Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring had sprung!

We had a few late winter storms, so I'm getting a late start on planting my garden. However, I did take a break from thesis writing today to pull some weeds out of the berry patch.

I have strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and all my beautiful plants are starting to come out of dormancy. They are BEAUTIFUL! The kids and I are so very excited for the fruit that they will produce...and I'm excited about how much it will help my budget.

I purchased these plants last fall with funds that were donated by generous blog readers, who know how much of a struggle that it has been trying to get through law school. I would like to, once again, thank those that donated. My little family appreciates it more than you will ever know.

I should end this post now, so that I can go back to work writing my thesis. However, I will try to keep you all updated on the garden as growing season progresses.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Heaven help me!

This evening was my first monthly visit from Lil Sis's CW. I'm definitely not thrilled.

It's hard enough for me to have someone in my house. I'm very selective about who comes to my home. I don't let many people in here...but I don't have a choice on this, so I play nice. However, it does mean I'm already anxious when she shows up...then she makes it very clear that she's not doing a thing on this case. I can't even imagine the look that I gave this woman when she actually said "not much happens in this case [because there are no bio visits, etc.], so I haven't been keeping up with what's going on with the case plan."  WTF did she just say to me?!?

Those of you who were with me the last time I did the foster thing know that I don't handle it well when people in this system don't do their job. I don't take excuses from adults who don't seem to care that it's the children that suffer from their laziness.

This CW seems like a nice woman. However, she doesn't know what's going on in this case...and actually told me that she's not concerned about it. She doesn't know when the next court date is. She didn't know how long this child has been in care. Lil Sis was in care for a few months before the CW bothered to read the background on the family. She also didn't notify ICW because she didn't know that Lil Sis was Native until I called asking about her. I was appalled by this at the time, but NOW I know that Lil Sis was placed on the same case file as Beautiful used to be on (because of the original referral, at birth, apparently). SO, she didn't even have to go looking for this info. All she had to do was read the computer file...but she didn't.

The CW did tell me that the case may be transferred to another worker. I'm hoping that, if that happens, it brings about an improvement.

Y'all better pray for me or send some good Karma my way or SOMETHING...cuz I'm gonna need all the help I can get to make it through another case with OKDHS.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Break Update...

For those asking how Operation Divide & Conquer went, the short answer is:

TERRIBLE!

The longer answer: It was the Hindenberg & Chernobyl combined.

The older kids are having a great time at my parents. Their dad has even been going by to see them, which is a HUGE improvement.

The scene at MY house, however, has been much different. The help that I was promised was in the form of the baby's dad & his friend. What I got was my privacy completely invaded, a lot of stress & anxiety, MORE work than normal, and a home that now resembles a frat house. I'm keeping this post short because my thoughts aren't fit to publish. I got less school work done than I normally do, but I did get the wonderful experience of elevated blood pressure. Lucky me!

In any event, the guys left this morning. I spent today trying to put this disaster of a house back together. It's about halfway done. I'll spend the rest of the weekend trying to get it all back in order & playing catch-up on my homework. On the up side, my Bigs come home to me tomorrow!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Divide & Conquer

Next week is Spring Break, the end of which not only means a return to classes, but also an HUGE deadline--I have to submit my Master's thesis to my Committee Chair. I have the bulk of the research done but, as anyone that has ever had to write & defend a thesis knows, it's a lot of writing...and I haven't began that part of the process yet. So, I've called in reinforcements...

My older three kids are at my parents' for the break. I have Lil Sis & the baby with me. However, the baby's dad & a friend are helping me to keep the kids occupied through this week so that I can get my work done. Hopefully this plan pans out & I get everything done, including a moderate amount of sleep...

Less than two months left until graduation...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flying solo...

Normally I manage to juggle this whole work/school/kids thing pretty well, without giving much thought to the fact that I don't have backup that's available to help me on short notice. Friday was not one of those days!

I had to leave work in the middle of a client consultation because the day care was blowing up my phone. Both children that I have there were sick. While I was on my way to pick them up, I got a call from the elementary school to discuss some "concerns" that they have about the son that I have in their school.

Deep breath & push on...

So, my weekend plans of thesis writing turned into nursing sick kids (along with the added laundry & carpet shampooing that is inevitable with that) and steam cleaning the house.

Overall, though, things are going well. Lil Sis is settling into the routine & learning the rules. We are still struggling with her lying anytime she thinks she may get into trouble and with her impulse to hit whenever there is a conflict. She is also occasionally having nightmares & fighting in her sleep. I am working on finding a counselor to work with her to help her learn to deal with these issues.

The other kids have accepted her into the family really well. I shutter to think how devastated they would be if she had to leave us. With foster care, there are no guarantees, though. So, we'll just have to jump off that bridge if we get there.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over...

As anyone that has transitioned a hurting child into their home knows, there is normally a honeymood period, followed by acting out and various difficult behavior. I knew to expect this, so today's event weren't terribly surprising.

After all morning in court about an hour from home, I had gotten back to town and was on my way to the local courthouse to pick up some signed orders, when I received a text message saying that Lil Sis had just choked one of the other girls at the daycare. Having never dealt with such behaviors, the daycare provider was at a loss about what to do. So, I told her I would come get her so that I could try to deal with the issue.
Apparently, Lil Sis did not want to play the game that the other girl was trying to get her to play. The other girl doesn't take "no" very well. When she insisted that Lil Sis play her way, Lil Sis lashed out & choked her.

Spending 5 years in a home with rampant domestic violence, it shouldn't be surprising that she was completely bewildered as to why I would tell her that this was not an acceptable way to behave. Naturally, this had led to multiple conversations, between Lil Sis & I, over the course of the evening about how this is inappropriate behavior and how we should "use our words", etc.

It also led to some interesting insight into some of her manipulative behaviors. She started what I refer to "howling". Everyone has seen it in some form. It's that loud sobbing that children do when they are wanting attention, sympathy, or to just get there way, but when there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. I know that my theory on this is unpopular with some people, who often accuse me of being cold. However, I believe that, when children are able to express themselves in words, adult tolerance for tantrums should diminish respectively. This is especially true when a child can turn it on & off at will.

Now, I will clarify that I believe a child has a right to feel whatever they feel. If they are sad or upset, they are free to cry. But tears are quiet. Loud howling, on the other hand, is far beyond acceptable behavior, especially for a 5 year old. I let her know firmly that the fit will not work to get her what she wants in my house (the previous foster family confessed that it often worked in their home). Her response was to attempt to make herself vomit. I told her very calmly that, if she did make herself throw up, that she would be expected to clean it up. The fit stopped immediately & she looked at me shocked. Apparently, most people cave on that one, but this was not a hill I was going to die on, because it would have set the tone of behavior for the future.

I was able to get a list of counselors that work with children. I can't wait in the CW to get around to helping me get her into counseling. At the rate she has been doing anything else, we would be waiting for years. After all, this child has been in care for 6 months & doesn't even have any of her important documents. NO birth certificate, social security card, medical card, etc. These things are not difficult to get and, IMO, for a CW to allow a child to be in care this long without so much as requesting them is inexcusable. In any event, I have ordered the birth certificate & medical card. Once the birth certificate comes in, I can get her a social security card & get her tribal enrollment taken care of.

Honestly, this is part of why I swore I'd never do foster care again. I get very tired of doing their jobs for them. It's not that I mind doing things for the kids that need to be done. It's that I believe the neglect on the part of the CWs to do these things reflects the attitude that these kids are merely numbers, rather than human beings that should be a priority. But...that's another vent, for another post...