Christmas Spirit

A few weeks ago we decided to take all the girls to have their photo taken with Santa.

At our local shopping centre it’s $ 20 for a double print, nice for most families. One for each child to keep or perhaps a print each set of grandparents.

But what about us?

We had 3 girls, all from separate families and they can’t have a photo with the other girls in it for their own privacy. So, in our infinite wisdom we decided to get an individual photo of each girl with Santa for them to keep and a group photo of all 3 girls for us. Just one problem, this was going to cost us $80.

Don’t get me wrong, we love the girls and would be happy to spend the money if that’s what it’s going to cost, but that’s a lot and I’d rather spend the money on the girls gifts than a photo. So, being a little bit cheeky I quietly explained our situation to the ‘elf’ taking the pictures. She gave us the biggest grin and said if it was up to her we should get our photos free….now wouldn’t that be something! But, of course, they have to cover costs too so she went and spoke with the manager who agreed to let us have a single print of each girl and a group photo for $40 all up. Wow!!!

Was a great start to the silly season and I think the older girls loved that we got a photo of all the girls together, our little “family”.

It was so lovely to see a business do something nice, proof that the Christmas Spirit lives on.

Ungrateful?

Am I ungrateful?

Should I just say thank you and move forward?

Tummy Mummy and the birth family of baby “Jade” spoiled her for Christmas….Fantastic. That’s as it should be.

Some of the things that came home with bubby include a pile of brand new clothes and 3 tins of formula.

I appreciate the effort, but, the formula she bought makes baby constipated and more reflux. I’ve told TM (Tummy Mummy) that before and she was buying the right formula for a while but now she’s sent home 3 tins of the wrong formula. What do I do about that? I now have almost $ 100 worth of the wrong formula.

There are some lovely baby clothes for “Jade” but some are in a size she out grew weeks ago. I mentioned to TM about a month ago that by Christmas “Jade” wouldn’t fit her 000 anymore as a bit of a hint, but no, we still got some. There’s also lots of 00 which is her current size but, we’ve already got a gazillion clothes in this size for her, so we really need 0 and 1 size clothes for baby so that she’ll be set for her next growth spurt.

I know TM has tried, and I do appreciate that she’s done the right thing, but, if I keep the 00 clothes, she wont get to wear much of it, or may only just once. Would it be wrong to exchange the clothes for size 0 and 1? That way she can grow into them and when bubby is reunified with Mum she will have a nice selection of clothes to go with her.

Part of me wants to keep the clothes because it’s the thought that counts, but the practical side of me says baby clothes aren’t cheap and it would be better for us to get larger clothes seeing as we already have enough in her current size.

I feel ungrateful when TM is clearly trying but the reality is I am the one that will have a to look after a crying constipated baby and it seems such  waste to have more clothes than baby can wear in one size.

So conflicted.

Christmas Blessings

What’s your Christmas blessing this year?

Me, I am a piglet and have lots, it’s wonderful.

Top of the list must be MM. I have so many things to be thankful for with MM that it would be a whole other post. MM, I can’t imagine this journey we call life, without you. You make me laugh every day, you are supportive and wise in our foster care journey, often “the voice of reason” and you provide me with my endless request for hugs, even when I don’t ask for them out loud but you know I need one. Thank you for choosing me and coming along this journey with me.

Then there’s Ma and Pa, my amazing yet ridiculously supportive parents. Yes, they are ridiculous in their support of us. For Chrsitmas they gave us a weekend away at a B&B, without children. Time for us to rest and just have “us” time. But it’s more than that, there’s the constant support and even Pa’s ridiculous suggestion that we invite ALL of “Kylie’s” brothers and sisters (all 7 children) to THEIR home for Christmas day as children should be together for Christmas. Thank goodness our new support worker said that they have plans with the families they are placed with as it’s too close to Christmas because poor Ma was a bit concerned about all the extra children. The food, not an issue, there’s always enough to feed an army, but all those children running around….I get tired thinking about that.

Our babies. Not just the ones we have right now, but all that have come into our home this year. It’s been a crazy busy year, but so fulfilling. And of course I can’t count my blessings without making a special mention about “Kelly”, who we’ve had the honour of providing ongoing respite to for over 2 years and watching this young lady grow up and start the long healing process. And “Kylie” who joined us for one week and has now been with us almost a month, and having the honour of having her for Christmas. Watching her face light us as she saw the magic candy canes grow, the presents Santa left and just blending into our family so well. Saving the best for last, baby “Jade” who couldn’t be with us for Christmas, but, who has been with us for 3 months. Not bad for a 9 day respite placement! A little baby who fills my days with joy and is such a wonderful baby. Truly blessed to have our first baby placement such a beautiful little lady with the biggest of toothless grins. (One more sleep until she comes home!)

And now, unrelated to fostercare, MM’s daughter “Missy” and son-in-law “Mac”. They have taken me into their home as one of their own, and support and encourage our foster care journey. “Missy” thank you for all the baby things you hand down from your gorgeous baby to ours. “Mac” thank for being someone who calls a spade a spade, it means when you tell me something, I know you aren’t just being polite but are truly genuine. It means the world to me that you have welcomed me into your home. And of course the GORGEOUS “Kourtney”. A beautiful little girl who has stolen my heart by blessing me with helping her to open her Christmas present, not mum or Poppy, but me. Super special moment, and to make it better, when I went out with her Daddy to get pizza for dinner she called to “Nanna”. A name she gave to me as we always refer to me as Cee Jay.

Does life get any better than this?

Merriest Christmas

For so many years I didn’t get into Christmas.
I didn’t put up my tree.
No Christmas cards.
Nothing.
I would go to the family Christmas lunch and leave early, often in tears.
Why celebrate when I felt I had nothing to celebrate?
I had no children to dote over and I never would….or so I thought.

Becoming a foster carer has been the most amazing experience, and this year, while baby “Jade” is not with us on this special day (that’s a story for another day) we do have her gifts and some for “Kelly” and best of all, we have “Kylie” with us today.

We’ve had the tree up for weeks.

We’ve grown candy canes.

seedssproutingbiggerfully grown

We left out water for the reindeers and cookies for Santa.

When “Kylie” woke up and saw all the presents under the tree she was a bit excited, and so was I.

Santa's been

I had so much fun putting the gifts under the tree with MM and being an elf while “Kylie” slept and as sad as I am “Jade” isn’t here today, the good news is that next weekend we will have all 3 girls with us and we can do Christmas all over with all our girls. I can’t wait!!!

While these babies aren’t my own, I couldn’t have had more enjoyment preparing for Christmas. In fact, I’ve maybe had more fun knowing that for these children we’ve tried to make Christmas as special possible for them.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

The baby diaries. Part 7

Who’s a clever  baby?

I am.

Well, at least that’s what the milk lady tells me.

Why? you ask.

The last 2 nights I have slept from 10 pm until 5 am.

The first night I woke up soooooooo hungry I screamed and cried and woke EVERYONE in the house up. The milk man even woke up and came to see if everything was ok. When the milk lady told him that it was the first time I had woken up all night he was pretty surprised.

The second night the milk lady heard me make my “I’m waking up” squeaks and had me down stairs and the bottle made before I even realised I was hungry and wanted a bottle. I only got time for a quick “Waaaa” when she took out my dummy to give me the bottle!

That’s my Christmas present to the milk lady.

I’m now off to spend a week with my big brother and tummy mummy is going to come and visit us there for Christmas and brother’s birthday.

I’m not sure what all this Christmas stuff is about but hopefully it means plenty of bottles and naps.

I couldn’t do that

For all the people (both friends and strangers) who have ever told me “I couldn’t do that, I’d get too attached”
I’m not sure quite what you mean.
I don’t know if you mean I’m a cold hearted ogre that doesn’t cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. a child leaves our home.
I don’t know if you mean I have a super inner strength to cry my eyes out and then say yes to another child and know that I’m going to go through it all again.
I don’t know quite what you mean.
But what I can tell you is I do get attached.

I owe it to these precious children that come into our home to get attached and love them like they are my own because someone has to and ok, it’s not easy knowing I’m in for more tears, but, the day I don’t care enough to get attached, is the day I have to give fostering away.
These children need to be cared for and loved.
We’re not super strong, cold hearted or amazing.
We’re just giving some precious little people what they need when they need it most.

Farewell to an Angel

Not any angel, but MY Angel.

It’s hard to imagine this journey without her.

It was a hard day when she said that she and her husband were moving to the country. I’m so happy for them but it’s so strange not talking to her on the phone or emailing. My angel isn’t there.

I have a new PSW, and she’s lovely and doing all the right things. She’s on top of all our kids and their needs, the transition from one support worker to the other has been almost seemless, but, the new one isn’t MY Angel.

Today we got a beautiful Christmas card from her, made me miss her even more. Her bright bubbly voice on the end of the phone. Her cheeky tone of voice when she had a placement for us. Her endless words of wisdom, encouragement and support.

Wishing you all good things Angel. I hope you and your husband have a fantastic new life in the country. We of you. Thank you for everything you did for us and our babies. We will miss you very much.

 

You can say No

What’s the best opening line from your agency?

That has to be mine.

I had that call yesterday and now we have another young lady here with us.

Actually we had many calls yesterday.

It began with “Hi, you can say no, but I just thought I’d ask if….”

The first was to explain there is a family of 3 that needed a placement at which point my brain went into overdrive. Yes we’re registered for 3, but baby would make 4 and “Kelly” is due on the weekend and that would make 5, and that’s a LOT more than our registered 3.

I was reassured we were only being asked to help with taking one, so, of course, that’s a yes from me, so the next question, which one do we want. Seriously, I got to pick. With 3 to choose from I had to choose who I thought would fit best into the house taking “Jade and Kelly” into account.

The 5 year old wouldn’t really work, 2 car seats we can do, but I don’t think “Kelly” would fit in the car in between them.

The 11 year old wouldn’t work, too close in age to “Kelly” so I didn’t want to deal with any potential pecking order problems on the weekend.

So that left the 8 year old as being just right. Too big for a car seat, but small enough to not be a threat to “Kelly”.

Then we were told that another family had offered to have the 2 older children, could we take the little one and as terrible as it sounds I said no, it just wouldn’t work in my car. So, I was told thank you but they probably wouldn’t need us at this stage.

Next it was, the other people would take the eldest and youngest and could we take the middle child after all.

Then we got the, actually they are going to try to keep them all together in residential care rather than splitting them up, but again, thank you.

So in all of this, I’ve rung MM to see that yes he’s ok with taking in a munchkin and then I haven’t kept him updated with all the changes. We know that this happens, so I waited until the call that says they were going to put them together. And then…….

10 minutes later the phone rings, and I answer with “I’m just going to call  you troublemaker from now on” as I knew it was the lady from the agency, and guess what….There were no residential care placements available that could have all the children together, so could we please?

So this weekend we will have “Jade” (11 weeks old, short term placement) “Kelly” (12 years, ongoing respite placement) and now “Kylie ” (8 years old, emergency placement)

And almost all of the calls start with, “you can say no” because for one reason or other we probably should have.

“Jade” was a 9 day respite that changed, and because of work we could have said no when requested to keep her, but, seriously…how could we?

“Kelly” was a one off respite that became monthly and is now fortnightly and at any point in there when things changed, again we could have said, no, no to monthly or no to fortnightly.

“Kylie ” we could have said no to because we already had “Jade” and with “Kelly” due for the weekend, that would mean 3 kiddies, but, again…how could we?

How do you say no?

How often do you say no?

The baby diaries. Part 6

I’ve been on a holiday.

I went and stayed with my big brother at another ladies house.

It was nice spending time with my brother, he calls me “Cutie”, and it must be true, because so do the milk lady and the milk man, who I have renamed the yellow man. He goes out all day in a yellow shirt and when he comes home I watch everywhere he goes because I love yellow.

Since my last entry I’ve been to the hospital and been checked out by a different doctor. This one says he’s happy with how I’m going. Apparently at the last appointment because all I wanted to do was sleep he thought I wasn’t developing. Do you think it was because when he put me on my tummy to watch me lift up my head, but what I did was snuggle down for a little nap? Or was it because instead of looking at him I just wanted to stare at his stethoscope? Or just maybe because I refused to smile at him? You wouldn’t be happy either if you just wanted to sleep and this strange man kept interrupting you.

This new doctor was happy with me, I did a little bit of everything for him, even though it was my nap time.

There seems to be a lot of people around me worried that I’m not doing things according to some chart when they want me to.

I’m not a puppy learning tricks.

I do everything on the chart, but, I don’t like to be pressured by strangers.

I smile and am starting to laugh. I make sounds and have a oooh aaaah chat with milk lady, I hold my head up, I follow things (when I want to), sometimes there are just more interesting things to look at, and I can sit for a little while with my head steady all by myself. The milk lady says I’m doing well. My social worker says I’m doing well too so I’m going to not be worried about what others have to say and just keep growing, getting lots of cuddles and being gorgeous.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

 

 

Role Reversals

How strange it is to be the carer with a child at respite rather than the carer providing respite.

Why are we having respite from our gorgeous little bundle?

Well, not because we want it, that’s for sure.

It’s so “Jade” and her brother can spend a weekend together, and they are with a family friend who will support mum when they family is reunified.

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with this decision made for us.

I’m struggling to understand how it’s the best thing for “Jade” at this point in time.

I’m struggling with not having any contact details for the carer.

I’m struggling not knowing if tummy mummy will also be spending the weekend there, and yes, that is a very real possibility.

I’m struggling with not knowing how bubs is going to be when she comes ‘home’ to us.

Will she remember us? Will she be out of our routine? Will she be our normally settled baby or unsettled?