Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Yesterday my teen received all of her worldly possessions.  It took two social workers to go to her home and try and retrieve them.  When I called yesterday the SW was planning on waiting a little to let things settle down.  However since the GAL said that she believed that the guardian would throw her stuff away I pushed for them to go sooner.  The school books were the deciding factor.

They got what they could and dropped the trash bags in my garage.  When I saw what they were able to get I decided to skip class for the night and be available when she went through them.

She got her school books, a small pile of clothing, bag of shoes and other random items.  She only has one pair of socks so I need to buy those.  She got none of her unders and according to her not much of her clothing.  Those items can be replaced.

However, what she lost was a lot.  She lost the letter her mom had written her, she lost some stuffed animals from her mom.  She lost the pictures.  She lost all of the items that had sentimental value to her.  She lost the things that can't be replaced. 

Yes, she cried.  I cried with her.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Foster Care Musings

Yes, it is 2 am here and I am up.  I should be in bed since Monday and Tuesdays I have class and they are long days.  However, I can't sleep.

Our life has gotten complicated with one phone call.  We never expected to have a teenager in our home.  Let alone a teenager who really did need us.  We were in the right place at the right time.  We were the only option for this area. If we hadn't been willing to change our foster license then our teen would have went to another school district.  Moving schools is hard for kids, it is especially hard for teenagers.

We have no idea how long she will be with us.  Family may step forward and she could be gone rather quickly.  I say "rather" because I haven't seen too much of quick within DSS unless they are doing something surprising.

We can have 5 kids under the age of 18 in our home (although we have gotten permission to have 1 extra before).  Jason, Tasha and Joselin do not count against our number.  So we have Anthony, Larissa, Sarah and teen in our home.  We have one opening.  If we were looking to do just foster that wouldn't be a concern.  However, we have been trying to adopt a sibling group.  We have not had much action in the adoption front so it shouldn't be a problem. 

So why am I up late at night thinking about this?  If we suddenly get a call for a sibling group then we would have to make a choice between our foster teen and the adoption of a sibling group.  My teen has only been here a short time but she has told her GAL and friends that she is happy here and wants to stay.  We like her.  True she may be honeymooning.  But it feels more like Joselin is honeymooning.  Joselin wants to be bff with this girl so has been nice to the little ones since the new teen is.  Hmmmmm, interesting turn of events.

I wonder what the odds are that we will get a call now that we have a foster kid in the home that we don't want to disrupt. 

In case anyone is wondering how we fit all these kids - Jason, Joselin and Anthony have their own bedrooms.  Sarah used to share with Tasha but Tasha has moved in with Larissa.  Tasha is gone for predeployment training so is willing to sleep in the castle bed (there is a mattress up and down) for the short period of time she will be around.  Sarah and the teen share a room. Naturally John and I have the master downstairs.  We are constantly changing around furniture.  We still have the cribs sitting up in Jason room leaning against the wall and a twin daybed in our bedroom for when Larissa needs to be close.

So, that is how we roll.

What do you think, will we get a call from adoptions now?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What a day.  First my oven decides that it is not going to heat properly and then my A/C unit decided to stop working.  It quicky got hot in my house.  Yes, the GAL got to come to my house and sit in the heat.

The visit with the GAL went well.  They went up to her room and talked for a while and then came down and talked with us.  I like her GAL, she reminds me of my favorite grandma.  She seems on the ball and I feel that she will represent my teens best interests. 

Not all GAL's are created equal.  We had one set of foster kids who actually had an attorney for their GAL. You would think that an attorney would be a great thing but it wasn't.  He never really did anything for the kids and he only visited once in almost 2 years.  Finally he got tired of having to go to the court hearings and he quit.  The kids finally got a new GAL and things went better for them......eventually they got TPR and adopted by us.

I decided that we should get out of the hot house so the girls and I went shopping.  I gave teen her $100 and allowed her to shop.  She makes very careful choices and bought appropriate clothing.  She has some money left so tomorrow we will go to Kohl's after church.  She has never been to Kohl's before.

Having three teenage girls in the house is going well so far.  We haven't had any drama among them and the new teen is getting along well with both girls.  I know that this could be a honeymoon period so I am enjoying it.  Who knows, it could last!

We did get our A/C fixed this evening.  Another foster parent has an A/C business on the side and he came out and fixed it.  I am so spoiled, I don't like to sweat in my house.  Hurricane Irene didn't bring us any cooler temperatures or rain.  All we got was some wind and an overcast day yesterday.

Church tomorrow followed by San Jose (which my teen has never eaten at) and shopping.  It will be a great day.  I hope that everyone else enjoys their weekend.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I finally got in touch with someone who could give me answers to my questions.

Sleepovers - not allowed
Job - she can get one, naturally we would have to transport
Driving - maybe in the future if she stays long enough but we would have to pay for her insurance
Football games/school dances and such - allowed but she must come home at night
Hair dye and cuts - not allowed at this time unless her guardian allows it (no)  (this one is hard for me
      because we have always allowed our teens to express themselves in their hair, it is temporary.

She has also been retained in care.  Now they will look for family members and if any are found and willing to take her then they will have to have a homestudy done.

We also received a call from her GAL (guardian ad litem) today.  The GAL represents the foster child's interest in court.  She will be visiting tomorrow afternoon.  Yep, that means that tomorrow morning we will be picking up the clutter in the house.  We will also start having social worker visits again.  We haven't had any since the last foster kids went home.

Next week we should receive a check from DSS to purchase necessary items.  In our county we receive $100.  With this money you are expected to buy everything they need.  Typically with babies we only get the clothing on their backs.  Our teen she brought a pile of clothing wrapped in a sheet.  No unders and one pair of shoes.  Her social worker is trying to get more of her stuff so I am not sure what else she needs.  I guess we will see if her stuff shows up next week.  If not, I need to get her more shoes at the very least. 

My classes started last week, for some reason I already feel behind!  Next week we need to get into some type of routine so that I can reclaim some of my sanity. 

Life.....such an exciting adventure.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Visit

Anthony and Larissa visited with their older brother today.  I think more importantly their older brother got to watch them play with great enthusiasm. He was able to see that they are happy and doing great.

He hasn't seen them in three years.

In adoption there are many loses.  We feel that their brother has lost a lot and he shouldn't lose his siblings as well.

It will not be the last visit.

A Call

Yesterday I decided it was a good day to clean out the garage.  It needed some serious work.

Naturally the day I decided to ignore the mess of a house and have sweat dripping off my nose I receive a call from our social worker.  She told me that she started to call us earlier and stopped.  Finally, she had no other choice but to call us.  The placement she wanted to ask about was not within our age range for our license but was within our life experiences.  If we decided to take this placement she would have to make a call to the state to have our license changed.  The child needing a home was 16 years old.

I got all of the information from her and called my husband.  After discussing it we decided to say yes.  I called my social worker back and told her yes.  She said that it was late and she didn't think she could get our license changed until the next day so we should think longer and call her in the morning.

A short time later I was showered and on my way to Larissa's gymnastics class.  On the way I received another call from DSS.  They cleared us with the state and needed us to take the child.....now.  Within 15 minutes I received a teenage child while sitting at the gymnastics facility.  All of the clothing she grabbed was wrapped up in a sheet and put into the back of my car.

Later in the evening we were heading to Walmart for unders and other personal items.  Today I went to the high school to give our contact information.  I also went to DSS with a list of items our foster daughter would like to have from her home.  She does not have all of her school books and a lot of her personal items.   Tomorrow there will be a court hearing to determine if she will stay in care.  Every time children come into care, DSS has to go to court within 3 days to determine if there is just cause for the child to stay in care.

Teenage foster children are new to us.  I tried to get answers to some questions today and didn't get many.  If she stays in care I will have to get some answers. 

She wants a job....can she?
Will she be able to do sleepovers?
She has a learners permit, will she be able to drive?  (I assume no)
She wants to dye her hair...can she?  (I got a "no" to this question)
What about cell phones or other teenage activities?

Tomorrow we will know if she stays in care.  If she does then they will look for family that can take her.

By taking a teenager we have gone beyond our comfort zone.  I think that some days we need to do so.

Three teenage girls in the house right now....say a prayer for us!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Laundry and Kids

                                                        Anthony's laundry basket today.

Yesterday Anthony was taking a long time to get dressed for school.  I peeked my head into his room and asked him what was wrong.  He told me that he couldn't find any shorts.  I told him to wear jeans if he couldn't find any shorts.  I also asked him why he hadn't taken his laundry basket to the laundry room.  No answer.  I reminded him that if he wanted his clothing washed he had to take it to the laundry room.......I only tell this to him OFTEN.

He later came out of his room in shorts.  I questioned him about it because I thought he said he was out of shorts (hard to believe because he has a lot of clothing).  He said that he didn't have any shorts to match the shirt he wanted to wear.  It took about 30 minutes for him to come to the conclusion that if he wanted to wear shorts he would have to change his shirt.  Is this a normal length of time for an 8 year old boy?  He does like to match.

Can you tell what shorts he wore yesterday?  They are on the top of his laundry basket which is still not in the laundry room.  Today I asked him why he hadn't taken his clothing to the laundry room.  He said he didn't know.  I should have known.  So tell me, anyone have success in getting kids to take their clothing to the laundry room without being told?  I feel that he needs to take some responsibility for his own clothing.

Tell me your secrets!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tubing at Deep Creek North Carolina

How many tubes do you think you could fit on your car?

The pictures say it all.  We had a great time.  The mountains are beautiful and we would love to sell out and move there.  Just one small problem with that is no jobs.  So much of the area is dependent on seasonal tourists.

Now we are back to our busy lives.  Today all the kids and myself will be in class.  I hope that it is a good year for everyone.  I half expected to get a call for foster care over the weekend since we always seem to get calls at times when we are not available.  However, we didn't. Our home has not been empty this long since we first started doing foster care.  I know that our county certified a lot of new homes over the summer so we have more homes then we have ever had before here.  That is a good thing, it just means a lot of empty homes.  I should just enjoy the break but I would like to get a call!

Well, I am off to do laundry.  Funny how that pile never seems to shrink.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rafting the Nantahala

Tasha deploys soon.  She told me right before our cruise that she wanted to go white water rafting before she left.  So very quickly I put together a weekend trip.

I little history.......

First trip to go whitewater rafting. Look very close at Joselin. Yea, she panicked just a little.

Next year she panicked again.  Only this time she didn't drop her paddle, she hit me on the head with it!

This year I had to stay back with Anthony and Larissa so Joselin stayed with us.  Everyone else in our group had a good time and everyone survived without any scars.  We think that the little ones will be heavy enough to go next year so Joselin just might go then.......I will wear a helmet.

Our crew of "kids".....that water is very cold.

Naturally we made s'mores.

Tasha says that she made a perfect one.

Larissa had her first one.

We stayed up late talking around the campfire.  We had a great time without the interuptions of internet and TV.  We also didn't have any light!  We stayed in cabins but didn't pack any laterns for outside so we made do with the campfire and two small flashlights we purchased.
We had two cabins near Deep Creek near Bryson City.  We would stay there again. 

Next tubing.......

Friday, August 19, 2011

Out Making S'Mores

Camping in North Carolina and making s'mores.  I will be back on Sunday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Lately I have been frustrated.  I have been trying to see if the little ones older brother would like to have a visit with them.  His old social worker was going to talk to him about it and then she left her job very abruptly. 

Anthony and Larissa have two older brothers.  They were already in care before our kids came into care, different fathers.  When my kids came into care there were so many kids in the home that the kids were sent to whatever homes they could find.  We received Larissa.  It wasn't long before Anthony's foster home tired of his behaviors and he came to our home.

In the first year all the siblings would meet during the visitations that took place every other week.  At some point the older brother was moved out of town and didn't always come to the visits.  The kids did continue to see their other brother and continue to see him at foster care meetings.  He has been adopted.

Their oldest brother aged out of the system this summer.  That was why I was trying to arrange a meeting.  When he turned 18 he could stay in care or sign himself out.  I really didn't know which way he would go.

Today I called our licensing worker to see if she could find out if the older brother had stayed in care and if so who his social worker is.  Thankfully, he has stayed in care to continue in school.  She gave me the contact information and I promptly called his SW.

As soon as I identified myself there was a moment of silence and then the SW said that she was shocked that I called.  She had just talked to their brother 30 minuted earlier and he said that he wanted to meet with Anthony and Larissa.  She was going to try and find us when I called. 

What timing.  Sometimes those moments just happen in life.  Makes me wonder sometimes.  Thanks to the timing of calls today we are meeting with the older brother next week.  In the next week I will have to talk with Anthony and Larissa so that they understand who they are meeting.  They meet with their other brother on occasions so I hope that the visit goes well.  I sent pictures through the last SW and I am not sure if he received them so I will take more.  I haven't seen this child in years so I am a little nervous. 

Anyone else out there do sibling visits?  Some days I feel as though my normal isn't quite normal!

This whole incident actually made me stop and think.  I get frustrated because we are still waiting on our homestudy.  But, maybe, just maybe, it is all about the timing.  Maybe our child/children will come in the right time.  Good reason to be patient.  I wait.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Anthony and Larissa started school today.  I am enjoying the new drop off and pick up routine.  Last year it was take babies to daycare, high schooler to high school, Anthony to one elementary school and Larissa to another elementary school not close to home.  This year I take two kids to the elementary school and I am done!  Maybe my car will survive this year.....seriously.  It is almost 10 years old and has been driven a lot of miles.

Anthony and Larissa both enjoyed their first day.  Anthony walked Larissa to her class but she says that tomorrow she wants to go on her own.  Larissa really likes her teacher.  I am so happy.  Last year she did not show this much excitement about her school.  We almost pulled her out because she seemed so unhappy.

She says that her teacher is funny and nice.  A big shocker to me is she told her teacher that she had to go to the bathroom today!  This is so big for her.  Last year she wet herself because she couldn't tell the teacher that she had to go.  I don't know if it is the anxiety medication, teacher, growth, more time away from visitations or something else.  Whatever it is we have been seeing slow and steady improvements in her abilities to speak to others.

Tomorrow I start school.  I am taking one online class and two regular brick and mortar classes.  I will be curious to see how much time I will have to spend in classroom during the day and how many projects I will need to do.  My online class syllabus says that it will take 15 hours a week to complete all assignments.  Looks like my free days are at an end.

On Monday everyone else will start classes.  Sarah is taking the last three classes she needs to graduate.  Joselin is signed up for 6 classes.  They are all year long courses.  If Joselin is able to pass all of the classes then we will pay for her to take English and math next summer.  That will give her all of the credits that she needs to graduate.  However, she will also have to pass the HSAP to get her degree.  Time will tell  if she is willing to put the work into finishing her classes.  At this time she seems serious.

My older son Jason also starts school on Monday.  He has moved back home and has been fingerprinted and SLED checked.  He is starting college on Monday and is signed up for four classes.  He has been struggling to find his way and I pray that he will be successful.

It feels like a fresh start for so many of my kids this year.  So much promise for the coming year if everyone can motivate themselves to do what they need to do.  Who knows, maybe some great things are in the works. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Warning.....Magazines are Dangerous

Do not allow American Girl catalogs to come into the house!!! Larissa found one months ago and carried it around for quite a while. She stated that she wanted to Bitty Twins package for her birthday. After the magazine fell apart and went into the trash no more mention was made of the Bitty Twins.  I thought I was safe.

This morning Larissa said that her birthday was next and she knows that she is getting what she wants.

What is that I asked.....the Bitty Twins. The catalog got tossed long ago but she remembered.
Yep, I put the order in today. Sigh.....my baby is so spoiled.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Just One Outfit

My kids have a lot of clothing so I decided that they would get one back to school outfit for the first day of school.  We decided to go to Target since I also needed to get thermos' for their lunch boxes.  Strange, when my older kids got lunch boxes they came with the thermos.  I couldn't find any at KMart or Walmart so I had to head to the big city near by.

Larissa picked an outfit from the Shake it Up collection and some Hello Kitty shoes.  She loves those shoes!

Anthony picked an outfit from the Shawn White collection.  He also got a pair of slip on shoes.

Spiffy collections at Target.

We also had to get Larissa new dance shoes since she has outgrown her shoes from last year and added jazz.  Tonight she put on her jazz shoes and asked me how to dance jazz.....uh, I have no clue so I guess she will have to wait for class.  She is so excited for school and dance to start.  Anthony is excited because he will get to walk Larissa to her classroom and visit his old teacher every day.

My kids will need long pants.  However, I don't want to buy those too early since you never know when one of my kids will have a growth spurt.  Geez, flip flop season is coming to an end.....guess I need to match those socks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Growing Up

Larissa got her cheese dip at Moe's today.  She is so spoiled!

We were out shopping today and ran into a store that pierces ears.  Larissa has been asking to have her ears pierced but John has been against it.  I thought that she was ready to have to do it so I told her that she had to call her dad and ask him.  She talked to him on the phone and she still wanted it done after he told her it would hurt.  He finally gave his blessing so we went in the store.

When we went in the manager welcomed us in and asked what we were looking for.  I told her that Larissa was her customer.  She asked Larissa what she wanted and she told her that she wanted her ears pierced!  I was so shocked that Larissa talked to her.

Larissa picked out her earrings and had a seat.

She really wanted her ears pierced.

But it really was best to sit in moms lap and have it done!

She did really well.  She didn't cry.  Of course, she loved her reflection in the mirror!

My baby is growing up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anthony is 8

It is hard to believe that Anthony turned 8 today.  I don't know why but 8 seems so much older then 7.

In our house you get to pick where you get to eat dinner.  Anthony wanted McDonald's.  Larissa tried her best to convince him to eat at Moe's for the cheese dip but he couldn't be swayed.  We had McDonald's for dinner.

This McDonald's is close to our home and was recently remodeled.  I haven't been inside since.  It sure looks spiffy.  There were TV's everywhere and the decor was not what I am used to for a McDonald's.

We went home to a messy, homemade cake.  Can you tell that Anthony is excited to be turning 8?

He loved his remote control car (so did Larissa).  He also got some bracelets that he had been looking at on the cruise.

I have really cut back on the birthday presents over the years.  I try to get one nice gift that the child really wants.  In spite of cutting back our house is still filled with too many toys and clutter!  My kids don't have any extended family to send them gifts and I used to feel bad about that and overcompensated.  After I cut back I realized that they are happy even with less.  Isn't it funny how that works out?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Learning Patience

In some ways I can be a very patient person. When dealing with my kids I have been accused of being too patient sometimes. In dealing with other aspects of life I am not so patient. I want things done now.

Well, this summer has been a time of learning patience.

I did not go to summer school because of Larissa's long tantrums. I was able to get a psych eval quickly and then things came to a halt. We thought that our military insurance had transferred back to our doctor for everyone. However, we learned that medicaid did but not our military insurance. Our doctor could not get us referrals to specialists that Tricare would cover. Numerous times we tried to get transferred to her only to be moved to the military installation in the big city. We don't go there because, well we have a family doctor who has seen the kids most of their lives and also at the military installation you see a different doctor every time you go in. Shortly before our cruise I talked to our family doctor about how Tricare keeps kicking us to the military installation and she was not too happy. She says we are her patients and she would see what she could do. While on our cruise we received several calls from our doctors office with appoints for Larissa to specialists....she got us transferred to her office.

So, all the specialists I wanted to see over the summer will instead be seen during school. Not what I wanted but with patience on my part (not intentional) we are moving forward. Yesterday we saw a psychologist. He believes that Larissa's tantrums come out of her anxiety. They are a result of a separation anxiety type thing. I can actually buy that. So with that in mind and the fact that selective mutism is often treated with anxiety medications she has been started on an anxiety medication. Anyone heard of Celexa? I am not too keen on starting a 5 year old on anxiety meds but I do know that her anxiety is a huge issue for her.

Soon I will be taking her to a pediatric neurologist in Augusta. Yea, driving two hours to see a specialist. Her appointment is on September 1st but it is at 2pm. Anthony has to be picked up at 2:30ish so that time will not work. I need to call and get an appointment time earlier in the day.

Now that one issue has been resolved I hope that the other one is too.....adoption. We are in a serious holding pattern with that issue. Truly, I am trying to be patient.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Sad Truth

(Not for children to watch.) I have been working with my adoption worker this week. So far every child that we contacted about has been too damaged to be a safe placement in our home, with our kids. So sad.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


It took me a week to cover vacation. Yep, I am slacking. It is not that nothing is going on, quite the opposite. In less then two weeks the kids start school. In less then two weeks I go back to school....ack. I don't feel ready.

I have most of the kids registered. I had to go pull Joselin out of school and need to fax some papers to the virtual school. Time will tell if she is committed to the program. Sarah has done well with the virtual school. I do not oversee her at all. If she needs help I will help her. So, how well Joselin does will be determined by how much effort she is willing to put into it.

I found out that Larissa has Anthony's old kindergarten teacher. Uhhh, Anthony was not a model student in kindergarten. He was particularly challenging every other week when he had visitation. The teacher called me and we talked a little this morning about Larissa and her inability to talk. I am hoping for great things for her this year.

I am a little apprehensive about Anthony going back to school. I am not looking forward to the calls. I can tell by our cruise that he still has not learned that he is not in charge. Getting calls because he refuses to go with the program is not fun. Actually, it is very frustrating.

I will be honest and tell you that I was not happy at all that Anthony decided to be defiant on the cruise. The ladies at Camp Carnival told us a little but since we have been back Larissa has been telling us more. Apparently they were quite lenient on the cruise and he got away with a lot of stuff. Ugh. It bothers me that he has great opportunities for travel and he can't manage to be respectful to others. If I had a grandparent to send him to, he wouldn't go on our next vacation.

I can tell that he got away with a lot because he is seriously testing me. Math is a big problem for him so I have a 1st grade math book that we have been working on this summer (he is going into the 2nd grade). I have been giving him three pages to do. Very basic problems. Since coming home from vacation he has been taking hours to do it. The first day he didn't finish them at all. He got up the next morning and went to play and I reminded him that he had his papers from the day before and I gave him three more pages. He finished them at bed time. The next day we were heading to the dentist where there is a play space. He finished his papers on the way there. It is all about control. If anyone allows him control in one area it effects his need for control in other areas.

Oh....and the pee. Every day on the cruise and since coming home he has peed his bed. His bedroom stinks. Today he lost his pillow. When I bought this last pillow I had a plastic cover on it. He didn't like it. I told him to keep it on because I am not replacing his pillow again. I told him that if he took the cover off and peed on it then it was going in the trash and will not be replaced. The pillow went in the trash today. I am so mean....I am not replacing it.

So, welcome home. Ugh....I need a vacation!

Cayman Islands

 We all signed up for the snorkeling excursion.  They squeezed us all in a bus.

 We had a good view of the ship.  We had to take tenders in since the ship couldn't dock due to the reefs.

We were taken out by boat to the reef.  On one side of the reef it is shallow and on the other side the water is very deep.  We were told to stay on the shallow side.

I toted Anthony and Larissa around and showed them how to snorkel.

Jason took the kids for a bit and let me snorkel.

They brought up a stingray so everyone could touch him/her.

Tasha sums up this excursion.

Cayman Islands had some beautiful homes and areas. It was pretty much like visiting any modern vacation town, shopping prices were high.

(All photos on this post were taken with Canon PowerShot D10)