Sunday, November 9, 2014

I went to my first full B.A.C.A. meeting

I'm on my way to becoming a member of B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse). I'm looking forward to being able to help abused kids from an angle different than foster care.

I'll be honest, I'm no biker. I don't even know how to ride a motorcycle yet. But I'm going to learn. And then I'll be able to ride with Mr. Amazing. In the meantime, I'm eligible to be a member of B.A.C.A. because I "have access to a motorcycle".

It takes at least a full year from expressing interesting in B.A.C.A. to the time you receive your back patch and can have a relationship with a child directly. For now I can attend meetings. And after my background checks (both State and Federal) come back, I can attend child centered events - like the ceremony called a "Level One" when a child is welcomed into the B.A.C.A. club. (And yes, I have to go through all the background checks all over again.) I submitted my fingerprints about two months ago so I should have Federal clearance soon.

For those of you unfamiliar with B.A.C.A., I thought I'd post their Mission Statement today:
Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reader question...RE: Mr. Amazing's employment and our future in foster care

I'm still answering questions from grkanga:

When will your Mr. Amazing know if he will be transferring job locations? And, how does that work ~ is it like military where he would have an idea of where he might go and have preferences he can express or is it just arbitrary and out of the blue?

Will you, assuming new location, look at fostering again or just CASA.
My husband is employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He's currently the assistant manager at a National Wildlife Refuge on the border of Mexico. We will know when he will transfer job locations because he has to apply for, interview for, and be hired for any new job. He has full control over what jobs he applies for and where they are located. He is, however, limited to what pay grade he can apply for. He's currently a GS9.

There aren't a lot of jobs open right now. They seem to come in waves as Refuges across the country retire people, promote people and hire new staff to fill the openings. And sometimes when jobs are posted, the Refuge doing the hiring already knows who they are going to hire. (They post the job for legal purposes but don't intend on actually looking at the other applicants.)

My dream job for Mr. Amazing would put me right back in Iowa with him running the Refuge in my home town. However, that position is a GS13 so he's going to have to wait awhile before he's eligible to even apply for that position should it ever become available.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service typically doesn't promote you where you are currently employed. Well...that's not exactly right. When Mr. Amazing was applying for his current position, he was a GS6. The position here in Texas is considered a GS5-7-9. He was hired on as a GS7. After Mr. Amazing was here one year he was eligible for his promotion to GS9. But he can't be promoted any higher than that. So, in order for him to advance, we will have to move. He's currently looking at GS9-11 jobs or GS11-12 jobs. Those are the only ones he's eligible for.

We have no idea where the next job will take us. We have no idea if we'll be able to do foster care or not. There are too many variables. Some jobs are too remote and would make doing foster care incredibly difficult. Some jobs require that you live on the Refuge and our home might not be large enough.

But caring for children from the hurt places is very important to us. I'm positive we will continue to do something. I just don't know what it will be. We know that right now we have to take a break from actual foster care. We never wanted Mr. Amazing to apply for any new jobs when we had placements because we always made a commitment to see each placement all the way through. (A job opened up in Louisiana a couple months ago that Mr. Amazing is wishing he would have applied for. But because of Miss Daisy, he passed on the opportunity.) We can't take kids in now because we can't commit to seeing their cases all the way through and we don't want to disrupt placements unnecessarily.

I am not opposed to doing foster care again. I would definitely consider becoming a CASA. And we are both on our way to becoming patched members of B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse). B.A.C.A has chapters in almost every state in the country so it's likely we could stay involved with B.A.C.A no matter where we live. We will continue to leave this part of our lives open for God to move in. I'm sure He'll tell us what He wants us to do next. (He always has before!)

For now, I'm enjoying helping other foster mamma friends. I went to Mississippi to help out a friend of mine last month. And later on this week (or whenever she gets approval from the decision makers over her cherubs), my friend J-Mamma is going to come stay with us for about a month. J-Mamma's husband is employed by the military and was deployed today. She's busy at home caring for her Little J, who suffered abusive head trauma similarly to Miss Daisy, and also Little J's sister, Jazz, who was born addicted. That's a LOT to parent alone. J-Mamma is going to stay with us and let us help her with the babies so she doesn't have to be alone.

God will keep me busy as long as I listen to Him I'm sure.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reader question...RE: Homeschool - PART THREE

In a comment on one of my other posts, girlfrog2003 said this:
We are also new foster parents and received our first placement about one month into school (a sweet newborn baby girl). How do you juggle having any kind of routine for school and all of the foster care stuff??? My daughter is autistic with a healthy dose of anxiety (and it's been amazing how much of that has gone away and how much more "focus" she has now) and she does so much better with a routine, but routine has been such a foreign concept the last few weeks. Constant requests for meetings appointments tomorrow, and then oh we cancelled it, and I need this paper today, etc. I suppose it doesn't help that due to my daughters disabilities I can't just put something in front of her and let her work on her own. I really have to sit down and work with her. Any wisdom or tips are so much appreciated.
Please don't think that this is going to turn into a blog all about our homeschool. It's not. But I do love answering reader questions so I will continue with this theme as long as people want to know more. I also want to be sure to clarify that this is OUR homeschool and not how I think homeschool should look in general. This is what works for our family.

Anyway, back to the question...how do I juggle the crazy routine of foster care and homeschool?

Sigh.

That's a hard one!!

My answer probably isn't going to help you much, girlfrog2003. It's really lame. But all I can really tell you is do school when you can.

When Daisy was with us, her therapy sessions made routine perfectly impossible. We really did just have to "do school" whenever the house was free from extra human beings and when the baby was settled enough for me to sit with my boys. Because like you, girlfrog2003, I have to sit with my boys most of the time too. Whenever I give them work to do and then go about my own business there is sure to be unnecessary competition and outright fighting along with lots of off topic conversation and wandering in general. Bart can drag a math worksheet out over two hours when he's having a bad day.

I know what works best for my boys though so we've always had a routine - of sorts - that plays to their strengths. I try to get started pretty early in the morning. (Their attention spans get shorter as the day gets longer.) I do "difficult" stuff first and I rarely do two "difficult" subjects in a row. (For example, we never learn a new skill in math and then follow it with a writing lesson.) I make sure to keep blood sugars even all day long with frequent snacking for TT. (It keeps his anxiety at bay.) And I try to get them to do something physical (where they raise their heart rate) after lunch before we sit down to work in the afternoon.

One thing that helped my boys, because due to foster care in our lives I couldn't ever put together a "set" schedule, was to write all the subjects/activities for the day up on a large dry erase board mounted on the wall where we do school. The boys know that their free time comes when the whole board has been erased. They know we don't necessarily work in the order of everything on the board - but that it does all have to get done. I usually color code things. One color for school, one color for foster care appointments, and one color for chores.

Everyone does homeschool just a little bit different. I'm sure you'll get into the swing of things eventually, girlfrog2003. It does take quite awhile though to switch from brick and mortar school to an effective homeschool. I've read that some people say to plan on one month of homeschool for every year of brick and mortar the child had done before things start to work well at home. And for some families it takes longer than that. If I'm being honest, I'd say it took us almost 1.5 years. But...one of those years was still technically public school as TT had A LOT of demands on him to complete all the work the online charter school required. Also, the boys and I really did have a lot of grief to work though when Dude and Dolly left.

I know quite a few of my readers homeschool. I don't personally read any homeschool blogs so I don't have any good links myself. If any other readers want to help girlfrog2003 out with more scheduling tips or other pointers for homeschooling special needs, please comment with advice or links to blogs.