Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vacation is good!

I'm having a blast!!!

This sure beats a year ago when I spent entirely too much of my time totally freaked out about the investigation from Hell!!

I've been praying hard that a miracle will be worked on September 9. I am storming the heavens with my very specific request. I know that these children do not have to languish in Care any more. I'm quite sure something could happen despite the fact that so many professionals have reminded me this could take years. I know that God can work miracles and a judge can make things move faster.

These cherubs want to stay with us. They deserve permanency. Even though September seems so far away, I know it is right around the corner. In just five short weeks we will stand in front of the judge yet again. The State will say they need to leave. My lawyer, the cherubs' GAL, the cherubs' AAL, and the cherubs' therapist (Lord willing) will all say they need to stay with us.

In the meantime, I deal with the day to day. Visiting my family is a bit of a trigger for Dolly. She's always very aware of who's who. She knows I'm seeing my mommy and daddy. She knows I'm seeing my sister. And while she simply adores my entire family (and they are quite enamored with her as well), it is a reminder that she has been split from a good deal of family she used to have contact with. The other night I tucked Dolly in to bed and walked out of the room. She promptly started crying!!

I waited a minute. I heard Dude whisper quite loudly, "Shhhhh Dolly, we're supposed to be going to sleep. I'm trying to sleep." But she continued to cry.

I went back in her room to comfort her. Dolly was so sad. We covered all the basics:
- she misses her mommy
- it's OK to miss her mommy
- it's OK to be sad
- it's OK to be happy too (damn...foster care is complicated)
- it's OK to love her mommy
- it's OK to love me too
- I will NEVER leave her
- she is safe
- it's sad that her mommy couldn't keep her safe
- it's OK to love her and miss her anyway

We talked for a long time. I tried to give her words for her fears. Largely she was missing her mom and had a very real, and very valid, fear that we would leave her too. She spent the first 3.5 years of her life being left alone quite a bit I believe. Dolly doesn't remember specifics anymore so none of us know much. But from what I can gather, Dolly was regularly abandoned by her bio mom. I did my best to comfort Dolly.

As the "bigness" of her feelings subsided I decided to reassure her with some information about where she was sleeping. I explained that the bedroom she was in used to be mine when I was a little girl. That brought a smile to her face. Then I reached over to the end of the bed Dude was in and pulled off a stuffed figure that I got as a little girl...the initials of my name. I handed Dolly the letter "L" and told her it was for me (my name). Then I told her it was for Love, and that I would never leave her because I love her so much.

Dude was listening in to all this conversation. Honestly though, he doesn't understand. He has never cried for his first family. Dude quite literally has questioned why Dolly is upset sometimes. Typically he has this look on his face like, "What is your problem Dolly?! It's better here!"

Well, Dude grabbed the stuffed letter "M" - the one for my middle name. I told him what it was but then I had to turn my attention back to Dolly. She was still upset and had started crying again. I pulled her on my lap and we talked some more.

As I was leaving the room though, just a few minutes later, I couldn't help but take a picture of this. Dude had grabbed my "M" and decided that was all he needed to be able to fall asleep. The look of contentment on his face was priceless. He was out cold!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vacation

Last year's vacation was marred by the Investigation from Hell. It was nice to get away and see family. But I spent every other day or so bawling my eyes out because I missed my kids and/or I was afraid of what was being done to me legally.

So far, this summer is going much better!

That doesn't mean that Satan isn't trying to mess things up.
So far in the past few days I've had to deal with:
  • banking issues involving identity theft
  • insurance issues involving expensive billing problems
  • dog issues involving a trip to the vet
  • a bloodshot eye on Dolly that may need a trip to the doctor
  • and life in general following a visit in Dallas
We leave on Friday, Lord willing. I can't wait to get away and at least pretend we're not a "foster" family anymore. No surprise visits possible 1200 miles away!! Everyone is pretty excited for all the fun that is in store.

There isn't much to report about the most recent trip to Dallas other than the cherubs spent a great deal of time with their Tio E. Despite the outstanding warrant for his arrest, he still roams free. The cherubs reported that he and his girlfriend (?) spent the night at Grandma's house even. Ugh!!

Of course both cherubs were exhausted beyond measure when they returned.

I had to laugh just a little on the timing of things...but Dolly got SICK on the way home. All over the airplane. Multiple times. And again in Minnie's car on the way home. Of course I feel horrible for my daughter that she had to go through it. But happening on Minnie's watch...that's just a little bit funny!

From what I can tell Dolly was only sick due to what appears to be a combination of stress, junk food galore and maybe motion sickness. She recovered quickly and no one else has gotten sick (yet). I wish I could convey to the powers that be how important it is for Dolly to eat healthy. She turns to excessive eating when she's stressed and if given the choice, she'd inhale junk food! We don't deal with hoarding, or overeating, or other "food issues". But...in a way...we do. The 3.5 years of neglect Dolly suffered damaged her healthy relationship with food and it becomes very apparent when she's stressed. I wish she was better cared for during these visits to Dallas! Minnie is as much the one to fault though when it comes to food so my hands are completely tied.

We're getting back in to routine though. I'm almost ready to leave on Friday. Just a few more loads of laundry and some packing to do.

Hope y'all are having a great summer!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We saw Miss Mary

The cherubs had a therapy session with Miss Mary again last night. We're going to try and meet weekly until court in September.

Miss Mary has assured me that if the State wants a direct opinion, she'll give them one. She will tell them that the cherubs repeatedly tell her they want to stay with us. They repeatedly tell her they do not want to go to Dallas. She will tell the courts that she agrees with the cherubs and we are the best option for them for permanency.

I pray she will word things more strongly and in a way that is favorable to the courts.

Miss Mary also agrees to talk to Grandma N in Dallas if that's what the State wants her to do. She kind of threw her hands up in the air though and muttered to me, "What exactly am I supposed to say to her?!" I indicated that I didn't think anyone had ever asked Grandma if she really WANTS the children. Miss Mary said she could ask. I also said that I doubted anyone had told Grandma WE WANT the children. Miss Mary said she could discuss that with Grandma as well.

I'm actually hoping that Miss Mary does talk to Grandma. It's been two years and I've never heard Grandma say more than two words. I'd love to know how she really feels about this whole mess.

I really do like Miss Mary. The System ticks her off as much as it does me!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Duh moment...

I just made the connection today that the woman that represented me and Mr. Amazing yesterday (because our lawyer decided to go on vacation) was the same woman that started the investigation against me last summer that nearly destroyed me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fundraising Mini-Goal Met

A blog reader generously offered to match dollar for dollar any funds made before today at 5:00PM.

The last donation just came in!!!

Thank you all so much for your generosity!!!!!!!


Mr. Amazing and I had a wonderful time on our date! I must say, I had to develop a whole new level of trust for my husband as we raced down the interstate at 70MPH. That was a completely new feeling. But Mr. Amazing is pretty...well..amazing and I just wrapped my arms around him and learned to accept the feeling of helplessness. By the end I wasn't nearly as nervous!!

It was honestly a lot like this foster parenting journey. I wanted to do it. I like it most of the time. But someone else that you can't talk to (we don't have mics in our helmets) is doing all the driving and you just have to trust them.

Court update

8:30AM: Dropped off TT and Bart at the community rec center. They handled this morning wonderfully! The little ones and I took off for court.

9:45AM: Arrived at the courthouse. We went in to see the waiting area completely packed. It was obvious the judge was behind schedule. I met briefly with the lawyer standing in for Ms. Colorado. Funny enough, it was the lawyer that stood in for the cherubs' GAL at the last hearing. She didn't have much to say except that Ms. Colorado had told her the meeting was to go over therapy notes. I reiterated that it shouldn't be a placement hearing as we just had one of those in May and it's too soon. She agreed with me. After Mr. Amazing arrived we all went in to the courtroom to wait there.

12:00PM: After waiting forever, our case was finally called! Of course, after waiting forever the cherubs were squirrely, dysregulated and just plain scared. Dude kept talking to Mr. Amazing and Dolly was spinning around in circle making nonsense noises. They were both easily redirected but I felt so bad for them. No child should have to endure court for these purposes!!

Present at court:
Minnie's supervisor
CPS's lawyer
Mr. Amazing, me, Dude & Dolly
the lawyer standing in for Ms. Colorado
Dude and Dolly's AAL
Dude and Dolly's GAL
the lawyer representing Bio Dad

First we had to refresh the judge's mind as to why we were all there. Then everyone pulled up the notes from Miss Mary. Then...the therapy bashing started!

Miss Mary's notes were less than stellar. She wrote two paragraphs covering her "recommendation". The problem is, she didn't really make a recommendation. Despite the fact that she included information that specifically said that the cherubs have voiced to her they want "to be an Eldridge", she said too much that had NO VALUE. I mean, it's truth. But legally, in this case, it had little value if any. (In fact, it pissed the judge off!) She said that the children need to be placed where there is the least overall danger, physical and/or emotional abuse, and where they can Thrive! When children thrive through their first five years, they are poised to be strong lifelong learners, earners, and engaged citizens; therefore it is Imperative that this be taken into consideration. (punctuation and capitalization exactly as the therapist wrote it)

Two points were made in favor of us. She said that the cherubs "want to be an Eldridge". She also said that during a home visit it was apparent the children had bonded with me. But the generic statements the rounded out the final paragraph upset everyone. The judge even commented about the exclamation points and how they made him upset. (yikes!)

Our lawyer and the GAL made mention that perhaps Ms. Mary should be called to testify. CPS just agreed that the notes didn't say much. It went round and round with no one saying much of anything. Then the judge said, "Maybe we just need to get a new therapist."

I quickly jumped in and said that the cherubs have just now started actually talking to her. They get very nervous around new people. I had great concern that if a new therapist was required we would be starting over a ground zero and the little ones would shut down. I asked if maybe we should just meet more frequently so that more thorough notes could be submitted.

Eventually, because no one would say much of anything, it was decided to give Ms. Mary one more chance. Her notes have to include more information and more of a direct recommendation. The State is supposed to somehow connect her to Grandma N so that Ms. Mary can actually "compare" the two families (ours vs. hers). I highly doubt the State is going to do this. But...it's out of my hands. The cherubs are going to try and meet closer to one time per week instead of bi-weekly.

Everyone was trying to calculate how many therapy visits we should be able to work in before our next hearing in September. I pointed out that we will be gone for two weeks of vacation. Then I looked straight at the judge and said, "Did you get the paperwork to sign so we can go?" He gave me a blank stare. I looked at the CPS supervisor and asked him. It seems that Minnie had told him nothing of this and he was unprepared.

Praise God the judge is a reasonable man! He looked at everyone and announced our travel is approved. It's on the record and he doesn't have to sign anything. We have permission to travel.

Needless to say I'm just a tad pissed off at Minnie for not tending to this detail. I'm quite confident it was on purpose.

12:15PM: Our case adjourned. My lawyer looked at me and said we needed to talk outside the courtroom.

She told me that sometime during the long wait for our case to be called, the CPS supervisor told her that today was also going to be a Placement Hearing. My lawyer said, "No it's not. It's been too soon." He replied something along the lines of, "It doesn't matter. We can do this anyway."

I don't know why the State didn't ask for the placement change but I'm grateful they didn't.

It does set the tone for the rest of the case. Minnie will continue to omit details whenever she can and the State is going to fight us every step of the way.

I thank you all again for your prayers!! Storming the heavens we were once again victorious! Nothing changed and I'm not any closer to being able to offer the cherubs permanency. But the things the State wanted didn't happen again. Whew!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Court tomorrow morning

It's just after 6:30PM as I'm sitting down to write this. In less than 18 hours I'll know what is happening next. I only have to carry the unknown for a little while longer.

But it's so hard for me!

I took my B vitamins this morning. I took my GABA. The racing thoughts aren't consuming me. But I have this heaviness in my chest. A dull pain rests right in the center. If I think about it, it gets worse. If I can stay busy, it's not too noticeable. I've hooped three times today. I've tried. I've tried. I've tried.

But I can't seem to focus and I can barely stay busy. So that heaviness sits there on me. Weighing me down. Making me feel awful.

I don't have the overwhelming sense of dread that the cherubs are going to be leaving me. I'm honestly not worried about that.

But I don't know what is going to happen in court tomorrow. And that "not knowing" is so incredibly difficult for me. What is the State going to try and do? What do the therapy notes honestly say? Is the judge going to talk to the cherubs in private? Is the State going to try and move them to Dallas anyway? What if? Who says? What's next? So many unknowns.

YES...I trust in God. I truly believe we are doing the right thing. I don't need to worry. Even my lawyer told me that. yadda yadda yadda

That is so much easier said than done.

So tonight I come to my internet support group begging for prayers. Earlier this weekend I mentioned the truths I need to keep in mind on my FB page. Over 600 people read that post. Over 100 of them clicked on something else on my page and were "engaged users". Well...FB doesn't tell me how many of those people said a prayer for me but it had to have been a lot!! A calm literally washed over me for two whole days.

I need that calm again.

Please pray for Dude and Dolly. Please pray for Herman, TT and Bart. Please pray for me and Mr. Amazing. God is so much bigger than a court hearing. I know this. But right now I take comfort in knowing that y'all have my back in prayer.

Thank you!!

Also...a generous blog reader has offered to match dollar for dollar donations made through Monday at 5:00PM up to $100. We only need $35 more dollars before that time to reach the goal.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Me and the motorcycle helmet

Mr. Amazing likes to ride his motorcycle. He had wanted one for years and when gas prices soared to nearly $4 a gallon several years back, we worked a motorcycle into our budget. He got a nice 250 to learn on and it's what he used to commute to work. He enjoyed it and it saved us money.

As he became a more experienced rider, he wanted to upgrade. Eventually, we worked that into our budget as well. He purchased a really nice 950 that actually seated two. Here in Texas we both became members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association as well. Mr. Amazing is vice-president of our local chapter. I don't ride but I've always promised Mr. Amazing that I would learn to ride as soon as my life simplified. We hung on to the 250 for that exact purpose.

When we decided to officially intervene it solidified the fact that my schedule would be...less than simple. We sold the bike to add to our savings for this legal fight.

I want to hang on to every single penny right now. Mr. Amazing does as well. But...there was this scheduled CMA ride and he really, really, really wanted to go. At first I totally agreed. All we'd have to do is get a babysitter. But then I realized that I would need a helmet and I nearly choked. I couldn't justify spending the money right now.

My marriage is incredibly important to me. I really wrestled with how this should be handled. Do I buy a helmet for this one date and choke on the cost of the date? Or do I look at this as an investment in my marriage and know that it brings him joy and I did make a promise?

I'll be honest. I avoided it all together.

Until yesterday.

Daphne (the world's greatest next door neighbor) came over in the afternoon. She popped in not too long after I completely broke down about our lawyer saying she's not going to be at court on Monday. We chatted. It was nice. Then she looked at me and asked, "So...where are you and Mr. Amazing going on your date tonight?"

I just gave her a deer in the headlight sort of look.

Then she said, "Or tomorrow? But really...you guys should go out."

I looked over at Mr. Amazing and said, "Do you want to go on the ride?"

He just grinned.

It was sealed. We would go.

That meant I had to go out this morning and buy a motorcycle helmet. Mr. Amazing got on his phone and messaged his friends about where the best place to shop. I was given the address and I ran over. Simple enough, the exact helmet that I knew I wanted was right there on the shelf. It was VERY reasonably priced as well. In just a few minutes I was out the door with a new helmet and a Facebook post was up about my excitement for the night.

A friend of mine indicated that I needed to post a picture of me in my helmet.

As must as I recognize the importance of safety, I really don't want any pictures of me in a helmet. I look ridiculous.

Then another amazing mom asked, "Hmm...what if someone were willing to match donations in exchange for a helmet pic."

I just laughed.

She was serious.

So, here's the deal...
If I can get $100 in donations before Monday at 5:00PM (CST) she will match them dollar for dollar. If that happens, I have to post pictures of me in a motorcycle helmet.

I thank you in advance for your generosity. I'll post pictures if the deal succeeds!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Truths to remember

Well...anxiety started to get the better of me. I got in the car to get out of the house and I called My Genius Sister. (She's my "therapist". She's a fantastic listener. She grounds me.)

The anxiety is still there but I know that I can control it. The truths that I will keep in mind this weekend are:

1. I hired a lawyer in order to give ME a standing in court. Anything that needs to be said is likely to come from me or Mr. Amazing...not our lawyer. Even if Ms. Colorado isn't there - that doesn't change my ability to speak up and be heard. And if the State tries to pull something that isn't "legal", any lawyer should be able handle that.

2. God is bigger than all of this. I truly believe that we were told to intervene. No, I'm not some crazy lady that thinks she hears voices. But I do pray and I do listen for God's answers and guidance. God told me to intervene and He is waaaayyyyy bigger than Minnie and anything the State wants to pull.

3. My lawyer very distinctly told me NOT TO WORRY on the voice mail. I'm paying her to look out for me. She wants my money. Surely she knows what she's doing.

4. If my lawyer doesn't know what she's doing, I don't have to continue to employ HER.

5. And most important...the judge is on our side. The GAL is on our side. The AAL is on our side. And the cherubs' therapist is on our side. As ugly as termination and adoption ultimately is, the State is outnumbered.

I'm now going to make some specific plans for this weekend that are fun. They aren't going to be "this could be the last time I ever do this" kind of events. I'm not going to allow myself to think that way. Instead, we are going to have fun and play together like a FAMILY. The family that we ARE!!


I'm a wreck!

I'm freaking out!!

#1 My lawyer left a message on the phone I asked her not to call on (thus I got a message instead of actually speaking to her). It seems that even though the judge was very clear in making sure everyone would be able to attend court on Monday -- OUR lawyer decided to start her vacation instead. She's going to have someone stand in for her. I didn't get the message until after she left the office so I can't talk to anyone about it.

#2 I was told this hearing was ONLY to go over therapy notes. Ms. Colorado said something to the effect that it is now a placement hearing as well. I guess there might be a chance the State could try to move the cherubs to Dallas again!

#3 The State has a visit scheduled for the cherubs in Dallas NEXT weekend.

My heart is racing. My weekend is shot. I'm going to have to do everything in my power to not worry excessively. I wish this was over!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Privacy question

I've got a question for all you seasoned foster parents. I mean...I feel like I'm really seasoned...but I've not had this particular situation come up yet. I'm interested in knowing how others have handled this.

When do you teach your foster child(ren) their (aka YOUR) address and/or phone number?
How do you handle any concern of them potentially telling their bio family this information?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Birthday Pumpkin

Pumpkin turned eight years old today. I remember her first birthday with us when she turned six. We must have sung "Happy Birthday" one hundred times that day. Each time we sang it she just smiled and smiled.

I didn't get to celebrate with Pumpkin when she turned seven last year. It was the Summer From Hell and my foster kids were in emergency respite care due to a bogus investigation.

And this summer, well, Pumpkin's aunt and uncle have ceased communication. I'm totally OK with that. I knew we would part ways eventually. I understand. Pumpkin was in my life for a season. It's OK for her to move on. Pumpkin can't communicate with me and maintaining a relationship would not only be awkward but it would be incredibly difficult. Aunt L and Uncle M don't "need" me either.

But days like today make me smile. I'm glad I have good memories of Pumpkin. I sent Aunt L a text letting her know I'm thinking of them and Pumpkin.

I'm not sure I'll hear back though. I know they are done keeping me in the loop. They didn't even tell me when Pumpkin's bio mom passed away not too long ago. I heard that (somewhat "illegally" I'm sure) from the lawyer that stood in for Dude and Dolly's GAL at our last court hearing. The lawyer also shared with me that Pumpkin's bio dad is possibly in the picture now. He's a Mexican national and from everything I had ever heard, he wanted nothing to do with Pumpkin...ever. I have no idea why the State is doing anything with him now. All I can do is pray that Pumpkin can be quickly freed for adoption and that she can have full permanency with her new family! They all deserve that so badly.

Happy Birthday Pumpkin! I hope I get to hear about a Happy Adoption Day soon!
God Bless You!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Ever the detective

When things are difficult in my house, I can't always explain WHY things are the way they are. But I am always trying to figure it out. Sometimes this is (practically) harmful. Sometimes it's not necessary to figure out WHY a particular cherub is freaking out. Sometimes the most important thing I can do is simply be there.

Most of the time though, when I can figure out the "why" behind the behavior, I can help make things better. For TT he often regulates, and stays regulated, if I can help him understand why Mr. Wonky came to visit in the first place.

Starting a couple days ago I began asking the cherubs what they would like to do on the Forth of July. Bart wanted to go see the fireworks. TT did not. He doesn't like loud noises and fireworks bother him. However, he wouldn't exactly say that he didn't want to go see a fireworks show. Basically, he just wouldn't participate in the conversation. So, I registered his "vote" as neutral.

As a family then, we began making plans to go see a show. Simple stuff. We'll bring some junk food, sparklers and blankets to sit on. It will be fun. I told all the cherubs they could choose whether or not they wanted to go. I offered to buy ear plugs for TT. I tried to make it as low key as I could. TT still wouldn't say anything about what he wanted or didn't want.

And here we are on the Forth of July. The little cherubs woke up this morning and turned on the TV. Mr. Amazing and I slept in a bit. When I came downstairs around 8:30 I made breakfast for everyone. Life was good!

Then the TV went off and Mr. Wonky made "his" presence well known. TT started totally freaking out. First it was little things. He couldn't seem to engage in play. He was a little bit whiny. Then he got out the Nerf guns. I told him that the gun needed to stay upstairs and he needed to play nicely.

Fast forward about 10 minutes and I heard Dude whining, "TT, don't shoot me." I rounded the corner to see TT about 2.5 feet away from Dude pointing a very big Nerf gun directly at him! I redirected by taking the gun and telling TT to go downstairs. (Simply to put TT in a different room from Dude.)

Mr. Wonky took over. TT began screaming, "I wasn't pointing it at him!" He flipped and flopped himself all the way downstairs. TT honestly believed in his wonky state that he hadn't been pointing the gun directly at Dude. Despite the fact I saw it all very clearly, he insisted he hadn't been doing anything wrong. Once downstairs, he walked over to the couch and started throwing pillows around our living room. Knowing TT the way he does, Mr. Amazing knew that TT needed to be redirected again or the violence would escalate. It would move from pillows to furniture. Mr. Amazing sent TT up to his room.

I met TT in his room and offered to comfort him. He would have none of it. So, I went back to my room to finish getting ready for the day.

Then it hit me.
I figured it out.
It would be easier for TT to get grounded from the fireworks than to ask for ear plugs or say he didn't want to go to the show.

Duh!

And this is where therapeutic parenting looks oh so different from "typical" parenting. With a "normal" child (if there is such a thing) it would be common to punish the child for the outburst and (in this case potential) destruction of property.

I knew that would not be the approach to take if I wanted TT to feel better the rest of the day. So, I went back in to his room and told him I had it all figured out. We've been doing this kind of parenting long enough that he knew what I meant. It scared him a little so he rejected my attempts to comfort him. He stayed under his pillow and blankets on his bed. Speaking calmly and slowly I explained to him through the blankets that he was trying to get himself grounded from the family event tonight.

At first he screamed, "no!" back at me. Quickly though he calmed down and came out from under the blankets. I told him that he needed to bring his comfort blanket with him and come sit in my room while I finished getting ready. Then, I'd take him out and he could pick out his own ear plugs.

As quickly as Mr. Wonky came, he left. TT and I went to the store and he picked out the exact ear plugs he wanted. Having that control over the situation really helped him! Then we picked out a couple junky snacks to bring along tonight. Then we went out to lunch together.

Therapeutic parenting looks so different. Yes, my kid through a huge temper tantrum and he got "rewarded" by getting some one on one time and a lunch out. But the wording is all wrong. I didn't reward my kid for doing wrong at all!! Instead, I met his need and we stayed connected as a family. I brought him in closer to me.

He knows what he did is wrong. He knows that his outburst wasn't an OK thing to do. He knows he's not allowed to throw things in the living room. (Pillows may be thrown and punched to his delight in his bedroom. But I'll be honest, I'd like to keep my TV in all one piece in my living room.) TT knows right from wrong and he doesn't need a half-hour lecture from me reminding him.

Don't get me wrong. I still screw up this therapeutic stuff all too often and dole out unnecessary lectures. But this morning, it went right more than it went wrong. And since we got back from lunch TT has been playing nicely with his brothers for the most part. I'm confident that the rest of the day will go off without a hitch.

This kind of parenting certainly keeps me on my toes. I feel like a detective most of the time....trying to figure out the why behind the behavior so I can best meet the need. But when I get it right it feels so good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Who loves you?

One of the most important things kids need is to know that they are loved. I also think it's important for all my cherubs to know how many people love them. That said, we have a little game in our house that helps accomplish this goal. It's the Who Loves You? tickle game.

It never really needed much of an introduction in our home. I didn't sit everyone down and explain the rules. It just sort of evolved.

While cuddling with a cherub I ask them, "Who loves you?"

From there they have all the control. If they don't want to play, all they have to do is answer, "Mommy." I will agree with them and give them a big hug. (I'll often go through a list of family and friends' names – reminding the cherub that lots of people love them.)

However, the fun is when they say someone else. They might answer, "Daddy," or a sibling or grandparent. I say, "Yes...who else loves you?" As they answer all the people in their lives, I begin tickling them and saying, "Yes...who else?" My kids all know the game stops as soon as they say my name. Of course, they know all bets are off if they start including the pets before they say my name. I will tickle them to pieces!

With Dude and Dolly I added a couple more questions that I think are important to their story.
How much do I love you?
Will I love you forever?
Do I love you even when I can't see you?

The correct answer results in a hug. The "wrong" answer brings tickles and roughhousing.

That last question is really important. I've drilled that one in to Dude and Dolly's head because all along the State's plan has been for them to leave me. I wanted to do everything in my power to make sure they knew I wasn't abandoning them. I wanted them to know deep in their hearts that my love for them would never die.

And now that Dolly is sad and missing her first mom a lot lately, I can turn it around. Dolly finds comfort when I tell her that even though she hasn't seen Mommy C in over four months, Mommy C loves her even when she can't see her.

The game is helpful and often gives me a clue about how they've been feeling. If they don't want to play the game it's generally because they are sad and are feeling like no one really loves them. If Dolly immediately says bio family names, I'll know she's missing people and hasn't felt like she could say something about it. If no bio family names are said, I can take it as an opportunity to remind them of the rest of their family and it can even spark a healthy conversation. If there's a nice balance between all the people in their lives I'll know that things are going relatively OK.

It's a fun game that leaves the child completely in control. Lots of kids need the physical touch and many enjoy roughhousing. It's a great way to give them power over it. Sometimes the cherubs will come to me with a huge grin on their face and say, "Mommy...you don't love me," just to start things up!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Last Chance

Tammy is offering a giveaway to anyone that donates to our puzzle fundraiser. Today is the last day. Donate before noon (CST) for a chance to win!

The puzzle is coming along nicely. It would be great if it were completed before court in two weeks.