baby development

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cookie's Accomplishments

Since I really have nothing titalating to write about, and since I have Friday-itis, what follows will be a post that I can put in Cookie's lifebook about what she has recently learned how to do:

Oh my Sugar Cookie, last night I was bathing you and your daddy asked, "Is she sitting up in the tub all by herself?" I hadn't even noticed that as I was washing your little back and arms that that's indeed what you were doing. You were still excited about slapping the water with your hands and splashing about. You enjoyed playing with the top cover to an Avent bottle, and turning it in every direction - dropping it in the tub, watching it bob around or fill up with water and sink. You were very skilled at recovering it from the bottom of the tub, figuring out how to dump the water out, and get the edge of it into your mouth again to chew on. You studied it carefully like a tiny scientist - over and over again with a studious look on your face. You are growing to have more times that you are careful and methodical in your play.

You enjoy studying new objects for a long time, and only after you have concluded these observations do you begin slapping your hands and thowing it about. You still like to put everything into your mouth - your favorite are colorful magazines that come in the mail. You like to grab the pages and crinkle them in your hands and try to get the pages into your mouth. You often succeed at ripping the pages out and inserting the crinkly paper into your mouth until it is soggy and I am forced to remove the paper and fish small bits of magazine out of your mouth. I have to be careful with you every second because of your desire to chew everything!

You are pretty mobile now - you roll over and over and can scoot across the floor on your belly, but you cannot crawl on your hand and knees (though it is clear you really want to!). If you see a remote control on the floor, this is what seems to excite you most, and you are quick to scoot across the floor to grab the remote - you must take after your daddy - though he refrains from eating the remote. You love it when daddy holds your arms and lets you stand on the floor so you can "march" in place like you are walking. When he does this, the look on your face is sheer joy.

Your grin is enormous - and when you smile, it involves your entire face. Your grin is still toothless and gummy, with no signs of any teeth on the horizon.

You make these cool "raking" motions with your fingers, and your dexterity seems to increase every day.

Your favorite foods are sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and banana. You will eat peas and green beans, and peaches - but they are not your favorites. You are now sucking down an entire 4 oz. jar of baby food each evening when daddy and I eat our dinner. You seldom spit anything out anymore because you LOVE food.

You still don't sleep through the night, but daddy and I are less worried about it - we figure you'll outgrow that stage when you're good and ready to.

You hold your own bottle a lot now - but it seems to be only when the mood strikes you. In the middle of the night if you are hungry, you will often snatch the bottle out of our hand as we are bringing it toward your face, put both of your hands around it and pull it into your mouth in a fairly smooth, yet frantic display of hunger. You often suck down a midnight bottle like it may be the last bit you'll ever have, burp very loudly, then roll over in our bed and fall asleep right between daddy and I. It is very sweet, and sometimes we don't even put you back in the crib because you are so soft.

I still call you a "soft, warm biscuit" because when you were tiny, daddy said you were his "little Biscuit Head". You are often very warm and "biscuity". I love that about you.

We don't push your learning real hard, but we talk constantly to you, sing to you, and read you stories. We figure you'll learn at your own pace, and start talking to us when you're good and ready.

You are a happy little girl, for the most part. Your dramatic streak and ability to whine and protest loudly to get your way seems to come right from me. I'll apologize to your daddy for that for the rest of my life. Your favorite thing to whine about now seems to be when daddy gets up and moves from the livingroom into the kitchen to do the dishes. You can still see him and like to stand on my lap and look and him and whine to let him know you are not happy that he "left". You also like to protest when one of us is holding you, but you would prefer it be the other one of us. Sheesh. You have us wrapped around your tiny little pinky finger.

We adore you, Cookie. Life is so much more of an adventure with you.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

St. Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

I recieved this in my email today, with a note to "forward it to x number of people" - I thought it lovely enough to post. Thank you all for reading my blog, and for your faith and prayers. You are my blessing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Disease and Its Symptoms

I have wanevrionetolikeme disease. Maybe you haven't heard of it before. Maybe you are one of the million who are undiagnosed, or maybe you live with someone who has the disease. Maybe you are one of the few who has successfully sought treatment for wanevrionetolikeme and were healed. Maybe you have experienced relapses.

I have wanevrionetolikeme. I have been officially diagnosed by no less than 3 professional therapists on 3 separate occasions. There is treatment - it is called telthatruth, followed by strong doses of notholdinback. There are some extreme cases where some individuals go overboard with treatment and apply the ancient idongivafak technique, which works, but tends to alienate people and get you an entirely new set of friends you might have preferred not to have.

I need to start on a more frequent regimen of telthatruth, followed by suppliments of nawtevryonehastalikeme - the strongest antivirus there is to the disease.

I like it when I write things or say things that people respond well to. I like to be inclusive and supportive, and to make others feel good. But there are times I just want to tell whiney people to "build a bridge and get over it", and times I want to tell people more truth and less platitudes. Why do we say such crap so often when we don't even mean it? Its the disease, friends - wanevrionetolikeme is very powerful.

So, I am going to try telthatruth more often, and stop worrying so much about other people's overly-fragile egos and martyr complexes and recoveries from x-issue-of-the-day and what they might think of me.

Folks, let's live in the present. Let's rejoice in what we have. Let's share our grievances and issues and problems, then get back to work. We all have missions on this planet, and if we spend too much time wallowing in self-pity, then when are we going to work on that mission?

If all I do is coddle someone, how have I really assisted them in their journey? By indulging them and stroking them so they can further convince themselves that they are doing the exact right thing? Maybe they are. And maybe they're not. It's not my place to make that call. And maybe God sent some human here on earth to give them a good swift kick in the pants that sent the message to "stop feeling sorry for yourself". There a whole world out there of people hurting and problems that need resolving. What if everyone expected someone else to do it or someone else to say what is difficult to say while they laid there wallowing in the muck and mire of life? Please.

What if God wanted me to telthatruth, but I was so wrapped up in the wanevrionetolikeme disease that I failed in what He wanted me to do?

I do my fair share of supporting, but this wanevrionetolikeme disease has me doing and saying things I don't necessarily mean - and not speaking up when I should.

I'm gonna piss some folks off. But I might just motivate someone in the process. There's something to be said for honesty.

For example, I no longer read the PCOS online support group messages. All it is anymore is a bunch of feel-sorry-for-myselfers who have excuse after excuse for not getting off their hineys and doing something. Ugh. I can only take so much, you whiney women you. I have PCOS. I got laser hair removal when I could afford it. I take my Metformin even if I get the runs or cramps on occasion. I try to loose weight. I manage my depression with medication. I pray and concentrate on making decisions that will improve my future and allow me to follow God's will (which is most often NOT my will, mind you). I made tough decisions about how I would have children given our infertility - after finally submitting to God's will for our life. The "shocker" is how much BETTER life is following HIS will, and not struggling to do what WE want. In HIS will, there is freedom, and peace. Yeah, giving up your preconceived notions of the Cinderella life you had envisioned sucks. But oh the joy that comes in the morning.

And the joy...well, I make no apologies for. You can hate me forever for that.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cookie's 6-Month Peds Appointment

We have a whopping 17 lb., 7 ounce baby girl! She's also 26 inches long, which puts her in the 75th percentile. She may be a fairly tall young woman someday, which suits her daddy just fine (he's hoping she will be able to "dunk on fools"). Apparently, she's been right on track all along, and weighs only a tiny bit above where she should be for her length (okay, so she takes after her foster mommy and daddy!). She's now wearing jammies and tops/onezies that are sized for a 12 month old, and pants and jeans for a 9 month old. So far, we have breezed through clothes quickly and packed up 4 huge Rubbermaid bins full of her baby clothes that are too small (yet I won't get rid of because - well, there may be another foster-baby one day post-adoption). Yup, we might very well do it all over again. We are that crazy.

Cookie also got 5 vaccinations, given in 3 injections. The first one she looked disturbed, the 2nd one she hollered for a second, and on the 3rd one she started to cry but stopped as soon as her daddy picked her up and kissed her. She's quite a little trooper.

Over the weekend, she fought a fever off and on, and was rather cranky. The site on her left leg where she got two injections was swollen and red and hot. It looked painful. We tried not to touch it, but we could tell she was hurting. Baby Motrin seemed to help a lot.

Bath time last night took on a whole new feel, as Cookie discovered splashing. With one fat little hand she smacked the water, looked up to see me grinning, gave me a devilish little look, and started smacking the water in front of her like crazy. Water flew everywhere - on the kitchen countertops, the floor, all over the front of my body (I was drenched), and even the window above the kitchen sink. Suddenly, my Cookie is discovering that she has control over many things in her universe - the laws of cause and effect - and it excites her to no end. Her grin tells it all - that she is excited, and can't wait to get into lots and lots of trouble.

She still isn't crawling per se. But she is very skilled at pushing herself up on her hands and toes with her butt in the air and rocking back and forth as if she is suddenly going to leap forward. She also scoots and rolls everywhere with great proficiency. She figures she can get anywhere she needs to go by just rolling or scooting on her belly. She can do this so quickly that we are already baby-proofing things we thought we wouldn't have to for some time to come. So much for that!

Have I mentioned that I love being a mom? Hehehe.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Sure Sign I Am Tired

I just went to scratch myself under my armpit (ya, I know very lady-like, but hey - I'm in my office and there is no one around), and... was rather furry there. So I inspected - yes, very furry.

I could not remember when the last time was that I shaved my pits. Gross. At least I remembered to don a brazierre this morning. This is good.

(Now I am going to get some weird google hits - just wait.)

My First Real Nightmare

I was sick yesterday, though I'm not sure with what. I only know that whatever was inside me wanted to get out quickly. And I don't barf unless I absulutely have to. I hate barfing. So I didn't. I called in sick and spent the entire day asleep in bed. But instead of feeling great, it was absolutely dreadful. I had horrible dreams of torture and pain and anguish. I had a bad dream about Cookie.

I dreamed that Michael and I had to take her to a visit, and when we returned to pick her up, she was gone. We were told that Biomom had tested negative for drugs and gotten a job, so they gave Cookie back - for good. I was a sobbing mess on the floor. It was absolute hell. No one even said they were sorry. We were sent away. We begged for another child, but we were told they didn't have any. We tried to go adopt a child, but every child was taken or had horrible disabilities that would render them unable to even communicate.

When I woke up for the dream, I was shaking and sweating. I saw the empty crib across the room, and for a good 15 minutes I sat on the edge of the bed trying to figure out if it was a dream, or reality. I sipped some water, and staggered downstairs to find the dishwasher running. Clearly, my husband had been home and left again - and still no baby. I tried to call his cell phone, but there was no answer.

It was an hour and a half before he arrived home with Cookie. He had picked her up from daycare and gone grocery shopping with her. Apparently, he had been home for quite a long time and had gone in to check on me but I never woke up.

Seeing Cookie was a relief. I told Michael about my nightmares, and it was very hard not to cry. He said it only proved that the devil was alive and well.

At our last training class, we were told by very experienced foster parents not to expect the judge to grant TPR because it was too early and Cookie was too young. Apparently, no one has ever even heard of an adoption being done before a child's 2nd birthday. I think this really got to me. The thought of any judge ordering that this woman be given "more time" just tears me up. I know I have to mentally prepare for the worst, but it just killed me. I know the other women were just trying to inform me and give me a dose of reality, but I think it really got to me.

No nightmares last night, but I'm still feeling ill today. My stomach is still in knots.

But McDonald's has definately improved their coffee. It is still not Starbucks, but it is palatable. Of course, this morning makes for a sample size of 1, but it was alright.

Please pray that Satan leaves me alone.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Continuing Ed. Class #2

...was "20 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer".

It was fascinating, albeit of little use to us with a 6-month old. It made me a little more appreciative of life in Lexington, and the mnay opportunities for adventure that this place holds.

This group is actually "ASK": Adoption Support of Kentucky, and the leader is a very spirited woman with much foster and adoption experience. She pulls no punches and does not suffer fools. I like that in a woman. She and her husband are adopting children #2 and 3 this month. She emphasized that problems that these children have do not vanish after those papers are signed - many are just beginning.

The second hour of the meeting was spent with two researchers from the school of Social Work here at UK. They were conducting a focus group study to find out about why people attend the meetings (DUH - for the required continuing ed credits, dummies!). The questions were pedantic (and a few rather leading), but the off-topic conversations that ensued were the ones I found to be the most interesting.

People mentioned the benefits of group support whenever there is an investigation into you home as a result of allegations. Everyone there (except us) had been investigated, and the words they used to describe the process made my stomach churn. Clearly, it is agonizing. Yet, here these folks were still doing foster care, and still adopting. Indeed it is not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. It is no wonder it is hard to recruit good families. Who would knowingly put themselves into these situations?

Oh wait, WE would.

Cookie went to the meeting with us (child care was supposed to be provided), but the child care person didn't show up, so she ended up sitting on our laps at the table during the meeting and trying to grab everything in sight to stick in her mouth. But she didn't cry (although a few whines did escape) and everyone had to admire her and comment on the myth that there are "no blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids in foster care". They said she was a "good baby". We smiled and took a little internal credit for that. Props to us - ours is not a monster-baby.

We came home, crashed, and managed to get Cookie into the crib and asleep by 10, where she slept soundly until 3 am, sucked down a bottle and fell asleep again until 6. This sounds like a lot of waking up and not a lot of sleeping, but for us it is an accomplishment. The Cookie does not like the crib - she longs to be in bed with us. And, well, I'd like to be an adult again and enjoy bed with my husband. (*wink, wink - nudge, nudge).

Monday, June 19, 2006

Our First Continuing Ed Class...

...for our annual renewal of our certification as foster parents was titled "Loving Through Lifebooks".

I was excited about this class, as we were currently working on Cookie's album and wanted to be sure we were putting everything in it that we could think of.

The class was an insult.

The teachers asked us "What kind of things can you put in a lifebook?" "Who can work on a lifebook?" "Is a lifebook just pictures?" "How can you add interest to a lifebook?" "Who is a lifebook for?"

Then she proceeded to show us matted pictures and point out that a yellow mat looked good because there was some yellow in the girl's shirt in the picture. She also showed us some relatively plain looking pages and commented on how they could be improved with more *ish*.

That was the first hour.

They used copies of chapters from some book that was so poorly written, it made us laugh. The book referred to biracial and multiracial children as "blended children". Oh my Lord. So, they are smoothies?

Then, she talked about things that were inapproriate to document in a lifebook, and actually said, "Things like masturbation should not go in a lifebook." Gee - ya think?

It was all I had to contain myself.

The second hour they took out supplies and asked us to make a Lifebook page using pictures we had brought (!!!) Um, that would have been great, except no one TOLD us to bring pictures with us. I didn't know this was an art class, people.

I had a few wallet sized copies of Cookie's most recent pictures, but nothing much. Needless to say, we went to work creating out page for her pictures. Folks sitting near us made fun of us (i.e. tired to correct us) for not using pink as the background color - we were using blue with yellow borders.

I didn't really want to make the page without the supplies we have at home that make the pages look a lot more professional, and less...moochie. I mean, moochie is alright on occasion - but these supplies were just plain awful.

So, we made the page - and put it in her lifebook when we got home. It will forever be known as the page we made in biggest waste of 2 hours of our foster care training to-date.

Get a clue, trainers. We have IQs higher than hedgehogs.

I sure hope our class later in the week titled "The Cycle of Poverty" has more to say then, "when you don't have money, you can't pay your bills". Ugh.

A CD for Cookie

This morning on my way out the door for work, my husband handed me a CD in a case (nothing written on it) and said that he thought I would enjoy it. When I arrived, I inserted it and quickly discovered that it was a music compliation he had put together. It then became clear that the CD was all songs for/about our Sugar Cookie! Here are a few that were on the CD:

Isn't She Lovely? Stevie Wonder
You're Just Too Good To Be True (Can't Take My Eyes Off You)
Biscuit Head by The Spin Doctors
Along Came You (To Teach Me About Love) Gloria Estefan
Goodnight My Angel (Billy Joel)
For Once In My Life
I Will Be There (Phil Collins)

This absolutely made my morning. I couldn't stop grinning.

So, if you were to make a CD of songs about your little (or big) one(s) - what would you put on it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Good News & Bad News - Its The Same News

Cookie's biomom is AWOL. That's right - she left the treatment facility. We don't know if she ran, or if she checked herself out against doctor's orders, but she's gone. No one knows where she is.

Saavy little thing though - she left before they had a chance to serve her with papers on the upcoming TPR.

So, now they either have to prove that her lawyer had a chance to tell her about the upcoming court date - thus proving "due notification", OR if they can't do they they will have to 1) find her within a week, or 2) hire an invesitgator to try to find her and notify her. If is it #2, s/he will have 90 days to document that he tried to find her. If it's #2, it will hold up the process by another 3 months. Let's all pray her probabtion officer finds her - and fast.

She likely won't go far - she's probably just looking to shoot up. The probabtion officer knows right where to look.

So, the bad news is that she is at a greater risk of overdosing, and dying.

The "good news" in all this, is that is creates even more of a "slam dunk" case if you will for us and Sugar Cookie.

The "bad news" is that Biomom is really bad off. When/if she is found, she will go to jail because this is also a violation of her probation. More bad news is what she is doing to herself physically. She probably feels she has little left to live for. But she was in the best place she could possibly have been. I guess it just wasn't enough.

This is the extreme of happy/sad - another addict out there who is at the edge, another baby who will soon have a forever family.

I hated to come in to work after the meeting with R. this morning where I learned what has transpired. I just wanted to sit there and hold my Cookie - my Mia Elizabeth, my love, my miracle.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lifebook Entry: Gotcha Day

Dear Sugar Cookie,

I remember the day you came to live with us. It was December 22nd, 2005. I was at work, and your foster-dad was teaching a winter-interterm class. We were a little sad because it was almost Christmas and all we wanted was a child to spend the holidays with. We had decided not to go visit our parents in Florida or Mississippi just in case. I prayed out loud in the car on the way home from work on December 21st. I prayed that God would send us a child to love. Well, this is what happened:

About noon, my phone at work rang. It was the on-call social worker. She said,

"We have a baby girl at UK Peds who is 2 days old and needs to be placed today. Would you like to take her?"

I panicked. "We are closing on our new house at 3:00 today. We just can't be there right now. But I want to say "yes"."

"What time do you think you'll be done with the closing? I can meet you at your place right afterwards with the baby."

I thought fast. "Um, probably by 4:30 I guess."

"OK, I'll meet you there then."

And that's exactly how it happened. I didn't even call your daddy to check with him first. I knew he would be happy (and nervous too).

So, we both left work and went and bought our new house, then we drove to our apartment where the social worker was already there in the parking lot waiting there with you.

You were bundled up in so many blankets like a baby burrito, and you were fast asleep. I held you in my arms and you felt warm and snuggly and I almost cried. I thanked God over and over again in my head as the social worker told me a little about you.

She told me your mommy had some big problems, and that she wasn't able to care for you. She also told me that your daddy had problems too, so he couldn't care for you either. She said she thought it was possible that you would be with us for a long time.

You were a little sick from some things your birth mommy had taken before you were born, so we did the best we could to make you feel better. When you woke up, you cried and cried and cried. You didn't drink very much formula. We were so worried about you.

We kept you bundled tight, and loved on you and prayed for you.

We called everyone we knew to tell them about you.

We unbundled you to find you were dressed in a little red and white outfit that was way too big for you - but it was cute. It said "Daddy's Little Sweetie".

We took your picture with the camera on our cell phone, because that's all we had at the time. The pictures were very cute, and those are the first ones in your Lifebook.

After all the excitement, we put you in tiny pyjamas and made a little "nest" for you between us in the bed so we could sleep right next to you. Your daddy and I didn't sleep much because we kept waking up to make sure you were still okay.

That day was one of the best days of our lives - we got a new house and a new baby all on the same day!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In order to get Cookie...

...I had to:

get divorced - because my first husband was so irresponsible that I vowed I would never have children (thinking I was "stuck" with a lazy moron for life)

get PCOS - without that, I might have eventually had biological children

work hard to convince my now-husband that we could make our relationship work - he wasn't too sure about it all

go against the wishes of my parents and marry outside my ethnicity - we did not speak for a long time, and they did not attend the wedding

quit my job 1 year before tenure and move to Lexington, KY to be with my new husband - he had just moved there from a faculty position at Ohio U.

come to the decision that having a biological child was not necessary for a happy and full life

take my mother's advice (the mother who had rejected me a year earlier) and inquire about foster care

go through the entire training and certification process

surrender my heart and soul and mind and LIFE anew to God

pray without ceasing

keep taking placements even after the pain of having newborn babies quickly returned to birth families

decide not to visit family for Christmas 2005 on the "off chance" that we might get a call for a placement - had we left town and the call came in, we would have missed it

When I think about the choices we have made, and what I could have missed out on had I let the fear and doubt and second-guessing win, I am speechless. We are so blessed. It is a miracle that got us here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

TPR/Adoption Timeline

Just got a call from R., Cookie's SW. Here's the latest word on timelines:

June 1, 2006: 161 Paperwork was filed with the court (2 weeks late - no idea why)

June 16, 2006: R. comes to our house for our June meeting

June 20, 2006: Cookie turns 6 months old

August 1, 2006: Deadline for the courthouse to assign us a hearing date - date will probably be about 2 weeks after they call R. to let her know

~August/September 2006: We will have a TPR hearing for Cookie
(Biomom has requested to tell her side of the story to the judge, so it will be a longer case)

R. says she has had judges prefer to study the case more before issuing a ruling. She says her longest case the judge took 2 months. To this day she has no idea what took him so long (but that was a different judge).

R. says her best guess is the judge will rule to grant TPR on the spot. BUT he could also rule to postpone TPR and give Biomom more time. As she has had two other involuntary terminations in the past, this is not likely - BUT anything can happen.

Biomom will have 30 days to appeal the judge's ruling. R. says if she had to guess, she'd guess Biomom will not appeal. If she does, R. says there is no way it would be overturned.

~November, 2006: Once the 30 days is up, our case will be assigned to the adoption worker, who fortunately is in Lexington. The homestudy stuff will start all over again, but this process should take less time.

R. is getting together all of the family history and family dynamics and working with workers in the other counties to get a total picture for us, should Cookie want to know (or we want to tell her).

Biomom has not requested a visit with Cookie, though she is legally entitled to one visit a month. At this point, R. has told me they are not offering to bring the baby to her for visits, but if she asks them to bring her they are bound to do it. This was my "advance heads up" which I greatly appreciate.

Biomom is in her second treatment center - I guess she went to the first one, and they transferred her to a more long-term care facility. R. says she is making progress, and wants Cookie back and wants to tell her side of the story.

In a way I feel for her, but where do we draw the line? When is enough ENOUGH?

Our home is also one that was chosen for audit for upcoming accreditation of the program. Yippie! I am grateful for that, because in addition to our home being under the microscope (and we have nothing to hide), so is Cookie's case. That means everything has to be done right - down to the fine print.

This is a long, hard road. It is so worth it. But it is hard.

Please courthouse people, process my Cookie's case. Schedule it for a court date NOW. Please, please let our paperwork find its way into someone's hands quickly and let that person responsible be quick to process it.

It's funny that someone like me with the patience of a gnat would choose to foster-to-adopt. It's funny that my way of dealing with it is to write, when in the past I had to be beaten into submission (figuritively) to make me do my homework. It's funny that I think our case is drawn out, when I realize she hasn't even turned 6 months old yet.

December 20, 2006: Cookie's 1 year birthday. Will she be our daughter by then?

Stay with me and I'll keep you posted on the adventures of Tamara, Michael, and Sugar Cookie.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Thus Ends A Week With My MIL

I'm still here. I am tired. It was a nice visit with my MIL. It was painful for me to see that she had nothing to do, and nothing that seemed to interest her. I felt like an awful hostess or DIL. She was (and is) a very polite and kind woman. But we are extremely different.

I'll begin with a nice observation - she did seem to like Cookie, and spent a great deal of time holding, feeding, and rocking her. Cookie obviously enjoyed getting to know her Gramma, and no longer saw her as a stranger. As you can see by the pictures a couple posts down, it was a pretty good experience for both of them.

Now on to some things I need to just get out (this may turn into a vent):

She does not like/is afraid of cats. We have two. This made for a pretty bad combination, and for her spending a lot of time shooing (or trying to shoo) them away. I felt bad for her, but also felt bad for my cats. They are not my husband's cat, and he doesn't care for them either. But they were my first children, so to see them treated like disease-carrying rodents for a week was painful for me. I really do care about my cats. I think they probably feel bad about how they were treated all week. I realize that people come before pets, but it hurt my feelings. I couldn't just lock them up in a room with a litter box and food and water - it seemed inhumane, and I just couldn't do it.

She doesn't seem to like much in the way of food. In this regard, she's a lot like my husband who (most of the time) refuses to try anything new or even slightly different than that which he is used to. My MIL seems to only like that which she is used to. I'd describe myself like this: I like lasagna. My favorite lasagna is the kind that I make because I can make it exactly the way I want it. But I've eaten lots of different kinds of lasagna made by lots of different restaurants and people, and can appreciate the differences and still enjoy the lasagna. I felt bad this week because as hard as I tried to find good that she would enjoy, it just never seemed to be anything she actually enjoyed eating - and we tried what we thought was the best. Michael made a huge roast in the crock pot that was divine. We got Lee's fried chicken (a local favorite kicked-up-a-notch fried chicken), Brooklyn Pizza (best thin crust around), and even went to a family-owned-and-operated buffet after church on Sunday called Ward's Landing. Nothing really seemed to do it for her, and I know she just longed to eat what she was used to eating at home. I'm just not sure what that would have been.

She didn't seem happy much of the time, and I guess I didn't realize how much like my husband she is (I always thought Michael was more like his dad). I know Michael comes from a very different family. My family talks a lot - we cook together, eat together, gossip, try to solve world problems, and poke fun at all kinds of things and each other. We get out and do things together. We outwardly show signs of enjoying life. Michael has a pretty tough time with this. If you didn't know him, you'd think he was either angry or depressed, or extremely sleep-deprived the majority of the time. He has to work mindfully at enjoying life and letting me know he enjoys being with me. I used to cry a lot about how he was with me - interpersonally. Most of the time I felt like he absolutely hated being in my presence. He had no idea how to express himself, and for the most part felt pretty overwhelmed with life in general. I think he's come a long way in the last two years. He pushes himself to be more social, to smile more, and to enjoy the everyday stuff of life. It feels odd to see how much like his parents he really is. Unfortunately, it reminded me too much of how he used to be. It ought to be easier for me to see and acknowledge that, but instead it flooded my mind with painful memories of the past. I don't know why exactly - I think it was just seeing him in her. Ugh - clearly I'm not explaining myself well, and anyone reading this will be shaking their head thinking "what in the heck is she trying to say?" With that, I'll move on...

I'm frustrated that I've been living in my house for 6 months now, and it still seems like a messy wreck. No pictures hung - not one. Dozens of boxes are still in the garage. My kitchen counters are so strewn with bottles, nipples, and baby accoutrements that I have no space to cook. If I want to cook something, it had better be something I can prepare with the space I have on top of the stove alone - or I won't be able to cook it. Part of it is having too much crap in too small a space - and our house is 1830 square feet! I mean to organize and clean, but by the time I get home from work at 5:45, I just want to get out of my work clothes, hold the baby and sit on the sofa for a spell. Then it's grabbing a bite to eat while trading off with my husband holding the baby, bathing said baby, re-dressing baby, trying to calm down a fussy teeting baby, watching Jeopardy, trying to get baby to sleep...and by the time baby is asleep or calm, I am wiped out. Weekends have been taken up with travel or MIL, or just trying to get the essential errands done before the weekend, that the house seems to always get put on the back burner. We even own a lawnmower and Michael has mowed the yard ONCE. All other times a neighbor kid has mowed it, and we have paid them. I swear - a brand new $300 lawnmower in the garage and we are paying someone else to cut the grass on our postage-stamped size yard. Mercy.

I read Dan's post on burnout over at Other People's Kids. I related. We have never done respite care because it would mean dropping the baby off with complete strangers (while she is teething). We have no family in state, and we don't have the kind of friends that would take the baby overnight (especially knowing she will not sleep through the night, and how hard it is to get her to sleep in the first place).

I identify with Lisa - scared someone will hear (or read) my post and think I don't deserve to be a mom - or tell me if I wanted kids so bad why am I complaining about taking care of the baby?

It's not the baby. It's the stuff of life - the house, the yard/lawn, work, marriage (of only a little over 2 years)...and oh yeah - church. Friends? Um, what are those?

You get the point. It's a lot. I'm tired. (I think I said that already.)

And I'm getting a little tired of the "waiting game" of fostering-to-adopt. The 161 paperwork for TPR requesting a court date has been at the courthouse for almost a month (since May 15th). We have heard nothing. I try not to think about it, but there are daily reminders - the nice, well-meaning people who ask us how the adoption is coming along, and the appointment I had to make at the pediatrician where I first said I was her mother then had to later explain I was her "foster mom" when asked about her last name and lack of information. It is knowing how long this process will likely take - and reading accounts of others and swallowing hard when I truly understand that Cookie could be two years old before she is legally ours. I won't lie - it is emotionally exhausting. Sometimes I have to work so hard to put it out of my mind and move on - that I am mentally wiped out.

I have friends going through what I consider a hell-on-earth with the foster-to-adopt system in another state. My heart grieves for them. I know if we do this foster parenting thing long enough, we will be there too one day. God knows I pray for their grief to end soon. I can't share more, but please just pray for all the foster parents out there who get jerked around by "the system" that has really screwed up ways of "protecting children".

I'll bounce-back. Really, I will. Gosh, this all seems so gloomy. I'm usually pretty cheerful. I have faith in God. I pray all the time. I know I have a really awesome life. I have a great house - even if its a disaster. I have a great husband - even if he is anti-social. And I have a beautiful daughter - even if she doesn't have our last name (yet).

If all this was to build my perseverance, I am really gonna be a warrior one day.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cookie's 5-Month Old Pictures

Ya gotta love W.M. Portraits for people who can't stop getting their baby's pictures taken!

So I Don't Forget Dates...

This week (of June 4th) we have seen an explosion in the amount of babbling Cookie is doing. It seems there are times she does it nonstop - and loudly! Her favorite noise is an exclamatory "aaaaaaAAAAHHHhhhhhh" that is high pitched and excited. She has the "Ga" sound down, and some other sounds I really can't assign actual letters to.

She's now actively rolling from back to front and front to back - and with great speed as well. She also will roll INTO objects pretty quickly and bump her head, so we are now finding out things we have to move- or move her away from.

She can now transfer an object from one hand to the other - this happened within the last couple of weeks, though I must say I wasn't looking specifically for this - just kind of when "well, I'll be darned".

She can't sit up unaided yet, but certainly attepts to.

This week she mastered holding her own bottle. Michael said he walked into daycare to pick her up and there she was lying on the floor supported by her Boppy pillow just two-fisting her bottle and chugging away. I wouldn't have believed him had I not seen it with my own eyes:

Yes, our Cookie is getting bigger each day. Here she is lounging with her Gramma and getting to know her better.

I'm really glad they have had this time to bond. Hopefully Cookie will get to know her so the nest time they see each other it isn't like seeing a stranger.

Gramma is quite skilled, and can change Cookie's diaper while holding her across her lap while sitting on the sofa! I'm not that skilled yet, and would worry about getting peed on (or my sofa getting peed on).

Our mother-daughter pictures came in - and Michael is working on scanning them in so I can post them. I think they turned out really cute.

Cookie is trying really hard to crawl, but just manages to get up on her hands and toes, and rock back and forth in the air before collapsing. It furstrates her, yet at the same time seems to amuse her very much. She also does this so much that sometimes she ends up spitting up on the carpet - which is always lovely. The last time she did that, she had just eaten carrot, so the spit-up was a nice shade of orange. After she spit up, she hovered over the small orange pool of slime and kind of admired it while I went to get a paper towel. I didn't want to laugh, but she was just hovering over it and studying it like a lesson in abstract art.

No update on the teething - still no tooth buds, but Cookie is still actively chewing on everything she can get into her mouth, including my fingers and hair (which I cut off this week) (my hair, not my fingers). She's gotten a little better at night. Gramma said she seemed to her like she was fighting sleep, so we are bathing her more often at night now, and Michael is taking her upstairs and lying down with her until she falls asleep. It's a nice ritual, and one that doesn't revolve around a bottle either.

She still isn't sleeping through the night, but after my research on babies who are drug exposed as much as she was, sleep disturbances seem to be minor compared to the list of things that could have gone wrong. I'll take a little lost sleep. She's really only waking up once or twice a night now, so we really can't complain much about that.

Megan and I packed up all her 3-6 month gear, and she is wearing only 6-9 month clothes. Today, Gramma wanted to dress her in a cute little shorts outfit she had bought that was a 12 month old outfit. Much to our surprise, it wasn't too loose. Yikes, we could have a big little girl on our hands. This is fine with Michael, who dreams of her becoming a power forward.

If I think of more things I really need to remember, I shall be quick to return and post.

No news on a court date for TPR yet. I am starting to think this could take a very long time. Please say it isn't so - patience is not my forte.

Stupid Comments

Monday, June 05, 2006

The MIL...

...arrived today at noon. She does not fly, so she left the driving to Greyhound - a 24-hour trip for what would have taken at most 10 hours in a car. Mercy. I didn't know until a few days ago that she was coming up. Heck, it was a surprise to Michael too. We honestly didn't think anyone from his family would ever come visit - it just isn't like them. They aren't traveling-vacationing-go-visit-each-other kind of folks. They are old-school rural Mississippi folks who rather enjoy just staying put. Can't really fault them for that.

So, my mother-in-law is here. I've yet to see her as I'm still at work. Michael's teaching his summer class, and Cookie is at daycare. The MIL is in our house - alone - and probably sleeping. I'd say she has the 2 cats to keep her company, but they have never had pets, and from what I can gather, she is afraid of cats. As Callie and Macy Gray are quite social beasts, this should be interesting.

We bought a new bed (for her and any other guests who might want to stop in for a spell). It will be delivered tomorrow, so she'll be sleeping on the sofa tonight (most likely with the cats standing guard and watching her every move).

I like the bed I picked out - a "captain's bed" - twin size with storage underneath and a very cool bookshelf-style headboard. It wasn't the cheap-and-cheerful kind from Big Lots. It will likely last us quite a while, and for the price, it had better. We hope that once Cookie is out of the crib, that we will just be able to put rails on this one instead of using a toddler bed. Most toddler beds I've seen are pretty chintzy looking, and believe me, I've got enough primary-colored plastic objects all arond the house as it is. Ugh. I am now living in a plastic-toy, bouncy-seat paradise.

But I digress.

I like my MIL - I honestly do. But since she lives more than 600 miles away, I don't interact with her much. She loves her 1st born son (who is my husband), and that's all that really matters.

I'm wondering what made her change her mind about visiting. When we were down for the funeral last month, she had even stated that events probably meant she wouldn't be coming any time soon. We really understood - it takes a while to help settle affairs after a family member dies. My MIL is one who takes care of everyone it seems (except herself).

I'm worried, though. My MIL has never seen our house (or the city in which we live, for that matter). We are not fastidious folks. Now, things do not grow where things should not be growing and there is never a risk of contracting some funky illness because of a lack of cleanliness in our home - but it is cluttered for lack of a better word.

Books are everywhere in our home, and frequently one or both of us will be engaged in reading more than one book at a time in more than one room in the house. The same goes for magazines, too. Papers are usually strewn across the coffee table, and there is rarely room for a coffee cup. Michael's laptop usually sits on the coffee table in the evenings, and a baby bottle and burp cloth, and assorted small toys.

My MIL is not a judgemental person, and she won't be roaming around my house with a white glove testing for dust (anyway, she can see it, so no gloves are necessary). She won't care what it looks like. But I do. I get easily embarassed. My father designs houses for a living. He is a custom residential architect to the rich and famous on the coast of Florida. I grew up seeing every day the kinds of palacial homes I would never live in, let alone afford. To this day I am keenly aware of the kind of construction of a home, and the quality (or lack thereof). I am aware of furniture and interior design. I am aware of color, and placement - of form and function. It is a hinderance to my enjoyment of my own pedestrian lifestyle and home.

My own home will never be clean enough or beautiful enough, or well-designed enough for me to be completely satisfied. It will, however, have to be sufficient. I know what beauty and cleanliness is. I saw it most every day in the homes Dad designed.

My house did not get fully clean before my MIL arrived. I was too tired.

The stairs had clumps of cat hair on them. I asked Michael if he had vacuumed the stairs this morning before she arrived. He said he "did everything except that". Oh boy.

Since having a baby, I've given up on a lot of things that I dreamed about for my own living quarters (cleanliness being but one of those things). But I still get embarassed. My home feels too much like a reflection of me, and I don't want to think of myself as that cluttered or dirty. I mean, carrot-spit-up has gotten on the carpet, and I cleaned it up in a half-a'd kind of way that sufficed. The cats never had stairs before we bought this place in January, and now it is like the Cat-tona 500 Speedway. They are crack-heads. Fur flies everywhere and ends up in clumps on the pretty Berber carpet on the stairs. I do not vacuum it regularly because, well, that would mean getting out the vacuum cleaner and attatchments. Besides, it would just re-accumulate within a couple of days.

Well, I'm glad my MIL gets to bond with Cookie - I just hope she doesn't scream and cry when I bring her home tonight - stranger anxiety has started to set in already. The good thing about that is she's bonded well. The downside is - well, the screaming and crying.

OK - time to face the music. Wish me luck, folks.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

But For The Grace of God...

This could have been my Cookie. Instead, she was spared.

I mourn the loss of this baby who could have had a life with one of the countless families who want a child. I mourn the lives of the other two children. Dear God, why does this happen? Why was Cookie saved, and this baby not?

Someone knew these people were smoking crack and had a baby. Someone sold it to them. Someone used it with them. Someone knew. No one saved the baby. I know there was at least one person who could have said and done enough to intervene.

One more angel in heaven. One more senseless death.

Visit w/ SW: No News Is Good News

R. (Cookie's case worker) stopped by the house last night when Megan and I were out shopping with Cookie (hey, a girl's gotta learn early, ya know?).

Here's the scoop.

The 161 paperwork is in requesting a court date for TPR. We are now in the "waiting game" to find out our court date. It could be a while.
Biomom has been moved from one facility to another in her court-ordered rehab.
(Megan's research found that in KY you have to test + 8 times to be sent invountarily to inpatient. Dang.)
R. is going to go talk to her sometime soon to tell her about the upcoming TPR (which will be ordered by the judge, no doubt) and find out if she plans to appeal. (We figure if she is planning to appeal, R. wants to go ahead and do things now on the front-end, but we know not what all that entails.)

And that's it, folks. No news is good news.

We have been blessed to have fabulous social workers who are moms, who are smart, and who work hard to see that the child's best interest and future is considered. Go figure. Don't we wish it always worked that way? R. is fabulous. R. means business. We leave her alone to do her thing, and she does it. We really, really like her. I hope in this life and the next she is bountifully rewarded for all she does. I don't want her job.

Cookie, we're getting close, hun.

Please God, watch over our paperwork as it sits in the Fayette County courthouse. If it be your will, please see that it is processed quickly so Cookie can be our daughter for all eternity. We love you, we trust you, and we'll keep trying to surrender ourselves and Cookie to you more and more every day. Thank you for your faithfulness, and for never ever leaving us.