Monday, July 30, 2012

I didn't buy the stroller...

 a little update to what I wrote here.

A little question here: What have you bought for, or given to your foster child's/children's parents? And how did that work out for you and the parents?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Monthly visits (NO! not THOSE monthly visits)

Technically both Primo's DH$ social worker and our agency's social worker should be visiting our home every month to see Primo and to check that he is safe in our home.  Our agency's social worker comes every month, DH$ not so much, and Primo's actual DH$ social worker has never been to our home.

There have been many times that these monthly visits have been scheduled, but the social worker is a no show.

This has been going on for months.  You might think I would be used to these visits by now, and in many ways I am. BUT... I can't help myself, I do a major cleaning and de-cluttering each and every time one of these visits is scheduled.  I used to be very disappointed when nobody showed up.

I must admit that I've begun to grow weary of these visits, whether they happen or not.  Primo's lawyer also comes out to our home once every three months.  This schedule makes for a lot of deep cleaning, de-cluttering and stress.

Seeking to decrease my stress levels in general, and specifically as they relate to foster care I have decided to try to make a philosophical shift in my thinking about monthly visits.  I will now try to look at these visits (whether they happen or not), as an opportunity to simplify and tidy my home.  You know, like an opportunity to commit myself to doing something I otherwise would not do regularly?  As I'm typing I realize that I'm not sure that I have really convinced myself of this, but I will keep trying, otherwise I cannot keep doing foster care.

Monthly home visits are getting me down.  Hopefully I will be able to re-frame how I perceive these visits.

Seriously, I am SO OVER entertaining the county (DH$), foster care agency and lawyer in my home so often.

Deep breaths...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sponsor a child

I read the following post the other day and was so inspired that I sponsored a child.  Then my two youngest children decided they would each use $16 a month of their own money to sponsor another child together.

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a way to sponsor foster children?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How my dogs help with foster care

We have two rescue dogs.  They both came from turbulent back rounds and one was neglected and abused the first 2.5 years of her life.  Because of this they take a little more attention and care than the average dog.  They are both wonderful and quirky dogs.

Best of all, they are happy to clean up the floor under the highchair 4 times a day, every day, all year long, and that means one less job for me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Squirty Food

This type of baby food was not around when my daughters were little. 

I had noticed it in the stores for the last many months when picking up other things for Primo in the baby section.  I never quite understood what the point of this kind of packaging was.  Was it just a new cool way to package baby food?

I didn't touch the stuff for the longest time, but they often had interesting combos of food so I picked a few up when we were packing for vacation.  I figured it was easier to travel with than the glass jars.

I am now completely addicted to buying baby food this way.  Primo doesn't eat much baby food any more, but this stuff is awesome for a day on the beach or for anytime you are away from the house for a long time.  Just twist off the cap and dinner, lunch, breakfast or snack is served!

Friday, July 20, 2012

When to speak up?

I read this wonderful post yesterday, I agree that we as foster parents owe it to ourselves and to our foster children's family to deal respectfully with each other.  Specifically, the golden rule comes to mind for me.  I'm not always perfect in my dealings with Primo's parents but I truly do try my best to be kind and respectful to them.

Another part of this post struck a cord with me, the part that mentioned the occasional need to "tattle" on a family member.  I have to say that I've been struggling with this concept for some time now.

The culture of Primo's case thus far has been very much one of "mind your own business".  I don't think this is a blanket statement that would apply to other cases in my city, but I am not sure as this is my first long term foster care experience.

It has been more than a little difficult.  There are safety issues that I feel reticent to tell the social worker about, but then I feel guilty if I don't.  There is not an atmosphere of openness between Primo's two social workers, one of whom we never see, and the foster mom of Primo's brothers and myself.  In fact I would say that we two foster moms know much more about this case than either of the social workers and it is starting to make everything very awkward.

As I have mentioned before I am a chronic rule follower, therefore my spending lots of time with another foster mom who is not a rule follower at all is making for some tough situations for me to handle.  This coupled with the fact that social workers have often shared with me what I assume to be confidential info about meetings with others,  lead me to feel that I would be exposed if I were to give voice to my concerns.  Possibly making my relationship with Primo's parents very strained. Not sure if this makes sense to any of you, but I don't want to get to specific here.

All advice is welcomed...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Clearance Time

It is that time of year again, the time when all of the current season's clothing and accessories start to go on sale to make room for the next season.

I have to say I am always surprised to find such great deals on summer clothing when I feel there is still a lot of summer still to come.

When my daughters were young it was second nature for me to shop clearance sales for next years clothes.  As they got older I dropped this practice and they started buying their own clothes.

So, when Primo came around and I remembered that my giant foster care manual stated that I should send my foster babies back to their parents or on to their next home with a full years wardrobe I was a bit perplexed.

I read some great blog posts by you all about how to shop frugally for future clothing and slowly got back in the saddle of discount and future shopping.

Given Primo's growth rate and size now I decided that he will probably be wearing 3T next summer.

I shop in a combination of ways:

1. I am always checking out clearance and sale items wherever I shop and adding to Primo's future wardrobe.

2. When the change of season sales start I buy larger quantities of clothing on clearance, don't forget things like socks and underwear!

3. I check out ebay and Craig's List for large lots of clothing. I LOVE buying in bulk.

4. I also frequent my favorite resale shops for children to find higher end clothing items for a lot less money.

5. Use the internet to shop your favorite brick and mortar stores, there are great clearance deals and often free shipping.

All of the above also work for finding great deals on toys, books or puzzles that will be attractive to Primo as he moves into new developmental stages too.

This may seem time consuming, and it felt that way in the beginning, but it has become second nature and part of my routine.  It has paid off, in that as Primo grows I am always ready with new clothes for him.  I don't have to go out and buy a new wardrobe at full price (which is what I did in the early sleep deprived days when he was growing so quickly), and he has great quality and good looking clothes all the time for at least half the cost.

As much as I hate to think of Primo leaving our home and family I feel good knowing that he will leave here with everything he needs in his new home. That wherever he goes there will be some relief of the financial burden of providing for him in that new home and that having his own things will make his transition easier for all involved, especially Primo.

I should add that I do remove all tags and launder Primo's future wardrobes too.  I do this to remove the temptation that may occur, when looking at a large amount of brand new clothing, to sell the clothing for money for other things.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back to life, back to reality...

We spent an absolutely lovely two weeks on vacation last month.  Primo's parents graciously signed the papers allowing us to take him out of state.

Our vacation was just a wee bit less relaxing with Primo along, but he LOVED it.  He thrives on new experiences and there was so much 'new' to be had during our travels, we hit the ocean and the mountains and lakes!

I was willing to trade a little of my own relaxation so that Primo did not have to spend two weeks with strangers in respite care.

Time away was just what our family needed during this summer, which I have to say, feels like the busiest summer I have ever experience since having children.

The surprise for me was the realization of how sweet two weeks away from "the system" would feel.  In fact I didn't even appreciate the lower stress levels until I took Primo for his first post vacation visit.

At that visit I was slammed with all the drama and uncertainty of foster care.  I am not sure how to stay out of the vicious cycle of gossip and third hand news that characterizes this case?  These things along with having no contact with Primo's DH$ worker leads me to often feel anxious and exhausted after visits.

What do YOU do to relieve the stress of the uncertainty of your children's future and visit fall out?