And then there were 8.

At the beginning of this week we recieved a new placement, I’m going to call her Pretty. She is gorgeous and sweet, she is 17, and she will age out of foster care with us. A new adventure! A new road in foster care; we’ve never had a child age out in our home. In fact, Pretty is the oldest child we’ve had placed in our home. 

Pretty is into all girly things and can contour a face with precision. It’s really impressive, I could never do those things. Pretty was dealt a crappy hand if cards in life; she’s a great kid despite all of the obstacles she’s faced. Pretty is getting along well with the older girls in our home and the rest of the family. She seems to be good fit, a special shout out to my homie J.S. at the Bullhead City DES for always calling me with potential kids for our home that will work within our family dynamic. 

Lemon’s 4th birthday came and went last month, now I’ve got Boychild, Biscuit, and husbands birthdays this month. Boychild was disappointed that he couldn’t go to Glamis a couple of weeks ago and was at a cheer competition in Phoenix  instead. Husband is a rockstar dad that he is will be taking Boychild to Glamis in 2 weeks to celebrate his birthday; Boychild is very excited! This weekend we are headed to Palm Springs for a cheer competition, Trenton he will be hanging out with our dog and his best friend this weekend because he is not enthusiastic about the competitions at all. Give him a few years and he will be begging to tag along. 

Biscuit has had a serious attitude problem during the last 2 weeks. I don’t like it. Shes currently grounded for 2 weeks, she shows little remorse. 

Bunny is Bunny. She’s an overachiever and cries a lot, boy this kid is stubborn. 

Blue, shes still a little withdrawn. She’s funny, she cracks jokes and wrestles with Biscuit regularly. She’s a good girl and I love having here here, we’re still unsure where her case of going but shes just fine with us for now.

Husband has been working a lot and I appreciate him more than he could imagine. In short; things are amazing and we are all happy and healthy. 

How did I get so BUSY!

The days come and go, the hustle and bustle never stops. And now, Christmas is just a couple of days away…I’m pretty excited! Let’s hit the important things with bullets

  • I’m still holding off on opening our 2 beds for new foster children.
  • My actions for disrupting are validated; the boy has progressivly gotten worse and is being moved again into a higher level of care. What’s higher than a therapeutic home? I’m not quite sure, perhaps an actual psychiatric facility for children? Whatever it is…it breaks my heart.
  • We are providing respite for other foster families during the holidays. We currently have 3 darling little girls, they’re amazingly sweet and fun. 
  • My kids had a crazy, happy, Christmas morning and I’m really looking forward to seeing their faces light up.
  • Murphy, our puppy, is 4 months old and HUGE.
  • The girls had their first cheer competition in Phoenix a few weeks ago. All 3 girls teams placed first, go Sonics!
  • Husband has been working quite a bit, he has been out of town more often than I’d like. I love him, I’m proud of him, and I know he’s working hard for his family. 
  • We are officially on winter break! That means we are free from all activities, clubs, and school for an entire week. Yes, break is 2 weeks but activities and such start back up in January. You’re missing the point, a whole week of sleeping in and no Mom Shuttle! 

    Lemon recieved this epic bed for Christmas! 

    Biscuit is ready for action! She swooped in on her brothers tactical gear.

    Boychild and Murphy. ❤

    Joy!

    Do you see these pants? These pants just blew my foster daughter away. Yes, these pants that most if us have, just brought tears to her eyes. She smilied and said she’s never had anything from Victoria’s Secret before and did a happy-jumpy-squee. 

    The dirtiest word in Foster Care.


    Can you guess it? Nope, it’s not the ‘F’ word or even the ‘B’ word. it’s actually the ‘D’ word, disruption. What is a disruption? In short; it’s when a foster placement isn’t working out in your home and you ask your agency or DCYS worker to remove the child from your home and place him or her elsewhere.

    Oh  my  goodness, there is so much negative sigma associated with the dreaded ‘D’ word. I have heard about foster families being blackballed from fostering children, I’ve heard of licensure removal, I have heard that foster families have been gossiped about by their peers, and so on. To be honest, I had been terrified that I could one day have a disruption and my dreams of helping children in my community would be crushed, it seemed like that was what always happened…I had read stories upon stories about how a foster families were in trouble because of disruption and the threads online in forums didn’t make me rest any easier. Simply put, if you have a disruption then your foster career was over. 

    Well, I’m here to tell you different. I have experienced disruption first hand and I am not feeling victimized in any way. First, let me tell you that having a disruption is absolutely devastating. I had self doubt, I felt like a quitter, I felt like I failed my community, I felt like I failed that child. It hurt, it hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I wish I could explain it but there aren’t words that can fill the void of emotional despair I had felt. 

    I felt like a child in my care was a danger to himself and others, I had absolutely no help from the mental health provider as he wasn’t yet enrolled in my area yet. I had reached out to my DCYS caseworker trying to get help expediting the child’s mental health care, she suggested I call and start enrolling him myself and I did. The entire case was a hot mess, there were wrong case workers, wrong names, wrong cities, it just wasn’t right in so many ways. I had gotten my placements set up for an appointment 9 days away. This was after calling and making several pleas to help, I specifically said ‘I need help, this child is out  of control.’ That wasn’t a big  enough cry for help, they pretty much told me to wait until his appointment. Unfortunately, 3 or 4 days before the appointment there was an incident and I requested to have the child removed. That was the hardest phone call I had ever made to date. I  cried, I begged for help, I demanded that the child be picked up immediately. I am extremely thankful that my DCYS worker was quick to help and quick to have the child removed. I suggested that the child needed a higher level of care and the DCYS worker took me very seriously.

    After a series of phone calls, interviews, papetwork, I met with my licensing workers through AZCA. I was terrified that they were coming to meet with me to revoke my license, to scold me, to lecture me on how I had done everything wrong. I was terrified. Was this it? This one incident is going to rip my dreams away…I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t like feeling this way, even though I knew I had done all the things I had been trained to do, sheesh, I still felt like a kid in the principals office. I dreaded seeing my AZCA workers. 

    When AZCA had come to my home a few days ago, I was an emotional mess. I tried to keep my composure but I failed, I ended up a crying blubbering mess. They weren’t there to scold me, they weren’t there to take my license, they weren’t there to point the finger at me. They had come to educate me, to make sure I knew I had done all the right things, and give me extra resources. The most important and critical thing they had told me was to always use the key word “CRISIS” when dealing with mental health providers (because begging for help, explaining the situation, crying, and saying a child is out of control isn’t enough.) Per Jacobs Law the mental health providers are to see anyone in crisis within 2 hours, but if you don’t say crisis…it doesn’t count. Mental health providers are required to asses mental health within 7 days, in addition; they’ve got 21 days to set up a service appointment.

    Mohave County Mental Health Crisis: 928.214.2370 or 877.756.4090

    When mental health fails you, call the Tattle Line (a/k/a Member Services): 800.640.2123 or 800.867.5808

    Would you rather email? DCS@azahcccs.gov

    I asked what was the definition of crisis, unfortunately it’s a case by case/person by person definition…however there are some red flags that should always be considered:

    • Increased anger outbursts
    • Withdrawn behavior
    • Inappropriate bed wetting (wtf?)
    • Nightmares 
    • Harming animals
    • Refusing to eat
    • Acting sexually towards others
    • Threatening self harm
    • Self mutilation 
    • Frequent tantrums 
    • Starting fires
    • Talking about death
    • Aggressiveness towards others

    These are things I’ve taken directly from the paperwork I’ve been  given from AHCCCS. I know some of it seems bizarre but it’s been outlined so I’m sharing.

    In addition to all of these services for the children there are services offered to foster families that will be covered by the child’s insurance. 

    • Family support services assist the  family who are caring for the child.
    • Individual, family and/or group counseling; including trauma informed practices.
    • Respite services 
    • A broad range of in-home supports bases on your family’s needs.
    • Assistance in dealing with a family loss and separation when a child leaves your home.
    • Referrals to peer run organizations, support groups, community services and workshops.

    In other news, I’m currently on hold. I’m not ready to have any other placements just yet. I need time to re-enter my family and heal emotionally. We currently have one placement and late December we will think about reopening our beds. 

    I hope this post is informative and helps someone, had I known that these things were avaliable I would have used the key words and possibly could have avoided a disruption. I’m happy that the child now has a level of care that he needs, that’s the only thing that helps me feel better about the situation. 

    Hopefully I won’t experience any long term affects from the disruption, I have been assured I wouldn’t but I won’t know until after I reopen our beds. I’ll definitely keep my readers updated as the process continues. 

    Have a wonderful day!

    Halloween is happening!

    We love Halloween around here! Dressing up, going to parties, being with friends…and CANDY! Three out of the 6 kids have decided what they’d like to dress up as but the other kids have no clue. So far we’ve got a witch, a mermaid, and a pirate. 

    Blue is doing well in school, she’s starting taking a gymnastics class, she’s smiling more and talking with us. She is a sweet girl–smart too. I’m really proud of her for coming out of her shell and trying to regain a sense of normalcy. Blue is a funny girl, she makes is laugh. Last night she had a loose tooth and she accidently pulled it and it fell into the toilet. Biscuit and Blue laughed so hard and when they tried to retell the story they couldn’t get through it because of the laughing. 

    Busy, we’ll he’s busy. He’s not behaving well at school. I keep telling myself that he’s never been in a social environment with kids his age, he’s started kindergarten a year late so he’s older than his peers but he lacks so much when it comes to maturity. I know he will overcome all of his behaviors; he’s a sweet boy who is eager to please. Oddly enough, he is amazingly well behaved at home with us. He is kind, obedient, and funny. Personally, I feel like he is just having a hard time adjusting. Busy attended church for the first time last week, he loved it.  It was a week day youth group and he was great there, granted it was just and hour and a half he couldn’t get into too much trouble in the short amount of time. He is excited to attend this week, I’m excited too. 

    Boychild is still doing well in school, he’s been riding his dirtbike, and just being a good kid. I’m psyched that he’s still doing well and he’s being self motivated. After all of the constant struggles with him this feels good. I’m happy that he’s overcoming his personal obstacles, I’m proud too! 

    Biscuit is hormonal. Sometimes she’s just not very nice; other times she’s mega clingy and infantile. She’s almost a teenager (in 4 months!) and she’s doing well in her clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities. She is the absolute funniest kid EVER and I love it. Biscuit keeps me smiling even if it’s at her own expense. 

    Bunny, holy growth spurt! This kid is tall. Bunny is very athletic and still struggles with gender roles; she currently secretly loves Skylanders and only her bestie knows this. She has been really into shooting and target practice, this kid has impeccable aim. She’s asked me for a bike and a new airsoft gun for her birthday and of course I’m going to make her little dreams come true. She’s also planned another epic birthday party…she’s having a runway party and froyo. Last year she had a pancake and pj’s party at iHop, she’s a cool chick. She has great grades, she’s a stellar athlete, and she’s often bratty. Yup. She’s still a weenie, I truly think it’s her personality. My pretty little jerk. 

    Lemon is a spitfire. She’s rocking the sight words, she’s trying pretty hard to be a good cheerleader, and she’s doing well in school.  Lemon is too ballsy for her own good, she’s like a constant drunk frat boy… “Mom! Watch this!” Constant. Mayhem. And the injuries are nonstop and the worry never ceases. 


     

    Blue and Busy

    Great news! Blue (our newest 12 year old girl) is no longer on a hunger strike. She sat down with us for dinner last night and even talked a little. She’s stayed in her room since she’s arrived and only come out a couple of times, it was nice to see her out last night. Blue is soft spoken, she rarely makes eye contact, and her behavior reminds me of a puppy who’s been mistreated. She prefers her hair to cover her face and looks down a majority of the time, it’s a shame because Blue is gorgeous! She has skin like porcelain, and these pretty little pink lips, and her eyes are bluer that the iceberg that sank the Titanic. When Blue does speak she is very clear, concise, and articulate, this leads me to believe that she’s a very bright girl. I can’t wait to get to know her. 

    Busy  (our newest 6 year old boy) is doing well. He is excited to please adults, he loves praise, and he listens very well. When we had first picked him up he was doing all sorts of self soothing things such as clicking his tongue, blowing raspberries, fidgeting, etc. We are working on some quieter ways to self sooth and communicate better. He also has some manner issues but he is doing exceptionally well learning to be polite, he is, truly, a shining star. He is just as handsome as ever too, he looks very much like his sister. 

    Murphy is doing better with her kennel training, she made it last night with the door closed all night! She woke up twice to go potty and went right back into the kennel without assistance. Yessss! That means I actually got some decent sleep last night. Potty training is going excellent too, she stays pretty close to me so we’ve had no indoor accidents. She’s also my little car buddy, she goes when I pick up/drop off kids…she’s in the car often. She’s a good dog, I like her. 

    Boychild is off on a trip with his buddy and his family, they’ll be gone the rest of the week doing fun things all over Arizona! I can’t wait to hear all about it. He is still participating in Cub Scouts and I canmot praise his school success enough, he rocks.

    Bunny was supposed to go on a trip with her BFF for the rest of the week but things came up and they’ve decided to go on their trip in 2 weeks. Bunny is still excited, she loves being with her partner in crime…so much so that she’s decided to do gymnastics next season in addition to cheer in hopes of being with BFF. Shes rocking on her cheer teams and doing wonderfully in school. 

    Biscuit is being Biscuit, she’s doing well in school and cheering. She’s enjoying Interact Club and she didn’t make the time requirements for Renaissance Club. 

    Lemon is starting to read! She knows all but 7 of the pre primer Dolch sight words. She is working on her writing too, she’s a pretty  bright little human. 

    Husband and I are doing well, we enjoy our adult Wednesday nights while the kids are in church. We had a great little get away a couple of weeks ago too, I want to do that again! 

    We’ve been though this before, how to interact with our new family members v2.0

    Anyone who knows me knows that I love fiercely. I will love and protect every child who enters my life; my bio children, my children’s peers, my foster placements, and even strangers children. I am a mama bear and I will destroy you if needed be, I am a children’s advocate. I have devoted my life to children, both my own and others because I am passionate about them. Everytime we get a new placement I feel the need to refresh memories, with this being said… let’s go over some do’s and don’t, shall we?
    Do offer help. Help is not always needed but it helps us feel secure, the foster parent and child can both benefit from this. Make sure your offer is sincere; I might need a favor sometime or maybe our foster placement will ask you for something. 

    Don’t sympathize, empathize. Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings of another (having shared the same experience,  or very similar experience) it goes far beyond sympathy, which is pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Don’t tell my foster babies you understand what they’re going through, you simply cannot unless you’ve been a foster child. 

    Do recognize that my foster kids are not “damaged goods.” They come to me as humans, some are experiencing trauma and some are not. These kids often have amazing personalities, they laugh and play, they’re smart, witty, and have some skills that my family sometimes doesn’t. Remember, these kids aren’t placed in care because they’re bad…they’re placed in care because their parents made mistakes.

    Don’t tell me I’m a saint for being a foster parent. I. Am. Not. Saving. Anyone. I’m just providing a safe, and loving, home for a child who is living with me. I certainly don’t praise you for going to your child’s sporting event, I don’t tell you how wonderful you are for going  to a parent/teacher conference, I don’t high five you for successfully pulling off a Tooth Fairy/Elf on a Shelf/Santa thing. Don’t tell me you could never do it, don’t say it must be heartbreaking, just stop. I’m just a parent…just like you. 

    Do teach your children to be welcoming, inclusive, non-judgmental, and kind. I’m especially lucky to be a part of a large group of kids and their families who know what I do, they know I’m a foster parent, and they have taught their children to be accepting and helpful. This is magical, if you haven’t talked to your children about foster care…do it now. The large group of kids typically know that I’ve a new placement; they see a new child or children with me. The kids are quick to introduce themselves, to let the child know how they know me/my child/husband, tell them something positive, and run off to do their thing. If kids can do this, anyone can. The kids NEVER ask if they are a foster kid, they NEVER ask what they did to be placed in our home, they NEVER make our placement feel as if they’re different than anyone else. Adults can learn from this.

    Don’t be a moron. This should be self explanatory, but I’m going to ramble off some points. 

    • I am not making money being a foster parent, don’t ask. 
    • Will you adopt them? Seriously, ask yourself if you’ll get in a car accident today. Do you know the answer, probably not. 
    • Watch what you say about their parents, kids hear everything.
    • Am I their real parent? Go suck an egg. 
    • Don’t you dare say anything about race, I’ll likely assult you. 
    • Go ahead, ask me how many children I fostered. Do you want me to go sad? Don’t make me take that dark trip down memory lane. 
    • Treat these kids like you treat my bio kids.
    • Try to start conversations and don’t ask a lot of questions, that’s a tough one. Try a compliment!  If the kids don’t respond please be understanding. 
    • Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. Stop being overly friendly, over the top happy, etc, just be you. 
    • Offer help in unconventional ways.
    • Celebrate small victories with us. 
    • If our foster kids aren’t acting in a way that is appropriate, relax. I can handle them. Don’t feel sorry for them or me; they’ve experienced trauma and they’re coping the best that they can. 

      I know it’s hard to understand, I know some of this sounds bogus. It’s most important to be understanding. 

      I played the yes card today!

      If I’ve learned anything from fostering children I’ve learned that even if we do say yes to a child or children it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually coming to our home. Apparently, there is a lot of DCYS underground stuff that happens, I still have no clue how they decide which home will be best for the child at hand. I used to think that they called down a list of homes with open beds and waited for the ‘yes.’ I don’t think that’s how it works…if it is I’d be amazed. Sometimes I think they call everyone on the list and when they get a certain number of people to say yes DCYS plucks a random person from the yes list and the others remain backup just in case it’s not what they thought it would be. 

      Well, in the middle of writing this post DCYS called.

      Looks like we will have 2 new family members! We will pick them up tonight, it’s a very strange case but I feel like it will be a good fit. I know that they’re siblings, the girl is Biscuits age (12) and the boy is 6, I know that they’re pretty solid kids per the DCYS worker, and I know that my family is going to be eager to meet them! 

      In other news, Murphy’s first night home was terrible. After about 4 hours in her crate she whimpered and howled loudly for the remainder of the night. She seems to prefer it outdoors and has spend all day outside playing with kids and laying on the pool decking. Murphy seems to be pretty bright; she’s not had any accidents inside the house or her crate. She loves praise a has the cutest little puppy face ever. We all adore her but I think Boychild really, really, has connected with her. 

      Knott’s Berry Fun!

      We had a great time on our mini trip, it was a fun 3 days! We spent the day at Knott’s, we had a beach day, and we had a schedule free couple of days. I attached a few pictures because they’re worth a million words. 

      We are officially foster kid free, we have 3 open beds. I’ve gotten a few calls but I’m not sure what will come. We are all ready for some new faces around here, my kids are asking when we are getting new kids. I love that my kids are excited to help new families, I feel happy and inspired when my kids are intetested in helping our community. 

      Tomorrow we are going to Prescott Valley to pick up our puppy, Murphy! We are all excited to add a furry member to our family. 

      (That’s Murphy!)

      Then…a few days of downtime then we’re going camping. Boychild cannot wait up get onto his dirt bike. Biscuit has decided she’d like a new dirt bike, she’s ready to learn to work a clutch and shift. She says she needs to learn before she gets her street bike! Biscuit has decided that she doesn’t want a car, she wants a Kawasaki Ninja. Oh boy. 

      Have a wonderful day, be happy and know that you are loved!

      Update!

      The Husband and I had a wonderful time in Chicago. It was a nice little retreat, it was deserved. We went on a treetop adventure course and zip lining and spent the rest of our time wandering around the city. We ate fancy food, drank lots of beer, and slept in. Best. Trip. Ever. 

      Now we are gearing up for Minnie, Shy, and Bells to move out. Tomorrow is a big day, our sweet Bells and Shy are moving into their new home! We love them and we are estatic that they’ve got a forever home, their new home is amazing and their new family is exceptional. They will have a great life; I’m sure of it.  Minnie will be with us another week but she will be hopping back and forth between our home and her bio parents home. I’m really happy all of our foster babies are leaving and moving on in their lives. 

      We’ve already got placement possibilities! I’ve got calls and emails, I love that we are already on the minds of case workers, licensing workers, and such. I love my community. I’m proud to be a part of something! I love being a foster parent. Speaking of being part of something…I had go to Chicago for 4 days and when I returned I had to take the girls to gym to practice. When I walked into the gym I was greeted by several girls who said they had missed me and wanted to know where I had been and what I had been doing. I was hugged a lot too. That is a beautiful feeling. I love, love, love, that I’m part of something. I am part of a family that’s pretty big and downright splendid. Guys, community is something that is irreplaceable and has such value; community is everything. I can only wish for everyone that they’re part of something, have a solid network of people they can count on, and feels supported and loved. 

      We are gearing up for our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm, we leave tomorrow! Yay. The kids are excited and I’m happy to be spending time with them. Once we return from our trip we are going camping, Boychild is excited. Husband took Boychild’s dirtbike to be serviced today and it’ll be ready for the camping trip. The boy lives to ride, I love him! Speaking of Boychild, he is doing exceptionally well in school. He’s never been an A type of student, he’s a B and C kid. That’s okay with me, he does his best and it’s perfectly fine. Well, he pumped up his grades and definitely exceeded our expectations. We rewarded him with a TV and an Xbox in his room. For most people their kids have a TV in their room…ours don’t. We have only one TV in our home and it’s in the family room. This is huge! He feels really good about his hard work and we want to convey that excellent grades will pan out in a positive way. I’m proud of him, he’s doing good things and working on making good choices. I simply cannot sing his praises enough.

      Holygeezebestnewsever!  In just 5 short days we will pick up Murphy, our dog! I’m excited, kid-on-Christmas-morning, excited. Husband and I had gone to pick our puppy 2 weeks ago, we were under the impression that there just 2 puppies to choose from but when we arrived there were 6 gorgeous silver lab puppies to choose from. We knew if we took all the kids we would have never gotten out of there…heck it was hard to get me out of there. Imagine this: 6 playful puppies rolling around in the grass, jumping, playing, biting. Now imagine yourself laying down on the grass and having those cute puppies all over you. Bliss, people, complete bliss. It took me about 2 hours to decide which puppy was mine. She’s got a big head and a dopey disposition. She bounds instead of running and she was circling the parameter. Even after I picked our newest family member…I stayed to play with the puppies. It was a dream come true. Technically, I was rolling around on the ground with over six thousand dollars. Ballin’! 

      Don’t you just want to boop her snoot?! I’m in love; the kids are going to love her.