Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Infirmary

I realized this week after days of sickness exhibiting itself in several of the children including half of the parent ratio, that I'm running an infirmary along with a home. All I can say is that it's going to be costly for each child not to mention the rate for a sick husband. I hope they realize this. You may be wondering just how much this facility is charging. That particular amount will be determined upon how much whining, irritableness and clean-up this infirmary nurse has to put up with or clean up.

I just can't imagine being a nurse for real and having to clean up all this foreign matter. It's bad enough when it's your own but somebody totally unrelated....ewe! I suppose it's a gift of mercy which I apparently am lacking in because I lose what little I have when there is either throw up or poop involved. You can ask my husband just how merciful I am when he's down and out. The words 'just snap out of it come to mind' or wah, wah, wah is sarcastically floating in the air along with 'get to work'. Oh wait...maybe you shouldn't ask him. I have an image to keep up!

Seriously, try imagining eight people trying to sit on my lap and me underneath the pile. Breathing my own oxygen is a thing of the past. It's a good thing it's available in excess. Maybe I should plant some trees in my living room just so there will be no question. When our house goes up for sale, we can say it's Eco-friendly. You'd think that maybe a couple plants might be better since space is limited but we do have a bunch of monkey's swinging from the ceiling fan because well....it's winter. I figure the trees might help in more ways than one.

Then I had another thought to help my oxygen intake. I'll hang a sign around my neck and yes, I need to hang it around my neck because wherever I am, they are.

Visiting Hours:

2-3 p.m.
You may ask questions, hug, tap, sit on my lap,
talk to, be needed, seek kissing for boo-boos,
ask for a drink, and just plain ol' breathe my oxygen
only during this time.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sharlene

Today was Sharlene's birthday. She is now the big number four.

Grandpa gave her some money to spend so I took her to Target and she picked out a toy that she really wanted. We then got Burger King for lunch which she slowly ate and savored. You would have thought she was eating at Andiamo's. I double checked her cheeseburger just to make sure that it really wasn't a juciy ribeye and found that it was indeed still a cheeseburger. At least she appreciated it.

Later we had chocolate cake with pink frosting and sprinkles just as she wanted.

Happy Birthday, Sharlene!

Saturday, January 19, 2008




We got a call from the social worker this week. It was a rather strange conversation. There was suppose to have been a court hearing, the six month re-evaluation. According to the social worker, the judge was furious because the visitation rights for the father have not been exercised so he insisted that they begin immediately and the hearing was then rescheduled. Apparently, there was a mix-up in the paperwork regarding him and this is the result of that.

The social worker said that potentially we could end up driving to two different visitations per week. She is going to try to schedule them in one place with them back to back but she wasn't sure that was going to work since one parent lives in one city and the other lives in a different one both with different schedules. I feel like a little puppet, running to and fro depending on which string is pulled. I absolutely cringe at the thought of going through this week after week. It takes a good three to four days for them to settle down after the visit and then you have about two good days with them till it starts all over again. Barbara has just now come out of her funk from the last visit with her Mom which was almost a month ago.

The social worker told me that it's only going to get worse when we get them both into counseling and while they have visitation with both parents, it's going to be a nightmare. So she asked me if we were both willing to continue on with our long-term plan. I told her I didn't know. I feel like a whipped dog. We've gone through so much. Much more than I ever had imagined and to even contemplate what it's going to be like over the next few months is incomprehensible. But at the same time, I look into their little eyes and I know that God has a plan and a purpose for them.

Since I told the social worker I wasn't sure about the long-term, her conversation immediately did a 180. She became rather hopeful that the case could be moved back up to her county and she gave me the list of positives that would come out of it, if we were to give them up and it is a very strong possibility that they are going back to their parents after all this. Was she trying to convince me that they needed to be removed? Perhaps. I do not know what was going on there behind that conversation. She's been piece mealing me information bit by bit over the past four months and I feel like there are gaping holes in what information I do have. We feel like we are getting ramrodded at this point.

Even so, we have a decision that needs to be made fairly quickly. Do we keep them or do we let them go.

The cons are this: I've been bit, spit on, slapped, screamed at, glared at, ignored and had every one of my parent/human being buttons pushed beyond what they ever have before. The fits, the anger, the emotional episodes like self-mutilation, hurting themselves for attention, being able to turn on and shut off emotions on a whim and so much more are tough to deal with. The responses of my own children...Brad feeling like he can't live in his own house or eat at his own table, Kara...sucking her thumb and becoming a screaming toddler when Barbara comes near one of us (some of that is jealousy but some of it comes from being picked on too). Kara is too young to try to explain what is going on and why and try to reason it in her head. The others are trying very hard to understand and be forgiving. And...then to imagine them getting worse and how that is going to affect our own children is also something to consider. The running to all their appointments will keep me busy every day of the week on top of my children's appointments. I've had several professionals tell me that this is a long tough road ahead and it may or may not help. The RAD is pretty nasty stuff and its very unstable. We've not had very much support from our social worker or the other professionals we've been referred to.

The pros are this: We are doing well handling seven kids. The added people which were my original concerns ended up being a non issue. We've flowed into a routine for meals and table rotation, baths, playtime, school, etc without too much trouble. We've seen some improvement in Sharlene's behavior. She's really trying to learn. She can even look us in the eye now instead of trying to detract our attention to something else. Her speech has gotten better and she's settled down so much. I even got the girls to stop the synchronized peeing (don't laugh....it was insane!). With some added help, I know Sharlene will do well even with her FAS. Barbara will too but it's going to be many years of counseling and individualized attention to work with her emotional issues. We've had the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You should hear Sharlene pray....she kind of sounds like the Swedish chef from the Muppets. She prays for her koolaid and she tells God she's going to behave. I'm attached. Even though, they aren't necessarily....I am and Bob is.

It is so hard letting go. It is a heart wrenching, agonizing, hole-inducing decision. I've been praying so hard and still am unsure. I don't want to be another person giving up on them especially Sharlene since she's the older one and more aware of what's going on. In some ways I feel like I have failed. I've yelled...alot and let them control my emotions, I've been in complete darkness dealing with Barbara simply because I do not know how to deal with her problems. They are foreign to me. I've been searching for some information from a Christian perspective and haven't found much. I know what the world says about all this. We don't want the easy way out and we don't want to be out of the will of God. Is this one of those times when God says whatever road we take is ok or does He have a specific one in mind? ....and then I'm taken back to my kids. They are my first priority. We asked them how they felt. They all agreed that they wanted the girls to be happy here but that it would be great relief if they lived somewhere else. Like I said....it's been tough on all of us...not just the parents.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Night Roamer Strikes Again....

We have our very own superhero (villain?). He only strikes during the night when you are sound asleep. When all is dark and everyone is next to unconscious, that is when it happens. He grabs my face to see if I'm listening to him and often in the distance I can hear him playing with the matchbox cars or whatever toy strikes his fancy.....either that or it's all a bad dream. Children not sleeping through the night can be nightmarish.

Sometimes, he decides he 'needs' to watch his show which has been difficult in the past due to the Noggin channel singing it's goodbye song every night at 6:00 p.m. But we recently got a wonderful surprise for our little superhero....the Noggin channel is now on 24 hours a day, giving us the option to finally watch Diego or the Backyardigans in the dark of night.

On this particular night, the night roamer decided to explore what was on my dresser. He came across quite a find. One that he knows is simply off limits. As his curious little fingers came across this particular item, he threw caution to the wind, grabbed them and ran back to his own room to examine this special treasure without getting caught red-handed.

The morning sun peeked through my blinds letting me know it was time to rise and shine. Upon putting my feet on the floor and shuffling over to my dresser to get my glasses that I really need in order to see, I found them missing. I thought to myself in a sing-songy kind of way, oh Mr. night roamer, you have struck again and your opponent is going to send you to the moon. But then I thought, I'd better hold my irritation in because if he knows I'm upset, he'll never tell me where they are.

After sending out the search party and nothing was coming back that resembled my glasses, I asked him just where he might have put them. He kept showing me lego after lego to which he claimed he put my glasses right by and they were there just a minute ago. I think one calls this a wild goose chase.

Finally, after everyone had pretty much given up and I had pulled my awful, out-of-date glasses that I had from many years ago, I sat on his bedroom floor next to his car garage. When I sat down, I accidentally tipped it over. Out came my glasses. I was so very relieved! Relieved...that I didn't have to choke the boy (oh, I mean Mr. night roamer), relieved....that I didn't have to go out in public with those awful glasses from the past that scream that I look like a dork, relieved....that I didn't have to come up with the money to get a new pair.

Beware of Mr. Night Roamer....who knows what his curious little fingers will find next.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Since our last visitation coupled with all the family doings surrounding the holidays and now the funeral, we've had a very tough few weeks with the kids. I hate that I always sound like I'm whining but a friend told me...hey, it's your journal...whine if you want to. So I guess I got permission. Seriously though, I'm struggling with this foster parenting adventure in such a big way.

The last visitation resulted in some very good things for Sharlene but set us back drastically with Barbara. I don't know if it had to do with the fact that her mother was here for fours hours at one time or if it was a grim reminder of how things are here with rules and how they are with her mother. I wish I could understand what is going on in that little head of hers.

The Good:

Sharlene learned how to jump in a puddle this month. Her speech has improved and she's learning about pleases and thank you's. She's even learning about sharing. A symptom of the RAD is extreme opposites. One can be so clingy to everyone she comes into contact with and the other is to have one that is completely detached. We have one of both. However, we've noticed lately that instead of hanging on people right away, Sharlene has clung to my leg. Now don't get me wrong, after a little bit, she becomes very clingy again especially with a little attention paid to her. But I consider that first initial hesitation an improvement. When Sharlene first came to us, she couldn't look us in the eye, especially if she was in trouble. Now, she looks at us when we talk to her. Sharlene was like a wild animal when she came to us, running from one thing to another and couldn't even sit still to watch a TV show. Now, she can sit and play without jumping up every two seconds to run to something else. She sits and watches TV and even can sit through her meal now. She can even color a picture and follow through to finish it.

The Bad:

Barbara has gone back into her zombie mode. She will stand in one spot for an hour at a time only staring out into the world beyond her. When I tell her to get a toy to play with, she will just stare into the toy cubes forever until I tell her to pick one up and sit down. If one of the kids tells on her for shoving Sharlene or Kara or whatever the case may be, she retaliates by glaring at them or smacking their hand away from her if they try to play with her, she even bites them. Everytime Brad comes into the room, walks by her, sits at the table to have his dinner with them, she cries and carries on to the point, Brad thinks he can't be in the same room with her. I don't believe this is from a past trauma because she will do it to me or Grace after we've offended her. I would never have believed that a almost three year old could hold a grudge for days until now. She was doing this stuff when she first came here but ever since mother's visit, she's kicked it up a few notches.

Barbara doesn't know how to be her own person. All she does is imitate Sharlene but at the same time, they are like opposite magnets. It will just about kill them if they should have to play together. On the otherhand, if one of my children enters the scene and all three of them are together, then they can play. It's a weird scenario.

The Ugly:

Trying to find the balance between the mother bear in me to protect my biological children from the hurtful things happening to them from the two little cousins who have had to deal with so much in their short little lives. It's an ugly situation to which there is no immediate cure. I hate the fact that I went to the community mental health to get some help and was met with hopelessness. I don't believe for one minute there is no hope but I do wonder if there is enough of my mental capacity to take this on. I'm torn in two. For some, it's a simple answer. I've been told over and over again that I just need to love them through this and in time, it will be ok. But what do I do to not lose my mind, turn into a screaming banshee as my oldest son puts it and to help this situation to not cause trauma to my own children. I hate watching Kara suck her thumb all day long because she is having a hard time with all the upheaval this causes. To me, it's not a simple answer. It's hard, complicated and full of emotion. It's living life in the mucky-muck. It's crying out to God for help because I am so very weak and He is my light in this darkness.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Trying to explain death to children is so very difficult. I'm pretty sure Brad and Grace understand it as they are a bit older. We told Aaron who is four. I'm not sure about him. His response was oh, ok. I thought to myself, Hmmm...I wonder what's going on behind that statement. Later that day, I found out.

Ryan in particular was upset about Grandpa's death. He kept saying that he was so upset because he never got to say goodbye and now it was just too late. He did get to go to the hospital but I guess he wanted to be there when it actually happened and wave goodbye. At least, that's what I got from our conversation. Bob explained to him that he was sure Grandpa was very happy with Ryan's hello and he wouldn't have wanted to say goodbye. That seemed to settle him down.

Since Ryan wanted to say goodbye so badly, I tried to get the kids to write/draw a goodbye picture to Grandpa. Aaron is my perfectionist. If he can't do it right according to the rules of Aaron, it's just not going to happen and it upsets him immensely. The picture didn't go so well no matter how much he tried. Perhaps he thinks that the minute his crayon or marker hits the paper, it should look like something that Van Gogh or Monet created. I don't know...it's just a guess.

So I sat him down and had him explain what he was trying to write. I'm not sure how one would draw this on paper so I'm glad he wanted to explain instead. He said that when Grandpa died his heart went down, down, down and out moving his finger down from his heart to show me that it went out his feet. But then he got a big grin on his face and started jumping up and down. He said when his heart starts to 'beep' again then he'll come back to life. I gather from this we are just not getting it and since my father in law is being cremated, I'm sure he won't get where Grandpa is either. Some day....the dawning will come.

Then Ryan drew his picture. Him, with his big round head and bulging eyeballs with Grandpa looking strangely identical, holding hands. Ryan then put a Hallmark gold crown sticker on his own head. I asked him also to explain his picture. He said that they were in heaven. I had to hold my 'aaaccckk' in and remember to breathe since it is so not his time (right, God?!!) but allow him to calmly continue as I practiced my breathing. He said he was going to see his Grandpa to tell him goodbye. Then he was jumping up and down the rest of the day all excited like yelling, I can't wait...I can't wait. I'm thinking to myself, slow down there little fella. I'm glad you are excited about going to heaven but NOT before I do. I calmly told him to hang on to that excitement because Grandpa would love to see him but not for awhile yet. I can only assume what the crown on his head was for. Perhaps because Ryan means "little king" which by the way, fits him perfectly. The other assumption I have is that we were talking about God giving us jewels for our crowns to lay before the King, maybe it came from that conversation. Why Grandpa didn't get one...who knows. I just got a shrug from Ryan and off he went to play...probably nagging God about whether it was time yet or not.

I have many pictures to give Grandpa. They thought we were going to see him personally and give them to him but I explained that he wouldn't be there to receive them. You should have seen the slumped over shoulders that were going on in this house. I quickly told them before I had a mutiny on my hands, that maybe we could give them to Grandma Loretta and maybe that would make her not feel so sad. They liked that idea and I was wiping the sweat off my brow....whew!! This explain' stuff is hard work.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


It occurred to me as I was sitting in my car today while waiting for my mother to come out of her doctor's appointment, that it was raining and all around yucky kind of day (on the bright side...it was almost 60 degrees in January which I'll take without complaint). Have you ever noticed that it always seems to be raining after a loved one has passed on. Maybe it's just coincidence but that is what it really seems like to me. As the rain was pouring down, I thought how appropriate it was as it is a solemn, reflective time for our family.

Death really gets one thinking. I think about all the ones left behind and what impact this has on them. I think about how losing one close to you changes everything. How you spend the holidays, how you look at your caller ID and it still has his name there, things that irritated you like being called Shiela when your name clearly was not that but now you wish you could hear it again, the way that person laughed....it still rings in the air. I think about my own death. Would I leave a big hole as my own father's death has. What kind of legacy am I leaving? What kind of impact am I having on those around me? What am I leaving behind that will be worth something and I'm not talking about money.

It's been fourteen years since I lost my Dad and seventeen years since I lost my Grandma. Their deaths have left a gaping chasm in my life that nobody can fill. Their lives left such an imprint on my life which I carry with me. I am so thankful that they loved God with all of their hearts and that one day I'll see them again. It's never easy to lose another loved one. It brings back, like a rush of flooding waters threatening to consume everything in it's path, many of the emotions I've felt from those I've lost before. Death is so very much part of this life. I look forward to the day when God wipes our tears and death is no more. For now....I've got a lot of livin' and lovin' to get in. Here's my 'Wish' for you.....I couldn't have said or sung it any better.

Monday, January 07, 2008


UPDATE: He just passed away moments ago. Please keep our family in your prayers.

1/7/2008 UPDATE: They've taken my father in law off most everything including the heart and oxygen monitors except for a drug that is suppose to kick start his kidneys and lasix. They've moved him to a different room. He's somewhere between the Cardiac ICU and Hospice. If his kidney's decide to work, they will consider him for blood filtration but if they don't....it continues to not look good.

My Father in law was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve with a mild heart attack. The doctors decided that he needed surgery but an infection surfaced in his leg where he had fallen a couple weeks earlier. Before they could do the surgery, the infection needed to be gone. So antibiotics were prescribed.

Saturday we got a call from my sister in law telling us that he had another issue with his heart while trying to help the nurse get him back in bed. His oxygen levels were low and he wasn't feeling well. That evening, we got another call from his other sister telling us that he was throwing up blood. Then around midnight or so, we received a call from the doctor letting us know that he didn't think Bob's dad would make it through the night.

Most of the family went to the hospital to be with him. My sister in law and her family flew in from out of state. They've all been around him. He doesn't know what the fuss is all about. He says he's not going anywhere. Perhaps that is why he is still hanging on.

He's still here with us but his chances are slim to none. The doctor now thinks the surgery won't help him. His system is just too weak and his heart is too worn out. Bob's trying to spend as much time as he can with him but I worry about him. He hasn't slept much and I haven't been able to be with him since these beautiful children need a parent at home. My heart is there. Bob is trying to be there for everyone....trying to keep hope alive.

This is bringing up many memories from my own father's death. He had a rare heart disease and fought it for 18 months. It's horrible to watch someone close to you fade away. Even though, I know he was a believer.....it's still hard to let go. He's been gone for 14 years but I still think of him so very often. I wonder what kind of relationship he'd have with my kids. I wonder if he'd still be involved with the Wednesday night program at church. I wonder if he'd still get so excited about the seed catalog coming in the Spring. Would he still make his list of seeds that he wanted to plant by May? Would you still be able to see sawdust floating in the air of his home? Would he still be making those silly pinewood derby cars? Would he still be wearing that worn out old sweatshirt? I wonder...