Woah! Dat big tree ever my seen!!

The title of this post might not seem like a big deal to hear from an almost 5 year old but for Giggles it’s pretty amazing.  He said every word in the sentence and added extra information.  He didn’t just say “big tree” like he would have said a year ago.  He didn’t even just say “dat big tree ever” as he would have said only a few months ago.  He said “Woah! Dat big tree every my seen”.  Yes, his pronunciation and syntax aren’t normal.  Yes, he doesn’t say biggEST but he still gets his point across (and even more amazingly anyone other than just me, Grumpy and Chatterbox would have also understood what he was trying to say).

Big tree

~Not actual big tree!~

Why is this so amazing?  Well, up until May 2011 when Giggles was 3 he only ever said “Mum”.  The way he said it varied, and he added gestures and repetition to get his point across.  For ages he called both Grumpy and me ‘Mum’ which was a bit confusing – eventually he worked out that I was ‘Mum’ and Grumpy was ‘Dad’ and thankfully Grumpy never got a complex about that!  Mind you before this he was used to one of our nephews (and his Mum) calling him “Aunty Grumpy” so I guess “Mum” isn’t much different.

Then in May, 2011 Giggles got grommets inserted in both ears.  From then his language has improved amazingly, proving that his language delay was due to being unable to hear properly from chronic ear infections that weren’t treated by his bio parents.  About 6 months ago we noticed that Giggles wasn’t paying attention to noises he used to love – like the very rare planes and much more common helicopters that fly over our house.  He seemed to need us to raise our voices before he would respond.  We weren’t sure how much of this was due to him being a kid and ignoring us or if it was his hearing.  We went to the GP who gave him antibiotics and advised us to wait a month to see what happened.  Then came Christmas and the holidays so we waited longer before we went back.  In this time my sisters both started to notice that his hearing didn’t seem quite right.  This year we went to an Ear, nose and throat specialist who had a look and thought that it might resolve itself.  When we went to a follow up appointment the ENT said that he would need grommets in both ears again.  This will hopefully be happening in May (almost  exactly 2 years after his first lot of grommets).  I say hopefully as we have to get permission from the fostering department.  This is a long and drawn out process as we foster through an agency so they have to contact the department to find out what they want before they will approve the operation.  Our case worker got that information and asked us to contact the ENT and arrange a letter.  When I called they couldn’t just write down the two things they needed they had to have it faxed to them from the agency or department!  Red tape is so annoying and fostering involves more of it than I had realised.

His speech is going so well at the moment that we are looking forward to seeing the huge leaps he takes when he can hear properly again.  I am, however, not looking forward to keeping his ears totally dry again!  Grommets make it very hard for him to have swimming lessons, which are vital for him to have since we live in Australia!  With the last lot we choose to just wait but I think this time we will have to see if we can get ear plugs to keep his ears dry as he is getting older and really needs to learn to swim.

I can’t wait for the day that Giggles can have a conversation with anyone he wants and they will understand every word he says.  I hope that he can be at this stage by the time he starts school next year.  Thankfully he has never gotten cranky or annoyed at people not understanding him.  He is so laid back that he either works out another way to say it or goes and finds someone who does understand him.

I smile at so many of the sentences he comes out with these days but the one that makes me the most happy is “I love you Mum” ❤

Posted in Doctors, Giggles, Speech | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza

Grumpy and I are doing a course at the moment on reparative parenting.  It’s a pretty full on course for foster and kinship carers.  It covers attachment issues, how these influence behaviours and how to deal with the behaviours.  It’s a 9 week course – a total of almost 25 hours – and we are in our second week.  At the moment we are only talking about attachment and behaviours.  Next week we will go into how to deal with the behaviours which will be handy.

There was an interesting analogy used today.  Everyone has a bucket.


Trauma and attachment disruption in early life can leave holes that leak.

 leaky bucket

Things that can fill up your bucket is love, hugs, kisses, kind words and support.

Caring for someone who has a leaky bucket makes you feel like everything you do is never enough.  You are constantly putting things into their bucket but it never fills up.  Everything just leaks out.

However, holes can be fixed.  It’s not quick and simple – kind of like in the song “There’s a hole in my bucket”.  Things that help to repair the bucket are understanding your child and minimizing retriggering of their trauma experiences.  While working to repair your child’s bucket it is also important to make sure that you ensure your bucket doesn’t get leaky by managing your own feelings and accessing support.

I felt this ‘it’s never enough’ feeling this afternoon.  It helped to be able to visualise a leaky bucket when this happened.

We have had issues finding an extra-curricular activity that can cope with Chatterbox’s ‘issues’.  We have been told that she wasn’t taking ballet seriously enough when she was in a four year old class.  We have been asked to attend activities with her when the whole idea is for her to get used to having other responsible adults in charge.  Last year I finally found a brilliant dance group that is for kids with special needs.  It is run by a teacher who works in special ed.  Chatterbox was only able to start this year as they are very careful about when they introduce new students and they only introduce one at a time.  She has been to four sessions now.  She loves dancing and I love having an hour and a half to myself!!

Today we were playing in the park with Giggles while she was at dance.  I left my phone in the car and Grumpy later realised that his phone was on silent still from when we were at our course.  When we got back in the car I realised I had a missed call.  There was no message though so I didn’t think anything more of it.  Then when we were waiting outside to pick Chatterbox up, Grumpy realised he had a missed call and message on his phone too.  The message said that we needed to come back as Chatterbox was being disruptive and was impacting on the rest of the group.  As there was only two minutes left of dance by then we waited and I talked to the leader when it was over.  She talked very sternly to Chatterbox and told her that next time I will have to wait outside so that they could get me to come in and make her sit with me if there was an issue.

It is so discouraging as she loves dance.  She loves to be independent and go to dance by herself.  However, as she has been going for a few weeks she now needs to start to test how far she can push them before they will snap.  It happens the same way with everything.  I feel like no matter how hard we try she can’t accept positive experiences until she has pushed all the boundaries and attempted to sabotage her own joy.

Her dance teacher is very sensible luckily.  She has told me that she won’t let Chatterbox go home if she is mucking up, but will make her sit with me in the room.  She also said that Chatterbox will not be able to control her.  This is all very positive.  As is the fact that Chatterbox was very subdued all the way home.  In these situations she would normally be completely hyped up for hours so I think that her dance teacher was actually able to get through to her.

Maybe this experience has helped her to make a hole in her bucket slightly smaller.
I can only hope so.

Posted in ADHD, Autism, Chatterbox, Foster care, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Ultimate Blog Party 2013


So, I only started my blog a few days ago but I’m already going to a blog party!  If you have come here from the UBP, please leave me a comment!

I started this blog to share my experiences as a foster mum to two beautiful kids who should be here until they are 18.  I also want to share what it is like to care for a child with Autism and ADHD (as well as other conditions) and kids from a background of trauma.

For privacy and security reasons I use funny names for us all – Giggles and Chatterbox for the kids, Grumpy for my non-grumpy hubby and Odd Socks Mummy for me.  I wear Odd Socks.  If you have a problem with that you need to learn to deal with it!

I’m looking forward to getting to know the other party goers and hope you will all stick around to read my posts!

Posted in About, ADHD, Autism | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Fort Knox

This time exactly one month ago Grumpy and I had just gotten home from our friend’s wedding.  We were absolutely exhausted.  I can hear you thinking: “Exhausted?  But it’s only 10pm!”.  Yep.  Exhausted.  Physically and emotionally.  “But why?” you ask.  Well, I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know I’m about to tell you.

At 4am on the 9th of March, 2013 we were woken by a knock on our front door.  I made Grumpy get up and see what was happening – that’s what you have a husband for right?  I followed him at a safe distance.  I could hear talking then Grumpy called out “Is Chatterbox in bed?”.  I can’t adequately explain the feelings of fear and confusion that swept through me when I ran into Chatterboxes room, turned the light on and she wasn’t in her bed.  I ran out to the front door to find a policeman standing there and another one carrying Chatterbox up the driveway.  The policemen took our details while I cuddled Chatterbox.  The police told us that she had been spotted nearby but had run off from the off duty fireman who had first spotted her (she later told us that she told him that he was a stranger and she couldn’t talk to him (Umm …wrong time to decide to follow our stranger danger rules Chatterbox!!).  Chatterbox said that she had gone for a walk to calm down.  We have since worked out that she walked almost five kilometres!

We had thought that our house was secure.  When the kids first came to live with us we were told that Chatterbox had run away from home plus from a previous carer so we always kept our front gate deadlocked.  We had a video baby monitor in her room.  We had a baby gate in the hall.  We had some of these things due to her previous history and some because she never sleeps well – most likely due to her Autism and ADHD.

Due to her language delays we are unable to directly question Chatterbox as to what happened, how she got out and where she went.  We are still slowly piecing information together but as far as we can tell this is how the night went.

Chatterbox woke up sometime after we went to bed at 11pm.  She got up.  Took her pillow, blanket and teddy out of her room and made her bed on the floor in the laundry.  She went out the doggy door and had a play in the backyard.  She came back in the doggy door, went under the baby gate, opened the front door, got a bucket, used the bucket to climb up and get the key to open the front gate down from next to the front door.  She tried to use the key to open the front gate but was unable to so she went around the house and climbed the gate on the other side.  She walked around 1km before she was found, then she ran off, walked past a big lake, and along the highway.  She hid from cars that went past (not that there would have been many at that time of night in our neck of the woods).  She was eventually found by the police 5kms away and was taken to the police station.  She told them that her last name was ours.  “I was having a joke”, she later told me.  It was a very good ‘joke’ to have as our last name is very rare and we are the only people with that name in the area.  They were then able to find out where she lives and bring her home.  She told us that she wanted to go for a walk – she wasn’t running away.

Since then Grumpy and I haven’t been sleeping very well, unsurprisingly.  We have so many things in place to make sure Chatterbox doesn’t get out again but it’s still hard to relax.  We organised through her Occupational Therapist to get a monitoring system which buzzes when the sensor picks up Chatterboxes movements.  Unfortunately she has worked out how to get past it without setting it off.  We changed the baby gate for an extra tall one she shouldn’t be able to go over but we have found her on the other side of it.  We have key safes with our keys in them next to the front and back doors so we can deadlock the doors but have the keys nearby in case of a fire or other emergency (we also have one hanging on our bed).  We put a screen door on the back door so we can lock that at night and she can’t get out the doggy door.  We put firm mesh on the side gate so she can’t climb it.  We have a house alarm that will go off if the doors are opened at night.  Chatterbox has a medic alert bracelet with her name, her diagnoses and my name and number on it, so if she does get out it will be easier for people to know where she belongs.

Now it takes us at least 10 mins to get the house ready for us to go to bed!  We have to do the following steps.

  1. Take the dogs out to the toilet
  2. Get the house keys out of the back doors key safe
  3. Close and dead lock the screen door
  4. Put the key back in the key safe (and leave code at 000 so we know if she has gotten up and tried to get the keys)
  5. Put the cover in the doggy door so the dogs don’t try to go out (they are used to having free access!)
  6. Get the key out of the key safe at the front door
  7. Dead lock the front screen door
  8. Put the key back in the key safe (also leave code at 000)
  9. Set the house alarm
  10. Put the child lock on the pantry
  11. Check the windows are locked
  12. Close the baby gate
  13. Put child lock on the baby gate (as it is quite easy to open)
  14. Plug in buzzer next to the bed

On top of all this for the last few days we have put an alarm on her door.  A really, really, LOUD alarm.

So our house is now Fort Knox and we STILL worry about Chatterbox getting out.

Posted in (Not) Sleeping, Absconding, ADHD, Autism, Chatterbox | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Today is probably a bad and a good day for me to start blogging.  Bad because I have a 2300 word assignment for uni that I should be writing instead but good as today has been a very, very busy day which isn’t actually that unusual for me, so I have a lot to talk about!!  Just warning you – this is going to be a long post!

So who am I?  Well considering the first people who will be reading this will be my family and friends you already know but I’ll tell you anyway!  I am a 31 year old foster mum, carer, wife, uni student, chauffeur, daughter, sister, aunty and more!  I also like to use exclamation marks as I’m sure you will all discover if you keep reading my posts.  On this blog I am going to use pseudonyms due to confidentiality issues involved in foster care.

Therefore our family consists of:

Mr Giggles – my four (almost five) year old foster son.  Giggles has speech delays due to not being able to hear until he came into care.  Two years ago all he could say was ‘Mum’.  Today he talks non-stop but not many people can understand what he says.  Even though he has this delay and most kids get frustrated with language problems.  Giggles is exactly that… Giggly!

Little Miss Chatterbox – my six (going on sixteen) year old foster daughter.  Chatterbox has been diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Motor Dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorder, borderline low IQ and global speech delays.  Chatterbox is more affected by the trauma background the kids have both come from.  She can have quite challenging behaviours, likes kisses, hardly sleeps, is empathetic when people are hurt or upset,  is very controlling, is very sociable, and loves to demand ‘cuddle families’ (family cuddles).

Mr Grumpy – my hubby.  Grumpy has a very rare endocrine condition called Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Candidiasis Ectodermal Dystrophy.  Maybe I’ll tell you more about it some time.  I call him Mr Grumpy as a joke as he is anything but Grumpy (most of the time!).

ME!!  Odd Socks Mummy.  My name was suggested by Julia from Saving Mummy.  This is because I always wear odd socks.  Mostly I wear odd socks because I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered matching them – it’s really not any deeper than that.

Anyways back to why my day was so very busy.  It started with a bang when Chatterbox woke up and came out of her room setting off her door alarm.  There is nothing that gets the heart pumping more than a screaming siren going off a few metres from you when you are sound asleep.  Got kids ready for school, drove Chatterbox to school, dropped Giggles at preschool, took Grumpy to the doctors for an injection he gets every three months, drove Grumpy to help my Dad with a job, while there I sat in the car and tried to get the ENT and Audiologist to talk to each other and agree what needs to be done for Giggles hearing (grommets again or waiting and doing exercises), tried to organise the approval for his grommet operation only to be told that it has to be faxed to the doctors by someone official in the fostering agency, rang the agency to organise that, did some uni assignment and then came home when Grumpy was finished.  It was a lovely day so we decided to go for a procrastination, I mean a bike ride.  On the way home I got a call saying that Giggles wasn’t feeling so well so when we got home I got back in the car and picked him up.  Came home for 30 mins then went and picked up Chatterbox from school.  Then we drove to speech and occupational therapy for Chatterbox and speech therapy for Giggles, then got dinner on the way home, went to school for my parent teacher interview, took Grumpy to a meeting, came home got the kids into bed and then worked on my assignment (until my uni library stopped letting me access any journal articles so I took that as a sign to stop working on the assignment and write this instead).

So I’ve probably spent enough time on this for tonight.  I’m off to see if the library wants me to pass this assignment or not!

(Just one last thing:  I wrote this post in word first then copy and pasted over here – only to discover that WordPress’s dictionary doesn’t recognise the words ‘blog’ and ‘blogging’!?)

Posted in About, Day-to-day | 4 Comments