Wednesday, May 19, 2010

holiday soon

We're counting down the days until the boys and I fly to LA and meet up with Paul, then 5 days at Disneyland and onto UK for my mum's 80th birthday.
We have packed and unpacked cases, decided what things of ours Paul could squeeze into his case (avoiding white powder and children's undies so that he isn't suspected of being a drug smuggler or child pornographer) and think we have entertainment and essentials for up to 48 hours in our hand luggage.
I keep thinking of more things like vouchers for money off deals and documentation of Noah's behaviour issues (then hopefully we'll get a guest assistance pass at Disneyland) and food and fluid that Isaac is likely to eat on the journey. We are very lucky that it's a 12 hours overnight flight and that Sam and Anika are meeting us at Auckland airport to help us transfer terminals. I think the worse bit will be once we're through passport control at LAX when I have to collect all our bags and make it outside - but then Paul should be waiting!
He is having a good but very busy time in the states with NZ trade and enterprise. Yesterday he did his pitch in San Francisco to the judges of the competition, today is lots of networking then catching the red eye to Washington for breakfast at the NZ embassy. After two nights in Washington they catch the train to New York then he flies back to LA to arrive 20 minutes before us.
Noah is very excited and keeps trying to pretend it is already Saturday. he also likes to take out his toys from his bum bag and keep looking at the new DVDs I've bought to go with our portable DVD player. They are having trouble with his behaviour at school and he has ended up in time out again (after climbing out a window) and getting told off by the head teacher.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Mother's day tradition

One of Hannah's friends came for lunch on Sunday. She can't be with her mum at present so I've always said to her that so long as her mum is happy about it I'll be a stand-in-mum until her own mum is able to be with her again. Hannah's friend bought me a lovely carrot cake that said "Happy Mother's Day" - I thought that was so lovely.
I also got the "Don't tell mum" gift which Noah had made at school - it was a nice flower in a vase, with a rather bent drinking straw stalk where Noah had crammed it into his wardrobe. Hannah and Lily had printed off some lovely photos taken at the Down syndrome ball and also got two new beads for my necklace and Isaac (with the help of Paul and some encouragement from me) gave me two Jodi Piccoult novels that I can read on our holiday to UK. Sam phoned to wish me happy Mother's day and said that he and Anika have just moved into a new flat in Auckland - one with less mould and damp! Beth sent an email to say she and James have found a flat in Sydney - it costs quite a lot more than the whole four bedroomed house we rented here - and has one bedroom and a small bathroom. It is very convenient for uni, train station and a shopping mall.

At lunch time at the last minute (so late in fact that Paul insisted we eat lunch before it got cold before lighting the candles) I thought to get out the candles we use (occasionally) on Friday night when we have our modified Shabbat celebration. This time instead of lighting a candle for each of our children, we lit one for each mother represented round our table. So I lit a candle for my mum Peggy, Paul for his mum Joan, Noah lit one for me, Lily lit one for her birth mum, Vicky, Hannah for Isaac's birth mum, Rachel and for our Rachel's birth mum, Margaretta. Hannah's friend lit one for her mum and then we lit one for the mum of our recent foster children A and U.
We usually remember the kids' birth families in November each year at Thanksgiving, but it seemed a good idea to do it on Mother's Day too. After all I'm sure all the mums mentioned would have been thinking of their children. (Not strictly true actually as in the UK Mother's day has already been, midway through Lent). I think we'll continue it as a family tradition - I do love traditions!

The letter in our church news sheet for Sunday was very good because it didn't just talk about birth mothers - that may have something to do with the vicar having been adopted and being a foster parent!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Benefits of being a foster parent

  • You get a crash course in all the negative aspects of your personality without having to pay for psychotherapy
  • Who needs an early morning jog for exercise and to wake up when you can have foster children wake you at 5.30 am to change two dirty nappies the contents of which are spread all over the house?
  • You can test the truth of your glib acceptance of "people matter more than things" when you realise that a misbehaving foster child just broke your best cup which will cost three full days fostering allowance to replace
  • You realise that your birth children are well dressed because they own undies and socks, have clothes and shoes that fit and even have pyjama tops and bottoms that match. You also realise that if your birth children went to stay elsewhere they would not carry their clothes in bin-liners
  • You get to know how limited your own self-calming strategies are when a foster child with no self-calming strategies has a tantrum lasting over an hour
  • You get to value and use every second of free time you get
  • You get a crash course in asthma management over the internet one evening when a wheezing foster child arrives with asthma medication but no instructions
  • You realise that sleep is life's ultimate luxury and all that's needed to make you happy is a bedtime of 9.30
  • You realise that your birth children have tons of possessions when you buy foster children a new toothbrush (first rule of fostering - no child comes into care with a toothbrush) and they value it so much that they take it to bed with them
  • Who needs to lift weights for exercise when you can have a tantruming three year old foster child refuse to walk so that you get to walk to kindy carrying him under one arm while pushing two other children in a double buggy?
  • You get to test your patience with children when you spend twenty days straight teaching them to say "biscuit please" and they still whine "Wanna biscuit"
  • You get to test your patience with adults when another one says "I couldn't foster, I would never want to give them back"
  • You get to read multiple parenting books to try to reassure yourself that you are doing everything right when after implementing a wonderful calming wind-down bedtime routine for twenty days straight, you still need to spend up to two hours sitting quietly in their bedroom before the foster children will settle
  • You realise that perhaps for the first time in their lives, two little boys are being put to bed with a bedtime routine and sleeping in a house that is safe and that makes it all worthwhile.

Noah's viking hat

After foster children leave I want to have a tradition of going out to eat as a smaller family, so last night Paul and I with Isaac and Noah (Lily and Hannah were out) went to eat at the food court for late night Thursday closing.
Then Noah and I looked round K-Mart while Paul tried to persuade Isaac to drink some of his McDonalds thick shake. Noah loves the movie "How to tame your dragon" and was delighted to find a Viking hat like hiccup wears. As it was only $6 we bought it. Noah said something about his f******* hat and at first I thought "Oh no, what language did the foster boys teach him?" Then I realised he just can not pronounce "Viking". I have had to put a special note in his school bag today to tell the teacher he is not swearing if he tries to tell him about the hat!

Noah was also quite funny when he told me. "I made a 'don't tell mummy' at school today" Could it have anything to do with the upcoming Mother's Day do you think?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

boys are going

We had really been counting down the days till Friday when A and U were planned to move on. But now this morning I've heard that their mum has revoked the order they were under so they have to be moved by Thursday lunchtime.
I have to pack their stuff as they sleep tonight and tell them they are leaving first thing tomorrow morning.
Suddenly these boys don't seem such monsters anymore - they still rage and tantrum and won't sleep but we know it's because they are damaged little children, hard work for us but the hurt little children bit matters more. And so we hope and pray that the family member they move to live with can also see them as such and continue to work through the lack of routine and temper tantrums so the "little children" bit can shine through.
God bless you A and U.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Last chaotic weekend (we hope)

When people say to me "I couldn't do foster care. I would hate to give the children up." I sometimes wonder what they mean. Usually kids in foster care (for lots of very good reasons not their own) are not nice lovable kids. A and U are very hard work with very few rewards at the moment and we are just about counting down the days until they move. Should be Friday, so that we can have some quiet family time before we start our travels to the UK for my mum's 80th birthday.
A refuses to obey almost everything I ask and U follows his lead whenever possible. They don;t want to sleep when I put them to bed,then they don;t want to wake up from their daytime naps. They continually touch things we ask them to leave alone - the computer, the TV, the fridge, the toothpaste, the microwave. A deliberately poohs in his nappy once he's woken up in the morning after telling me he doesn't need the toilet.
And the tantruming, whinging and crying is getting us down. Lily has to leave the room as the high pitched noise hurts her hearing aides. They also don't stay in the place I put them to finish their tantrum (I choose somewhere near me in eyesight in case there are issues of being left alone in the past) just repeatedly get down until I worry about hurting my back lifting them.
It still takes an hour or more for them to settle at night - with getting out of bed, giggling, trying to keep each other awake and so on.
ON Saturday we finally gave way to Noah who had been asking to go out for lunch for the past three weekends. So we went to "Donalds" as A and U shout each time we pass McDonalds.
We let the boys play in the playground as I crossed the road to do some supermarket shopping so Paul had to get all four boys in the car to come and pick me up. He say it is an experience he will never forget, carrying post-op red-eyed Isaac in one hand a screaming A in the other and persuading Noah to hold hands with U and follow!
But it's made me quite proud of how well we are managing and its made it clear that we should never take two pre-schoolers again!