Monday, November 30, 2009

A conversation with mom

What a day. I knew the transition back to my house would be difficult after 4 days with dad. Nevertheless, today really tried my patience. I stood in the rain not showing any signs of annoyance when Sabrina wouldn't take her bookbag off her back in the car after school. I did almost as well on the way TO school when she kicked me in the chest trying to get her out of the car.

When we got home from school she was really cute (after she ran away in the parking lot and refused to hold my hand) and interested in engaging with me for a while; we explored the nooks and crannies of my apartment building, but at some point she ran off, then stuck her tongue out at me, ran off more, stuck her tongue out again, and then just refused to listen to any requests I made.

We then talked to mom tonight after dinner, and now everything is clear. A little more back story: Sabrina wanted to watch a movie when we finally got into the apartment and I wouldn't let her. So when Sabrina was talking to mom, she complained that I didn't let her watch a movie. Mom was upset about this. To paraphrase mom: "We just give her anything she wants because crying is bad for her asthma and she's just a really special kid. It won't work to not reward negative behavior because it will just make things worse."

In other words, Sabrina has been spoiled for the last 4 years. Fun.

Getting ready for the day

Me: "Sabrina, I am taking you to school at 8 whether you are ready or not. You can go to school in your pajamas or your uniform. Which do you want?"
Sabrina: "My uniform."
Me: "Okay, you can go to school hungry or you can eat breakfast. Which do you want?"
Sabrina: "Eat breakfast."
Me: "Do you want to go to school with dirty teeth or do you want to brush your teeth?"
Sabrina: "Brush my teeth."

So what do you think then happened? Twenty minutes (and counting) of looking for a toy that apparently didn't make it back to my house from her Daddy's.

Now I'm just trying to figure out how to make good on my threat since she has to take her medicine regardless.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back from Daddy's

Actually, back from "Daddy house." I had been confused; last week, whenever I said "you're going to Daddy's," Sabrina got very angry and said that she didn't have two daddies. (True, she doesn't.) But I didn't realize until today that she also doesn't say "Daddy's house." She actually says "Daddy house." So of course she doesn't understand "Daddy's" as shorthand for "Daddy's house." Sigh.

Dad and Aunt and Grandma were early to meet me with Sabrina. So that was a good thing. However, they left: her toothbrush, her baby doll, her (new) slippers, and her (new) pajamas at Daddy's. I bought all those things for her, so technically they're hers, but why did I buy them if she's not going to have them with her? I'm not going out tomorrow and replacing them.

The transition hasn't been any rougher than I expected, but I'm still having my own hard time with it. She had a lot a lot a lot of trouble going to bed in her own room, with some ill-advised bargaining on my part (1. while she was crying, and 2. some "if X, you can sleep in my room at time Y"), but that's no different than any other day. She ate most of her dinner, which made me happy--hooray for a balanced meal--but refused to sit at the chair next to me (fine) and yelled at me any time I looked her way. We were watching a movie at the same time (a habit that I hope to get out of) and she also yelled at me if I watched the movie. "Stop watching the TV. It's a kid movie, not a grown up movie!" And she wouldn't excuse me from the table when I finished eating, which I did much more quickly than she did. So I spent some time staring into the fine line of space between Sabrina and the TV.

I don't understand her unwillingness? inability? to accept non-verbal positive cues. Any thoughts?

Also, other advice requested: I'm trying very hard not to respond when I am bossed around. However, when the bossing is "Be Quiet!" I'm not quite sure what to do! Not responding gives her what she wants and teaches that bossing is effective; responding "I don't respond to being ordered around" just makes her more frustrated, to the point where she can't regulate herself. Help?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

School uniforms

Do any of you have hand-me-down school uniforms that are looking for a good home? I'm looking for navy bottoms and white or light blue tops, girls size 4. Right now I only have 2 uniforms for Sabrina so am looking for additional ones. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Just 'til 5 pm on Sunday. I took Sabrina to meet her dad about an hour and a half ago. Gotta love 4 year olds and their lack of sequential thinking. It was like pulling teeth to get her to put a toy down, put her doll's things in her "diaper bag," and get in the car...even though I kept saying "we're going to go see Daddy!" (The timing worked out okay; her dad pulled up to the meeting spot about 12 seconds after we did.)

I'm relieved to have some time to myself--for example, to clean up the toys and take out the trash. I know that eventually I will figure out taking out the trash while she's here, but haven't yet. Probably just because I'm super lazy. Since she doesn't want to be by herself At All she probably won't have any qualms about coming with me when I want to take the trash to the trash room.

But I definitely miss her. Is it wrong if I turn Dora on just so that I can hear the sounds of when Sabrina is here?

Her dad and aunt and grandma really love her. They were so sweet when I met them; Grandma gave me a hug and thanked me for taking care of Sabrina, and I told them I was so glad that Sabrina was able to spend the holiday with them. But they didn't bring a booster seat (I was mentally prepared for that, and offered them to borrow mine) and when I started telling dad about the medications--to go along with the detailed written instructions--he said "yeah, I know all about medicine." So I just kept talking to make sure he at least heard the instructions, even if he didn't really listen.

I'm going to take advantage of these next few days--washing dishes, making veggie meat balls, searching out some sort of toy chest, and doing a good dust/vacuum/hide the stuffed animals. I didn't grow up with asthma so wasn't so careful about connecting the information from the doctor "stuffed animals may trigger asthma" with the room full of stuffed animals. I can't in good conscience keep them all away from her, but I can limit it. Her mom suggested freezing them, so the ones that will fit, I will try that. But tonight: grown up beverages with friends.

I'm losing my mind

Sabrina slept in her own room all last night (save for a bit in the middle of the night) so when I woke up this morning, she wasn't in bed with me.  I looked up and thought I saw her in the doorway. "Good morning Sabrina! How are you this morning?"  No response.  Huh? "Sabrina, come on up into bed."  Still no response.  

You want to know why?  Because she was still in bed.  I was so nervous about meeting Sabrina's needs that without my glasses on, I thought a shadow was her.  Oops.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've been applying for jobs recently, as I've mentioned over the past few months, and every one has a different version of the question "describe your skills in oral and written communication."  Truth be told, oral communication has always been one of my weaknesses, including on performance evaluations.  And I'm not terribly confident in my oral communication.  Part of it, I think, is that in some areas I skip over details that I don't realize aren't obvious to other people.  Part of it might be (perhaps related to the first bit) that in my formative years, people didn't like it when I talked too much, so I learned to pull back.  Part of it is that I'm better at trees than forests, so when I'm speaking I lose the big picture.  But on job applications I can't say all this!  So I pull a few examples of things I've done and just pretend that I'm good at it.

In real life, however, I can't pretend so much!  One of the reasons that Sabrina tells me to be quiet so much is that I tend to over-explain.  "You need to hold my hand while we walk to the playground because I don't know you well enough yet to know that you won't run into the street, and this is a busy street and I don't want you to get hurt."  (That warranted a "Stop Talking!"  I also now know that she is super-good about holding hands in public.  When we went to the zoo I told her the rules were she had to stay where I could see her and come to me if I called her name.  She barely loosened her grasp on my hand once.)  I'm really looking forward to my Chanukah present from my sister for this very reason.  I asked her for my very own copy of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.  I borrowed it from the library and had to return it; one of the techniques in the book is about using fewer words.  I'll be glad to have a resource right in front of me if I need to change tactics.

My not-so-great oral communication has been a problem in relationships, too.  This is less because I say too much, or because I skip over details, and more because I don't know how to expose myself emotionally.  This is one of the things I really wanted to work on in therapy, though I figured the act of therapy would be the working on it.  And it was, while I was still going.  I'm definitely better at it now, though I still start everything I say with a disclaimer.  ("I want you to know before I say anything that I know there is a possibility that I'm wrong.")  But it takes practice, and I still need a lot.  Writing--such as this blog--is a good first step because I practice formulating the vulnerable thoughts and putting them in words for other people to see.  But there's a veil between the words and the audience, so it is easier to put in writing than it is to say the exact same words.  (Plus there's that whole processing issue--you have more time to process what you want to say when you're writing.)  

Anyway, why am I talking about communication and relationships? (Yes, Foster Ima, why are you talking about this?) I was just interrupted by a phone call and now I don't remember where I was going.  (Funny thing--the friend who called told me "you should really blog about your experiences."  Yeah, she doesn't know about this.)  Ah yes.  With my ex-boyfriend (singular, not "one of my ex-boyfriends," because he's the only one I dated long enough to feel that he warranted the title of boyfriend), we didn't really communicate on a deep level.  I was suffering from depression and though we dated for ten months, he never knew.  Not because he wasn't perceptive (maybe a little of that?) but because I did all I could to hide  it.  I probably even used him to hide from it myself.  He told me at Chanukah time that he loved me (he told me in writing) and I just never responded.  I never told him that it completely Freaked. Me. Out., I never told him that I loved him, just... nothing.  We dated about 5 months longer than we really should have, based on my recollection of when I realized that studying together and cuddling were substituting for a real relationship, but I was too hesitant to say anything.  

Now George is in my life (hi George!) and since he lives far far away, our entire relationship--whatever it is and wherever it is going--is based on communication.  We talk on the phone a lot, though now that Sabrina is in my life, our conversations keep being cut short--because she comes into my room when she is supposed to be asleep, or because her social worker calls while I'm on the phone with him, or because he calls while I'm driving somewhere with her... But while I think we are both trying to get to the point of having deeper conversations, we're not there yet.  He noticed last night while reading about himself here that I've spoken more forwardly about my feelings towards/about him here than I have with him.  It's a balancing act that I haven't figured out yet.*  There are other barriers to deeper conversations than just my fear of saying too much and seeming like I'm skipping ahead those eight steps or saying the "wrong" thing and appearing too needy or just saying... I don't know what.  There's the fact that a lot of our conversations happen when we're both really tired (are we ever NOT really tired?) and that I hate hate hate talking on the phone.  I have to work too hard to process what is being said--and cell phones just make it worse--so 1. I miss important things but don't realize it, and 2. I'm thinking too hard about the words to then add the thoughtfulness that is needed to ask meaningful follow ups or add my own insights.  So going back to something I wrote above, I do much better in writing.  In the old days, courtships involved letters, but somehow a relationship based on emails, even deeply personal emails, seems impersonal.  (Then add in that George uses primarily his work email, and only checks his personal email once a day--really! how is that possible?  I'd go crazy--and clearly email isn't the way to go.)  

I'm not sure what the answer is, though I know the answer is NOT to use this blog to express my deepest innermost relationship thoughts to the world, knowing that George might then read them!  (See the footnote below.)  But I'm looking forward to figuring it out.  

*While I've been writing this, I've been wondering if it might be most appropriate--though "appropriate" is a more sterile word than is correct here--to send this post to him before opening it for the world to see.  Since really this whole post is in response to that bit of our conversation last night, and in that regard he is the intended audience, not all of you, my adoring fans.  I'm not going to, but not due to a lack of trying.  My computer is being difficult and it's just more trouble than it's worth--where the outcome would be throwing the computer out the window--to try to fight it.  


Sabrina talked to her mom tonight, and in related news, she smacked me soon thereafter.  My first time being hit by a foster child!  (She swatted at me before, but this was real contact with my face.)  After I said Very. Firmly. that we don't hit people, she told me that "my Auntie told me that I can smack people who are mean to me."  This is not the first time that she used the "my Mommy told me" or "my Auntie told me" line but the first time I affirmatively said that her Auntie did not, in fact, say what she was reported to have said.  The rest of the time* I just ignore the tales; they don't make sense (e.g. "My Mommy told me that when strangers come and pick me up at school and take me to a mean lady's house, I don't have to listen to her.") so there's no point in either validating her or telling her that her Mommy was wrong.  This time I clearly needed to say something.

In other news, she's getting so good about taking her medication, and tomorrow is the last day for the flu meds.  Hooray!  The conversation with her mom actually did go well, though her aunt told her that they were going to have a visit on Friday, and I haven't heard anything about that.  I really hope I don't have a heart-broken Sabrina to deal with because of broken promises.  (If they do visit, and it isn't overnight, I will have to deal with a sugar-laden Sabrina; I overheard the aunt telling Sabrina that she was going to bring candy and lollipops for her.)

*I need to confess that about 2 minutes before Sabrina hit me, she saw me drinking soda and asked for some. I told her that it is a grown-up drink in my house so she could not have any.  When she then invoked her mommy for permission, I said that her mommy doesn't live in my house and in my house, kids don't drink soda.  I was just worrying that I had messed her up for life when she hit me.  (About another issue entirely.) 

What would YOU have done?

Super long trip to Tar-jay this morning (thank goodness we were overcharged (9 times) for two items so the total actually was less than the $888 that I was just need to go back). The plan had been Tar-jay, then supermarket, then Sabrina could have cookies. Well, after we took so long at Target, even I needed a treat. And Sabrina had been GREAT. A few cases of the "gimmes," and some trouble when I tried to get her to choose between two hoodies--one was pink and purple, the other Hello Kitty--a tough choice--but she was overall really good. She also had asked for chocolate donuts when we happened to be in that aisle of the store, but they didn't have the ones that I like.

So we took all of our goodies to the car and I asked Sabrina if she wanted to get a chocolate donut because I was so proud of how well-behaved and patient she had been in the store. (The problem of this particular Target is the Dunkin Donuts in the parking lot...though if it hadn't been there on Friday, I would have gone from breakfast to 9:45 pm without any caloric intake.) We got in the car and she started asking for cookies. I told her she had to choose between cookies and a donut. She chose donut but then asked if she could have ONE cookie. (We have those 100-calorie packs of teeny tiny cookies.) I said yes, she said "five?", I said no, and I handed her one cookie. She threw a fit that I hadn't let her take the cookie herself.

We went towards Dunkin Donuts anyway because I had told her she could have the donut and because the tantrum over the cookie wasn't related to the good behavior she was being rewarded for. (As an aside, I should say that I wouldn't have used a donut as a reward if I hadn't wanted to get a super-sweet coffee from there myself.) But when we parked there, she wouldn't let me unbuckle her seat belt, wouldn't unbuckle it herself, was hitting me, and other unpleasantness. When she hit me, I closed her door, got back in the drivers seat, and told her that we were going to have to go home. She then screamed and cried most of the way home, including a not-so-adorable (but made me laugh) hand in my face with Sabrina saying "blah blah blah blah Talk to the hand cuz it don't understand." I listened to the radio and didn't engage her, especially because she told me to be quiet when I tried to.

Is that what you would have done? How could I have handled the situation differently? (Specifically the at-dunkin-donuts piece, but also the drive home.)

Sabrina-isms, part 2

"Look what you let me did!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Things that make me cry

Well, we already know that parenting has made me verbose! But two things in the last few days have made me cry.

The first, from a friend, posted on Facebook in response to "What did I do to deserve such wonderful friends?":
What did you do? Oh, I don't know, just take an innocent child into your home to give her a safe harbor in a storm. Truly, your generosity is extraordinary and more than worthy of the generosity you are receiving. Everyone who is helping is getting to participate in the extraordinary mitzvah that YOU are creating.

The second, from a former coworker, in a reference form he submitted on my behalf (to a temp agency, nothing special)--in particular the bolded sections:

Describe candidate's work habits: [Foster Ima's] work habits were highly professional including many instance of working late on the above tasks as well taking personal responsibility for matters that needed to be done on an expedited or emergency basis.

Strong points of candidate: Highly intelligent, Superior writer and editor, Reliable and Trustworthy

Strong points of candidate (Personal): Maintains a positive attitude despite frequent setbacks and missed deadlines by those she is working with.

Weak points of candidate, what areas can this candidate improve? No substantial weak points were identified

Would you rehire this candidate? In fact I made extensive attempts to have my agency... allow me to hire her.... Budget reasons did not permit this.

Do you have any additional comments about this candidate? If I was allowed to add one additional person to my section and I could choose anyone, my choice would be [Foster Ima]

Signs that parenting has set in

1. Talking incessantly about the cute things one's child has done. Including bodily functions. --check

2. Been able to translate your child's speech into something intelligible for the stranger to understand. --check (Really, how hard is it to understand "I'm is sad" or "I'm is hungry" or the like?)

3. Bought a larger size of milk without any worry about it going bad before it's used. --check

4. Had your computer screen scratched by scissors without wigging out. --check (Though I should add that I spoke harshly when Sabrina started jumping on my other computer.)

5. Gotten the Dora theme song stuck in your head. --check

It occurs to me... my disjointed way of blogging (this combined with frequent facebook updates for the people who know me in real life) that I've not actually said all that much about Sabrina!

She's quite a monkey, which I'm trying to get used to.  We went to a playground on Saturday afternoon and she climbed all sorts of places that I wouldn't have climbed at her age. Or now.  I was trying to convince myself the whole time that the playground wouldn't have ladders that go up to 5 feet if they didn't want kids to climb them.

She also is very bright.  I don't have other 4 year olds to compare her to, but she can count to 29 (she skips 16 regularly) and answers all the questions on SuperWhy. (Thank goodness for streaming Netflix. There's only so much Elmo in Grouchland that I can handle.  And these shows are much more educational.)  She is an amazing problem solver.  I don't know if this is because she has had to do So Much for herself at home, if it's a sign of her brightness, or if it's developmentally appropriate for her age, but I've been impressed at things she's done that I don't think I knew how to do at 4.  

She's very definitely a 4 year old, with her "I can do it" complex.  I've found that a good way to get her to do something that she doesn't want to do is to start to do it myself.  

She doesn't like me to smile at her, which I'm having a lot of trouble with.  

She's generally good at please and thank you, but any frustration and she gets B.O.S.S.Y.  I suppose I do the same, but I can't seem to get across that I'm the grown up and in charge!  

It took me three days to realize that "Mamie" is actually "maybe."  Everything makes so much more sense now. 

I'm is done now.


Yesterday there was a family team meeting, at which The Agency said that they weren't going to go forward with the petition, and Sabrina would be able to go with Dad.  Today was court and they petitioned the case.  So Sabrina is still with me for the foreseeable future.  

The good news is that I have Mom's phone number, so a quick *67 and Sabrina can call her.

The bad news, along with the important bad news above, is that the social worker didn't call with this information--and the contact information for Sabrina's doctor--until 4:15.  The office closes at 4.  So the follow-up appointment that should have BEEN today--not just scheduled today--is now not going to be scheduled until tomorrow, and who knows when they will get her in.  

And as I've been typing this, Sabrina has started crying for her mom.  Trying to decide if better for her to call while crying (to calm her down) or worse (because it will ramp mom up, etc.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sabrina thinks that I'm laughing at her whenever I look at her or smile at her, so I've heard a lot of "Get that smile off your face!"

Too bad

I just got an email from Sabrina's (initial) social worker, who says that no, she can't approve Sabrina calling mom. They are having the family team meeting as I type, and the GAL should also be asking. Hopefully at least we'll get permission to call Auntie or Daddy. The initial court hearing is tomorrow and the social worker is still expressing confidence that Sabrina will go to family tomorrow. That would make us all very happy, but I'm not holding my breath.


Everyone has been So. Amazing. over the past few days. On top of the innumerable emails and facebook status comments with general good wishes, I've been blessed with amazing offers of help as I go crazy. It helps that I know a lot of people in my apartment building. Thursday night all I had to do was ask on facebook if anyone in the building had milk that I could use for Sabrina's cereal ("shereal") on Friday morning, and a friend/neighbor came through for me. Friday night when we got home from the ER long after Shabbat started, I knocked on my next door neighbors' door and they sat with a sleeping Sabrina while I got our things from the car. And on top of that, they then brought me a plate (two plates and a bowl) from their Shabbat dinner. Last night another friend came over and brought chocolate and ice cream bribes for Sabrina to take her medicine, helped me get Sabrina in pajamas and her own bed (she made it until 4:45 in the morning in her room), and was adult company for a while. This isn't even counting the great staff at the hospital (including my friend, woohoo!) who were so great with Sabrina--and one of whom gave me a reassuring pat on the back while Sabrina was crying for her mom, and the mom in the room next door who pretended to try to call Sabrina's mom for long enough to distract her.

I'm sure that when I need to do laundry later today, someone will be willing to come and sit with Sabrina so I can go to the laundry room. (I'll try getting her to come with me, first, though!)

So amazing to have such great people in my life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The most amazing friends

I just posted on Facebook that I am not accustomed to the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I have had all week. As I reflect on that, I realize that there is another thing to be grateful for: that I have not had a need for the support of my friends the way I have this week. I have not had any major health crisis, I have been able to support myself through my periods of unemployment, I have not experienced major losses, and so on.

And I am grateful that the need I have had for the support of my friends has not been for a crisis (not my own, that is) but has been for a positive reason.

Truly, my friends have been a blessing this week. The words of encouragement that I have received from friends from all corners of my life, the advice from parents of four year olds, the delivery of chocolate to bribe Sabrina to take her medication, the trip to the grocery store (for which the friend involved will not let me repay), the Shabbat dinner delivered upon our return from the ER on Friday... even an acquaintance who I didn't expect to be so fully supportive (not that I thought he would be unsupportive, just... didn't realize he had thoughts on this issue one way or the other) told me this evening when I was relating about a woman at the grocery store today* who I think was criticizing my parenting that "any way you look at it, what you are doing is admirable." Awww. *Yes, after my friend went to the store for us last night, we went again today. My friend brought bananas and cheese crackers (among other things), both of which were immediately necessary before the trip to get turkey slices. Seriously, the only protein I can consistently get Sabrina to eat is turkey slices, and the store by my friend's house doesn't carry them. (Obviously they sell turkey. Just not kosher turkey.)

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for many things, and my friends rank high among them.


Less than a day after my first placement, I was hit with a whopper of a Shabbat. As hinted to in my last post, we started Shabbat in the ER. There was never a doubt in my mind about what to do--obviously, we were there and we were going to do what needed to be done to make sure that Sabrina was healthy, and then we would go to the pharmacy to pick up her meds on the way home, and then we would go home.

But things turned out to be a bit more complicated than that. First there was the light in the bathroom (in the ER) that Sabrina wanted me to turn off and on because she was feeling better and therefore being a normal 4 year old, and I did it because I wasn't even thinking about it being Shabbat. Then there was the question--do I write down the directions that the nurse is giving me or can I get her to write them, and does it matter? Then, when we got to the pharmacy (to which the prescriptions had been called in, and I didn't have copies) and it was closed, trying to decide whether to just drive back this morning or if I should call the clinic and ask if they could call the prescription in to a different pharmacy that was walking distance to my apartment. (Ultimately I decided it was easier just to go back by car; I didn't really want to have to walk to a pharmacy with a little one who is sick and whose interest in walking places I hadn't had a chance yet to assess.)

Meanwhile, I'd left my apartment at 11:25 fully expecting to be back an hour later with a sick kiddo, so none of the lights were as they should be, my alarm wasn't set (not a problem), no food had been cooked (also not a problem, as the main cooking was to be for a potluck on Friday that we obviously didn't go to)... Sabrina was asleep so I carried her in and took the elevator--not climbing three flights of stairs carrying a sleeping 4 year old. Knocked on my next door neighbors' door and they came over to sit with Sabrina while I went back to the car to get our things--necessary? maybe not. But better to do than not, I thought. Then the first thing I did when I got back to the apartment was to turn on the light in the bathroom by Sabrina's room. Again, not necessarily critical, but on the "for the benefit of the sick person" line of thinking, I did it anyway.

Then I turned my computer on and sent an email to the social worker. That didn't save anyone's life or even contribute to anyone's health, but it seemed important to do. (And while I had the computer on, I checked the pharmacy's hours.) It was a struggle not to look at the 65 or so emails I had gotten, but I was proud of myself for keeping focused on the two tasks I needed to do and then closing the computer.

Today after we went to the pharmacy, we ended up watching a DVD. Over and over again. Three times. A few times I needed to push the buttons on the remote, but basically she did all of the button pushing, and I just put the DVD in the player. A little weird davening Shabbat musaf* while Elmo is on the TV.

All in all, I'm confident that I made the right decisions throughout the day, though it certainly didn't feel very much like Shabbat. I wouldn't have done most of the things that I did if I had been the one who was sick, but for someone else I was quick to put her needs and her wishes (and the futility of trying to explain Shabbat--in the moment--to a 4 year old who just wanted to watch TV) ahead of my own. But I hope that I don't have to make those decisions again any time soon.

* Daven = pray; musaf = one of the specific sections of prayers that only is said on Shabbat and on holidays.

So. Much. To. Say.

If I forget, remind me that I want to do a separate post about Shabbat issues as it relates to this first weekend with Sabrina. I also want to talk about just how amazing my friends are, much more so than I deserve. I want to talk about Sabrina's family and what's next for her. And I want to talk about strategies and techniques for dealing with a headstrong, very bright 4 year old. (I think that might have been redundant. My understanding is that 4 year olds are by nature headstrong.) But for now, here's the WOW what a first (and second) day.

Poor Sabrina has had a terrible, rotten, no-good, very bad, horrendously awful time since Thursday. Yes, so bad that I couldn't just paraphrase the book title. We know that of course the rottenness on Thursday was being removed from her home and coming to live with a stranger. She was up all night coughing and then I dragged her from bed to go to school. (If I had more parental experience, we might not have gone to school. But since she was removed from school rather than home, I was nervous that if she didn't "get back on the horse" right away, there might be bigger problems down the line.) We got lost on the way to school, but that was part of my own no good very bad day on Friday. Anyway, Sabrina went to the nurse and had a fever, so I then went back to school to pick her up. And that's how things went from bad to worse.

I'll interject here about my day Friday. I had a very concise to-do list: Tar-jay for some clothes for Sabrina, groceries, laundry, making baked ziti for the potluck that I was supposed to go to--even if we didn't go, I felt an obligation to make the food--and a trip to the library to pick up some books and DVDs before picking Sabrina up at school and rushing home to get ready for Shabbat. So I dropped Sabrina off at school and went straight to Target. By the time I got there, I had three voice mails: 2 from folks at The Agency--the placement supervisor and Sabrina's worker--and 1 from my mom who very sweetly wanted to ask some questions so that the house would be ready for a 4 year old on Thanksgiving. I called all of them back and got more information about Sabrina's situation.

Tar-jay does not seem to sell kid's school uniform clothes after the school year has started; too bad for kids who have a growth spurt or who move into the area, I suppose. They also don't sell skirts for little girls. Jeans, cords, leggings, and some totally inappropriate dresses. That was it. Grumble. (I was just trying to get a small assortment of clothes, so I decided one pair of sparkle jeans would be sufficient.)

The grocery store was successful.

As I pulled out of the parking lot of the grocery store, my phone rang. It was MY worker, who I had totally forgotten about so when she introduced herself I couldn't place her. We chatted while I drove (shhh, don't tell anyone, especially not George who I lectured the other day about similar unsafe behavior) and pretty much as soon I got off the phone with her, the phone rang again. It was the nurse at Sabrina's school telling me that Sabrina had a fever and I needed to pick her up. Okay, I said. I have perishable items in my car so I need to take them home and then drive to the other side of the city, but I will be there as soon as possible. That's when the call-waiting beeped. It was Sabrina's worker making plans to meet me at school with clothes for Sabrina.

So, back to Sabrina's bad day. It turns out that Sabrina has asthma; no one bothered to say anything about this before or, you know, make sure that her inhalers got to me. So a fever plus asthma in a world of swine flu = a trip to urgent care. A friend of mine is a pediatrician (actually I tried calling her at 7:30 in the morning on Friday to get advice on what to do about Sabrina's cough, but she didn't answer--she was driving and is more responsible than I am) and happened to be at the clinic! She listened to Sabrina's breathing and didn't even make us wait. This is because her breathing was So. Bad. Let me tell you, I learned a lot about asthma yesterday.

Two nebulizer treatments later we were sent to the ER for a chest x-ray and another treatment. At this point I'm very glad that I stopped at a donut place near Tar-jay for donuts (not specifically kosher, but really they must be) and coffee, because that was the last food I ate. And at 9 pm, we finally are able to leave the hospital. Eight hours. Without anything to read or otherwise keep ourselves occupied. They had ONE age appropriate book for Sabrina. And it took over a half hour to find 4 crayons and some pictures to color.

And then today she had to take medicine three different times, and it was "nasty." (Having just taken some adult cough syrup myself, I understand this sentiment completely.)

What a rough few days for her. Hopefully tomorrow won't be so bad (meds only twice!) and fingers are crossed for her that Monday she goes to a relative.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Remember that I mentioned that I had told George about this blog, and that I didn't think he was going to search it out? Let me be clear that I'm pretty sure, except in that 1% delusional irrationality that sometimes comes over me at 1 in the morning when I can't sleep, that he hasn't sought it out. But we were talking last night and he was pretty interested in seeing it. Now, I realize that I shouldn't "give in" to his request, but when you're lying awake because a 4 year old is coughing in your face and rolling over so that you're about to fall out of bed (Sabrina ended up in my room last night, despite my best efforts), you have time to think. Or obsess.

I don't know yet whether or not I will ultimately tell George where to find my little anonymous corner of the blogosphere. But in the event that I do, I'm going to go back to the few posts that mention him to make sure that nothing needs editing. If it does, I will note that I've edited the post.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Deep Breaths

Well, she's here! We'll call her Sabrina, if for no other reason than it's the first name that comes to mind with any sort of free association. Sabrina is 4 years old and very sad to be away from her mommy. Mom has some sort of mental health issue; I'm hoping for Sabrina's sake that it is merely an acute crisis and medication will get her back on track reasonably soon. (Well, I hope that for her mom's sake, too!) In the meantime, I'll talk to her worker tomorrow to try to get more information.

We had a good bit fun while I showed her around my apartment (toys and snacks in various places all serving to distract from actually showing her anything) and then had dinner. I told her we were going to have spaghetti and she asked for it with butter. But then when I served it, she complained that it didn't taste of anything. I don't know if this is because Mom makes it with margarine, or Mom puts something else on it, or something else entirely. So I made the best sandwich I could--which is not saying much, given the state of my refrigerator--which was fake turkey. She said it tasted fine but also ate only half a slice of the turkey and none of the bread. She must be starving.

She finger painted a bit after dinner and then reality started to sink in. She cried a lot that she wants her mommy, so we wrote a letter to her; unfortunately, that worked only for about 3 minutes.

Sabrina also was scared to be by herself so I had to be in her line of vision at all times. That was a little awkward, but at least I haven't needed to go to the bathroom since she got here! (Um, she hasn't either, which kind of worries me.)

I had grand, naive plans of a sweet bedtime routine involving brushing teeth, reading a story, talking about the schedule for the next day, and then sharing one good thing that happened during the day, but Sabrina told me that she wasn't sleepy (this while sitting on my lap and yawning) and wasn't going to go to sleep. And because she wasn't going to go to sleep, she was not going to change into pajamas. Or take her shoes off.

But she picked up a throw pillow off the couch, took it to the dining room table, and laid her head on the pillow while sitting on a chair. And she finally, I think, is asleep. Not sure how moving her is going to go, but I'll try!

Now the only concern (only--HA!) is what she is going to wear to school tomorrow. Well, and how she will react when she gets to school. She told me she doesn't want to go, and I can't blame her--she was removed from school. Oh, and I guess the fact that I've been sleeping 'til about 10 and can't do that tomorrow.

Wish me luck!


No time for a long post right now because I have to get my apartment ready for a four year old girl! Just came into care today, was removed from school so that should have its own issues. At least she is in school so tomorrow she can go while I buy things for her. I am SO not ready for this. My apartment is so not ready for this.

Deep breaths...

Nothing new to report...

...but since my alternatives right now are to expound upon my knowledge of "generally accepted legal writing techniques" or to blog about George, I'm blogging about George. I have been very good and very emotionally healthy about him since I last wrote about him. Well, yesterday when I was feeling blah and depressed I almost texted him to ask him to send me something back flirty to cheer me up, but the point is that I only almost texted him.

There's a super cheap airline that flies between my Big City and his Big City, and yesterday there was a pretty big sale on flights between the two. Unfortunately, the available dates made it more reasonable to fly from there to here for a Shabbat, and since I'm the one without a job, it would make more sense, if we were to see each other, for me to fly there rather than vice versa. However, in talking about it, I did learn that he will be here in three weeks, hooray!

Ah yes, the factor that makes it reasonable to be engaged in a long-distance relationship: he has kids. Plural. They live with their mom in a suburb of my Big City and George sees them about once a month--though not always here. So, assuming that all is well, we will get to see each other then. Possibly over Shabbat, as I have many friends in their suburb (it's where people from my Big City go when they have kids) and have a place to stay--but depending on whether that either makes sense or is a Really Bad Idea--or at some other point in the weekend. It's tough though because the point of his visit is to see his kids. And his kids are Much More Important than I am, so I don't want to interfere with his time with them. Anyway, we'll see what happens. Who knows, I might actually get a placement call before then (one for kids I'm licensed for, at least), and then the world will be a very different place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If only I had checked my mail yesterday...

...I would have seen the health insurance bill. One worry off my chest. (I also should explain why health insurance is critical to seeing the therapist, as opposed to being critical more generally. I have Kaiser, so my therapist is at Kaiser, and I don't think that they let non-members see Kaiser practitioners. I could be wrong, but I obviously wasn't going to go to the trouble to figure it out.)


Edited. (Yes, I know it looks bad to be editing this post in particular. Keeping most of the confessional tone, just cleaning up a bit of skipping ahead.)

Ah, so I need a place to confess my failings, and facebook is not the place for this one. So hi, everyone! Here's the problem: I really want to see my therapist. Woah. It's been months and months since I've seen her. And now I want to. This is not the confession, because I have no shame about seeing a therapist or taking happy pills. The confession is this--I don't know if I still have health coverage. I should. I filled out the paperwork at my former job TWICE for COBRA, but have not gotten any confirmation or a bill from the insurance company (or my job), and know that my former employer is well known for its ineptitude. How irresponsible is it that I wasn't persistent enough in this to make sure that I have insurance? What if I get hit by a truck on my way home from this adorable little coffee shop?

The other problem is that if I were to call to get an appointment, it wouldn't be for another two weeks (or more, since Thanksgiving is in that period), and what good would that do me now?

So, since I'm not going to see my therapist, I'm just going to use this space to talk through my issues. Why is it that an audience seems necessary for this to be worthwhile? I wouldn't feel that this exercise was worth it if I were just to write it and then keep it in a journal or somewhere that no one sees it. Maybe it's just my overwhelming self-absorption and belief that everyone cares about my state of mind. Okay, maybe they don't.

Over-arching issue: subconscious (though I'm aware of it, so maybe it's not subconscious?) self-sabotage, as elaborated below.

Issue #1: Job application process. I'm still quite unemployed. I'm registered with a few temp agencies, but so far nothing has panned out from that. One option didn't work because of Shabbat issues, but it's not worth pursuing a discrimination claim because 1. it's just a temp job, and 2. it's entirely possible that the temp agency didn't tell the firm that the reason for my request for shorter hours on Friday was for religious reasons. But the bigger problem is that I do things like sit at adorable coffee shops and blog instead of writing cover letters and other supplemental documentation required for most job applications with the biggest industry in my Big City. I just wrote a pretty good cover letter but then discovered that to be hired above entry level, I need the supplemental documentation as well, and so now I'm protesting. Seriously, how am I supposed to write something describing my experience meeting deadlines? Sigh.

The excitement in the job arena is that I do have a second interview for a job I'm really interested in, and I think the would-be boss is interested in me. While I was on vacation a few weeks back, she emailed me to let me know that the job posting was open to the public (when it was originally posted, it was for internal candidates only, but I communicated with her to tell her of my interest). The interview was originally scheduled for this Friday, but yesterday she emailed to ask if it could be postponed until December 4. Frustrating, but manageable.

Issue #2: George. I can't believe I named him George for the blog, but what's done is done, and he does have a kind of bland name in real life, so it's suitable for this purpose. Anyway... ah, George. I'm a little worried that I need to be careful what I say, because on our date last week I confessed to the existence of the blog. However, I think he's a lot less stalkerish than I am, and I doubt that he would google "foster care jewish blog" and find this (not that I've checked to see whether that would work to find this anyway). [Added while editing: by "stalkerish" I merely mean that I have a bad habit of Google-stalking. Not ACTUAL stalking.]

Oh, it is So Nice to have a man interested in me, and to be interested in him in return, and to have someone to flirt with and talk to late at night, and to feel like I want to be my best for him (not to be fake to impress him, but because there is someone who cares and is encouraging). But I turn into a blubbering adolescent [sentence edited] at times, especially if I'm tired, for completely irrational reasons. Teenager reasons. Like if he doesn't call me when I think he "should". He's busy at work, has a strong work ethic, spends a lot of time driving to and from different places for work, and has a life. So it's more than reasonable that he isn't at my beck and call. PLUS, he does initiate strings of texts and phone calls, so I need to stop with the "if he calls, that means he likes me, and if I have to call him that means he doesn't." I'm just sabotaging myself by being adolescent and whiny and stalkerish.

And on a related, yet totally flippant, note, I want to share more about that whole basheret thing as it relates to George. He came over to my apartment after our date last week (okay, not so tznius/modest) and I Freaked Out when he started to run his fingers through my hair (melting...I love that), at which point he said something along the lines of "I'm just showing affection, we don't need to skip ahead eight steps"--a totally innocuous statement except that I also use the number eight in that context. (Seventeen is my standard "a lot.") And more seriously, since I met George on Shabbat while I was in his city, he has been home only one Shabbat. He was in my city for a conference, is going to another Big City this weekend, last weekend was in a different suburb of his own city... which makes it seem as if he's rarely home for Shabbat and it was just fate that he was home while I was there.

It's only been a week (I'm counting since our date, not since meeting), but I am really looking forward to seeing where things go with George. I'm not sure of his attitude about fostering--he's asked me a lot of questions, but I think that I won't get a real sense of how he feels until I have a placement--but he's smart and interesting and attractive and leads services well (yes, this is important to me, and yes, it's a pretty shallow "criterion") and damaged in interesting ways and has already shown himself to be my better angel. (That's a West Wing reference, for those who aren't as obsessed as I am.) We'll see where this goes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

More on George, this time fostering-related

When I introduced George, I neglected to mention that he is taking me on a date (woah!) on Tuesday night. Okay, there is still a sliver of doubt in my mind that it isn't actually a date. Nevertheless, it's a date. Or, to quote his email, "'not' a date." Those scare quotes are what are throwing me off.

This is my first date in something like almost 5 years. I know, I know, what's wrong with me?

So what happens if The Agency calls between now and then with a kid I'm actually licensed for?!?! (As an aside, don't the placement people have information in their system about folks' licenses? I got a call on Thursday for a sibling group of older kids. I have ONE bed. And my license is for ages 3-7.) Can I really cancel my first date in 5 years because the kid is more important? Do I say "yes" to the (currently hypothetical) placement and then find a babysitter? Ack!

If you believe in prayer for silly things like this, please pray that I just don't get a call until Wednesday!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What the?

My Nephew (age 6) has a new expression. My Sister and her girlfriend are distressed by it. I'm not sure what to think. This new expression? "What the?" NOT "what the h___?" or "what the f___?" (or what I say: "what the eff?") Just plain "what the?"

He doesn't seem to know (yet) that another word comes after. I suspect that an adult in his life (a teacher, perhaps, or a soccer coach) has some self-censorship skills but not quite sufficient to censor out the entire phrase. So, is it worth it for My Sister to teach him that it's not an appropriate phrase? No bad words included in what he says; does teaching him that it's not a good thing to say introduce the full versions? Hence my confusion. I actually thought it was kind of cute. (My guess is that a 6 year old kiddo who comes to live with me will know the ends of the phrase and the situation will therefore be different.)

My Sister didn't ask for advice, but I'm interested in your thoughts...

Basheret? (translation: fate?)

Back story part 1: When I was on vacation, I needed a place to stay for Shabbat between the end of the cruise (returned to Miami Friday morning) and going to My Sister's house (in the Palm Beach area sometime after Shabbat)--My Sister being not observant. Thanks to Facebook, though not without a remarkable amount of stress, a friend of mine introduced me to a guy she had met via one of the orthodox online dating sites. We'll call him George. (I realize that this is a departure from my usual descriptive naming system. If I were to call him "The Guy", what would happen when/if there is a Guy 2 or Guy 3? Hence, George.) George searched out friends of his who I could stay with. Miami Mentsches were fabulous. Anyway, George came for Shabbat dinner where I met him, then we chatted after services on Saturday morning, and I went to his apartment where he taught me how to play chess on Saturday afternoon.

Okay, George introduced. Now on to back story 2: When I was in college, I went to see a movie that I loved. I told my at-the-time boyfriend that it might have displaced the movie at the top of my favorite movies list. Then I saw reviews of the movie. Pretty much NO ONE liked it. And thus was my introduction to the reality that I just have bad taste in movies. (I love shlock, anything that makes me cry...) What was the movie? Patch Adams. Remember this, because it plays an important role in the actual story of this post.

George called me this evening. (Yay!) Among other things we talked about, he said that he is looking for smart people to watch a movie that's out right now (A Serious Man) so that he has someone to talk about the movie with. I responded that I should probably NOT see it, then, because then he would be disabused of the notion that I'm smart. This led to a discussion about insecurity (hi, that would be me) and my confession that I have bad taste in movies. I told him that I realized this after I saw a movie that I thought was great but that only got bad reviews, and I really like movies that make me cry. (Sound familiar?) To which he responded something to the effect of "sounds like Patch Adams." Woah. Keep in mind that Patch Adams is 10 years old. And that was his first thought? Kuh-crazy.

It's basheret.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A recap

Alas, today was, in something approximating the language of our time, a major fail.

After my earlier post, I broke down and went to 7-11 for my very large cherry coke. (I should say, in my defense, that my very large soda is a Big Gulp, not a Double Gulp or the other insanely large size. And I get the Big Gulp instead of the Gulp--how funny are these names--because I did once and I keep my cup to get the refill price.)

It's 8:10 and here is the breakdown of what I've consumed today:
* too much pasta (breakfast and lunch)
* Carolina BBQ flavor potato chips
* very large cherry coke
* 2 s'mores
* a beer
* some water

Hence, the major fail.

However, it wasn't all bad. And despite my strong desire to beat myself up over my failings of the day, I know that tomorrow will be better.

Today, I finished a cover letter (application to be delivered tomorrow because they want hard copies, but emailed to the would-be boss this evening), mostly cleaned out my car, knit a few rows of a scarf, and got somewhat caught up on my blog reading. (Yeah that last was a REALLY high priority. Ummm...)

So let me tell you about my plans for tomorrow. Perhaps telling the world will give me some accountability?

In order, I will do the following:
  1. Deliver job application.
  2. Visit the Coast Guard recruiter. (Crazy.)
  3. Go to Costco to buy lettuce, frozen strawberries, and goat cheese. Maybe they'll have yeast, too, so I won't have to make a second stop.
  4. Bake oatmeal bread.
  5. While bread rises, call the phone company to figure out the $15 monthly charge for internet premium technical support. (Yes, I should have called in July when they first billed me for it. Better late than never.)
  6. Deliver dinner (salad and bread) to my friends with a new baby.
I also need to do laundry at some point, though the world won't come to an end if it doesn't happen until next week. (Vacation in warmer climes and returning to full-on autumn means that all of my seasonal clothes are still clean. Hooray!)

And that doesn't even get into the question of the rest of my to-do list. Have a good week; I'll see you when I'm done drowning!

Please indulge me... a bit of personal whining. All morning I've been wondering how I would do this with a kid around, because I feel lousy. Plain and simple lousy. Not H1N1, I promise. It's caffeine withdrawal, which happens every Sunday (particularly those that follow Shabbatot when I have not left my apartment), causing me to go to 7-11 to buy a too-large soda, starting the cycle all over. The problem is that I'm trying desperately to detox myself; I only drink caloric soda which is bad for oh-so-many reasons, and in particular because I'm trying to lose about 15 pounds. None of my clothes fit, you see.

But I spent my entire drive home from South Carolina (the last stop of my road trip) thinking about all the things that I want to do (not "need" to do--that's just a set up for guilt--but actually want to do) in my life and my apartment:
  • apply for a job that I tried to apply for a few months ago
  • sort out my knitting supplies (that have suddenly become remarkably unwieldy)
  • clean my kitchen
  • and in general unclutter my apartment (it is REALLY bad)
Well, I spent a lot of Shabbat sleeping and recovering from all the time spent on the road, and then vegging in the living room with book after book, and being eager for Shabbat to be over so that I could get started on my to-do list. And I did a pretty good job, though at some point I switched from cleaning my apartment to cleaning my Google reader, and I went to bed excited to get up this morning and be productive.

Instead, I woke up with a headache. I sat at my computer to start the cover letter for that job mentioned above, and ended up sitting on the sofa with my eyes closed for two hours. It's rainy and chilly and I'd love to bake bread, but I think that standing up to make the dough might kill me. I don't have any fresh food in my apartment (you know, since I was away for two weeks) but don't have the motivation to go to the supermarket. *Sigh*

Okay, done whining now. I hope.