, and
  • for your behavior

Be Safe and Helpful, including

  • follow directions
  • use walking feet inside
  • When in doubt, ask an adult!

Positive Consequences:

  • Appreciation
  • Praise
  • Recognition
  • Encouragement
  • Additional opportunities

Guidance-based Consequences:

  • Problem-solving, Solution-finding
  • Making amends
  • Practice helps us remember
  • Tighter boundaries

Neato :)

So schooling is still not going the way I want it to.  Sometimes, though, I think that is just as much of a blessing as it is a problem!  

In the past week, Professor (age 3) has learned almost every letter sound.  As of yesterday, he had a little trouble with e, i, u, and l.  Those make sense to me really.  First, vowels for Texan children just *are* harder. We simply say them strangely.   And L can be a challenge, especially if you don’t use the “la-la” version.  But in a week to get 20+ is just so cool!   

So I decided to try a few simple words.  I ran up against the same thing with him that I had with T-lo.  Letter sounds all day long; but /c/ /a/ /t/ never turned into cat.  

BUT!!!!

But T-lo got it!  I decided to use more easily blendable sounds like M and F and S rather than C, B, and P.  And now T-lo can do them all.  Once he got the idea, he just took off!  I figure we may still have a few issues. This morning he was writing words like pig and hug (though we started with just /at/ words).  YAY!

So other topics of interest:  

  • counting by fives and telling time (obviously the latter is a little harder than the former)
  • multiplying small numbers
  • multiplying with zeros (3000 * 200)
  • place value (where *does* that comma go?)
  • adding for the boys
  • ocean animals
  • dinosaurs
  • geography (you’ll notice this is always a fave.  BTW, Professor is doing great catching up with the others on that also!)
  • writing letters (though Tumbler likes to write stories, lists, etc)
  • Swimmer is reading well but still working on confidence and speed

Obviously we touch on a number of things in a day.  

So part of me says that is a fairly full course of study over the week.  The other of me says I still wish we sat down more/longer and “did school” a little more formally and systematically.  I don’t think it is absolutely necessary at these ages (2-7), just how I would prefer to homeschool.

Then there is Heidi. She’s a superstar too!  Her heel is beautiful once she gets going.  She is doing her job around the house a bit more.  She loves playing outside with the kids.  SHe’s jumping and mouthing a LOT less.  She’s 8½ months old and all puppy, but a good puppy :)  

Lots of learning in the H household.  Actually, I think I may be learning the most.  Professor and Doc are giving me a run for it.  They have some real issues going on.  They’ll come along, but I think it is going to take them a little longer than average, maybe, to trust they are safe here and they aren’t going anywhere.  I’m going to learn some patience as well as how to reach these individual kiddos.