Wednesday, December 21, 2016

same old, same new

3 big happenings before the Christmas holiday.

1. I'm leaving my job.

I've worked long and hard to get where I am. And now I've been poached because of my skills. People keep stopping by and saying they'll miss me. I feel the same. When you spend 40 hours a week with folks for eight years you tend to get attached. I love this place to a large degree. But I need more growth in my professional skills and bank account. This was my first real job as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. I was just a wee bebe when I came here. It's the house where I grew up in. And even more so, that makes it time to leave...

2. We've a new foster daughter that came 2 weeks ago and she's leaving tomorrow. She was our 10th bonus kid. That's a lot of kids floating away when I think about it.

She  is our 10th bonus kid. I fell in love with her immediately because she is exactly the kind of kid we want to adopt. 10 years old, full of life, ready to bond and she folded right in. If you could see my heart it would look like this right now.

Geez, what a mess. I know this will be super duper hard but I'll survive. I'll heal up but right now, so much sad. I know this  isn't about me. I know she has family that'll be welcoming and safe. But wow, what a mess!

3. MY GYM. I'm breaking up with crossfit.

I got a personal trainer. Breaking up with a gym and it's people that you've been with for four years is tough. But for this, I know I need to move on.

And so no I press onward.

Merry Christmas Y'all!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What if all is not lost?

Got my hair did at the walmart salon last week. As I was checking in, I noticed the little boy's grandma pushing a stroller. The kind where the car seat snaps into the stroller frame. She didn't see me but I approached her.

The little boy was with us for 3 years for some foster parent love. More respite care because his grandma had custody of him and she is older and well, he was a 4 year old boy. She needed help. And M's mom was in/out of jail for stupid drug stuff.

The little boy is here somewhere, on this blog. I think I called him M. Let me go look.

Ok, found him! He's the fuzzy one below.

L-R (M, Mac, River, Pancake) 

Monday, January 14, 2013:

M's Sunday school teacher sent us the following:

"We were talking about family and how we are all different but all
part of GOD's family. That with GOD we can always talk to him even if
we don't see him. It's not like you have use the telephone.

M went on to say this-- 

'My big family that's all together love me all the
time even when I'm not there. Pancake (my other sister) reads to me,
Mac shares his toys, my other baby River smiles at me. My other dad, Pancake's dad,
plays cars with me, gives me snacks, hugs me and tells me he
misses me. Pancake's mom let's me hug the baby and calls me honey.
My other daddy hugs me when I go to bed and never yells at me....he
hold's my hand too and not too hard.'"


It's been a year since M left to live with this dad in another state. Even though we had him for 3 years, I never really met his mom. So when I approached M's grandma, I was surprised to see her, M's mom. The baby in the stroller was hers. It was like a very bitter sweet, but super chill pseudo family reunion steeped in the weirdest of sadness.

I just needed to get my roots done people. Frick if I'm not 40 years old with almost all gray hair. 2 inches of outgrowth is too much. I can't own the gray yet. Plus, I need highlights so only professionals will do when getting my hair did. And I'm cheap so that is what brought me to the walmart salon on that very day.

They, the mom and grandma, say M is still out of state with his dad. They showed me an updated school photo and he looks great. I wanted to hug M's mom and grandma. It's super hard because they are nice and still in pain like me with this kid being gone. He's with this dad but gone all the same. They say M still asks about all of us. I say we miss him. I say we're still at the same address and the same number. If he comes up this way,  then we can see him at any time. All of this was said. We said our goodbyes. Then they went about their Wal-Mart shopping.  

So there I was, getting prepped for highlights on a random Thursday morning, trying not to cry. Sighing super heavy and trying to be all casual because the hairstylist doesn't need a client having a meltdown in the stupid chair. Girlfriend had three other clients after me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A few thoughts on Stranger Things

Shows that have a child in danger as the major plot conflict bug me. I am tired and vulnerable. Kids are my alpha omega and so it's easy to over feel about any kids, even tv kids.

It's not a subtle show. The creators obviously have much love for Stephen King novels and played many rounds of D&D. They also seem like amateurs with their writing and production. It's like they have a nostalgia check list to write about. Banana seat bike, 80s music, corduroy backpack, walkie talkie (check! check! check!).  Don't forget to show the mix tape that the boy's brother made. (Super check!)

This betrays the subject matter which again, is about a boy whose missing. Gone. JUST GONE. There is a girl too. Resplendent with Carrie like abilities. The mine is deep but not explored sufficiently. There is an absolute devastation with missing children. The boy's mother, played by Wynonna Ryder, remains upright and functional. Soon she learns to talk to him through Christmas lights. It's a surface and inconsistent performance at best.

I blame the writing that relentlessly ticks off that list versus creating structure for the world to come alive. The creators underestimate the audience and tell too much. I also blame the actress. I don't think Ryder runs that deep. Plus, she's not a mom. What vault does she have to store complex emotions?

There is a cop in the show too. It's the same problem though. The creators are relentless with pulling up that list and using a cheap plot device (the cop had a daughter that died) to make us feel something for him. It's not a terribly complex character but the actor does what he can do.

I can say the kids are the best part of the show. I love the girl. That was the only scene were I loved Ryder. When she's in the pool and Ryder is comforting her like an actual mom. That read right. I honestly felt unsure if I could do that. Not comfort the girl but send her searching for one of my kids knowing it would be harmful to her. This bothered me.

The overriding issue that since all of this has been done before, how to make this series without repeating the master's material? It can be done. Walking Dead is a zombie show. Millions have been before. Game of Thrones has elements explored before as well. But everything can be done in a new way.

The key is to make everything smaller. Tighten up the place and characters. Use only what is needed and let go of wanting to show. Leave loose ends and inconsistencies. But we shall see, here's hoping the writers stop with the relentless checklist and get back to framing a world and characters that are real.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sperm donors, foster to adopt and the spaces in between

So here we are, in the spaces in between. No bonus kids at this point. Just me, Mr. Hall and our bio three. We are ready for more and waiting.

It's a weird space.

My friend is getting sperm injections. She's single, over 35 and done with waiting for a dude. By all accounts, this method of growing one's family involves a lot of doctor visits and people touching your hoo-ha. It also seems super expensive.  She has enough capital to cover three tries. The first one didn't work.

I didn't think it was going to work. It's almost like forcing a pregnancy with these injections. The magic is sucked right out of it, it seems. I have very fond memories of regular sperm injections from a loving husband and even then it took forever.

Now she waits to start another cycle and more injections are involved. Hormone injections. She had asked if I would help her and I said no. It was hard saying no. Super dupa hard.  But for so many reasons I said no.

I'm not skilled with injections--I haven't been a real nurse like that in over 10 years.
I don't want to screw it up.
If things go wrong, I don't want her blaming me.
She's sensitive to needles and has had reactions (nausea, passing out) before and I don't want to be there if that happens
Hormones make women crazy, these hormones anyway. I don't want to be part of that crazy.
The rest of the crazy I'm ok with.

But maybe I'm not. I harbor judgment. It's ugly and I have no right. But I like to hear kids having two parents. She is purposefully creating a life without a Dad there. And it's ugly how I feel because I know what it is to long to be a mom. The crazy of wanting more kids is strong in me. 

I know..I know.. go ahead and judge me. I'm not that good of friend for her right now.  

I've made my peace with her leaning on me. My heart will break for her if it doesn't go as planned.  I'm here for her in many different ways. Others are all gaga over her process. I'll let them do the injections.

but.. yes.. this is  ugly...

I think it triggers my own pain. Long time readers know the miscarriages I've been through. Getting pregnant with my third child was an ordeal. I've healed quite a bit but it'll always be there, the pain. Like a river that ebbs and flows. Just like all the women that have miscarried.

My friend does have a plan b.. if the sperm injections don't work... its to foster to adopt.

Which is where we are now. Starting our journey anew as they say. We are sufficiently recovered from our past foster hood excursions. Mr. Hall wrote the social worker and gave conditions on what we would like to do next. On what we are looking for. Conditions on age and such. Conditions! So up front that man. But, you get what you ask for I guess. NO need to beat around the bush. We don't want to be baby sitters and don't want to travel super long distances. We have space for one more at this point.

So here we are, the spaces in between... 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It starts with an idea

What is there to say that soon Mr. Hall will make contact with the social worker to express our interested of adopting from foster care. He's already said it to another social worker.

There is sort of a predictable process to getting pregnant. You stop birth control, start tracking ovulation and Mr. Hall becomes quite happy with the increase love. Adopting for the foster care is completely unknown.

But Mr. Hall is regimented. Step by step for him. We first met with an adoption foster care social worker back in 2011 and decided to just do respite and/or foster. Five years later he's closer to adoption. It's tough because I want to adopt and always have. He does too but timing and consideration of so many other factors go into this.

We needed our genius son better. Which he is. We need our daughter better. Which she is. We needed to heal from the almost 3 years of our bonus kids. Which we have. We needed a vacation. Which we took.

We need me better. My workload capacity and ability to calm needed to be increased. Which they are. Mr. Hall just needs more massages and that's getting better too.

So, are we ready yet?

I don't know. It's scary and crazy and wonderful.

When we got pregnant the first go round it was magical. It all started with an idea. We wanted to have a baby. And now, thank the LORD, we have three!

And now we have this idea. It's always been there but now it's being said out loud. To social workers. To family. To friends.

We want to adopt from foster care.

It's almost too much for the human spirit to bear doing this.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

2 second family hugs are the best

Wake up at 6.30 am. Tired. Didn't wake up in time for crossfit. It'll be a squeeze, but I'll go tonight.

Rustle the middle son Mac. My genius son. Put a kitchen timer next to his head. 10 min to get up or consequence. This keeps me from badgering him. We would use an alarm clock, but even the blaring ones don't rouse him. He slept on living room floor. It works better than his bed he says.  At least this week.

Attempt coffee. Get half of it down. Make oatmeal. Also half. Can't find clean pants so I put on a dress.

Skittle around my daughter Pancake,  whose standing near the stove eating a bagel with peanut butter. She doesn't talk. I go for a side hug, she tenses. At 13, she's not interested in hugs. I don't care. I side hug. We confirm I'm picking her up from volley ball. She makes a joke and I'm so happy. She stopped joking a few months ago and it was tough. But today, a joke. Praise HIS NAME!! With two bites left she puts her dishes in the sink.

My 3 year old son River bellows from upstairs. OPPPPEEEENNN IIITTT!! It being a  wee baby gate for his room. He rattles it with his foot, clutching matchbox cars and plastic Easter eggs. He doesn't want to put them down and open the gate. He has to pee. Desperation sets in. The volume rises.... OOOPPPEEEEN IIITTT!! I go open it. Give him a squeeze and he's off to potty. Still clutching the cars and eggs.

The timer goes off. My genius son is snoring hard. I get a squirt bottle and mist him. Loud snarls spiral up from the nest of blankets. Then he curls up like a caterpillar, trying to go back to sleep. I turn the nozzle from mist to stream. Three squeezes to the forehead and he's up. He stomps downstairs to get dressed. He has 9 min to get to the bus. He's too late for breakfast.

Then there is Ruth. Our wee puppy dog. Dogs are the frickin best!!

My daughter leaves like a ninja. But I see her. I run to the door, flip it open and holler 'BYE SWEETIE...LOVE YOU....HAVE FUN AT SCHOOL.' She barely turns her head but a slight smirk appears.  She heard me.

I go and check on my genius son. He's laying on the bathroom floor. Fake sleeping. I tell him get up or no electronics for a week. I can see his light now. The coma has lifted. The bus carries him to school. 

River announces there is no need for pants today. Underwear day he declares. I leave him with a bowl full of raisin bran and my husband who will get him dressed. Like putting pants on a bucking kangaroo. I head out. I forgot to brush my teeth and couldn't find a hair brush. Pancake hoards and hides them. I brush both when I get to work.

There are a number of tough cases at work. I prescribe mental health medications. I see dementia cases where I can't really help. I feel sad for and with them. I see relentless drug seekers who make me angry. I'm not a vending machine. You don't want to get better, you just want a fix. That's not going to happen in my office. I don't say these things. I say, No. And. We are done,  get out of my office or I'll call security. Because now I'm mad and scared. Addicts can be dangerous. They leave. I'll have to answer to the patient advocate for that.

I see patients who are doing phenomenal. I count the blessings. Coworker lunch goes well. Lots of laughs and support. More patients then done.

Then the kid pick up mambo begins. I start with my daughter from volleyball. She's hunched over, walking forcefully to the car. I can tell she's crying and trying to hide it. She's introverted and sports requires a lot of effort socially. She's doing it though. I smile and give her my phone so she can dive into tumblr and pinterest.

Then our new foster girl Andrea. Her pick up is at an after school program across town. My name is not on the list for approved picker upper people. They only have Mr. Hall's name. Mr. Hall is across town picking up Mac. It's 5.30 pm and there is no way to contact a social worker to address this. The after school teacher says she'll call the birth mom. I sit down with Andrea whose all smiles and happy. She's truly a beautiful girl. I'm humbled and happy. We color and wait. I've got 15 min to pick up River but I'm at peace. There is no rushing this.

Mom calls back and gives the O.K.

We pick up River who leaps into Pancakes arms. We all do a quick group hug. Pancake doesn't fight it, at least at first.

2 second family hugs are the best.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Love and Logic and my genius son....stay tuned.....

There has been some back sliding with my genius son and his behaviors at school. He's a defiant kid at times. He doesn't like the rule of no running in the hall,  so he'll run in the hall. Or argue with the teacher. Or make noises when others are presenting their projects. Or go outside for recess when he's on detention and not returning after the bell rings. This is  no good.

We had been using two behavior techniques. One being 1-2-3 magic parenting. The other being "your defiant child". They worked well enough. It's a lot of heavy lifting though. Lifting my very, very VERY strong willed child can do himself. Which is were the love and logic comes in.

Love and Logic  was a six part class Mr. Hall  went to.  It's well known in foster care circles because you want to love on the kids. Logically. It's not about punishment because you don't want to be punishing with traumatized kids (which foster kids are).

My son has a lot of behaviors that mirror the foster kids. Naughty behaviors. Only my son is not a traumatized kid. I nursed that kid for 8 months. He was a perfect love and still is. He's  just a genius who wants to be in charge. Only he's EIGHT with college level smarts. Emotional wise he's about 6. All whirling in a tornado of ADHD.
And I'm tired. We're tired. We're tired of using behavior techniques that require a lot of us pushing him. Mac can start taking over some of this. It's time to shift the responsibility to him.

But, my husband went to the classes and I didn't. He needed the foster care continuing ed. I'm all caught up. So I'm basically flying blind with this. Trusting my husband as he guides us through is a new process. I'm usually the one in charge. I don't know this system.

Basically, love and logic is letting the child experience consequences. Like when I ask Mac to walk the dog and he ignores me, I'm not to argue or badger. Or yell. Shut up. I DON'T YELL.

When he ignores me I'm to say, "We'll take care of this later." And if he argues and says, "I don't want to walk the dog."  I'm to say, all monotone, "I love you too much to argue, we'll take care of this later." And the later consequences includes deep stuff. Like stopping all electronics and throwing them away.

Only the dog doesn't get walked. Mac doesn't do his chore. I walk the dog then. How is this helpful? At least when I badger, cajole and bother...the dog  GETS WALKED.


But whatever.

I trust my husband. He's a logical engineer and he believes in this. I follow him.

Stay tuned....  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What did you do?

Bonus kid(s) is my code work for foster kids.

We had a critical mass of bonus kids the other night. Three of which were there for a second time. They were just gems last go round. This time...not so much.

When bonus kids come there is something called a honeymoon phase. Everyone is pleased and happy. Then the upsettness breaks loose because dude, would you want to be taken away from your mom as a kid? ...No.... So the acting out begins.

I was telling my coworker that the middle bonus kid (9 years old) --was having NONE of the Hall's hospitality this go round. Didn't want to eat, kept sneaking out to the backyard and so on. Then, in the am, he wouldn't get in the car to get to school.  It went like this.

(in the driveway)

Me: "Hey dude--time for school, let's get in the car so I can drop you off."

Bonus kid: (literally turning his back on me--crosses his arms and hunches his shoulders--then giving me a backwards, stink eye glance)---


YA KNOW. I totally think that's something adults should be able to do. Like if my boss wants me to do something I can just turn my back and say no. All plain and obstinate like. Seems perfectly acceptable!!!

So I'm telling this to a coworker who is middle age and now suddenly a step mom to a 9 year old and therefore totally overwhelmed at this new mom stuff. She leans in with rapt attention and says, "What did you do?"

I really thought about it. I mean, at this point, I'm totally over being on time for stuff. Church, school, work... I have too many kids. Mine and bonus. Each kid can explode with behaviors at any time. Or have a potty accident. Or both. I don't care about being late. I don't care if this kid spends six hours not getting in the car.

So starting with that attitude, I told her I didn't fight it. There is no point in engaging with his power struggle. It's as if  there was a  gigantic moose in front of my car. I can't move the moose. 

So I gave him options. I said,

"I can tell your mom one of two things. I can say wow! He did such a good job getting in the car this morning. Or, I can tell her that you gave me attitude."

He got in the car after that.

I talked with Mr. Hall. We are focusing our life on creating carrots for good behaviors. We are finding none of our kids, our or bonus, acts nicely for nicely. Well, sometimes but mostly they need a reason.

So that's what I did. Created a carrot. And if that didn't work I probably would have just sat in the car, surfing my phone while he stood in the driveway. All moose like.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fruit and other animals

This Easter weekend was divine. There were little animals made of fruit on the brunch tables.

I'm very blessed to have such a family.

The kids have struggled lately but my genius son is 75% better on all fronts. I left his conference skipping and singing. I have NEVER left a conference feeling happy before with that kid. It's a miracle. My daughter is showing signs of struggle but we are on it! I know some families that have no issues with their kids. All normal and chugging along. We are a different breed. And that is ok. We'll all work to get better together.

It's a funny thing, all these interventions for the kids. It's caused my husband and I to really take a look at ourselves. A lot of the smart, awkward, anxiety, social difficulties, defiant, working harder not smarter stuff comes from us. Only we barreled through it. It took years to get where we are, to blend in with normal. But, there is so much available to help the kids. We can lessen their struggle. It won't take years. We're healing now.

I can't say enough about kid counselors and teachers. They've helped us understand the complicated and super awesome kids we have. It's hard to say I don't know what's wrong or how to fix but something is not right. And if you say it in front of the right folks it gets better.

Parenting gifted kids is a whole different animal.  But the way I see it, it's all part of their gifts that will explode all over as they grow up. They will grow and accomplish things I can't even imagine right now.

Best Easter weekend ever.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I pray not for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.

This is me. Doing a back squat. I back squatted 195 lbs that day.

Here's a quick story of what's going on my gym world. I'm an avid crossfitter meaning I'm one of the obsessed, hyper facebook posting, over sharing and breathless enthusiasts. Have been for 3 years. It has literally changed my life. Without hoisting heavy weights and killing WODs, I can't function as a foster mom.

My gym changed ownership. The change in ownership revealed some ugly. Ugly with the past ownership and inner workings of where I call sanctuary.  Independently owned gyms are places of love and community. You go to people's weddings, hold their new babies and go out for ladies night. This is not something found at planet fitness.

Basically, we were betrayed. Some worse, some less so. I remain unscathed with no loss of money. Keep records  people. Every payment you make anywhere. KEEP RECORDS. It's a community of love but business is business.

Some are out of luck. Some have significant loss of money. It's more than that though. It's the fact we are a community.  Brothers and sisters don't do this to each other.

So, we commiserate. Some get super angry and swear. Some aren't aware of all the damage. I get messages daily as we begin to wrap our heads around what happened. It's a hurting place at times.

So, when I'm asked, I tell them I'm Christian so my job is to go forward with forgiveness and mercy. I already have. I prayed and forgave. And I've decided to keep chugging alone with hard work and getting after it. This will heal us and make us stronger.

I pray not for a lighter load, but for a stronger back.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Brought Mac to the doctor last week. His counselor suggested trailing a longer acting ADHD med so off to the doctors we went. His pediatrician is a chatty one. All head tilt concern and gentle laughter. Super encouraging and thoughtful with an ironman watch.  Mr. Hall loves him. He loves the banter. The doctor annoys the crap out me.

It's not him. It's just in the way, all this jibber jabber.  I don't need conversation. I don't need nice. I just want in and out. Especially since my 9 year old ADHD is bouncing off the walls and whenever he gets asked a question, he says, "Taco."

It goes like this.

The good doctor: "How are you today Mac? Still in, what is it..3rd grade?"
My son, in a robot voice: "Taco."
TGD: "Now Mac, when an adult asks you a question, you need to look him in the eye and answer. That's respectful."
MS: "Taco."
ME: "MAC. Answer the doctor's questions."
MS: "yyeeaaassss.....3rd graaayyyyaaaade...........Taco."

Then he lays on the floor and starts kicking the exam table legs and I start to lose my mind.

up in here....up in here....

I realize the good doctor is trying to coach him and help me, but he's doing neither. I just need him to write out the script. That's all. In fact, this could have done this over the effing phone. It seems the good doctor is a HUGE fan of the med suggested. I guess he just wanted to chat with me. And THAT'S why Mr. Hall brings the kids to the doctor.


I prescribe them btw. Mental health meds. For adults. I know lots of stuff about them but when it comes to Mac, I leave it up to the professionals. I'm his mom, not his treatment team.

It sure feels like it though. Especially with stuff at his gifted school. I love his school. They're really pro-Mac. They love saying, "Because he's gifted...",  and they're super supportive. But this school is hard work. This is new to him and he struggles. And when he struggles, he goes all taco. So,  I listen to what the teachers need from him and I figure out a way to get it out of him.  I refuse to let him languish because well...he is gifted.  

I've come to realize Mac lives in his own little world. He likes it there. He still likes people though. He interacts at boys scouts and basketball pretty well.  His heart is so huge it's probably bigger than Texas. But around strangers he freezes up and gets all Taco. His gifts and his heart get locked away. I'm ok with that. Maybe that's why the doctor bugged me so much.

Don't try and change the TACO.

The taco will is just fine and all this will morph into one gigantic, awesome young man. The young man will morph into a loving husband and stellar dad. I know this. I know God has plans for him that will surpass anything I can imagine. But for now. Taco.

So let me share rainbows of hope and goodness.

We went to hockey game this weekend. We really went for the wiener dog races. He sat the most of the time and did really well. No kicking the chair in front of him. No getting up and down or begging for food. No taco. He smiled and laughed and fought with his sister all normal like. Then, on Sunday, he popped out of bed wanting to go to church. We are trying a new, smaller church. He had a blast. Loved it! Renewed him with all sorts of energy.

It's going to be ok people.


Go forth and....


Thursday, January 21, 2016

So loud. So wonderful. Good times in the foster life

I was sitting on my kitchen floor last night. Completely overwhelmed and petting my dog. We had a few foster kids for an overnight, respite care it's called. There was six kids total (our three and three bonus kids). They basically ran in a circle and yelled for two and half  hours,  taking breaks to inhale lasagna and milk. I cannot tell how loud that was.

So loud.

It's nice getting to know new kids in this foster life. It was nice meeting their mom. The kids live with their mom which means she worked really hard to get them back from foster care. She was sooooOOOOO nice when she dropped them off. I cannot tell you how wonderful that was.

So wonderful.

The mom was all, "sorry they're not taking their boots off" and "sorry they're picking their noses". Meanwhile, I was slack jawed and so pleased with her friendliness. She gave me 15 min of information on each kid.  All worried mom who is concerned about her kids. And saying thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me out. I can't say enough about that. It was like salve.

Each kid was different. Different ways of thinking and talking. They were sweet and no matter how many kids we take care of,  they make my heart blossom. Each in their own way. I can see they've been through a lot and were super anxious at times.  And there were a lot of them. Even though I was overwhelmed,  I was really at peace.

Not much happened. We fed, showered and movied them. Tucked them in and woke them up for school. Brushed their hair and got them where they needed to go. Mom will pick them up from school and we won't see them again. At least, there are no plans to. Mr. Hall was overwhelmed. He had a crooked smile on his face too.

The kids took a liking to us. They said, "Can we see you again?"

"Maybe" I said.

good times in the foster life 

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