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.

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.

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!

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!

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. ❤

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.

Ode to Blue

It’s hard to imagine life before you, it seems as if you’ve been here all along. You were ment to be part of our family, although, I wish it weren’t in a such traumatic way. You may not have seen the trauma but everyone around you did and you, Blue, are resilient. You have flourished into something spectacular, and I hope you feel as proud of yourself as we all are of you.

You were clumsy like a fawn, when we met, and now you are this graceful giselle who walks with pride. Despite all of lifes challenges you continued to excel in school and figure out who you were as an individual. You tried new things, you made friends (yes, I’m aware that I overstepped my boundaries as a mom when I match-made you a friend and I’m truly sorry about that,) and you learned to accept all of the flaws that made you who you are. In addition; you stopped with the mac n cheese comfort food thing. Thank God, I swear you only ate mac n cheese for an entire year!

Blue, you are wise beyond your years and a compassionate person. You have the ability to make each person in our family feel special every day, what a gift! You do it nonchalantly and with a smile, it’s your natural state being. I love that you’re eager to help in every situation and I’m forever grateful for you being the ying to Biscuits yang. You are a gift and I love you.

Thanks for choosing me to be your mom, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Three.

I’m suffering this weird partial empty nest syndrome. Flower has left for college, Hair has gone to live with family members, and Biscuit and Blue have gone to Colorado. I have 3 kids at home, it’s really eerie around here. After 8pm it’s a ghost town… no teenaged girl nonsense makes a boring evening. In addition; watching TV has gotten significantly easier as there are less interruptions when the younger kids go to bed. Husband and I watched an entire movie last night with not one interruption. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that’s happened. It was a pretty good movie too, the plot twist was insane! If you’ve got some free time watch Extinction on Netflix.

Husband and I went grocery shopping today. Less people equals less food, it was hard for me not to buy massive amounts of food. Our grocery bill was significantly less than usual and I left the store feeling like I was forgetting something. AND unloading the car was a breeze, I had less than 25 bags. I did buy 100 granola bars because they were on sale and old habits die hard. The kids typically go through about 100 granola bars in 2 weeks. I wonder how much it’ll change?

Today I went back to work, that was fine.

I’ve dropped 7lbs, that’s pretty cool.

I stole a lipstick out of my daughters bathroom today. It feels good to be bad. 🤣

In closing I’ll leave you with these few pictures, one of Lemon hogging the bed lookin’ 10 kinds of cute and the others of Blue and Biscuit in Colorado. They’ve been there 2 days and they’ve already found boys to hang out with. Damn kids.

I love my life. I love my family, undoubtedly. Things are changing constantly and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our family. Until then… hasta a la pasta!

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.’ 🙄

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.