Sunday, March 1, 2015

2015 Annual BeTA Retreat and Self-Care

I know I've been absent for awhile, and Ill get an update on all the happenings in foster care land here soon.  But today I want to talk to you about the importance of self-care.  I recently got back from my annual retreat with BeTA (Beyond Trauma and Attachment-  This was my third year traveling to Orlando and spending a long weekend with 100+ other adoptive/foster mamas who live in the trenches with me and "get" it.  It is always such a rejuvenating experience, we laugh and learn and just get a chance to be ourselves without the demand of motherhood.

This year I ran the annual 5k, participated in a Boudoir photo shoot, had two massages and enjoyed myself at our block party (including our own ice cream cart and bartender!).  I had the opportunity to connect with new moms and laugh with old friends.  I taught two classes; special education and adverse childhood experiences.  Each year my focus has been a little different.  In the past I have taken every class and soaked in knowledge from other moms, this year I just wanted to enjoy myself and focus on me.

At last years BeTA retreat I had the wonderful privilege of being in a house with a wonderful vibrant mom, throughout the weekend all I heard was SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE. I walked away thinking to myself that it all sounded great, but when was I a single mom with three young boys supposed to find time for me?? I had spent the last few years focusing on therapists, medications, safety plans, school just didn't seem feasible.

I came home and decided to start off slow, allowing myself that Starbucks coffee a few times a week and not feeling guilty about spending the money.  Over the next year I slowly but surely was finding ways to ...enjoy myself, outside of the MOM role I felt stuck in. This fall I started dating again and allowing myself to hire a babysitter and go out regardless of the fall back from the kids. I began to realize that taking care of me was making our home a happier and more peaceful place, as they say ain't nobody happy if mamma ain't happy!  

At the beginning of this year, I quit one of my jobs, dropped out of grad school and began to focus completely on me. I've been eating right and working out, I have NOT allowed myself to feel guilty about this. I've lost 30 pounds in the last three months.  I've begun running and even signed up for TWO half marathons this fall, I couldn't run for more than 1 minute at the beginning of this year and now I'm working towards 13.1 miles!!!  CRAY-CRAY :)

I've spent the past 5 years focusing on my children and I deserve a chance to rediscover who I am and what I am all about without worrying about others opinions. I will tell you that the change in my children (or maybe its just a change in my reaction to them, lol) has been amazing. We still have our issues, but nothing they do will steal my joy. I honestly believe that people treat you the way you treat yourself. Allowing my children to see me taking care of me has brought more peace and respect in my home. Focusing on the moments we have together now and not the fear of what may happen in the future has become so much easier when I have something of my own to look forward to. I can only do so much, at some point our kids have to do their own work and get their stuff together, I cant do it for them only guide them. While they are figuring their stuff out, I'm going for a run and enjoying my coffee :)

Here I am at BeTA retreat 2013 compared to this year's 2015 retreat! (I am mortified at this before picture, lol!  BUT I want you to see that it is possible, you can do this for you!)

Feeling good about yourself, feeling healthy and happy is JUST as important as your kids next therapy appointment or change in medication.  My tribe at BeTA has taught me so many things over the last three years, but most importantly they have loved me for me, faults and all.  They have encouraged me to find my voice and be kind to myself.  If you haven't yet found your tribe, check us out.  We have facebook pages and support groups, we can connect you to people in your area who understand, and we will walk beside you on this journey.
Upon return several of the ladies have made their own personal goals, I am so excited to see so many women making a plan, figuring out exactly what and how they can do something for themselves.  What about you?  What are you going to do for you today?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rough few weeks.

The last few weeks have gotten progressively worse for Alex.  Logically I get where his behavior is coming from, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with on the daily!  I feel like about a month ago Alex really started attaching to us as a family, getting comfortable here, he began asking for hugs and telling me he loves me.  Shortly after that we began seeing MAJOR push backs, the incessant "You hate me, you like everyone more than me".  He even developed a little sing song-y thing based on the Lego Movie "Everything is Awesome".  He would sing "Everybody hates me....." over and over and over, to the point where I couldn't get anything done.  He is constantly pouting, not listening, calling the other kids names or starting arguments with them.  To be honest its wearing me down.  I get it, I really do.  There is a feeling of betrayal for kids when they start to bond with another family.  There is also the understanding that they will go back to their birth family, more than likely even in the best of situations their birth family will not be able to offer them the same things.  Alex is now trying to push us away, convince himself that we don't love him, thus making it easier to return to his birth family.  Today Alex had a visit with his sister, his sister is in the custody of Grandma.  Grandma is where Alex was living before coming here, Grandma was deemed unfit to care for him for whatever reasons.  Since his sister wasn't actually a ward of the state she stayed there.  Today Grandma showed up with Alex's brother, who was living with his dad (different dad then Alex). This brother is now living with Grandma.  How can an 8 year old kid make sense of that?  The only logical inference for him to make is that HE isn't wanted by his birth family, but that pain would just be too much. So we take the brunt of his anger and sadness.  Anger and Sadness that is displaying itself in him screaming stomping and crying in his room for the last hour over a 5 minute time out for calling Matthew a dummy for the 4th time this evening...sigh.    Really wish Starbucks delivered right now!!!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

It's finally SUMMER!

Sorry its been so long since I updated you all :)  It is finally summer!

The kids did Vacation Bible School last week and had a blast.  Are the VBS's in your area charging?  I was floored when looking for VBS's for the kids to go to that almost all of them were charging 25-35 bucks per kid.  The one I sent them to last week was the only free one I could find.  To me that is just crazy, "Hey we would love to tell your kids about will cost you though!".  Oh well, it all worked out anyway because I found out our city has a playground camp the whole month of July, I thought it was 10 dollars a day BUT this morning when I went to register James, Joel, and Alex I found out it was 10 dollars for the WHOLE month! It is M-F 9-12 for Joel and James and 9-12 and 1-3 for Alex, Matthew will go in the afternoons.  They go on trips like swimming, bowling, etc occasionally. Matthew goes to ESY for the month of July. 8-1 Monday through Thursday.

Buttercup has been doing great, she is SO close to walking, it will be any day now!  Mom has shown up to the visits each week and Buttercup gets so excited seeing her walk in the door.

Alex has visits with mom once a month at the jail, she has been telling him he is coming home this summer. Apparently she is up for parole soon.  Alex is having a hard time understanding that this is probably not the case.  Even if she is released on parole, he wouldn't be able to go home right away.

We had R1 back for respite this weekend, 6 kids almost pushed me over the edge, LOL!  I don't think it would be so bad if they were not all so close in age...and boys (except my Buttercup).  Between R1, Matthew and Alex they are constantly in a control battle.  R1 brought a bunch of toys and of course when it was time to go everyone argued over whose Bey Blade pieces were whose....which I warned them would happen.  Then we couldn't find two of R1's Nintendo DS games.  We spent hours looking everywhere and ended up not being able to go to the Aquarium like I had wanted to.  We could not find them, I thought Matthew had hid them somewhere so I gave R1 one of our games that was the same and told him Id find the other and give it to his caseworker.  About 10 minutes after we dropped him off R1's foster mom called and said they were in his pocket! Grrrrrr......she is supposed to drop off our game at the agency this week, we will see if that actually happens.

We went to the beach for a couple days last week.  The boys woke me up at 5 am to look for shells and we found this little guy.....we named him "Hermie".  The boys took care of him all day and then released him back into his habitat, but only after I promised to buy them each a hermit crab this weekend when we go back!  Ahhhhhh that's a lot of hermit crabs :)

So there is my update for today!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Alex's Sibling Visit

This will be the second weekend that Alex was supposed to have a visit with his sister who lives with  kinship placement. The same kinship placement he was removed from.  Last time the kinship caregiver cancelled.  This time she called and said she will only come for 30 minutes since the Judge said she couldn't be in the visit.  She didn't want to wait in the lobby for 2 hours.  We will see how it goes tomorrow.

Matthew's IEP meeting

I had our annual IEP meeting for Matthew this week.  No shocking information, he is still doing really well in the therapeutic school.  They are recommending he stay there for fourth grade and the school district agreed to pay for it again.  They have a level system and he is on the highest level.  They have taken of all academic goals except writing and OT, so the only thing that remains are the emotional/social/behavioral goals.
I often feel mixed emotions when it comes to Matthew and school.  On one hand I am happy he is doing so well, glad that I get good reports and his teacher sings his praises, trust me that wasn't the case before hand.  Often times though this makes me feel like the problems we see at home are more so issues with me (my parenting or his lack of attachment to me), it makes me second guess everything.  At today's IEP meeting I felt very validated, they noted ALL of the EXACT issues that I see at home as still being a problem in school.  I feel guilty for being happy that he is having these same issues at school.  However, knowing that these same social/emotional issues are presenting themselves in the same exact ways at school really makes me feel like the attachment that I think Matthew and I have gained is real, the issues I see at home are not nearly a presentation of "Attachment Issues" between him and me, but rather some legitimate issues that are consistent across the board.  Many of these stem from the trauma he endured early on, many are from mental illness, but I feel like we have moved past most of the behaviors that were rooted in attachment insecurities or avoidance.
He will probably have a new teacher next year, I have mixed feelings about that as well.  He has been with this teacher for almost two years and one of the reasons he does SO well is because of her.  She is highly structured, aware of what is going on in the classroom, attuned to his issues, encouraging and funny.  On the other hand I think it will be good to see if he can transition the skills he has learned to a new teacher and classroom environment.  He will need to learn how to transition these skills if he is going to be successful in the regular school environment.  They all assured me that his teacher next year is wonderful and that we will keep in touch as far as the transition, so I am hopeful. 
He will get Extended School Year services over the summer, that consists of school 8-12 for about 4 weeks with the bus transporting him, that is really helpful!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Alex turns 8!

Yesterday was Alex's 8th birthday!  he totally screwed up my odd numbered children (9,7,5,3,1) now they are ages 9,8,5,3,1 and with Joel's birthday in another week it will be all kinds of messed up :)
When I asked him what he wanted he told me "A new lunch box!"  He was totally excited when I said he could pick more than a lunchbox for his birthday....sometimes I forget this is all new to him and many foster children.  He brought doughnuts in for his class treat. We went to Chuck E Cheese, came home for ice cream cake and presents.  He had a great time! Happy Birthday Alex :)

Medical Drama for Buttercup

So there have been tons of phone calls back and forth regarding Buttercup's medical issues that need to be taken care of.  First the nurse from DHS called me and told me a social worker from the hospital would be calling with more information about scheduling her needed surgery.  Yesterday I got a call while we were at Chuck E Cheese for Alex's birthday from the hospital social worker.  She gave me the name and number to the specialized clinic at the hospital that would be handling things and told me I needed to call ASAP.  The team only meets once a month and I needed to get her on the schedule quickly.  This surgery should have been done months ago but there were three no shows previously.  I called this morning and got on the teams schedule for June.  Before that she needs to get in to see the pediatrician for a physical.  Remember how DHS scheduled that for today without checking with me first, and remember how I told them I was not available, and remember how they said they would transport.....yeah that didn't happen.  I had left several messages this week with the DHS caseworker trying to find out what was going on.  No return call. This morning I called the doctor's office to let them know she was probably not coming since no one had called about scheduling transportation and asked if I could reschedule.  They told me they couldn't get her in till June and they were nasty about it.  Its not my fault, I communicated with everyone! I told the lady that would not work since the child was in need of surgery as soon as possible, I told her Id have DHS call her back to reschedule. Left another message with DHS.  DHS lady called back while I was at an IEP meeting for Matthew, BUT her message mentioned NOTHING about the doctor appointment, ugh!  When I got home I called my agency worker who told me DHS lady had called her and said she forgot to schedule the transport but would reschedule the appointment.  My agency worker is also trying to schedule a visit with Mom for next week.  Not sure how that will work since as far as I know Mom is still in the hospital. 
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