Monday, July 28, 2014

Michelle is Nine

Time is flying by, Michelle is now nine years old.   Seems like just yesterday she walked in my door as a six year old.  Her request for a birthday cake was colorful with pink.  I don't like the taste of pink frosting so I chose to do pink accents.  She was happy with it.

 I have a hard time shopping for Michelle because she has a difficult time deciding what she wants, typically she asks for what Larissa has.

All the girls love Minster High dolls.  KMart had a clearance sale and last years dolls were selling for $3.75 and $4.50.  Since I don't afford the original price of the dolls they don't have many.  She was delighted with her dolls.

Mystery gift......

An Under Armor shirt.  She has specifically asked for this line of clothing before. Yes, I ran out of wrapping paper and used newspaper.  Since it gets torn apart and thrown in the trash it works.

She did ask for a specific Josefina American Girl doll book.  I was able to find the whole set for $15 on Ebay, it doesn't look used.  Whoever owned them before never read them.  She is delighted with her book collection and carries it around.

My birthday gift budget is $50/kid.  I have decided that kids have too much to take care of and don't need a lot of extra stuff to deal with.  I bought all of her gifts for $40. 

Her colorful cake, which didn't last 12 hours in our house.

We had a very low key birthday, we ate at her restaurant of choice and then had cake and presents with family.  It worked out well, no stress and lots of fun.  I guess having many siblings helps.

At this moment the youngest 4 are 7, 8, 9 and 10.  That will change in August when Anthony turns 11.  Then in September Emma and Larissa have their birthdays.  


Friday, July 25, 2014


New CBD Law in SC

Doing some research on cannabis to find that our state actually signed a bill for the use of CBD (cannabis oil) in June.  It isn't actually available at this time but seems like a move in the right direction.  I actually plan on asking Larissa's neurologist about it when we meet with him in August.

I am open to the idea.  At this time she takes 6 pills a day to control the seizures yet she is still having seizures.  She should be taking 7 but the 7th pill made her feel miserable.  We have actively looked for a treatment for her seizures while she was homeschooled.  This gave me the opportunity to see the effects of the medication at home versus relying on a teacher.  I am frustrated because we have not had any improvement.

Some medications make her tired, some irritable, some change her personality.  None have stopped the seizures.  If CBD is able to control the seizures without the negative side effects then I am all for using it.  It may be a battle I have to do one day.

Thanks to those who communicated with me off the blog.  I appreciate your input.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Once Again EEG

Once again we found ourselves at the hospital doing a overnight EEG on Larissa. As usual John does the hospital stay and I do the home front.

We knew that Larissa was still having seizures.  However, we thought that there had been some improvement.  She used to fall asleep and immediately have seizures.  She hasn't been doing that except in the car.  However, around 1 am she started having small seizures and by 2 am she was having her big ones.  John had to stay up to mark when he noticed her seizing.  He noted at least 10 seizures.

We have spent the last year trying to get her medications under control so she could have a better school experience this year.  So that she wouldn't be tired all the time.  So that her mood could improve with sleep.  So that some of her learning issues could improve. So that her capability to retain information could improve.

However, we feel as though we haven't had any improvements.  We are frustrated.  Some of the medications she has tried has had nasty side effects.  Some of them have changed her personality.  We try very hard to balance the effects of the medication with the results.  She currently takes 6 pills a day and still seizes.

The after effects of the EEG are bad hair with glue stuck in it!   

Wondering if we should move to Colorado.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Responsibilities of Foster Parents

From the following site:

Foster Parent Responsibilities Goal: To provide nurturing care to abused and neglected children until they are able to be reunified with their natural family.

Responsibilities to the Child:

• To provide a safe and comfortable family environment for the child.

• To provide for the child's basic physical and emotional needs as you would for your own child.

• To ensure that the child attends school; monitor educational progress; be aware of special needs; express appreciation for accomplishments.

• To provide appropriate clothing.

• To attend to medical and dental needs including regular checkups as well as attending to other special needs of the child - i.e. educational, therapeutic, etc.

• To help and guide children through the grieving and adjustment process that accompanies the removal from their families.

• To help maintain a realistic relationship with their families through participation with visitation and active consideration of the children's feelings. To assist children in preparing to return home or being moved to a permanent adoptive home.

•To provide recreational, enriching activities that will promote the healthy development of children.

•To maintain a record of their time in care, developmental milestones, photographs, report cards, etc.

•To provide consistent and realistic discipline and guidance that is age appropriate and does not involve corporal punishment of any kind.

When becoming a foster parent you don't really know what to expect.  You know that they will be responsible for a child.  You will be helping a child.  Notice that the list doesn't say to love the child.  Some people think that if you show the child enough love they will be fine.  It isn't that simple.  I find that love doesn't heal everything although love sometimes makes things bearable.  To be honest, there have been some children in my home who I didn't have that loving feeling for.  Still, I was able to provide everything that they needed. 

Foster children aren't looking for our love, most of the time they are looking to go back to their family.  We have only had one foster child who did not want to go back home and we adopted her.  Most children want to go home in spite of abuse or neglect.  Their connection is so strong with their biological family.

That is why trying to maintain a realistic relationship with their families through participation in visitation and active consideration of the child's feelings is so important.  However, there are some cases where this is just not possible for safety reasons. 

In Anthony and Larissa's case they were totally against us even meeting the father.  After a few months of bringing the children in the back door and leaving out the back I decided that I was just going in the front door and meet them in the lobby.  That father who was so angry as DSS for stealing his children was so polite with me.  When we meet him a short while ago he was still respectful towards us and acknowledged to the children that we are their parents.  Sometimes you just don't know.  We visited for three years before TPR was granted.  When we met up with the mother she was so excited to see all of us she hugged us.  There was a time during the visitations that they had to pull Larissa off of me to put her in the visitation room.  Her mom and I met 30 minutes early and sat in the lobby face to face with Larissa between us.  We were trying to get Larissa comfortable with going with her mom.  We worked together to make it less of a traumatic experience for Larissa.

Some parents I have met and they never wanted to talk outside of DSS.  However, some parents are more open.  Some we meet at the McDonald's across the street from DSS on non visit weeks to maintain their relationship.  On facebook I have friended previous foster families as well as current ones.  I offer support to the parents while the kids are in my home and after they go home.  Many days I have conversations going on with more than one family through the power of private messaging.

With my current foster baby I communicate through cell phones.  Just yesterday I sent her a video and several pictures.  I tell her what he likes and dislikes.  When he goes home I want her to be able to provide the best care for him and to know what he likes.  It is in his best interest for us to communicate.

When communicating I keep in mind the safety of our family and the children.  Lets face it, if you have older kids the family will know your full name and phone number, most likely the address as well.  With little ones this is easier to keep private. I also realize that not everything that they tell me is the truth.  It is the nature of the system.

Our last longer term foster kids are home and doing well.  I talk to their mom often on facebook.  The kids have asked to come back for a visit so they came to spend the night.  The kids all had a great time. 

Larissa even shared her bed.

The two little ones stayed one night.  Their teenager sister stayed three nights and wanted to stay longer.  We couldn't get her to go home.  She said that she was enjoying the break from her siblings.  I think she was also enjoyed the pool.

With each new child who enters our home we have no idea where it will go.  It may be a short term placement where we never develop a relationship or a longer placement where a relationship may or may not develop..  I have come to realize that when we do develop a strong relationship with the parents the case has a better outcome.  Perhaps it is because when the parents are willing to develop a relationship with their child's caregiver, they are more likely to complete their case to get their kids back.

I know other foster families read this blog, what are your experiences with the biological family?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Attempting to Keep Cool

How long does it take to fix an air conditioner?  A long time if you have a home warranty.

Five years ago we replaced our 22 year old downstairs air conditioning unit. We have a home warranty so they paid for all but $700 of it.  They put in a Carrier.  At the time we really didn't put much thought into it, we were in the process of moving to Texas.  A year later we were back and the unit needed servicing.  Every summer as it heated up the unit needed servicing.

A month ago our unit stopped cooling.  We still have the home warranty so they came out for $75 and added refrigerant.  We were told that there was probably a leak in the coil but they couldn't check it unless the refrigerant went out within 2 months. Within days our house was hot again.  Again the company came out and checked.  The refrigerant was low so they looked for a leak in the coil and found one.  A new part was ordered.  At this point we were three weeks without air conditioning and the temperatures were over 90 every day.

At the one month mark they came out and replaced the coil.  Through the warranty company we were to be charged $385.  The servicing company said that if we paid the entire cost it would have been $1800.  Great, except it wasn't running.  Now the compressor needed replacing. I have no idea what that would have cost us because we said no.

To get a new compressor in would have required ordering the part and waiting again for another appointment, about 2 weeks.  At that point we dropped the warranty and decided to replace the unit.  The unit had only a 5 year warranty from Carrier (separate from our home warranty) and it had just expired.

We signed a contract for a new unit and they ordered it.  Installation is scheduled for Monday.  Since we had an elderly person and a baby in the home they came out and put in three window units for us to use until Monday.

Before the window units were installed the temperatures downstairs got up to 85 every day.  Upstairs the air conditioner worked so the baby and I moved upstairs to Sarah's bedroom.

I also stipped cooking and we ate out for dinner so we could enjoy a meal in some cool air.

We also found out the play doh has a cooling effect!  Try it.

Lessons for us are many: 

Using a home warranty does not guarantee quick repair of any products. We got much better service and window units once we bought our own unit.

Using a home warranty service means that when they replace items they will use the cheapest products that they can.

If you want a quick repair bypass the home warranty.  Besides the air conditioner, we have had to replace our water heater without using the service because it would have taken them a week to do so.  We got it done in one day.

Our home warranty automatically renews.  We plan on cancelling before they renew again.

We are not used to living in heat.  Once the house temperature got above 80 we were inclined to do nothing put go sit in the pool.  Not much got done and I have projects that need finishing.

Chocolate will melt when the air conditioning goes out.

Play doh is cool even in a hot house.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Simple Summer

We have spent our summer playing.  We don't have much of a budget this summer to do much traveling so we stay home.  We hope to make a trip to Florida next month if we don't have too many more emergencies.

We have not had a working air conditioner for several weeks and it seems to slow me down.  I just don't like this high heat and humidity in my house.  Yes, I am spoiled.  The part has arrived so hopefully tomorrow they can get the air conditioner to work.

I attended a meeting at DSS yesterday that was new to me.  It was a meeting by a contracting agency that gets the family working together to support the foster child's family so that the child can go home to a positive environment with supports in place.  I was invited to come by little man's mom.  She missed another visitation last week and I really got onto her for that.  She is really close to getting her baby back and I would hate to see her sabotage that by not visiting.  Thankfully she came this week.

Little man is growing like a weed.  He is now 4 months old and weighs 15 lbs.  He loves to swim.  I wish I could post his video for you but I can't.  He kicks those chubby legs and splashes up a storm.  He swims like a little fish (with me holding him of course).

Larissa is still struggling with seizures.  She is tired all the time and I am not sure if it is seizures or the medication.  We had to cut one of her medications back because it was making her miserable.  The other day she fell asleep in the car when we were with friends.  Their son noticed her having a seizure and it scared him.  He started screaming that her eyes were rolling back.  She was supposed to have a 24 hour seizure study tonight but they called and changed it to next week.  I hope that we can get some answers from that.

I found a snake in the pool!  I don't do snakes, even the good ones. 

We took the kids to town one night and tried out a new to us restaurant.  The lack of air conditioning in my house makes me less interested in cooking.

We had friends over for the 4th of July.  We had a few fire works and sparklers for the kids.  We had lots of great food and great fellowship.

Larissa went to a one week dance camp this summer.  She wants to try out for the Nutcracker this year and she had to attend camp to do so.

Kassi and I went out with Sarah to celebrate our June birthdays.  Just a warning, my birthday is June 25th and that is the mid-point to sliding into Christmas!  Are you ready?

The kids have spent a lot of time in the pool.  Emma is the only child who has not taken the deep end test so she can't go in the deep end or down the slide.  I honestly think that she can swim from watching her but she is afraid to take that leap. For our kids to go in the deep and and use the slide they have to jump into the deep end and swim to the ladder.  Last year Larissa did it first followed by Michelle.  Anthony finally did it this summer.  Now we wait for Emma.

My kids have less than 6 weeks until school starts.  They start on August 18th.  Our summer is flying by.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Building Relationships

Relationships are complicated. We have kids with different experiences, different traumas, different objective, different genetics, different diagnosis's.  Sometimes I understand why relationships are struggling, sometimes I just shake my head.

Anthony, he gets along well with Larissa and surprisingly Emma.  He does not get along with Michelle.  They are very mean to each other.  I feel as though they are fighting for top dog or something.

Michelle does not get along with Anthony, barely tolerates Emma and does best with Larissa.  The relationship with Larissa is something I am working on improving.

Emma gets along best with Anthony and can play well with Larissa.  Not so much with Michelle.

Larissa get along with everyone.

Right now Emma is in the small room outside of our bedroom.  I don't see that changing anytime soon.  Anthony has his own bedroom, Sarah has her own bedroom (sometimes Larissa rooms with her).  Larissa and Michelle are sharing the master bedroom upstairs.

So far this is working out this time around.  Michelle has been told that if she wakes up Larissa then she will room with Emma that night.  She did this only one time, she does not like to room with Emma.  Michelle can tend to be bossy and mean.  At this time we have an incentive to get along nicely.  Every day that they are able to have a good day in how they treat each other they get a check mark.  When they get 5 they get to go to a movie together.  They have been working at it for 4 days and currently have two check marks.  I can really see that they are trying hard to get along.

I am currently redoing their bedroom.  The castle bed has been sold and they have given me directions on their new beds.  Michelle asked me the other day if she was getting a chair with her name on it like Larissa has.  It is very important to her that she get the same as Larissa.  I think that they always considered the castle bed to be Larissa's bed.  They didn't feel that it was specifically theirs.

Emma used to have a nice little bedroom.  The before room had safety railing, new paint job, ladder going to the sleeping area, nice cabinet doors and bedding. 

Currently the cabinet doors are off, the painting job is a mess and the safety railing has been ripped out in a fit.

The metal brackets were torn in half in a tantrum.


The initial bedding was ripped to shreds and camping pad was brought in.  She is trying ehr best to destroy this but it is tougher.

The bi-fold door was damaged and I took it apart and am currently making it into two hinged doors.  There will be an alarm back in place soon.  The kitchen chair was found next to the fridge and she was later caught climbing it to get on the cabinet and into the snack box on top of the fridge.  The box is no longer there/

This was a space that Larissa loved when she roomed there and none of these items were damaged while she was in there.  It is hard to buy nice things for a child who destroys them!  I won't even get started on the amount of clothing that she has destroyed.

At this time we are working on the relationships between Anthony and Michelle and Michelle and Larissa. With Emma I am concentrating on attaching to me.  Her world always seems so small, she is not allowed in the garage with the wii.

Anyone else working on building relationships this summer?