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!

It is time for it to just be us.  My kids have their needs and I need to just be their mom and all that includes.

So the final H family looks like:

Dad
Mom
Big sister (21)
Big brother (18)
Tumbler (just turned 8 – girl)
Swimmer (6 yo boy)
T-lo (5 yo boy)

Well and we can’t forget Josie (our lhasa – 9yrs old) and Heidi (GSD service dog in training – 11months)

YAY!

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 Munchkin 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 :)

921315_392646890838293_267253048_o 1398394_392646750838307_653323258_o 1398659_392646570838325_798293046_o 1417620_392646650838317_390388488_o 1424331_392647327504916_1056184369_n 1425355_392647477504901_1021289519_o photo (22) photo (23) photo (24)

 

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.

 

How Busy Are We?

I lost  half of this post and now it has been three extra weeks so I’m going to try to write this another way. Hopefully it gives the information I want to give :)

So three weeks ago, we got new kiddos.   Their official blog/board names are Professor (the 3yo boy), Doc (the 2yo girl) and Little Lamb (who turns 4 months next week).  So what is it like at the beginning of a placement?

First, obviously you have the children.  These ones seem so young, but being advanced probably actually makes it harder for them.  Where preverbal trauma of being removed from mom and dad may be worse in some ways, especially long term, it seems that children like these struggle the most because they can understand some aspects, but not enough to make sense of it.  They tend to be more verbal about it, more questioning, more anxious.  Or maybe it just seems that way because they can verbalize it.  But behaviorally, these kids also tend to be a bit tougher.  At least that is my experience so far.  Obviously comforting the children, giving them what they need, helping them the best we can is duty number one.

But unfortunately, in the first days, there is a TON of work to be done.  Let me outline some of that.

First, I have to put together folders for each child for all their documentation.  I start with placement papers and medical consenters.  I got a few other documents with these kids.  Some kids come with a lot. For example, I had a whole folder worth with my (now adopted) children.  Some kids come with court papers.  Others come with nothing extra.

When children come with medication, that has to be dealt with also.  Medication logs are printed out and filled out with pertinent information.  All I have to do is initial and put the time for each date for each medication after the paperwork is set up.

Whether they come with any items or not, inventory needs to be taken.  Most of the time, that means going shopping in order to have the minimum requirements of things like socks and shirts and pajamas. When kids come with a bunch of mis-matched stuff that doesn’t fit, it makes it a little tougher because all that has to be documented but they still need the minimum requirements of what they *can* wear.  So right away, you’re trying to give them a wardrobe and document it.

We also have to have, posted, a schedule and home rules for each child.  Now, of course, we have general rules such as “respect property” and “respect others,” even more detailed such as “use polite words” or whatever.  But for each child, there has to be personalized rules.  Well, except you’ve known the kids 24 hours at this point.  How do I know whether we need to focus on polite words or keeping hands to self?

Then there are appointments:

  • Placement exams are scheduled as soon as possible.  In these children’s case, I needed in to see the doctor regarding the one immediately because I was worried she was eating and breathing well enough!  Turns out there was a lot regarding that but we did beautifully.  Also, one child needed a “sick child” exam right away.  
  • Dental exams are also scheduled as soon as possible.  The baby won’t get hers until 6 months old.  The 2yo will have one every 3 months.  The 3yo is on the regular every six month schedule.
  • The placement worker at the agency needs to come out immediately.
  • Our home’s agency worker needs to come out about day 7.
  • The CASA sets up an appointment to come out.
  • The children have a lawyer so needs to come out
  • ECI does evaluations for all children under 3 years old.
  • A psychologist does an evaluation for all children three years old and older.
  • Visits with parents start as soon as possible (investigators here are supposed to give the parents at least one visit and they often will do a second in order to make it easier for the regular worker after the 14 day hearing).
  • Any appointments that are child specific have to be taken care of.  This is where we got hit bad this time.  The baby already had a team of doctors and appointments set up.  Additionally, because the parents didn’t make their last visit, the surgical team set up a team meeting for us a few days into care so she would still be able to have surgery on time (next week).
  • We waited this time, but we ended up setting up play therapy also.  Oftentimes, I set up play therapy before the children even walk through the door though.

Add that we actually had 8 hours of training set up for the week the kids got here too.

I had to, also, do end of care documentation for the last set of kids since they left the same day these kids came.  For example, that meant I had SIX monthly reports to do (one for each of the three who had left and one for each of the new three).

Additionally, supervision and discipline is a little different at the beginning of a placement as kids have to learn how we do things, we have to learn how they do, etc.  These kids didn’t listen AT ALL at first. They still often need you to be ready to help them comply (or at least pay attention so they can comply).  The older two put a LOT of things in their mouths A LOT.  The 2yo also puts stuff in every other “hole.”  We also have never had two kids bicker as much as these two do.  And then they weren’t potty trained so we had to do that which went really well until visit last week when Professor started having issues with it.

And of course, don’t forget we have a life.  I have two young adult children. I have six children under the age of 7.  We have to play a lot.  We homeschool.  We enjoy the park a lot and gymnastics.  We still have to cook and clean like anyone else (well, actually, I guess it is really more than most families, huh?).

And on top of all this, I got sick the weekend the kids got here.  Now, ideally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it has turned into one.  I am hoping that the doctor figures out what is wrong soon.  I actually do think I feel a little better this morning. I hope!  I did set up for Doc and Professor to go to another foster home for today.  I’m hoping that helps a little both during and after Little Lamb’s appointment. Maybe one more day of rest before I get on with our week will work well for me.

So I have a couple more partially written posts too.  Hopefully I’ll start getting them posted.

iTooch Apps by EduPad – A Mosaic Review

So another review we’ve been working on is for iTooch.  For other reviewer’s opinions, please click here.

iTooch is by Edupad.  They actually have quite a few apps on a variety of subjects and levels.  Here are just two of the five screen shots I could have taken from the app store:

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The program also comes in Windows 8 and Android.  Actually, as I was reading some of the reviews, it sounded like the Android versions were actually a little better in a few ways.  I’ll try to mention those as I do this review.  Again, please see the other reviews if you want to consider which system to use these on.

So if you want to do high school math or French or 5th grade language arts, you can.  THere is also a program called Recess for playing.  I really enjoyed playing that one, actually.  There are two games.  On one, it calls out a color and you tap that color bubble.  If you miss though (the bubbles are moving!), you’ll end up with another bubble, another color, which will mean it takes you more time to clear the screen which is the goal.  The other recess game is a math game.  It gives you an equation and you have to fill in the missing digit and operation.  Here is a screen shot of each game:

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So my daughter is 7 so I had her try out the Elementary program and we downloaded the 3rd grade math and language arts trials.  There were lots of options though: image_8

So my daughter liked the program in general.  It is appealing visually.  The “little dude” is fun. From reviews, it seems he is even more fun on an Android device. My fave “little dude” was when he turns to stone because you’ve sat there so long.  However, the moment you move the iPad, he isn’t stone again so I couldn’t get a screen shot!

The app gives positive feedback along the way.  The biggest issue I had with it for my daughter (who was getting irritated about it) was that the student has to actually choose to go from practice mode to the evaluation mode.  Obviously, not all 7 year olds or 9 year olds know when that time should be.  Additionally, the test questions were exactly the same as the practice questions.  The only difference was that you couldn’t look back at the lesson and that there were a limited number of test questions.  Now, this is one area it seems is not the same on the Android version.  Another reviewer talked about it moving the student from practice to testing.  

Here are some screen shots to give more information:

This one is during the test.  As you can see, there are only going to be six questions total.  It is timed (the yellow bar on the side).  There is positive feedback when you get it correct

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This shot shows a positive response during the practice mode.  On the side, it looks like there is a limited number of questions. However, you can keep doing them forever.  Unfortunately, my 7yo did!
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Here is a a screen when you make a mistake.  It tells you the right answer.  It is nice and low key which is nice for younger students.

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The below is a lesson screen.  The student can come to this screen any time during the practice session to go over the lesson.  image_3

The following two screens are just of me playing with the work space.  Again, not intuitive for a young student and actually unnecessary on the part she was working on (language arts).  However, if you needed to do double digit multiplication or were learning how to do basic multiplication, needing graphics, this page is a nice way to work.  Have I mentioned that I love that the blackboard looks used instead of perfectly black?
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Lastly, there is the evaluation screen.  I like that it is color-coded.  If the circle is not yet colored in, it means the student hasn’t taken the test on it yet.  If it is orange (or is it red?), it means the student scored a B- or lower.  Green is B+ or better.  A yellow star is for 100%.

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So this gives you an idea of what the app is like.  I think with a little direction, most 6-9 yos could do it without getting too frustrated.  And an older child probably would have been just fine with the less intuitive parts anyway.  I do like that the Android version seems to have automatic evaluations though as well as even more cute graphic activity.  

I give these apps a thumbs up.  If you’re looking for a cute, fun, educational app, you might look at the iTooch apps by Edupad :)

 

 

 

Math Mammoth – Mosaic Review

So I’m a math person.  I love math.  I enjoy math.  I find math exciting.  I find math relaxing even.  I like math.  My first two kiddos were math people also.  One could see the math of a rain storm. My daughter learned multiplication when we ran out of toilet paper so used paper towels.  She was 3 at the time.  She was multiplying fractions with an 8th grader I was tutoring.  She completed all of another curriculum’s 3rd through 6th grades in 4 months at almost seven.  She used my mother’s college algebra book at 7 and graduated high school a year late (at 16) with Calculus II and Statistics under her belt though I believe in using multiple math programs, not just one.   The other actually struggled with algorithms initially because he could just see math.  At four, he was doing pre-algebra programs. We’re just math people.

But I adopted three who aren’t mathy people.  There is no pulling out word problems for fun or teaching a little brother how to do FOIL.  In fact, it seems that K-3 math is really going to make us sweat.

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Enter Math Mammoth.  Now, full disclosure, we already own and use (in our own way), the full Math Mammoth Light Blue program for grades 1-6.  So for this review, I decided to get the Blue Series, Math Mammoth’s math topics curriculum.

For my review, I received the following:

  • Introduction to Fractions
  • Early Geometry
  • Measuring 1
  • Place Value 2

Let me start by saying how incredibly affordable these books are.  The most expensive book I saw on their site is only $7.50.  The Place Value 2 is only $2.25!  (***Note:  The prices are raising by 5% this month).  So if there is an area you need to supplement or focus on for whatever reason, the price is definitely right!

Second, I like that there are so many different activities.  There are hands on activities, ones where they have to continue along a line of thought, ones where they need to think about real life objects to figure out a concept.

One important part for less mathy kids is PLENTY of practice.  Of course, sometimes that is good for mathy kids also.  For example, when *I* was a child, I would have loved doing one problem after another.  But my daughter would have hated doing so much.  So she could have skipped some.  But my “new kids” (adopted in July 2012) need more practice so do most problems in each set.

I also like the scaffolding.  The fractions book is a good example. There are dots to guide the child.  There are directions to tell them exactly how to do it a certain way.  Questions lead them from what they’ve already told them to another part they were previously told.  For example, a question may say, “Divide this into fourths. Color 1/4.” Then it will ask how many little squares in 1/4 as well as how many little squares in the whole rectangle. They start small (1/4 or 1/2) then go to bigger numerators (3/4, 7/12, etc).  Then they move to the number line and later word problems.  Slow and steady, the student moves from super easy to much more challenging.

Another thing I really like is that my children had fun with the materials from day one.  One of the first things we did was the beginning of Measuring 1.  They went through the house measuring things with various objects.  In the below picture, they used their big brother’s shoes and their little foster brother’s shoes (seen by my daughter’s feet).  That really made units real to them!

MMMeasDay1

But let me say that my favorite part was how my children were able to run with the information.  I’ve been fussing with my daughter for over a year about Place Value.  She simply could not grasp it for whatever reason.  Though we haven’t finished the materials, she has been able to extrapolate further (at least able to know what questions to ask which is huge!) and to USE the information she has.  It isn’t just memorized information, but she truly has the concepts.

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