Saturday, January 31, 2015

The foster adventure continues...

I posted last week about our first adventure(s) in foster care and a lot of people have been asking me "what's next" or "what now."  So, I thought it was probably time for an update.  It's been a difficult decision, and one we haven't taken lightly, so we've spent a lot of time deciding what was right for us and for future foster children.

Our experience with J and Baby P taught us a couple of things:

1.  We are NOT prepared for this.  It's kind of like your first teaching job.  You were a student teacher, you took all the classes and wrote all the papers, have some lesson plans prepared and all sorts of stuff, but then the first day of class arrives and you realize you have a lot of book smarts, but zero idea of what you're doing.

Even though all of our friends have been so amazing (a special shout out here to Val, who was a total lifesaver in more ways than one), and so giving, we found ourselves at a loss.  At one point, I had baby P wearing a Harvard t-shirt and dinosaur pajama pants.  I gave up on matching outfits about half way through the first day.  She just kept throwing up on herself and everything I put her in, so I figured why bother?  Mike thought it was cute outfit and I'd done it on purpose.  He was totally wrong.

2.  We underestimated our schedules.  Between work and school, we are away from our home many more hours a day than we realized.  When J and Baby P were here, we took a couple days off (the plan was to settle them in for a couple days while they were being registered for day care).  However, we didn't have any back-up plan for when our schedules overlapped.  This is where Val came in.  Yay!  

3.  We are terrible at scheduling in general.  We easily lost track of time and didn't do dinner or bedtime at reasonable times.  Don't get me wrong, we made sure they ate!  But, dinner didn't happen until well after 7pm.  We do this to ourselves all the time.  We get distracted and don't start dinner until late in the evening.  But, we're adults, it's no big deal.  

4.  Going from zero kids to two kids was an insane idea.  There was no time for transition.  We went from lounging in bed on Monday morning to sleep-deprived emotional basket-cases on Wednesday.  I think we could have handed either J or Baby P, but both of them together was so overwhelming.  I've never been a parent.  I became Tori's step-mom when she was 13, so my experience is very limited.  I got a book and asked a LOT of questions... and managed to make it through one day.  The last thing we did together before they went back to their grandparents was go to the park.  J was super-happy there, and even Baby P was pretty pleased... she liked the baby swings, even though she threw up again.  I was the worst "mom" at the park.  My kids didn't have coats, snacks, water bottles, baby wipes... nothing.  I managed to get myself and the kids to the park.  Nothing else.  I felt very inferior.

All of this being said, we have decided to slow down our process a little bit.  While there are no shortage of children needing healthy and happy homes, we are afraid that we cannot be that home until we are a bit better prepared.  Since we "returned" J and Baby P, we have received 16 phone calls and at least 5 emails (I might have deleted some) asking us to take other children.  It's been 9 days.  So, that gives you a good idea of how many kids are actually out there needing homes.

Once we have a better plan in place (and Mike wants to wait until his annual eval is done -- he stresses out over eval time), we will try again.  We will probably only start with one child, but we will try again.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our first adventure(s) in foster care

So after all of the months and all of the paperwork, Mike and I are finally licensed foster parents.  The interviews and forms and inspections are over (at least for now) & the day we have anxiously awaited for months has arrived.  We can receive placements of foster children, either a single child or a sibling pair under five (think baby and toddler).

We were very excited last week when we got a call asking us to take placement of two young boys - a three month old baby and a three year old toddler.  We were told they had basically been abandoned by their mom - she was MIA and there were no relatives available to take them.  Since they'd already been in foster care about a month, the case worker told us this would likely be a long term placement with a potential for eventual adoption.  They were currently in separate foster homes and the case worker was looking for a home where they could live together for the duration.  We thought it sounded like a great match & told the case worker to go ahead and set up a visit for Monday.

Fast forward to Tuesday.  After some miscommunications and scheduling issues, the case worker told us to come to Child Haven on Tuesday morning to meet, and potentially take home the boys.  We got there, and waited... and waited...

Finally, the case worker came.  She apologized for the delays and told us that circumstances had changed (about 30 seconds prior).  The baby's foster mother did not want to give him to another family.  Despite the fact that she'd repeatedly told the worker that she didn't want to take custody of the older boy, she was now willing to do so in order to keep the baby.  She had decided that on the way to Child Haven.  She had the baby, and all of the baby's things.  She actually introduced us to the baby.

Yup, you read that right.  It was an "I don't want to, but if I have to, I will" situation.  We were upset and confused and more than a little disappointed.  But we rolled with it and went back home.

About two hours later, another case worker called.  She asked us if we'd be willing to take another sibling pair -- this time, a four year old boy (J) and  his 10 month old sister (P).  J and Baby P had been at Child Haven for a few days.  The case worker had been looking for relatives who could take them, but hadn't had any luck, so she thought this would be a medium to long term placement.  She said both kids were healthy and friendly - no major concerns & if we wanted, we could come meet them.  We figured we might as well - we were planning on taking kids on Tuesday, it didn't really matter that these were different kids.

We went to Child Haven and met a very friendly (but very sad) little boy and an adorable (but fussy) little girl.  After sitting with them for a little while, we brought J and Baby P home with us.  There was some chaos in getting them home - but generally it went ok.  We swung by the store to pick up a few things and then went home.  We played some games, watched a movie, and then it was bedtime.  Baby P was not a big fan of bedtime.  She'd been a little sick, but they told us it seemed to have passed.  Despite this, she puked -- a lot.  She also wanted to be held - ALL. THE. TIME.  Like, she didn't sleep because she wanted to be held.  I could not put this baby down... and it had to be ME holding her.  She hated Mike.  She fussed if he looked at her too long and screamed if he touched her. 

Mike thought this was very weird, as generally babies do  not hate him.  Babies LOVE Mike.  So the duties were pretty split -- Mike "took care of" J, which essentially involved playing zombies and video games, while I held Baby P for the better part of 24 hours.  It was so overwhelming.  She cried and cried.  I didn't know what she wanted and the only thing that made her kind of happy was being held.  Even then, she was fussy.  She slept briefly from time to time, but I still couldn't put her down for fear of waking her back up.  I was exhausted and questioning the decision to become foster parents in the first place.  If I couldn't handle this for a single day, how could I do it long term?  Finally, after a particularly rough moment, which involved some crying on my part, Mike took Baby P and told me to get out of the house for a few minutes to clear my head and get some peace and quiet.

On Wednesday, I tried to hit the ground running.... even though Baby P didn't let me get much sleep, I did what I needed to do to enroll the kiddos in day care so Mike and I could go back to work on Thursday.  I also tried to set up their required well-child appointments and such.  I even managed to pack both kids into the car and run errands for a couple hours.  J was really well behaved and Baby P slept for a good portion of it.  Just as I was finishing up all of the paperwork to enroll them in daycare, the case worker called me.  I thought she was just checking in... but I was wrong.

As it turned out, the grandparents and uncle of J and Baby P came to get the kids.  Unbeknownst to anyone, Uncle and grandparents were the primary caregivers and the kids had been removed while they were visiting with mom for a few days (from my understanding, they were out of town and very shocked to come home to find the kids missing).  For some reason, no one told CPS this information when the kids were removed.  Whatever the reason, the grandparents were able to show they were the primary caregivers and mom was generally uninvolved.  They filled out some paperwork, did a quick background check and then we brought the kids to be reunified.

In all, they were in our home about 30 hours.  It was not what we expected.  It was bittersweet to let them go so soon. We had, believe it or not, already begun to form a bond. Even Mike had to admit that he was a bit sad to see Baby P go - despite her hatred. 

That was 24 hours ago. Since then, we have been asked twice more to take other placements. The first time was as we were dropping off J and P. We told them we needed a couple days to reset...  

Soon the adventure will continue. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Everybody likes free stuff, right?

Just before Christmas, Influenster sent me their #FrostyVoxBox as a holiday gift.  In exchange, I'm supposed to write about it and tell everyone what I think.  This is actually the third such box I've received in the past year or so, but it's the first time that they've asked me to post my thoughts on my blog.  I have liked the past boxes they sent me, but this one seems the most like things I would actually buy -- with the exception of the makeup colors.

(If you want free stuff as well, sign up with Influenster - it's totally free and you really don't have to do anything.  If you meet their target demographic, they'll send you a box of stuff.  They ask that you post on Facebook/Instagram/etc in return.  If you have questions, just ask me and I'll be happy to explain... it's pretty easy.)

So, this is what I got.  It's sort of hard to see everything - but it included

1.  Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
2.  Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl eyeliner (in something that I'd like to call super-black)
3.  New York Color Expert Lip color (in Sugarplum)
4.  Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane green tea
5.  McCormick Gourmet all-natural Thyme (yes, a bottle of thyme)
6.  Cherry Fruit Vines bites
7.  Boots No. 7 Protect & Prevent (teeny sample envelopes)
8.  Eco-Tools style & smooth hairbrush.

I'll start with the makeup - because this morning I used both the eyeliner and the lipstick.

The eyeliner is just too much for me.  It's VERY dark.  It goes on  nice and smooth and smudges a little bit when I want it to (notice that I completely removed it above my eye on the right side?), but it's just too dark.  I got a soft grey eyeliner in a different brand recently, and while the Rimmel liner is a little smoother going on, the color makes it difficult to think I'll wear it again -- at least not to work.

The lip color was good for me.  It was called "sugarplum" and looked very odd in the tube, but it actually looked really nice on me.  It was soft and smooth, but it didn't stay put very long.  I'm pretty sure it said "long lasting" on the tube.  If so, it lied.

**A note on the colors** 

I have received makeup in every VoxBox Influenster has sent me.  Without fail, the colors have been wrong for me.  This lipstick is actually the exception.  I have gotten insanely black mascara and eyeliner, some blood-red lipstick and some weird purple eyeshadow.  The products themselves haven't been bad, but the colors are weird.  I think this has much more to do with my coloring than Influenster's choices.  The majority of the population can probably wear super-black eyeliner and purple eyeshadow.  I'm just not one of those people.

Ok... now to make quick work of the rest of those things in the box...

The makeup remover - was helpful in removing the eyeliner.  I am out of makeup remover, so it came in handy.  Had it not been for this, I'd probably have to wear the eyeliner to work again tomorrow.  It's not really going anywhere on its own.  I don't buy a lot of makeup remover.  I typically get it when it comes bundled with something else.  This was no better or no worse than anything else I've used and I got a good sized bottle, so it will probably last me a long time.

Fruit Vines bites -- super delicious.  They taste like regular fruit vines, which I love, but come in a bite-size format.  They are like Cherry Nibs, which I also love.  Really, I just love red licorice.  

Tea -  eh.  It's peppermint green tea.  Not a fan.

The Boots serum was tiny.  It's supposed to make my skin fabulous, but I only got a couple applications of it, so I can't understand how that's going to make me fabulous.

McCormick's Gourmet Thyme -  I'm not sure how this is different than regular Thyme.  It's in a slightly fancier bottle.  I did use some of it on my Christmas prime rib, but again, I don't know how that's different than if I would have used regular Thyme.  It doesn't seem to be much (if any) fresher or lusher, or whatever.  It's dried thyme.

Last but not least, the hairbrush.  You can see that pretty well in the original picture.  It's a really great brush made with bamboo.  I've only used it a couple of times, but it's a pretty fabulous brush.  If I needed to buy a new hairbrush, which I don't now because I got one for free, this is the type I would buy.  I'm fairly certain it will last quite a while, which makes me happy.  :D

So, that's it.  In exchange for a box full of free stuff, I tried it out and gave my opinions.  Clearly, I'm not paid for this in any way (aside from in free stuff), because I think some of the stuff is terrible.  And there you have it... free stuff 101.