Friday, May 1, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye....

This will be my final blog on this journey in our foster adopt process. I realize it’s been awhile between postings, but once you read through this, you will understand why…

Some highlights over the last few weeks:

1. We were reported to CPS
2. Oldest child was caught lying, cheating, and making other bad decisions in the course of a 3 day period.
3. Daycare tells Mark that Angel has told another child “Daddy is going to kill Mommy, but it’s a secret….”
4. Flu bug and Pink Eye hits the home…
5. The Tooth Fairy Reluctantly Cometh…

As I had posted before, we had been notified by the county that the children would re-unify with their father. At that point, Dad was pretty much taking them every weekend.

Once we realized reunification was in the cards, we started working with the kids and their therapists and social workers on transition. I would check in weekly or more with the therapists to discuss behavioral issues or things that we suspect the kids might be going through.

Unfortunately, the reunification process was tough...not bad tough, just tough on the kids in general. Bobby was his normal oblivious self and aside from his normal coming home from dad attitude issues that we have to break, was pretty resilient.

Jenna on the other had, became quite a handful. Screaming, kicking, and crying when it was time to come back to our house after a weekend with daddy. This cumulated in a major cry fest on Easter Sunday evening. I’d gone over to pick up the kids, and bring them back to our house. Once we get out of sight of daddy’s house, she’s fine, but it was a whopper!

Monday morning we wake up, and Jenna’s eyes are swollen, I’m thinking from all the crying, and the kids are always tired when they come back.

Monday night, Mark notices some reddish marks around her eyes…even in the sockets. By Tuesday morning, both eyes are blazing. Something is going on, but we’re not sure what. I push around the seemingly bruised area, and she says it doesn’t hurt. We asked her if anything happened this weekend, she said she fell at Daddy’s (which we already knew about). She’s acting totally normal.

So, I take her to school, come to work, and call the public health nurse. I explain that it doesn’t really look like bruising, but something is going on and she needs to be seen. The only appointment in the county is at 10 am (it’s now 9am), and happens to coincide with an appt she has at her school with an orthopedist. So I take the 10am, and call the school and let them know that I will be cancelling her 10am appt, and that I’m taking her to the dr for her eyes.

I arrive at the school about 9:20, and need to GO in order to get her to her appt at 10am. They ask me to wait while they get Jenna. So…I wait, and wait, and wait… After about 10 minutes, I tell the secretary that I need to go or we are going to miss this appt, and then I’ve got to take her to hospital as there were no other clinic appts available today.

The secretary leaves, and about 2 minutes later, the principle comes in and shuts the door. She said they have made a CPS report, and that they have been told to detain me. I said…ok…so you’re telling me that I cannot take this child to the dr for which you are reporting me to CPS. So I’m going to miss that appt? She said yes…they are sending an investigator over.

At the same time, I’ve told work that I will be gone a max of 2 hrs…laughable at this point….

So…an hour later, I’m still waiting for the paddy wagon to come and haul me off to jail. So I call the social worker we normally work with. She picked right up recognizing my cell number. She asked how I was doing and if I was ‘scared’. Scared of losing my job I replied. We’ve done nothing wrong, nor do I believe this is an abuse issue, and I’ve missed about 4 days of work in the last 2 weeks, and it sounds like this is going to be another one. My company has been more than flexible, but I need to know when this person is going to be here so I can provide information to my employer.

With that said, she made a call, and 5 minutes later the investigator assigned to the case called me back. She said that she was over at the elementary school interviewing the oldest child to see if she knew of any incident over the weekend, blah, blah, blah. Then she was going to head over to the day care and talk to the 2 year old, and then come to us. Who does that???? I told her that I’d just like to take her to the hospital at this point, and she can just interview us there, as we’ve been waiting all freaking day (by this time, Jenna has missed lunch and her nap).

The CPS worker agreed, and we headed off to the hospital.

Any walk through the doors of the ER is a minimum of 4 hours, and this visit was no exception. I think we checked in at 11am and checked out at about 8:30pm.

The CPS worker met us there, and actually laughed when she walked into the room. She said it had been described to her that she would be seeing a child that had gone 10 rounds with Rocky Balboa. This was clearly not the case.

Finally, we saw the dr, and did some scans, only to be told that it actually looked more like broken capillaries from her crying so hard, or maybe she smacked the bridge of her nose in the right place. Either way, the dr could find nothing wrong, and we were finally cut loose…There’s 9 hours of my life I’ll never see again….

We were cut lose, only to have to run to Target at 9pm because the oldest child told Mark that it’s Pride day the next day, and she has to wear an orange shirt. Okay…it’s the middle of spring….where am I going to find ORANGE. Thankfully, our Target had an option, and I was able to grab a burger for Jenna at BK, and we headed home to do battle another day.

As a side note. The discoloration around her eyes cleared up immediately, and did not turn colors like normal bruises do. I’m convinced it was broken capillaries.

Later that week, I had to pick up Angel for a dr appt. As I went by to get her, imagine my surprise to see her sitting on a bench on detention at recess. What did she do? She lied…didn’t get a lot of detail out of her, but suffice it to say, the punishment fit the crime…..or so we thought. About a week later, we find out the full extent of her ‘crime’. She’d signed her dad’s signature to a packet at school. Our forgery lessons hadn’t paid off, as the teacher busted her right away. It took a few minutes under the hot lights before she confessed.

I of course was stunned that she’d even think to do that at 7, but I’m so out of touch with kids today, nothing seems to phase me anymore. I of course tell her father, who was going to have them that weekend.

Imagine my surprise when I pick her up on Sunday evening and she asks me why I told daddy. I said because he’s your parent, you’re going to be living with him, and you forged his name. “No I didn’t” she says. Then who’s did you sign, I ask? I signed Mark’s name she replied! I said, What, you think that makes it better???? It’s just as bad…. What a train wreck!

That following week, Mark picks up Angel at daycare on an evening where we happen to have a therapist at the house. When he gets there, the daycare worker took him aside, and said that Angel had made some disturbing comments to another child. The comments that were made:

“Mommy said that Daddy is going to kill Mommy, but it’s a secret, and I’m not supposed to tell”….

Alrighty then…By the time Angel got home from school she was close to hysterical. Even the family therapist was having problems calming her down, so I took her into her room, and sat her on the bed, and got her calmed down. The cat was out of the bag, so she was sure the world was coming to an end….

Knowing what 7 year olds say, and what they mean and hear can be different, I wanted to make sure we got the story straight as this would put the nail in the coffin for the dad if he actually did say that.

I sat her down, and we talked about good secrets and bad secrets. I told her she really needed to tell this secret so that everyone would be safe, blah, blah, blah… To make a long story short, HER daddy didn’t threaten to kill mommy…the Baby Daddy of the baby that mommy is pregnant with threatened to kill her. And I guess mom felt that was okay to share with her 7 year old….

In any event, we’d been informed that Baby Daddy was abusive and mom wasn’t supposed to be around him. I immediately called the social worker and reported it. She calls Mom who denies it all. I also called the therapist of the child and let her know about the comment so that perhaps she could probe further or help her work it through any issues. At that point the issue is dropped on our end.

The following week, I’m having a follow-up conversation with the therapist as we are getting closer to reunification. Somehow we got on the topic of the threat, and the therapist tells me she got a slightly different story. Without divulging privilege she mentioned that it had to do with Angel seeing her mommy kiss the guy. I told the therapist, ‘So…you’re saying that Angel actually saw her mommy and this guy kiss?’ The therapist says yes…. I then told the therapist that I believe she needed to report that to the SW as I believe that was a condition of her visitation. That she not to be around the guy, nor could the guy be around the kids. The therapist did the heavy sigh thing and said oh dear… I told her that it’s her call, but I’m 90% sure it’s a violation. 2 days later, we hear that mom left re-hab and has been thrown out of the homeless shelter…

Because Angel was having such a traumatic week, she got to spend a little extra time with dad so he could probe some of her issues. When we went to drop off her siblings she had the beginnings of a raging case of pink eye. We had some drops, but they weren’t working with that strain. We picked the kids up on Sunday, and all had slight temperatures. By Monday, the flu hit full force; we had to pick both Bobby and Angel up at school. This happened to be the last week we were having the kids, and I knew they weren’t going to be able to go to school the next day. I had also already scheduled a half day off on Wed to take Angel in for her eye, and half day off on Friday as the kids had MAJOR dental appts.

Luckily, our wonderful neighbors had a referral to a college student who was able to come to the house on Tuesday and watch the kids. On Tuesday night the dad calls to check up on the kids. I give him an update, and he casually mentions that maybe on Friday he’ll try and pick them up early at daycare so he can spend more time with them. Not thinking I heard him right, I said what? He said it again….I said you do realize that you committed a MONTH AGO to go to the dentist with me and the kids as they are all having MAJOR dental work done…teeth pulled, cavities filled, etc. I told him if he can’t come, then I need to cancel the appts, cuz I can’t do all 3 at once with just me. He did some major backpedaling and said he’d figure something out.
Thankfully, he called me about 10 minutes later, and said that he’d gotten the day off, and that he’d meet me there. He was there promptly on time, and even brought the kids grandma with him. It worked out well, as he went in with each child while the grandma and I waited with the other 2. After all were drilled and pulled, we drove the kids back to dads and got them unloaded.

It was somewhat emotional but the kids were oblivious to what was going on…and what they were going to be living in. The place is just a horrible apt complex. The dad isn’t happy with it either, but it’s what he can afford.

The plan was for dad to keep them for the weekend, take them to school on Monday and then head to court for the final hearing. I had made up a book for him that included their schedules for when they wake up, go to sleep, take a bath, etc… Basically everything that we figured out worked for us. Our hope was that would make it an easier transition.

Mark was able to attend the custody hearing and to his surprise, got called in front of the judge. The judge asked him some questions, and then told him that he’d never seen such glowing reports of foster parents, and he thanked us over and over. In addition, the attorney for the children stood up and asked that we continue to have any visitation that we’d like. The dad’s attorney also re-iterated that point. We would like to continue to see the children, however they have to work now on building their own family dynamic, so time is needed on both sides I think…

As I mentioned before, I provided Dad with a book that included schedules for the kids. Sometimes, people need to learn on their own….On Tuesday, I begin to get text mssgs from the dad. Apparently, the county hadn’t worked out all the daycare issues, he was told by one of the providers if they didn’t have the contract by 6pm Tuesday night, he couldn’t bring the kids on Wednesday. This ticked me off somewhat as I’d actually outlined this exact scenario in the booklet I made up for him…because it happened to me. The county will be all nice, and everything is okay, etc…but it’s the PROVIDER he needs to check with to make sure all is well. And of course, he didn’t. In any event, his SW was on vacation, so I inundated him with phone numbers and contact people. Finally at 4:30pm he sent me a text with a big thank you and said that it was taken care of…

On Wednesday, Mark was a bit late for work, so drove by the school at about 8:15. Imagine his surprise when he sees Angel pulling up with Grandma. Her school starts at 7:45, so she was at least ½ hr late. Obviously, they weren’t following the schedule. That seemed to not last long, as the next day, I left for work at about 6:40, and I saw grandma unloading her for daycare. Looked like they were back on schedule!

Dad was still texting asking questions and such which was fine. He was getting frustrated as he makes $100 too much per month for food stamps. I pointed him to the food bank, and they will be able to assist him to a certain extent. So sad…

In any event, on Sunday, we packed up the rest of their cloths and got ready to go. Then we decided to do a pantry/freezer purge of our own, and packed up any extra stuff it looked like we had. We also did a stop at Costco and got some pantry staples, eggs, etc. Hopefully, this will help them out for awhile.

We then got to their appt to unload. After getting a contact high walking up the stairs with the boxes (someone downstairs was toking), we got to see the kids. It was really sad, as they were all in mis-matched clothes, runny noses, etc. We’d feel so much better if they were in a better place….not better than us, just better than where they are now…it was tragic…

I also had a photo album for the kids of all the pics we’d taken since we had them (the same that are on the slide show), and they were excited about that. They gave us big hugs, and we said goodbye again. Their dad was very grateful for everything, and we pray that he is up for this challenge.

I did find out that the schools hadn’t been notified of the change in responsibility yet. I gave them his contact info, so they were going to contact him. What’s intuitive to ‘normal’ folks, just isn’t intuitive to him. He needs to be ‘taught’ that it’s his responsibility to make sure his children’s schools know his contact info, etc. It’s just sad in general.

Mark and I drove home on Sunday somewhat depressed. Things did not turn out the way we expected, but we think they turned out the way God intended. Maybe our role was to make sure they were able to stay together for the 18 months that they were in Foster Care…..we don’t know. What we do know, is we did the absolute best we could to give them a foundation for a healthy, happy life. We hope they remember what we taught them, but know that their challenges will be huge. We pray each day that they are all able to weather the coming months, and develop into productive members of society.

What we will take away most from each child:

Angel: The huge smile on her face when she saw and tasted her first hot fudge sundae.
Jenna: Asking me if she can help me make dinner and empty the dishwasher (this from a child who they initially told us was non-communicative and would need to learn sign language. Also, showing me her dance moves, after her first dance class and kicking her soccer ball like a pro…
Bobby: Getting up in the morning, and after Mark had him all dressed and ready, running down the hall with his arms wide open yelling Mommy!!!!

These are the things we will miss the most. Mark and I are going to take some time off, and decide later what the future brings to us.

To all of our friends and family who have helped us on this journey, we are truly blessed to have you in our lives. We count our blessing everyday that we are surrounded by such wonderful people. Please keep their children and their family in your prayers. They will always be in our hearts as well as they journey through life. If nothing else, we hope we made a difference for them…

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Oy Vey.....

Disclaimer: This is a long overdue post, so sit back with a beverage, and enjoy the ride….

I’ve not had time to blog for quite some time, as LOTS of things have been happening over the last couple of months, and frankly, Mark and I have been very frustrated…

To re-cap, when Mark and I agreed to take on the care of these children, it was based upon information that the social workers had either told us, or we read in their reports. Unfortunately, some of what we were told is turning out not to be true….

Below are some of the things we were told:

The mother’s rights for the children have already been terminated. In reality, we found out in January that they had not, and there are no current plans to do so.

The father’s rights would be terminated in December. In reality, his rights were actually EXTENDED an additional 6 months (until end of April).

For family holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc), we will not be required to make sure the kids have a visit with their bio families. Those of you that know us know that we are usually hosting families for the holidays. In reality, we’ve had to shuttle the kids around to some sort of visit with dad or grandma during the holiday, including leaving our own guests to do so…….

While we’ve found these things frustrating, we’ve been trying to work through them. Unfortunately, things haven’t gotten better in that regard.

First off, dad’s visits have now moved to consistently every other weekend, from Friday at 6pm to Sunday at 6pm. However, dad does not have a vehicle that can fit all 3 kids, so we’ve had to drop them off at his apt, and pick them up. We don’t mind, but it just feels at times like we’re doing all the work.

Don’t get me wrong….Mark and I are enjoying our weekends alone…it gives us time to reconnect and rejuvenate. But at the same time….the kids come back, and a lot of the behaviors we’ve taught or reinforced are gone when they are returned. We ALWAYS have behavior issue for about 4 days after their return. Then we get about a week of ‘normal’ behavior, and then they go back and we start over again. Very frustrating.

We see the kids make such great progress, and take great steps, and see great potential…all to go back to square one again, and again.

The other thing that’s happened, which I think I mentioned before is that mom has ‘dropped out of the sky’ and was in rehab, so the court ordered a visit. The kids were looking forward to the visit for a few days, and honestly, from our perspective, it was a nightmare.

Initially, we had to meet the SW at a neutral location, and she was to take the kids for a 1 hr visit and bring them back to me. The first issue was we were supposed to meet at 4pm. Normally, I work until 4:30, and by the time I get home, and pick up the kids, it’s about 5:30. So that means, I have to leave early to meet the SW on the other side of town.

The best laid plans, sometimes don’t work so well, and I was running late before even picking up the kids. I picked up Angel first, and she was in a great mood. 10 minutes later, it was all downhill….

As I mentioned, we were running late, so I asked her to stay in the car while I grabbed Bobby and Jenna. She started having a fit, and it went downhill from there. I made her stay in the car, and by the time I came back with Bobby and Jenna, she was in full meltdown mode….to the point where she said she didn’t even want to see her mother, she just wanted to go home.

We finally met the SW (45 minutes late), and Angel’s complaints ranged from the SW not having a CD player in her car, to having to sit in the middle, to not wanting to wear her glasses ever again…

The kids came back an hr later, and we loaded them into our car. Angel was still having an out of body experience. Bobby was unfazed (not sure he’d even care to see her), and poor Jenna was crying as well.

Once the kids were loaded in the car, the SW told me that mom was about 5 months pregnant, and they were trying to figure out how to tell the kids…nice…. I told her we wouldn’t say anything and leave it to them to discuss with the kids or their therapists to discuss with the kids…

In any event, on the way home, I called Mark to let him know we were on the way. He said he was making dinner (grilled cheese sandwich), and Angel immediately had a fit, hates grilled cheese (which she’s had a million times with us), blah, blah, blah… I told her that was fine, she didn’t have to eat it, but that was dinner….so if she didn’t eat that, she didn’t get anything.

She asked if she could just have a peanut butter sandwich. I said no…we aren’t running a lunch counter, and you eat what you’re served, when you’re served, or you don’t eat. Surprise, surprise…she ate her grilled cheese, and even told Mark it was the best she’d had….

That night, their grandmother called, and asked to chat with the kids, which we allowed. Imagine our surprise, when grandma proceeds to tell the kids that mommy is having a baby! Well, I guess the SW doesn’t have to worry about how to break it to the kids… Angel was excited, but obviously doesn’t understand everything. Jenna and Bobby were sort of oblivious.

The next morning, I decided I better call the SW and let her know the kids know about mom, so they don’t need to worry about that. I also told her that Jenna had a hard time, and wet the bed that night, which was to be expected.

Later on that day, I got a voicemail from their Dad. He knew they were seeing the mom for the first time in months, and wanted to know how they were doing, etc. As I got ready to call him back, a little voice inside my head said to wait….Does this man know his wife is pregnant by another man? I don’t want to be the one to tell him!

So, instead of calling dad, I called the SW and asked her. I didn’t want to be the one to tell him, and obviously when he sees the kids, he’d know. I left her a message, and waited….about 10 minutes later, I got a call from her. She said ‘he knows now’… I said, when did he find out? She said I told him about 5 minutes ago. I asked how he took it, she said not good….

Needless to say, I waited to call dad back for a day. I’m glad I did, and we were able to gloss over the knowledge.

The fact of the baby opens up so many issues for the kids. The kids will NEVER live with mom…yet the baby will (as long as it tests clean at birth). How do you explain to a 7, 4, or 2 year old why they can’t stay with mommy, yet the baby can? It’s unimaginable… We’ve turned that over to the therapists to deal with…

The children have started regular visits with the kids, however in speaking to the SW today, they are going to be limited to once per month for 2 hours. They had a visit on Saturday from 12-5, and when Mark picked them up, they were starving. They said they hadn’t eaten. Mark talked to grandma, and she said that they’d not really eaten. They had some appetizers out for everyone, but no meal…He took them through the McDonald’s drive thru, and called it a day..

On the kids last weekend with their dad, when Jenna came home, she complained that her bottom hurt. I took a peak, and didn’t see anything unusual, however by Tuesday, you could see that she had a boil coming up right above her butt crack. I immediately called the dr because she’d had a staph infection before, and I knew she’d need antibiotics. The boil burst and it was nasty. I took her to the dr, and by that time, it was healing up. They started her on antibiotics and scheduled another visit for Friday which Mark was able to take her to. Her school wouldn’t let her back without a note which they’d given me on Wed, but they wouldn’t let her back unless it was cultured, which it hadn’t been.

On her Friday dr visit, she checked out okay. The dr told us to start adding Clorox to her bath water, do the antibiotics, etc. We were doing everything right. Unfortunately, we got a call on Monday morning from her school saying that it appeared she had something on her arm. Mark hadn’t noticed anything, so had to go get her (I’m in AZ on business). He picked her up, and it looked like a zit, which he popped and put Neosporin on and a band aid. In the meantime, I called the public health nurse, and let her know what we were dealing with in regards to the school. She was able to pull strings and get an appt first thing in the morning. I won’t be back yet, but Mark will take her and get any necessary tests that are needed to get her back in school.

In the back of my mind, he and I both wonder how their dad would be able to deal with this? There are two of us, and in the last 2 weeks, we’ve both lost about 2 days of work due to her appts and such. We’re in a position where it’s not a huge issue for our companies (as long as it’s not a regular thing), but he’s not. He’s in an industry that’s suffering right now, and it makes me wonder how he’d be able to deal with all of this. I guess only time will tell…

While Mark was administering first aid to Jenna at home, he noticed that the dogs, Beau and Biscuit were in a fierce tug-of-war with a dog toy in the hallway. It got to the point where Mark went out to see why they kept tugging at it….then he noticed it had a lot of fur….and 4 legs….and…gee….wasn’t a dog toy at all but a MOLE… The dogs had been doing major construction in the backyard for a couple of days. We’d come home from work and they’d be filthy, but we couldn’t find what they were looking for…just a lot of trenches around the yard. We’d have to give them a bath before putting them to bed.

Our first clue that it was more than just the dogs being weird should have been the night before…when Beau, the laziest dog known to mankind, was out digging until 11pm in the pouring rain…

In any event, Mark had to wrestle away the dead mole from the dogs, in between patching up Jenna….ahhhh….the fun never stops….

Two weeks prior to this, was Mark’s first business trip. He was going to be gone 4 days one week and 4 the following week. I’d be flying solo for a few days…. I plotted my strategy, and figured out what time I needed to get up, and how to get all ready and out the door on time. We did fine, however we had one day where I had to go pick up a sick kid, but it worked out okay….

I’m actually posting this from AZ on my business trip. I left Saturday afternoon, and return Tuesday evening. Mark has done great! I left him some of my tips, but he runs them house like basic training, so I expected nothing less!

About 2 weeks ago, we were basically told that in all likelihood, Dad will be awarded full custody on April 27. Not the outlook we’d originally planned on, or been told, but the one we need to deal with. We are now concentrating on how to make the transition as smooth as possible. I know it will be painful as things get closer. The children have made such great strides with us. Our hope is that at the very least, maybe we’ve given them 6 months of ‘normal’.

In speaking with the social worker last week, they told us that if all is approved on the 27th, the kids will be turned over on the 27th. I told her that I assumed that they have the infrastructure in place then. She asked what I meant. I told her that if Mark and I couldn’t afford daycare, I’m sure the dad can’t, so that needs to be set up. I also told her that the schools and care that we have may not be convenient for him (he lives on the other side of town), so that needs to be done. I also reminded her that it took months to get it all set up. She said, well, I guess I better get started….so, they have begun the process.

This is a way overdue posting, and I hope to update sooner. We are still adjusting to the news ourselves….In the meantime, we would appreciate it if you could keep the children in your prayers….

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho....

Sorry for the long time between blogs, but to say things have been crazy would be a vast understatement….

When last I blogged, we were to take full custody of the kiddies the day before Thanksgiving….that stretched out for a few weeks due to day care issues, and we finally were able to take custody on December 5th, which happened to be the birthday of the oldest child.

Also, I’ve included our latest entry in the “Biscuit and the Poopy Diaper” story as we appear to have a different one every couple of weeks….

We didn’t get much notice regarding taking full custody, but I was able to arrange for Paid Family Leave starting on December 8, so have spent the last few weeks getting the kids used to their schedules and day care situations. Although I was off work, the 3 weeks of leave were spent getting the kids up and leaving the house as I would for work each day…taking them to day care, and then picking them up afterwards… Our goal was to get them on the schedules they would be on when I went back to work.

All this has worked out well with a few exceptions….However, we do need to move back a few weeks to get the entire picture….

Prior to the 5th, Mark had taken the children for a visit with their maternal grandmother. At the end of that visit, grandma turned over a couple of garbage bags full of things of the childrens. These were things that were apparently in the apartment when Social Services took custody of the kids. We through these bags in the trunk of the car to deal with at a later date.

When I went to pick up the kids for the last time at their former foster home, I was also met with about 10 garbage bags of stuff. Our goal was to get the kids home, get them settled in for the night, and work on the weekend at going through their stuff, and seeing what was what….

That being said, after the kids were down in bed, Mark and I began bringing in the bags. When we got to the garbage bags that grandma gave us, the dogs started going crazy…. I had opened the bag, and saw a doll and other kid stuff in it, but couldn’t figure out why the dogs were wigging out.

Since the kids were in bed, and we wanted to see what was causing the dogs to go crazy, we decided to let them ‘forage’ and see what it was….imagine our surprise when Biscuit dives into the bag, and pops her head up a few seconds later with an old diaper….and not just any old diaper…this was an old crusty, petrified poopy diaper that she immediately took under the table and began shredding. We about barfed…

We ‘think’ that the bags of stuff that grandma gave us were picked up in the old apartment that the kids were in when they were taken. In their haste to gather everything, they inadvertently gathered everything…. At this point, I told Mark to just take the bags that grandma gave us and throw them in the trash…I wasn’t even going to go through them. At this point, the kids had been without whatever was in there for almost a year, so what was the point? They would obviously never miss what was in there… I didn’t want that stuff in my house anyway….

So…later in the weekend we started unpacking the bags the foster family gave us to see what types of clothes they had, etc. Sadly, they had no winter jackets and/or pants. Unfortunately, that was the week we had a cold snap here, and it was between 35 and 40 degrees. Angel had no pants that went past her knee, and most of Bobby and Jenna’s were summer wear as well. None of them had a jacket for winter….just wind breakers and fleece hoodies.

I ended up calling the social worker to see if their clothing allowance for the year had been spent. It had for all the kids but Angel, so she sent me a check for $240. I went off to Target, and was able to get 99% of what the kids needed for just over $300. At least they had pants and coats now that would see them through a few months….

Shortly after taking custody, the SW informed us that Dad had been approved for overnight visits. So the weekend of 12/13 was the first one…

Before we get into that, I wanted to mention that when we took custody, the 4 yr old was not potty trained. Honestly, we think that no one ever bothered to take the time. In any event, we started working on that the first week, and had great success!!! Not one accident!!! Big win all the way around….

So we meet up with Dad at Micky D’s and drop the kids off for the overnight. We go to get them on Sunday, and we get the kids home, and the 4 yr old is wearing a diaper… I ask what’s going on, and the oldest tells me that she had an accident at dad’s, so he put her in a diaper (I’d packed extra clothes and panties just in case).

So, Monday am we start with the potty training again, and have good success (even at night). The kids have a weekend visit with dad again, and again we get them back and the 4 yr old is in a diaper….

In addition, when I pick them up the Sunday before xmas, I asked dad if he’s heard when the next visit will be. He said he was told it would be xmas eve, and we will get them back on xmas day. We’d not heard anything, so I called the SW Monday am to confirm. Unfortunately, she was on vacation….and had not left us any direction. After discussing it, Mark and I decided to go ahead and let the kids go, as it was reasonable that the dad would have a holiday visit. We just worked around it.

I talked to the dad about the diaper thing, and I thought we had an understanding…

Bobby hadn’t been feeling well for about a week, and unfortunately, it hit him full force with his dad. Apparently, he’d thrown up on him xmas eve, and was exhausted when we got him back…to the point that he spent the rest of xmas day in bed.

The 4yr old was returned once again in a diaper, so I was frustrated as well. Plus, after the last visit, it became apparent that the kids are being coached to call us by our first names. We figured this out, when the 2 yr old (who’d always been calling me Daddy at this point), suddenly started calling me Writa…. Those of you who know me well, know that no one in my family calls me by my given name….all call me by my nickname. Mark doesn’t even use my name…so it was painfully obvious what had occurred.

That being said, I vowed to discuss all of this with the social worker on Monday. But first I needed to get through my first hospital visit with a sick child on Friday…. Bobby had come back from his dad’s not feeling well, and for what it’s worth, he’d been sick on our watch the week before. When he’d gotten up the day after Christmas, I’d gotten him to take some apple juice while I made him something to eat (he’d not eaten at all for us on Christmas day).

All was well until the projectile vomiting started all over the table and my new jammies (which were very absorbent, thank you very much!). We got him cleaned up, and I contacted the advise nurse who said to bring him to the hospital. So off we went for a 6 hour stay.

Mark was at work, and thankfully, my family was visiting for the holidays and were immediately roped into babysitting duties. Little did they know that they would be stuck all day.

Bobby checked out with just a bad case of the flu, but interesting enough, when we were at the hospital, he fell asleep, and when he ‘woke up’ it was like he was a different child. He started beating on my chest saying “I don’t want you, I don’t want you…!” and then he would call my name, and when I would say I’m right here, he would grip me really tight and a couple of minutes later, he would start doing it again. It got to the point where the nurse came in because he was having an out of body experience. She mentioned that she thought that even though his eyes were open, she didn’t think he was awake…. After about 30 minutes, he seemed to ‘snap’ out of it, and was back to normal. We were able to then get some fluids in him, and he was okay. We were able to leave shortly there after….

In the meantime….Grandma had called, and wanted a visit on Saturday. Again, we’d not been told anything by the SW, so we let them go. Kids had an okay time, but said they were bored. On the other hand, it was nice for Mark and I to chill for an afternoon…

On Monday, I returned back to work, and called the SW with an update. I told her about the diaper issue with the 4 yr old, and also about the visits with no direction and the coaching the kids not to call us mommy and daddy…. She wasn’t happy. She apologized for not leaving us any direction, and we’ve now hammered out a schedule where dad has the kids every other weekend from Friday night to Sunday night and Grandma has been told that she gets 1 4 hr visit on a Saturday per month. No more than that. In addition, the SW talked to the dad about the diaper thing, and supposedly, he’s going to not put a diaper on her if she has an accident. I’ll believe it when I see it…

Lastly, the SW told us that the mother has now dropped out of the sky. She appeared at a court hearing in December, and requested visitation. She said she was clean. Apparently, they drug tested her on the spot and she was clean, so she was granted a supervised visit. We don’t know when that will be at this point.

In general, the kids had an overwhelming Christmas. Friends and Family were more than generous and to be honest with you, I’m not sure they comprehend how fortunate they were. They also haven’t really been taught any manners as it relates to gift giving and receiving, so we had some embarrassing moments. Mark and I realized they don’t know what they haven’t been taught, so now will have a conversation about proper conduct as it relates to that. We will also be tackling thank you notes this weekend…. I do find it hilarious though that the biggest toy hits with the kids at Christmas have been two of the all time classics that Santa had found in miniature form. Target had mini-Slinkys for a buck, as well as Play-Dough in a small Santa container, and a small Christmas Tree container in the same goodie bin. The kids had never been exposed to either, and have had hours of fun with both of these. Just goes to show you the classics are sometimes the BEST!

Have a great New Years, and we will blog again soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly……

I find it amazing when dealing with the system, that anything ever gets done at all… That being said, it’s time for my rant…

As you may recall from several postings ago, Mark and I about had heart failure when we learned that daycare costs for the children. I’d finally gotten the word last Monday, that there was a ‘packet’ in the mail. I asked if said packet could be e-mail or faxed so we could jump start it. The big NO was what came back.

So, at this point it’s November 18. We are to now take custody the day before Thanksgiving. On Saturday, the 22nd, when I still hadn’t gotten anything in the mail, I left a voicemail for our social worker that we would NOT be taking full custody the day before Thanksgiving, because we still hadn’t receiving ANYTHING in the mail. She then gave me the name and phone number of the person with the county.

I contacted her, and she faxed me the papers so we could get started. The fax was more like a novel….65+ pages to be filled out. Honestly, it was AWFUL. However, I managed to get through the parts that pertained to Mark and me, along with all the docs for one of the care centers. Got those back to the person with the county, and now just need to get the info back for the care center for the oldest, and we’re done! Also, I’m writing this the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ve still not received the 1st packet that is supposedly in the mail…

It looks like full custody has been moved to December 5….but I’m not holding my breath as there have been other developments…

First, Dad is doing very well. So well in fact that he’s been moved to unsupervised visits, the first of which will be for 4 hrs on Thanksgiving. Also, grandma gets a 3 hr visit the day after Thanksgiving.

The social worker also mentioned that Dad would like a 6 hr visit on December 6. December 5 happens to be the oldest childs birthday, so we totally support that. As a matter of fact, if the SW deems it appropriate, we will invite dad to meet us at an ice cream parlor the evening of her actual b-day. We want this to be as easy on the kids as possible, and if they end up back with their father, so be it.

Mark also got a call from Grandma to schedule her visit. Grandma also saw fit to tell Mark that the mother of the kids is back in touch with her and in rehab, doing well, blah, blah, blah. We of course passed that along to the SW as moms rights have already been terminated. The SW told us that under no circumstances is mom to see the kids, and if we hear anything we are to let her know. Also, word is that Grandma (who is wife’s mother), and Father are not on speaking terms. We think it has to do with Father allowing wife to see kids after the courts ordered her not to have contact. In any event, we’ve sort of found out there’s no love lost there.

Lastly, I can’t tell any of you that are in this process enough about making sure you document EVERYTHING. One of the kids was leaning back in a chair at the table on Sunday, and we kept telling her not to do it. Of course she didn’t listen and when we turned around, she fell back off the chair. She’s now got a big bruise I guess. Of course the SW called me about it and I couldn’t remember ANYTHING. My dear hubby with a mind like an elephant, reminded me of the chair incident which I passed along to the social worker. We really need to remember to write EVERY LITTLE THING in our book…

Our weekend was good with the kids. We picked them up, and then headed out to do the Thanksgiving shopping. We got out of the store and came home and put it all away. Mark and I had discussed getting the kids holiday outfits, so Angel and I headed out for awhile to Target and Macy’s.

Her shoes were pretty ragged, so we found 2 cute pairs at Target. Then we headed to Macy’s where they are pretty much so hard up for sales, they were practically giving things away. We found her a pretty holiday dress, and picked up one for Jenna too. Found a cute holiday sweater for Bobby. Saturday was ice cream after dinner, then baths and a movie.

Sunday was Jenna’s turn for new shoes. Her little toes were busting out of her shoes, so we found some cute ones at Payless Shoes. Checked out K-Mart but they didn’t have anything worthwhile, so headed back home. Got the kids lunch, and then started picking up as they needed to head back to their other home. Beds were made, and toys put away, and they were out the door in time with no major trauma~!

That’s the latest! Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reality Sets In....

After our weekend of Halloween, we started getting ourselves ready for having the kids full time. We were going to transition over the next weekend. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen….

I had started to get school schedules, and research day care options for the kids. Imagine my surprise when we figured out we need $571 per week worth of day care…. Mark and I had the best of intentions, but the cost of childcare didn’t even enter my mind. I think I’d slipped back 20 years when my friends and family had there kids, and day care was $100 a week or so… After checking our outstanding lottery tickets to see if we’d won the big jackpot, I sent a note to the social workers and told them we had a problem. Mark and I were not in a position to absorb this cost as much as we would have liked to. Plus, the stipend for the kids was not enough to cover this. So unless they could assist us with this problem, we were not going to be able to take custody.

In addition, I was being stonewalled in the set up of schooling for Jenna. Because I didn’t have custody papers, they wouldn’t set anything up for her. It was a very depressing week.

I sent a note to the social workers, and they started working on some options. 3 weeks later, we’re not much closer, but I’m told there is stuff ‘in the mail’ for me that will take care of the childcare etc. We’ll see… We are now scheduled to take custody the day before Thanksgiving….but we will have to see. We do not want to take full custody unless all these details are worked out. I cannot risk my job, as much as I’d like to. We need it to keep a roof over our heads…and I don’t relish the idea of living in my 2000 Toyota Camry…

Also, that week, we received another message from the social worker. We’d been told that Dad’s parental rights were going to be terminated the week before. The SW sent us a note and told us that did not happen, that Dad is apparently working very hard at getting his act together, and had letters from his counselors and therapists attesting to such.

We were a bit taken aback as we were told that it was a 99% done deal. However, our thoughts have always been the best interest of the children. And if Dad gets his act together and takes custody, more power to them. If nothing else, Mark and I have learned a lot about each other. Apparently Dad’s situation is going to be reviewed again in a few months, and a final ruling will take place: reunification, or terminating of his rights…

One of the biggest mistakes that we’ve made was placing the two girls in a bedroom with a TV. As much as we try and enforce limits, they are watching TV all night long. The TV will conveniently be broken this weekend, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m sure it won’t go over well…

This past week, we had the kids once again. Mark gets nominated for sainthood based on what transpired.

On the weekend, I typically go and pick the kids up at about 9am and bring them back to the house. In the meantime, Mark takes the dogs for a walk, or in general gets things settled. Our plan this weekend was to take the kids to the Jelly Belly Factory. We are trying to find things that don’t cost a lot that we think the kids will enjoy.

So, I picked the kids up, and brought them home. We are getting ready to go, and all of sudden, I am overwhelmed with nausea, and run to the bathroom. My face is hot, and I’m throwing up…. Not sure what the deal was, but I was running 101 fever, and couldn’t stop heaving.

I had some old compazine that I found, and took that. Mark bravely said he’d take the kids without me. What an ordeal. I went back to bed, and he tackled entertaining the kids on his own. He was irritated and exhausted by the time he came home, but everyone was all in one piece.

Unfortunately, Jenna and Bobby both wanted to be held at the factory, so he did that at the expense of his rotator cuff. Hopefully, he won’t have to have surgery, but I do think he did some damage.

The kids had an absolute blast and came back with the Jelly Belly paper hats…We had dinner, and put them to bed (with the all night TV marathon), and went to sleep…

Prior to picking up the kids on Saturday morning, we had some other stuff to deal with….

The weekend before, Angel had lost a tooth, and forgotten to put it under her pillow. When she came home on Saturday morning, we told her that Biscuit had been in her room, and had come running down the hallway covered with Fairy Dust! She ran into the bedroom, and there next to the panda that she likes to sleep with was a note from the tooth fairy and some money. Everything was covered in Fairy Dust. The note talked about how she came by and played with Biscuit who was one of her best friends, and that she took the tooth and left the $$. We’d been working on the dog/kid relationship, and Biscuit is now one of their best friends. If only we could say the same for Beau….

On the way back to Antioch on Sunday, Angel kept asking Mark to tell the Fairy story over and over, and over again… We dropped the kids off with the understanding that we would see them the following Saturday….

The Tricks And Treats of It All.....

When we last left off, we had finished our first full weekend with the kids and were exhausted. Prior to that weekend, we’d talked to the kids about Halloween, and Angel said she wanted to be a Cheetah. She had a Cheetah print hoodie, and she was going to wear that.

Mark and I checked our finances, and looked for a Cheetah costume on-line. I found one that was reasonable, but of course it didn’t arrive until the kids had left us the weekend before Halloween. I’d not mentioned to Angel that we’d gotten a costume for her, I wanted it to be a surprise. Imagine our surprise the weekend before Halloween, when she suddenly announced she wanted to be a Princess. The Cheetah costume was already on our way to us, and shelling our $ for another costume wasn’t in the budget.

I think I had accidentally put the Princess notion in her little head when I showed her my tiara collection, and let her try some on. Yes, believe it or not, I actually have a Tiara collection! Several years ago, I was able to travel to London and Paris with my friend Terry. We arrived several days after the Tiara exhibit was at the Victoria and Albert museum. We were bummed that we’d missed it, and for whatever reason, I’d gotten a burr in my saddle and came home with about 10 different tiaras that I’d bought around London. I guess I’m just a princess at heart…

Anyway, the Tuesday before Halloween, her costume arrived. I wanted to drive it out to her in Antioch and explain why it wasn’t a Princess costume, and hope she’d like it anyway. I also wanted to try on some costume options for the little ones that our neighbors were letting us borrow.

Now, the current Foster Parent had told our social worker the week before that she would prefer that we don’t see the kids during the school week, as they are too wound up when we drop them off. I can understand that, and she has to live with getting them settled after we leave, but we are trying to transition here.

I had talked to the social worker and told her that we wanted to come out and just meet with the kids briefly, explain to Angel about her costume, and be on our way. We also needed to get her costume to her before Friday, as I had called her school and they were having a costume parade in the morning. In addition, I knew the kids were having a visit with their bio dad on Friday afternoon, and thought he might want to see them in costume as well. I expected to be at the house 30 minutes tops, because I didn’t want to disrupt anything…

Anyway, the social worker called me back about 30 minutes later, and appeared as frustrated as we were. She said the foster parent said that I was to leave the costume on the porch, not to ring the doorbell or anything, and she would make sure Angel got the costume. So…I was left to drive out to Antioch, and left to costume on the porch….

I had taken Friday off because her school was allowing Mark and I to come to her parade at school. We actually ended up finding her classroom before the parade, and she saw us through the window in her little costume. She was so cute and so excited that we were there to see her. Even her teacher told us that she was talking about us… We stayed for the parade, and took lots of pictures.

Friday evening I was picking the kids up from social services as they were having a visit with their dad. He had made them each a nice treat bag, and they were very excited to show me their goodies. We then headed back home, to start the trick or treating…

Mark was going to stay and pass out candy, and I was going to take the kids out. One of our wonderful neighbors had loaned us a stroller, and we packed Bobby in that, and then headed out. We stopped first next door, where our neighbors had special treats for the kids…a giant Hershey Bar! The rest of the kids in the neighborhood were gathering to do a mass trick or treat run with a couple of the parents, so we joined in. Everytime we stopped at a neighbors house, they really made our kids feel VERY SPECIAL. Each had a special treat for them, be it a glow necklace, a treat basket, or a giant candy bar. Very generous!

Jenna is a dasher, and it’s pitch black outside. I’ve not mastered the ‘mommy juggle’ yet, and was not able to hold onto her, and push the stroller at the same time. One of the other parents volunteered to push the stroller, while I took Jenna by the hand, and Angel ran off with the other kids. We started weaving our way through the neighborhood, and tended to get stopped at almost every house with people asking questions about the kids. Imagine my surprise when we stepped off the curb at the last house on the court, and there were no kids in sight. The group of neighbors and kids we were with had all but disappeared and were no where to be found. That meant Bobby and Angel were not with us, and it was just me and Jenna. At first I started to somewhat freak, and then realized that the kids were with responsible parents, and I just needed to take a chill pill. My bigger fear is that they would realize that I wasn’t with them, and freak out on the parents that were there. Thankfully, that didn’t happen…

Awhile later, the troops came marching back up the court with all of their loot. The kids had a great time, and I was told by the other parents that they were very polite. We got the kids back into the house, and off to bed to start another day.

The troops rose as normal at 5am, and we were off. Bobby has managed to figure out how to climb out of his porta crib, so that’s been a joy. Mark and I took turns ‘listening’ for him to climb out and put him back to bed.

That particular weekend, we were taking the kids back on Saturday evening. We had put Sunday aside to do some kid proofing, so Saturday we headed them back to Antioch. They are getting better about being dropped off as they know that eventually we will have them with us full time. Still, Jenna has a little crying fit that I feel bad for the other family for having to endure…

After dropping the kids off, Mark and I headed back home. We got in and let the dogs in. Biscuit immediately found a poopy diaper (I’m not sure from where), and proceeded to dive under our bed with it. Mark and I were exhausted, and were chasing her trying to get it away from her. It made our bedroom stink to high heaven, and all I could think of was “Please God, do not get poop on the carpet under the bed!” You see…we have about 4” of clearance under the bed, so we cannot fit under there. In addition, the bed weighs close to 1,000 lbs…it’s heavy. If poop got on the carpet under there, then there’s really no easy way to clean it. We’d have to disassemble the bed, and go from there….

In any event, the Lord was hearing our prayer, and for whatever reason, I was able to extend my arm far enough to pull the diaper out from under the bed. There was no poo on the carpet, but Biscuit’s face was another story. We gave her a quick bath and collapsed into bed wondering how our next adventure would turn out…..

Monday, November 3, 2008

2 Adults + 2 Dogs + 3 Kids=Chaos

Dear Family, Friends, and Cyber Buddies-

Wanted to post for you all an update on how things with the kids are going. The weekend of Oct 24-26, was the first overnight visit that we had, and consisted of the 4 biggies: Bites. Burns, Cuts, & Blood…I was glad there wasn’t a team of locust on the horizon…

The weekend was an eye opener and made us realize how unprepared we were for parenthood. Most people have some time to adjust to building a family with 3 kids. We basically had a week…. By the time we dropped the kids off on Sunday, I was seriously doubting that Mark and I would be able to handle everything. I was at the end of my rope, and could not imagine getting through this. I’m sort of dumping all of this out there as it actually helps me deal with all the emotions that you go through, as well as educating others that might be thinking about doing what we are doing…

First off, a little background: Our first overnighter was supposed to actually be Halloween, however we’d gotten a call earlier in the week to see if we thought we’d be ready for an overnighter Oct 24 weekend. We still had A LOT of kid proofing that we needed to have done around the house so initially proposed a 2pm pick up on Saturday. Not sure how it happened, but before we knew it, we’d agreed to a 5pm FRIDAY pick-up with a return on Sunday at 3pm.

Because of the earlier pick-up, we were not able to completely kid-proof the house, which will become important later on…

I drove out to Antioch to pick up the kids. The current foster mom had a bag packed with their clothes and such. Picked up that and the kids, and got them packed in the car. About 5 miles away, I realized that I didn’t think I put the bag with their clothes and such in the car. I pulled over, and sure enough, it wasn’t in there… I had left it on the sidewalk because I was so worried about getting the middle child strapped in…As I told the kids, I was losing my marbles.

We turned around, and headed back to the house to fetch the bag. I pulled down the street, and the bag was gone. I said a quick prayer, and hoped that the current family had seen it, and brought it in, and that it wasn’t stolen. I went up to the door, and sure enough, the foster dad was there with the bag, laughing at me. I threw it in the trunk and were on our way..

We tried to keep our plans this weekend a bit simple: We were going to go to get pumpkins on Saturday, and then attend a school carnival. On Sunday we were going to a Fall Festival at our neighbor’s church.

We arrive home on Friday and I hustled the kids into the house. Mark wasn’t home yet, so I got the kids settled. During the day while we are at work, the dogs are locked in the backyard, with access to the office for shelter. When we come home from work, I typically let them in, they run around, and then settle down.

We’d done a slow introduction to the dogs the Saturday before, so I thought all would be good. I was going to let them in, and all ‘should’ have been okay. Unfortunately, it wasn’t..

The dogs ran in, and Jenna and Angel immediately started screaming…this freaked the dogs out, freaked the kids out more, and Beau sort of lunged at Angel. I immediately threw both dogs outside, and calmed the kids down. Not good, as we have big issues if the dogs and kids don’t get along. Surprisingly enough, none of this fazed Bobby in the slightest. He watched the whole thing, and didn’t make one noise. Simply sat at the table and colored oblivious to what was going on around him (thank God).

Angel insisted Beau had bit her, but I couldn’t find ANYTHING on her…no mark, bruise, teeth marks…nothing.

Mark came home shortly after with muzzles, and we put them on the dogs, and let them back in. Gradually, we were able to take Biscuit’s muzzle off for extended periods, so the kids began getting used to her. I asked Angel what she was afraid of, and she said the big black spot on her head was scary….

To distract the kids from their earlier trauma, when Mark came home, I had Angel help me with dinner. We were cooking chicken fettuccini alfredo, so she was helping me sauté some of the chicken breasts. Unfortunately, she turned around, and her thumb hit the side of the pan, and she got a small burn. Now, I’m batting a thousand. What other trauma can I inflict???…We wrapped a cube of ice in a towel, and had her hold it on there. It was red, but not bad at all. She’d forgotten about it by the time we sat down to eat.

We are trying to set a schedule with the kids, and try and stick as closely to their current schedule as possible to avoid major disruptions that their current foster family would have to deal with when we bring them back. That being said, they need to be in bed by 8, so we need to be done with meals to take baths at 7, so need to eat at the latest by 5:30 or 6.

After dinner, Mark had to run an errand, so our friend helped me start baths. We made the big mistake the week before of introducing Mr. Bubble, so baths last longer than intended. I think we will keep the Mr. B for weekends only as I can see that it would be a beast during the week…

We got them bathed, diapered and ready for bed. By this time, Mark and I are ready to collapse as well. That was not to be, as Mark and I had one more task to take care of…

As mentioned previously, this whole thing has happened pretty quickly for us, and we aren’t quite prepared with everything. The week before, we’d gone to Target and stocked up on diapers, wipes, etc. However, we don’t have changing table, and didn’t really have a diaper/wipey/changey designation area. It happens where it happens…. So when getting Bobby ready, I changed his diaper, set the dirty one on the counter in the bathroom to throw away, but got hopelessly side tracked. Biscuit on the other hand, was entirely focused on the dirty diaper she’d managed to get to, and was happily trotting down the highway with her new ‘treat’. She dove under the table as per her normal MO when she’s gotten a hold of something she shouldn’t have. Mark and I tried to corner her, and chased her back and forth. Part of me wanted to say screw it, and go to bed, but wiser heads prevailed. We finally caught her and wrestled the remnants away.. Note to self: Make sure diapers get to the garbage! Finally we were off to bed exhausted, wondering how the rest of the weekend would progress.

We didn’t have to wait long, as at approximately 5am, the troops were up. I swear I felt like I was in boot camp…

Bobby managed to have an atomic pee and poop that blew through every layer of everything. I got him cleaned up, and then he toddled out with his sisters.

Toys, crayons, books, etc were immediately pulled out and spread over the family room floor. I was trying to keep them on one side of the house so that Mark and the dogs could sleep a little bit later.

They were hungry, so we started to discuss breakfast options. Big mistake…there should be no options…this is what you’re eating! Normally on the weekends, Mark and I do make breakfast together, and sit at the table and read the paper and chat. In any event, I did my best to tackle pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc. I’m working the grill, toaster, etc…but I didn’t feel like I was making any progress. Every time I turned around, it was more juice please, can I have another pancake, blah, blah, blah. One of my favorite movies, is A Christmas Story. In that movie, there’s a scene where the mom is cooking breakfast, and every time she turns around to sit down and eat, someone asks for something else. The narrator says that she hadn’t had a hot meal in years…. I was totally living in that moment, and unable to even run to the bathroom.

A bit later, Mark came out and took over, and was going to make some eggs for himself. Unfortunately, when he opened the refrigerator, the carton of eggs came crashing to the floor. His dream of the ultimate omelet would be just a dream. It was interesting, because Angel asked if Mark was going to get in trouble for breaking the eggs. We said no, why would you say that. She then told us a story of how Jenna had broken some eggs at her mom’s house, and Angel got punished for it. We tried to explain to her that accidents happen, and he didn’t do it on purpose, and there was no reason to punish anyone. She helped me get the mess cleaned up, and then I went back to bed for about an hr to decompress while Mark took over the reins.

As Mark was at the table with Angel eating, she asked if she and her siblings could come and live with us. Mark asked her why she wanted to live here. She told him that nobody is mean to little kids around here….

We finally finished cleaning up and got everything together, and headed to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins. They had a little petting zoo, and the kids enjoyed that. We picked out a few pumpkins and put them in our wagon. We then packed up the kids and headed home…

The kids were out in the backyard helping Mark water the plants. When they came back in the house, Jenna slipped on the water, and skinned her knee…just another trauma of the day. It was fine, and didn’t require a band-aid or anything…

After lunch, we had planned on going to the Elementary School Carnival that was going on around the corner from our house. We had lunch, and then put Bobby down for a nap which he was trying to fight off with all his might. I finally went and lay down with him and sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in his ear. He finally fell asleep.

The girls were getting antsy and wanted to go to the carnival, so I left Bobby with Mark, and we headed to the school. On our way, we met one of the kids next door who’d won a goldfish…I prayed that booth would be closed by the time we got there…

We got to the carnival, and forked over some dough for tickets. I artfully dodged the gold fish booth, and we made our way to the cake walk. Angel did the cake walk about 4 times, and didn’t win anything. The world was going to stop rotating because she hadn’t won a cake… She was totally bummed, and we had a little talk about how you can’t always win, but it was fun to try.

I finally got her settled, when a fireman came up to her (they had a fire truck at the carnival) and asked her what was wrong. Of course the waterworks started again….I gave the fireman a bad time for pickin’ at the scab, I thought I had healed. He waved and said anytime! It was actually quite funny…

I tried to deflect Angel’s attention from the cake walk, by spotting the SpongeBob booth. There were teachers sticking their heads through the SpongeBob cut out, and kids could throw wet sponges at them. Angel and Jenna took turns and had a blast. They won some little prizes. We then moved on to the blow up slide…

About this time, Mark and Bobby still hadn’t appeared. We’d put Bobby down at about 10:30. It was going on 3:30… I called Mark, and he said the Bobby had just woken up, and they were on their way to the carnival. Of course in the back of my mind, some ominous music has begun to play….the boy slept for 5 hours…

When walking back from the carnival, we passed by our neighbor’s house on the corner and stopped by. They had asked us to come by so they could meet the kids. They are wonderful people and stood outside and chatted while the kids played in their fountain. Our neighbor said that she hadn’t decorated their house for Christmas for about 3 years…it just wasn’t worth the hassle. She said that this year, she can’t wait to get her Santa Village set up, and have the kids come over to see it. It was very touching that they inspired her in that way.

Now, I’d had these delusions of grandeur that I was going to make all of these homemade meals for the kids. And frankly, after rising with the troops at 5am, the thought of actually cooking a meal was wholly unappealing. That being said, Angel and I took off to Safeway where they were having hot meatloaf on sale for $5. Threw that in the cart, along with some mashed potatoes, and called it a day.

Everyone chowed down, and then it was time to make cookies for dessert. Angel said she’d never made them before, so I had her help me figure out the measurements, and read the recipe. Some of the cookies got a little well done as I was herding the kids on the other side of the house, but they weren’t bad. Each kid had a warm cookie and glass of milk and then off to bed. To say Mark and I were exhausted is a GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT.

I had mentioned before that everything had happened so quickly, so we have not put up all the security locks and such. Because of that, we have to be on high alert at all times. That plus the dog situation had my stress level over the edge. Now, throw into the mix a 2 year old boy who had a 5 hr nap, and I realize I am screwed.

Bobby normally sleeps in a crib, and we don’t have one, so were just using the bed in one of the guest rooms. Unfortunately, that means the little guy can get up and roam the halls at all hours. Luckily, our room is right next to his, so I could hear when he’d get up. That also means that I wasn’t sleeping.

I’d get up, put him back to bed, and lay down with him until he feel asleep. Seems like the minute I’d go back to my own bed, I’d hear the door open… Anyway, the final time was about 2:30 am. I put him back to bed, and waited for him to fall asleep. Unfortunately, I was the one doing the sleeping, and woke up a few minutes later, to an empty bed, and the bedroom door open. I went out on patrol, and found him in one of the bathrooms going through the cabinets under the sink. This about put me over the edge…we need to get this place baby boobie-trapped as soon as possible. I can’t function on DEFCON1 for extended periods.

We finally got him back to bed the final time about 4. The troops rose again at 5, and we started the cycle all over..

On Sunday, our neighbors had invited us to the Fall Festival at their church. It sounded very family friendly, so we happily accepted. The plan was to leave directly from that and take the kids back to Antioch. They were supposed to be back there at 3pm.

As we are driving to the church, I happened to look in the rear view mirror, and Angel had a little bit of blood dripping out of her nose. I had my inadequate (and I mean INADEQUATE) make shift diaper bag with just a handful of wipes, so passed those back to her. Soon it was a gusher, and there was blood everywhere. Mark and I were at our wits end. We got to the church, and dug through the trunk of the car, and found a pack of napkins that we used to stop the bleeding.

I had Mark take the two youngest, so that I could help the oldest get cleaned up. Finally after about 10 minutes, the bleeding stopped, and we were able to get going and enjoy the fun.

The Fall Fest was awesome and the kids had a blast! They got to actually be kids, and played in the bounce house, and on the slide. Soon it was time to take the kids back. There were lots of tears, and frankly we were all exhausted.

I honestly wondered if we could deal with this on a day in, day out basis. As I drove back to Antioch, I could watch all 3 kids in my rear view mirror sound asleep. Soon, my dear hubby squeezed my hand and drifted off to sleep as well.

The reality of what we are doing continues to sink in. We worry about finances, day care, dogs, etc. Will this all work? Are we doing the right thing? Are we too old to be tackling these responsibilities? I look at there little faces full of innocence and realize that these poor kids just happened to be born to parents that made poor decisions.

We pulled up to their current foster home, and woke them up and took them to the door. There were lots of tears as the kids wanted to stay with us. We explained that wasn’t possible yet but we were working on it.

I walked down the path back to the car, and I heard the current foster parent say something to the little girl. The little one ran after me with big tears in her eyes and said that she didn’t want to stay…she wanted to come with us. I tried to dry her tears and told her that there were many other good times to have, and that we would see her within the week. She gave me a big hug and kiss, and resigned herself to go back in the house she’d run out of.

Mark and I climbed back into the car, and like a cow with the barn insight, we headed home and collapsed.

Our next visit with the kids would be on Halloween....