Prioritizing life.

When I don’t blog as often it means I’m fully engaged in life; I’ll no longer be apologizing for my absence.I kicked ass at the weight loss challenge, I’m currently down 40lbs. I feel pretty good about myself and enjoy buying new clothes! Husband is down 25 pounds. We both have plateaued, Husband has been stuck at 25 pound loss and it took me a month to drop the last 5 pounds to achieve my goal weight. Now I’m working on building muscle, I’m not too concerned about the number on the scale. The problem with building muscle is adding more exercise… I loathe exercise. I’m doing the bare minimum when it comes to exercise, I simply don’t want to do more.The kids are doing kid things. School will be finished soon, yay! The new cheer season is starting soon, the kids have camps, summer school, travel, and work. I anticipate great grades from all of the kids in the home.Boychild was issued In School Suspension for receiving his 5th referral of the school year. Boychild is grounded until the last day of school due to the suspension. His grades are steadily improving and his reading skills are at grade level. He asked me about going to summer school but I don’t think he’ll be a candidate, he wants to be like his sisters and get extra credits for school by attending summer school. In Junior High they don’t typically have programs like that, summer school is for students who need extra help to be at grade level. Boychild is participating in the teachers vs. students volleyball tournament next week, he is looking forward to it.Bunny is going to start her journey into student council! I’m especially excited because I had wanted my other kids to participate but they had little interest (or were removed from student council for fist fighting, heeeey Boychild. 😆) Her grades aren’t as strong as they were in the past years but they’re still solid A’s & B’s. Bunny has been slacking on reading and AR points, I’m hoping she’ll get it all squared away by next week.Biscuit has been quite busy, I don’t see her much. Between cheer, social events, and boys… Her grades are good and she’s gearing up for the Planet Fitness scholarship program. She will be driving soon, aaah! She is a great big sister, she is constantly taking her little sisters to do things.Blue is doing substantially better! She has been working on repairing relationships, reading self help books, and keeping that 4.0 GPA. I feel like she’s learning lots of things and has been keen on applying the knowledge in everyday life.Lemon is over the moon because she has been throwing her backhandspring. It’s a new skill and it pleases her a great deal! She is doing well at school and she’s an avid reader.Smile has struggling with positive relationships, safe boundaries, and being respectful in general. She is trying to do too many things at once, I feel she may e overwhelmed. Although, Smile is great with the family and is helpful in many ways at home. She is quick to help with dinner or to keep me company on the many car trips a day.Lovely has been on one, she had a meeting with car salesman caseworker and apparently she’s allowed to do whatever she wants which includes but isn’t limited to cursing, throwing away her clothes, teaching the younger children in the home to shave their legs, not do homework, and have a bad attitude in general. I’ve not heard from the caseworker, he hates me so I just roll with the punches. She has good grades despite the conflict she creates at school and has made many friends.Blink is doing well, she is doing well at school in regards to school work but she does struggle a bit with personal boundaries. She is a jokester and makes people laugh and sometimes she takes things too far. We have in home support, they’re here daily and we enjoy the company of the team. In addition; the team has really helped Blink come out of her shell and go into the community. I’m truly grateful for the team for not only for helping Blink but also for incorporating the entire family into activities. CFSS is the bomb and I highly recommend their services!This summer we have anticipated movement with a few children, it always seems to work out this way! Last summer we didn’t have any placements during travel times and it was tremendously easier to find care for the remaining children. Let’s be honest, no one wants to look after 6-8 kids for 2 weeks. After looking at all of the summer activities I’m beginning to think we may not have time to visit Indonesia! We planned on taking Biscuit, Blue, and Smile on this trip. Apparently teenage girls have a lot of things going on during the summer. We could postpone until next summer if needed be. I’ve completed over 250 Indonesian lessons, I’m going to do well communicating when the time comes.Florida has come and gone, neither girls teams made top 3. The kids had a great time both competing at ESPN and at the Disney parks. I was burnt out, exhausted, and done in general. I’ll end the post with some photos!The boy refused photographs, he’s at the age where he wants to look cool all the time. He insists on looking over every photo taken of him and decides that they all suck and that they’re not worthy of posting. Maybe I can convince him to let me take a few hundred thousand pictures… perhaps I’ll get a ‘decent’ photo then. 🙄

It’s been 5 days

Five days since Loud has departed and let me tell you how wonderful these last 5 days have been. I’ve left my house with my family more in those 5 days than I have in 7 months. It has been wonderful to not constantly supervise one child, I’ve enjoyed my children as a whole, and I’m able to spend more time with my husband. We were also put back on the call list for potential placement. In any case, let me tell you about Sunday… our budgeting excecise. We all went to the Swap meet, Husband and I, all 7 of my kids, 2 of my kids friends, and my parents. Each child was given $10 for a game.

The game rules were as follows:

This is a QUANTITY over QUALITY exercise, very different from our usual quality over quantity teachings.

You cannot combine money with your partner, if you choose to shop with a partner.

You must barter at least once with a vendor or discuss a price reduction.

Bags of beans, a ream of paper, seeds, or other tiny items are not allowed. However, a box/bag/set of smaller items could be counted individually such as markers, doll shoes, or a socket set.

Food is permitted.

Free items are permitted and encouraged.

Children under the age of 12 had to have an adult to supervise.

He who has the most items wins everyone else’s loot.

This was a fun exercise! The kids were really thoughtful in their purchases. In fact we were surprised at the winning number of items; over 700 items. The older children had a better grasp of the ordeal and took it to the max! Some of the items purchased were baby tomatos, blackberries, decorative toothpicks with unicorns adorning the tops, Barbie dresses, polished rocks, pieces of candy, stickers, super glue, a bag of unknown electrical (?) parts, mouth pieces, and a pineapple.

The kids results were 700, 680, 350, 327, 280 189 and I can’t remember the other numbers, I believe the stopped counting when they heard the numbers above 500.

The downside? Now we have $90 worth of crap floating around the house. The winner was kind enough to give the younger girls a few trinkets they had purchased during the swap meet trip.

Also, we have a new placement arriving tonight. A 13 year old female not from our county, I haven’t met her yet but I’ve decided to call her Blink because she happened in a blink! Loud left us 5 days ago and now our adventure continues. I hope Loud feels loved and safe, while he isn’t here at our home I find myself thinking about him quite a bit.

Inner turmoil

There’s always something. It seems like everything fell apart all at once. I’ve got 2 of my girls (Blue and Smiley <—- is that what I named my 13 year old placement? I can’t remember) in a Tuesday night intervention group at home that the girls lovingly call Talking Tuesdays. We pretty much have a personalized self help/enrichment meeting in our bedroom, it’s really been eye-opening and helpful when addressing behaviors. It forces the girls to be held accountable for said behaviors. It’s a self exploratory that’s guided by us, the parents!

My difficult placement continues to spiral out of control; there was a school threat and things have escalated quite dramatically. The child is becoming more and more volatile; school, home, and after care have all noted the concern, it is unsettling. Imagine being stuck in a current fight or flight status, how awful this poor boy must feel. My heart aches for him… I’m pushing harder than ever to have him placed in a therapuetic environment, he needs help. This boy is exhausting himself emotionally, I simply cannot imagine his inner turmoil. I, too, am emotionally drained and I’m done repairing things this child has destroyed. From holes in the walls, writing on walls, breaking dresser drawers, ripping a ceiling fan from ceiling, drawing with a permanent marker all over his bedding and bed frame, constant supervision is 100% necessary and my lack of supervision is to blame. This child is not a typical 8 year old boy, oh no. This sweet child has endured years of trauma, trauma overlooked by everyone that he trusted in his life. Again, my heart aches. I simply cannot imagine being in his shoes, why do parents neglect their children? How could anyone purposefully treat a child in a way that could damage them? This is the shitty side of foster care. Defeat.

I’m not a perfect mom. I’ve screwed up quite a bit during my years as a parent, I still screw up. No on really knows what they’re doing when it comes to parenting but if you truly care and are doing your absolute best; hats off to you! Educate yourself, ask for help, read books, YouTube, anything and everything could be used as a parenting tool. My favorite educational tool in regards to raising children is parents I admire, they’re always keen on giving their parenting tools to anyone who’s interested. Seeing as I’m struggling with half my gaggle of children it’s hard for me to hone in on better parenting techniques. It’s extremely difficult to parent anyone in my home when I’ve got a full time job with my difficult placement, I feel as if I’m unavailable to parent other children because I’ve exhausted myself on every level tending to the troublesome child.

I’m less of a mother.

Talk about a painful realization. I’ve got less time to police Boychild’s homework, grades, and video game time. I’ve got less time to help with Honors English papers, ask about peer relationships, and recent accomplishments with Blue, Smiley, and Biscuit. I’ve been completely unavailable to my older, grown daughters who are living away from home. I’ve got less time bonding with my other placement who I’ve not written about in so long that I cannot remember her alias on my blog. I’ve got less time to read with Lemon and less time to wrestle with Bunny. I noticed last night as I had all of the kids leave the kitchen while preparing dinner, that used to be a time when we came together to cut vegetables and learn about nutrition. I had to ask them to leave as my difficult placement is my shadow and simply cannot operate within groups. My family is suffering without a mother. I am responsible for this. These reasons are precisely why I’m pushing for a therapuetic home for this young boy, I simply cannot give him what he needs and I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my family dynamic.

It’s not up to me where this child goes, the case team will find something on their time and that’s just fine. I simply need a light at the end of my tunnel, a simple ray of hope to keep me going. I’ve been in the dark for such a long time. Just because I’ve asked for a move doesn’t mean it’s going to be granted; however there is the option of my volunteering a disruption via my licensing agency. I’m not quite there… where I throw my hands into the air and quit, I’m pleased that the case team finally heard my words and is considering moving the child. That’s just enough for me right now and I’m choosing to make the best of it.

New placement

Yay! I love getting new placements. Smile is 13 and she is adorable, tall and you guessed it… smiley. I got her enrolled in school before she arrived at our home, I’ll likely keep her home for a couple of days before throwing her to the wolves at school, give her a little break. This kid had earned a break, no doubt!

That’s all I’ve got for now, toodles;

Open bed!

With Tata’s departure that leaves us with an open bed. I spoke with my licensing worker about the potential adoptive placement and it was an open and shut case, she needed to stay in the city she is currently residing in. I’m beginning to feel like this adoption stuff is for the birds! While I have had a successful adoption via foster care, it took long time to become completed. I truly thought that finding an adoptable child would be easy; older children need homes. I have jumped through hoops, sent my homestudy to various agencies (over 20 times,) and made it quite clear to my team that adoption was my motive. I enjoy foster care and I LOVE when kids are reunified with their bio families, but we’d like to offer a permanent solution to a child.

Loud and Lovely’s case is a mess, I’m unsure where it will go. We’ve got different bio dad’s, accusations, missed visits, behaviors, no contact with other siblings, a nonexsistant case worker, and more excuses than I can deal with. Lovely is a good girl, a hard worker and she is eager to please. Her bio family has instilled in her that excuses make everything better. All things, both big and small, there is an excuse for. It drives me batty. ‘My mom was a teenager when she had me, that’s why she doesn’t know how to take care of us.’ or ‘My mom asked me lie to the case worker so they could just get out of our lives, she doesn’t know any better.’ My favorite so far, and by favorite I mean it’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard ‘I can’t go outside with everyone, I’m allergic to grass and I’ll get hives everywhere.’ GUYS! We live in the desert, there is no grass in the vicinity of my home… not for miles. Also, she isn’t allergic to anything according to her medical records.

Loud had made some huge improvements in the last couple of weeks, now we are back tracking. He has started acting out again, I took him out into the community as his behaviors were improving tremendously… big mistake. Mohave County Mama learned a damn lesson. I think I had moved too fast, he clearly needs more time to develop the skills that we are teaching him. In addition; mental health continues to be a joke. I’m getting nowhere. I’m anxious about Halloween, how in the heck am I going to manage Loud? I’ll be brainstorming.

I’m doing surprisingly well, amazing actually. I had a blip in the mental health department a few months ago, stayed objective, made some changes, and I am officially an Overcomer! In fact, I’ve never felt better emotionally… physically not so much. I’m sorta fat. One thing at a time, right?! I’ll get less fat next, I mean… what else have I got to do? I’m not working, so yeah. Well, I’ve been toying with the idea to head back to school.

Husband has been stressed out and that brings on the snoring, WTF man? I’m trying to get my fat girl sleep here. All that snoring leaves me a bit cranky and irritable BUT, hey, there are worse things in life than a snoring husband. For example, a rabid Chihuahua backing you into a fire pit full of cobras or panties full of porcupine quills during a 5k. See, I’m an optimist. Snoring is legit. My Fitbit says I’m not hitting my sleep target, that’s all I’m saying.

In closing I’d like to say that I’m very upset that I did not with the billion dollar Mega Millions. Total crap.

Adios, Tata!

Tata has left our home, she was moved in with her siblings out of our county. I was happy to see her go as she truly missed her siblings. I received a phone call yesterday informing me that her caseworker had changed AGAIN and that Tata would be picked up at 8am the following morning. Short notice… my favorite. 😯 I sent a bag of dirty laundry with her, I wanted to make sure she had all of her things. She came here with nothing and left with a large box and 2 duffle bags full of items. I’ll sure miss her, she was loud, obnoxious and constantly laughing. I hope one day she is reunited with her family!

A ray of sunshine

Good news, Loud’s behavior is improving. Not a landslide by any means but we have progress! Yay! I’ve taken him into the community once this week and his outburst was small and was only about 20 minutes. Yes, ONLY 20 minutes. That’s a tremendous improvement in comparison to the 2 hour tantrums. I’m proud of him. He has improved a little in school too, I think he has it figured out; we are all talking, collectively, and the entire team is holding him accountable. Today both Loud and Lovely had a family visit and it they were a no show, Loud did NOT take that well.

Lovely is doing well, she is working on her confidence and speaking up. She has been told her entire life that her voice doesn’t matter and her self esteem is wrecked. I’m all about empowering her, praising her for speaking up, and rewarding her for a job well done. Lovely eats up words of affirmation and continues to try her hardest. Our next feat is speech therapy, I bet her confidence will skyrocket after a few weeks of speech both inside and outside of school.

Tata is struggling, poor baby. Her caseworker is nonexistent and she really would enjoy a family visit. I’ve emailed about it, called about it, a d the only answer I’ve been given is that she’s probably being moved to a new home with her siblings. It seems odd to me that they’d move her at all because typically the state doesn’t like moving kids from here to there as it’s bad for the children. Sadly, I haven’t gotten much at all from her caseworker. It’s been a month, I should be seeing her caseworker soon as it it required that we have a monthly face to face meeting.

It’s fall break! We aren’t going to do much as taking Loud anywhere is hard, he does much better solo and we have made improvements and I don’t want to backtrack. I am going to request respite for him for a couple of days so I can take Lovely and Tata to ride a rollercoaster… they’ve never been on one before! It’s hard to get respite in general but even harder for a child with behaviors, I guess time will tell. I’d love to give the girls the gift of the rollercoaster experience!

Grading for the kids have come and gone, I’ve got a group of smart kids! I’ve got a pile of awards from all of the kids, I’m a proud mama!

Football has started, both Bunny and Boychild have enjoyed it. They both had their first games over the weekend and they cannot wait to get back to practicing.

Cheer, cheer, cheer.

Jet Ski Finals are now completed, yay!

I’ve gone through and bought all the kids new bedding and jackets to prepare for the winter. Eight bedding sets and eight winter coats. Cha-ching.

Biscuit is going on a trip with her friends during fall break, to Huntington Beach. Boys are going too. My mama spidey sense is tingling. 🙄

Blue has a boyfriend, she spend time with him as much as possible.

Boychild has moved up in the world as he is quickly approaching his 12th year on earth. He is no longer considered one of the ‘little’ kids and now has more privileges.

Bunny is a sassy, bratty, diva. She is at the age that makes me want to knock her little head off. I love her, undoubtedly. She is my most challenging child right now. Yes, even with Loud and the tantrums.

Lemon is a bright little girl, she is reading at a second grade level right now and is exceptional at math. She reminds me a lot of Biscuit when she was younger. Smarty pants!

Halloween is coming, I cannot wait! Costumes and fun. Most of the kids have decided what they’d like to be.

It’s time for me to make dinner and enjoy the cool weather!

A little of this a little of that

The cheer season has been going full speed ahead, Biscuit is on two teams (she is filling in on a third team as well) and Blue, Bunny, and Lemon are each on one team. I’m forever thankful for my friends who help drop off my oldest girl after late practices; they’re the real MVP.

Football has started for Boychild and Bunny.

Tata, Lovely, and Loud have been participating in various activities when time permits. I’m still working on getting visits and mental health lined up, after that is squared away I can get them into something more scheduled.

Loud continues to have emotional outbursts resulting in calls/requests to pick him from school, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

Boychild had some difficulties at school a few weeks ago and is no longer involved in Student Council. Fistfighting is frowned upon when you’re representing your school. He is involved in Foreign Language Club and a kindness/anti-bullying club; he is currently making bookmarks with words of affirmation.

Bunny had some issues earlier this week as well, she wrote something naughty on a table with a special blacklight marker. She spent the remainder of her evening doing community service (cleaning various parts of the facility where the crime took place.)

Between the vandalism, tantrums, and fighting there are good things to report as well. Everyone has been doing splendidly on their chores and keeping their personal space clean (except me, pfft.) Everyone is doing fairly well in school, I have decided to take a break in regards to teaching (OMG, my mental health loves me for that one,) and I’ve managed to get a nice routine in play with all the younger kids in the household. Also, I have been seeing Husband more and that is a real treat. For a while I felt like I had only seen him in passing and that was not a good feeling; I’m fixing all of the wonky parts of my life right now. Self care is the poo, y’all.

I have been to multiple job interviews and I’m not sure working is in my cards right now; I may take a hiatus.

WELL…

Unless, I can get the ‘perfect’ job, working for a non profit regarding youth with an excellent benefits package. I’m dreaming! The job market in my area is minuscule and then add in my criteria and that pretty much returns a big fat ‘0.’

I went to a foster care support meeting this week, it was nice. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, it seems like the foster families that I meet are the polar opposite of myself. The families that I met were fostering the younger age range 0-2, kinship aged 2-4, and one family who had 8-13 in their home currently. Obviously, anyone within earshot that hears me say I’ve got 8 kids automatically dies a little on the inside. Their minds are filled with instant pandemonium. Foster parents see it WAY worse, they understand the fortitude of foster children. Foster parents have experienced a plethora of behaviors, both good and bad, and when they hear about how many kids are in the home they tend to freeze. You can see it in their eyes; they’re judging. They don’t do it to be jerks, no no. They start by thinking ‘great, they’re in it for the money,’ it is a natural thing to do. (I’m not offended because I know why I provide foster care, I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone.) Then, after that fleeting thought… it moves towards insanity. Foster peers think we are out of our damn minds. Shortly after those two processed thoughts are hashed through, the real deal moves to their frontal lobe and they get those big dumb heart eyes. In any case, it was nice to vent with other peers and get an inside look of what other people in my position go through. I’m unsure of what Im supposed to gain from these meetings but ideally I hope to find some friends, supports, and respite care.

And, last but not least… I need to take the boys to get haircuts. Ah, the life of me. Glamorous. Don’t be jealous.

Remember this?

I last shared, prior to getting my placements, that my interest was piqued in regards to a 12 year old girl that was seeking a large family and that I had been contacted regarding to placement and adoption. Well, that was complete crap. It it a pretty shady ordeal, they can only disclose very small pieces of the case during the inquiry while letting you get emotionally involved. During a 6-8 week process they can pick you apart as the family who wishes to adopt but you get minimal information… but not medical or behavorial stuff.

I indicated to the the CSR specialist to call my licensing worker and disclose all of the information to him as there is a loophole in the process. Although he isn’t allowed to disclose any information to me, he can get the nitty gritty. I trust him to make the call for me, he knows my family dynamic and what I’m willing to have in my home in regards to placement. The CSR specialist called my licensing worker, disclosed all the things, he knew it wasn’t a good fit and it was closed down. I hope that anyone who is looking into a CSR child can find this information helpful and time saving, not to mention avoiding yet another emotional rollercoaster.

It was a CSR ordeal which pretty much equates to kids that are EXTREMELY hard to place due to behaviors, multiple placements, etc.

I’ve learned enough about photolistings, CSR’s, and adoptive searches in general. The masses are correct; it is a waste of time and pointless. Despite my initial feelings about everyone else failures being a personality flaw or getting emotionally attached to a picture of a child, everyone was right. It is complete garbage. I’m objective, even during my emotional bit during this journey.

I don’t like being this pessimistic but the proof is in the pudding.

TL;DR

Don’t bother looking at photolistings ot CSR’s. It’s a lost cause or a trap.

Whirlwind!

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that we have been on the quest to find another family member, someone looking for an adoptive home. You’ll also know that the search has been an emotional, and fruitless, adventure. I’ve sent out more than 20 homestudies and I figured my door would be beaten down by all of the responses. But…no. Recently, I dealt with the disappointment by fooling myself into thinking the ‘1st and 15th’ rule (homestudies are typically reviewed the 1st ans 15th of each month, not as they trickle in to the DCS caseworkers hands) applied to us. The 15th came and went, in the last week I had only received 2 calls, both in Arizona. WTF. The first child was not a match per my criteria and the second one was a courtesy call letting me know the the child would only be placed in the Phoenix Metro area. Oh, and shortly after this disappointment I was notified that my agency would begin charging me a flat rate or or per word rate, depending on which option I chose, to send out my homestudy to other states. Fabulous. Now I’m being penalized for attempting to find a child a forever home. This whole adoption search is a pain in the ass.

I am no longer seeking out a child via adoption listings or CSR’s. I feel like it is emotionally drained me, changed my outlook on adoption via foster care, and made me more of a pessimist that I’ve ever been in my adult life. In fact, I feel a lot of negative feelings regarding the foster care system and how the adoption sector is managed in general. I found myself saying, for the first time since I’ve become a foster parent, some things negative about foster care. That’s unheard of! I’m a huge advocate for children, how the foster system works, etc. And there I was, bad mouthing something I truly believed in.

I believe that a successful foster parent will always let the child in their care know that they are supported, care about their feelings, and truly want them to go home. A successful foster parent will fight for what the child wants (older children) or what is in their best interest (younger child.) A successful foster parent will never badmouth the system, the immediate working staff, nor the parents of the child…despite how much we dislike their parents choices or treatment of the child in our care.

Foster care works, reunification happens. Oftentimes parents don’t do the things required to regain custody of their children; adoption via foster care works too. Family is family, blood or bond. I need to remind myself of these things because I feel sad and let down about this adoption photolisting ordeal. Maybe this is part of my plan, God is pushing me elsewhere because it’s where I’m supposed to be. Maybe I’m not to be adopting via photolistings and God has called me to only provide temporary care for children in need. I hate to be a pessimist, but I should have heeded warnings about photolistings and other people’s personal experiences. For some reason I thought I’d do better… I was wrong. I didn’t do better, I am not better.

Onto a brighter note! My licensing agency forwards me CSR’s (adoption flyers from in state and in house) I have struck out there too. I’ve inquired and gotten responses fairly quickly BUT often times the children in these CSR’s have severe behaviors or are sexualized in some way/shape/form. I’m not equipped to deal with that, or a plethora of other things that our household had deemed unacceptable. Anyway, our homestudy had been dropped onto a desk, a desk of a coworker within our agency in the Phoenix office, and we received a call about a child. A child that has not been listed yet on any adoption sites, that currently lives in a group home nearby. I had played phone tag for a week or so with a stranger, unfamiliar number = no answer. There was never a voicemail left, I never thought twice about it. That is until Husband had called me and let me know that this adoption recruiter was looking to communicate with us regarding placement.

Placement is the operative word. This child is not legally free for adoption but the state and case team anticipate rights to be terminated. I was given very little information regarding the child and then a host of proceedings, including a 2 hour phone interview set up for Monday evening.

The information I was given is as follows: female, 12, wants a large family. My interest was piqued, I like kids and I have a large family.

Once the phone interview is completed and they feel we could be a potential match they will disclose all the information regarding the child during the same phone call. I wonder if they’ll let me see a picture of her? Not that it matters much, I’m merely curious. After the interview and information exchange my homestudy and interviewers opinion will all be presented to a board of people who decided if it’s a good match. If it is a good match we can facetime/phone chat with the child then move onto meeting her in person shortly after. If things go well transition to our home happens.

I also received a placement call around 1am regarding a sibling set. Naturally, I was sleeping at 1am! I returned the call this morning and the on call placement person referred me to the DCYS, I’ll likely hear from them tomorrow unless they’ve found placement already.

What a ride it has been.