Mother’s Day

I am always grateful to celebrate Mother’s Day.  There were many years when I wanted to be a mother and it didn’t happen.  Eventually we found out why it hadn’t, and wasn’t going to, happen naturally.  We had planned to foster eventually, after having our own children, so after being upset for a while we decided to move that plan up.  We found out the news in January 2010, enquired about fostering in March 2010 and in May 2011 I celebrated my first Mother’s Day – then took the kids back to their regular carer.  At that stage we were pretty certain they would be coming to us full time eventually but they were still living with their short term carer. 

That makes this year my third Mother’s Day.  Giggles made a card at preschool that Grumpy had seen and helped him hide in room for me.  What neither of us knew was that his babysitter helped him make another card last Thursday so I got surprised with two cards from him.  Grumpy got Chatterbox to make me a card while I was sleeping in this morning.

I love each and every one of the cards I have been given.  In 2011 Giggles and Chatterbox were only able to stick stickers on to decorate a card.  Last year Giggles did scribbles and Chatterbox cut out pictures from a magazine (mainly of builders – she thought I’d like that!).  This year Giggles did a handprint, wrote his name and drew a person. 

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~ Giggles’ hand print from preschool ~

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA~ A person: drawn by Giggles ~

Chatterbox drew all these ‘happy’ pictures and wrote the inside of her card (with a few mistakes but I’m quite happy to be “Wowwy” rather than “Mummy”!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA~ Chatterbox’s “Happy” pictures: a flower, rainbow, heart and smiley face~

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA~ “to wowwy love” Chatterbox 🙂 ~

Today, while enjoying my kids and their development, I have also thought about those out there who want to be Mums and can’t be for whatever reason, and for who the day has been hard as they have lost their Mum or their child. 

I will be forever grateful for the chance to be ‘Mummy’ (or ‘Wowwy’!) to my two amazing children – who are the only gift I will ever really need on Mother’s Day.

The Gift of Life
I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know,
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you 
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
– Unknown Author

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Not so Fort Knox

I’ve been trying to work out how to write this post.  There is a lot of back story that is needed to understand fully… so do I just leave it as what happened now or try and tell you everything that went before as well?  I think I will need to include the back story…

Ever since Chatterbox started school last year we have talked to them about securing the grounds to stop her getting out.  We used to be able to say that she had never run away from home but now we can’t (see Fort Knox for that story!).  The school has said that she hasn’t shown any interest in leaving however I have always maintained that once she didn’t want to be at school she wouldn’t think anything of taking herself for a walk.  The school does have a big fence around it.  It has three gates out the front – one of which has a pool gate style lock.  The other two gates have big pins that go down into the ground and one across the middle.

When Chatterbox was enrolled at school we made sure they knew about her history of running.  For the first two terms of last year we had to pick her up early every day as they tried to ‘ease her in’ to school – it was more a ‘we can’t cope with her’ strategy by the end and we were ready to refuse to pick her up early when the school decided to let her stay full days.  During this time Chatterbox got to see how the gates opened everyday – how to life the pins – and started doing it herself.  A number of times last year I let her teacher, the office and the principal know that she was able to open the gates up if they weren’t closed properly and that they needed to close the middle pin (which they weren’t doing regularly).  Once I even went back in after picking Chatterbox up to tell the office that the gates were wide open (as I know there are other ‘runners’ at the school) and they said “Yes.  That’s because some of the kids and teachers are out at the swimming carnival”!  Apparently Chatterbox can open the gates but the teachers can’t??

So… back to today.  Went to pick up Chatterbox from school and when the kids were let out her teacher came out and asked to talk to me.  I left Grumpy outside with Chatterbox and went in to chat.  The teacher said that they had an incident on Friday when they had a relief teacher.  After recess Chatterbox had refused to get back into lines and was running around the school.  One of the teacher’s Aide’s was helping to try and get her back to her class (even though she wasn’t meant to be with Chatterbox at the time).  Chatterbox then went up to the front fence, opened the top gate and went out onto the footpath.  She walked down to the middle gate and then they got her back into school.  Her teacher is of the opinion that she was trying to see what would happen if she went out of the grounds.  I agree – but wondered out loud how far she will go next time!

In response to her leaving the school grounds they have put into place a few strategies… the only one they told me was that they would have to put the middle bolt across the gates.  It felt good in a way to be able to say that I’ve been telling them that since last year!!  The problem with this is that they have parents in and out of the school all day and they don’t always lock the gates properly.  They really need to stop access through all gates except the pool type gate to ensure the safety of the kids at the school.

I will have to arrange a meeting with the principal this week to find out what they are going to do to make the school more secure.  Just don’t know when I’ll get a chance as we have the paediatrician (finally – yey!) tomorrow and our yearly fostering case conference on Wednesday – in addition to all the normal running around we have to do!

Our dilemma is that it happened on Friday and we only just found out about it today (Monday).  Chatterbox doesn’t know what her teacher talked to me about and is used to me having to have chats with her.  Do we say something to her about it?  She already knows that she shouldn’t leave the school grounds alone.  She knows she doesn’t go away from school or home without an adult.  I really think that this time she left the grounds for attention.  Do we talk to her about the stuff that she already knows and give her the attention she wanted?  Or do we not mention it at all and have her think that she got away with it?  For someone with her issues it is too far away from the actual even to discipline for it.  So far we haven’t let her know that we know… what should we do???

Posted in Absconding, Chatterbox, School | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

iNSD this weekend!

I am very excited!  It’s {inter}National Scrapbooking Day this weekend.  It’s not really a day – the celebrations go for around a week.  I love it cause there are lots of digital freebies and giveaways!  I’ll be hiding out at home on my computer this weekend.  Who’s joining me?

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On the road again

In our house, I am the only driver.  As part of Grumpy’s medical condition, his eyes aren’t great and he had to hand back his licence.  On the whole, I don’t mind driving, which is lucky since I do a lot of it!

The kids have just started back at school after two weeks of holidays which means they have also started back at all their other activities (including therapies).  The closest occupational therapist and speech therapist that we can see is almost 40kms away.  Chatterbox’s dance class is 50kms away.  Giggles BMX is closer at 10kms and Soccer is only 7kms.  There is also perpetual road works on the main road which means 40km/hr zones a lot of the way.  It takes at least an hour to get to dance and 45mins – 1hour to get to therapy.

I just sat down and worked out how many kilometres that I am driving each week just for kid stuff and the grand total is 561km.  This number doesn’t account for social trips, visiting family, or even just doing the shopping!  It also doesn’t include having to make visits to the doctor like we had to today (Chatterbox has a sty in her eye which has almost swollen her eye shut – also necessitating a trip to the chemists!).    No wonder I seem to be racking up the ks on my car!  Some days I feel like I live in my car and now I know why.

As I drive I often dream of living right next door to school, or therapy, or dance…  oh how my dreams have changed!

Posted in ADHD, Autism, Chatterbox, Day-to-day, Giggles | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exciting news (Parents Space Website)

I am thrilled to announce that I am now a contributing author on a new site called Parents Space.  The site is full of articles to cover every aspect of parenting you can think of.  You can find this very useful site at www.parents-space.com

My first article was published early this morning and can be found here:  http://www.parents-space.com/health-fitness/the-autism-spectrum/autism-diagnosis-frustratinghelpful/

All my articles (when I have more!) can be found here:
http://www.parents-space.com/author/oddsocks/

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Birthday parties

Giggles’ birthday is in just over a month. He will be turning five.  This will be his third birthday with us and he is only just starting to understand that he can ask for things for his birthday.  I don’t know about you but having an almost five year old who understands birthdays now means that every visit to the shops results in at least five new ‘needs’ for his birthday!

Last year we had a pirate theme for his birthday with themed games including a treasure hunt and pin the eye patch on Giggles.  I made treasure chests for the lolly bags and pirate hats with Giggles image on them for everyone.  He had a treasure map cake and I even made pirate boat jelly.

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~Treasure chest lolly bags (printable by Shala Kerrigan:  can be found here~

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~Treasure map cake~

The year before that, Giggles and Chatterbox where here for respite on Giggles’ birthday, so we had a simple party with our relatives and a few friends.  Last year Chatterbox had a Tangled theme birthday with Rapunzel tower cake, flower pennants, and cup cake decorating.

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~Rapunzel tower cake ~

I tend to go overboard with the planning, decorating and cooking.  Just before every party I say that next time I’m going to have the party somewhere else.  This time I’m actually doing that!

We have an indoor park near us.  We really like it as, unlike other indoor playgrounds, you are able to take your own food to this one.  Isn’t it silly that you take your kids to play, use up their energy and exercise at these kind of places and they serve junk food without allowing you to bring your own healthy options?  They have the standard party plans – the ones where you pay a LOT of money for food, have no food or entry for parents included and, according to people who have had catered parties, the food is really, really, bad (which isn’t all that surprising considering they don’t have a big cafe, just a spot to get a tea or coffee and a packet of chips).

However, the indoor playground has another option for parties.  You can hire a table (which ensures you have somewhere to sit on a busy weekend), pay for your own entry and bring your own food.  We are planning on having around 10 kids plus Giggles and Chatterbox (who we won’t have to pay entry for as we have membership for them).  The option to hire a table works out to be around $8.30 a child for entry and the table.  We will then have to buy food.  To have 12 kids for the catered party would cost $264.  I’m pretty sure I can provide food for everyone (even parents – who I’m asking to pay for their own entry) for less than $164!  I booked the table yesterday.  I’m looking forward to not having to stress about the state of the house before the party!

Last night I opened my digital scrapbooking program – did I mention that I’m a scrapbooker?  Well, I am.  I am actually a digiscrapper.  I started scrapbooking when the kids came to live with us as part of our fostering requirements is that we complete life story work with/for the kids.  When I realised I didn’t have room or time to pull out all my scrapbooking stuff I took up digital scrapbooking.  I use the Creative Memories Story Book Creator program.  For the kids life story books I do 8.5 x 11.5 (A4 basically) layouts so I can print them on my home printer.  After I print them, I laminate them, punch holes in the pages and put them in a folder.  This way if a page gets lost or damaged I can easily print another and I don’t have to be precious about them looking through their books.  In my opinion digital scrapbooking is much better than traditional scrapping because:

  1. Less bulky and easy to sneak in a bit of scrapbooking.  We don’t have space in our house for a dedicated scrapbooking area so I would need to lug out all my supplies, do what I have time for, and then pack it all away again.  With digital I can scrapbook in any spare moments I have.  I can even do it while sitting on the lounge watching TV.
  2. If I need supplies I can buy them anytime I want and download them straight to my computer.  You can also find a whole HEAP of digital scrapbooking freebies!!  How many traditional scrapbook designers do you know that give away stuff for free??  (My favourite site for freebies is Quality DigiScrap Freebies.  They keep track of quality freebies and put them on their page with links – easier than searching individual designers/pages).
  3. I think the thing I like the most is that digital scrapbooking kits are cheaper than traditional kits and are reusable.  Once you have a digital kit you can use the papers and embellishments over and over again in different layouts which is something you can’t do with traditional supplies.

But I digress – hugely – sorry about that!!!

Anyways, so I sat down last night and opened my digital scrapbooking program.  I pulled up my invitation ‘project’ and started a blank page for Giggles’ birthday invite.  The indoor playground has a castle theme so I searched my huge stash of supplies for suitable kits.  Then I went online, found two kits to buy (the problem with the ease of buying digital scrapbooking supplies is that it IS so easy – and I tend to buy more than I need!!!), downloaded them and made the invitation.  I’m quite happy with the finished product and I think Giggles will like it:

Giggles party invite

Giggles’ party invitation.
Paper and grass from Chivalry by Kaye Winiecki
Everything else from Twisted Princess by Gina Miller & Jacque Larsen

Posted in Foster care, Giggles, Scrapbooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sensory Room

It’s my Mum’s birthday tomorrow.  Mum and Dad were coming up to help us start enclosing our carport to make a garage.  I tried to organise a bit of a surprise party with my brother and sister coming up as well but unfortunately they weren’t able to make it in the end.   However, this did mean that we were able to start building!  Grumpy and Dad got one stud wall built and we will be working on more tomorrow.

The garage isn’t going to be used for my car.  It is going to be used as a sensory gym!

  • The space will be around 5.5m x 3.5m.  
  • We will have one of the 3.5m walls covered in wardrobes for storage.  
  • There will be pigtail hooks in the roof so we can hang up swings and rope ladders.

                                    trapeze disc swing

 

~Swings from Bunnings ~

ikea swing

 

~We have had this Ikea swing for around a year 
looking forward to having somewhere to hang it up ~

  • We wanted a ‘book nook’ – that is dim and cosy for reading books, relaxing or having some sensory time out.  It was going to have bookshelves around the outside.  However, the kids were looking at some pictures of playrooms online with Grumpy and decided that they would like a castle! So… now we are having a castle in the corner – there will still be a cosy, quiet space underneath but they will be able to climb on top, using rock climbing style grips, and slide down a slide!
    climbing grips

~Grips~

corner castle

 

~The castle that the kids want – see it on the original page here~

  • We will have a desk that can fold down against the wall so that it can be moved out of the way when swinging.  
  • We are going to paint the top of the desk with blackboard paint so it can be a blackboard when down.
  • We will have rubber tiles on the floor for safety.

I will share updates as we go along.

Posted in Autism, Sensory Room | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Do they see their parents?” and other questions.

“Do they see their parents?”.  This is generally the first question we get asked once people know that the kids are fostered.  I feel like replying “Yep.  Everyday.  Actually they are seeing them right now” because WE are their parents.  They may not share our genes but we care for them day to day and love them as our own.  If you are ever thinking of asking this question, please stop and think… and then add ‘biological’ or ‘birth’ into the sentence: “Do they see their biological/birth parents?”.  Now that makes much more sense.

The next question we will be asked will be if we have met their birth parents, or if we have to meet them.  When we did our training we were told that we would not meet the birth parents of kids we have in care, but we met them within a few months.  We first met them when dropping off the kids for contact.  Last contact we even spent time cuddling Whozma – the kids’ baby brother who is living with their birth Mum.

The question I find the hardest to answer is “how do you cope seeing the birth parents when you know how they treated the kids?”.  It’s hard because when I talk about their birth parents I think about them now, so my answer would tell you that we are lucky – the kids have good birth parents.  Then I start to think about that and realise that obviously they aren’t ‘good parents’ or the kids would still be living at home.  When I think about it further I realise that I have two sets of birth family compartmentalised in my brain – the family now and the family before the kids were removed.  In a way the later doesn’t matter (hey, that rhymes).  Well it does matter, but who and how is it going to help if we expect the family to be the people they were two years ago and treat them like that?  I have changed in the last two years and I’m sure everyone reading this also has.  The kids’ birth family has also changed – their birth Mum was given a chance to parent Whozma and is, by all accounts, going really well.  That isn’t to say that I don’t get cranky, upset, annoyed, frustrated, and horrified about what happened to the kids before they went into care.  I also have trouble compartmentalising one member of the birth family and would quite happily cut them out of the kids’ lives completely if I could but I can’t – and that’s really what it comes down to.  I can’t change what happened before, I can’t change who they have to see now, all I can do is know that the kids are safe with us.

I said earlier that the kids have good birth parents, by that I mean that they turn up to contacts, they care about the kids, they are able to be ‘good parents’ for a few hours four times a year, they buy age appropriate gifts (probably too many – but that’s much better than none!) and most importantly, in my opinion, they encourage the kids’ relationship with Grumpy and me.  They also participate in case conferences, write letters, send photos between contacts, and have accepted that they can’t parent Giggles and Chatterbox.  They have told us that they would not try to get them back which is reassuring – but we know that things/people change and nothing is certain in foster care.

Part of our job as foster parents is to ensure that Giggles and Chatterbox have a relationship with their birth family.  We get them presents, talk about them in a positive way and always refer to them as Mummy ____ and Dad ____.  We constantly talk about their baby brother.  The kids have photos of their birth family in their rooms, and have a photo album specifically for photos that they are given by them.  They have contact this week so yesterday we spent time making a simple mobile for Whozma.  Today they drew some pictures and I printed some photos for the rest of the family.

I have also been researching books to give to the birth family to fill out and provide their history for the kids.  I’m aware that whatever they write may not be realistic and they also may not fill them.  I also think that it’s possible that the kids will not want them when they are older but I hope that they help to show them that there are two sides to all people.  The most important one, I feel, is the one I have found for their grandparents.  I don’t know their stories or life history and if they aren’t around when the kids want to ask them questions I won’t be able to help.  At least the books might then be able to help them find answers to their questions.  This will also help as the kids start to have questions but there is a while between contacts – having the books will mean we can find out the information when they ask.  In a way I’m also being a bit selfish as we will then be able to show the kids that we have done everything we can to encourage their relationships with their birth family.

It was hard to work out which books to buy but last night I decided on these:

The Grandparent Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – http://www.whoisamy.com

the grandparent book

Dear Mum, from you to me – http://fromyoutome.com/journals/dearmumsketch.html

dear mum

 

Dear Dad, from you to me – http://fromyoutome.com/journals/deardadsketch.html

dear dad

I can’t wait to get them and have a good look inside.  If they are good I might order more – one each for me and Grumpy and then a few for our parents (look out guys – you might have a book to fill in soon!).

For those of you who are reading and foster or have adopted:
What questions do you hear when people find out your kids are fostered/adopted?

Posted in Foster care | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Why don’t I?”

Chatterbox has a LOT of trouble going to sleep at night.  Lately we have given up on making her stay in bed and let her play in her room until she is ready for sleep.  Generally she has been getting into bed and going to sleep around 9pm.  Tonight she was being very silly in her room – jumping on her bed, hanging things on a hook on her bed, yelling – which is why the post I was planning to write on birth parents is still getting written (I should be able to post it tomorrow).

Chatterbox woke up around 10.30pm.  There is only two more ‘sleeps’ until she sees her birth family at contact so she will be sleeping even worse in anticipation.  She got up to go to the toilet.  When she was back in bed Grumpy went up to tuck her in.

Chatterbox:  I want to talk to you.  Can I tell you something?

Grumpy:  Sure.  You can tell me and Mummy anything.

Chatterbox:  I think C (a school friend) goes to bed at night.

Grumpy:  Yeah I’m sure he does.  All your friends go to sleep at night.

Chatterbox:  Why don’t I?

Good question Chatterbox… good question indeed.

I recently shared on the Giggles and Chatterbox-ing facebook page a picture that might explain it to those of us who don’t have ADHD.  Go have a look – and while you are there maybe you could like my page 🙂

Posted in (Not) Sleeping, ADHD, Chatterbox | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Little milestones

Yesterday when we were at the shops Grumpy and I got a surprise.  Chatterbox suddenly started skipping!  We have been trying to teach her for ages – it is a very hard skill for someone with motor dyspraxia to master.  Skipping is quite an important thing for her.  I have seen many girls on the playground at her school skipping – and Chatterbox used to be galloping behind them.  She doesn’t need another reason to be different and stand out from others so we are happy she can now skip.  She still looks a bit uncoordinated when she skips but I can see a change in fluidity even between yesterday and today so I’m certain that by the time the holidays are over she will look like she has been doing it for years.

skipping

~Chatterbox skipping at the shops~

Today there was another little milestone:  Chatterbox said “energy”.  Only a small change but now we won’t have to hear her say ‘energia’ at least three times a day.  It’s a small thing but it gets annoying and frustrating after you hear it for the 1000th time!  (Along with ‘breskit’ for ‘breakfast’ and the way she says ‘weetbix’ which I can’t work out how to write).

Often things happen like this with Chatterbox.  We work for ages on a skill and she can’t do it and then suddenly something clicks and she gets it.  Our first taste of this was the 13 weeks it took us to teach her that there were colours other than red.  Everything was red when we first met her.  In fact ‘red’ was her answer when she didn’t know an answer, or the word she used when she didn’t know what to say.  We talked about colours of everything, made her and Giggles choose colour plates for her food, read books about colours, and even listened to songs about colours.  Now she has a new favourite colour every day, today it was silver.  Another example of how hard Chatterbox has to work to acquire a new skill has to do with the way she used to pronounce any word with the letter ‘z’ at the front.  She would say ‘ippzer’ instead of ‘zipper’, ‘erzo’ for ‘zero’, ‘ooz’ for ‘zoo’ and so on.  We spent at least 6 months working on it and then one day she just started saying all the words the right way and only slipped up once or twice after that.  At the time if feels like you are hitting your head against a brick wall but when she gets it, it sticks.

 Grumpy and I are so proud of Chatterbox’s hard work.

Posted in Chatterbox, Speech | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments