Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Separation Angst

The past month since my last post has been full of drama. Unfortunately, I can't share a lot of this publicly, but let me say I have been challenged in many ways by FD and am glad she is finally in counseling. She should have been all along, and the state failed her. I stepped in more than once, and finally got it arranged, and just in time.

FS is enjoying the days and nights with Daddy, but his attachment to me has become stronger, just as FD's has. Both of them still love the time with Mommy (now 4 hours) but other than that, they don't want to leave me. They've accepted that school isn't a choice, but every other separation is cause for a melt-down or protest. Its hard, especially when that is displayed in front of FS's dad. It would hurt any parent's feelings! I'm not sure what has caused it in FS, since he always has a good time with his daddy. Please pray for both of them in this difficult time in their little lives.

Halloween is upon us, and costumes have been bought and worn around the house to play in. I have a SpiderMan, Buzz Lightyear, and Spider Witch, which FD prefers to call Spiderella :) We will dress them up for school parties Thursday and Friday, then go to the county "safe spot" on Saturday afternoon. Our candy bowl is still full from previous candy-sprees - Labor Day parade, Valentine's day, parent and grandparent guilt or spoiling, etc. - but we'll get some fresh in it! I heard a good tip the other day - freeze the half of it that's not labeled for Halloween and put it in the Christmas stocking! Sneaky, huh?

I'd like to pretend that once Halloween has come and gone that November will be a nice, calm month. However, experience is keeping me from deluding myself. Family plans are up in the air because my brother is Navy and separated from his wife and I have NO CLUE how the cabinet will deal with foster kids in this situation. I know my parents want to see the kids - but so do their biological parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other half-siblings. SO complicated, but hopefully we'll get a "fair" arrangement figured out for a minimum of tears.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Foster Parenting

We were approved for foster parenting around March of this year, and received our first placements mid-July. They are still with us today, and I would like to share the experience so far. I could probably write a novella, but will try to just hit the highlights here :)

(For clarity, FS is foster son, FD is foster daughter, DS is darling/dear son, DH is husband, etc.)

FD was 7 and FS only 2 when they arrived. We have had birthday celebrations for each of them (more than once per child!), so now we have a 3 year old in preschool and an 8 year old in third grade. They attend the same school my DS, age 5, goes to for kindergarten.

The first night was full of tears from FD as she unpacked her garbage bag of clothes and sorted the things out for her and FS (they have the same mother, and everything was just thrown into these bags). I comforted her the best I could, as she was still a stranger to me, and we finished working on putting things away together. I was excited, apprehensive, and a bit worried about what DS and DH's reactions were going to be. One was at Vacation Bible School that night, the other out of town for business.

The honeymoon period usually last 2-4 weeks, they say, and they were pretty much on track. They learned our house rules and we enjoyed the summer for a couple of weeks before school started. It was a busy time of clothes shopping, school supply accumulation and trying to get FS tested to qualify him for public preschool.

School started and the "honeymoon" ended as we were forced into a new routine including school buses, visitations and phone calls. We still had to get all the health appointments in (some required by the school, some by the Cabinet, others were just plain overdue) and plan for birthdays. So again, it was a busy time. I taught FD how a new way to study her spelling words, and made it clear that if her teacher had her write down homework in the planner, she was going to do it! That took some time, and some days its still a struggle.

Thankfully, FS did get into preschool and was able to start on his 3rd birthday, allowing me time to do other things during the day. DS rarely has homework, aside from reading beginner's books to me or DH before bedtime each night. The routines are mostly habits now and the mornings go smoothly. Afternoons aren't quite a smooth because there is no set routine. Monday are Girl Scouts, Tues and Thurs is soccer, plus some visitation with their mom, Wednesday I have things going on, etc. But all in all I would say that the 5 of us work well as a family unit, and I will miss them when they are gone.

Most of the bonding with FD occurs after a dramatic time-out and some sincere apologies. She has some issues (as do we all!) to work through but I made it clear that acting out at me will not fix her other problems. Hopefully this will continue to improve.

Bonding with FS happens after dinner, with bath and bedtime stories, and a bit of rocking before laying him down. This is usually when he gets sweet and I can talk to him without him running in circles or acting like a monkey :)

My own DS has handled the situation amazingly. He's a smart kid, and we had several conversations about the changes this would bring, and he said he still wanted a brother and a sister and wanted to help them out by giving them a nice home to live in for a while. The first couple of weeks were the hardest for him, and he had to do some growing up and giving up his only-child status. Once he got through that and saw everyone was treated as equally as possible, he really started enjoying free, imaginative play with FD. Its so sweet to watch them play for hours on a Sunday afternoon, pretending to be Star Wars characters or playing "baby", which is what I called "playing house" when I was little. I'm a little afraid for how he will deal with them leaving (probably in 3-6 months), but it will be hard on all of us to lose them.

Ah, well, that's the nature of the beast. You learn to love them as your own, they bond to you, hopefully while retaining the bond with their own parent(s), then they leave, possibly to never see you again.

Tonight FS starts overnight visitation with his dad, and they are both excited. Its very sweet, and I can't say I'm sad about it, as we'll be able to take weekend trips without worrying about being in town at a certain time twice a day for drop-off and pick-up. It will be a change, though, and I pray that it will not make the days he's with us harder. I imagine it may make weekends a bit harder for his half-sister, who exclaimed, "Its NOT FAIR!" when I told her about this change this morning before school.

In addition, their one hour with mommy has become three! So just as we were getting settles, things change. That's life! I feel like I may be ready to add yet another to our household, now that we have a fantastic new mini-van and don't have to squish when we all ride together! LOL

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Kentucky Derby Museum

The first trip this summer was to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville. One would think that since I live in Kentucky, love horses, and even worked on a thoroughbred farm that I would have been here before. Not so.

I bought tickets for two at a fund-raiser auction at a local school last fall, excited to finally get to go...then Louisville was flooded and the museum went under water. It re-opened just before Derby, so I waited until school was out instead of fighting the crowds.

DS and I arrived well before noon, and took pictures in front of the Barbaro statue and the building itself. A nice older lady offered to take a picture of both of us, so I handed her my iPhone and explained how to use it. She took a couple of pictures, both with her finger prominently featured. :)

We checked in and got our hands stamped, then I explained everything we saw to DS. At first he wasn't really that interested, but he did enjoy the starting gates and the fake horse he got to ride on. I read as much as I could as quickly as I could, doing a decent job of entertaining a 5 year old along the way. Then, the maintenance man finished fixing a couple of the virtual racehorses. It was like Mario Kart Wii with horses - you actually sat in the saddle, held the reins and shifted your weight in the saddle to win the race. I enjoyed a couple of races as well!

After spending time inside, they called for a Backside Tour, which is included in the standard ticket. Unfortunately, the weather was warm and DS was whining about not being able to walk, but after a brief time out on a bench in front of the 20 other people, he straightened up and enjoyed the tour. I was very interested to see the track, the paddock and everything else they could show us.

As for a brief review - I think the museum is better suited to slightly older children, maybe 8 and up, or younger if they have a definite interest in horses or racing. We had a great time, though, and I would do it again!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I'm Back!

After a writing hiatus, I have decided that this is an ideal time to begin again. Since the autumn of 2008 so much has happened in my life. While I cannot go into it all, let me try to sum it up.

I worked really hard on earning my MBA at American Intercontinental University and graduated in May of 2009. During that time, some things at home suffered and it was a really tough summer. Last fall I decided to quit working in the family company. It was a difficult decision, but my husband and I decided it was the best for our family. I was relieved of a load of responsibility and excited about being a stay-at-home mom for a time while I figured out what to do with my life.

I spent a couple months going through the holidays and feeling blah, probably because of having so much time on my hands (Ds5 was in preschool). DH and I decided we had room to spare in the house and started foster parenting classes through the state. During the 12 weeks of classes, I had a round of doctor's appointments, a surgery and recovery, then it was spring! I have attempted my first garden and learned a lot about how to take care of our farmland.

So, back to present time. School is out so I'm back to full-time motherhood and waiting on that first phone call saying a foster child needs a place to stay. I am learning about natural living - gardening, essential oils and health remedies, safe cleaning products and the like. I have field trips planned each week for my soon-to-be-kindergartner with a good friend of mine and her 2 little ones.

My plan is to write about our summer adventures, and hopefully to soon write about the roller coaster ride of foster parenting. Join me!