Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I've been a part-time working mom ever since I became a mom, but as I've moved around to different jobs (sometimes by choice, sometimes by budget cuts), I've had several different combinations of work and home life.  I've had my kids in an unlicensed in-home daycare.  I've had a part-time nanny.  I've worked opposite shifts from B and not used daycare except for babysitters for occasional meetings.  I've worked three days per week and used a daycare center.  The last two are the arrangements I've had since we became foster parents.  So, as a foster parent, I went from one parent almost always being with the foster child, to using daycare on a regular basis.  My new position started quite recently, so we are still settling into this arrangement.

How do you choose a daycare when you have a combination of biological and foster children?  The decision-making started in the spring when I was deciding on this new position that would start in the fall.  Rhinoceros is not old enough to start kindergarten yet, so he would need daycare, as well as whoever our foster child would be by the fall.  I looked into our state's daycare reimbursement for foster parents and decided I would try for a center if I could find a good fit, as they have a higher reimbursement rate.  I contacted a daycare center I had checked out before I had kids.  Yeah, they've got a very long waiting list for infants, and in the spring, I didn't know if I would have an infant or a toddler.  I found the same elsewhere, or sky-high tuition that I can't manage with my income in my field.  Finally I found a nearby daycare center that was not at capacity for infants and toddlers, visited, and liked what I saw.  Of course, they could not guarantee that they would have an open spot in the fall, but I registered Rhinoceros and hoped for the best.

Then my future position suddenly had funding to start sooner, in July.  So, I added the cost of part-time school-age child care for Dinosaur, and continued to hope that when we got a placement call, they would have space for that specific child.  Crocodile arrived, and rejoice, I found out they did have room for him. 

That first week, I also put in my application for daycare reimbursement.  And waited.  And paid for daycare in the meantime.  Over one month later, I got a voicemail for my "interview" with the department that processes the applications.  So, hopefully soon I'll be reimbursed for some of the cost of Crocodile's daycare.  It is definitely just some of the cost.  The state has a rate they will reimburse per hour, but I'm paying for three full days of daycare, even though I'm not paid for quite that many hours.  And a daycare center's rates are often above what the state reimburses.  But every little bit helps, and I'm grateful to live in a state where it's possible.

I am also a little nervous about daycare centers as I have heard stories of foster parents having their kids kicked out due to behavior issues.  I know one that prefers in-home daycare for this reason despite the lower reimbursement rate.  So far, Crocodile has had no issues at daycare besides throwing toys happily.  He does have a hard time when I drop him off, and it breaks my heart every time.  He has one of the saddest little cries I've ever known.  It's not just daycare, it's also when I leave the house without him and he's home with B, church nursery, or the babysitter we've had once so far.  I want to spare him all of that and just be there for him every waking hour, knowing he has enough to deal with.  But I also need to take care of myself and our family so we can be good foster parents.  It's hard.

So, that's our daycare story so far.  I know states and locations differ, but I wanted to share what our logistics and experiences were like.  All a part of the little stuff that adds up to make daily life as foster parents.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The good and the bad

I'll start with the good.  We got travel permission to go out of country!  I'm sorry, that wasn't quite enough after trying this time and this time and this time and another time before I started the blog.  WE GOT TRAVEL PERMISSION TO GO OUT OF COUNTRY!  I'm especially annoyed at the time we tried for it with Cricket that I was told it was "not enough time to go through the proper channels."  We needed it in a month that time, and we got it in less than a month this time.  So, we will visit B's family with three kids and much of his family will experience our family as a foster family for the first time.

The bad is just feeling broken and beaten down by the sadness of foster care.  The visits and the desperate goodbyes with total confusion are killing me.  The cries at any time I separate from him.  The longing the siblings have for each other.  And then I learned more about the case history, and it's devastating.  So much darkness that it's hard to see the light.  I'm having a hard time being myself.  I'm there for the kids, and I'm distracted by work, and then I've got nothing else left.

Even the dark is not dark to You.  The night shines bright as day.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


It's hard not to compare kids whatever sort of parent you are.  Dinosaur is my bold waterslide champion.  Rhinoceros says NOPE to even mild splash pads.  Who is friendlier, who is crazier, who is bossier, etc.  Foster parents have the same tendency, but maybe even more so as we start to build up quite a repertoire of experiences for particular age ranges.  And possibly even more so because we don't always see kids grow out of stages and have no choice but to get an impression of them as they are here and now.  We also are trying to figure out what is age-appropriate behavior and what might be an impact of trauma, so that's always in the back of my mind as I think of all the kids I've had in the infant stage, or all the kids I've had in the toddler stage.

So, now with my second foster toddler and fourth toddler overall, my mind is constantly running a compare/contrast train of thought.  As I wrote before, [url=http://myfamilyfornow.blogspot.com/2015/07/nests.html]Cricket and Crocodile both make nests.[/url]  They are both very advanced in gross motor skills and do some things independently that my bio kids certainly did not at that age.  They both fiddle around quite a bit as they fall asleep and can't stop moving, though Cricket much more so.  They cling to me more than B.  They're very possessive of toys, though Cricket also had possessiveness over food, and Crocodile doesn't as much.

A major difference has been reactions to people being in their close personal space.  Cricket would often lash out when Dinosaur or Rhinoceros just walked closely by her, exploding in rage in a way that you know had to be instinctive, not choice.  We worked a lot on saying "1... 2.. 3... please give me some space."  But it usually came out 123GIVEMESOMESPACE!  Which I still count as progress.  This created quite a bit of conflict, as Dinosaur's greatest interpersonal weakness is... invading others' personal space.

But Crocodile?  He eats it up.  He wants wrestled with, pounced on, surprised, hugged.  The other boys are loving it, until he's lying on someone's face.

Then sometimes I compare and assume and need to check myself.  Crocodile had several shots at a doctor's appointment, and his last shots were long enough ago that he had no clue what was going on.  As I made dinner, he started whining over and over to pick him up.  I did briefly as much as I could, but part of me stiffened in fear.  I spent months picking up Cricket, probably more than 30 times in a day sometimes.  She needed cradled like a baby, and I provided that with some limits.  But even with limits it was exhausting.  I wondered if the shots traumatized him so much that now we'd be on the same road.  I want to say I was ready to give of myself to another child, but I was not feeling so giving.  So, I patiently picked him up, but I'm sure my face and tone of voice revealed a bit of strain.

The whining turned to low volume crying that persisted longer than usual for him, so finally I asked if he hurt, and he said yes and pointed to his legs.  I gave him Tylenol, and sure enough that ended the requests for being picked up.  Poor kids' legs just felt too sore to stand, but he couldn't figure out he should just sit or lie down because he likes being on the move!  So, that's not to say that he didn't also want some comfort, but I do need to keep an open mind always for each unique individual little one that comes to our home.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Babies and young kids in foster care are often used to sleeping differently than foster care requires, or that foster parents may find typical.  We adjust with gentleness and love as we find something that works for the kids and our family.

Crocodile is used to going to sleep much later and sleeping in later than our other kids.  Which would be fine to go along with, if we could possibly keep him quiet in the evening while our early-to-bed kids sleep, but his volume levels are not exactly controllable at this stage in his life.  He is starting to get up earlier, but not going to bed earlier?  Tonight was a little closer to our goal time at least.

Then they both quickly showed us that they were definitely not the kind of toddlers that stay in a crib.  And a toddler bed is a great option, but they're not so hot on staying in that either.  I know Cricket shared a bed with family members, and I'm guessing many other foster kids do as well.  I've slept on the floor next to the toddler bed at times, but try to gently get them used to their rooms and their beds.  Cricket and Crocodile both prefer little nests to their beds.  Cricket loved lying down on the vent with a blanket around her, as she was with us through the winter and she could have the warm air blowing around her.  Seemed a bit uncomfortable, but that was her nest.  Crocodile made his little nest with cushions from the glider rocker, first in the corner of the room, now in the middle.

And true to his name, I think Crocodile has worn his Crocs every night he's been here.  I often take them off when putting him in pajamas, but he finds them and puts them back on.  Sure, I could put them further away, but sometimes it's the little things that you just watch them do, nod, and hope it gives them a little control and comfort.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Crocodile love

This little guy.  I just have to tell you how adorable he is.

He grins from cheek to cheek, showing off these perfect little white teeth.

He has adorable toddler-speak, lots of "mine tan't do it" "go outide" "openinin it," etc.

He has a serious toddler arm.  You'll be half paying attention to a game of catch, and then he'll suddenly pitch a ball overhand at your face.  Not maliciously, he just doesn't know how hard he can throw.

He just runs and will not put on the brakes.  There are some serious high-impact hugs.  And I let him run ahead of me at the dentist office knowing he couldn't get out the big glass doors, and he just ran straight into the door.  Like a bird that didn't see it.  He was okay.

He's built like he's made of rubber.  He just bounces off of something and keeps running.

He loves to help and brings me all the clean dishes from the dishwasher.  And the dirty dishes that I don't want him me to bring.

He's determined.  He likes the little rings on our swing set and asks me to pick him up so he can hang from them.  I saw him run inside to get a stool and wasn't sure where this was going.  He put it under the rings and stretched up with all his might even though they were so far away, so cute.

His little dance moves are fantastic.

So, he is a busy guy that wears me out, and the other boys are still adjusting to him, but man, he is a cutie.  I'll be honest that I'm going to have to work hard at keeping my heart in check here and not start wishing for what's not mine to wish for.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Day July 2015 - Summer activities with three little ones

Here's our slice of life for the first day of the month as I link up with Journey to Josie.

Crocodile arrived in the middle of a busy time for summer activities (at least for us): swimming lessons and baseball games.  His visit schedule won't get going until next week, so at least our fostering schedule is still pretty open.  Though the days are still busy and crazy with three active little ones, especially as they are still figuring each other out.