Friday, May 31, 2013

Oh no...I can't zip my dress

Ok, so it's not my dress, it's my swimsuit but the same principles apply...I just can't think of what the thing is that attaches my top of my suit together....and it's not a zipper, but you get the picture.

I was at a party last week when a dear friend of mine told the story of when she came home from a wedding that she was in. Her husband, nor any of her kids had attended and in fact, they were gone for the night.

Of course she had gotten dressed when help was at hand but now....well, she was up the proverbial stream.... and try as she might, she was unable to unzip her dress. She resorted to clothes hangers and outside corners of the wall...l lot of different approaches before she finally succeeded.

I laughed, knowing that, first it was a really funny story, but more so, I could relate. You see, I'm very claustrophobic. I have been know to rip a gold necklace from my neck just because I felt the walls closing in on me. Crazy, I know, but...well....I know....

So this leads me to this post. I am taking a weekend sabbatical from fostering my sweet babies. (yes, an R&R).
I decide to go to a beach resort and find time to write, catch up on paperwork and just have quiet. ahhhhhh.....

BUT, I pack a swimsuit that has a clasp ( oh yeah! that's what it's called) about midway between my neck and waist. Now who ever thought...or DIDN'T think about that one.

As I contort my body trying to bring my arthritic and lupus weakened hands and arms to reach the impossible sweet-spot of my back, I look around for a middle aged, single women who might be of some assistance. Seriously....what was I to do? Right now its just hanging. Yes, I look like a old lady who doesn't know how to dress herself....but I'm on the beach....with tiny waves lapping at my tootsies, it's quiet and I am at peace.....

The Big Ahhhhhhhh.....

First of all, if this is the first post of mine that you have read....
a little background.....

We currently have 6, yes SIX, foster children ranging in ages infant to 15 years old. Because of accepting sibling groups, we actually have 4 babies three and under. .... yes, we are a bit nutso...

Anyway, my husband is taking our 15 year old male FK to a men's conference this weekend and when I realized that I would be home alone with the other 5, I contemplated getting respite care and taking the time at home to "get some stuff done, without help"..

Now, this doesn't just "happen". Even with the best FDS (Family Development Specialist), this is time consuming. Can you imagine someone WILLINGLY offering to watch these babies for a weekend...with little preparation or notice??

Since it DID happen I decided to make a real "respite" of it and get away to a local resort if I could.

It happened and today was the day! Everything was packed last night down to three little suitcases to go to three different foster mommas (angels).    I planned on packing extremely light for myself, taking only a change of clothes, a swimsuit (wrong one---different blog post), camera and ipad.

Taking a last minute check I walked into the girls room and this is what I saw...

This room had been cleaned spotless only 5 minutes ago!

Oh well....
I dropped TenderHeart  off at the middle school and headed for my first kiddo drop-off.
I didn't mention it, but ALL three of my respite angels lived within 20 minutes of each other and within 30 minutes of my resort destination.  I love the way that sounds...My resort destination...ahh.... within an hour or so I would be walking up and down the beach and unwinding my wound-tight body.  

My plans for this weekend are to unwind and soak up the sun, to embrace the quiet and to catch up on writing.

After dropping off all of the "littles", I drive a bit and then decide to check my iPad for exact directions.   My iPad.....where in the world was my iPad.  I had my camera bag jam-packed with camera, swimsuit and a change of clothes. I had my "Yellow Jackets"* and foster notes.....where was that dang iPad....?????

Hung up by the door so I wouldn't forget it........
39 miles away.....
A quick call to my honey the best husband in the see if it was indeed right by the door, and my fears were confirmed  All of my plans were now ruined.....or so I thought. 

Mr. Save The Day, asked me to meet him half way and that way  we could have lunch and a proper goodbye.  Afterall it is ALWAYS a quick goodbye when corraling 6 kids.  Plus he would bring my iPad.  Have I told you that he is the BEST!!

After a good lunch I headed back down I-75 to a thickening cloud cover.  But, I arrived!
It's pouring down rain now but I got an hour or so of sun.  Enough to gradually expose my ghost white body to some summer color.  I am getting some writing done.  I have filed some papers into yellow jackets and I'm sitting on my  lovely balcony overlooking the beautiful water, enjoying a nice cup of coffee.    Yep, that's what I'm talking about.......

Friday, May 3, 2013

We should get frequent flyer miles or at least a parking pass

While at the hospital with Brave One (another post) I came home to change clothes to find Little Dude struggling to breath a little bit. Since it was early enough to run him to the clinic for a walk-in appointment and my good friend Crabby Patty was staying with Brave One, off to the clinic we went.

I really wasn't too worried but since it seemed as though nothing had really been wrong with Brave One, and I was totally wrong, I decided my momma instincts must be a bit off from the 30 year hiatus that I had taken.

Good thing I took him in!  When the woman at the front desk saw him she asked to hold him.  They know me well.  With kids coming and going, I'm in the office a lot!  As soon as she picked him up she asked if she could take him right back.....something seemed wrong.  Was I THAT FAR OFF??? What would have happened if I hadn't taken him in, I wondered???? Of course I was thinking of all the "bad stuff" that could happen.  My fears were confirmed when the doctor herself called me back to the examining room.  They hadn't actually "opened" yet so I knew something was wrong.

Doctor told me that he was really struggling for breath and they couldn't get a good "read" on his oxygen.  His tiny little fingers and toes just didn't pick up anything and they had to know whether to let me take him to the ER or have an ambulance take him.  By this time I'm really worried!  They gave him an albuteral treatment and by that time the little glowing red bandaid on the tootsie worked.  They got a read....and although not great, I was allowed to leave with him and drive him to the ER....

The same hospital that Brave One, his sister was at.  There seemed such a distance between ER and the fourth floor. Who was "supposed" to be with?

The kids mom came to visit Brave One within the hour so at least someone was with her. At this point unsupervised visits were not allowed so the CM stayed with mom and grandma in the tiny little room with sad little cage bed. I worried about how long they would be able to stay. I just couldn't see leaving Brave One by herself.  She's still not so brave....

Eventually, the doctor came in and the albuteral treatment must have really done it's job because the ER doctor could see nothing of concern and they discharged us.  It was sure scary though.  And I still wonder why his primary was SO concerned and ER kind of blew it off.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

LUPUS is a four letter word... Or at least it should be.

I spoke to my beloved cousin today and what she said to me set my teeth on edge. Don't get me wrong, I love my cousin. She's one of my strongest supporters and my prayer partner.

But...what she said really upset me. "you know, I hate when people our age say that they have to take naps or sleep in".  It may not have been those exact words but something like that, and I got mad.  Not at her....I LOVE her, just at what she said... because I have heard the same sentiment before geared towards me...

There are certain things that no person with a chronic illness wants to hear.  These are some of the ones that I have a beef with...

"you look fine to me"        "eat better"      "exercise more, you will feel better"    "I don't understand why you are so tired all the time"      "at least it's not cancer"      "it won't kill you"

We may look "normal" but are bodies are NOT... If you don't understand, that's fine, I don't expect you's hard for me to understand sometimes...but please don't assume you do understand unless you are a fellow chronic suffer.  It's hard enough not to be able to "do".  My heart wants so bad to do so many things.  My energy just can't keep up.  Not for lack of desire, just lack of stamina.  It's a lupus thing.  It sucks, but it is.    Thanks for caring and just understand that sometimes we have to pull back....change plans....take sad and grieve for what can't be....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Waiting for Little Man's Social Security Number

You know, one year ago I asked for the social security number of our Baby Boy.  Keep in mine at the same time I was asking WHEN he would be officially "named" and his birth certificate would be mailed in.  The social security card/number seemed like a secondary problem. I was just so upset that this little guy was still officially named "Baby Boy (mom's last name)".
Anyway, I was asking for both.....and getting no where....

Fast forward to now, One Year Later....
Baby boy is named, but still no Social Security card or number......
We have gone through THREE Care Managers, all of whom said they were working on getting the card.  Seriously, is it THAT hard????? I have had to jump hoops getting the required information for the state to issue one.  I find it hard to believe that the state needs shot records to obtain this card that should have been issued at birth. Anyway, I do what they ask of me, even though I'm still not sure that this should have been done by the social worker. month after finally getting all the required paperwork turned in, our CM says that she still doesn't have it.  Don't get me wrong, in the past I have blamed the CMs for not doing their part but I think our new one really is trying.  I just don't know why it has not materialized.

We have our taxes all filled out to file awaiting that one elusive number.....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

This weekend we had the great opportunity to attend The Connected Child Seminar.
We learned so much from Dr. Karon Purvis and will try very hard to put into practice what we learned. The seminar was geared to raising kids "from hard places", ie. foster, adopted etc. I am sure that a lot of the information that we learned would be very helpful for kids from "normal places".  Don't we all have some issues to deal with?  Anyway, I would highly recommend Dr. Purvis's book The Connected Child.

We actually picked up several books at the seminar that so far seem to have very
helpful information in them.  Currently I am reading "The Out of Sync Child" by Carol Stock Kranowitz and it seemed geared specifically to our 2 year old! Sure glad we picked it up.

On the second day of the conference just as we were settling into our seats right after lunch I get a call from our FDS, Amber.  She asked if we would be willing to take a newborn boy......tonight....

A quick conversation with the hubby and we said yes.  We were told that he would be brought to us straight from the hospital around 7:00.  Since we were close to 2 hours from our home and the conference wasn't over till 5:00, we knew it would be close but we agreed.  We were told that the CPI would be waiting at the hospital for our call when we were about 30 minutes from home.

We made it home at about 6:45 and the wait began......

You see, I have learned that there is "real time" and "DCF time".  Apparently, there was a "incident" at the hospital involving "mom" and her not wanting the child to be removed.  When I hear this I was so glad that the CPI brought him and I didn't pick him up myself.  (I had done this with our first foster baby).  Baby C arrived at approximately 9:30 that night....and boy was he worth the wait!  Such a cutie...Dark brown full hair and big blue eyes.  Such a handsome little guy!

The next morning I turned 58.....and what 58 year old doesn't want a newborn for her birthday. haha!
We are blessed........

Monday, February 11, 2013

Another Staffing

I heard from our FDS last night. She had gotten the email I sent her regarding the information that I posted yesterday...the notes from phone conversation with "mom".  Apparently she took the information to say that mom was suicidal.  I guess when I look back at my notes, it could be taken that way.  She contacted the facility and spoke to the nurse in charge and asked her to check in on mom.  She told me that the nurse really didn't seem interested in the information.  Sometimes I wonder if places like that put so much emphasis on being successful at "rehabbing" the client that they don't want to hear anything negative.  I may be totally off here, this is just my opinion and thoughts.  She also contacted the Care Manager.

Anyway, today I get an email from the Care Manager who said that she was meeting with her supervisor and that it would be "staffed" right away.  I'm still not totally sure what that means in each situation.  I know that there is what's called a permanency staffing and that just goes over the current permanency recommendation,  like TPR or reunification and if it should stay the same. The staffing that they had today......well, I just don't know...yet.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's a crazy world in which we live...

I just got off the phone with the kid's mom and I wanted to put down into words what was said before they fade away in my mind. So much shared today.....

She told me that mom and her brother are picking her up from graduation on the 20th. She still can't understand why I cant bring the kids.  She said she allowed them to go on TWO vacations with us and yet, I can't bring them to see her 2 hours away??? She has, in a way, a point I guess.  Anyway she went on to say the the apartment through VOA had not come through yet and even if it had she would have no furniture, no TV, no phone and that she couldn't live like that..."She would be alone"...

She said that her brother had offered to come let her live with her mom, him and his girlfriend in (I think) Jacksonville. Or somewhere up there on that side of the coast. Anyway, several hours away.  She thought it was a good idea because she could then join his gym and "get her mind and body into shape".  He is a MMA someone and he would help her, according to our conversation. She was concerned however that she might not see her kids very often unless her mom would bring her down to see them.  She then bemoaned the fact that she wouldn't have a car and that she still didn't have her license. (Her license has been revoke due to lack of making child support payments to her x-hubby-at least that is what she told me).

She spoke to the kids and started crying, saying that she couldn't live without them. I had Maddi sing some songs to her and she cried more.  I told her that the kids were doing well, Ty was starting to say some words and she abruptly changed the subject to Ty never having been circumcised.  Weird segue.... 

I told her that we had talked about seeing what it would take to get it done. (We actually would like it done if we end up keeping the kids).  I told her that the cost would be prohibitive and that since the kids are in state care it probably wouldn't happen anyway.  She kept on talking about how important it would be. She asked if I had any way to contact (dad's) mom. She said, and I QUOTE, " They bought our drugs all the time, I'm sure she would pay to get him circumcised."  Okaaay......

Continuing in the conversation she went to the fact that all the girls hate her there.  She got in trouble for being "friendly" (not sure how that played out) with the boys and the girls got jealous. Now she said she stays to herself.

She started again saying how she just couldn't "do this". How she had to get her kids back.  She asked if I thought she was doing the right thing, going to stay with her brother. I told her that I didn't know, but it sounded like she would be taking care of herself and that sounded like a smart thing to do. She said that she wasn't sure what she would do if they took her kids away.  I told her that even if that would happen that she would still be part of their lives.  That I would make sure that they knew who their mommy was and that she could still see and talk to them.  She said, and again I QUOTE, "I couldn't do it, I would make sure I OD'd. I just wouldn't live through that again".

I still am concerned of her stability. I pray for her and try to encourage her but I just don't know....

 I needed to get this down in word format so my brain didn't have to hold it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is it real or is it Memorex

Remember the old commercial about Memorex recording tapes? It asks, "Is it real, or is it memorex", implying that it's hard to tell the difference.

I wonder sometimes if "mom's" rehab is real or is it "memorex".  I want to believe it's real, but I struggle with that. The kids have now been in our care for 13 months and each time, I hear how good she is doing (from HER mouth) and then I find out that she has been released from that current program for non-complience.  I have to admit, the first 6 month, or maybe even 9 months, I really believed her. And each time I was let down.  You see going into this I made a promise to myself that I would be supportive, be a mentor to this young lady so I would encourage her to work to get her kids back....and each time I was let down.....

I believe she really wants to do good and change, but drugs have such a hold on a person...
Currently she is in residential treatment center about 2 hours from here. She is scheduled to be released in a few weeks and when I spoke to her the other day I asked where she was going from there.  She didn't know... I asked how are you getting back to Tampa?  She didn't know....
Part of rehabilitation is learning life skills and "figuring stuff out". My inclination is to find a solution to her problem but I have to step back and let her figure it out. If she does someday get the kids back she needs to learn these skill.  Her rehabilitation has to be real, not Memorex....
and I hope her kids are not let down.....

“I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.” ~ John Wycliffe

Friday, February 1, 2013

FAQ and other stuff......or what the heck????

Foster(ing)  An obvious word to use in the Title of my Blog
Websters definition: 1.  affording, receiving, or sharing nurture or parental care though not related
by blood or legal ties
2.  to promote the growth or development of
3. to care for or cherish Absolutely!

Shenanigans Basically just a word I like the sound of AND it works perfectly to describe our little ones
Websters definition: 1. high-spirited or mischievous activity (usually plural) Yep! that's a good definition
2. silly Oh yes!!!

The naming of one's blog, it seems, is a very weighty issue.  Although I have kept record through a diary of the old fashioned way (ie. journal and pen), I hadn't taken the leap into the blogging world for one very basic problem....

What to name the blog?

The moniker used must portray the intent and content of the the words, compelling a reader to look further and explore.  (....or do I really care about that?)  After all, the blog in journal form was never meant to be shared.  

As it turns out, I do want to least for anyone interested.  The last year has been an interesting one.  There have been ups and downs for sure.  I have learned a lot about parenting (even after 38 years of being one), I have learned about the legal system, at least in regards to parental rights, and court proceedings.  I have learned all I ever thought I didn't want to know about drugs and the havoc they wreck of people and their families.  I have learned (and am still learning) the fostering system and all the language that goes along with it.  I have learned by trial and error and sometimes by BIG MISTAKES.  I have taken my journal entries and copied them to this format.

If you want to follow our story, come along, I'd love the company.  

For privacy issues I can not use the true names of the children in our care. At first I referred to the "babies" as Baby M and Baby T.  I did this as I couldn't think of any other options.  (goofy me)

Anyway from here forward I will use the pseudonyms of  Missy and Tony.  They are the current children in our care.  "Missy" is 2 years old and "Tony" is her 1 year old brother. They have been in our care for a little over a year now.  Currently their father is incarcerated and their mother is in a residential drug rehab program.

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.        Mathew 10:13-16


A little background:

Who am I?  Listen Here

I have typed and retyped this paragraph more times than I want to admit.  Who am I....really?

I'm a Child of God first and foremost.  I love Him with all of my heart.  I mess up and I fall down, but I get back up again.  I know that is where my strength comes from and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I am a mom of three of the most lovely adult daughters that you would want to meet. I don't take much credit for that....they take after their dad.

I am grandma/mamaw/gma to NINE grandkids....7 girls and 2 boys.

I am a photographer who loves to tell a story through pictures. I "SEE" things differently and I like to capture that "vision" on film.

I am a Pastors wife and all that comes with that.  This was a late in life calling and so I periodically struggle with the calling.  I get much more irritated than I think a PW should get...sometimes downright ugly in my anger.....(I'm working on that).  I sometimes forget to have that quiet time that we know we should have.  Hecky durn...I sometimes cuss.  Not the real bad stuff but bad enough.  Like I said, I fall down and I get back up.  God's cool like that, he forgives me before I even ask.

I am a "Lupie".  That means I have Lupus.  Actually I have Lupus and Fibro-myalgia.  It stinks, I know..... but facts are facts and I deal with it. Because of this I get tired easier than most people. I get sick more often and things hit me harder.  I have to watch my diet more than most and can't/shouldn't drink my beloved Diet Coke.  There are adjustments but I'm alive...and I have a job to do.

And finally, I am a FOSTER MOM....and this is what this blog is (mostly) about.  Our journey through the foster system. My husband and I, at the ripe old age of   *ummm* 50-something, decided to START OVER. With adult children in their thirties and grandkids aging from 4-19, we decided we wanted a do-over.

Journey with me over the next HOW MANY YEARS God gives us in this ministry. I'm sure it will be filled with all kinds of roller-coaster moments. Come along for the ride!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A change is coming.....or is it?

I just got off the phone with the kids mom.  She was all excited speaking in glowing terms about the facility where she is staying. She was telling me that she was learning all kinds of things about herself and her issues.  She said that she is really changing for the better and that she knows that this time this is it.  She told me about her counselor, how smart he is, how he is a hypnotist, a hand writing analyzer, smart, etc etc....her savior it seems.  Sounded good until she said, " I want to be the best mom I can be...I hope (kids dad) can be the best he can be too".

That was the kicker! She had just told me that she was through with him; "kicked him to the curb", that he was an abuser and that she would never have anything to do with him ever again.  I have heard this story before. From her....from eaves-dropping at the drug court that I seem to frequent all too often.  It's always the same story, just a different face.  Mom seems to start "getting it" but the co-dependency of the significant other has a strong hold.  How long before (dad) is back in the picture.  I really think that possibly Mom might have a shot at getting her kids back but NOT if (dad) comes back in the picture.

Time will tell if this is a "real deal", if change is truly coming.  I pray that it's true but in my heart of hearts I don't expect it.  I've come to love these kids too much to feel comfortable sending them back to a dead-end life.  The stories Ive heard that would curdle your did mine...this is not the life that I want for these precious children of God.
I rest in the peace of knowing that God loves them even more than we do.  I have no other option.  It's hard.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
                                        Isaiah 26:3