Saturday, December 26, 2009

Helping a friend

At Shabbat lunch today (a lunch that I had NO intention of going to, until the 3 year old invited me) a friend was telling me about some trouble that she is having with medical bills. This friend has more health problems than anyone I know, but thankfully at the moment she is in good health.

For Chanukah, she asked her birth parents for money to pay her most recent hospital bill. Her birth parents instead bought her a DVD player. This, after the last time she asked for money to pay medical bills, they gave her a TV. And another time they gave her a Tiffany bracelet that she learned cost in the neighborhood of $5000. When my friend has complained, her "Mommy" (birth parents are Mommy and Daddy) said that "you have an Ima and Abba to help with medical bills." Ima and Abba are her adoptive parents, who have eight other kids (7 of whom are actually cousins whose parents were killed in a car accident) and don't have spare money lying around. After hearing this tale, I'm a little annoyed at her birth parents.

For Chanukah, I got a very significant chunk of change from my grandmother. I'm now thinking of using some of it to help my friend. So here are my questions:
1. Do I give it anonymously or openly?
2. Will she be offended?
3. Are there other factors I should consider?
4. If I want to give it anonymously, how (practically/logistically) do I do that?

Thanks for your help!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

I went to Sabrina's dad's house to deliver her Christmas presents. And let me just say Wow. Her grandma showed me around and I swear I would have gotten lost looking around myself. The basement has two sets of stairs. The master suite is huge. Basically, the house is a McMansion, and decorated in the non-homey way that you see in magazines. But there's lots of room for Sabrina to run and play, and she looked to be having a good time.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me to take pictures of her opening presents and then playing. There were some great scenes of her and her cousin playing the piano and a toy saxophone. She smiled a lot and said thank you to each present and gave me two hugs (only with prompting from her grandma, but still...).

And then when I left, she asked me when I was coming back. (Wow, huge grin on my face after that one.) So I'll try to go one day next week; grandma invited me to their Christmas brunch tomorrow morning but I think it's better to let them have the day with just family.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I spoke to Wilma this afternoon, and she assured me that my check for November was cut today, so I should get it in a few days. Sabrina was with me for about a third of the month, though she was with her dad for a reasonably fair chunk of that time, and the amount of the check for a third of the month covers, I think, all of the clothes I've bought for her, the toys we bought once she came to live with me, and the crazy food items that I wouldn't have bought for myself (you know, like milk). And, I think, today's Christmas shopping.

For December, I will get the full amount, even though Sabrina is with her dad until the end of the month and she only has been eating (for the most part) food that her aunt has sent her back to me with. I am very grateful to live in a jurisdiction that has reasonable reimbursement/payment rates, but the past month certainly makes it seem like I could be doing this for the money. (Which, I hope it is clear, I'm not.) But while I don't have a job, it is good that I am able to use the board payment in part to cover, in part, my rent, so that I don't have to move out of my 2 bedroom apartment and stop being a foster parent.

How can I possibly be trusted to raise someone else's kids?

I had big plans today. I was going to go to Tar-jay for Christmas presents (because of course I knew I should buy them in advance) and the supermarket for a bunch of staples that I ran out of at the same time (flour, sugar, oil, chocolate chips), then I was going to send a fax to Sabrina's doctor to get some paperwork signed and a prescription for one of her inhalers, wash all of my dirty dishes, do a load of laundry, and clean up a mess of easel paper. I was NOT going to eat any pasta, rice, or bread (because I need to eat vegetables and if I defaulted to spaghetti and grilled cheese, that wasn't going to happen). And I was not going to sit in front of the TV/computer watching DVDs and knitting.

I went to Target and the supermarket. I washed the dishes that fit in the dish drainer but no more. I ate spaghetti for lunch. And for the past 7 or 8 hours have watched 2 episodes of 30Rock, a movie, 4 episodes of West Wing, and knitted. Alas.

Brief updates

1. I made it to the verizon store today and changed my plan to the 900 minutes a month plan, just for this month. I have about 300 spare minutes that I can use between today and tomorrow now. Next week I'll call and switch it back to the 450 minutes a month plan. In April I'll probably go with something pre-paid.

2. The psychologist wasn't there yesterday, but a colleague was there waiting in case we came. It turns out that Sabrina doesn't have to be there at all, so I rescheduled to go tomorrow.

3. Still haven't heard from Wilma.

4. Went to Tar-jay this morning and got some Christmas presents for Sabrina. The problem is that I don't want her opening them at dad's house, because I want her to have (most) of them here. Like the Dora tent. Trying to get her more comfortable with being in her bedroom. (I also bought Dora sheets for her bed, but am going to play by ear whether it is likely that they will get her to sleep in her room.) And I bought her a cute pink polka dot suitcase, since she has accumulated things while here.

5. I talked to George yesterday. It was a little weird. We had a heated discussion on the relative merits of leasing vs buying a car. And he kept asking me if I was okay, though our phone/email tag on Thursday (when Sabrina was pulling my hair and I was bawling) ended with me emailing him, and him not emailing back. When there was reason to think that I might not be okay. Of course I WAS okay, but still. And why did he ask me on the phone "when are you coming to Florida?" Hello? Men are odd.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quiet day

I talked to Sabrina's GAL yesterday; she called Sabrina's dad and arranged that he would bring Sabrina to her mental health assessment this morning and I would meet them there. In the meantime, the GAL would call Wilma's supervisor this morning (Wilma doesn't work on Mondays) to figure out if dad really is supposed to have Sabrina for her entire 2 week winter break (what dad reported being told by Wilma) or if she was supposed to come back with me after the appointment.

(The GAL also gave me Wilma's cell phone number; when I called it, the greeting was the generic "you have reached the SprintPCS mailbox of xxx-xxx-xxxx." So I don't have so much faith that it actually is hers. Or that she checks it. At least it was on.)

This morning dad called me about an hour before Sabrina's appointment to tell me that he was snowed in and we would have to reschedule the appointment. Fabulous. I asked when he thought he would be able to get out, and he said "a few days." There's a pretty big skeptic inside of me screaming to get out.

But I couldn't do anything about it, and was pretty skeptical that the psychologist would show up today because of the snow (though my passive aggressive tendencies led me to really want to show up and sit in the lobby of the agency as I waited for the psychologist to not show up), so figured it wasn't worth stressing over. Instead I called the psychologist and left a message cancelling, called Wilma, and called the GAL.

Then I sat on the sofa with 30Rock streaming on netflix and the mini-afghan I started knitting for Sabrina yesterday. And that's where I still am. More than 20 episodes of 30Rock later.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is definitely my fault

Wilma (the social worker) didn't call me on Friday to let me know how long Sabrina's current visit with her dad is supposed to be--'til today or 'til tomorrow. And I didn't call her when it got to be almost Shabbat and I hadn't heard from her.

And I don't have her cell phone number. (THAT, my friends, is HER fault. Though I suppose I should have asked her for it.)

So I have to call Sabrina's dad to find out when I am supposed to be getting her. This is not good.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This morning's adventure

We were 50 minutes late to school this morning. Why? Nothing related to Sabrina's behavior, though she was a little slow and then after the rest of the adventure we had to go back inside for her to go to the bathroom, and that took 20 minutes. No, Sabrina actually was fantastic during this morning's adventure.

We got to the car and she got in and let me buckle her, we drove up the parking lot driveway, and there we were stopped. By a car that broke down right in front of the only exit from the parking lot. "Can you put the car in neutral and push it?" "No." Ugh.

So we drove back to my parking spot, got out of the car (with, I should add, her bookbag, my bookbag--with her medication and an extra school uniform, her bag of toys, and her bag of Christmas presents from the Agency), went inside, and then tried to do some problem solving. Could we take public transportation? It would take too long, was too cold, and I don't actually know whether you have to pay for a 4 year old on the subway. Could we take a cab? I didn't want to shlep a booster seat with us, and regardless of whether it is legal to ride in a cab without a booster seat, I didn't think it was safe. So I tried calling everyone I could think of with a car. I found someone, we walked on our way to that friend's apartment, and then saw someone from my building leave in his car. So we turned around, went back, then she needed to use the bathroom. Then finally we made it to school. Fifty minutes late.

But no hitting, no biting, no hair pulling, no screaming. So all in all, a good morning.

Is it April yet?

In April, my cell phone contract is up, and I can ditch my "wow your plan is so old they haven't offered it in 5 years and don't you want to pay just $5 more per month for 150 more minutes even though you barely use 150 minutes as it is already?" plan for something more appropriate--whether a pre-paid plan or just a different carrier, either way something with a data plan since I am completely and totally addicted to having email access anywhere I am.

But it is not April, and I am currently faced with an awful predicament. According to my extortionist cell phone carrier, I am 247 minutes above my monthly limit this month.

How does a relationship that seems to consist entirely of phone calls at ELEVEN THIRTY AT NIGHT rack up 547 anytime minutes?!? A relationship that didn't even last the entire month?

[Yes, a good number of the calls are related to Sabrina, either people at the Agency, her mom or her dad, and a few "hi Mom I'm calling you because I'm bored waiting for Sabrina to get in the car" calls. It's not all George's "fault." But still...]

So now I'm faced with the following options:

1. Pay $0.45/minute for 247 minutes = $111.15
2. Up my plan to the 450 anytime minutes plan and pay an extra $5 per month plus $0.45/minute for 97 minutes = an additional $43.65
3. Up my plan to the 900 anytime minutes plan and pay $25 more per month (I think)

The question is whether changing my plan also changes my contract expiration. Because I refuse to end up with a new 2 year contract; it very well might be worth paying the $111 to avoid that. If it doesn't change my contract expiration, I'll go with option 3, and then switch back to 2 for the remaining months of the contract.

Any other suggestions? If it helps to know, my carrier is Veriz0n.

Cell phones suck.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More on the social worker

This social worker needs a name. "Dumb Social Worker Lady"? Too unwieldy? Let's just call her Wilma. No offense intended to anyone actually named Wilma.

Wilma dropped Sabrina off after her visit with mom, just about 20 minutes ago. Now, I will be the first to admit that when I have lost patience, I have said some things in Sabrina's earshot that I shouldn't have said. But Wilma said the following to me, in Sabrina's presence, and I think that She Should Know Better: "Is this your first? Well, I hope this doesn't discourage you from taking other children."

(True, she didn't use Sabrina's name, and maybe it was too abstract for Sabrina to get the drift, but she's a smart cookie and Wilma should not have said it in front of her.)

Rant over. For now.


FosterAbba, who is much better about linking to other people and previous posts than I am, just commented on my last post reminding me that she would have asked for a removal long ago if she were fostering Sabrina. My highlighting this is NOT, NOT, NOT to be read as a comment on her approach to parenting. It is because it reminded me of something else that happened this morning.

When I was on the phone with the social worker's supervisor's supervisor, he made noises indicating that he at least expected me to ask for Sabrina to be removed, if not outright asked me if I wanted it, but honestly at this point I don't remember exactly what he said or asked. After all, I had a four year old yanking on my hair and I was in tears at the time. But I do remember then spelling something about ICPC and her "f-a-t-h-e-r" (which he then asked me to say or spell again because he didn't catch it; look, it's not like the time I spelled "o-b-s-t-i-n-a-t-e" when I was on the phone with my mom, even though Sabrina probably doesn't know what "obstinate" means) and how if the Agency had submitted the referral in a timely fashion, this wouldn't be an issue, and how Sabrina is really smart and sweet when she isn't biting/hitting/pulling hair. In other words, "why is your default opinion that I'm going to mess this kid's life up even more?"

Then when we finally got to school, 35 minutes late even though we were on track to get to school in time for breakfast, and I told the teacher about our morning so far, her teacher asked me if I was "going to keep her."

This whole situation makes me wonder if I'm really up to being a foster parent; if I can't handle a four year old who DOESN'T have issues like ODD, RAD, FASD (as far as I know), etc., how will I parent a kid who DOES have those issues?

So no, I'm not asking for Sabrina to be removed. She'll go to her dad's for an extended visit over Christmas and then come back until dad's state takes care of his home study and such. (That time will be A.W.F.U.L. but I'm just not worrying about it 'til the time comes.) And it doesn't bother me that FosterAbba thinks that's the way to go. But what DOES bother me is that removal is the first thought of professionals who supposedly have the interests of kids at heart.

Social worker

I should call Sabrina's social worker. I should have called her Tuesday, then yesterday, and today I definitely need to talk to her if only to confirm that she is picking up Sabrina from school today.

But as stubborn as Sabrina is (and BOY IS SHE STUBBORN), I'm just as stubborn. And I think the social worker should be calling me. So I'm not going to call.*

Why do I think the social worker should be calling me? Because I spent 10 minutes this morning on the phone with her supervisor's supervisor, crying. At that moment, Sabrina was pulling my hair. Out. She'd already bitten me and smacked me, and we were 40 minutes into the attempt to get her in her booster seat and buckled in. The supervisor said he was going to talk to Sabrina's worker. So don't you think that the social worker MIGHT have called me by now?

No? Okay, I'll call her.

*At least not until I'm done venting here. Then I probably will.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh the cleverness

Sabrina really is a smart one. This is actually a problem as she can totally manipulate me. But she doesn't quite get that I have 28 more years of experience being smart than she has. And I was just like her at her age.

I got Sabrina to put on clean clothes this morning. How, I'm actually not sure, since I didn't even get to my planned "you may not watch Diego until you put on clean clothes." Though we didn't get to watch Diego for other reasons. HOWEVER, she put on dirty socks over her tights. This should not have been the cause of a major power struggle, but I never know where to draw the line: if I ask her to do something, she screams "NO," and then I don't make her do it, does she learn that screaming "NO" gets her out of whatever it is? So this morning I pushed the socks. And only really because of this...

I noticed she was wearing the blue socks she wore yesterday, so I said something along the lines of "you picked out white socks, so please take the blue socks off and put the white socks on." She went right to her room and came back...with the white socks on over the blue socks. I said "you're still wearing the blue socks. I need you to take the blue socks off because they are dirty." She didn't do it and things went downhill from there. She tried pushing her blue socks down and hiding them under the white socks, but the white socks were ankle socks and the blue socks knee socks, so that didn't work. After some back-and-forth involving her sitting on her knees so that I couldn't see her feet, she agreed to go to her room and take off the blue socks. She was in her room for a while, so I wondered what she was up to. My first thought? I decided she was taking her tights off and putting the blue socks on underneath the tights so I couldn't see them. Because that is totally what I would have done when I was four and someone told me that I couldn't wear the socks that I had already put on. It turned out that actually she was just putting on a THIRD pair of socks over her tights. She wouldn't let me touch her socks, she smacked me (hard) on the cheek, I made her sit on her bed (which, I am ashamed to admit, involved me yelling at her) and take her shoes and socks off, and finally she was wearing only one clean pair of socks over her tights.

(The socks were only one struggle out of four this morning; the other three were all health/safety related but were much less interesting. She wouldn't take her inhaler even though she is the one who said she needed to take it, she insisted that she carry her (hot) bowl of oatmeal to the dining room table, and she wouldn't let me tighten her seat belt. Then after all that, we got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to school. Sigh.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My smarty

Sabrina is really cute at counting. She very confidently skips 16 every time and gets stuck in a loop on the 20s, but she definitely "gets it." This morning we were waiting to see the doctor and I decided to test that she does get it. We were reading a book, and she was looking at the page with the table of contents, asking me to read everything on the page. "That says 'fifty-two.' What do you think comes after fifty-two?" Sabrina: "Fifty-three." What a smart cookie!

(Then the lady sitting next to us said, "she can count that high?" I admitted that Sabrina only can count to 29 but that she knows the pattern and is pretty smart.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh how I love my agency

Did I mention the 3 am phone call asking if I could take a 3 year old boy? When Sabrina was already at my home and I'm only licensed for one kiddo? Perhaps if Sabrina hadn't already woken me up three times that night I might have been coherent enough to realize not to answer the phone.

But that's not what is bothering me today. Today I spoke with Sabrina's GAL, who reported that the ICPC referral for dad was finally submitted on Friday. At that point, Sabrina had already been with me 3 weeks, and the judge ordered that the referral be a priority. So Sabrina will get an extended visit with Dad over Christmas, but will have to come back to me after. All because the agency didn't get their act together to do what needed to be done. They use the holiday (Thanksgiving) as an excuse, but now Christmas will make the one-month time frame for dad's state to do what they need to do last longer than a month. Grrr.

Also, I think Sabrina's social worker just doesn't know what she's talking about. Last Thursday the GAL and I talked about therapy for Sabrina. The GAL called the social worker and they talked about it. Then the social worker and I talked about it when she brought Sabrina back to my house after her visit with her mommy. On Friday the social worker emailed me, in follow up, the name and phone number of the person to call to get a mental health assessment, which she said is how we would then get recommendations for services. So today I called the mental health person and was educated on the process. The mental health assessment is mandatory for all kids after they have been in care for 30 days. It is not actually how a kid gets therapy. If there is a crisis (which she said hitting and biting constituted), the social worker is supposed to submit a referral for therapy. So far Sabrina hasn't hit me today so I'm not feeling too much in crisis mode. We'll see how long this lasts.

Daily routines help

Somehow I haven't managed to make a reward chart yet. (Oops.) Really quick, in order to make the rest of this evening not slide downhill into disastrousness, I'm trying to put together an afternoon/evening routines chart. But part of the potential disastrousness is that I think I'm forgetting important things we need to do. This is what I have so far (trying to be as detailed as possible)--please remind me of the things that I'm missing.

Hold hand crossing street to car.
Let Foster Ima buckle seatbelt.
(Ride home.)
Hold hand in parking lot at home.
Let Foster Ima help with homework.
Play time.
Take inhaler(s) without holding breath.
Brush teeth AND let Foster Ima help with back teeth.
Let Foster Ima help floss teeth
Wash face
Clothes off
Medicine cream and moisturizing lotion
Pajamas on
Book time


Sunday, December 13, 2009

George, updated

Apparently, an unemployed 32 year old who blogs better than she pours out her heart on the phone and who can't control a 4 year old is not an ideal candidate for supportive, mature, secure partner for a 40 year old divorced father of four.

So there won't be more posts about George, it seems. I guess we're back to the phone only ringing if it's my mom. (Or the Agency, but they mostly call my landline.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I can tell when I'm feeling depressed: when the phone rings and the caller ID says "Mom and Dad"...and the thought of answering it makes me want to run and hide. A very unpleasant 4 minutes.

Friday, December 11, 2009


George, that is. He is in town and, after much consternation on my part about whether it would be okay for Sabrina, stayed at my home last night. On my sofa, though this ended up being not the best use of my sleeping resources, as I ended up (not really) sleeping on the floor next to Sabrina's room.

At 1 in the morning when Sabrina woke up, George read her a story and--made her smile. I had forgotten just how adorable Sabrina is when she smiles.

I don't remember myself at 4, but I do remember myself at times in my life when I was very particular about who I would let make me smile. And it was never the people, in retrospect, who were the "logical" people. That is, it was never people in my family, never my close friends... so I get it that Sabrina needs to invest a lot of energy in being angry at me. That doesn't mean, though, that I wouldn't rather her smile more often!

It also is really helpful having someone in the apartment seeing how I interact with Sabrina. George offered me some good feedback (my mom offered me the same suggestion yesterday after hearing me on the phone, and while I think my mom really messed my sister and me up in our childhoods, that doesn't mean she doesn't know what she SHOULD have done in parenting us)--now the struggle for me will just be practicing to implement the feedback.

Here's the feedback: I don't speak forcefully enough. (This is also a big part of why I'm not good at litigation.) My mom also explained why I don't speak forcefully enough--I went from one extreme (tantrum after tantrum after tantrum) to the other (avoid conflict at all costs) and now need to work on finding a happy middle ground.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That was interesting

Sabrina hit her social worker.

Need I say more? Analyze it? I feel better knowing that it isn't just me. It isn't just the color of my skin. It really is setting limits that sets Sabrina off. The social worker said the same things I say, with the same calmness and persistence but I think a little more forcefulness.

And Sabrina hit her in the nose.

Now: a fuller update.

Sabrina had a visit with her mom this afternoon and brought home cookies and donuts. She refused to put them away: "I want to hold them!!!" It was putting them away (the second time, actually, after she had choked down some turkey and taken her inhalers without holding her breath so I let her have one donut) that resulted in her hitting the social worker. (Oh yes, the SW picked Sabrina up at school and brought her back to my house after the visit. I like this schedule.)

Sabrina was extremely defiant (look, she's a cute kid but she absolutely refuses to do anything suggested by another person--I know of no word for that other than defiance) and also screamed a lot. She called the social worker and me mean. She cried, she hit the social worker, the social worker made her go to her room, and then...

She threw up. On my cute sheep blanket. And her clothes. And then blamed the social worker and me for letting her throw up. She is old enough to know that she should go into the bathroom if she feels like throwing up. At least since it's not like she has a stomach bug and is just vomiting all night long. This was tantrum-created vomit. (I know this well from my childhood.)

So one more parental milestone reached. And how do I know from above that she really did just choke down the turkey instead of chewing it? Because her vomit was nothing but undigested chunks of turkey and donut crumbs. And after she threw up, guess what Sabrina wanted to wear to bed? Her clothes. That she had just vomited on. It took two grown ups to convince her that she needed to take her clothes off and put pajamas on.

So no bath for her, even though her last bath was at her Daddy's house on Sunday. (Am I a bad parent for not having her bathe every day? I didn't take a bath every day when I was 4.) So I really wanted to make sure to give her a bath tonight, even if just so that my bathing negligence doesn't get revealed to dad tomorrow. Oh well.

She's now asleep, in her bedroom. Can you believe (I'm sure you can) that she tried to direct where exactly in her room I sat while she fell asleep? I didn't want to sit on the floor so I pulled a chair over to where she could see me, but that wasn't good enough for her. She wanted me to sit on the carpet. "Sabrina, this is not a subject of negotiation." (Too big a word for a 4 year old? Well, she'll learn, even if it is.) "Sit on the floor!" "Sabrina, this is not a subject of negotiation. You need to be quiet. If you complain, I am leaving." "Sit on the floor!" At which point, I left and started writing a post about how I felt awful about leaving her because she was still crying about being scared. I got one sentence in before I gave in, but we then repeated the conversation about where I should sit. Anyway, as I type this, I'm still sitting in the chair.

Next up: taking her bookbag out of her room, seeing if we missed any homework, and most importantly, taking out the vomit-covered Hello Kitty sweatshirt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Much better

I discovered something today, though every time I make a discovery like this, it fails to work again. (Like getting Sabrina to talk about holding her breath while taking her inhalers. It worked yesterday, didn't work today, and with my luck she'll have a horrible asthma attack. Said as she coughs in the other room.) Today I discovered that if I "accuse" her of hitting me (in quotes because she really did hit me), perhaps just before she completely loses it, she then spends so much energy denying it that she doesn't actually hit me again. It's hard to maintain your fierce denial if you then do what you're denying doing.

I was a bad foster ima today and gave in to demands to watch Diego. But even while I'm a little ashamed of myself for doing so, I think it might have been the right thing to do. I told her that watching TV is a treat that she has to earn, and she got off on the wrong foot with me pretty early on in the afternoon. That story is this: I got a prepaid cell phone to use just for calling family members. I handed it to Sabrina to call her mommy when we got in the car after school. She talked for a while until the connection was dropped. Then she wouldn't give the phone back. I asked her politely, repeatedly, firmly, but she wouldn't give it back. A small thing, but also last night she hid the phone from me. (That was funny. She told me she put it in my room, and went in my room to muck around a bit, but actually put the phone in her coat pocket. After she was asleep I called the phone in order to find it.) When I took the phone out in the car, she said "hey, that was in my coat pocket!" Haha, caught you lying sweetheart! Anyway, there was one other small thing that made me think that Sabrina shouldn't watch Diego first thing when we got home, and I told her that because she wasn't giving me the phone back, no Diego. She then proceeded to put the phone back in her coat pocket, tell me she'd lost it, etc etc, and then cry to call her mommy. "Sorry, we can't call your mommy if you lost the phone."

Well, when we got home I gave her a lot of options of things to do, and she took the crayons I handed her and threw them on the floor, and tore the coloring book apart. I made her clean up the crayons and then she refused to clean up the coloring book. (Success there, though, that she cleaned up the crayons!)

Then we were back on the phone topic. She wanted to call her mommy and her auntie and her daddy. I explained again that we couldn't call if she didn't give the phone to me. I went to look in her coat pockets and she wigged out. I got her to agree to go look in the car, which she did halfheartedly and wouldn't let me look. Which of course was because it wasn't in the car and she knew it! She waffled a bit a few more times on "let me just check this pocket again" and then, still wearing her coat, went into the kitchen and knocked some dishes around. She then came out of the kitchen with the phone in her hand and told me that I had left it there this morning. Cute story, but she seemed to have forgotten the detail of her having used the phone in the car on the way home from school!

Wow, long diversion from the point of the story (giving in to Diego, in case you'd forgotten). So then after she gave the phone back she thought that was enough to get to watch Diego, though in the meantime she'd hit me a few times (see: what I learned today) and been obnoxious about the phone and refused to clean up the coloring book. So I told her that if she cleaned up the coloring book and played quietly for 10 minutes, she could watch Diego. She agreed and then proceeded to turn the timer off so she had to play quietly for just about 20 minutes instead.

After Diego (she's getting good at accepting the limit of one episode) we read eight thousand Curious George stories--lesson there? Don't buy books that have more than one story in them. She is very very very picky about where I put my hands when I'm reading, and I can't read with any facial expressions or voices or meaningful tones, but we successfully read the six stories with the only problem being her sticking her finger in my eye when she didn't like that I had raised my eyebrows at one point.

She didn't eat dinner; she seems to have decided that she will only eat food that came from her auntie or her daddy. But I checked with her teacher and she ate lunch, so I'm not TOO worried that she is going to starve. She's been sleeping a lot, my non-professional but somewhat educated guess being that 1. she's depressed, 2. she's wearing herself out yelling at me, and 3. she's sleeping because she wants it to be tomorrow (specifically because tomorrow she is seeing her mommy, but generally because she is always excited for Friday when her daddy picks her up at school). But I can't worry too much about her being asleep by 7:15 because I am worn out as well!

Today's tally: hits = 2 (after school. I think this morning was worse), bites = 0, shut up = only 4 or 5, no breaking lamps, no use of the F word, and only one mild poke in the eye. All in all, a much better day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Today's tally: hair pulled = 3 times. bites that broke the skin = 2 times (through jeans and through a sweater; really I didn't expect the bites to be that strong). glasses pulled off face = 2 times. glasses almost broken = 1 time. face smacked > 5 times. face punched = 12 times. told to shut up = 6783 times. head made contact with doll = 1 time.

My successes: she took almost all of her medicine this morning. she cleaned up the bit of her medicine that she squirted on her bedroom floor. (by the way, prednisilone is sticky if you only wipe it up with a paper towel. water is a better choice.) I figured out that if I get her to talk about holding her breath while she is taking her inhaler, she can't actually hold her breath (so she got some of that medication at least). she did her homework and let me tell her the instructions. I ignored the multiple times that she told me that her daddy told her that she can "f*ck me up."

My failures (aside from the above): the light over the dining room table is now ON the dining room table. we didn't get her topical medication applied. she is sleeping in shoes (which are on the wrong feet). she is sleeping on the sofa instead of in her room (after repeated -- calm -- requests for her to sleep in her room). she ate only half an apple and a bite of applesauce since she left school.

I'm drained. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. I don't know how I am going to get up in the morning and do this again.

Big plans tomorrow

Almost entirely unrelated to foster care, but I've invested in a huge luxury that is coming tomorrow and I am Very Excited. I've hired a professional organizer! He will be in my home for four hours tomorrow helping me to straighten out the very physical mess that is my life. (I'm leaving the metaphysical mess for later.)

Not tied up in a chair somewhere

My absence the past few days was not because I was being held hostage by a four year old, no worries! Sabrina gets to go to her dad's every weekend ("I don't have two daddies! I'm going to my Daddy house") and this week he 1. picked her up from school on Friday and 2. kept her through mid-day yesterday (no school) so there just wasn't much to report. But now she's back and WOAH. I haven't decided if it is good for me that she is at her dad's every weekend so I get a break, or if it would be better for me if she had consistency. It is clearly better for her to get to see her family, though, so I guess it doesn't matter which is better for me.


We went straight to urgent care from the hand off yesterday. Dad and I had spoken about Sabrina having an asthma attack and while I wasn't pleased with the three hour delay between that conversation and her getting treatment, I'm the one who knows her most recent medical history and was able to pick up her prescription and such. As soon as we were in the car she told me not to talk to her; I expected that so limited what I said. Getting out of the car at the clinic she wouldn't hold my hand in the crowded parking garage. Signing in she wouldn't stand with me, then we went in the wrong door (seriously, there are signs: check IN, and check OUT. You'd think that we should have gone in the door marked "check IN." But you'd be wrong) and Sabrina wouldn't move away from the toy she had started playing with. That's when some other moms started "reminding" me that I am the adult and saying that "if that was MY child, she..." Deep breaths. Those moms don't know our story.

Thankfully the asthma attack wasn't as bad as the previous one that took us to the hospital, so she only needed one nebulizer treatment and we weren't there the entire day. She slept for most of the time we were there, and then when we were done, she said she would rather stay in the hospital forever than come home with me. (Cute.) Finally I managed to get her off the treatment table and we left.

On the way home she was telling me that she doesn't want Santa to come to my house because I'm mean and Santa is nice, which means that I don't like Santa. And since I don't like Santa, I am going to smack him in the face. So she doesn't want him to come. (This morning she repeated that she doesn't want Santa to come to my house and she doesn't want me to put up Christmas decorations.)

She talked to her mom and her auntie and ate 2 slices of apple before she fell asleep on the sofa. I managed to get three of four inhaler puffs in her before she fought me, then a friend came over so I could go to the pharmacy for her new prescription.

I went to bed and she woke me up four times. The last was only 20 minutes before my alarm was to go off, but I went back to bed anyway. And woke up an hour and 20 minutes later. Oops.

Here is how this morning was supposed to go:
6:00-6:30 Foster Ima gets up, showers, picks out clothes for Sabrina
6:30-6:35 Sabrina gets a 5 minute snooze and wakes up at 6:35
6:35-7:45 --
  • inhalers
  • take medicine
  • brush teeth and wash face
  • undress
  • prescription cream for eczema and moisturizing lotion
  • get dressed for school
  • put shoes on correct feet
  • eat breakfast
7:45-8:15 in car on the way to school (school starts at 8:45; breakfast at 8:15. Even if she eats at home, we need the half hour cushion to make sure we get to school on time if she refuses to go to the car.)

Here's how this morning DID go:
7:00 Foster Ima wakes up and curses herself for oversleeping
7:02 Foster Ima wakes Sabrina up and apologizes for oversleeping, "but we need to get ready quickly this morning."
7:04 "Sabrina, we need to get up."
7:04-7:20 won't take inhalers, won't take medicine, won't get up off sofa where she slept
7:20-7:30 finally gets up, agrees to take her medicine but won't let me watch her. Some hitting is involved. (Of me, by her. Obviously.) We eventually end up in her bedroom where she takes almost all of it. I praise her. She shoots the remaining bit out of the syringe across the floor. I tell her she needs to clean it up.
7:30-7:45 I very calmly repeat over and over "Sabrina, you need to clean up the mess on the floor." At one point she leaves the room and throws away the paper towel I had given her. "Sorry, I don't have the towel anymore." So I get another towel and come back and repeat the process. She tells me she doesn't want to hear me, I continue to repeat the same thing very calmly. Finally she starts wiping the floor, but not where she squirted the medicine. (This means she has finally stopped hitting me. Hooray.) Eventually, I won. She cleaned it up.
[There is something very wrong about that fact that I am viewing this as a "victory" over a four year old.]
7:45-8:15 at some point during this half hour, she got dressed (she put her school shirt on over the shirt she wore yesterday and last night) and even asked me for help with her zipper, she put her shoes on the wrong feet, she half-heartedly brushed her teeth (I am supposed to help her with her back teeth, but have had zero success so far, so let her do it without me being there this morning--I was exhausted and needed to save my strength for her inhalers), she let me give her her inhalers, and she ate an applesauce. She let me put her prescription cream on her forehead, but nowhere else. Since she was fully clothed, we didn't get lotion on.
8:15-8:25 She put her coat on, wouldn't let me zip it, tried to snap it herself unsuccessfully, and finally let me zip it. Then she was just a bit stubborn on the way to the car but we got in with a minimum of hassle and she let me buckle her in. We ended up only 5 minutes late to school, where the teacher's aide had brought cereal and milk from the cafeteria for Sabrina so she wouldn't be hungry. (I gave her cheese crackers in the car and took a bag of cereal and a chocolate milk for her since I knew she hadn't eaten enough.)

She will want to watch Diego this afternoon, but I keep repeating that television is a privilege she has to earn and she didn't earn it this morning. She has homework from the weekend (really! in pre-k!) and we're going to read some books. (She wanted to read at one of the times that she woke me up last night, maybe around 3 am? I said no.) We're going to have turkey sandwiches for dinner and then take medicine and go to bed. I think I need to budget in a lot of extra time for these things.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The first (almost) two weeks

Since Sabrina came to live with me, I have been writing voluminous facebook status updates for the benefit of my friends, who don't know about this blog. (Except for two--George, who we've talked about, and now another friend who said "you should really blog about this" so I decided to trust her discretion.)

I can't leave Sabrina's room until she is asleep (thank goodness for a moderately quiet keyboard) so I thought that I would just copy all of the relevant updates so that you can see all of the craziness around here in the real-time snippets that are more authentic than the processed posts of the blog. [Note: I did all the copying and pasting last night; but didn't finish the formatting 'til tonight. And some of that is still screwy. Apologies.]

November 19
  • [Foster Ima]'s apartment is not ready for a four year old. Neither is she.

  • Ack, she's here! Freaking out just a bit.

  • Ack, does anyone in the building have some non-spoiled milk that the little one can use on her cereal tomorrow morning?

  • Okay, time to try to move the little one from where she decided to sleep (at the dining room table) to the bedroom.

  • [Foster Ima] is so grateful to have such wonderful friends. Thanks for all of the well wishes. Tonight went okay; now to tackle tomorrow!

  • Wow, haven't been this attuned to thunder in quite some time! But the little one seems to be sleeping through it.

  • [Foster Ima] seems to have ended up with a 4 year old taking up her (Foster Ima's) entire bed. Maybe Foster Ima will sleep in the little one's room.

November 20
  • Haven't been up this side of sunrise in a long while [6:25 am]. Not sure what the little one is going to wear to school today, since she slept in her clothes.

[That's it; remember the 8-9 hours at the hospital?]

November 21

  • Anyone in [my Big City] available for some serious maternal support tonight? Pref. someone with the swine flu vaccine who can come over to help force-medicate a defiant but otherwise adorable 4 year old?

  • [Foster Ima] is very grateful to [Pediatrician Friend] and the other doctors and nurses at [hospital] for helping the little one yesterday, and for helping to keep us occupied since one of us had no expectation of being there for eight hours; and to [neighbors] for watching the little one while I brought our things in from the car and then for bringing me Shabbat dinner.

  • In this moment's installment of "what did I do to deserve such wonderful friends?", I thank [friend] who not only got the little one to take her medicine, but also got her to put on her pajamas and sleep in her own room.

  • [Foster Ima] took some grown-up cough syrup and has a new appreciation for her little one's displeasure at all her medicines. That stuff was NASTY.

  • [Foster Ima] thinks she is glad that the Barbie DVD didn't actually arrive despite Netflix's email, and hopes not to feel the need to smooth things over with television tomorrow.

November 22

  • Crud, I just discovered that my bathtub doesn't have the plug for the drain so a bath is going to be, well, impossible this morning. I guess we'll have to stop somewhere today to buy one, and take a bath tonight.

  • Four year old: "Who?" Me: "Who what?" Four year old: "Who?" Me: "I don't understand what you're asking." Four year old: "Who? Somebody. Somebody. Somebody. Who? I'm not saying it again." Four year old walks out of room.

  • "Stop letting me mess up!"

  • Little one just put my shoes on. What a cutie. :-)

  • Lunch is packed, so time to get ready to go to the zoo. Must remember to let only the little one eat the (dairy) pretzels after the turkey sandwich.

  • "Get that smile off your face!"

  • [Foster Ima] parked the little one in front of her (other) computer to watch Dora streaming on netflix. Not even attempting to engage her in meaningful activity because I feel like death warmed over. It's a good thing I don't get sick often because I'm not a good patient.

November 23
  • Little one is slurping the milk in her cereal. I'm trying hard not to smile or laugh.

  • [Foster Ima] thinks that this never-ending adventure in the bathroom is her own fault for not managing to get vegetables into the little one's stomach.

  • "I'm about to take your patience out of your brain."

  • [Foster Ima] is not a smart mommy. Tried to take little one to school, we were late, nurse said "um, she should stay home all week, didn't the doctor tell you that?"

  • Hooray, found something other than "shereal" and pretzels and cookies that she will eat. Okay, so it's processed fruit in syrup, but it's better than nothing. Plus, she said please and thank you when she asked for more.

  • On fruit cup number 3. Wow.

  • Social worker called at 10:05 to say she would be late to our 10:30 mtg. Mtg was actually supposed to be at 11. Now it's 11:10 and she's still not here.

  • Four year old, scissors, and netbook = not a good combination.

  • On the next shopping list: white bread and tub toys. Also, sponges to replace the sponges appropriated for makeshift tub toys.

  • Rainy day, sick four year old, lots of stuffed animals and Dora = comfort.

  • Aha, a vegetable! In her mouth!

  • [Foster Ima] is thinking back on this morning and hoping that the mom who didn't know her little boy's teacher's name was also a new foster mom.

  • Dinner advice for a picky 4 year old who doesn't like pizza or lasagna, when the chicken in the freezer is 1. still in the freezer and 2. probably freezer-burnt?

  • Really annoyed with [Agency]. Per SW instruction, didn't make follow up appt today so that family could make appt. Now, little one not going to dad's (yet?) and SW didn't call with doc's name and number until after the office was closed for the day.

  • I keep forgetting not to smile.

  • Better for her to call her mom while crying for her, or should I wait until she calms down? I prefer to wait but don't want her think I was withholding information (that I have the number) from her. She's smart enough to realize that.

  • Getting better at using correct English. Specifically, "drawers" instead of "underpants."

  • Another thing to add to the shopping list: toy dishes.

  • [Foster Ima] had grown-up food for dinner while the little one had strawberry yogurt. She wanted to try my dinner and made a face. Good thing I didn't expect her to eat it!

  • Non-dangerous natural consequences: if you spread yogurt on the play doh, it will have to go in the trash, and then you will no longer have your favorite colors of play doh.

  • Lesson: when washing clothes worn by someone else, Check. The. Pockets. Thankfully, this was not a disaster. At least not this time.

November 24
  • Oh the joys of trying to make an appointment at a free clinic.

  • Nice, she just closed the door to her room for the first time. I'd rather know that she's getting dressed, but I'm super pleased that she's comfortable enough to be by herself.

  • I just had a hand put in my face while the little one said, and I quote, "blah blah blah blah blah."

  • Shameless request for assistance: our shopping trip was aborted due to a tantrum. Can anyone do a quick grocery run for me so that we don't starve?

  • Learned today that "drats" is a curse word. Oops. I guess that means that when I thought she was saying "s***" this morning, maybe she wasn't?

  • Okay, so she doesn't like peanut butter but likes half-sour pickles?

  • This little one eats more mayonnaise than anyone ever ought to. But when I was her age, I ate ketchup the same way.

  • How does a 4 year old have such a totally snotty attitude already? It's not the things she's saying that bother me, it's the tone of voice. I'm worried that it's my white, middle-upper class upbringing.

  • Little one on the phone with Mom.

  • No wonder going to bed at 8 has been a problem. I asked Mom what bedtime is, and she said "oh, by 10 she should be going to sleep." Woah.

  • Wow. Was just smacked in the face.

  • [Foster Ima] just put the little one back to bed. Thank you to everyone for your words of wisdom during today's trials.

November 25
  • The little one is a girl after my own heart. I asked what she wanted for breakfast this morning, and she said "yoodles. basketti yoodles. with sauce."

  • I'm starting to be able to speak 4 year old, but sometimes just have no clue. I also learned last night that "What's up?" is something to be said only to boys.

  • Suddenly I have a much greater appreciation for what my parents put up with when I was 4.

  • Apparently Swiper is hanging out in my apartment. Will he go with the little one to visit her daddy tonight?

  • The little one is definitely loved by her family but I'm a little nervous. They came to pick her up without a booster seat and dad didn't seem concerned about the instructions for her medication.

  • I think I'm officially a snob. Looking online to get more school clothes for the little one and am very tempted to pay 3 times as much to get nice uniforms from Lands End instead of polyester crap from the uniform companies.

  • It is really inappropriate that there is a special category "girls' skinny jeans" on the target website.

  • At the library yesterday checked out "My Father's House." Thought it would be good preparation for the little one. Turns out "My Father" is the one who "art in Heaven." Oops.

November 29
  • Three hours 'til I go to pick up the little one. Still many chores to do. So I'm on facebook.

  • Snack, then off to pick up the little one!

  • The little one is chomping on gum. Is gum really appropriate for a four year old?!

  • Little one has no grasp of possessive nouns. When I ask "is it at your Daddy's?" she says "I don't have two daddies. It's at my Daddy house."

  • That was a very long three hours. Now we'll see how long she stays in bed.

November 30
  • About to get the little one out of bed. Maybe with an hour and a half to get ready, she won't be late to school.

  • Pondering how long to let the little one play with her cereal before I take it away from her. An hour in to the hour and a half plan, and she's eaten about four bites of cereal. Next up: medicine, so I can make good on the threat to take her to school in her pajamas if she's not ready on time.

  • 20 minutes to get from the apartment to buckled in the car. 10 minutes from parking at school to out of the car. Must. Make. Rewards. Chart.

  • Tried very, very hard to avoid going back to Target. However, I was *completely* unsuccessful. Having lunch first; must fortify myself.

  • Parents of 4 year olds: how long is reasonable for the little one to spend doing each of the following--breakfast, brushing teeth/washing face, getting dressed?

  • Not giving in. Especially now that she is crying. What do YOU think? She stuck her tongue out at me three times, hid from me, listened to zero things I said, and took an hour to get from the car to the apartment. Should she get to watch a movie? I think not.

  • Got a prepaid cell phone so the little one's mom can call, but I can't get the back cover off to put the battery in.

  • Oh, so mom gives in to her every desire because crying is bad for her asthma. No wonder she won't listen to me.

  • Didn't make rewards chart. Hopefully tomorrow.

December 1
  • If nothing else, the pictures and timer got her out of bed, with brushed teeth, and dressed in a half hour. Still working on breakfast.

  • Today's lesson from the four year old: white people speak English. brown people speak "oosha."

  • "Don't say 'thank you!'"

  • Oops, bad idea to offer yoodles and sauce if there is no sauce in the house.

  • "Santa Claus doesn't know where I'm is" -- oh, heartbreaking!

  • Google image search for homework--ALL the kids are white. (Okay, I've only looked at the first page of results. But still...)

  • I bought the little one ice cream sandwiches, but so far she doesn't even know about them, and I've had three.

  • [Foster Ima] would have loved to see [high school friend] and [her band] this Thursday, but doesn't think it would be fair to leave the little one with a babysitter.

December 2

  • My apartment smells like a febreze factory. Oh well, the little one might not understand natural consequences, but now I do! What a mistake buying that was.

  • Pictures not working this morning. Crud.

  • She took my to-do list. How am I to know what I need to do today?

  • Hoping that the little one's teacher will have some ideas for how to get the little one from the apartment to the car in less than a half hour, but teacher does say that little one never got to school on time with her mommy, either.

  • Head hurts from earlier contact with door; just got lectured by little one's mom on parenting; does someone want to come and give me a hand tonight?

  • Good thing I don't have an actual ice pack since the little one refuses to keep the frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel.

  • The little one has ended up with a speaking toy in bed with her. Problem?