Dealing with Unknown Health Issues

 

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One thing that makes me nervous for Buddy is the unknown as far as his health is concerned. His mom has obvious mental health and drug dependency issues and it’s always a possibility he could have them or a side effect from them, some day as well. His mom is also a compulsive liar and the health history she has given us has proven to be false. My mom, who was adopted, has had to deal with the same unknowns in her life. While she was able to find her birth mother, she doesn’t know anything about her birth father’s side of the family. Yesterday, she had to undergo a double mastectomy after finding out her breast cancer had returned.

My mom is a really strong woman and I love her very much. The first time she had breast cancer, she had to undergo a lumpectomy and then chemo and radiation. Not wanting to go through the ordeal again, she elected to endure a six hour surgery to remove and reconstruct her breasts. It was successful and initial test results show that they were able to remove all of the cancer. Hopefully, when the other tests come back in a few days, she will indeed be cancer free. Both instances of my mom’s breast cancer were only detectable because of yearly mammogram screenings. I know I will be scheduling my first one soon.

I’m sorry that my mom has had to endure this pain, yet, I’m glad that it was caught early enough to be treated. I’m grateful to her that I’m able to be proactive about my health as well. While we may not know what’s in store for our little Buddy down the road, at least he’ll know that he has a loving and supporting family to help him through any obstacles he may encounter.

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Is There Time For a Hobby with a Toddler?

 

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My husband and I need to find new hobbies! We used to do things like go out to dinner, see movies and peruse garage and estate sales. Well, when you’ve had gastric bypass or lapband surgery and have a two-year old, those things aren’t so easy to do anymore.

Movies are totally out of the question. Buddy is too young to sit through an entire movie. We can do Pixar or Disney movies at home, but any non-cartoon movie would have to be put on after he’s asleep and we’d likely fall asleep watching it ourselves.

We can go out to eat, but my husband and I can only eat small portions and Buddy is in the midst of his terrible twos. Sports themed restaurants have a-million-and-one TVs and are way too over-stimulating for him to handle. Places that offer crayons, are just inviting him to color anything within reach and eventually throw them. He likes to play apps on my iphone, but if there isn’t wifi, he’s limited in what he can do and becomes frustrated.

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We have to cool it on the garage sales! Last week my husband, who is a nurse who visits people in their homes, was in the midst of a neighborhood-wide garage sale. He called me up to say there was an activity table that included a heliport, police station, post office and had bins underneath for only $25. I said we didn’t have the room for a big item like that. He insisted that it wasn’t much bigger than the blanket chest we currently had, so we could just put it in its place. I hesitantly agreed if we could pick it up the following day. Well, my husband’s dimension figuring was quite off. This thing was huge! Our dining room looks more like a playroom with a table in it now! We need to move just to get a house that will accommodate all of the toys we’ve accumulated. Hubby is not the only one to blame. I also got Buddy a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Dora & Diego and a farm play dough sets (Buddy playing with a dentist play dough kid above), a doctor’s kit and some books, while at the garage sale.

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So, what to do, what to do! I walk the dog. Chasing a toddler around takes up a good amount of my time (Super Bud is so fast, it’s hard to take his picture. See blur above!). I have tried crocheting, but can only do straight lines. I’m better at cooking than baking because I don’t like to measure. I haven’t had much luck with gardening. Hmmm, we’ll have to come up with something… maybe competitive thumb wrestling? LOL

What I do know is that there are only a few more weeks left of school and I’m really looking forward to dividing my time between the beach and the pool!

Photo Credit: http://christmassiblings.blogspot.com/2010/01/taking-back-monday-and-tuesday-and.html, Man vs. Himself: Three Killer Reasons to Twiddle Your Thumbs at Work

Swiper, No Swiping!

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We have been reading a lot of Dora and Diego books with Buddy lately. He liked the one we had and, to avoid reading it a million and one times, we got a bunch from the library and pick them up here and there. You know Swiper that sneaky cat fox that is always getting into trouble? Apparently he lives in our house!

Swiper seems to be responsible whenever anything is amiss. Buddy’s sticker is gone from when he went potty. “Swipper did that!” Even though he has taken it on and off a million times and it probably no longer sticks, so is on the floor somewhere. When picking up blocks and one is missing, it is definitely not under the couch, “Swiper (took) my block!”

Now, our orange tabby cat, who avoids Buddy, but seems to like his room, is known for swiping the other cat’s food. He has been aptly renamed Swiper. “No Swiper, No! Oh Man.” He plays both parts. 🙂

Then, the other day, when Buddy pooped in his diaper, I said, “you need to tell Mommy when you have to go poop I can put you on the potty.” He looked at me surprised and said “Swiper did that!” “Huh? Swiper put the poop in your diaper?” I asked. “Yes!” he said, nodding his head emphatically.

That darn Swipper!

 

Photo credit: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/swiper-no-swiping-the-demonology-of-dora-the-explorer/, Viacom International Inc., Nick Jr.

How To Be A Successful Foster Parent (and Other Pish Posh)

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You decided that it’s way to expensive to adopt, you’re dealing with fertility issues or you were always interested in foster care, so you took all the classes, filled out all the paperwork and are ready for your kid. Now what? Hopefully these five steps will help you to be a successful foster parent.

1. Have realistic expectations. Whatever expectations you have right now, I’m sorry, but they’re not real. You are not saving anyone. You are not giving a child the home that they’ve always wanted. You (and social services) have disrupted their lives and your idea of normal is not their idea of normal. No matter how many workshops you went to, how many children you’ve worked with at your job or with family; it’s not the same when they’re in your house 24-7. I’m a special education teacher who deals with a whole gamut of behaviors at school. It was a different story when the child was in my home and I couldn’t escape them.
2. Be prepared to deal with negative behaviors. You went through the classes and you’ve heard the horror stories, but nothing prepares you for having these behaviors in your home, your sanctuary, which was once free of chaos. It will be hard, especially since you didn’t have them from day one, but don’t take things personally. Always ask yourself what they want to accomplish by exhibiting the behavior? Do they want attention from you, whether negative or positive? Do they want to see how far they can push you before you’ll break and send them back? You may find that you need to teach the child very basic skills they have never learned before. Talk about the behavior with them and give them appropriate consequences. We had a 12 year old who we had to teach how to bathe himself, not play with his pee and poop, wash and take care of his hair, brush his teeth, use deodorant, etc.

3. Be consistent. Do the same routine every single day. Foster children need to know what their expectations are, so put a list of rules up on the refrigerator. Use pictures if the child is too young to understand. Predictability helps the child cope with a new situation. They know that you will always get them up and give them breakfast at 7am. You will always pick them up at daycare at 5pm. They will have a bath before bed at 8pm, etc. Give praise whenever you catch them doing something good! My two year old always called himself a bad boy and would call my husband and I bad girls (yes, him too!). If they’re always told they’re bad, they might not know what it means to be good. Now he knows that he’s my good boy.

4. Have support. It’s important that everyone in your household is on board to help you with the child. I knew that my husband was going to have surgery when we accepted our latest foster child, so it was a big decision to make. While my husband was physically in our home, he couldn’t help out much and it was a very difficult 6 weeks chasing after a toddler in his terrible twos! You also need to have family or another foster parent who can give you a date night. It’s important to have “me” time and get away, even if it’s for only a few hours. Go get a bite to eat in a real restaurant and see a movie that isn’t a cartoon! You need to have someone to talk to as well. Talk to an understanding friend, other foster parents, follow a bunch of blogs or seek out a support group or counselor.

5. Now crumple up this list! I know you’re saying, WHAT?! But do it. If you didn’t print this list out, take a nice crisp piece of paper and take your frustrations out on it. Crumple it up, stomp on it, twist it, and then try to smooth it out. THAT my friend, is what foster care is. It’s not without its faults. We cannot make it be that clean, crisp piece of paper, but we can help smooth out the rough patches and make them more manageable. We have to accept that there is not a simple “how to” guide. Every child is unique and different and each county and state has different rules and regulations to follow. You cannot find all the answers in a book or a manual somewhere. You decided to be a foster parent because you’re a loving, caring person who decided to open up your home to a child. You’re not perfect and you’re going to make mistakes. Just learn from them. Use the morals and values that you have and go on your good instincts. That is my best advice to you!

Photo credit: Lubs Mary. / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Serious Man Topics

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I overheard the most serious conversation the other day between two male teachers. A “newer” dad was talking to a “veteran” dad about all the trouble he is having potty training his 3 year old.

The newer dad expressed his frustrations saying that he had tried EVERYTHING to get his son to use the toilet consistently. The veteran dad asked if he tried rewards or taking him to the bathroom when Daddy goes. Newer dad said, “Of course I’ve tried all those things, but he’d still rather go in his pants or on the floor!”

First of all, isn’t that the cutest conversation for men to have together? 🙂

Second, I couldn’t help myself but put in my two cents because of my veteran potty training expertise experience. I asked him who cleans it up. “I do, he’s grossed out by it,” said the newer dad. “Good, all the better reason to make him clean up his accidents,” said the experienced potty trainer of 3 whole months (me)!

The boy is getting better at using the toilet now. Maybe he can come over and help my kid do it! lol

Photo credit: minjungkim / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

We All Have Our Rought Days Once In a While

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Buddy always has a rough time after a visit with his mom. I’m sure most foster children do. Since he’s only two, he has a hard time verbalizing what exactly is bothering him. When he came back from his visit on Monday, he was pretty sad. I asked him if he was sad because of his visit with Mommy M and he nodded his head. I don’t know if he was sad because he had to see her, sad because he had to leave her or sad because he’s confused about what’s going on. It’s probably a combination. Well, while he’s usually a little “off” the day after a visit, he never acts out at daycare, until yesterday.

It was the first time the daycare girl told me he had a really rough day. He’s usually a model child at daycare. He plays well with the other kids, he takes turns and he does what he’s told. He eats every bit of his meals, no matter what she serves. He stays dry all day and even went to the potty all by himself one day! This is different from at home where he can sometimes throw fits about sitting on the toilet, reward chart or not. He is also picky about his food and something he loves one day, he’ll refuse to eat another day. He will also hit my husband and me if he is upset, but has gotten a little better with that. (He hit me last night, hurting his thumb in the process and then wanted me to kiss it! Gotta love it!)

Well, it turns out he had a couple of accidents in his pull-up yesterday at daycare and also hit kids. When we came home, my husband and I talked about it with him and he felt really bad about hitting his friends. He cried about it and kept talking about it all night how he hit his friends and wanted to go over and tell them he was sorry. I told him that it was okay and that everybody makes mistakes. However, I thought how funny it was that he felt bad about hitting his friends, but hitting Mommy and Daddy was no big deal!

So, Buddy went over this morning with my husband and told the kids he was sorry for hitting them. He got shy about it and didn’t want to say it at first, but he managed to get the words out eventually. Now he’s back to his usual entertaining self, roaring like a dinosaur, playing and using the potty like a big boy!

Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography / Foter.com / CC BY

I Lost My Houseman! (sniff, sniff)

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Hubby went back to work this week. His six weeks of recovery time after gastric bypass surgery is up. It went by fast for me, so I’m sure that it flew by for him. While it was difficult taking care of Buddy mostly by myself (he had a weight lifting restriction), Hubby helped out around the house. I had my own personal houseman!

After Hubby started feeling a little better, he started doing a lot of the household chores that I would have been too exhausted to do. I would take the laundry down to the basement and he would wash it all. Buddy and I would dirty the dishes and he would wash them. Buddy and I would mess up the house and Hubby would pick up after us. It was awesome! He even organized the basement; something I wouldn’t have gotten to in a million years!

Mother’s Day was my last day to bask in the glory. I got was the opportunity to sleep in until 9am! Then I got hugs and kisses from Buddy and a sweet card, a double heart necklace from Buddy (and Daddy) and even a gift card from my furry “children.” Buddy even gave me a nice drawing of his hand prints with a poem from daycare. Then hubby preceded to clean the house, sweeping and mopping the floors.  I even took a nap. It was a wonderful day.

Now we are back to reality. It’s all good though. We can share the chores and get things done together. Work took it easy on him yesterday. Hopefully the rest of the week won’t do him in. I know that he still isn’t up to full speed yet, but he’s looking pretty svelte! He’s lost about 30 lbs. since the surgery (80 lbs. since starting the process). I’m really proud of him and also realizing I better start hitting the gym again, especially after eating a whole pint of Fro Yo yesterday! Oops!

Photo credit: Dale Foshe – Dogwood Photography / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Got OK To Have Ears Lowered!

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When we had court recently, the caseworker asked the judge if we could get Buddy’s hair cut. In case you missed my previous post, we are not allowed to cut his hair without his mom’s permission. She said that she wanted it to grow out so he can have a ponytail. In the meantime, it was getting snarly, was in his face, and made him hot and sweaty. Plus, people were referring to him as a girl. The judge said that it was an issue to be left up to the lawyer and caseworker to decide. He did not want to micromanage. Luckily, they said they would support our decision to cut his hair.

The daycare girl read a book about getting haircuts and we psyched Buddy up for his big day. We went to this awesome place called Sharky’s Kids and Cuts. They have little cars for kids to sit in with working wheels and horns and individual TVs with cartoons playing. They also have bigger TVs with Netflix or XBox for the older kids. Buddy got a kick out of sitting in the Buzz Lightyear car. However, it took a little while for the hairdresser to get to him, so he started to get impatient. Especially since the car really doesn’t go anywhere. So, when it was his turn, he sat on my lap in one of the big kid chairs and he got to watch the Lorax and he did awesome!

The girl who did his hair was great with him and another girl helped distract him when he initially started to fuss. He enjoyed his movie, got a sticker, a balloonand a bookmark. It was a little pricey at $17 plus tip (my sister brings her boys to a place that only charges $5), but I wanted someone who works with kids all the time (it’s not for everyone, I couldn’t do it!) for his first haircut with us and not knowing how he was going to react. So, I thought it was an awesome deal and his hair looks great! It’s the same style only shorter and more well kept. The hairdresser even sent him a postcard thanking him for coming in! His first piece of mail; he liked that!

I was nervous about his visit with his mom. I called the girl who supervises the visit to let her know about the haircut just in case mom blew a gasket. Well… she didn’t even notice!! All that fuss for nothing, we‘re all happy and he’s stylin’!

Photo credit: Micah Taylor / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Stall Tactics

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I like to keep as much of a routine for Buddy as I can. I think kids thrive on routine anyway, but I think it’s especially important for a foster child to have predictability. Bedtime routine for Buddy is no different… but he likes to procrastinate.
After dinner Buddy can watch a little TV or go outside and play. Then he has a small snack, takes a bath or shower and puts on PJs. Next, we read a couple stories and then it’s lights out with several songs (twinkle twinkle, etc.).
Well, night time is an anxious time for Buddy, so he stalls. He wants to sleep on the couch or he wants to sleep on his bookshelf. He needs to give Daddy another kiss or hug. He needs to go potty. He needs a drink of water. He wants socks or he doesn’t want socks, etc.
Well, blood or not, that little man is following in Mommy’s footsteps because I was the EXACT same way when I was a kid! My finger would hurt, then my toe, then I needed to tell my mom something, my sister and I would fight about something and on and on. My mom would have a field day knowing this one!
I’ll start to yawn and say, “Boy, I’m soooo sleepy!” Then he’ll say, “I’m sleepy too.” Buddy inevitably gives in to sleep once he’s exhausted all known two-year old excuses. He’ll cuddle with me in the chair for about 10 minutes and then I put him in his crib. I’ll play a couple of rounds of Ruzzle on my phone and then he’ll be out.
He’s such a good boy!

A Tragic Loss of a Student

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Today my blog takes a different turn because of some tragic news I heard today. I know I have talked about being a teacher before, but nothing prepares you for the loss of a student.

A tough looking kid with a light complexion and reddish hair came to my first period class last year. He was hard to figure out and I did my best to try to get to know him. I received a report on him saying he was recently released from a juvenile detention center, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. What I got was a kind, polite, well behaved, respectful, good natured young man who had gotten into the wrong crowd. All the girls fawned over how cute he was.

When him mom passed away he had her name tattooed down the inside of his arm. He spoke of his little girl who was one year old at the time and an obvious highlight of his life, despite having her so young.

The thing that got me most of all about this boy was how smart he was. When he came to school, he did his work and he did it well. He would have had all A’s if he came to school on a regular basis. Whenever he did come to school, I would tell him how glad I was to see him and how much I liked having him here. I said how I wished he’d come more often, especially since it was a condition of his parole.

His dad fought hard for him. He tried to get him to come to school. He tried to keep him away from kids who were a bad influence on him. His dad worked with the school to get him into a JobCorp program when he decided school wasn’t for him. He most recently came in to get paperwork to help him get his GED.

This 17 year old boy was the most recent victim of senseless violence. He was killed in a drive by shooting last night because someone thought that he did something to one of their friends. My students found out through Facebook and Twitter.

I wish he was still at my school, sitting in my classroom. I wish I could have helped him beat the streets. I’m sorry for his dad who tried so hard to save his son. I’m sorry for his daughter who will grow up without a father.

I hope he knows that people cared about him very much. I hope he is at peace now. He is free of his demons.

Photo credit: Mr Tickle – Wachoo Wachoo Tribe Congressman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND