If I know you, and you're reading this blog, you have two choices:

1) Feel free to pretend you haven't, should the contents be offensive, sensitive in nature, or just TMI (Too Much Information).
2) Comment freely or talk to me face to face, and be prepared for further honesty and opinions.

Okay? Okay.

Jan 27, 2008

358 Days Left

Will we make it?

(Thanks Mrs. Incredible- I actually picked a different one...)

"Dear Mr. President"
(feat. Indigo Girls)

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me.
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You'd never take a walk with me.
Would you?

Jan 26, 2008

In lieu of a pulitzer...

I got one of these! From here. How nice is that????

Which reminds me that a while back I got another one...hmmmm...I have to go look now. Be right back.

Well, that didn't take long did it? (like most of the day while I ignored all the rest of the tasks I should be taking care of...)I looked through the past four months- can't find it. Damn. Had something to do with sleep. Can't even remember who it was from. Bad, bad, girl. Anyway...

Jan 23, 2008

Railroad Crossing

Let's just set the scene.

We're traveling across the railroad tracks, on our way home. Not our usual path...

Bumpity bump over the tracks (it's a fifteen passenger van, not a whole lot of comfort ride here).

Mia giggles. "Tee, Hee, Hee..."

"What are you laughing at, Mia?"

"That tickled" she says.

"The train tracks?"

"Yeah, the train tracks tickled me...they tickled my vagina."

"Your vagina?"

"Yeah, my vagina, it tickles me all the day."

"Allrighty then"

Jan 21, 2008


I received a query from Cole about names. Specifically names for the foster/adopted kids. I tried to answer without all the details, but I couldn't do it. So it's a post. I'm going to try and give details without revealing too much information about their entire birth names...

Just to be confusing, I'll start with Jack, our oldest fost/adopt child.

Jack came to us at 18, almost 19 months. He had been named by his birth mother- but he did not respond to his birth name. Now that I think about it- I have already told his story- last year, here's a link, Jack. We arrived at Jack through trial and error. His birth name was Jonathon. We tried Johnny, John boy, Jonathon, John John, a combination of Jonathon and his middle name, even his last name. One time, we tried Jack, he turned, it stuck. Much later his birth mom told us that she had always called him Jonathon. Perhaps Jack was looking for a new start with a new name...??? He is Jack Patrick.

Mia. She has had the most names. Her birth mom had given her a very formal first name. When we brought her home from the hospital we shortened it to a nickname, of sorts, to try and find a name the other kids could work with. About a week into her stay with us, she had her first visit with her birth mom who told us Mia's middle name, and let us know that she was going to call her a nickname from that name. Following all that?
For the first year she was Jazzy. She was reunited with her birth mother at 11 months and remained in her care for the following 11 months. During that time, her birth mother and birth siblings called her Ne-Ne and Meena. When she returned to our care we were not aware of that and went right back to Jazzy. We eventually discovered that she was being called something different. We changed to Meena, but Leo couldn't remember it and would call her Mia instead. She was also cranky and loud- really loud and cranky and we thought Meena (Mean-a) just didn't seem like a good idea- so when it became obvious that Mia was going to be staying for the duration, we changed it formally, to Mia. We kept her middle name since that is and was a part of her- even the spelling remains the same. She is Mia Rose Jazmin.

Abe. Similar to Mia, his birth mom let us know that he was going to be referred to as a nickname from his middle name after we had been using his first name for the first week. We switched to that and he was Manny for the first 11 months. When he was reunited to his birth mom they called him Manny and Na-Na. When he returned into our care we went right back to Manny. When it became obvious that he was going to stay with us we started to call him Abe or Abraham. When he was an infant he looked like a little Abe and it had always stuck in the back of our heads. We kept his middle name since, like Mia, it was him. He is Abraham Manuel.

Julia. We had no idea what her name was when she first arrived from the hospital. The CPS case aide who brought her to our house had one of those tiny sticky notes with a name on it. We didn't know if it was a first or last name and were not sure how to pronounce it. The paperwork to be signed for her placement in our family did not come for a few days (technically, not correct procedure). And when it did come we discovered that the name on the sticky note was probably her first name, however, now we were presented with a different spelling and different pronunciation. Since we were unclear we thought we'd wait until she started to have visits with her birth family to find out. Visits never happened. One day I picked her up out of the crib and thought "she looks like a Julia" and it stuck. Käri has always loved this name. She is Julia Margaret.

Ruby. Ruby was named by her birth mom and we knew it from the moment we got her. It seemed to suit her. We added a middle name. As far as we know she was not given one by her birth mother. She is Ruby Claire.

Foster children should be called by their given names. Those are the rules... we don't always follow the rules. I know it's wrong. No need to tell me.

Jan 19, 2008

The damn story...

I know that this life story of ours is still not complete. I'm finding that the story needs more solitary time and attention to details. And that, is hard to find in my life. My blogging is in fits and starts or it explodes out. Not a whole lot of planning goes into it.

I've also been stuck because the orderly side of me says Jack's story is next because he is the next in line, birth order-wise. And then there are the kids who entered our lives and left... and then there are Abe and Mia. Their story is the one that is calling me.

I will attempt them next.

If you've missed the other parts, here are the links.
Back in May, I wrote a post about our alternative lifestyle. It prompted a question which I started to answer here, here, here, here.
and most recently, here.

It occurs to me that the reason Gabriel Allred's story caught my interest so strongly is that we were in a similar situation with Abe and Mia. It's not easy.
But, lets start at the beginning.

The desire to do foster care started with me. I take the blame. Not that that leaves Käri off the hook. We have always done everything together. Every decision belongs to both of us, but the germ was my fault.

In eighth grade I decided I wanted to grow up and help crazy kids. I was inspired by my teacher. Miss Carroll had a fabulous way of disciplining and dealing with some of my classmates while caring at the same time. Plus, I have always felt that I could have easily been one of the crazy kids, taken a wrong turn and been in need of serious help. Why I didn't, I'm not really sure. Or why I felt that way... Who knows?

My journey towards helping kids started in college, where I took criminal justice classes, thinking that working in juvenile hall might be the job I was looking for. I volunteered with a local agency in different environments with a variety of populations. Elderly, physically disabled, a care facility for severely Autistic young adults, a psychiatric hospital for adults and kids (my favorite unit was the deaf, male youth unit), an environmental education school, and the "regular" classroom.

I took a bit of a turn when I discovered child development. I was intrigued by learning about human development and then observing children and seeing it in action. The child development program was thorough and a fabulous education. What better way to help kids than to understand where they were coming from, at least developmentally. My desire to work with crazy kids never abated, but I had decided that working in juvenile hall was not the answer for me.

Directly after college, I worked in a group home for severely emotionally disturbed girls in Oakland Ca. I was hired on as a co-manager of the group home because I had a BA. I was fortunate to work with a group of people who had been doing this work for a number of years. I learned a lot from these folks. It was emotionally draining work with small rewards. There were also some political battles related to class, race, education, and age- also good learning. It was a short stint since we moved about six months into it.

Then, life happened...

...and eventually, I spent eight years working with severely emotionally disturbed kids ages 5-12. These children came to us from biological, adoptive, and foster homes, psychiatric hospitals, reservation life and the street. Most of them had been involved with "the system" in some capacity for years. Drug and alcohol addiction, horrible physical and sexual abuse, incredible neglect, prostitution, poverty, mental illness, inconsistency, multiple homes, and lack of support, all played a part in their history.

In the end, and what eventually brought us to foster care is the many ways the flawed system failed these kids. I knew as foster parents, we could commit to a child for the length of time they needed our care. In fulfilling that one goal, we thought we could at least provide a stable, consistent, environment where the child would be a part of our family- not "the foster kid". Many foster homes I had been exposed to would request a child moved out of their care when they went on vacation or for reasons unknown. Too many children had ten to fifteen placements, or more. Sometimes, making a commitment to a child doesn't turn out as planned and their issues are overwhelming or damaging to the rest of the family. Sometimes the kids are too sick or damaged to be cared for in a foster home. I recognize and accept that. However, this was not always the case. And that part, the lack of commitment to the child by the foster parent, was the part we thought we could help.

Having been exposed to the issues of older children who have been involved with the system for years, we chose to only have younger children in our care. Grace and Gus were not quite two and Leo was five when we started. Our first placement was A. He was four, soon to turn five and, to date, the oldest child we have accepted into our care. He was relatively fresh to the system, and while in the custody of his grandmother, had been placed with us while he was in the care of his birth mother who was using when he was removed. (that's a little confusing, I know) A. was with us for only a few months- until grandma jumped the hoops to show she was the custodial parent and A. had only been visiting his birth mother during his removal. (We still bump into him around town- still in his grandmother's care and doing well.)

Our second placement was R. A sweet, smiling, huge, baby boy who was waiting for the red tape to clear so he could be placed with an adoptive auntie in Southern California. She had already adopted his two sisters and R. had been on the run with his birth mom until social services caught up with them and placed R. in our care, temporarily. He was also with us for a few short months, from about eight months to just shy of his first birthday.

One week after Grace and Gus turned two, we received a call about a set of twins. We picked up Abe and Mia from the local hospital on September 7th, 2002. Their birth mother was already gone, AMA, and they were having their pictures taken when we arrived. Mia was dressed in a too big, over starched, terribly scratchy, dress and Abe in a too big, mini-suit, complete with tie. They looked uncomfortable and incredibly small. Every parental instinct kicked in, and while technically these were not our children, per se, we immediately took control of the situation. The uncomfortable clothes came off after the picture was complete- we helped them pose, of course- and assuming the birth mother had dressed them for the occasion stowed the clothes away for safekeeping. The social worker had not arrived from the county to complete the paperwork, but the hospital social worker and nurses were aware that the babies were to be place in our care, and let us take care of the babies until the county social worker arrived. Käri ran to the consignment store down the street to get them an outfit to come home in- our first lesson in -sometimes birth parents don't bring a diaper bag to the hospital...". The hospital refused to let the babies come home in the hospital t-shirts- whatever... We did have car seats and blankets! Eventually, papers were signed, minimal medical information given and they were ours to care for.

Abe and Mia were premature. Not to unusual for twins, and while tiny, they were released from the hospital at 36 hours old, lungs were okay. Mia was born vaginally and weighed in at 5.8. Abe was an emergency c-section (stuck, somehow) and was 4.7. They had received no prenatal care and birth mom admitted to occasional meth use; alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana use were also disclosed. Apparently, birth mom was unaware that she was having twins until a few weeks before their birth, when she came into the hospital for dehydration issues. With no prenatal care and mom's drug use, their actual due date was a bit fuzzy, but the doctor estimated that they were about 4.5 weeks premature.

to be continued... I tried for an hour to post a picture of the twins at three days old- couldn't get the damn scanner to work...!

Jan 16, 2008

Short Update

Washing machine is fixed- laundry, not done. What else is new? The repair person came out last Thursday and replaced the pump- which the guy could have done two weeks ago- hmmmm... Oh, well.

Heater is supposed to be fixed tomorrow. Hoping this is true. The carbon monoxide issue does make me a little nervous...

Julia's stitches come out Friday morning- Ohhh, she's gonna be pissed to be held down again... not looking forward to it. I am not attempting to take them out on my own since they are close to her eye, she's not quite two, and the stitches are tiny and taught.

And yesterday, Abe thought that making cool tracks on the side of the van with his cars was very neato- I didn't discover the highway on the side of the van until this morning. ... It's only a car...

I may get a bit of a baby fix tomorrow. My cousin is in town visiting her mother. She has a five month old who has never slept longer than two hours, since he was born, and only naps during the day if she is actively pushing him in the stroller or driving him around town. She was in the car from 4-6 this morning. The poor thing is exhausted- both mother and child, actually. I tried to convince her to let me have him for the night, just so she could get a full nights sleep, but I don't think she'll do it. I might get him for a few hours tomorrow, so she can go out for a peaceful lunch or anything... we have some good sleep mojo at this house. We shall see. He's a huge baby- 20 lbs already- all cheeks!

I almost forgot, we haven't replaced the mop yet, but I have scrubbed a few floors on my hands and knees!

Jan 13, 2008

The Latest Pajama Accessory

When you're all ready for bed, but get hit in the head by a door and end up in the emergency room for six stitches, they give you fancy anklets right on top of your pj's!

She did fabulously- except of course when they draped her head and we had to hold her tight- screaming and crying. Hard to watch your child hurting and angry. Good thing this wasn't the first time for stitches. We're old pro's now...I think it was our seventh trip to the e.r. for stitches.

Jan 11, 2008

Driving Rant

Everyday, twice, sometimes three times, a day I drive through he same intersection.
There are four lanes. Two go straight and two turn left- TWO turn left! I mostly turn from a center lane, not the far left lane, but both are left turn lanes- both of them!

Twice a week, at least, someone in the far left lane turns left and immediately cuts me off and comes into my turn lane. I'm very careful, because I know to expect this, but after this happening over and over again, I have begun to beep my horn. I assume most of the people are like me and follow the same route day after day and they need to realize that they are cutting me off and causing a potential accident.

So today, this morning, it happens again. Feeling particularly frustrated that this occurs all the time I laid on the horn. This is what horns are for, yes? I admit I held it probably a bit longer than necessary, but the little toots don't seem to be cutting it.

The driver responds by going into the far right lane rolling down his window and yelling at me while flipping me the bird- I roll my window down shaking my head back and forth and hold up- clearly- two fingers and yell back (you know, so he could hear me...) "there are two lanes, two, that turn, you came into my lane and could have caused an accident". He continues to flip me off and says "yeah, your horn looks real nice, stick it up your ass". We are at the next stop light by now and stopped right next to each other. I repeat- "sir, there are two turn lanes you veered into mine when you turned- it could cause an accident". He "Fuck off, you and your horn".

Now, the light is green. I shake my head and move on... What the hell???

Jan 3, 2008

Random Conversation with Abe

We're on storm watch around these parts. STORM 2008 is on it's way. We've stocked up on fuel, water, batteries, canned soup, etc. Surely the wind will blow, the rain will pour and we will all suffer for days on end.

The dramatics of tv weather forecasters, I tell ya.

So yesterday was full of outdoor duties in preparation for STORM 2008. The Christmas lights were all taken down and put away and the backyard spiffed up. Leaves raked, the blower was in action, I even cleaned around the pool.

Abe is always willing to help out in the yard. He grabs a long stick and blows along side me, sweeps, plays in the dirt, and best of all, jumps in the yard waste can so we can squash in more leaves. In the middle of all this he announces "Mama we are all smart in our family, cuz we use our brains and they tell us what to do".
"Uh huh" I respond, wisely.
"And Mama, we're all smart and handsome in our family".
"Absolutely, Abe, we are all smart and handsome in our family".
"Yep", he says to himself, as he wanders off towards the side yard.

He stops, turns, cocks his head and squints his eyes, "But Mama, our family is really LOUD, we make a lot of noise".

"That's true, Abe, that's true..."

P.S. While the heat is not fixed I figured out how to re-able it so that it works. We are only using it during the day...still waiting for parts.

Edited to add: There's half a redwood tree in the pool, the lights have been flickering (the kids just don't get it...) all morning, the monster basketball hoop is knocked over, and yes, it's raining. I guess it really is a storm. (9:12 am 1/4)

And again: No power for 20 hours, trees down everywhere...okay, okay it was a storm!