1

Life Goes On

The scheduled visit with Monica’s parents today didn’t happen (again). All of the missed visits make me feel really sad for Monica, and for her parents. I don’t want to assume the circumstances or pass judgement on people I don’t know. All I can say is that it must be very difficult for them that they haven’t seen their daughter. It must be hard to now have missed the visit that would have been closest to her first birthday. I can’t imagine the pain of missing your child’s first birthday … or missing all of the milestones that she has met in just the past 5 weeks. The last time they saw her she wasn’t crawling, wasn’t pulling herself up, wasn’t holding her own bottle … It must be hard.

Lucky for us, Monica isn’t old enough to be aware of the missed visits. So life moves on. Our play time today included:

book box
Playing her favorite game of “take all of the things out of whatever they are in” – today it was the books. Luckily we wised up about the book box and took all paper page books out, leaving only the durable board books in there for the taking. Phew.

books
At least today’s game progressed into interest in the discarded books.

reading
Reading (also known as, “Oh hey! These aren’t just for throwing!”).

E nose
Showing off her genius baby skills – she now knows the answer to, “Where’s my nose?” (Of note – she also knows the answer to, “Where’s Monica’s nose?”) (Also of note, she is hugely proud of herself and gives a big toothy grin and giggle every time she does it).

Sheba mess
I’m not even cleaning this up. (Sheba? Little help?) Those of you who know me know that means I’m exhausted.

**Update – E is the best and she cleaned it up for me

So despite the missed visit, we salvaged the day. The night, unfortunately, was not so much salvageable. Monica was super tired but refused to go to sleep. If we were holding her, she was squirming. If we put her in her crib, she was doing the crazy death scream. If we brought her out to the living room, she was fussing. I’m reasonably certain that it was teething-related. She finally went down after sucking on/biting her stuffed dog’s ear for like 20 minutes. And our daycare provider literally just texted that she has an appointment tomorrow so her back-up provider will be there to watch the kids from 11-5 (seriously?! good thing I’m off tomorrow).

On the docket for next week: I start my new job, we have a visit with both SWs (Monica’s and ours) where we hopefully get more details, another doctor’s appointment (of course), and possibly her first EI visit. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

Advertisements
0

Busy Busy

OK I know I didn’t post yesterday … things have been busy busy around here! I know I’ve hinted at other big changes here at Chez K and E. For those of you who don’t know, we’re freaking insane. You see, E got a job offer the morning of the day Monica came to us. And the next day? Oh, no big deal, I got one too. So over the past month, we’ve not only been adjusting to parenthood, but also making huge changes in our lives – resigning from our jobs (a first for both of us), transitioning to new schedules, starting new jobs, meeting new coworkers, learning new commutes … it hasn’t been the quietest of months. Well, you can’t say no when life rains blessings on you! Onward and upward.

E and I are really enjoying some of the “normal” parenthood things (read: things that are not related to figuring out what to refer to each other as, when visits will take place and whether they’ll be canceled, court dates, length of placement, permission to travel …) like buying birthday presents and celebrating milestones. And we haven’t even had too much to deal with from DCF (still on the “no news is good news” kick).

Monica has a visit scheduled for tomorrow, and her SW sounds confident that her parents will attend. I’m hopeful that this is the case, and that they are able to celebrate her first birthday with her despite the circumstances.

Given how disjointed this post is, I don’t even feel bad about ending with a picture from Saturday. How great is the placement of L’s cone? Perfectly unintentional privacy protection.

Image

1

Solo Mama Weekend

All in all our weekend without E was pretty close to a breeze. It seems to have gone by quite quickly, actually. A little recap:

On Saturday, we joined a good friend (and her 2 comrades) at a nearby pond for some relaxing, outdoors-y fun. A good time was had by all. We were there for a few hours, and Monica was a little water baby. She loved all of the attention she got from the girls (hilarious to watch 4 SLPs compete for social attention from a baby), and couldn’t get enough of the pond. Her favorite game was pick up muddy sand from the pond and put it on people’s legs. Good one.

photo 3
After the pond, we headed to our rendezvous with T and Y (of yesterday’s post fame). Monica loves babies (I realize that she is a baby … she loves other babies, especially littler ones). She got to meet a 12 week old baby last weekend, and was adorably pointing to his nose and toes, and leaning in for kisses. T and Y’s twins are about 7 months, and she had the time of her life watching their every move and laughing at them. Unfortunately, my photos from their house have foster baby faces galore in them (shucks, I’m usually so good). Monica particularly loved all of the toys and books at their house (especially the exersaucer), and particularly enjoyed showing T and Y what needs baby proofing for when their boys are mobile.

As of today, I can officially say that we have a crawler. That girl figured it out and is now all over the place. I had her sitting outside the bathroom door and ran into the kitchen to make her a bottle, and all of a sudden I turned around and she was in the kitchen. I put her down in the kitchen to clean off her tray, and she was in the living room before I finished rinsing it. E and I really need to get our baby proofing in gear! The gate for the top of the stairs is up, and outlet covers are on. All that leaves is removing all valuables/generally not baby friendly items from reach. Easier said than done I think. Wish us luck.

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook – I got to have my pedicure this afternoon! I swear I’ve never wanted a pedicure so bad. L (our pond buddy) came over and we got pedicures together with Monica on my lap. She was a champ! I was really worried about how it would go and brought all sorts of snacks, a bottle, games, my iPad … and that girl only wanted to watch me get a pedicure. Figures. She loved dipping her feet in the tub and watching the lights change in the water. The lovely pedicurist gave her some toe separators to play with, which provided more than enough entertainment. She obviously won everyone in the place over by being so adorable. Yeesh, this girl is too easy. When we got home, she spent the afternoon feeding Sheba her Cheerios. I literally don’t think Monica even ate one, they all went into Sheba’s mouth while Monica giggled.

IMG_2457
Hey, solo mommyhood wasn’t so bad. But we miss E and I’m tired! I can’t wait until our little family is reunited. Poor E is stuck in Philly waiting for a plane that has been delayed 3 1/2 hours.

3

Community

Our girls weekend is off to a great start! Monica, Sheba, and I all miss E (especially Sheba), but we are making it work. I’ll have pictures tomorrow to brag about all of the fun we’re having, but for today, I have a topic: community amongst foster parents.

It seems to me (from the outside) that most first time parents (who do it “the regular way”) find themselves a new little community when they are pregnant – they bond with other parents due around the same time. There are birthing classes, mommy ‘n me groups, play dates, and new friendships. When people become parents through foster care, things are a little bit different. We don’t know when we’ll become parents, so we can’t bond with people over our “due date.” We don’t know how old our children will be when they come to us, so we can’t form a play group. So where can we find our parenting community? Some people find that community in their MAPP class. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t find people we could relate to and lean on in our class. E and I are lucky to have neighbors with children who we’ve been able to lean on and look toward for advice and support. But becoming parents through foster care presents a unique set of challenges, and there is something to be said for finding a community of foster parents with whom we share these challenges and triumphs.

Monica and I spent some time this afternoon with friends of friends (soon to be 1st-degree friends I hope) who are pursuing adoption through foster care and their adorable foster (pre-adoptive) twins. Although their path is slightly different than our own, it was so refreshing to be able to talk openly with people who are facing the same issues as us. I will talk more about our visit in tomorrow’s post, but it got me thinking a lot about the importance of community. Many of us have found a community here, online. Unfortunately, “online” isn’t a place and we can’t easily get together, have play dates, and bitch about social workers and court cases. I feel like foster parents need this community, and it isn’t as easy to find as the hundreds of mommy groups forming on any given week. Foster parenting is uniquely challenging – it takes a great deal of patience, courage, and strength to parent other people’s children, to fall in love with them and treat them as your own, and then to see them go (often to a home that you might not perceive as ideal). We need to find our local community – we need to lean on each other, get advice about which social workers to avoid, where to take your kids to the dentist, which doctors are accessible for last minute appointments, where to find cheap clothes in all sizes, where to find free stuff, who to ask for help …

The friends we visited with today (T and Y … and Frick & Frack) were lucky enough to attend a MAPP class out in Big Suburb (rather than here in Big City), where they found an amazing community. They have a listserv where they share stories of their placements and social workers and court cases, where they share in each others triumphs and challenges. Big Suburb isn’t really close enough either though. They can’t set up play dates and go to the same community events. For E and I (and T and Y), we have each other for now. But I hope that we can carve out a little community for ourselves here, where we can find that camaraderie and look to each other for advice. It just seems like something that DCF could do a better job of encouraging. Or maybe it’s a job for an outside organization, or community organizers. Either way, I’m looking for it. Support groups at our area office start back up in the fall, and I hope that there we will find ourselves taking a step in the right direction.

4

Vignettes

Things have been a little crazy over here at Chez K and E. We kind of have a lot going on. And that’s in addition to wedding planning and adjusting to being new parents to an almost one year old … More info to come soon, but let’s just say we don’t seem to know how to take things slowly around here. Anyway, it seems to be making it slightly difficult for me to organize my thoughts into nice little blog posts. So consider this my caveat … things might get weird (read: discombobulated). But not to worry – I have pictures.

In the world of all things foster care, there is still not much to report (which, to me, feels worth reporting). We’ve basically heard nothing. Monica’s SW is coming out to the house for her second visit (they happen once/month) in a little over a week. We have another doctor’s appointment coming up, and we finally decided to switch her doctor to a nearby practice – we were kind of over driving downtown and paying to park for all of her appointments. The reason we’ve had so many is that kids in DCF care must have a screening within 7 days of coming into care (hers was on the first day – that’s what I picked her up from), and a full appointment within 30 days (that is what was last week). Our little nugget is turning one next week, so she has the traditional one year check up as well. Oy.

Speaking of her birthday, we plan to have a small celebration (classic face-in-cake, “I’m 1” hat, photo-op kind of deal) for her. We certainly want her to know that her first birthday was celebrated, and we’d like her to have pictures to prove it. We’re planning to make a Life Book to send along with her when she goes – with photos of her time with us and notations of any milestones she meets here (crawling, first words, first birthday, etc).

Yesterday, my amazing colleagues took me out for a little celebration after work. So I left E alone with Monica for the night – her first time doing the night-time routine alone (we have fallen into pretty steady roles – E does the wake-up routine of changing, bottle, getting out the door, and I do the bedtime routine). Well, in the end I got a call at 9:00 saying, “you need to come home now.” I guess Monica wasn’t a huge fan of having E put her down (and maybe E wasn’t a huge fan of having to put Monica down), and things kind of fell apart. I walked in at 9:30 to a very smily, very awake baby. Yikes. I find it pretty funny actually (sorry E). I really laughed thinking about Sam over at Cycling Onward‘s post about bedtime roles … hey – at least we know our roles!

In that same vein, I am heading into a weekend of single mommy-hood. E headed out tonight for her high school reunion. The plan was to all go together, but we made a semi last minute decision that E would go alone (thus skipping the 6 hours each way car trip). So Monica, Sheba, and I are having a little girls weekend. I guess we’ll see how wake-up tomorrow goes! If anyone wants to come and save me from myself, I’m certain I’ll appreciate the adult interaction.

Since I know you just want to see photos …

playing with paper

This is what I came home to today. I’m actually quite used to coming home to scenes like this, and was about to yell at Sheba for getting into the trash again when E told me that Monica did it. Her favorite thing is ripping up paper/napkins/tissues/whatever she can. Hilarious (mostly). I love how she’s proudly showing Sheba her handiwork in this picture.

sippy cup

I don’t remember how much I said about Monica’s self-feeding preferences (knowing me, probably a lot and in great detail). Look at her go! She’s so much more independent these days – not only is she drinking from a sippy cup, she’s also reaching for, grabbing, picking up, and drinking on her own. I want to note that I recognize how much I sound like a bragging parent, and also that I don’t care. 🙂

in the car

On the way to drop E off at the airport. She spent the whole ride pointing to raindrops and then trying her best to turn around and make faces at me (in the passenger seat). Love this kid.

And this is what we arrived home to. Good sign for a smooth single parent weekend?

rainbow

0

Is time flying or standing still?

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since Monica came into our lives. It simultaneously feels like it’s been no time at all and months and months. It is funny how normal it feels to have her here, and yet how different our day to day lives are.

We haven’t heard anything about the case in quite a while (which honestly probably contributes to things feeling so normal). There was another visit scheduled for this afternoon that didn’t happen. For anyone keeping score at home, that makes 4 visits missed – her parents have not seen her since she was removed 4 weeks ago. I have trouble wrapping my head around that when I try to see things from their perspective. In MAPP class we were taught to respect the birth parents, to connect with their feelings and support their rehabilitation and the reunification of their family. I absolutely feel that people whose children are in DCF care are by and large good people going through a hard time in their lives. I buy into “the system” – I want to see people become better parents through intervention, and to see their families reunited. Regardless, it is hard to see past the only concrete link I have to Monica’s parents, which is that they have had 4 opportunities to see the daughter who was suddenly removed from their lives … and they haven’t taken advantage of even one. And let me just tell you, this girl is worth seeing. I don’t even want to pass on an afternoon with her.

3

Social Interaction!

Monica had a blast hanging out with our friends Briana and Derek tonight. Okay, so she has a blast doing most things. Still, she got to show off her new crawling skillz (we’re up to 6 scoots for super motivating things/people) and her winning smile! Monica isn’t the only one who enjoys her callers – and she has a lot of callers lately – I so appreciate the adult conversation. Maintaing social time is so important for new parents’ sanity!

Uncle Derek is so cool.

Uncle Derek is so cool.

briana

Everyone is so surprised in this picture ...

Everyone is so surprised in this picture …