Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Phantom Ailments Continue

Sometimes dealing with Alex is like talking to my Grandmother in her Nursing home, each day brings a new pain or sickness that needs to be discussed in length and complained about until I just cant take it anymore.  Ive gone back and done the math, Alex has been here 67 days so far.  He has had something "wrong" with him at least 27 of those days (these are just the ones Ive documented, I know I missed some).  It has ranged from his knee hurting, eye hurting, ear hurting, stomach hurting, throat hurting, ankle hurting and my all time favorite his LIPS are burning.  Back at teacher conferences I had talked with his teacher and he hadn't been complaining of any of these things there, however that is no longer the case.  Last week he told me the nurse gave him ice for his burning lip and that helped SO much, cough cough. On Sunday he fell on the playground and began immediately complaining his ankle hurt, complete with limping....on alternating legs.  Mind you he has been running around outside when he doesn't know Im watching and these pains come up randomly throughout the day, but not when he is busy doing something.  Today I got a call from the school nurse that he was in the nurses office with "knee" pain.  Let me start by saying I was already irritated with this Nurse when she said, "Is this mom?" and I said "Yes." and she felt the need to clarify, "FOSTER mom".  Yes I am foster mom, does it really make a difference right now?  You are trying to reach me, you know my relationship to him, he is probably right there in the office, what is the point of pointing out Im foster mom??!  Grrr.....anyway when she said he was in there with knee pain and had he ben telling me about this.  I explained to her that he had fallen at the park and said his ankle had hurt, but that there was no swelling and he was running around on it fine when he wanted to.  I also explained that there had been frequent issues of aches and pains since he got there.  She told me that his teacher had informed her that I had explained this, BUT she thinks it is probably growing pains and wanted to make sure he was getting enough sleep and calcium??!!!  UM seriously lady, you have NO clue what is going on....maybe I missed the class on lips burning indicating growth spurts? I reiterated that I believe it is an attention issue and that we are trying to balance giving him attention yet also explaining to him that making up injuries is not the way to get attention and that it makes it difficult for people to trust him and know when he is really hurting.  She promptly told me that he is the second child to come in today with these growth issues so she just wanted to let me know and hung up.

Why is it so irritating dealing with the "professionals" who should get it?

Shhhh....Alex just called me Mom ;)

That's right, Alex just shouted from the basement "MOM, where's the juice boxes!!".  Oh my word you all he didn't refer to me as "hey you" or "lady"!  I think he might be starting to like me a little :)

Monday, April 28, 2014


For those of you that don't follow me over on facebook, you may have missed some big news....stop what you are doing right now and follow:

Ok now that that's taken care of, let me fill you in!

A few weeks ago I had called my agency and left a message with placement that I still had a crib available if any baby girls came their way.  Last week on Wednesday placement finally called me back to confirm that they had me on the list for a girl 0-2 and asked if I only had a crib or could I go up higher on the age limit. I said I could make a bed available but it would require some shuffling of rooms, so I would prefer under two but would be willing to take five and under, girls only.  I was pretty proud of myself for sticking with my girl requirement at least.
Several hours later the lady from placement called me back form her car after hours and said, "Remember that conversation we had a few hours ago......".  She had an 11 month old healthy girl who had just been taken into care by DHS and needed a place to go.  Mom was admitted to the hospital.  That was all the information they had. Of course I said yes!  We all frantically cleaned the house which was a disaster and ran up to Walgreens to pick up some formula and diapers. 
The little girl got here that night with nothing but the clothes on her back and is just the happiest little thing.  Ill be calling her 'Buttercup' for the blog.
Friday one of my agency workers came out to do the safety check and let me know who her caseworker would be through my agency, but she didn't have any new information.  I still didn't have any information about her going into the weekend.  I tried feeding her some real food and she did great with it.  I did notice that she was having a lot of milk/food coming out her nose.  She also had a really bad cold, full on snot machine!  Sunday evening it seemed like she might have an ear infection that was bothering her, but she was still as happy as can be.  I didn't have any medical or insurance information yet, so was waiting till today (Monday) to see if anyone had tracked it down.  This afternoon the DHS worker came by and filled me in on what she knew.  It looks like Mom will be in the hospital for at least twenty days if not more.  Two relative placements have been identified.  One is a family member who will be out of town for the next two months, so that probably will not work.  The other was an Aunt and Uncle who want Buttercup, however the Uncle had something come back on his record.  It was not a prohibitive offense (list of offenses that would make it an immediate no-go for placement) but DHS is still not recommending them to the Judge.  Their will be court on Thursday and the Judge will determine if the Aunt and Uncle can get placement.  Meanwhile, it turns out the baby has a cleft palate that was never corrected, which is why the stuff was coming out her nose.  She is also supposed to be on Soy milk, so the cold/ear infection may be from allergies.  The DHS Nurse was trying to get more information and get me her pediatricians information so I can schedule something.
I on the other hand have been thoroughly enjoying tutus and dressed, even if its only for a little while :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Court for Alex

Last week I got a letter in the mail with sibling visit dates and times for the rest of the year, every other Saturday.  Nobody bothered asking me if we were available that day or time, but so goes foster care.  As part of the letter Grandma was asked to attend the visits as we'll to continue a relationship with Alex.  This is the caregiver he was removed from who currently has temp custody of his sister.  Grandma is also supposed to call Friday afternoon to confirm the visit.

Today I got a call from DHS worker, he was AT court in the Judges chambers and needed to know my name and address.  That's right he went to court and didn't even have basic information like where the kid is living?!  He called me back about three times asking questions he should know the answers to.
About an hour later my agency worker called to let me know the sibling visits will now NOT include any of the Grandparents.  Didn't tell me why, but did confirm she would call Friday and let me know if the visit has been confirmed.

Did I mention no one told me there was court today?  Ugh!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Menu for April 14-April 27

Total Spent for 2 weeks- $175
Notes: Kids home from Spring Break 14-18

Monday 14-
B: Cold Cereal
L: Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Chips
D: Chili and Cornbread

Tuesday 15-
B: Pop Tarts
L: Great Grandmas for Lunch
D: Potato Soup and Hawaiian Rolls (Using leftover ham from Sunday Night)

Wednesday 16-
B: Oatmeal with Blueberries
L: Pepperoni Stromboli
D: Chili Dogs (Using leftover chili from Monday)

Thursday 17-
B:  Cinnamon Bread
L:  Homemade Fish Sticks
D:  Ribs and Mashed Potatoes

Friday 18-
B: Baked Oatmeal
L: Lentil and Sausage Soup with Bread
D: Pizza

Saturday 19-
*****AT GRANDMAS*****

Sunday 20-
B: Waffles and Bacon
L: BLT's
D: Baked Rigatoni, Salad, Bread

Monday 21-
B: Cereal
D: Chicken Thighs

Tuesday 22-
B: Oatmeal
D: Million $ Spaghetti

Wednesday 23-
B: Pop Tarts
D: Sausage Burgers

Thursday 24-
B: Cereal
D: Hot Dogs

Friday 25-
B: Oatmeal

Saturday 26-
B: Pancakes and Bacon
L: Cornbread with Hotdog pieces
D: Spaghetti with meatballs

Sunday 27-
B: Donut Muffins
L: Sausage Burgers
D: Ribs

Friday, April 11, 2014

Schedule for No school days due to Snow/Teacher Inservice/Holiday

7:00         Wake Up
7:15         Breakfast, Free time
9:00         Read Story
9:15         ABC Mouse for James and Joel, Reading Comprehension Activity for Matthew, Mom load laundry and dishes
9:45         Snack, Social Skill Review
10:00       Outdoor Play Weather permitting OR Free time on Ipad/Computer, Mom clean kitchen
10:30       Math Activity
10:45       Legos/Blocks, Mom load laundry/dishes
11:15       Writing
11:30       LUNCH
12:00        Nap
2:00          Snack, Social Skill Review
2:15          Outdoor Play Weather Permitting OR Coloring/Craft
3:00           Read Story
3:15           Free Time
4:00           Matthew walks dog
4:15           Family Devotional
4:45           Clean Up/Chores while Mom makes Dinner
5:00            Dinner
5:30            Baths/Get ready for Bed
6:00            Bed for Joel, Read in Room for James
7:00            Bed for James, Mommy and Matthew time
7:30            Read in Room for Matthew
8:00            Bed for Matthew

Manner #1: Proper Posture

We are working on Table Manners at our house.  I'm making a sign for each "manner" we work on and hanging them near the table.  Here is the first sign, front and back, for using proper posture at the table!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Monthly Caseworker Visit: April

The agency caseworker was out today her monthly visit.  She let me know she got a new job in adoptions so there would be a new caseworker soon.  She let me know she is trying to set up another visit with Mom for May 19th. She played with Alex outside for a little while and talked with him in his room for a few minutes.  We did a clothing inventory, although she didn't actually check the clothes.....just went through the list and I had to give her an estimate.  We certainly don't lack on clothes around here, but you would think they would actually check??  Oh well, it was quick and sweet.  She will be going out to his school in a couple of weeks.  I know there is a court date at the end of this month, though I haven't actually received any information about it.
Later this afternoon the county caseworker called.  He was preparing his notes and wanted basic information like what school Alex was at and what counseling place.  Did I mentioned that he has signed paperwork for both of these places and given it to me???  Don't they copy those things for the file, you would think he would have.  But apparently not.  I on the other hand have everything ever sent to me or signed by me in Alex's binder, go figure.  He also has informed me that they will be starting sibling visits soon, but he doesn't know where yet.  Sibling visits with his little sister, who is still living with the relative he was removed from.....hmmmmm.  Ill let you know how that goes!

Update on Bus Letter

Never really heard anything back from my bus letter, other than apparantly the aide told Matthew to tell me Thank-You.  At least the information was shared and hopefully they will take my advice to heart.
A few days later we also got a note from school saying that they are aware that several parents have complained about the bus and they are trying to reach out to the bus company to discuss the issues.

Parent-Teacher Conference and stuff

 I had been sick since last Thursday and finally broke down and went to the CVS minute clinic on Saturday, strep throat....ugh!  Medicine finally began kicking in on Sunday and I could begin picking up the disaster zone that had become my house. Praise the LORD, that I had spent the week before teaching everyone a morning and evening chore to do around the house.  That alone kept us together while I was sick.  I'm so proud of Matthew especially, he is rocking the dishes, which I absolutely despise so it is a huge help for me :)  Sunday night and Monday morning James was looking a little lethargic so I didn't take him to preschool.  We dropped Joel off and did a few errands together, in the dollar store he told me had had to use the bathroom and then promptly peed his pants, which wouldn't have been a big deal.  However, the next day (Tuesday) he then pooped his pants.  He's never had an accident since being potty trained so this was bizarre to me.  Not to mention inconvenient because Tuesday was packed with appointments, Matthew, James, and Joel all had their 6 month dental check up on Tuesday.  Alex only has half days so we had to pick him up at 12:30 and then head to Joel's speech therapy.  After that we had to go straight back to Alex's school for his parent teacher conference!  By the time we got home and got James in the tub he was pretty embarrassed.  I'm hoping this isn't going to become a thing and rather was just a coincidence  or a result of him not feeling 100%.  When I got him in the bath I noticed that he had pieces of "floam" in his stool.  Its like playdough but made with tiny bead shaped things.  Obviously he had been eating it, gross, and probably why he wasn't feeling well.   The permission to evaluate from the school was in the mail when we got home, so that is a blessing and hopefully they will put James back on an IEP for kindergarten next year. 
Alex's parent teacher conference went well, his teacher said he is transitioning well into the school and as made friends.  She doesn't have any behavior issues with him.  She admitted she was a little nervous because he is the first "foster kid" she has ever had and wasn't sure what to expect.  Alex is definitely a great ambassador for the idea that foster kids are just normal kids who are in a bad position due to know fault of their own.  He is a great kid!  Academically he is doing great, scoring at the advanced level on the last reading test, consistently getting 100% on spelling and math tests.  I'm so glad to hear he is doing well and he LOVES his school.  The teacher said he tells everyone how he is staying here and doesn't have to move homes again till his Mom comes back.  He shared with his teacher about going to visit Mom so it seems like he has a good relationship with her too. 
James had two small cavities and they had openings to get them filled Wednesday and Thursday morning, which meant no preschool for him those days either.   The dentist said he did a great job.
We have the agency caseworker coming over for her monthly visit tonight and she called yesterday to see about setting up another visit for Alex and Mom in May.  So far she hasn't shared much information with me, but I know there is a court date sometime this month so maybe I will hear more. 
I may be calling the agency soon to let them know we still have a crib open and ready.......... :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Therapy 101- EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) also called "tapping" is a quick easy intervention or coping skill you can teach your kiddos to deal with big feelings anywhere at anytime.  Similar to acupuncture, the child will tap on certain points of their body while running through a script helping them process their feelings.  There is a wide variety of variations on how you can do this with your child, and an internet search will give you tons of ideas, videos, scripts, etc.

First you need to teach the tapping points.  Below is a video teaching a child to use the points.  For younger kids I would recommend using a stuffed animal and putting stickers or sewing buttons on the tapping points so they can practice with it.  You can choose to only teach a few tapping points if that is all your child can handle right now, I would do at least a minimum of four.  For my youngest we use four tapping points King's Crown (top of head), Mustache (Under Nose), Tarzan (Collar Bone), and Monkey (Under armpit).  For my oldest we do all of the tapping points and I made a "cheat sheet" that has pictures of him doing each tapping point so he can reference it as he works through the script.

Once they know the tapping points you can find scripts online or make your own, check out youtube too! You will find that most of the "adult" scripts are too long or complicated for kids to follow, here is a great page showing a way to develop simple scripts for kids:  Dumping, Dreaming, Deciding Technique for developing EFT Scripts.  Here is an example of a script I made for my son dealing with angry feelings: Printable Anger Script.  I used the Dumping, Dreaming and Deciding technique but also added in a section for Physical Symptoms because I think it is helps my son connect the physical symptoms to the feelings.

Here's the thing about the scripts, if your kid doesn't want to say it out loud, that's okay.  If they want to copy and repeat after you, that's okay.  If they want to read it silently, that's okay.  If they refuse to do the script at all and just sit there listening to you, that's okay too :)  The thing I've found most helpful with the scripts for my son is having him hear/say that his feelings are valid, that there is a way to have those feelings and work through him, and that he is an awesome/smart/brave kid.  He struggles with self esteem so having those positive affirmations reinforced while tapping is great for him.

We are working on making him a binder filled with different scripts and I have video taped myself doing the scripts on his Nintendo DS so he can watch them whenever he needs.  Its super simple to do and it can never hurt to give your kids more tools for their arsenal!

Do's and Don'ts of tapping with Kids
Community Forums for Parents and Professionals using EFT with kids

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bus Issues with Matthew

I had an unpleasant time this morning when the bus aide almost didn't let my kid on the bus because of his "disrespect".  The aide made Eric walk back home this morning from the bus and demanded that I come to the bus stop and speak with her or Eric was not allowed on the bus. This is the FIRST issue we have ever had in two years on the same bus (however this is a new aide)! Not to mention I had three other children in the house, so running down the block to the bus stop with no notice was not ok. The aide was rude and disrespectful to me and I was still fuming about it 5 hours later so I can only imagine how her tone and body language escalated whatever issue happened yesterday morning.  Basically she said he is jumping around and hanging on seats an when told to sit down is very disrespectful.   She told me while waving her finger in my face that she is "NOT going to have some punk disrespectful KID talk to her that way!"  I politely responded that I understood and asked her if she had let the bus know when she dropped him off at school yesterday.  She told me that she had not, she wanted to speak to me first.  I asked her to please let them know.  She said to me, in a very aggressive demeanor, "Aren't you going to say anything to him?!".  I told her I would address it at home later and she flipped out telling me that that's the reason he is disrespectful.  Needless to say I think a big part of his bus issue is the bus aides demeanor and tone, but regardless my kid need to learn how to respond appropriately. I wish schools would have bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc take training a on trauma or behavior/discipline! I felt the need to write them a little note telling them about my kids issues, the effect of trauma and what works for him. I'd like to offer some suggestions for them to try and make the bus ride go smoother?
I did end up calling the supervisor to ask what the protocol is for bus discipline, as I suspected what was done was not appropriate.  I nicely informed the supervisor directly that I would be happy to do a training with all the bus drivers if he would ever allow it I plan on having Eric write an apology note and pay me back for some Starbucks gift cards I bought for the driver and aide and enclose a copy of my letter for them tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will make a difference, if not Ive tried! 

Here's the letter I wrote:

Dear Bus Driver/Aide,

    Thank-you for informing me of Matthew’s recent behavior on the morning bus ride to school.  I know that you have a tough job, especially on a bus filled with children who have special needs!  Please know that we will deal with Matthew’s behavior appropriately at home,  he has written an apology note that I have enclosed as well as purchased a small gift with his own money to thank-you for your hard work.  I am hoping that by sharing a little about Matthew with you, you will better understand his behavior and be able to utilize some of his strengths to make for a smoother ride to school.  I am more than happy to speak with you anytime by phone/email or to set up a time to meet in person if you have any questions or concerns.
I adopted Matthew out of the foster care system three years ago along with his two younger brothers.  Matthew’s first six years of life were filled with severe abuse and neglect.  As a result of the trauma and toxic stress that Matthew endured for those years he was left with special needs that he struggles to overcome daily.  He is very bright and has made an incredible amount of progress in the last three years, but still has difficulty in some areas.  Matthew has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), ADHD, and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as well as other mental health issues.  Due to his history and diagnosis Matthew’s ability to trust adults to keep him safe or meet his needs is severely compromised.  He does not have the ability to read social cues including tone of voice or body language and often perceives things in an aggressive, accusatory manner.  He is highly impulsive with a lack of cause and effect thinking, causing him to be unable to think through his words or actions and determine consequences.  He lacks skills in empathy and has difficulty understanding how his actions/words may cause another person to feel.  

    It is a lot of issues for someone so young to have to handle on a daily basis, having adults who are consistent and keep his environment structured and routine make a huge difference.  Here are some ideas that may help his behavior on the bus:
  1. Visual Reminders:  Matthew does better with lists or visual reminders rather than direct verbal confrontation.  If you would jot down any specific bus rules and hand them to Matthew to put in his book bag I would be happy to create a small laminated card with the bus rules/routine on them that could be handed to him in the mornings when he gets on the bus.
  2. Immediate Consequences: Matthew needs immediate consequences for his behavior in order for him to make the cause and effect connection.  Please let the school know of any issues as soon as he is dropped off, so his teacher can address it with him immediately.  Feel free to write a note on any behavior issues in his planner as well, both the teacher and myself would then be able to see it and address the issue.
  3. Close Proximity:  If Matthew believes he has gotten away with something he will escalate his behavior quickly, by keeping him close to you on the bus this will help eliminate the opportunity for him to cause problems.  
  4. Verbal Prompts:  If verbal prompts need to be given it is best to keep them short and avoid excessive talking or back and forth arguing.  For example, a simple “Sit Here” works well, do not engage in explanations or respond to his arguing.  It is best to keep your tone and body language calm, positive, and even tempered.
  5. Keep him Occupied:  Matthew responds really well when given a “job” or “responsibility” to do, even something as simple as asking him to look for a specific street name may help keep him focused.  I’d be happy to provide Matthew with some “Books on Tape” that he can listen to while on the bus ride if that would be allowed.

Thank-you again for all of your hard work keeping the children safe while transporting them to school each day.  I hope that some of these ideas may be helpful with Matthew.  I will continue to impress upon him the importance of following the rules and routine on the bus.  If there is anything specific you would like me to do please let me know and I will be happy to help.  You can reach me by phone at _________or email ________________                  


Update on First Visit

So here's how the first visit went down!

I picked Alex up from school and drove him downtown to drop him off with the County DHS worker around 2pm.  The night before, Alex and I went around the house and took pictures of his room and toys, and a picture of him with the dog to show his mom.  I wrote her a short note letting her know how great he has been and how he is doing in school.
When I dropped him off I asked the DHS worker to please explain to Alex that his mom was in prison on the ride over there, he believes she is at "Sleep Away Camp".
Around 6pm DHS worker brought him back to my house.  He told me that he didn't need to say anything to Alex because it was "clear where they were at" so clearly Alex understood.  Needless to say Alex does not understand, he now things mom is at a "very bad school" and she should have picked a better school to go to!!!!! AHHHHH!!!  I'm letting it go for now, but will probably have the conversation with him before the next visit.  DHS worker said mom was very appreciative for the letter and pictures and extremely emotional.  I think (hope) it was clear that he is in a good home, which I know has been an ongoing concern for his birth family.  His previous kinship home would frequently tell him they would send him to a bad foster home if he didn't behave.  She asked for me to get a specific lotion for him, which we have since done.  You can tell he really likes putting on the lotion that his mom wants him to use and it gives him a connection to her.  We really haven't had any behavior issues due to the visit.  We still have a lot of faux illnesses going on, but its been that way since he came so its not related to the visit itself.  No word on when another visit will take place.
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