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. ๐Ÿ™„

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 Lex 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!

It’s almost that time again…

October is Fall Break, that means a trip is usually in order. We go to Knott’s Berry Farm and the ocean every year during fall break time and this year it may be a little different. Loud is still experiencing behavorial difficulties and I simply cannot take him into the community without any outbursts. The variables are insane; today he was tantruming because he couldn’t make a paper box until tomorrow at school as scheduled, another time while playing a game in the car involving yellow cars and calling out ‘Juicy Fruit!’ because another child called it out first, and again when when he attempted to lift the couch for unknown reasons and was unable to do so. Those were just three examples, I assure you that there were at least five more outbursts since dinner. It has been exhausting to say the least. I understand that he has experienced trauma, I understand that he is unable to regulate his emotions, I’m concerned that there may be something more than the standard ‘I’m in foster care and my life has turned upside down, I don’t know how to deal with it’ type of thing going on. I’m reluctant to say that he needs a higher level of care because he is a sweet boy who tells me he loves me and he shows me that he wants to please me by doing other things that are helpful. I need to stay objective, when I let my feelings justify behaviors I can sometimes make the wrong call. Foster care is hard.

What do I do? Do I cancel our yearly trip to accommodate one child or do I find respite for just him? There is a piece of me that cannot fathom sending him to respite because I NEVER use respite, I strongly feel that my placements are a part of my family and no one gets left behind. And only sending one of my placements and not the other two, it feels wrong. On the other hand… do I penalize my other placements (who have never been to the beach or Knott’s Berry Farm) and my family who anticipates this trip every year? I am torn. I don’t know what to do and I’ve got only a week or so to decide, help?

Tata and Lovely joined a fishing camp and reported catching fish! Both girls are adjusting well and have had minimal issues. They both reported that they’d like to try gymnastics but I’ve got to sort out therapy and family visits before I can add anything else to their agenda. Tata has had a few emotional nights as she misses her siblings, rightfully so. Lovely has been opening up quite a bit about her personal life among other things but only while we prepare dinner together, she never initiates anything regarding her case or family life otherwise.

Blue has a boyfriend. I’m dealing with it much better than Husband, haha! I want to share with you my epic mom-fail today. Blue had been asking be for over a week to get her posterboard so she could make a sign for her boyfriend as he is a football player and I guess that’s what girlfriends do to support them and it had slipped my mind time after time. I suck. Today was game day, I still hadn’t gotten a posterboard. On the way to drop my older girls off at school I made sure to get his jersey number, the correct spelling of hisname, and an idea to focus the sign on. I went to work and I found a posterboard in the supply closer, I decided that I would complete the sign for her as an act of redemption because she had cheer practice today and right after she planned to go to the game.

Nicely done, mom! Your kid is going to be psyched because you’ve got the sign complete; glitter and color coordinated. NAILED IT! I was running a few minutes behind when I picked the girls up but I decided that she would be overjoyed that she had a sign afterall. Blue gets into the car and I proudly hold up the sign and she lights up! She loves it! But… I put the number 17 on the board instead of 7, her boyfriends number is 7. *insert profanity here* I dropped Blue off at cheer practice and did the ugly cry as soon as I got home. I was on top and quickly fell to rock bottom. After my ugly cry session I started the brainstorming session…white duct tape was the answer. Long story short, we got the tape and doctored it up and eventhough I wasn’t able to get her to the game on time (not because of the sign fiasco) she happily bounced out of car with the sign an hour late.

Speaking of late, I wasn’t able to get everyone where they needed to go, I missed my class, and I fed my kids Lunchables for dinner. Life is peachy!

Exhale

Things have calmed down a bit with the new placements. Loud is still working on self regulation, accountibility, and following rules. It is getting better, I feel like he is understanding cause and effect. Lovely is doing well too, she is kind and helpful. Lovely spends her time helping out around the house; picking up the bathroom or asking me if I need help. It’s awesome but I’ve been working with her to try and be more of a kid. I encourage her to play and give her praise for doing kid things. Tata is a well rounded girl, she could use a little help with her impulse control and she needs to work on her volume control.

Boychild spent the weekend with friends, doing boy stuff. He went to a birthday party/sleep over on Friday night and Saturday he stayed over with his friend from school.

Bunny has been hanging out around the house with Tata and Lovely. Today shes going to a birthday party, shes excited!

Biscuit and Blue went to Homecoming last night, they both look so grownup.

Lemon has been caught up reading this Emily Woo book, as soon as she wakes up she runs to her book and drives right in.

Pretty celebrated her 19th birthday a few days ago.

Flower is doing the college thing.

I’m going to make sure to get to the grocery store soon, I’ve still not gone. Although a friend of mine had mercy on me and dropped off a few cases of Diet Dr Pepper so I could still function. I’ve gotten my schedule worked out a little better, I’ve arranged to have my lost checks reissued, I’ve gotten some cleaning done at home, my Amazon Subscribe & Save arrived, and I’ve gotten a handle on my emotions. Now I’ve got to meet with the mental health team for my placements and get my CPR renewed, both of which are scheduled for Monday.

That’s a Dandy Lion, because I’m fine and dandy. โค

Just breathe.

Tomorrow we will officially be a house of 7. Then we dwindle down to a family of 5 as Biscuit and Blue are leaving on their trip to Colorado too! I’m going to be lonely, I think. Husband is going to suffer because he spends a lot of time with Biscuit and Blue after our younger kids are put to bed, every night it’s a full blown chatter fest topped with ‘bean dips.’ ๐Ÿ™„

Flower is off to college; its bittersweet. Hopefully this move can help with her maturity level, the whole entitlement thing is not my favorite. Flower doesn’t think she is anything other than perfect in her eyes, I’m just going to roll with it because I can’t stand any more guilt trips. No matter what I say or do she thinks I’m mad at her, it stinks. I’m all about living and learning; tough love. If my kid can’t get out there and learn by trial and error she will end up being 25 years old, living at home, expecting me to take care of her. Experience matters, failure matters. I do these things because I love her and expect greatness from her, I am not an enabler… I am raising the future leaders of the world.

Hair is moving in with relatives. That was to be expected and this is exactly why I do foster care. I want my placements to go home and if they can’t to home I want them to live with their extended families. If that’s not an option I always support whatever decision my teen placements want… sometimes it’s to be emancipated, move to a group home, or even moved to a different foster home. I don’t always agree with what the older kids choose but I always support them; that’s my job. I want kids to be happy, safe, and feel loved. I am relieved that she is moving tomorrow as recently she has had behavioral changes that I’m not keen on. No one in the home is keen on them, to be honest.

In other news, I’m seeking out recipes for large families. Do you have any great dinner recipes that I could double for my army of children? I truly feel like we live off of chicken and avocados at this point. I’d like to switch that up.

Ode to Biscuit

You have been one of lifes best teachers; you were my first born child. You had toughest lessons to teach and one of the crappiest pupils. You taught me what unequivocal love is, how to be patient, and how to mother in general. Without all of the trials we have been through, the mistakes I had made, and the amount of times I cried…there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be half the mother I am today without you.

You’ve always set the bar high, walking at 7 months and being potty trained by 18 months to being an early reader and starting school early. Everything you set your mind to you have conquered, you’re a badass. You may cry, fuss, and say you’re going to quit but you always muster up the courage and strength to push forward. I’m envious of this gift as I’ve never had any feeling like that, well, with the exception of mothering. Prior to being a parent I was blaisรฉ.

I was always told some version of ‘You always fuck up the first one.’ comparing a child to a pancake of parenting. Luckily for me you were an excellent first child, full of character and lessons. You made parenting easy as you have this personality that made it fun and interesting. I always seemed like an over braggy mom when I talked about you, casually, to other mothers. All of your achievements at an early age made me seem like a bold face liar, I wasn’t. You were a little hulk baby that was so fat that you looked like a busted can of biscuits. I love you.

Five.

5. 5. 5.

Soon, I’ll have only 5 kids at home. Biscuit, Blue, Boychild, Bunny, and Lemon. I’m freaking out, how do I cook for only 7 people?! What will we do with the copious amounts of leftovers?! There will be extra time, room, and finances. Weird. There will be less stress, chatter, and traffic.

We will enjoy our time together until we are needed. I love my community, I love children, I love foster care. There are lessons to be learned about humility, compassion, and pain. My kids understand the importance of helping people and also, witnessing me fail, has shown them that even though you can desperately want to help it’s okay to say ‘enough’ and have a child removed. My kids have helped transition foster kids to our home and comforted them in times of need. They have also disagreed and fought with them. It is all give and take, understanding others circumstances and remembering how blessed you are to be taken care of in a standard in which society deems normal. My kids don’t take much for granted these days because they understand that things change in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been sifting through adoption listings, looking for potential matches. I’ve sent in several inquiries and have gotten very little feedback. Our system is flawed; caseworkers are busy prioritizing and adoptive kids are being pushed to the backburner. I understand that the removal and reunification are high on the totem pole, they are critical to child safety, but having a child wait in limbo for months or years just isn’t right. My licensing worker has assured me that my homestudy has been sent to all of the inquiries that I’ve sent in and even he says he has gotten very little feedback. It shouldn’t be this hard to find an older child, in the United States, who is legally free for adoption, to find a match. It shouldn’t be this hard to help.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve gotten leads on some foster placements. Unfortunately, they weren’t a match for our home. I do have a strict criteria that I follow as my children are my number one priority. I do not want to expose them to some things nor have them possibly become victims in any way. It’s hard. Often times it breaks my heart but I’ve developed a firm understanding during my years of foster care of knowing when to say yes to a placement and when to say no.

Luckily, when you seek out adoptive children via photolistings or through your agency you can get every detail of their case/life since being in the foster care system. That makes finding a fit easier for families and agencies. I’ve gotten a few responses stating we weren’t a good fit for a child and I’ve sent responses saying we wouldn’t be a good fit for a child. I’m okay with that, I’m all about the best interest of the children. My older girls have taken an interest in looking at potential siblings online, Blue loves to watch the videos and Biscuit wants to see their faces.

Only God knows what will happen next, we may stay with the 5 kids and be done. We may foster more. We may adopt. Until then…we wait.

Time doesn’t stand still.

We’ve got new placement. Another teen female, surprise! We are headed to Thailand at the end of the week and once we return our new foster daughter will arrive. There was talk about her coming before we left but I feel like it would be tough to hop into a family when your parental units are gone. Our new placement is called Trambi, she’s band girl who has excellent grades and a sunshine-y disposition. She has a good head on her shoulders and is a lot like Hair, she is serious about school and her future.

Hair is currently trying to decide if she wants stay here or move away to live with family members. I’m okay with whatever she chooses, I’m here to help the kids in my home. While Hair may be different with her emo-goth facade…I don’t care. I’ll teach her the best that I can and help her achieve her goals. She wants everyone to believe she is different and interesting; hair color and dark clothes will not define you nor set you apart. You aren’t a special snowflake, you are YOU and once you accept that you will go as far as your allow yourself. I get it, I WAS the goth kid in school. If I could go back and tell myself one thing in High School it would be ‘Drop all this I’m special and different bullshit, you’re making life harder than it should be.’

Biscuit is having an amazing summer so far, she is taking the summer off. She has cheer and she’s happy. She isn’t doing summer school, college prep, camp, etc. She is currently considering studying abroad her junior year in Switzerland. I fully support this choice, I’ll happily pay for boarding school. Biscuit really wants to Colorado this summer and has asked to visit California as well.

Speaking of boarding school, Boychild wants to attend school in Hawaii this year and attend a boarding school. What?! He wants to learn Hawaiian culture, surf, fish, and paddle board. I’m on the fence about this…I was considering retaining him in the 5th grade and switching him to a private Christian school this year, I enrolled him earlier this year. Then I talked to a friend who has raised 3 successful, and amazing, children into adulthood who all went to public school. I’m on the fence about education at this point. Boychild has no interest in theater, karate, nor swim this summer. He wants to play Fortnight, hike, and ride jet skis. He is attending a Glorietta camp next month.

Bunny is excited about next school year, she knows a lot of kids at the private school. Again, I’m on the fence about education. Do my kids REALLY need private school? Parenting is hard. Bunny is participating in cheer and will soon be in a hip hop dance class to see if she likes it. Bunny has joined a bowling league this summer and a ballet camp. She will also attend Glorietta camp next month.

Blue has recieved her birth certificate, it’s SO cool! It lists me and Husband as her birth parents. I feel really good about that. In addition to this news, Blue is attending summer school so she can take the same math class as Biscuit next year. Sisterhood, it’s the real deal. Blue is on evaluation for a cheer team and we hope she makes it. If not she enjoyed participating in track and is open to other sports next school year.

Flower is trying to adult. She struggles continually when it comes to family, loyalty, and the future. Unfortunately she’s put too much time into her boyfriend (of one year) and prioritized him. It’s not uncommon for young girls to do this; I thought she was smarter, she almost had me fooled with her self hype and responsible actions regarding bills and such. I anticipated that she would cultivate her family and deticate more time to her family, family is forever. Instead she’s practically dragging her boyfriend along for HER journey and completely disregarding his ambitions. She’ll always be my daughter even if she wants to be absorbed in her herself and new love life, I get it… love is exciting and blinding. Flower is an arrogant girl, she believes what she wants and whatever we try to tell her it’s preposterous. It’s the struggle where she wants adult privileges but lacks the mature mindset. As parents typically are, we are the bad guys…we have the experience and want to teach our kids but they’re reluctant. She’s a stubborn girl and I haven’t got much time left to teach her. The entitlement is REAL with this one. She’s attending U of A this fall and then I have to sit back and watch her figure it out. I believe in her, undoubtedly.

Pretty is moving to Colorado in the fall. I’ve got mixed emotions as I want her to follow her dreams, I’m scared that she’s leaving me. She will ‘cultivate’ her dreams one way or another. I will support her in every endeavor…even if she wants to be a hippie and potentially live in a VW Bus.

Lemon is back into cheer, she’s on the same team as Bunny. Lemon is truly excited to be back on a team; she feels helpful and big. Lemon is attending a theater camp and a Glorietta camp.

Me? Nothing really new on my end. I’m anxious about leaving my humans for a little over 2 weeks, I know they’ll all be taken care of but my mom anxiety is through the roof. I’m a bit fearful about this Thailand trip because last time I had gone somewhere with Flower I didn’t see her except for a few hours at an event and at cerfew. Is it going to be like that again? I hate feeling this way. I feel betrayed, used, not worthy, and not like a mom. Yeah, you read that right, Mohavecountymama is vulnerable. Moving along…I’m taking the summer off, as teachers usually do. I’m going to see if this ecommerce thing takes off and then become a millionaire. ๐Ÿ˜˜ Ha, if only! I’ll presumably spend the remainder of the summer shuttling my kids to all their activities, parties, fundraisers, etc.

Husband, well, he’s a Type-A personality. He wants to plan, plan, plan, this trip to Thailand and I’m more of a go with the flow type. I’d say he is a bit stressed about leaving his business behind, leaving the kids home, and trying to plan an itinerary. I’m screaming ‘Husband, focus on the 18 hour horror flight and wing the rest.’ Husband is not concerned with the flight…not one bit, hes got to be some sort of sociopath. I really love and admire this guy; he has the patience for all of our kids and rolls with the chaos. I’m lucky we have eachother.

I’m sad

I’m sad because there are many children and teens in foster care.

I’m sad that sometimes their parents cannot overcome the obstacles to regain custody of their children.

I’m sad that there are many children looking for their permanent homes and families.

I’m sad because I cannot begin to imagine how that feels, it’s impossible for me.

I want every child to have a safe home to live in, safe doesn’t mean the cleanest or fanciest it means just that…safe. My parents didn’t have a fancy house, they didn’t have a lot of money, in fact I believe that my family is profoundly (and irreversibly) screwed up. But we cared for one another, we never went hungry, and we always had some sort of home.

I heard about people being investigated by the Department of Child Safety unjustly all the time, how stressful and debilitating it can be, and how violated people feel. I’ve heard cases of children being removed from their homes for asinine things such as: dirty shirts worn to school, torn shoes, and a rogue bruise. That could easily happen to you or me, we could be investigated at anytime. I’m so torn; how can I support something so fiercely but be on the fence about it too? There are children being removed for things that simply don’t make sense. There are children being removed for all the right reasons too.

I’m mostly sad because I, personally, cannot help every child who needs help. Who needs a family. Who needs to feel loved. Why can’t I be the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe? I’ll tell you why; I can’t help my kids at home feel loved, valued, cared for if I’m hung up on helping everyone else. I need to do better in my family, I need to make sure my kids know they are loved (and by who) instead of being selfish. I can do better. I will do better.

In the meantime please consider adoption via foster care or even foster care in general. It opens your eyes, your heart, and your mind. At the very least you can become licensed and foster family members or close friends children in the event it arises. Be prepared because we simply cannot predict the future.

Hug your kids, your spouse, your family, your best friend, your pet…love someone or something. Most of you reading this probably understand what love and being loved feels like. Don’t take that for granted.

Havasu Magazine

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I love my agency, I love what I do, I love my community. Buck did a great job on this story! If you’ve ever though about being a foster parent…stop thinking about it; do it. I know foster care has negative stigma but I’m here to help YOU. Message me, email me, stop me at the grocery store, ask me questions!

Well, that was unexpected.

On our car ride to court today, 60 miles away, I discussed with my foster kids what we were doing in court today. I reminded them to speak their minds, tell their attorney what they wanted to do, and where they wanted live if they weren’t allowed to live with bio parents.

Bells had ideas of family members who she hadn’t seen in several years, and if they couldn’t be located or take care of her she expressed that she would like to stay with Husband and I. Shy had told me in the car that he maybe wanted to stay with bio dad, but once we started to talk to the attorney he changed his tune. He told his attorney that he’d like to stay with us! I didn’t see that one coming.

Unfortunately, there were several instances where the biofamily interrupted the judge, spoke out of turn, and made a fuss about things that weren’t relevant to the current hearing. It was crazy, I’ve never experienced anything like that. I was sweating uncontrollably, I was anxious, and things were out of order. I felt out of control as legal terms were thrown around, the judge raised his voice, I felt like a child in the principles office. I can’t imagine what was going through my foster kids minds…I could barely wrap my mind around it and I’m a grown adult.

In the end the judge didn’t make a ruling, he said he needed to review the entire case before making a decision. The attorney broke all the legal terms down and explained to the kids what happened on the courtroom. I spoke with the attorney alone, without the kids, and the attorney was candid and filled in a lot of what really was going on. Oh, boy.

Here we are, in limbo. We are awaiting a phone call from the attorney letting us know what the judged ruled. I’m guessing sometime next week we will get the call. Until then…we wait.