A light, a shimmer, a spark

It’s been dark for 7 months, my family and I have made the ultimate sacrifice for a child in need. We have become prisoners in our home unable to leave the confines of our home due to Loud’s behaviors. When are able to get out of the house myself or Husband had to stay home to look after Loud. The only time I was away from him was during cheer competitions while he was in respite, it wasn’t REALLY respite it was purely out of necessity; my kids were committed to a sport and I had to meet the expectations so my girls could compete. My heart bleeds for this kid, he wants to behave better but he hasn’t got the skills to do so.

I’ve spent countless hours attempting to get Loud services and a solid mental health treatment. I’ve called, written emails, left voicemails, sought out peers who deal with difficult children and children with special needs, I’ve spent time communicating with his teacher and countless school officials, I’ve been at the police department seeking advice, I’ve attended trainings, I’ve asked everyone I know how they would approach Loud and his behaviors, I’ve read books, I’ve cried, and I’ve prayed. I have done everything in my power to help this little boy. It’s time. You have to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

It’s difficult to come to terms with yourself, it’s difficult to attempt to see yourself as anything other than a failure. It’s also difficult to feel a sense of relief at the mere thought of of him being moved or disrupting placement. This is new. I’ve been happy to see placements go home, I’ve been happy not only for their reunification but also their lack of presence in my home. But I’ve not felt THIS way before. As I reread this paragraph I see a lot of ‘difficult’ and lots of ‘I’ statements. It hurts. The last 7 months Loud has simply been referred to as my ‘difficult’ placement. It’s painful yet true.

Shockingly, Loud’s case team has decided to make some abrupt changes. I feel relieved. I feel pleased. I feel like this little dark cloud that’s followed me is starting to clear up and I feel hope again. In fact, I feel excited and levels of happy that ceased to exist for several months. I don’t feel an ounce of sadness nor do I feel guilty. I am simply relieved of copious amounts of stress and feel like my family will be allowed to live again… no more walking on eggshells and no more mom guilt for telling the kids we can’t go somewhere or do something. No more excuses that just don’t make sense.

It’s time to say goodbye. It’s time for a recharge.

We have spent the last week treating Loud to simple pleasures. Blue has made cupcakes in his favorite colors, I’ve let him choose dinner nightly, spent extra time with him, let him stay up passed bedtime, etc. I hope he remember the good times and I hope he knows we care about him. Wherever he goes, I hope he gets the therapuetic help he needs.

In other news, I’ve recently changed the age range of our foster license. I’m now in the 12-18 age range and females only. I’ve learned a lot about my family’s dynamic and where our niche lies in the many years of providing foster care for our community. We are successful with girls and we are not successful with boys… especially younger boys.

I’m currently attempting to learn Indonesian, if any of my readers have a friend or family member who is a fluent speaker or perhaps you know a resident of Indonesia please introduce us. Terima kasih!

Now, pictures from our recent cheer competition.

The Boychild spent the weekend with his best friend, it was much needed. His best friend has been dealt a crappy hand regarding life. His father died unexpectedly 2 years ago and he has been living with his step mother during his custody case, last week his bio mother took her own life. This kid is 11 years old, it’s heartbreaking. We are all anxiously awaiting closure.

Fin!

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.

The problem isn’t the problem… your reaction is.

I’ve learned a lot during my 37 years on earth, but the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is about human reactions. I’ve learned that people want reactions in every aspect of life, whether it’s praise for a job well done or something critical that hurts a person. We have all done things for be particular reactions; hello human nature.

React or respond.

Reactions are quick, they’re developed in an instant. When you do or say something without thinking… you’re on auto pilot and your unconscious brain does the footwork. For some people it’s a defense mechanism; rest assured that most people regret reactions later. Responding is a slower process; instead of that quick clap back you tend to be more logical and you consider the other persons feelings in addition to putting yourself in their position.

I often struggle with my unconscious side during day to day interactions, I react. I run my mouth, I’m boisterous, uncouth, and generally unremorseful of the sometimes hurtful things I say. However, when it comes to parenting or conflict I’ve got the responding part in the bag. I don’t yell. Wait. I do yell but I don’t yell at people. I holler down the hall at the kids to stop fighting or playing ball in the house like any other parent. I’ve learned when you yell at someone they stop listening.

React = loss of power.

Respond = empowerment.

You can change. Train your brain! Get the education on your own time, you don’t need a training or class. You have Google… what a time to be alive! If you’d rather not read articles, watch YouTube videos, or pick up a book you can start by trying self help. Simple things to ask yourself to start the process are what would be a better response? Could I have been more compassionate? Why did I react that way?

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.

Feeding a family of 10 on a budget.

(Many foster children are picky eaters only because they’ve only had boxed prepared foods such as Top Ramen, boxed mac n cheese, corn dogs, frozen dinners, etc and getting they to eat some of the things we prepare is often difficult. When we get new placement we try to incorporate some comfort type foods into our meal plans.)

Step one: make friends with your grocery butcher. I’m get a phone call or text when bonless skinless thighs go on sale for .47lb or red meat for .99lb, they usually set aside 40-80lbs for me.

Step two: do not meal plan. Yes. I said it. Meal planning is for people who have extra time and I simply don’t. I work full time and I mom full time…quality time with my family is more important than planning a damn meal. You’ve got to be able to plan dinner on the fly. I typically have things in mind when I’m grocery shopping; it truly depends what’s on sale. Also, I always plan to make one childs favorite meal a week and I’ll buy the items needed even if they’re not on sale.

Step three: you’d better have a ton of spices and staples at home. Milk, cheese, heavy whipping cream, butter, bread, boxed pasta, and garlic are critical.

Step four: have a backup plan for the days you had to rush out and forget to fill the crockpot. Breakfast for dinner is always a quick oops dinner or ‘Snacky Dinner’ is one of my backups. A Snacky Dinner is pretty much fend for yourself; leftovers, cereal, mac’n’cheese, ramen, salad, sandwiches, etc. This isn’t a mom fail, it isn’t a defeat. It’s real life and you made sure the kids were fed.

Step five: cook in bulk if you have free time. Every now and again Husband and I will prepare food together on his day off, seal it up, and freeze it. This usually means grilling chicken, making spaghetti sauce, boiling bone in chicken to make stock and chicken enchiladas, preparing lasagna, etc. Having these things on hand also makes dinner easy if you forgot to pull something out of the deep freeze in the morning or forgot about dinner in general. It’s not ideal but whatever.

Step six: buy produce every few days. Yes, I don’t have a lot of time to meal plan but I always do my best to have fresh fruits and veggies in the house. Gimmie that fresh stuff! If apples are on sale the kids snack on apples or bake a pie, if strawberries are on sale they’re a breakfast or a dessert topping, bananas are usually a grab and go breakfast. Also, we like to have salad every night with dinner. I don’t necessarily like the bagged stuff as it’s expensive and poorly portioned for a large family. We have a local store in town called Food City, lovingly called Food Shitty because their produce is super cheap on Wednesday’s. We eat about 40-60lbs of fruit and vegetables a week.

Step seven: fuck meatloaf, that’s nasty.

Step eight: always have the peanut butter and flour at home, whipping up peanut butter cookies or pound cake by scratch is extremely easy and who can resist a tasty impromptu dessert?!

Step nine: don’t be afraid to start up the grill, having bratwurst or hot dogs for dinner isn’t my favorite but it is quick and easy. You can make potato or macaroni salad in a jiffy.

Step ten: remember that it’s not about the food served; it is about the quality time spent preparing a meal with your family and conversations at the dinner table.

I spend around $100 per person a month. This allows me to buy each child a ‘treat’ each week when I go to the store, it also allows for Pizza Hut every other week, and weekly treat money for school (snow cones and whatever the PTSO is pushing.) USE COUPONS. Stack them, get paid to grocery shop. Go to Kmart for shampoos and conditioners, use their ShopMyWay rewards. Most of the time I get toiletries and such for 65% off. Pay attention to sales. I use Amazon Subscribe and Save for dog/cat food, multivitamins, cat litter, toilet paper and laundry goods. You can lock in prices at Amazon when you subscribe. The deals are out there, take the time to find them. Buy in bulk. (My husband sometimes fusses because I buy 10 12 packs of Cottonell toilet paper because they are $2.99 a package and we have ‘no where’ to put it.) Also, hit up the .99 Cents Only store or Dollar Tree. Those places have a lot of cool stuff and Dollar Tree accepts coupons! Cha-ching!

I spend time finding the deals on household items and food because it gives me a high, I feel good saving money. It also allows me to pocket grocery money to put towards travel and vacation expenses! The more I save the more we can go places and do things. And in case you haven’t noticed…we go a lot of places and do a lot of things. I cut corners everywhere and use my resources. My husband does not, he goes to every store and pays retail. Talk about frustrating!