Friday, October 13, 2017

Our Shortest Placement

We just had the strangest, shortest placement. DSS called and asked us to take a 12 year old. They were having a hard time placing her based on her age and transgender orientation. We said we would take her. We had no idea that this would become one of our shortest placements.

She wanted to go up to her room and I could understand her need to process her day. Little did I know why she went upstairs. A little bit later a cop showed up at my door. He wanted to talk with me and her. We went out on the porch. Privacy is hard around here, Benjamin and other kids kept checking in with me and heading back in. She told us that she didn't feel safe in the house and that she found a white powdery substance in the bathroom. I was shocked. The cop looked at me, I looked at him, I said that she has been in my home less than 2 hours and obviously doesn't want to stay there. He told her to take it up with DSS and left.

We went inside and I called DSS to tell them what happened and to come get her because she is serious about not staying with us. This is all after hours so finding people in another county was a challenge. She said she was sorry but she just didn't feel safe and our neighborhood is sketchy. She really wanted to be with her nephew who went to a different home. She wanted to be with her family. I told her that I understood but this was not going to get her with either person. All she had to do was tell me she really wanted to leave, calling the police was not necessary.

DSS tried to convince me to let her stay until they found another placement. I said no, that I didn't trust her in my home and don't feel comfortable. After a few hours they came and got her.

What a crazy day. I feel bad for her, she did not want to be in care but had no choice. I imagine that she went to a group home.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Document

The written word, much more important than the spoken word when it comes to DSS and our children. When our child was taken for a new forensic interview and moved to a therapeutic home the activity was reported to OHAN (Out of Home Abuse and Neglect) per protocol. Abuse and neglect do happen in foster homes and group homes all the time. 

The girls have gone through several workers in the short time I have had them. My main communication has been through texting. On occasion I call and talk with them but I always make sure that behaviors are written down. I reported all behaviors for both girls to each worker. When you look back you can see that the behaviors that they pulled little miss for where similar behaviors that I have been reporting all the time, just escalated as she has gotten more comfortable in our home. I also copied my messages to my licensing worker.


I have always done this and this is the first time that I have needed that back up. If I had never written about my concerns with some behaviors that might have seemed minor then, it is very possible that we would be under investigation at this time. However, after a review of all the correspondence OHAN has closed the case without even calling me.


So to all you foster/adoptive parents out there; document, document, document.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Changes

The girls got a new social worker. Wow, this one listens. This one takes action. One child had a new forensic interview based on my reporting. It all happened so fast. Wednesday I texted the social worker about an ongoing issue, Wednesday afternoon she told me that they were going to move her to a therapeutic home but had to have an evaluation first. So she planned on getting her on Friday. Thursday I spent most of the day looking for clothing, I found three pairs of matched socks, many unmatched ones.

Such is this child's level of attachment that she was delighted to go with the worker to a new home. Her sister hasn't even mentioned her, such is her level of attachments. I have mentioned that they have no attachments. This social worker gets it, she says that they don't seem to care if they see their parents or not and don't mind leaving. I told her that this is my first foster kids who walk in the door after a visit and have no behavior changes. It was as though they had just taken a walk down the street.

I think I was more upset about her leaving, I knew it had to happen but I hate breaking up siblings. Not sure where this will lead to in the future but I think it is going to be a long term case. It is truly amazing how much quieter my house is with one less child in it!

Itty Bitty......I couldn't make it to the foster care review board. I texted the GAL and told her. She thanked me for reminding her because she had forgotten. She called me after the meeting to catch me up and to ask the question. Would you be an adoptive resource?  No, this doesn't mean the case is going towards adoption, they have 15 months to work their plan. It does mean that the GAL heard some things that lead her in a certain way. This will be a long case as well. It feels as though less and less kids are able to go home. Things are brutal out there.

Neurologist

We travelled to Charleston to see the new neurologist. Before I went I requested her medical records from her previous neurologist.

The new neurologist looked at her records and stated that there was no way that was all her records, that they were incomplete. They didn't have all of her sleep studies in there. He asked me when she had them done. Well, I don't remember! I pulled up my blog and put sleep in the search bar and up they came. How convenient.


Sleepy, her current status.


He wants all of her records before he decides how to proceed so I signed a bunch of forms so they could get them directly from the hospitals and off we went. He said he would call me in a week to discuss a plan of action. Thank goodness he is willing to do phone consultations!

We were able to have a nice lunch together.


Larissa slept on the way there and on the way home. It was a quiet drive.


I am working on patience. In the meantime she is on her same medication. I think it needs changed though, her dizziness is increasing.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Larissa school

Well, Larissa is now homeschooled. It wasn't the bullying (although that was getting old), it wasn't the teacher (I never heard back from her principal), it was the exhaustion that finally made me complete the paperwork to homeschool her. She was missing at least one day a week for headaches or even dizziness and then I was picking her up early one or two days a week. She was missing too much class time and she was struggling to keep up.

Today was our first day with Connections Academy and we are struggling. Larissa is challenged by all the different requirements and reading all her materials on the computer is causing her to have headaches. Heck, even I am struggling to figure out what all she is supposed to do and where she is supposed to be going. I guess there is a learning curve!

Going with an internet based program made the paperwork easier, I sure hope with time it becomes easier to navigate. Anyone use one of those internet based schools? I think the K12 is a similar program. Say a prayer for me! So far I don't feel that I am doing a great job as a coach.

Tomorrow we travel to Charleston to see a new neurologist. I am hoping for a different perspective but I don't have much hope. It has been such a frustrating experience getting these seizures gone.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Anthony

Last year we decided that it was time for Anthony to go to a regular math class. He was receiving services for both math and ELA. If  he stays in that program he will not be able to graduate with a diploma. So our plan was to have him go to regular math this year and ELA next year. He has been working hard with his math. Some nights he will study it for hours. I have relearned some math that I had forgotten!

Last week I received an email from his teacher saying that he had scored high enough on his testing that they wanted to go ahead and put him in regular ELA this year. Great! We will meet on October 9th to change his IEP. I know that changing in the middle of the semester will be stressful for him but I think it will be in his best interest overall. He will be ready for high school next year (hard to believe that I will have high schoolers once again!)


We are very proud of the hard work that he has done to get here. 

When I think of where he was when he came into our home at the age of 2 1/2 I am amazed at where he is today. Hope, why we do what we do.

Little Upcycle Project

I got Vaida a bunch of dress up outfits for her birthday and at the last moment decided that I wanted to hang them on something. I went out to my back shed to see if I had anything that would work. I found this old shelf that had a shelf missing. I am actually surprised that my husband hadn't taken it to the dump.



I cleaned it up and took the top shelf off. I then added some wood to the bottom so that it could support her if she sat or stood on it. Then I spray painted the entire piece.


I painted the shelf that I removed and put it on the other shelf as support for that shelf.


The dress up clothing included some new items and some repurposed dress up outfits that my girls had outgrown.


Wrapped it with a sheet......


She seemed to like it.


On another note, if you send me a facebook request tell me that you are a reader. I have been getting some requests lately that I don't recognize. If I can tell where they come from I have been accepting the request.



Monday, September 25, 2017

Birthday, birthday, birthday

So where I have I been? Why celebrating of course.

Emma turned 11





She wanted to eat at San Jose


Larissa turned 12, she is now taller than me!





Larissa had a few friends over and they had a rock painting party 


Vaida turned 3, seriously, when did that happen!?






She had a painting party.





Time seems to be flying by these days. Kids are growing up and I am growing old! Now that all the celebrating is over, I should get back to some level of normalcy.


Kitchen take 2

Continuing with the kitchen decluttering and organization. I have this one wall in the kitchen so decided to use that space for hanging items. I was concerned that it would look more cluttered.



I went through all my storage containers and if there wasn't a match it went. I even had lids to cookware that I no longer had.



I emptied an entire cabinet, I need that space for canned goods. 

My kitchen really isn't big enough for us.


I am finding that I do like this organization. I can find major items quickly and they don't clutter up my cabinets. I put the big cookware that we use regularly on the shelf to the left of the hanging items.


I am not finished with the kitchen but I have made progress.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Grace

Middle school has been such a struggle for Larissa. For two weekends in a row we have had a friend of hers over to our house. She didn't want to leave! The girls got along great. Her mom was excited because her daughter didn't have any friends.

Then came along the group of girls who flat out let it be known that they didn't like Larissa because of her skin color. They offered friendship to Larissa's friend. She had to chose between Larissa or a group of friends. She chose the number of friends over the substance of a real friend. They proceeded to use her to further hurt Larissa. She came home from school every day in tears. Told me that she was crying in class and was told to ignore them. Small things like chips knocked out of her hand, little put downs, little bumps, one day was really bad, non-stop.

Last weekend we decided to work on grace, to really practice grace. We talked a lot about her ex-friend and how she wanted friends so bad that she gave up a good friend just to have a lot of friends. We talked about friendship and we concentrated on the friends that she does have.

She went back to school Monday and wanted to wear grace.




I have to say it was interesting. She said that a lot of people didn't know what it meant. She explained grace to a lot of kids. One girl came up to her and asked her if she was gay. Larissa explained what God's grace is. It is sad when the kids are more versed in gay, homosexuality and trangender issues than what God's grace is.

On Tuesday the group of girls stopped picking on Larissa and moved on to someone else. However, they left her ex-friend behind now that they didn't need her to hurt Larissa. She went to Larissa and asked if she could spend the night at our house again. Larissa told her no, that she forgives her but really doesn't want t friend who is willing to turn on her in such a manner. Willing to be a friend in private but in public putting her down for her skin color.

Then came Thursday. picture day. Larissa came home from school and said that she didn't get to get her picture taken. I found that odd, I have never had that happen to any of my kids so I emailed her main teacher and asked her why. I was very polite because I really didn't know what happened.

Friday morning after I dropped the kids off I noticed that her teacher had responded. Her main teacher is her special education teacher. She said that it was Larissa's fault. That a lot of kids in her class think that she is their homeroom teacher and she isn't and that they called by homeroom teacher names. I was king of surprised because I also thought that she was her homeroom teacher so I asked her who was Larissa's homeroom teacher and where was Larissa when she was called. She responded by telling me that Larissa was in her class when her homeroom teacher was called and that she can get a picture done on make-up day. She never told me who the homeroom teacher was. Hmmm, ok. that email came at 8:30 and I didn't respond after that because I now understood why Larissa didn't get her picture taken. Larissa wasn't the only one in her class who didn't get their picture taken. I considered the subject over and figured that we would now wait for make-up day.

Then at 12:30 I got a call from the school that Larissa was sick. I went to get her and I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't just sick. She gets to the car and starts crying. She said that her teacher talked bad about the entire time she was in class. That she kept going back to her computer to see if I was still "bickering" with her. She went to go talk to teachers in the hallway about me, that everyone in her class thinks that I am mean. Worse to me is she asked all the older kids if they got their picture taken and pointed Larissa out that she didn't and how I was bickering with her over it. This caused all the other kids to look at her and make some comments. 

I was furious, after we finally got past the bullies, the teacher becomes one. Larissa did not know that I had emailed her. I did all the emailing after I had dropped the kids off. However, she knew what was going on. I was also shocked. I reread my emails and in no way did I ever attack her. I didn't even blame her because she hadn't made sure that all her students understood who their homeroom teacher was and didn't bother to send them out when they were in her class. I emailed her teacher and told her that I picked up a crying Larissa because of things that she had said in her class. She responded that she didn't say anything. I also talked to the principal for a few moments. She thought I was upset aboutt he pictures and I told her no, it was comments that were said about me and our emails in class. She is going to talk with the teacher on Monday. I honestly believe that it will come down to the teacher and Larissa's word. I believe Larissa, she had too much knowledge about the emails. I imagine that the school will side with the teacher. Larissa has asked to be homeschooled. Her teacher is the only special ed teacher for what Larissa needs.

Life is never simple around here.

Grace according to Larissa



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Weather

the weather is crazy at this time. My brother and father live in Houston. I haven't heard from my father since we went to Texas to visit him. I did communicate with my brother and although his yard flooded he didn't have any damage to his home. I was concerned about my father in Spring because I saw a lot of flooding around the area. My brother was able to drive there to find that his house was not damaged either. I have tried contacting my father but have not been able to do so. So many people have been hurt by that hurricane.

It isn't just hurricanes, there are fires burning, many earthquakes in Idaho, earthquake in Mexico and now a hurricane heading for Florida. Our area was expecting to get hit but the cone has moved west. We still expect some effect from it, we will see.  The last week has made us think about our options. My mom is bedridden. She can't even sit comfortably in a wheelchair. We also have three foster children as well as the rest of our children. We determined that if we had to take my mom out we would use a blanket to put her on the floor of the van. We have removed the seat behind the drivers seat and with padding she could go there. It would take several of us lifting her to get her there. Then for her we would need to pack her medications, diapers and such. Thankfully we don't need to evacuate but this has given us time to think about our preparedness. We have some things we need to do for the future.

As I watch the coverage of this hurricane I am saddened by the damage. I am praying for everyone in Florida as well as everyone else impacted by all these weather conditions. Hurricane Irma is starting to head north, I hope that everyone in her path is in a save place. Our country has a lot of rebuilding to do. It is so overwhelming.

Friday, September 8, 2017

House Projects

My never ending battle with house projects. I am slowly stripping popcorn ceilings from my house. I say slowly because so far all I have done is a small bathroom upstairs. Stripping it was very easy so I decided to tackle the kitchen. 

I didn't realize that the previous owner of our house had painted the popcorn ceiling. Someone told me that it made it easier. I don't agree. It is harder to get it started and then I have to spray a gain to get to the popcorn under the paint. It does come off in sheets on the top so perhaps there is less mess. It is hard ot tell because it is messy regardless of if it was painted or not.



Right now I am working on the little nook in my little kitchen. I actually put in a ceiling fan in that area. My kitchen get so hot when we cook. A ceiling fan may not be popular in the kitchen but I really don't care. My utility bills are over $700/month in the summer so anything that will keep it cooler is good for me. I didn't take a picture, it was the smallest white fan that Lowe's carries. I imagine at some point it will show up in a picture.

Anthony looked at the bare ceiling and looked at me and said, "I know you aren't painting the ceiling white!" Haha, he is right. I am not sure yet what I want but it will come to me. There is still a lot of ceiling to strip.


I bought this little organizer online and am attempting to get some order into my life. We have a dedicated coffee area to make life just a little easier. Many Sunday mornings we are scrambling to find coffee cups and the lids to go with them. It is small but it is a start.


My kitchen is small for our family size. All my pots are such are huge. What organizational tips do you have for the kitchen? I am working my way around the kitchen trying to purge and organize. It is a challenge to get anything done with all the kids in the house!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

3k

My baby started 3k. This is the first time I seemed out a program for one of my children for 3k. Either they needed early interventions and went through the school system or they stayed home. I have never been in a big hurry to send them off. However, Benjamin has been asking to go. He is going to a program at a highly recommended local church, I put him on the list last year.



His first day was great.


I convinced him to paint his toes instead of his fingers. He loved nail polish, any other little boys out there request painted nails? Honestly I think it bothers my husband at a certain level he lets him have it. My husband has had painted nails when the girls have done them in his sleep!


Foster Update

I have been having posts that are pretty much pictures, yes, an easy way to show what we are up to but not much information. How is it going? (mixed bag)  How many times have I thought about having the girls moved? (Many) What is going on? Are you still sane?

Itty bitty is growing and attaching. He is at the 50% for weight and totally on target in all ways. I found out that the aunt will not work out. No ICPC. There is family in our state but the parents don't want him to go to them, they have that option at this time. The parents have moved back to their state and will work their case from there. Hmmmm, a new one for me. I did give them my cell number and when they text me I send them pictures and updates. Will that motivate them? So right now his case is, umm, complicated. The sad thing is IF the parents don't work their case and they get TPR then the local family can step forward and he would get moved to them. He won't know who they are but they are family. His worker has changed, not really sure who she is at this time. I rarely hear from his county which is fine, he is a sweet baby and we enjoy him.

The girls.....whew. We are tired. I took them in for evaluations and they are going to a therapist weekly. Honestly, I am not sure that what they get there is worth the time and effort that it takes to take them in. My husband and I take turns on getting totally frustrated so they are still here. Last week I finally got their birth certificates so I was able to put in the paperwork for little miss to get her into 4K. I was told that it will take about 2 weeks to process her paperwork. We are taking it day by day and dealing with priority issues.

Right now we are working on personal space. Whenever the girls meet someone or someone comes to the door, the girls will get right in their space. They will hug them, put their hands all over them and talk to them REAL close. It makes everyone uncomfortable. We have talked the stranger talk, talked about personal space, corrected them on each occurrence. So far we have seen no change in this behavior. I am totally open for suggestions!

The girls finally had a visits with their parents, they have only had one since coming into our home. They have to be transported 2 hours away so it is an all day event.  During their visit I received a text from their social worker telling me that the girls claimed that they had lice and we weren't willing to treat it. Huh? Yes they had lice and we treated it twice. Then I asked if they had any left and needed treated again. Uh, I guess not since she didn't text me back. I found the whole thing rather odd. Later she asked me why I hadn't told her about the lice. Well......I had sent her many texts about many more pressing things and she never responded. When she never responded to my texts I stop sending them after a while. Actually there was one point where I was totally frustrated and wrote a long book. Her response was asking me if we were giving a 10 day notice for moving them. Ugh, this is the same county that Emma and Michelle came from and we were their 7th placement. Now I see that instead of giving support they simply move the kids. That really didn't help Emma and Michelle one bit.

So we persevere. I get relief by painting late at night and tiny bit by tiny bit the girls are learning. The tantrums have diminished a lot as they have learned that they just don't work. Slowly they are learning that we mean what we say. I had a big turning point when I realized that I hadn't prayed for these girls or for us. The day after I prayed little miss came up to me and hugged me and called me mom. Just Friday older sis came running in the house after school hollering mom, mom. I came up to her and said what. She was so excited, she got to get something from the treasure box at school. It seemed like such a "normal" moment. She was so proud and I was proud for her.

Bit by bit, pray for us!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Last Weekend continued

We adults had some fun too, we had a rock painting party. 

I showed them how I paint my owls and then we had fun painting.
















It was a good weekend, it was an exhausting weekend.


If you aren't doing the rock painting you should give it a try. It is a great way to destress.