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Still Amazed

It still amazes me how easily this kid goes down now. Given that the first night she screamed for a half hour before falling asleep only out of exhaustion, and that she has cried herself to sleep almost every night since (up until a few days ago) … I just … it feels impossible to believe. It’s the little things. Tonight she was totally not tired when I put her down. And she just went with it. She stayed awake babbling to herself but didn’t cry. at. all. Why is this so exciting for me? My life is so weird.

Today in pictures:

We have cruising. How exciting.

We have cruising. How exciting. Obviously you can’t tell in this picture (we’re not at Hogwarts after all), but she is scooting along the couch.

Monica is now doing this headstand thing. I think she is trying to stand up without having something to pull up on ... but she is can't actually stand without holding on to something so her efforts are fruitless. Fruitless and cute.

Monica is now doing this headstand thing. I think she is trying to stand up without having something to pull up on … but she is can’t actually stand without holding on to something so her efforts are fruitless. Fruitless and cute.

We did a little shopping today for some fall clothing (don't worry, we only spent like $17. No big if she's not here when the weather cools). Upside down shopping is the best way to do it.

We did a little shopping today for some fall clothing (don’t worry, we only spent like $17. No big if she’s not here when the weather cools). Upside down shopping is the best way to do it.

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Not to jinx it …

I think it’s been long enough to be an unjinxable pattern (see what I did there? I totally jinxed it) – Monica has gone to bed without crying for four nights in a row. It’s my new favorite thing in life. She just thrives on consistency. Bedtime is the same every night, and she totally figured it out. As soon as her bottle is done, she turns around and lies on my shoulder. When I stand up and walk to the crib, she leans down to get in. It’s a beautiful thing.

Also, as of today, Miss Monica has been with us for 7 weeks. I’m here to tell you that, apparently, 7 weeks is approximately the time it takes me to feel completely acclimated to something new. Monica is a part of our lives and the routine as smoothly as if she always has been.

Since I know why you’re all really visiting my blog, a few pictures:

Reading Curious George on the couch.

Reading Curious George on the couch.

Her new favorite activity - looking out the window.

Her new favorite activity – looking out the window.

Seriously, she'd do this for hours. If she is not at the window and suddenly remembers it's her favorite place, she will forcefully point to the window and demand (via a shout) that we take her there. It's actually very cute.

Seriously, she’d do this for hours. If she is not at the window and suddenly remembers it’s her favorite place, she will forcefully point to the window and demand (via a shout) that we take her there. It’s actually very cute.

1

GUH

Have I mentioned how cute Monica is? After her bath tonight, she wanted nothing more than to stand on the couch (naked) and look out the window. And point at things. And vocalize. Can it get any cuter? Then we were doing some family book sharing and she was trying so hard to imitate the sounds in Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? On the “buzz” sound she was staring at our lips and touching them and then she blew raspberries with this elated look like she totally did it.

Words she did better with tonight:
“Buh” for balloon
“Na Na” for night night
“Ah” for car

I can’t take it. She’s too cute.

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The things we do

Have I mentioned how much I love having this child? Today we had a relatively quiet day. Mamas K and E needed to clean up (it was getting pretty unbearable around here) and Monica doesn’t know it, but she needed some down time to work on getting over this cold. Of note:

She is officially pulling herself up on all available surfaces (including this flimsy TV tray ... oy), reminding us how much more we need to baby proof.

She is officially pulling herself up on all available surfaces (including this flimsy TV tray … oy), reminding us how much more we need to baby proof.

She had a blast splashing around in one of her birthday presents - a kiddie pool.

She had a blast splashing around in one of her birthday presents – a kiddie pool.

It took her a little while to ease in, but once she was in we spent a good hour soaking in the shade.

It took her a little while to ease in, but once she was in we spent a good hour soaking in the shade.

We rounded off the day with dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. E and I had one of our first dates here and have been regulars since. This was our first visit with child. The wait staff couldn't get enough (who can, really?)

We rounded off the day with dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. E and I had one of our first dates here and have been regulars since. This was our first visit with child. The wait staff couldn’t get enough (who can, really?)

 

 

 

0

Did ya miss me?

I can’t believe I haven’t updated in 3 whole (eventful) days. I blame it on the new job. And the eventfulness.

Our visit from the SWs was a nice check in, and offered us some additional information about the case. First of all, we found out that Monica’s mom actually did not attend the visit. Her dad (and one of his other children) did. We also found out that Monica’s mom has other children who have been adopted (her parental rights having been terminated) in that other state. Fascinating new information. That info doesn’t affect us at all because Monica has a different father, but interesting (and sad) nonetheless. It was nice to see our family resource worker. She informed us that only 2 other people from our MAPP class (remember how there were like 30 of us?) have had their home studies completed and now have placements. She also said that multiple times over the past 6 weeks they’ve had kids come into care and she’s wanted to call us and stopped herself. As in, there is a chance in a parallel universe that we would have multiple children here right now.

As far as the actual case, nothing is any more clear. The inter-state work that has to happen is just a big unknown. It doesn’t happen often enough (and is apparently different every time), so no one really knows what will happen, how quickly it will happen, and generally how things will go. Ah well.

In other news, E and I had our first date night. Cousins S and C came over to baby (and doggie) sit. I was much more anxious than I thought I would be! I definitely micromanaged with the instructions (sorry guys), and needlessly worried about her ability to fall asleep without me (ha). She, of course, was a champ, despite deciding that while we were out was a good time to develop a cold. The evening went off without a hitch (except maybe a backwards diaper … but it still held!), and E and I got a much needed night to focus only on each other.

Today we took Monica to the zoo for the (probably) first time. She was so attentive and absolutely loved it! She took every single thing in and didn’t skip a beat. I loved seeing her little face as she saw each animal. She would get entranced and stare, then look at us and point. Adorable. As if she could be anything else.

E and Monica enjoying one of the free-roaming peacocks.

E and Monica enjoying one of the free-roaming peacocks.

Monica showing me where the gorillas are hanging out.

Monica showing me where the gorillas are hanging out.

She was mesmerized by the fish.

She was mesmerized by the fish.

 

Showing E the giraffes and zebra.

Showing E the giraffes and zebra.

L was thrilled to show Monica how the bouncing bug worked.

L was thrilled to show Monica how the bouncing bug worked.

Checking out the goats! Monica showed this goat her supreme skill of knowing where his (her?) nose was. Glad she still has all of her fingers.

Checking out the goats! Monica showed this goat her supreme skill of knowing where his (her?) nose was. Glad she still has all of her fingers.

 

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Opinions

Pre-Monica, I had a lot of opinions. Okay, I still have a lot of opinions. The ones I am referring to here are about parenting. Now, I am actually a very tolerant and inclusive person. I am all about different parenting styles. No mommy wars over here. Anyway, I used to have all of these opinions about how was going to parent. And I no longer have so many. Examples:

dreamland soother
These ridiculous things that you strap onto a crib that play music and project light shows on the ceiling. Ew. What’s the point of distracting your baby while they’re trying to sleep? My new opinion: Aahh, this is the magical thing that makes that terrible “I’m dying” noise stop. Okay. Love it.

Gerber meal

Microwave dinners for babies. Okay I am kind of steadfast in my opinion that these are no good. If your kid can eat these, they can eat whatever you’re eating. The old K says, “WHO WOULD BUY THESE?” The new me? Ah, this baby goes to sleep before I eat dinner … soooo … sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

And there are more. The list goes on (leaving babies in clothes with food all over them, diapers visibly sticking out …). It’s amazing how quickly things change when practicality is the guiding force.

So back to foster care …

Monica has had a busy week. Her first EI visit was on Tuesday (we were just meeting her permanent provider and signing things), she had her one-year check up yesterday, and her lawyer visited again tonight. In terms of updates – she is still a healthy happy little nugget, making excellent developmental gains (crawling, pulling herself up, more and varied babbling, increased self-feeding and helping with dressing …). I learned a little something about the court system – apparently (in MA), the child’s attorney represent’s the child’s desires. If a Guardian ad Litem was assigned, they would represent their best interests (remember that often their desires do not align with their best interests – I know mine never did growing up). When the child in question is so young, the attorney has to take in all of the information they have and make an assumption as to what the child would want – which can be different from the child’s best interests (or the birth parents’ best interests). It’s good that Monica has someone advocating for her. The whole system is set up to advocate for her parents (while simultaneously ensuring her safety) – every piece of the plan that is made must be with the end goal of reunification (until the court moves to terminate parental rights).

Anyway, her visit tonight was helpful. She let us know that the plan set in place at the last court date was still in motion – that our state and the other state are in the process of doing home studies on one of Monica’s out of state relatives with the intention of transferring the case. I believe that the hope is that that will happen at the next court date (late September). I know that her lawyer will advocate for Monica’s perceived desires – and she made it seem like she sees our home as preferable to Monica (considering the only information she has to go on is the reason for removal from her family, their behavior thus far, and what she has seen of Monica’s progress and happiness in our home). Of course, her lawyer is just one of many involved in this case, all in a system that aims to keep birth families together at all costs. But it is nice to know that (and how) her interests will be advocated for independent of her parents.

Speaking of her parents, Monica’s 6th family visit was scheduled for today. Drumroll please … they showed up! We don’t really know how it went yet, since her SW picked her up and dropped her off at daycare, but our SWs will be visiting tomorrow evening and hopefully will let us know how things played out. I’m happy to hear that they were able to have a family visit. I am really looking forward to hearing how it went. It’s so easy to build fictional ideas of who they are and how they would be with Monica when they are completely absent from our lives. We signed up for this – to be foster parents, to parent and fall in love with children who will be with us for just a little while, but also to work with, get to know, and hopefully support birth parents. It just makes it difficult when you fall in love with the child and so easily lose sight of the part where they are going to go home. I have mantras – I constantly remind myself that Monica is our beautiful, happy, and charming child for a little while, and then she will go home to her family to be their beautiful, happy, and charming little girl. But I do believe that foster parents need more than just will power and mantras – we need to be included as a part of this system, reminded not just that our children’s biological parents exist, but also who they are and how hard they are trying to get their kiddos back. Even supported and encouraged to work with them and be ongoing parenting supports. I know that this also causes infuriating situations when the families are not working hard to get their kids back – but that’s part of all of this too. The more we, as foster parents, are kept on the outside, the harder it is for us to buy into, work with, work around, and exist as a part of the system.

So that’s my opinion on that.

I have one more opinion, and that is that this little ball of sweetness is far too adorable for words (recognize that bedtime soother thing and the sticking out diaper?):

sleeping