baby development

Monday, October 31, 2005

Packing Up

I couldn't bring myself to pack up Howard and Autumn's clothes yet. Most are washed and folded on top of the dryer. Though Autumn was sleeping peacefully this morning when it was time for me to leave for work, I scooped her up to change her diaper. I wanted to see her stretch her arms above her head and giggle like she had learned how to do this week. I wanted to rub her tiny belly and watch her kick her chubby legs as I put on a fresh diaper. I dressed her in one of her new pink and green outfits and left her lying fresh on her play mat for Michael to take her to daycare.

When I left, Howard was munching on a pop tart and watching a DVD of School House Rock - Multiplication Rock. Though he won't be multiplying any time soon, he still needs lots of work on number recognition, and that seemed to fascinate him. He was wearing his Spiderman costume with a pair of pants and a jacket over top of the whole thing. With a high of 63 today, I couldn't just let him wear that silky little costume to school with nothing else. Today is his Harvest Party at school. I certainly hope he has a good time.

Last night was the Harvest Party at our church, and we dressed up the kids in their costumes (Autumn was a pumpkin) and ate hot dogs and chili in the church. Then in the lower parking lot, the Howard got to go from car to car "trunk or treating". Folks had decorated their trunks with all kinds of neat stuff and carved pumpkins. Howard was pretty scared and Michael ended up carrying him most of the night.

What scared Howard the most was this: the Chick Fil' A Cow. Yes, a cow. Our Sunday School teacher is a regional manager for Chick Fil' A, and he even has one of the big trucks painted like a cow with a horn that moos. And he has a cow costume from the store that his teenage son wore to the party. Well, Howard was so freaked out by the cow that he almost cried until Michael held him. We tried to tell him it was just Peter in the costume, but he didn't care. Michael and I interacted with the cow - even high-fiving the cow. Still, Howard was scared out of his mind. Other than that, the evening went pretty good. When we got home, we let him eat 3 pieces of his candy before bed. He didn't even argue. Then he wanted a bowl of spagetti, which he ate up like he hadn't eaten in days. Because he finished it, I rewarded him with a small bowl of his now-favorite cookies and cream ice cream. Surprisingly, he slept like a log last night.

It was a good week. The house is a wreck. I even think it smells in there. But we learned lot. And there are two more kids on the face of the earth who feel like someone cares about them. That is particularly cool.

Tonight Michael and I are going to go to dinner and a movie out, then come home and, well...let's just say we have some things to "catch up on".

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Dreaded Call

Howard and Autumn are going to go live with relatives. The approval was signed yesterday and their worker called me. I had left my cell phone at home, so I didn't get the message until I returned her call last night at 9. We decided we didn't want to interrupt Howard's plans for an exciting Halloween weekend, so the removal from our house will be Monday at 5:30 after we get off work and pick them up from daycare. Part of me wishes they would just come get them, but part of me is glad we get to enjoy the holiday with them. It will be Autumn's first Halloween, and she is going to be a pumpkin.

I cried a lot last night. I cried myself to sleep. It didn't help that yesterday my period had started, so it was like every atom in the universe and every cell in my body was reminding me that I can't have children. Through the tears, I cried out to Michael that this isn't fair that people who can never care for their children get to have as many as they like and we have to go through all this in order to just adopt.

If anyone is reading this and considering foster-to-adopt, please understand we will still continue to do this. It hurts so incredibly bad, but it feels so incredibly good. I had more joy this week than I have in so long. God blessed us with two beautiful kids for one great week plus the weekend to come. We learned a lot as well.

We now know how to give every 3 hour feedings. I know how to comfort a seemingly inconsolable baby. We know how to sign up for WIC, how to redeem vouchers, how to inspect a daycare, and how to sign children up. We know how to get a picky 4-year old to eat. We know Barney songs, and Bob the Builder. We know how to change and dress a squirming 2-month old in the middle of the night without the lights on. We know how to sterilize bottles and make formula and warm bottles.

We will keep on doing this. One reason I am sure of this is what my dear husband said last night as he looked into my face as tears were streaming down it. He calmly said, "I truly believe we are doing the Lord's work here." And while that didn't make me stop crying, I was able to nod my head and agree. There is more to this venture than merely getting children that will someday be ours. It's about taking care of children who need us. Period. That's really what foster care is supposed to be. And being foster-to-adopt parents means first that you are a foster parent. We may see many, many children come into and out of our home over the next few years. Some may eventually stay.

I'm not going to overlook the fact that this may also be God's way of allowing us to learn and save up money so that one day we can afford a private or international adoption. I won't try to read the mind of the almighty. I'm not that dumb.

If you are considering fostering to adopt, know they will not tell you how painful the process is. They will tell you it is "hard". "Hard" is a horribly simplistic way of putting it. Calculus is hard. Nuclear physics is hard. Fostering to adopt is excruciating and gut-wrenching. It is perhaps the most difficult way I know of to try to adopt a child. But in the meantime, we get to point to the Lord enough to make a mark on things. We get to bless His name unapologetically. We get to leave a legacy.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Week in Review

I am awash in all kinds of emotions - many of which I've never felt before and simply have no label for. I want to get down some of the basics before I forget them, so gentle readers - I ask you to forgive my poorly worded thoughts as I try to get them down as quickly as possible.

Last Friday night by the time I made it home from work at 5:30 the social workers were already at our place with both kids. I was so excited my heart was pounding so hard. The first little person I saw was Howard, and to me he was such a handsome little guy. He was shy, but he shook my hand and I said how nice it was to meet him. I sat on the sofa where the baby was lying and picked her up and held her. The workers talked with us about essentials - where Howard went to Head Start, and that Monday at 4:00 she would come back by to check on us all. She said she knew very little, but would try to answer any questions we had. But really I just wanted the two workers to leave so we could all be alone. Howard cried softly as gigantic tears streamed down his face. "I wanna go home", he softly said over and over again. "I know", I replied. "I'm so sorry this is so hard." "I know it hurts, and I'm sorry." We explained that we would take good care of them. We showed Howard where his bed was, and where our room was. We told him that he was welcome to come in and sleep with us if he wanted to. He said he wanted to sleep on the sofa, so we let him. We gave him a pillow and a blanket, and soon he was sleeping. Michael carried him into his bed and he slept through the night.

We made a co-sleeping arrangement in our king-sized bed for the baby and she slept peacefully, waking every 3 hours for a warm bottle and a diaper change. It was the honeymoon stage, so I enjoyed performing these tasks, and held her close during feedings, and rubbed her back and pet her head. I liked how she smelled, and the happy noises of contentment she made while feeding. She burped so loudly it made me giggle, even in the middle of the night. (Don't worry, we set it up so there is no way we would roll over onto the baby, or that she would sufficate in blankets or pillows.)

Saturday morning came all to early, and I was so tired. We all slept late - until about 9, and then I made Howard a peanut butter sandwich and some chocolate milk for breakfast. He ate a little, but was still unhappy and asked again about going home. We explained that mommy had broken things in her life that she had to fix before it would be safe for him to go home. He really does not understand - or so I thought.

I needed a ton of things - I had absolutely no diapers (as I did not know what size child would arrive). I had no kid-food in the house. I had no toys for a 4-year old, and really could not afford to buy a whole lot.

I started to ask Howard what he liked to eat - kind of like a quiz. Macarioni and cheese? No. Hamburgers? Yes. Pizza? Yes. What kind? Cheese!! (loud and happy was that reply)

It then hit me - Halloween was just around the corner and Howard being 4 years old was likely to really be looking forward to it. I asked if he had a costume. No costume. I asked if he wanted to go get one. "Yes!" "What do you want to be for Halloween?" "Piderman" "Spiderman?" "Yea-ah" (he's country, so the word "yeah" comes out as having 2 syllables)

Together Howard and I made a shopping list. I wrote in big letters and he watched as I wrote: Spiderman Halloween costume, whole milk, bottles, diapers, hamburger, cheese pizza - and so on. He made me read the list over and over again before we left. Then I asked him if he wanted to go. "Yea-ah, I wanna go Tall-Mart wit chew." (translation: but of course, accompanying you to Wal-Mart would be my pleasure). Michael got to stay home with a warm and snuggly sleeping baby. I got a very chatty 4 year old.

On the way to Tall-Mart we stopped at our church because the youth group was having a yard sale. Howard picked out a Piderman shirt he saw and wanted (it has webs sewn in underneath the arms). I bought a diaper bag that looked new. We then headed out for worlds of unknown food.

Shopping takes forever with a 4-year old. Everything is fascinating. And when you don't know what the child likes, you have to ask about everything. But I learned a lot.

We found a "Piderman" costume in Tall-Mart, and he picked out a Batman trick-or-treat pail that is essentially Batman's head with a handle. It is kind of freaky. The idea of Spiderman carrying around Batman's head is also kind of freaky. But he was very excited.

A nice couple with children in the diaper isle helped me pick out diapers. I did not know what brand to buy, or what size. I told them she had just turned 2 months and looked pretty normal sized. The nice lady suggested Luvs size 1 and suggested I only buy 1 jumbo pack as she could grow quickly. They worked great. And they are cheaper than Pampers. So far so good with the Luvs.

At the grocery store I bought a pack of Pillsbury orange sweet rolls to put in the oven on Sunday morning.

Saturday night I made yet another Tall-Mart run to the smaller one up the street because the baby was badly congested and Howard said his tummy hurt. I stocked up on baby medicine of every shape, size, and flavor - including baby Pepto Bismol, and baby Vicks vapor rub. Everything worked like a charm. I also picked up some coloring books and flashcards for Howard (which, of course, he loved getting).

Sunday morning we all got ready for church. Howard took a bath. It is fascinating to watch him take a bath. He likes to get into a already-drawn bath, sit down and get wet, stand up and completely soap down his body (picture a skinny little all-legs brown boy covered from head to toe in soap and standing up in the tub with the door wide open). He then sits back down in the tub to rinse off. He doesn't care to linger or play in the tub. He doensn't seem to mind it at all. It just seems he has better things to do with his time than sit in the tub. He dries off, dresses, and likes to come out and announce his cleanliness to us. The whole process seems to be over in 10 minutes tops.

We all got dressed, and I picked out a new green outfit for the baby to wear to church. We ate our sweet rolls while watching Barney on TV. We were late to church, but no one seemed to mind when we walked in with two beautiful kids. Then came the trauma: Howard bounded out of the car and into the church building. He joyfully descended the stairs where we told him Sunday School class would be. Then he saw the room with the teacher and two other little kids. And he started to cry - loudly with mouth wide open, tears, and saliva dripping down his chin and his nose running. It was not a pretty sight. We tried to comfort him, hold him, talk to him. It was no use. Michael ended up staying there with him while he cried - throughout the entire class. He stopped rather abruptly once he apparently discovered that in children's church it was another little kid's birthday and there were cookies. We think it was then that he discovered that he liked our church.

Everyone in church ooohed and aaahed over the kids, and Howard told everyone he met that he was going to be Piderman for Halloween. I had to translate for a few folks.

Sunday night I gave Autumn her first bath at our house. I got a baby tub that fits over the kitchen sink so you don't have to bend over and hurt your back. She loved - did I say loved? - her bath. She kicked her chubby little legs and slapped her fists against the water and made all kids of excited faces and noises. I even managed to wash her hair without her getting upset. Frankly, she didn't even seem to notice. I used a lavender and chamomile baby wash, and she smelled so nice and clean. Michael stood by with a big fluffy towel and he wrapped her up as I lifted her out of the tub. She cried. She did not liked being out of the tub. I don't think she ever wanted to get out. She kept crying until I had a diaper on her and she was fully dressed in her footed pyjamas. Then she was a very happy and sweet smelling baby.

Monday Michael took Howard to Head Start and I got to stay home with Autumn. Howard got an award at school for being a good boy. His teacher told me when I picked him up that she was in shock at the major change in him since last week. He was thrilled and so was I. I let him call Michael on my cell phone to tell him the good news. Then Howard handed me a piece of paper he had gotten at school - it was my very first "Dear Parent" letter! Woooo hoooo - that was ME! It asked about what I could bring to the school Halloween party (I think they call it a Harvest Celebration). It has to be something healthy. No sweets. I like that.

I stopped and got him a cheeseburger at McDonalds because he asked nicely - and because I figured he deserved a celebration. He fell asleep in the car holding his cheeseburger. He fell asleep before he ever got to take a bite out of it.

Monday night we all went to my night class together. Howard wanted to see where I worked, and the class wanted to see the kids. It was pretty cool. Howard sat in the front row, and actually watched the lecture and discussion more intently than some of the students did.

Tuesday night was really nice. I stopped on the way home for pizza - and while it heated, Howard rocked out in the livingroom with his new toy electric guitar that has pre-set rap beats. He loved it when Michael played the guitar beats so he could dance. In the middle of one of his dance routines that he was making up, he dropped down and started to do push-ups to the music. I about peed my pants it was so funny! All the while, Autumn was in my lap happily downing a warm bottle.

We didn't even turn on the TV until 7:30 in time to watch Jeopardy. Howard got out his new flashcards with pictures and words on the back, and numbers and colors. While Michael and I shouted out Jeopardy answers, Howard shouted out colors and numbers and identified pictures. He was confused with "pear" and "sled" - neither of which he has probably ever seen or heard of.

It felt like we were a family. We ate together, sang songs and danced around the livingroom, got into pyjamas and ate cookies-and-cream ice cream (after eating pizza, grapes, and milk - great combo, huh?...hey - at least I got the major food groups in). He ate 1 piece of pizza, lots of grapes, and 1 big scoop of ice cream. Not bad for a kid whose teachers at school tell us how hard it is to get him to eat.

We watched some of the World Series game - then after an inning was over and went to commercial, we said baseball was over and we brushed our teeth together and got Howard into his bed. It is so cute to see him jump into bed and surround himself with the fluffy white down comforter. I think he really digs it. He is now calling that room "my bedroom" even though technically it is Michael's office with a bed in it. We do not have a great set-up for a 4-year old (as we were expecting only kids under 2). We would like to buy toys and really make the front room into his bedroom and move the crib into our room, but we are really afraid that if we do all that, that we will get a call telling us to bring them back.

Bedtime had become an interesting ritual with Howard. He loves to have you read a book to him, and Michael and I have taken turns with that. We are teaching him to say his prayers, and he is very shy about that and I think it makes him uncomfortable. But we do it every night, and now he is starting to get excited about things to pray about. We all take turns thanking Jesus for things that are good, then we take turns asking Jesus for the things we need. It is simple, but the option of "Now I lay me down to sleep..." seemed rather creepy. I don't want to talk about death and soul taking with a 4 year old who just wants his family back. He often asks Michael to keep coming into his room so he can ask him various questions. He has now taken to telling Michael that he is lonely, scared, or that the "Boogie Man" is in the closet. The other night, Michael actually went into the closet and turned on the light to make sure there was no monster in it.

Wednessday Michael went and toured a daycare neat Howard's Head Start that baby Autumn could go to. He was very impressed. The caregiver-to-child ratio is 1-6. That's not prefect, but not as bad as some places. He was impressed with the staff and the facility and he signed her up after calling me. She started Thursday morning - and it breaks my heart that I can't be with her more. But I trust that this place will hold her a whole lot and give her lots of contact comfort. And I know I will spend a lot of time holding her in the evening and all weekend long as well.

Wed. night Howard and I read "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish". Then we prayed. He wanted to thank Jesus for the cats and he wanted to ask Jesus to provide us with more books. I thought this was a reasonable request, so we prayed about it. When we get more books, I will have to talk to Howard so he knows that Jesus provided what we needed and answered our prayers. Every night when we pray with him, we thank Jesus for allowing both he and his sister to come and live with us for a while, and we pray for the safety and happiness of his mommy and his granny. This seems to make him feel better.

Thursday morning (this morning) was an awful morning. We had stayed up way too late last night because it was the last game of the World Series and making Michael miss that would be like asking him to cut off his arm. Howard got to bed way too late because I didn't get home from teaching until a little after 8:00. Michael had fixed them some pizza, but the baby was crying and was inconsolable. I decided to give it a shot. Her whole little body shook and she scrunched up her face. She looked like she was in pain. I decided maybe she was. We gave her some baby gas drops and she got a little better. I took her into the completely darkened bedroom and pulled down my sweater and held her against my bare chest, rubbed her back and whispered nice thoughts to her. Miraculously, she settled down and eventually fell asleep in my arms after much very loud crying. Unfortunatley though, I had to stay there in that position for quite a while because we feared that putting her down would wake her up and start the whole cycle over again.

This morning we had no bottles made up to send to daycare and every bottle we had was dirty, we had no boiled watter, and we didn't get up until about 8:00 (even though my alarm went off at 6:45). We had to pack up everything the daycare requires to send it with her: 5 fresh bottles, 5-7 bibs per day, 8-10 diapers, burp cloths, diaper bag, 2 crib sheets, 2 changes of clothes, 2 blankets, 2 boxes of baby wipes, 2 boxes of kleenex (wipes and kleenex are sent in each month). By the time you pack up everything, it's two big bags worth of stuff. And I don't have all that much to begin with. I can tell I'll be doing more yard sales this weekend.

I didn't end up making it into work today until 11:00. I hope we get better at this schedule thing. But right now it is hard to find anything in the pig-stye that has become our house. And we are just so tired that it is hard to get going and think through all you need to do in the mornings. I even forgot to wear my glasses today - which is not good news and means I will probably have a bad headache by the end of the day.

Michael teaches late tonight, so he won't be home until about 9:00. This will be my first time picking up both kids, taking them to the grocery store to get the products I now have my WIC vouchers for, feeding Howard his snack (he always comes home from school ravenous), going home and preparing dinner for them, getting her fed and changed, and getting them into pyjamas and in bed by 9 so that Michael can come home and engage in the bed-time rituals. We told Howard that Michael wouldn't be home until late, but I imagine he will still complain about that. It is clear that he has gotten far more attached to Michael than I have - but because of my work schedule and my boss-from-a-very-warm-place I haven't spent as much time with him as Michael has. And besides, I think he feels that getting close to me would be betraying his mother. And I also think he really digs having this great guy at home since he has never had a daddy. And Michael has been an amazing teacher and parent to him. Howard is learning new things every day - teeth brushing, hand washing, manners, praying, hugging and kissing, and even how to interact with a cat. All these things seem to be pretty new to him.

So, friends, I am exhausted in the best way I know of. I look pretty rough. I worry every time my cell phone rings that it is the workers telling us the kids are being returned to a relative. I want them to stay. I need to admit that. They would fit into the family so well. And I hate to think of them going back into that kind of family environment (all biological parents - 1 mom and 2 dads - are incarcerated). I hate to think about Howard because of limited opportunity and exposure falling into that same lifestyle and ending up there as well. I hate to think about them living in a housing project and going to the worst school where the majority of the kids can't read. I hate to think of them not having good nutrition, or opportunities to do the things that interest them. I think Howard wants to play every sport ever invented. And kids in poverty just don't get to play most organized sports. It cost money, and someone has to drive you to practice and to games and buy you equipment and pay the registrations. It would please me to do all those things.

Baby Autumn has a big red, raised birthmark right in ther middle of her forehead. She has a bigger one on her tummy, and a small patch on her neck. Now, I think it's not bad right now. But I know kids will make fun of it eventually. I know it may cause her embarrassment one day. I know no insurance will cover the surgery to have it removed. I can't inagine the family situation she came from caring enough to save the money to have that done for her.

She has long little fingers. I wonder if she would like to take piano lessons someday. Or maybe she will have a great singing voice and want to take private voice lessons.

It's these kind of things I think about. And I can't imagine them ever getting these things if they go back to relatives. I can't imagine them being very safe or secure. I am very worried about their future.

And I am worried about us. We cry sometimes when we think about not knowing how this is going to work out. We love them. If we have to return them, it will break our hearts. It already does. This is so hard. I can't explain it. I want to go out and shop 'til I drop for these kids. I want to make holiday plans. I want to start their Christmas lists. I want to re-decorate the front room and make it Howard's dream bedroom. But I am afraid to do it. I am afraid we will start, and then get the call - or finish and then get the call. Or, I'm afraid doing all that will make our attachments to them even stronger and put us at risk. I'm afraid if we don't treat them like ours and they do get to stay, then we wouldn't have set up a strong foundation.

So, we've decided to establish strong bonds. We already tell them we love them. We give them hugs and kisses now (after asking Howard if it was okay). Now, every morning he waked up happy and come running to give us morning hugs and kisses. I so look forward to that.

One day at a time is all we can do. I'm scared. I know if the worst case happens, that I'll live through it. It's just that I don't want to. I have a feeling I already know how hard that would be.

Monday, October 24, 2005

4 days down and ? more to go

Whew! Where to start - holy cow the days have flown by. I'll have to write more about how the weekend went - about buying Halloween costumes, the talking deer head in Wal-Mart, the football games on TV, and all kinds of conversations. But for now - here's the basics:

Monday morning I stayed home from work with Baby Autumn (who just turned 2 months). Michael woke up early Monday morning to get Howard (age 4) to his Headstart pre-school where he ran into our first speedbump - Howard only goes from 10-2 and they will not take him any earlier than 9:45 at the earliest. So, Michael called from his cell phone and was just going to take Howard in to work with him until he could go to Headstart. I picked him up at 2:00. He was flying higher than a kite. He had gotten an "apple award" at school and was wearing it around his neck. It said "I had a good day today and was the apple of my teacher's eye!" He had been a good boy. His teacher was so happy and said she had seen a real change in him - literally overnight. We were thrilled as much as he was. He had to call Michael on the cell phone on the way home to tell him. I hung his apple award on the fridge. Also now on the door of the fridge are alphabet magnets and a crayon drawing that he made. I wanted him to feel at home, even though this is so very painful for him. More about that later.

We are waiting to set up daycare arrangements for Autumn. Howard will go to the Head Start that he already goes to. We would like to keep him there because he goes to speech therapy. He's a bit tough to understand, and can't pronounce k, b, v, w - etc. The fact that one of his front teeth was knocked out in a fall he took off a scooter doesn't help matters I suppose. Other than that tiny thing, he seems like a normal and healthy 4-year old. He is, however, very sad about being away from his family. He says he wants to go home (of course he does!) several times a day. he gets sad at night and cries a little. We try to comfort him as best we can. Last night after he got in bed after storytime and prayers, he told us he was scared. We explained that it is okay to scared, and we told him about times we were scared too. Alone with him, I told him that it helps to pray to Jesus because he loves us and wants us to be happy. I told him he could tell me whenever he was afraid, and that if he didn't want to tell me, he could tell Jesus. I rubbed his forehead and back across his head until he was snoring little kid snores. He slept through the night, and there was no wet bed this morning thanks to a pull-up. He wet the bed the second night but we didn't discover it until nap time after church yesterday. Michael just whipsered it to me and when Howard wasn't looking he stripped the bed and washed everything up. Howard noticed when Michael was re-making the bed - but we assured Howard that it was "no big deal". My sense is that it is just the trauma. Otherwise, potty time is no big deal.

Autumn is a pretty little baby with thick black velvety curls all over her head. She doesn't cry a whole lot, but does get fussy when she's hungry or just wants to be held. Her favorite place to sleep is crashed out on top of our tummies while we relax on the sofa. Sunday night after Howard was asleep, Michael and I watched game 2 of the World Series in bed with her. She stared at the game more intently than Michael did.

Today (Tuesday) I decided to come in to work today. I had a lousy day here at work. I got a call at 11:00 from the WIC lady saying she's gotten the stuff straightened our, but the only time she could see me was 11:30. I had to run home and grab their paperwork and head across town to the WIC offices. I was late. My boss stopped me on the way out to say we "need to work this out" about me just taking off whenever I needed to do something now that "{you} are a parent". Screw her, I thought. Then I cried all the way to the WIC office. When I got back, I vented with my immediate supervisor about it, and I felt somewhat better. Darn it, I wish I could afford to just quit. This A.S.S. woman sucks.

Michael took Autumn with him to work, and she had a busy morning being (as he called it) - the Belle of the Ball. During the afternoon, she slept. She even slept in her carrier all during the class he taught. I am glad for that.

Right now Michael is on his way to pick up Howard. He has Autumn in the car too. I am about to head out myself.

All I want to do now is go home to my filthy house with the mounds of dirty laundry covered with spit-up and formula and be with the kids. I want to hear about how Howard's day was for his first full day at daycare and Head Start. I want to hold Autumn and feed her a warm bottle. I want to wash some laundry and smell the now-familiar smell of formula, 4-year old boy, and spit-up. I have seen more spit-up in 4 days than I have my entire life up until now.

Will we be able to keep them? Hmm. I guess it's a toss-up. Some relatives have called the cabinet office and apparently want them. They will have to be checked out before they can be placed with them. If no suitable relatives are found, it might be a good chance we could keep them. I'm already attached. I won't lie. It will be awful if they leave. I will have to take off work to cry.

I want to write about all the cute stories and things they do. But honestly, I am scared to death. The more I talk and write about how nice it is, the harder it will be if they leave.

They are great kids.

Please pray for Howard (which, of course, if not his real name). He is very sad at night and misses his family. He knows where his mom is. He does not think he has a father. He doesn't understand why he was taken away from his granny's house. He says everyday that he wants to go home. He said the other night that he was lonely. We don't have a magic wand to make his hurt go away. Please pray that he is comforted, and continues to get better.

I so wish I could post pictures! My social worker said I can send any of my friends - including any of my reader-friends out there any pictures I want. So, if you want to see the little ones, let me know and I'll send you a picture. They are so beautiful!

More to come...


Friday, October 21, 2005


Just got a call for another foster care placement. It was not our regular worker who called - but there are 2 siblings being removed from a home tonight - sometime between now (3:00) and whenever. They are 4 years old and 2 months old - and they are African American. The 4 year old is a boy and the 2 month old is a girl. That means the crib bedding stays pink for now, until I get tired of it and decide to go sports themed on her.

I said a quick prayer and called Michael before accepting the placement. He said okay, and then I called the worker back and accepted the placement.

He says he knows almost nothing other than they would not place these children in a regular foster home - only pre-adoptive because they feel the children are at risk of not being able to be returned.

So, now I have to make a million phone calls, take more time off work, and get some 4-year old clothes. (So sorry M. that I will be missing your honor society induction.)

Again, I am in a whirlwind of emotions. I am trying to tell myself not to get too excited. I had the most crappy day at work today and wasn't thinking at all about children or foster care when the phone rang.

Fast-forward to 3:18
Call from investigator
Children are being removed within the hour
Not likely to be returned to family any time soon
Very bad situations
Children not likely to be in bad health

Would like to write more, but now must contact bosses and take off work soon.

Hugs to all of you. Thank you so much for your prayers as we go through this challenging and blessed time. I love you all.

3 Kittens and 3 Kids This Weekend

Not long after I had brought the 3 fuzz-balls home and put them safely in the nursery, my cell phone rang. It was Workingmom - foster mom to the 21-month old twin boys Bo and Luke and 7-month old little girl I call Kewpie Doll. Workingmom was about at the end of her rope. She said she still can't get the kids to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time, and that after about 3 or 4 am they will not return to sleep. They stand and scream and cry beside her bed until she gets up. She asked if we would be willing to do respite care for her so that she can get some sleep.

Okay, I know we said "no more doing respite care", but it's not like we haven't had these kids before. In some ways we already know their personalities and likes and dislikes and what works with them. It's tiring for the two of us, but Michael and I make a great team. Besides, the money we earn for doing respite care will go right into our new baby bank account.

I'm not sure what Workingmom has gotten herself into. I know that sibling groups can be tough, especially as a single mom. I just hope that if it's not going to work out for her that she decides that soon so the kids can go live with a family that can handle all three of them and do it well. I know she trying and that she cares for the kids, but I could hear it in her voice that she's just exhausted. Who wouldn't be?

So, the 3 kids will be with us during the day on Sat. and Sun. so Workingmom can get some rest. We will not do overnight because if they are not sleeping in their beds at her house where they have been living for more than a month, then they surely wouldn't sleep through the night at our place. I had to draw the line somewhere. I don't think I'm ready to loose sleep for a child that isn't my placement.

Saturday morning our church youth group is having a huge yard sale to help with their upcoming missions trips. I think I'll take the kids there because the church has a huge yard and softball field where they can run and jump and play. And everyone will want to hold Kewpie. In the afternoon after their naps I think I will take them to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween. I wasn't going to do that, but since they will be with us, I figure it is worth it. We will probably take a drive out in the country to local farms that sell pumpkins and let you buy apples you pick right off the trees. Some even have hayrides for the kids. Oh, and fresh apple cider is a real treat this time of year.

Sunday it will be back to church, then home for long naps and some food, and then Working mom will pick them up again - hopefully well rested.

In-between times, we will have lots of kitten therapy. Here are the best pictures I could take with them moving around so fast. Kittens do not sit still. I do not know how people do photography for cat calendars - they must be drugged! Anyway - here's the 3 fuzzballs:

Super Kitten to the rescue!

Tearing the feather stick to shreds

Checking out the bouncy-seat - it must be some new fancy cat-toy

Attacking the lamp cord: (it had it coming)

Checking out the Diaper Genie - what the heck is this?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Kittens Will Have to Suffice

Tonight I am picking up 3 fuzz-ball kittens from the Humane Society and taking them home with me for foster care. They are 7 weeks old, and will need to stay with me until they are 8 weeks old and weigh 2 pounds each. At that point, I will return them so they can be vaccinated and adopted. I know this routine well - I've done it twice before. The first time was for 3 kittens, and the second time was 5. I swore off doing foster care for kittens because I figured a bunch of kittens running around as well as my 2 cats would not look good to a visiting social worker doing a home study.

Now I am ready to have fuzz-balls again.

Our social worker e-mailed me back. She says we are definitely on the list for when a child comes in who fits our profile. But she says things have been oddly slow lately, and that is a good thing. Who can be sad to hear that children are not being ripped away from their birth parents for horrible reasons? I'm glad that life here in Lexington is going well for families. Even when we do get our placements, it will be with much concern for the birth families.

The holidays are usually a tough time for families, and recovering from the holidays financially can bring on all kinds of problems. We will have to wait this one out.

In the meantime, Michael has agreed to teach a class during Winter Interterm (a 3-week fast and furious mini-mester) as well as a 4-week class during the first summer term in early May. Each of these sections will pay him 10% of his salary. Granted, a professor in the communication department isn't raking in the dough, but 10% isn't too shabby. We figure that we will be able to save a lot of that income and use the rest to pay off a bill or two. By summer 2006, we should have saved up enough money to start pursuing private adoption or hook up with an agency. We figure we can get started in that direction once we have at least 10K saved up. The rest we can put on credit cards as we need to, or we can always take out a small personal bank loan for the rest.

We don't want to try to control this situation ourselves, but we are trying to do everything we can in our power to allow God to work in our lives. If we never take the financial steps we need to, God can't do what He needs to do. If we prepare ourselves and open up the possibilities and our hearts, the more prepared we will be to take action when we need to.

I so badly wanted to put a timetable to this adventure. I asked Michael if we should set a deadline for foster-to-adopt - say, a year from now or January 1, 2007. But at the same time, I didn't want to put limits on God. So, I figure instead of putting God on a schedule, we will just dedicate ourselves to being as financially stable as we can be, looking for a house to buy, paying off as much debt as possible, and improving ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If save all this money and end up getting a child placed with us, we will then have money to dof or the child all we would want to do, and to pay for bus tickets for my in-laws to come visit (they don't/won't fly).

So, I'm thrilled to be picking up the kittens tonight after work. Until we have children, they will be my foster-kittens. I'll post pictures tonight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Early Signs of a Wannabe Stalker

Well, I broke my rule and e-mailed our social worker today. This Thursday (about 30 hours from now) will be 2 weeks since I have talked to her or emailed her. I don't think it's a big deal that I zapped her a quick e-mail that said I was "just checking in" and that we were done doing respite care for Workingmom on the weekends. I told her the house seemed way too clean without animal cracker crumbs everywhere. Then I closed the email - "Take care, Tamara". It was short and sweet and to the point. I want my kid(s), darn it.

Maybe I am becoming a stalker. I am thinking of ways to subliminally encourage her to call me with a placement.

Dang, I need a hobby.

Perhaps I will learn to crochet and make baby blankets. That would make me stop picking at my cuticles. And I could sell the blankets. Or I could just have blankets all over the house.

I did pick up a flier for a study on the psychological effects of alcohol that is being done here at UK. Perhaps I shall call and volunteer to participate. I wonder if you get to get drunk and try to do stuff. Man, I get really touchy-feely if I drink too much. Not sure how many people I want seeing me, um, well - amorous.

I thought about getting my chops back in shape playing the clarinet and playing with the praise band at church. But that means practice. And I am lazy.

I guess laziness is not a good trait for a stalker. Stalkers need to be on their toes. Hmm.

Okay, well, enough for today. I just wanted to document the fact that I e-mailed. I imagine she will respond by saying I just have to wait until the right match comes along. *sigh* I know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Just Another Ordinary Week

Another Monday has appeared, and there is little to report.

On Saturday morning I got up late and hit several yard sales and stocked up on yet more children's clothing (infant - 2T, both genders). I came home with over 40 pieces of clothing and 4 pairs of shoes, 2 car seats that someone gave me because they were dirty, and a booster seat. All in all, I think I spent less than $40.

The rest of the weekend was mostly spent trying to care for a husband with an injured back. We bought a heating pad and some Doan's pills to try to help. In Wal-Mart, Doans pills are all the way on the bottom shelf next to the floor. I'm not sure whether to find that amusing, or insane. Michael is at work today, but I drove us both in to campus just to be safe. We have no idea how he hurt his back - he says he thinks he just "stretched funny".

I bought 4 new bras this weekend. Hurray for new bras. My boobs are now higher than they have been in a while, and look more like they are portruding from my chest instead of my stomach. Good bras are expensive. I hate that. I also bought 5 new long sleeve t-shirts in a variety of colors that I can wear underneath blazers this winter on casual days at work. I wore one today, and it feels nice to wear a good bra and a shirt that is not faded.

I am looking through an office supply catalogue here at work today to select my 2006 calendar. Office supplies rock.

This Wednesday is the Friends of the Library booksale at our main library. Wednesday is the day that paying members can shop the sale early. Michael will be heading over there shortly after it starts to scope out the CDs and hardbacks. I love these sales. I like buying cool books, even if I already have more than I can read before the end of the year.

The boss is out this week, so I will not have to listen to her hollering and cussing. She is also somewhere in the boonies on vacation, and her blackberry doesn't work well out there, so she can't email in more things for me to do. Life will be good this week.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


When I checked my email this morning, there was a piece of spam in which the subject line read, "Tamara, what would happen to your family if you died?" Well, good morning to you, too! What a splendid thought at 8 am on hump-day. Of course, it was an ad for life insurance. I am grateful to have more than I probably need. We have enough so that when I have left this earth, Michael can pay all the bills, put a huge downpayment on a house with a hot tub, and go cruising for attractive women while hiring a nanny to look after the kids. If he croaks first, I'm not sure what I'd do - but it would probably involve going to live in a foreign country for a while to regroup. Whenever life gets hard to handle, I fantasize about living on the mortheast coast of the Yucatan in Mexico. I would get a good tan and catch up on my reading.

The rest of my spam today centered around baby products since I have registered for free stuff and coupons at so many websites. I even had to make up a ficticious due date in order to register at various places. Since the due date I made up was October the 1st, I have received numberous emails from companies congratulating me on the birth of Baby MIA (while trying to sell me this-and-that under the pretense that I should buy them if I care enough about my little bundle of joy - read "only a bad mother would deprive their child of our fine product".)

I used to get lots of spam for breast augmentation - which was funny considering I am a 42DD (I know, more information than you needed about me). I suppose companies have realized that if I have just had a baby, I probably am not too concerned about the size of my breasts. I fully expect to start receiving spam related to stretch mark cream soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Today at work, a co-worker who has a 4-yr old little girl that he adopted from China asked me if I had gotten too discouraged with the foster care system yet. He asked if I had given any further thought to international adoption. He's a good guy, and he really seems to care about what happens to Michael and I in this awful situation.

My answer was , "No". No, I'm not so discouraged that I feel like giving up. I feel impatient, but that comes with the territory.

I checked in with some folks, and it seems no one from my foster parenting class has gotten a placement yet (except for me). Everyone is waiting. And we all finished our classes on August 11th, and then had our second home visits.

Michael and I got our official paperwork from the state that says we are approved. As far as I can tell, we are the first people out of our class to receive it.

This weekend, we tried to regroup. I went to yard sales early on Saturday and spent another $40 on baby gear - a Diaper Genie, a baby bathtub, blankets, bibs and burp cloths, and about 40 clothing items. I promptly came home and washed everything in baby detergent and hung things on baby hangers.

On Sunday I engaged in further retail therapy, and bought myself 2 new suits and 2 pairs of shoes at Burlington Coat Factory. I love that store. I wore one of the new suits to work today - black pin stripe pant suit - an awesome look. I painted my nails red, and wore red lipstick. I looked like I was about to take over the office, and I felt pretty good. The only way I would have felt better was with a new bra and panties, but since I am a pretty good-sized girl, that would have meant a trip to Lane Bryant, and I was not in the mood for that store. I hate being reminded that my boobs are the sizes of canteloupe (well, small cantaloupe).

This is fall break for me on the teaching side of life, so I don't have to teach my Mon-Wed. night class this week. Just working 1 job from 8-5 seems like doing so little, it's funny.

The boss talked to me about changing some of my responsibilities at work. It will mean doing more routine and possibly boring things, but for some reason I didn't care. I truly didn't. Work is just not my life anymore. I used to want to be a really swanky administrator with degree after degree - now I just want to come home at 5 and clean up the house and make dinner in my jammies. I want to relax and enjoy being home. I want to pet the cats and not worry about what tomorrow is going to hold, or the many deadlines crashing in all around me.

It's funny, but the less I have worried about things, the better I seem to have gotten about my job. The days go by faster, and I seem to be able to tolerate my boss (A.S.S.) more. She's a real pip. She's stopped cussing so much, and that makes life better. I pray for her a lot. I really do. She needs it.

Today, I don't feel as focused and driven as I have in past days. I now take my cell phone with me to important meetings, but it is merely a routine. I don't stare at it during the meeting hoping it will ring. If it rings, great. If not, it means another night at home in my jammies with Michael working on the laptop watching baseball playoffs (oh, how I hate playoffs of any kind - how freakin long can they drag that stuff out? Get on with it already and declare a winner so we can all get on with out lives already!!).

It's not depression. I'm not crying anymore. That was Thursday night and some on Friday. Now I am just settled.

One big celebration came this week. I am now completely finished paying off all debt I had with my ex-husband. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but he had put us almost 50K in debt in 9 years of marriage. And we did not declare bankruptcy - we paid it off. All of it. And this month was the very last payment. That is $350 a month that I no longer have to pay. That money is going to go all sorts of places - but the most important to me is a special savings account. We have decided to open up a baby account. We will put all money we get for doing respite care into that account along with a couple hundred very month from now until...well, until we feel led to act. It is a possibility that at some point God will lead us to pursue international adoption. Until then, we will have to save anyway. Either that money will be a child's college account, or it will help pay for the costs of adoption. We figure it's doing something. And I figure it's better than going out an getting further into debt as a way of celebrating.

So we are back on track, and taking it one day at a time.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A Prayer of Thanks

Heavenly Father, as I look out at this beautiful rainy and overcast October day, I am reminded of your love for me. As the Fall air swept over my face and the cold mist surrounded me, I found you there in my presence. How constant is your love. How enduring is your patience with me. How strong your arms are around me as you hold me up and set my feet in motion.

Thank you for the blessing of the wonderful friends who have posted prayers for me, and for the countless others who are praying for Michael and I as we spend this weekend regrouping and filling ourselves with your grace to be able to continue in your will. I pray you would bless them ten-fold as they have blessed me with their kind words and heartfelt prayers. Thank you for our time with a beautiful newborn baby, for the reunification of a family, and for hope that they may strengthen and come to serve you. Thank you for allowing Michael and I the opportunity to lean on each other and provide the kinds of support we need in our marriage. I pray you give strength to all of the couples (and men and women) seeking children through conception or adoption or foster parenting. May they too feel your arms of love around them as they also prepare for the journey that is all too difficult. I pray for the birth families of the children that will one day become ours. May they find peace in the midst of their circumstances. Keep them safe, and send people their way to show them the way. Be with our children, born and unborn. Keep them safe as well, and comfort them as their worlds change in extraordinary ways.

Heavenly Father, you know each of our needs, yet we bring each one to you by name. We bring you our weaknesses, our tears, our impatience, our frustration, and our anger. We lay these at your feet, Father. Take them from us. Cleanse us of all that is outside of your good and perfect plan. We surrender our lives and our choices, and our future plans to you. Have your way in our lives. Let our temporary pain and suffering be a reminder that you paid the ultimate price so that we might have life eternal where we will never suffer, and never die.

It is in your name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Alone Again - 23 Hours Later

Just as I had sat down at the WIC office to fill out my paperwork for Rufus, my cell phone rang. It was the social worker. They were giving the baby back to the birth mother today. She asked if I wanted to bring the baby to the office, or if I wanted her to pick him up. It was hard to get the words out.

In the car on the way there, I cried and was not quite sure why I was crying.

I figured all this would be hard, and it was.

I brought him to the office. Inside the door stood a couple - a woman who looked to be about 30, clearly recently un-pregnant, and a young man. As I walked through the door, I heard her whisper to the man, "That's my baby", and she smiled and her eyes lit up. I checked in at the desk, then turned and asked her if she wanted to hold him. She was so happy. I sat down next to her, and she unfastened him from the carrier and held him close to her.

The workers called us back into a room where we met with other workers and the woman's other son, who looked to be about 7 or 8. He was happy to see his new baby brother.

Somehow, it made it bearable.

The workers asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell the birth mom about the baby or about last night. I managed to get this out:

"I'm so glad you have your baby. We prayed and prayed for you last night. It's good to see you smile."

I had prayed for this birth mom, and God answered that prayer. The judge will dismiss her case on Monday, but agreed to allow her to take the baby even though he is officially still in state custody until Monday (on paper anyway). This is clearly the best for mom and for baby.

I will probably never know why our first placement as foster parents was this placement. I will never know what God had in mind with this.

It hurts. I wish I could have my own baby in the hospital, and bring him home and breastfeed him. I know my husband knows that, and he knows that I hurt. I know he would give a lot to change the circumstances.

On the way out of the center office, the social worker for the family asked if there was anything she could do for me. I said, "Send me another baby." She said, "Soon. Very soon."

Pinch Me

There is a beautiful 3-day old baby boy in the crib in the nursery. Michael is calling him "Rufus", so that's what I'll use here.

Rufus was born on Monday morning, and weighed 7lbs, 3 oz. He is healthy and content and has a touch of jaundice which we are treating with doses of sunshine and watchful waiting. He is long and looks a little skinny. He sucks down 2 oz. bottles of formula like clockwork every 3 hours and spits up about a tablespoon after each feeding. He is warm and unbelievably soft, and I can't stop looking at him. I like holding him and watching him sleep. When he cries because his circumcised penis hurts, I hurt for him. Poor little guy.

The odds are that this is short-term. No one could have known ahead of time. Here in KY, they do not want to ever place an infant into a home that is not pre-adoptive...just in case.

I don't want to talk a lot about Rufus' family situation. What we saw transpire in the hospital was sad. What pain it must cause to leave the hospital without your newborn baby - for whatever reason. We did not see birth mom. No dad is on the birth certificate. There is a sibling somewhere that social workers are looking for. Mom is in trouble. We do not know how bad said "trouble" is. But she needs prayer today. Still healing and hurting from childbirth, she is in trouble. She needs a mighty healing. I pray God will protect her, and that our time with Rufus is for good reason for all of us.

Today I am on a "vacation" day from work. Michael just left to go teach today. He won't be home until late tonight. It's just Rufus and I for the rest of the day. I need to....

1. Find out where the WIC office is and get signed up for it so I can get formula. Already, we are running low on what they sent home with us from the hospital.

2. Take Rufus and head out to Target with my $100 clothing voucher from the state. Pray that Target will accept the voucher. The state had some "bill paying" issues this year and a lot of retailers stopped taking the vouchers because they weren't getting paid. I understand this. If not Target, I'll try Sears, JcPenney, or Kmart. I'm not Kmart fan, and the one store I know of in town is rather, um...dirty.

Buy burp cloths and pee-pads because that tiny baby peed clear through his diaper, onezie, blanket, and into the crib sheet.

Buy a changing pad for the nursery.

Buy some bottles so I don't have to wash them constantly throughout the day.

Buy formula using acquired WIC voucher.

3. Pack up a diaper bag before I head out.

4. Buy more diapers for when the supplies from the hospital run out.

5. Clean up the house for the social worker's visit with the baby and us tomorrow.

6. Stop typing on this blog so I can go out and get my chores done.

7. Thank God again for His great and might works, and for loving us and trusting us enough to care for this beautiful newborn baby.

Thank you all for your well-wishes. It feels good to now be "officially" a foster parent. Even if it takes a while for us to adopt one, I know we are well on our way. You never know what placement will turn into the one you adopt.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

IT'S A BOY!!!!!

In about an hour, we will be on our way to the hospital to pick up a NEWBORN BABY BOY. I am no longer pregnant.

We know nothing. Neglect case. No idea how long or short term this will be.

Too many things to do, so I can't cry yet.

I am speechless.

Thank you, God. THANK YOU!

I already arranged for child care with a wonderful Christian woman who was in our foster care class. She will watch Baby Boy until he is 6 weeks old and able to go into a day care while Michael and I work. Ms. Josie is an amazing woman, and I am so blessed she said "yes" to caring for Baby Boy while we work.

Now, diapers, WIC, formula, etc. will have to be bought. HURRAY SHOPPING!!

And did I say THANK YOU GOD!! Wooo hoooo!!

Dealing with Mom

Today I got in to work to receive an email from my mother (who does not have my blog address, though knows I write one - but I'm not sure she knows exactly what a blog is). I am sure she meant well, but it still felt like another barb. Another blow. Another reminder of how hard this could be. But does she offer support? No. Does she offer to finance this international adoption of a baby from Guatemala that she so thinks we should do? No. She presents the worst cases.

Now, I know it may seem like a violation of privacy - but readers don't know who my mom is, and never will. Those who do know her, know what I've been through with the bigotry and twisted value system of my parents anyway. So, I put it here to remind everyone that we are up against all sorts of enemies (silent, vocal, intimate, and strangers) and they all hurt in some way, shape, or form. The support of others is what helps get me through messages like this without crying at my desk.

This is what she wrote:

Last Fri nite we were at a party
and people there did fostering.
And tried to adopt thru fostering, etc.
OH my goodness!
What stories they had.
They think you get taken advantage of big time.

Anyway, they also did a number of crack babies.
Had to give them back as their problems
were so bad.
They said to tell you .."Do NOT believe it if
someone tells you crack babies get better."
They said, sometimes they get so they
are not so bad... BUT NOT all better.

I am concerned about the system.

They had as many as 6 from one family one
time. They said 6 was not an uncommon

Yeah, mom, thanks. I appreciate your alerting me that the workers and the system will take advantage of me, that I'm going to adopt a crack baby who will never recover, and that unless I am willing to adopt 6 children, I won't be able to adopt at all. Thanks a lot.

I suppose I'm being overly sensitive. I suppose I should be pleased that she even speaks to me now after the difficult times we have had relationally. But I can't help but wonder why she feels the need to email me stuff like this. Is she trying to say that she knows how hard this must be for us? Is she trying to get us not to do this? Would she rather we give up and be childless? Does she not want me to have the life experience of being a mother?

It is important to point out that she has never once offered support - simply imformation about how bad these kids are, and how expensive it will be, and how difficult it will be. She even said we needed to consider moving to FL or MS to be "closer to grandparents", yet has never said they would want anything to do with the children. To make it even more confusing, she has sent me the baby blanket my Aunt croched for me when I was a baby, and has sent me some of my baby books that I requested. She didn't have to do that, and I appreciated that so much and have told her so. I'm extremely open with my family about what we are doing and what we are going through. Michael, on the other hand, does not share much of anything with his family yet has a much healthier relationship with them.

The temptation is to pull back, stop telling them about any progress we are making, or anything at all about how I feel or what I want. But then I risk her saying again what she so loves to say when she doens't get to control me: "You are so secretive." Yeah. Secretive. When my brother does the same thing, he gets labeled as "private", but I get called deceitful, secretive, and even a liar.

I love my folks. They have a lot of issues (as do I). I guess I just need to pray for them, and about this, and keep on loving them.

I hope I find a way to work out these issues before our children arrive. I'm glad I'm getting the chance to do just that.

More on Guns in FL

Thanks, Stacy - you are right, I need to also post the facts of the law (though I do find the poster and the campaign scary/funny and am still not sure how to process it). Here's a description of the wording of the law:

[JURIST] The Florida Legislature [government website] passed a new bill through both houses Tuesday giving citizens the right to use firearms to defend themselves at home or in public places if they "reasonably believe[] it is necessary to do so, to prevent death or great bodily harm" to themselves or others. The stated intent of the bill, strongly supported by the NRA [action alert on earlier version of bill], is to render statutory the supposed common law "castle doctrine" allowing a resident to use deadly force in defending their home, and to expand it to include any place where an individual "has a right to be." The bill also prohibits civil suits against individuals who meet the requirements of being attacked and using a firearm to defend themselves. One of the most controversial provisions of the legislation is its intentional abandonment of the traditional requirement to make every attempt to avoid danger before using deadly force. While not applicable in the home, individuals currently have a legal "duty to retreat" if attacked in public before using deadly force. Critics have assailed the bill as authorizing "wild west" behavior. Read the official text of Bill SB 436. Florida governor Jeb Bush is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. The St. Petersburg Times has local coverage.

The bill went into law on Saturday, October 1st. I talked to my parents and they are pleased, citing that "Texas has had those kinds of laws for years". Yup. **sigh** They think this will prevent people from being sued if they shoot someone who breaks into their house - that is, being sued by the perpetrator for injuries sustained. Um hmmm. Okay, back to work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This is Why I Am FROM Florida...

...and perhaps why I will never live there again. Why, oh why do my parents stay?

Get out mom and dad - while you still can!

I'll Take "Gastroenteritis" for $60, Alex

We took the 3 little ones again this weekend. For those of you just joining me, the 3 are as follows: 7 month old Kewpie, and 21-month old twins Bo and Luke. Bo is much bigger than his twin brother, more outgoing, and more verbal. Luke is extremely shy, and has what we all feel are delayed verbal/speech skills - but it is way too early for a diagnosis, especially by my non-MD self. Kewpie weighs 21 pounds. She is so big, she has to wear clothes for a 12 month old, and even then, sometimes the legs are too tight. Apparently, whoever was caring for her pre-foster care was feeding her whole milk and mashed potatoes. Lovely.

Saturday morning at 7 came bright and very, very early. The kids were happy to see us and Bo and Luke climbed out of Workingmom's car, and quickly ascended the 3 flights of stairs up to the apartment to settle in to watch cartoons. They played with the cat, and Luke quickly found the Hershy bar I had taken out of the freezer earlier and placed on the shelf. By the time we found him, he was already chocolate-covered and enjoying himself so much we decided to let it go. We gave Kewpie a bottle and proceeded to change 3 sets of diapers. It seemed everyone had a bad case of the poopies. Liquid poopie coming out of everywhere. But we cleaned everyone up, and all was well with the world again.

For breakfast, I made orange rolls with icing, and Bo and Luke nibbled while Kewpie eyed them just knowing it was something delicious she couldn't have. Instead, she feasted on a bottle, and after I put her in her walker, I gave her a Biter Cookie, which she sucked on with much delight. Afterwards, I had to change her and give her a clean outfit while I washed the cookie-covered outfit.

Nap time went well, but Kewpie doesn't take long naps - just short 15 minute cat-naps then she sits in the crib and cries. Michael managed to get some work time in while we were all napping peacefully in the bedroom.

Dinner was a disaster. I had laid out milk and Uncrustable PB&J sandwiches for the boys, and had put in a tray of frozen mac n' cheese for Michael and I since I was too tired to cook. Well, as soon as the boys saw the mac and cheese they started to scream and cry like they were being stabbed. I swear, you'd have thought someone was beating them. They refused to leave the kitchen unless I physically carried them out and placed them in the livingroom.

We finally got it to end by giving them the damn mac n' cheese. Who knew. I know it's bad parenting. I know it just reinforces the screaming and crying. But at least we did not give it to them until we had eaten, and until they were quiet.

When Workingmom picked them up at 5, we were glad to see her and get some rest.

Saturday night - we slept like babies, exhausted from being outnumbered. Nookie was a distant wish at that point.

Sunday morning I made scrambled eggs and cheese toast. I set some out on little animal paper plates for the boys with small forks that they love to use. Almost immediately, the small portion of scrambled eggs had vanished. Michael shoveled some of his eggs onto their plate. They ate them all. I shoveled some of mine onto their plate, and again, they vanished. At last, Michael sacrificed the last of his breakfast to the two scavengers who scarfed down more food than I have ever seen 2 toddlers eat in my life.

The trip to church went well. They ran into the building and into the nursery like they were entering Disneyland. By the time service was over, they didn't want to leave.

All 3 fell asleep in the car on the way home. I have heard that this is not a good thing, and that if they fall asleep in the car, they will not nap when you get home. Bo went down for the count, and Michael carried him upstairs with no problem. Luke woke up and immediately started crying for no apparent reason. Kewpie also woke up and was ready to play and "talk" and laugh and coo. Sheesh. I "rocked" Luke in my arms until he settled down, and I laid down with him in bed next to Bo until he too fell asleep. Kewpie never did take a nap. Whew!

After naps, we did more diaper changing and I made a late lunch of chicken tenders and curly fries/tater tots. Bo woke up first and feasted on chicken tenders dipped ----no, not dipped, more like COATED in BBQ sauce. He coated them so much, sauce was everywhere. On him, on the chicken, and on the floor. When the BBQ sauce was gone, we wanted ketchup, which he did essentially the same thing with - coating his chicken tender and sucking off the sauce and doing this repeatedly until the chicken was nice and soggy before eating it. Luke finally woke up and proceeded to do the very same thing. Michael fed Kewpie another bottle while I watched the boys eat.

After diaper and clothes changes for all, we went outside to wait for Workingmom. The boys ran and ran and ran up and down the wood sidewalk that stretches from the parking lot to the first level apartments. They giggled as they listened to the sound the wood made underneath their feet. They were glad to finally see Workingmom pull up to get them. We were happy to see her too. We were very, very tired.

Back in the house, we didn't clean up much, but we took showers and tried to relax. We laid down in bed rather early, and our stomachs hurt ---- bad. I took a couple of Tums and laid back down. Still hurt. I took Pepto Bismol. Still hurt. Michael said his stomach hurt too, but that his whole body hurt, so he couldn't tell where the hurt was coming from more. We laughed and tried to fall asleep. I took more Tums, then felt it. All of a sudden I ran to the bathroom where the all-too familiar feel in my mouth informed me of what was about to happen. I believe that my stomach was deamon-possessed and that every single deamon at the exact same time decided to come out of my mouth. I now know what parents mean by "projectile vomiting". Been there, done that. I thought for a few minutes that I could die here on the bathroom floor. When I emerged, I sat in the chair at my makeup table, and started to cry. I felt so awful, I just cried for no good reason. And Michael was so scared he asked if I needed to go to the ER. Nope, I just wanted sleep. But I was up and down all night and my body ached so bad I could hardly walk to the bathroom.

At 8 am Monday morning, I conceeded that I was not making it in to work, and emailed folks to let them know, and I went back to bed. Michael had decided to get up and go in to the office, but once he got in to his bathroom, he realized that the deamons had also posessed his stomach as well - and were quickly departing. He came back in the bedroom and let me know, which of course prompted any deamons remaining in MY stomach to want to deapart as well, lest they be left behind. By the time I was able to crawl out of bed yesterday afternoon, I hurt so bad I wondered how long this might last. I wondered how the kids and Workingmom were, yet I had barely enough energy to make it to the computer to email my students to cancell class last night and get back into bed. En route, I managed to make a bowl of grits and keep those down. Michael came home with Ginger Ale and ice cream, which seemed to help some last night.

I do not remember the last time I was this sick this bad. When we did respite care for Bumblebee (who was 3, and had a slight cold/cough), we found out what the croup was, and managed to get that pretty bad. Now, we were learning what gastroenteritis was first-hand. We had better have some serious immunities for what we have been through. Thanks, God, for the tests! Yes, I still want kids - but I want MINE, thank you very much. If I am going to barf up a lung, I want to do it because MY kids give it to me, not someone else's! We may have gotten it just from changing diapers. We may have gotten it from somewhere else altogether. We will never know.

I called Workingmom and she and the boys are just fine. That is very good news. I would not wish this on anyone. I was so hot I soaked the bed sheets. My body hurt so much, it was a struggle to move just to make it to the bathroom. I honestly do not know how I got up this morning , dressed myself, and made it in to the office. Michael was still sound asleep when I left. I was glad he was resting, so I left him in dreamland.

The good news is that I am feeling okay here at my desk today. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through the day today, but since I'm already blogging well into lunch, I think I can survive the rest of the day if I take it easy.

I am thinking that Chicken Pot Pie from Lee's Famous chicken sounds good tonight. Comfort food. Warm food. Yummy food. That is what I need.

So, when Melanie calls and tells us she has a placement for us, and it's just one kid - we're going to be like, psssshhhh!, you think that's work? Ha! We are so ready now. Bring it on.