Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our fostering year 2014 in a timeline

I enjoyed doing this recap of the year last year, so here you go again.  So much can happen in one little fostering family in a year.

January 2014 - We started the year with no placements, taking a break after Pterodactyl left right before Christmas.

Early February - We get the call for Beetle, a two-week-old boy still in the NICU with NAS (drug withdrawal).  I visit him in the NICU for about a week, then he comes to our home.

Mid-February - The plan for Beetle changes from moving soon to his grandma where his sister is placed to his sister being removed from that placement.  We are asked to take both children, but decide not to.  The sister moves to a former foster family.

Early March - Beetle moves to the foster family to be with his sister.

Early April - Beetle comes for a week as a respite placement.

Late April - Caterpillar, a 4-month-old boy, arrives at our home.

May - Pterodactyl's baby twin siblings are born.  We were called during the pregnancy about taking them as a placement, but decided not to.

July - We learn that Caterpillar's mom's cousin should be placed with Caterpillar once daycare is in place.

Early August - Caterpillar moves to his mom's cousin.

Early September - Cricket, a 2.5-year-old girl, arrives at our home.

Mid-September - Cricket catches a nasty virus sending us to the ER, thankfully she recovers pretty quickly.

Late October - Adjudication for Cricket's case, first time that I attend court.  There is a chance Cricket could go home to her dad immediately, but it doesn't happen.

Mid-November - We get a call that Caterpillar needs to move from his relative's home, as does his sister from her foster placement.  We are heartbroken to answer that we can't take them.

Early December - Cricket's sister has been moved to a paternal relative (Cricket and her sister have different dads), and we learn that relative is working on getting licensed so she can take all three siblings.

Mid-December - We learn Cricket's mom is pregnant, and that Beetle now has a baby brother.

Christmas - We celebrate our first Christmas with a foster child in the home.

I can't believe how much we've experienced as parents in the last year.  Reading back through my posts was an emotional experience; it's all just so much.  It feels like it should be spread out over a decade.  January was our only month without any fostering at all.  So, 2015, what you got?  Will Cricket move to the sister's relative, and when?  Only God knows, and He's got the whole world in His hands.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas

I bought this set of stockings two years ago, when we hadn't decided if or how we would expand our family.  Up until that year we had a mish-mash of stockings, so on a whim I bought these five at an after-Christmas sale.  Last year, we hung up one for Pterodactyl, but didn't use it, as she moved right before Christmas.  This year, the fifth stocking belonged to Cricket.  It had fruit snacks, an ornament, a little dog, a rubber ducky, and some treats from B's parents.  I was happy to use it, and it amazes me how much has happened in our little family in the past two years.

For her presents from us, I wanted to stay small and personal, knowing she would get some donated toys through the agency and possibly some more from her mom (though she didn't end up getting any from her).  I bought her a carrier for her doll like the carrier I use for babywearing with her, some Chewelry, a cape with her initial on it, and this He's Got the Whole World book.  She knew the song before she came to live with us, and we sing it about her family in particular.  The agency toys got bigger grins, but I think she will use all of them and they will be good gifts to belong to her for a long time.

Christmas was up and down.  We tried to attend a Christmas morning service and it was a disaster.  Her mom called for the first time in months.  Opening gifts was fine with our little family, but later with my extended family, she was overwhelmed and told me it was too noisy.  So, I missed a little of that time, but I couldn't have been prouder of her for calmly telling me with words when it was too much for her.  At two years old.  She really is an incredible little girl.  She tried to claim several gifts that others opened and got into one kid's candy (in hindsight I should have told or helped my sister to have her kids move their gifts out of the way).  There were some fights with Rhinoceros and ripping of Dinosaur's new book.  A new thing is flushing toys down the toilet, and we had to put in a new toilet the day after Christmas.  But overall, we had many more good times than bad times.  She stuck close to me most of the time just like Thanksgiving, which was draining, but what she needed.

Usually we like to leave up our tree since we spent the time and money on cutting it down, but I'm realizing it needs to be gone to get things back to normal.  And what is normal?  Weekly in-home therapy, visits with mom (I hope), waiting on the next court date and the possible move to Cricket's sister's relative.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Sorry to disappear, but it has been so busy around here.  Some fun stuff, but demanding stuff.   Foster care is in a whirlwind.  Therapy just started.  New behavior issues started.  Visits with Cricket's mom are happening again.  Cricket's mom is pregnant.  Cricket's sister's relative is working on getting licensed to take the siblings (not sure how new baby will factor into that) and had Cricket for respite overnight.  Cricket and her sister had a blast, but the transition back to our house was not an easy day.

So, I thought I'd take a moment from all of that to pause and just write a bit.

When Cricket arrived and I talked to her mom on the phone, she asked if we would say The Lord's Prayer with her.  I told her that we pray with our kids and are Christians, and she was very happy to hear that.  She loves when I give her papers Cricket has colored in Sunday school, etc.

So, I've said it with the kids every day before lunch.  I don't come from a background of ritual prayer, more of the background of stream-of-consciousness prayer, and I've found it to be a good practice for me.  In the middle of the day, there is usually a word in there that grabs me and convicts me.  It helps me to listen instead of talk.

A new kind of praying came from a tough day in the car.  I think we were leaving a visit, though I can't remember, but Cricket was upset that she couldn't see her mom.  I asked her if I could pray for her mom with her, and she said yes, and I said a prayer as we drove.  She then asked for prayers for her sissy, her Granny, her baby brother.  Now she's connected it with driving, and so many of drives include prayers for her family.

What I need to add are more prayers for Cricket herself.  I feel sometimes I pray so much about wisdom as a parent, or about her family, that I don't stop and just pray for the child herself.  She needs prayers now and in the future.

I know that in this Advent, it has not taken much effort to feel the darkness of this world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holidays so far

We've got two weeks until Christmas and my first holiday season with a foster child aware of holidays is underway.

Thanksgiving was very smooth.  The holiday itself was a blast and Cricket was surprisingly comfortable at my parents' house.  The car trip there and back had some miserable bumps, but I think that has more to do with car trips and not holidays.

We did a Christmas photo shoot at a department store and it went surprisingly well.  The photographer was kind of weird and baby-talked to Cricket, but she ate it up for some reason.

Christmas brought excitement.  Cricket loves the lights, and she and Rhinoceros have been pointing out wreaths, garlands, and lights by yelling, "Look, it's Christmas!!" for a few weeks.  But now I think it's starting to build up and possible trigger bad memories.  The past week we've had some behavior that I thought had been settling down, and I think the holiday excitement might be part of it.  She's sometimes afraid of the lights, sometimes not.  In general there's a bit more fear expressed lately.  Plus she's met a lot of new people lately: my parents, grandparents, and sister's family over Thanksgiving, then B's parents the next weekend as they came to visit and open a few presents with us. 

Also, I know most kids have post-visit negative behaviors, but I think Cricket has no-visit negative behaviors, and she has had few visits lately.  She misses her mom and sister so much and keeps asking to see them.  I hope someone makes a visit before the holidays.  She will get to see her sister before Christmas, as her sister's relative placement (a paternal relative not related to Cricket) is doing respite for us as we go to a wedding.  That relative is working on getting licensed so she can have all three siblings. That is not a done deal and may take a long time, but it is in the works.

We won't be traveling for the holidays, but some of my family is coming here.  We'll have Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with just our immediate family, so I think that will help give us time to take the holiday slow.

Finally, we took out the ornaments for the three foster babies we said goodbye to in the past year.  It's bittersweet.  I hope they still have theirs with them.  I am sure where one is living, but unsure about the other two.  I can't believe they're all at least 11 months old, tearing away at wrapping paper this year.

I'll just wrap this up with what I have the kids say every morning with our advent activity calendar: "Hallelujah!  Christ is coming!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pretend play

Sometimes lately the pretend play has been awesome.  Cricket and Rhinoceros have invented their own little games that involve looking for "slurpy slurpy snakes" and a "dragon" (which I figured out was the shapes the light makes on the wall from our bedroom lamp).  They also go "trick-or-treating."

Sometimes it's reassuring that they're watching us.  Sometimes they pretend to pray before a meal.  Today at a play kitchen in our local children's museum, Cricket enjoyed being the parent and making sure I asked to be excused from the table.  She also bribed me with hot chocolate if I would "go play outside in the snow," which is totally what I do.  Busted.

Sometimes it's a source of conflict.  Rhinoceros was a dog for Halloween.  They have argued endlessly about who can pretend to be a dog.  Even if Rhinoceros is wearing the costume and Cricket makes barking sounds, he pitches a fit that he is a dog.  Don't try to tell them that they can both be dogs without costumes.  Sigh.  This week, each child has worn the costume the entire day in order to keep it from the other child.  I'm debating on getting another costume as a Christmas gift, but I'm pretty sure that as soon as the conflict is gone, they'll likely lose interest entirely and both costumes will sit unused.  Maybe they'll surprise me. 

Sometimes it's a source of sadness.  Cricket was taking care of her baby doll this morning and wrapping her up, carrying her around.  Suddenly she shouted, "The police!  The police are here!  We need to hide!"  She clutched her doll and ran around in a panic.  It was heartbreaking.  Poor innocent Rhinoceros chimed in and started cheerfully yelling about the police being here and that just made it worse.

The lives of these tiny people... I wish I could make it all go away.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

First Day December 2014 - Advent and daily life around here

Thankfully I made an advent activity calendar back one year when I was feeling crafty.  I like riding the wave of past crafty energy, as that's lacking these days.  So, the December-y photos are the last month's "thank you tree" still sitting on the table, the advent calendar, and some Cyber Monday shopping at the end of the day.  I missed getting photos of it, but I worked out while the kids were in the child care there.  It is fabulous.  Later in the day we had some serious behavior episodes, and I was so much more chill than usual about it.  Some of my strategies for making Cricket's placement in our family work have been left behind, but some have stuck around, like finger puppet role play.  And yes, sadly the text is a common one I receive lately.  So very sad when Cricket is constantly drawing pictures for her mom, asking if we can check and see if she can see her mom today.  The dark of this world... in advent, we await the light of Christ and heaven.