Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas with kids is a wonderful thing! Excitement comes in all forms:

...chaotic Christmas pageant with Brother a king, Sister and Tammy angels.
...Cookies and milk left out for Santa. Santa knows that she, I mean, he did not eat all of his cookies, but in the morning, all were gone. What elf helped out?
...Santa's gift of wheels for each kiddo. Brother says that Sister does not have a "real" bike. It's a trike. She loves it just the same.
..."We're gonna open ALL of these presents at ONCE?! WOW!!"
...Lunch and dinner with our wonderful church family.
...Teenagers and college kids in that family willing to play many, many rounds of Guess Who?
...Desserts up to our eyeballs.
...and most fun, as they are still settling in: "I really had a fun day with you." from Brother.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kids in Training

We are settling in. I have forgotten how hard it is to teach kids the ropes. And ropes are something we have many of, as I have found that being the most structured, predictable as possible mama helps my kiddos so much in making sense of their new world.

Our focuses for the week:
1. Woe vs. Slow vs. Go foods: Curly and Sister not so into Go and Slow. Waaaay into Woe. However, we have discovered a handful of Go foods that we like: apple sauce, bananas, milk, yogurt and cheese.
2. Bathroom Business: Where toilet paper belongs (and doesn't belong), why is there soap next to the sink?, How to Wash Your Own Body 101.
3. The Joy of Toys: Top two this week: Play-doh which they claim to have never seen before. They mixed all the colors together. I love them for that alone. And two, puzzles...not a puzzle left in the house that hasn't been completed at least five times.

Looking forward to Christmas vacation where we can find more foods, play with even more toys and perhaps, just perhaps, have a cleaner bathroom.

Ten More

Ten months is too hard to condense into a list of 10. I have been missing Baby B so much. More to love about her:

1. Loved being chased up a slide. Could care less about the down part.
2. Helped me complete a 2000 piece puzzle. She would get a piece here and there over the course of two weeks, but got to put the last piece in. "We DID IT!"
3. Called CC and Stubby her foster brothers. "I have the best foster brothers EVER."
4. Sat with our friend Kathy every week at church. When I went to church yesterday without her, I found myself look down to see what she was doing on Kathy's lap several times.
5. Always wanted to be first one to buckle herself in her carseat. She almost always beat Bug, and almost always yelled: I beat y'all!
6. Chose one story each night for me to read and one for her to "read." Most typically: Wheels on the Bus or Goldilocks and the Three Bears
7. Put her hands over her mouth every night after brushing her teeth and said: I didn't brush my teeth. They are rotten. And YOU. CAN'T. SEE. THEM.
8. Loved, loved, LOVED hide-and-seek, but was admittedly, not very good at hiding.
9. Joy of Candyland equaled pretending to eat all the candy at the end. If she wasn't going to win, she'd say (maybe whine is more accurate): Will you PLEASE not eat all the candy?
10. Often looked over my shoulder as I played Scrabble on Facebook. "You could put that Z right here. Would that work?"
11. Pretended to be a lumpy, laughing pillow every night before going to her bed. "See how lumpy I am." Lumpy pillow was ultimately purchased from imaginary storekeeper and carried to the top bunk.

Eleven more. Oops. But who is counting?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby Beignet's Ten

10. Phrase of the summer: This is freakin' me out!
9. Swore off brussel sprouts very soon after moving in. Just the other day though, she told a visitor that she used to like sprouts but "now they just don't taste right anymore."
8. Had the best kindergarten class and teacher. We both loved that part of our community.
7. Often repeated phrases she learned from other people in unexpected contexts. "Let's get this party started" one morning while climbing out of bed comes to mind.
6. Thought it was the most special thing to come to work with me.
5. Was undie sorter and recycler extraodinaire.
4. Was the most nurturing baby magnet on earth. Friends Kay and Renee let Beignet mother their infants to no end. She was in her piggy glory.
3. Named any animal, doll, character she drew, anything that was worthy of a name: Leah.
2. Learned to swim this summer after being terrified of the pool. "I even put my face in that time!"
1. Has nothing but a whole lotta love in her heart and is willing to share it with anyone--from babies to little old ladies in wheelchairs. Beignet is one of the most compassionate children I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Forever Found

We delivered Beignet to the perfect-for-her forever home today:

8 days before Christmas
7 siblings
6 kids in school
5 car seats in the car
4 furry feet on a dog named Cooper
3 girls bunked in one wonderfully girly room
2 parents with an excess of energy
1 family that will be hers for always

The good-byes are always hard, and this one was no different. Fortunately, though, it's more of a see you later.

See you soon, Baby B. I loved every bit of having you here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hair and TV

Blonde, curly haired 5 year old to Beignet: I just want to watch TV. Do you even HAVE a TV in this house?!

Beignet to Mr. Blonde and Curly: Yeah, don't worry. You get to watch TV on Hair Nights.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More to be thankful for...

Tonight I am thankful for:
Beignet's reaction to her BIG NEWS!
A great foster care Christmas party with, I am pretty sure based on the beard alone, the REAL Santa in attendance.
Legos and coloring books = entertainment for what seems like hours.
Caseworkers who work weekends.
"Seasoned" foster kiddos who welcome newbies with enthusiasm and compassion.
A friend who traded cars with me so I can fit three kids in for a week.
Getting to see Bug and her mom today.
Clementines enjoyed by 2/3 of the short people population here.
Kids who sleep soundly enough that I can pack things in their room without disturbing them.
Caffiene and the opportunity to go to sleep before midnight.

Life is crazy. Life is good.

The New Two

In a flurry of activity, a new pair has landed here. Three-year-old girl and five-year-old boy are snoring away in the bunks. They are settling in, but with some sadness and confusion. Tonight at dinner, little guy says: Why do you take kids from their houses to come and live with you without even asking? And at bedtime told me he will be running away in the morning. Sister appears much younger than her age, so toddles along behind Brother and Beignet. Here's hoping they settle in soon and can feel safe and happy here.

Finding Forever

The cat is finally out of the bag. The cat that has been prowling about for a good solid month now. Beignet was told today where her forever will be. There were mixed feelings about how she'd react. She is headed to a fantastic who came into our lives almost three months ago and with whom we have spent many hours. We were able to show Beignet a slide show that her new family had created just for her. She sat with bug eyes watching the pictures go by, telling her caseworker who everyone is. Beignet doesn't quite get the timeline we've created. To all the grown-ups around, we are hurrying things a bit to get her home for Christmas. To Beignet, she wants it NOW. "Why can't I go now? Why do I have to wait till Thursday?" Her week will be hectic, which will hopefully help things fly by. As her caseworker pulled away, Beignet came to me: Can I start packing now?

Sending you on your way with love, baby girl.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Carols

Excerpts from last night's dinner:

hum, hum...Why Santa says "Better watch out?" (explanation provided)
hum hum hum...Why we can't shout? (more explaining)
hum hum...What is a town? (answer)
hum hum...How does he know if we are sleeping?
Why we need to sleep?
I always sleep so he doesn't have to worry.
hum hum hum hum hum...How does he know if you are good or bad? Miss Sanderson said that not this line but the one after this line (weeks on the calendar) on the 17th, after we go home for a lot of days, she will call Santa and tell him who was naughty and nice.

What will tonight's carol be?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love Letters

I get love letters from Beignet almost daily now. Yesterday's was one of my favorites:

"Dear Tammy. I love you Tammy. We have very great fun together at our house. We are a good good foster family. I love you. Beignet"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dog Envy

Apparently, I have deprived two girls of a dog this year. While at Auditorium Shores today, Ladybug declared: Me go pet me some DOGS!! So she wandered, with Beignet who is a little more on the shy side at times following, from dog to dog. Bug would scope out the owner, bat her little brown eyes and say: I please pet your dog?? After getting the required permission, she would pet away until she had had her fill, thank the owner, and move on. She even went so far as "I throw that ball your dog?" and "I throw that ball water make your dog swim?" The last dog, Pickie, put up with her tennis ball being thrown about 5 feet for several throws...until her owner said to me: Maybe you need to get your kids a dog. And off I slunk.

In the car, Bug announced her usual: I wish we do that 'gain sometime.

Sure, maybe, but not with a dog that I own...

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

Today may have been one of our best days ever. It was a glorious day outside, Bug had declared it "train day," and we had hours of tantrum free fun at the park. Tantrums had been on the rise from both girls, I guess in anticipation of the changes afoot. But for some reason today, we were all OK. Maybe because we knew this was it, and there was nothing to be done. So, cinnamon rolls, train ride, park, McDonald's, and Auditorium Shores later, we all three went to Bug's next stop to say our good-byes. We are fortunate though that we will get to see her again. Bug is the first kid of my twelve to go back home, and while it is hard for me not to worry a bit, I am hopeful that she will have a life of being safe and feeling loved.

Sending you love on your journey, Bug. Can't wait to see you soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ladybug's List of Ten

10. Insisted I say "Rise and Shine" (ala Guy Russell) every school day. The absence of rise and shine got "It a stay home day?" for a response.
9. Distinguished busses as: city bus, city bus with a bike on front, school bus, and charter bus.
8. Spent about 2 months throwing a fit if she did not get to hold my "watch hand," yes, the one with the Timex.
7. Frequently, perhaps too frequently, walked around the house saying: I so cute!
6. Was the absolute worst back-seat driver I have had. "Tammy! Go! What you waitin' for???"
5. Favorite dinnertime game: Place napkin on lap. Make it crinkle. "You hear my napkin?"
4. Declared the Ben White to North I-35 flyover her "favit bidge". "I wish we go my favit bidge 'gain sometime."
3. Every night at bedtime made us go into the bathroom, lights off, and triggered her light up ball. At this point, we sang Old McDonald, passing the ball around for THREE verses, no more, no less, but always including a pig. Song ended with a giant CHA CHA CHA! and then we could go to bed.
2. Was a walking song. Nonstop singing, all. the. time. Our solution to "no singing at the dinner table" was "you can sing in your head." I assure you, she did.
1. Said I love you like this: "ah wub shoe." Ah wub shoe too, baby girl.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Waiting Patiently

Beignet's adoption worker was over yesterday. I missed the beginning of the conversation, but was told that Beignet basically asked what the hold up was for finding forever. Her caseworker said: "Well, it's my job to find the perfect family for you."

Beignet's quick response: But they don't have to BE perfect.

Hang on a little longer, baby girl.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

--Mary Oliver

Our house is way too quiet when Bug has her overnights away. Our paper chain has four links remaining. We are missing you already, Ladybug.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Defining Hair

four ponies, hair toys, something with a lot of hairballs (pony holders w/ balls), something with just a few, triangles, braids, twists, a quick 'do, one that "takes long but looks good," beads, the most ponies ever, just something FAST please, one that you don't have to do again tomorrow, one that looks so cute, that one you did a long, long time ago, one with those teeny little clips, a lot of pink!, leave it alone, comb it softly, do it in front of the TV, NOT the way you did it that one time, whichever one is your favorite, ....

....all responses to the question: What do you want me to do this time?

Early Thanksgiving

I was thinking last night that if I did I not absolutely adore the two kids in my home right now, I may have cashed in my chips. I was feeling so tired of being a part of what I see as an incredibly broken system at times.

Today, I am back though. Appreciative that this insanity is my life. Today, I am thankful for:
...two beautiful children, although they are not mine to keep, who make me laugh every single day.
...a wonderful caseworker who has stepped up to bat several times in the past week to fight for what is right for my girls and who, whether knowingly or not, picks me up almost daily right now.
...Bug's mom, who during collectively 2 hours of conversation today while Bug was at some appointments, shared with me what she thought Bug's life would be like during these months vs. what it really is. And how she is happy about that big difference in visions. And shared some sadness, and appreciation, and stories, and firsts, and worries, and plans...and this time with her, that six months ago probably would have terrified me, felt almost normal. fellow foster friend who absolutely gets how crazy hard and crazy rewarding this life is.

So much to be grateful for! No need to cash in chips yet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bug's Hallmark Card

Beignet is having a hard time with the idea that the person she has called Sister for over seven months is leaving. She has a heart of gold though. Yesterday, she made a card for Bug. They are both very proud of the card...Beignet as the giver, Bug as the receiver. It's hung beside Bug's bed with the idea that when she leaves she can hang it beside her new bed and she'll remember us.

Beignet read it aloud, which is always necessary when a kindergartener is learning to write. I love how much meaning she packed into 25 letters. "I love you. You are my best friend, Bug. I am sad that you are moving. You are a nice girl. I love you and will miss you, Bug."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paper Chains

Bug's departure is getting closer than any of us care to admit, but admit it we must if we want a smooth transition. "Before Thanksgiving" is a little too vague for Beignet. Today we made a paper chain to count down the days...
It's far too short for any of our liking.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More Worrying

It all started about a month ago when Beignet spent the night at a friend's. "Poor Tammy," Bug said from her carseat as we pulled out of the friend's driveway, "You only have one kid."

We've recently started talking about the excitement of next weekend: BOTH girls will be sleeping over somewhere (separate places, same night, perfect planning). This is something like what I overheard in the bathroom yesterday morning, the buzz of electric toothbrushes in the background.

Bug: You sleeping at (friend)'s house?
Beignet: Yes, and you will be at your mom's.
Bug: Poor Tammy! She have no kids. Tammy be sad?
Beignet: Probably. She has CC and Stubby though.
Bug: Bug can't take CC to mom's.
Beignet (laughing): And I can't put Stubby in my backpack!
Bug: Tammy Ok. Tammy only have cats though. No kids. Tammy pick you up?
Beignet: Yup.
Bug: Tammy pick me up?
Beignet: uh-huh.
Bug: Then Tammy have TWO kids 'gain!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Worry Wart

Bug likes to recap things Baby B does wrong by saying: Not Ok to X?
So tonight at dinner, the conversation was something like this:

Bug: Not OK write on table, right?
Tammy: Bug, you don't have to worry about Beignet.
Bug: I worry 'bout Bug?
Tammy: Yes, that is perfect. Worry about just you.
Bug: But Tammy, I worry 'bout you too? I love you. It ok I worry 'bout you? Tammy my favorite.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's not to love about Halloween?

I forget how much fun Halloween can be, though I think it'd be easier if it were on a school day so I didn't have to fill 13 hours of time before trick-or-treating.

Beignet was absolutely giddy today. We made Halloween cookies that thrilled her to no end. (The fact that I let her eat one BEFORE lunch was an added bonus). Mummy dogs (aka, pigs in a blanket w/ a little bit of hotdog sticking out and mustard eyes) were the hit of dinner for her. Of course, trick or treating sealed the deal on this being the all time best day in the entire month.

Bug wasn't quite sure about all of this excitement. She liked all of the stuff we did close to home. She loved the "mommy" dogs, especially when Beignet announced "I ate the mummy's BOTTOM!!" She just wasn't so sure about this thing called Trick or Treating. "I can't find what we do." (translation: I don't know what we will do.) and "I scary!" (I'm scared.)

But in the end, all was good. The evening ended with two overtired children hopped up on sugar, with a 3 year old voice calling from the bottom bunk: I wish we do that 'gain 'morrow!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unattended Children

I am reminded of the sign I have seen here and there that says something like: Unattended children will be given a free puppy.

Left unattended, my children stay within their boundaries. But I am learning that their "boundaries," declared by me and only me, are expanding. So, in recent days and weeks, whilst under my not-so-watchful eye, the girls have:
1. Covered themselves, head to toe, with stickers. And I mean HEAD to TOE!
2. Covered themselves with over 50 temporary tatoos. Though after the sticker incident, the rules were: no eyeballs and no bottoms.
3. Planted a "stick garden" in some fairly fresh mud. I have the used-to-be-white jeans in a size 4T ready for a soak in some Biz and the mud covered flip flops waiting on the back porch.

I am nostalgic for my neat freak days, but not so much that we'll hide the shaving cream, scissors, glue, sand toys, play-doh and bubbles. As long as all braids stay attached and no blood is shed, we're good.

Well, since you asked so nicely....

The invitation itself was great, but the delivery is what really made me smile. Bug's mom sat with us this morning while we waited for Ladybug's 3 year check up. "I want you to know," Mom said, "that I still want Bug to be able to hang with you sometimes."

So it's declared. I can still "hang with" my favorite 3 year old once she moves out. Though it's a far cry from tucking her in every night, I'll take it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Departure Date

Nothing hits home the fact that we are a foster family like departure dates. Other families get the FUN departure dates, like This is when we are going to Disneyland or This is when we are moving so and so to college. In this house, you hear: This is the last day she'll be here.

Ladybug's road is coming to an end in a few weeks and oh how sad it is for me. I should be thankful, really. Kid #12 and she is the first one that I have had WEEKS notice on. Not a couple of hours, not a couple of days, but a few weeks. I should be rejoicing truly, because the ending could have been so different for her, but she is getting to move back home. Still it stinks. Not enough for me to stop riding the foster care ride, of course, but I do wish--for my sake only--that it wasn't her turn to get off yet.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Year Two

Yesterday marked two years of having a foster care license hanging on my wall. In two years I have likely missed a few movies on the big screen, a couple of marathons I would have liked to have schlepped my way through, many nights of solid, interruption free sleep and several ends to sentences. Instead though I celebrate the things I have gained: seeing first pinatas, birthday parties, days of school, trips to Sea World, ice cream floats...meeting a million members of this village who support this mission as much as I do...having the opportunity to PLAY in the swimming pool without someone thinking I am insane...teaching slug bug, thumb wars and jumprope rhymes...attending a birthday party for a cat because, when the life of a little one has had such upheaval, you know celebrating ANYTHING brings joy....and knowing twelve kids who have crossed through the green room's doorway to stay for as long as they needed.

Here's to the start of another year. Let's see what quirky kids with their own stories and adventures will come through the door, making my life so far from dull and so very, very rich.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Bug's real name is sung about 70 times in a popular 80's song. We frequently sing the refrain around the house, but only recently did I introduce the idea that I did NOT compose this song. I finally found a live concert version of it on You Tube and promised the girls they could watch it tonight before bedtime.

The concert version has the main singer, some back ups and a few instruments. It pans out to show the crowd. The singer holds his mic out to the crowd and screams: Everyone now. The crowd sings while we sing along.

Beignet: How do they know that song if they don't know Bug?
Tammy: Remember I said a LOT of people know that song. That guy wrote it a long time ago.
Bug: That MY song! Why people sing MY song?
Beignet: They don't know Bug but they sing her song? Why would they sing a song about a kid they don't know?

We'll leave the confusion at that for now.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Decision to Say No

Fostering is hard. By far, it is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. At the same time though, it is a ride I love--to share with kids in my house the wonder of the thing called childhood. Most of them haven't had the opportunity to bake cookies, run around the capital, chalk the driveway (and themselves). I get such joy out of reactions to glow-in-the-dark jammies, songs bawked like a chicken, and simple games of hide and seek. I am reminded of Sass saying that she liked it here because she had a bedtime. And Beignet telling me the very confusing: You always don't never feed us dinner. Which I interpreted as her knowing that there's always food in this house, and yes, dinner on the table every night.

I assumed at some point that a kid would be in the house and it would turn out they needed a forever home and tadah! here I am, already used to having said kiddo here, already adoring said kiddo, and already hoping that this is how her story would end.

In truth though, that has not been the way the past week has gone. Beignet's case has been transferred to the adoption unit. I have the option of adopting her. Of providing this probably-the-easiest-kid-who-has-set-foot-in-my-door with a forever home. The thing is, though, it doesn't feel right. I peek in at Baby B sleeping at night and the same thought comes to my mind every single night: I hope we can find the best forever for you.

In the end, I feel that B deserves a resounding YES to the adoption question. No matter how I try to spin the web in my mind, I can't say that...that I feel in the deepest corner of my heart that she is meant to stay. B doesn't need someone to ride the fence or spin a complicated web. She needs someone who is going to spread their arms out as far as they can reach and welcome her with the resounding YES that she deserves.

Here's to finding forever. I am with you, Beignet, until we find just the right spot.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not Ready to Go There

I am officially a whimp. A bad parent. My children are going to believe in storks and cabbage patches.

Beignet: How did the doctor take me out of my mommy's tummy?
Tammy: Hmmm. I don't really know. I wasn't there.

The Book Fairy

Our house is a popular stop for fairies these days. Bug and Beignet came home yesterday and found a stuffed animal and book on each of their beds. Beignet, especially, was so excited. "Bug! Look what's on your bed! I have a surprise on my bed too!" And then to me, "I wonder who put those books there?" I shrugged. "I dunno, must've been the book fairy." Five-year-old gasps: I didn't know there was a BOOK fairy! while three-year-old smiles: Thanks, Tammy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

C.C. Loses a Tooth

The toothfairy has been a huge thing in the house lately. Beignet often walks around with the two notes and the two dollars she has received from the toothfairy. So when C.C. lost a tooth, it was natural to expect that the toothfairy would come to him too.

"C.C. has to go to the vet to get his tooth pulled."
"Is the toothfairy going to come for him?"

The vet was kind enough to save the tooth. We wrote a note to the cat toothfairy asking her if we could keep the tooth so that we could continue to look at it. (Bug has already shown it to her daycare, her mom, her caseworker and our friends today). There was some discussion as to where the tooth should be placed for the toothfairy to find. The decision was to put it under my pillow since that is where C.C. sleeps at night.

The next day, the girls quickly ran into my room to check under the pillow. They were so excited to find the tooth still there with a note and cat toys for C.C. and Stubby beside it.

"Here is a toy for C.C. and Stubby since cats can't spend money. Love, The Toothfairy"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finally, something she doesn't like

As far as activities go, Bug is really easy to please. I find that Baby B and I don't often consult Bug when making plans. I've never found an activity she hasn't liked...parks, swimming, playgrounds, bike riding, zoos, you name it.

We finally found something though. Sunday was Museum Day in Austin--a chance to tour several (or in our case, two) museums for free. Most museums have special activities for the kids. Our first stop was the Texas Memorial Museum, aka The Dinosaur Museum. I'd been here with Sass, but not with these two. Walking in the front door, we saw the skeleton of a flying dino suspended from the ceiling. It was very large. Someone's eyes were VERY large. Grabbing my leg and yanking me toward the door, Bug said: I NOT like this. We go home now??

So dino bones are not at the top of her list. Oddly enough though, at our next stop at the LBJ museum--yep, a display of all things presidential and LBJ-ish, B and I heard: We stay here more? We come back 'nother time? Please?


Friday, September 11, 2009

Baby Pictures

"I need a baby picture for my project" at afterschool care. Baby B is excited about her "All About Me" project. "Can you give me one?"

um....we don't really have any baby pictures of you.

"Well, why not?"

They are with your other mom (yes, that is how it comes out of her mouth, so that is how it comes out of mine).

"Well, what can I bring then?"

Good question. So I thought on it and thought of three choices: draw a baby picture, ask a friend for a picture of her daughter that might--on first glance--resemble B, or find a baby picture online.

Google "black baby girl" and see what you come up with.

We ended up doing all three things. B and her therapist drew a cute baby picture, but because it was on an 11x14 piece of paper, it wouldn't work. Our friend emailed us several pictures of her daughter as a baby, but the printer wouldn't cooperate with the photoshop program. Last night, I relied on Google to save us.

Baby B was putting her pictures in her backpack and looked at them one last time. "I'm gonna show these to my teacher and tell her that this is what I looked like when I was a baby. I bet I was cute like this. Do you think so?"

Absolutely. At least that cute.

Through the Looking Glass

I had an unusual opportunity today. It was presented through a changed schedule, a rainy day and a backed-up highway. Bug and I were 25 minutes late to her weekly visit with her mom. After being escorted back to where Mom and Baby Brother were playing, I said my good-bye and started down the hall. Bug's caseworker popped out of the observation area, where she can watch and hear everything during the session through a one way mirror, and said: Do you want to watch?

She asked this, I guess, because we have had many o' discussions about how mom interacts with Bug. CPS has assured me that, despite how this story ever began, there is a Mom in here that adores her child, interacts with her appropriately, and appears to just flat out love being Ladybug's mom.

Sure enough, I watched for 30 minutes as Bug and her mom played, sang (rap songs!), laughed, ate junk food, gave kisses, bonked heads, held the baby...Mom clearly adores Bug. She laughed at her and with her and was 99% attentive to her kids the entire time. Yaay for a young mother figuring it out!

The transition home is coming soon. She'll leave and Beignet and I will still be devastated. But it's helpful to know that she's going somewhere where she is adored just as much as she is here.

Tantrum like you know how, Baby Girl

If you spend an hour in my house, you are bound to hear something to the effect of: Uh-oh. You are throwing a fit. Fits are ok but they have to be thrown in the other room. Fits hurt our ears.

Ladybug knows this drill VERY well and she hates it VERY much. By now, when I get to the 2nd sentence in my monologue, she is screaming: No! No! I NOT throw a fit! while walking down the hallway to her room.

Tonight the usual trigger happened. Beignet was first in the tub and Bug was MAD. "Uh-oh, you are hurting our--" "NO NO NO!!!" and off she went.

Minutes later, she is wailing, absolutely WAILING from her room: I done cryin' Mommy. I done cryin'!!

Hmm, really? You could have fooled me. Tantrum perfected.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Flattery Gets You Nowhere, Kid

Bug and I were getting ready to meet Beignet and friends at the pool today. I seem to have worn out my two favorite swimsuits this year. I dug into the bottom of my drawer and pulled out a speedo from years ago.

Mocking Bug's tendency to put on something (fake hat, fake tail, real clothing, etc.) and fish for a compliment, I went out to the living room and said: Like my bootiful swimsuit?

She looked. Her mouth hung open. Her eyes were so sparkly and excited. And then that darn cute girl exclaimed: (gasp!) You look like SHAMU, Tammy!

Luckily, I know that, in her eyes, looking like Shamu is a great, great thing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

All Hail King Robert

There was a guest at story hour last week. A big fancy frog puppet named King Robert. King Robert let the kids pet his "favorite spot" (his arm) and blew kisses. Bug was too scared to touch King Robert, but you'd think he was her best friend as much as she spoke of him all week. "We see King Robert li-berry?" "Bug not touch King Robert." (I should add here that you really need to KNOW King Robert's name to know that that is what she is saying.)

King Robert made another appearance tonight. Beignet was the first to give him a pet. Bug waited and waited to be called up. I was sure she'd back out at the last minute, hand waving and nonono-ing. She didn't though. She got up, petted King Robert's leg (oops, not his favorite spot) and beamed all the way back to my lap.

"I pet King Robert this day. Not last night, right Tammy? Today? I pet him today! King Robert love Ladybug!"

Now we all have King Robert stamps on our hands. A couple of us, I think, will avoid washing the back of our hands for a while. Long live King Robert!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kindergarten is here!

Baby Beignet took a big step on Monday--into the door of her kindergarten classroom. She was excited, which blows my mind since she hated pre-K, but whatever...I'll be thankful for that. Here are excerpts from her interview, which she would not allow me to video, while we celebrated the 1st day at Baskin Robbins:

T: What was your favorite thing about kindergarten today?
B: I got my new backpack.

T: What do you think about kindergarten compared to pre-k?
B: Kindergarten is more funner because we do more stuff and go to Art.

T: What did you learn today?
B: We are learning about living and non-living things.

T: Anything you don't like?
B: I kept hoping she would say it was naptime because I am SO TIRED!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bug Speak

I am enjoying the burst in language from Ladybug. Here are a few favorites:

Glassable: Breakable..."Dis plate glassable?"
Jammies Dark in Here: Glow in the dark jammies..."I wear Jammies Dark in Here 'gain 'morrow?"
Ponytail: Hotel...."'Member? Member Nana, Tammy, Bug sleep in ponytail?

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Lest anyone think I am exaggerating about the daycare situation at home, here's a picture of "story hour".
Please note three of our newest students in the back left and the two new young ones in the lower right. All listened quite nicely to the story and sang the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Bingo.
Apparently, clothing is optional at this story hour.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

South Austin Daycare

We're running quite the service here. Despite my thinking that baby dolls are one of the creepiest things in the world, we have an abundance of them in the house. What a diverse collection it is! Black, white, bald, real hair, painted on hair, dolls that drink, dolls that potty, dolls that blink their creepy little glass eyes. They are quite time intensive. Each day, each doll is fed, burped, changed, patted to sleep, woken up, taken to Gramma's house, given a ride in the stroller and put to bed.

It is not unusual to hear this:
"Baby poop 'gain? Need change. Baby nucky (yucky). Need wipie. There baby, all better!" or "Oh Leah, do you need to go to the doctor again?"

Funny to me is that after all this effort, every single day, the girls pile all the well cared for babies into the toy box at bedtime. Has it not occured to them that this isn't a very nice end to the day for their dolls?

High Mass

The girls have stepped up the pretend play for church in the house. The other day, I hear: "I church. I first 'munion. Come my table!!" from Ladybug. She and Beignet then asked me to make blankies into veils and pretend to hand them communion. Today, Ladybug announced: "My carry book in church!" She held "Are You My Mother?" up high, walking around the table. To the tune of ABC, she sang: "Church, church, Jesus, Jesus, come to table, Jesus book!"

I guess I am thankful that the pretend play does not include asking: Is it time for a donut? 50 times in one hour nor running to the donut table after mass.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dinnertime Conversation

The next time I wonder why I can't hold an intelligent adult conversation, I will need to remind myself what dinnertime is like these days.

Beignet, holding up each veggie in her stir fry, was quizzing Bug tonight.
Beignet (with a carrot): Is this a mushroom?
Bug: It NOT a mushroom.
Beignet (with a green bean): Is this a carrot?
Bug: It NOT a carrot!
Beignet (with a water chestnut): Is this a brocolli?
Bug: It NOT a brocolli.
Beignet (with something green--a piece of snap pea, maybe?): Is this a PEA?

Monday, July 27, 2009

THREE is a magic number!

Bug woke up this morning: "'Day my birthday? My three now?"
Yup. Today's the day.
"Person say How old are? Bug say THREE!"

Top Three for the Day:
3. A (relatively) cool-ish morning at the playground, followed by a very cool-ish air conditioned lunch at "chicken leg" (aka, Chick Fil A).
2. Birthday candles in breakfast. She was too shy to blow them out at her party, but did in our smaller family.
3. A great celebration with her extended family this afternoon. Showered with cake, gifts and relatives.

Happy Birthday Ladybug!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

'Raffe Cake

Ladybug turns THREE on Monday. She's getting old. All she wanted for her birthday was a 'raffe cake and a baby swing. "I get baby swing. I say Thank You." "I eat 'raffe cake my birthday party." We are so fortunate to know the family that Ladybug used to live with. We are more fortunate that they were willing to make the trek from their non-Austin home to ours in south Austin. And we are always fortunate to have Auntie Shannon in our lives.

So a wading pool, sandbox, and slip and slide later, we managed to celebrate being three in style. Bug ate her pizza only as a means to the end: Giraffe Cake. She wouldn't blow out her own candles, but certainly had no problems eating the cake.

Just before bed, she loved playing with the baby swing. And yes, she did say thank you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Needs a TV?

It rained tonight. Hard. Apparently, it's been a while and the girls were so excited. Excited because they got to play in the gutter until the lightening got a little closer. Excited because we have a great living room window to watch the rain from. Excited because C.C. is "not 'fraid funder" and Stubby was "hiding 'hind potty??"

I was making dinner and heard: Can we move chairs to watch the rain?
Then: We eat dinner window? Watch the rain?
Then: This my TV.
And when dinner was done: I turn my TV off now. Good night.


Beignet handed Ladybug and me each early birthday presents today. Two colorful pages of her best art. Ladybug's, we were told, says "Happy Birthday. You are going to be three." Mine says: LOVOT DRT.

Will you read this to me, please? I ask.

Sure, it say: Congratulations Tammy! We have a great family!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I, for one, have gotten little out of church for the past four months. I am redirecting, watching, shushing. I am handing out colors, changing colors, picking up colors. I am doing, it seems, everything but paying attention. Apparently I am alone in this. Ladybug keeps giving me glimpses of what I am missing.

A while ago, she walked slowly down the hall, a cat's feather stick held up high, singing "Alleluia" over and over again. "Look, I Kathy church!" Kathy is our friend who often reads at church. At the start of Mass, she carries in the cross each week.

Tonight, Ladybug again walked down the hall. This time with a blanket draped over her shoulders, long train trailing behind her. "Look. I church. I man church! Hallelujah!" Tonight, evidently, she was dressed as a priest.

A Signature

I am not sure it is really just one signature. Buying a house, for example, is pages and pages of signatures. But it was phrased like this: Beignet's mom signed her rights away. A more legal way of saying it is: She relinquished her rights. She gave up her rights to her child, perhaps knowing that she didn't have a chance of getting her back, maybe thinking Beignet would be put into a better situation. I can only imagine what she was thinking and feeling as she did that.

So today was a huge day for Beignet, but she doesn't know it yet. I am not sure how her therapist and I will tell her that her next visit with mom will be her last. I don't know that a 5 year old can wrap her mind around something like that. I know I can't. CPS is in search of Beignet's forever home. We are hopeful that her roots will be planted by the start of kindergarten, but as with everything related to CPS: We just don't know for sure.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Miss Manners

Nothing slips by. I wish it did because hearing it come back to me makes me think I am the biggest nag known to man.

All reminders from Ladybug today at breakfast and dinner:
"Napkin on lap?"
"This fork food? This NOT finger food?"
"No horse around table? Right Tammy?"
"No sing song table? Right Tammy? Too silly 'times?" ('times = sometimes)
"Chew, chew, chew!"
"Little bite, not big bite, right Tammy?"

I guess I should be glad she is listening...

Summer Camp

Beignet hated pre-K. She wished everyday was a stay home day. All I could hope for was to find a summer program that would change her mind about her day to day routine.

We found it. And how lucky we are. These are the rumblings in the house now all thanks to some wonderful staff and curriculum.

Today, something to the effect of...
"Tammy, I need to work on my project. Please give me my space." Later, in a fabulous teacher voice, "You see, this is a SIGN. A SIGN tell us everything that we need for the field trip tomorrow. We need sneakers, yellow shirts, and lunches. We will see some animals and even can touch some. But not all of them. Not some of the snakes." (sign is now on the back door).

Sunday from Ladybug:
"Tammy, need move coffee table, K?"
Why? What are you going to do?
"Ladybug half do 'nastics!"

Thank you to our teachers who let us explore, create, imagine, and learn!


For the most part, I have a really really good filter that helps me not cuss in front of kiddos. Sometimes it malfunctions, but usually not. The oldest blond brother would likely still be able to tell you about the one time he heard a cuss word fly from my mouth--while driving over a concrete parking space marker. I've been great around the current two, which is a good thing considering Bug picks up ANYTHING I say.

Three weeks ago, when I spilled water on the floor:
Tammy: "Oh SHOOT!"
Ladybug (laughing hysterically): Oh shoot? Tammy say "Oh shoot."
Walking around the house like ET saying "phone home" over and over: Oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot.

One week ago, when I dropped the lotion bottle in the bathroom sink:
Ladybug: Tammy, you 'got say OH SHOOT!!

Tonight, when she dropped her placemat on the floor:
Ladybug: OH SHOOT!! Right Tammy? Bug say OH SHOOT? Right?

Yaay for filters!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Undie Sorter

It's an official title in our house. The undie sorter. The description is obvious. Baby B loves chores. Put a cotton sock on her hand and give her a can of Pledge and you can count on her being busy for 30 minutes. The sorting thing though, that's for me. I don't want to have to pull each tag out of each tiny pair of undies to see whose initial is on it. I don't want to keep track of who has Dora and who has Ariel. Beignet can accomplish this feat in under 60 seconds.

Watching her recently, I saw her carefully pick up each pair of little girl undies. "Ladybug's. Mine. Ladybug's. Mine." Then I saw her pick up my undies w/ only a pointer and a thumb, as if she were holding a dead rat's tail. I assure you that there is nothing fancy about those undies dangling between thumb and finger. Nothing special at all. "Why are you doing that to my undies?" I asked. "Because they are gross. They don't look like my undies." "Well they're grown-up sized, but other than that...." "They don't have DORA!" There you have it. No Dora = disgusting undies. Who knew?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dorsal Fins

My favorite picture of my current kids is one I didn't actually take. I was scared I would ruin the moment, so I picked up the camera and put it right back down. In the picture, Ladybug and Baby Beignet are side by side on the couch, pillows behind them, shared blanket covering them, pile of books surrounding and burying them. They were reading "Whales and Dolphins," a book we picked up at the store after going to Sea World. The conversation was something like this:

Bug: Look! Orca Whale. He name Shamu.
Beignet: Oh yeah, look at that beluga whale. He's so cute. I'm gonna get me a beluga whale.
Bug: I get me dolphin and humpback whale. See humpback whale dorsal fin?

Next was the book on dogs.
Beignet: When I get big, I am gonna have a chihuahua.
Bug: Look, puppy get ball in the water. That Arlo. Arlo get ball.
Beignet: There are the sled dogs. They live in the cold.
Bug: Police dog! Dog help the police!!

I loved this moment for so many reasons. I loved that the girls were reading books. I loved that they were doing it together. And I loved that our shared experiences are what fueled their new vocabulary words. Hearing "dorsal fin" out of a 2-year-old's mouth is pretty fun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Colorado's Top Ten

I was worried that if I didn't get out of the car on Saturday and sit right down to remember our trip, it'd be forgotten. Not so, thanks to the 5 year old and 2 year old who have "'Member?" as their most frequently used word of the week.

10. White Fence Farm. My mother, the vegetarian's favorite place to take kids for dinner. Fried chicken, petting zoo. B will say: Remember I got to feed that cute little baby sheep? Bug says: "Member cow? Cow sneeze Tammy? Tammy scary. Ladybug say Bless you Cow!"
9. Denver Zoo. OK, so maybe not the best place to take two overtired children for four hours, but WOW! We love animals. And carousels. And trains. And gift shops (thanks to Susie.)
8. Graduation party. Set them free with a pack of Twizzlers, a 1/4 can of Sprite each, and their own private bouncy house, and they are happy campers.
7. Washington Park...during a hail storm. "Tammy, remember we was at that park with your friends and all that ice was falling from the sky?"
6. Arlo and Annie. The two new additions to Guy and Susie's house. Annie loved both girls for their ball throwing ability. Arlo loved that both girls wanted to share his crate with him. "No you may NOT lock yourself in there!!" was my daily response to their question.
5. Tiny Town, Colorado. A sea of tiny little houses and a train to ride. There was even a creepy looking chiropractic office where Ken was giving Barbie an adjustment.
4. Colorado's Capitol Building. We happened to land here during a quilt show (quilts displayed all around the dome) and during a Texas Children's Choir performance.
3. Boulder, Colorado. A day spent playing with friends while we wore jeans and sweaters. Our Austin friends were suffering through near 100 degree temps that day.
2. The Wildlife Experience. Baby B is a bit confused. She calls this the "fake zoo." In fact, it is a museum of sorts that has life-sized models of animals in their habitats. It snowed in the tundra.
1. Hotel swimming pools and hot tubs at 10 pm. "I wish we could stay in a hotel every night."
And 0. "Look Tammy, there's the capitol. That means we are almost home. When we get home, I am going to shout: YAAAY! WE ARE HERE!!!" And that she did.

If I had a wagon I would....

...go to Colorado, go to Colorado. If I had a wagon I would go to the state where a man can walk a mile high!

This song that I learned in 3rd grade music class was the theme song that got us through the last two weeks of school. (Baby B would say she is "not a fan" of school.) We were getting in the car after daycare one day and she said: I am so excited about summer camp. I can't wait!

"Wait a are more excited about summer camp than vacation?"
"Yup, cuz I don't know what vacation means."

"Vacation" needed a meaning, "vacation" needed some pictures from the internet (MOUNTAINS!!), "vacation" needed a song.

From time to time, I can still hear Ladybug, who always has some song in her head, singing: If airplane, fly to Colorado, fly Colorado!

How Long We Gonna Get There?

"How long we get there to Colorado?" Baby Beignet asked a few weeks ago when I was talking about our vacation plans. "Is it long like Sea World?" Hmm, how to explain that it's WAY longer than Sea World?

"Well, it's longer than Sea World. You will eat lunch at school and then I'll pick you and Bug up. We'll get in the car and you will be tired so you'll take a nap. Then we will get out of the car to go to the bathroom. Then we'll get back in the car and drive. Then we'll stop for dinner. Then guess what?"

"We'll be there?"

"Nope! We'll get back in the car and drive some more...."
And this was how the conversation continued.

In the end, both girls were awesome both ways in the car. 19 hrs there, 18 hrs back. We learned a few things:
1. Baby B can make herself go to sleep at the drop of a hat. Even if she has just woken up from a three hour nap.
2. Ladybug can entertain herself for more than 30 minutes with just her pointer and one nostril. Double that time if you give her a kleenex.
3. Small Texas towns have softball tournaments that cause every hotel in town to be full. Keep on drivin'.
4. Competition over who has cows the most often on "their side" of the car is tough.
5. For some unknown reason, this side of Witchita Falls, there is not a horse farm, not a cow farm, but a CAMEL farm. Great entertainment.
6. You can never have too many CD's with kid songs on them. Even when you think you have plenty, at some point, you are going to be so very sick of the rocked out version of 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, that deep in your heart, you want to throw that CD out the window, just in front of the passing semi.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


"I can't decide what shoes I should wear to church." says Beignet as she walks down the hall. "I mean, I really want to look like a teenager today."

"Hm, what choices are you thinking about?" I ask. In my head, I am filing through the collection: tennies, watershoes, sandals, flip flops....

"I don't know. I just have to have a minute to figure it out."

Scrambling to get Bug out the door on time, I forget all about this exchange until we are sitting in church and Beignet has her feet carefully crossed at the ankles. She is wearing white patent leather mary janes with little flowers around them. Teenager indeed!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You want me to do WHAT?

Both girls have had the opportunity in the past month. Beignet was first at her well-child check. Ladybug was next at her trip to the urgent care and ER this weekend. It starts with the nurse handing us that tiny wrapped square and the plastic cup in a wrapper.
Beignet could not believe the request.
"You want me to do WHAT?"
Then I told her.
"In THAT little cup?"
So off we went to the bathroom. Beignet thought this was the most exciting thing since Sea World. She did her thing and walked out of the bathroom into the dr. waiting room and announced: I PEED IN A CUP!

Ladybug was not quite as cooperative. The girl has the bladder the size of a watermelon, so no amount of drinking water, running water, or having Baby B pee in the stall next to her could offer us success. Each of our four tries (2 in urgent care and 2 in the ER) was met with the standard: No, no, no. So we gave up.

All week though, Bug has recapped her weekend's adventure. "I no pee cup. I say nonono. Maybe tomorrow. I go dr. tomorrow. I pee cup, K?"

A Day of Celebrations

I was lucky enough to go to the courthouse yesterday. Lucky and Courthouse are not often used in the same sentence, but this was for a good reason. My foster friends were adopting their 23 month old. They have had her since she was 8 months old. It was so fun to see them so excited to get a daughter. Their 12 year old son stood up and told the judge that he was "so happy to have a little sister. She is a great sister." It was priceless. Yaay for this little one for finding a forever home!

Celebration #2 comes in the form of a surprise. I was walking up the stairs in the courthouse and noticed two boys who looked familiar. Yet again, I have crossed paths with the two gentlemen. I am not sure how I get so lucky as to see them from time to time, or what the purpose of these viewings is in my life or theirs, but I love seeing them. Taller gentleman has his big boy teeth now. Smaller can say "good" instead of "dood". Their exciting news for me was that they are moving home in July. Wishing them the best!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crocodile Tears

Ladybug and I were in the living room tonight when Baby B was getting out of the tub. I heard laughing and talking and then what sort of sounded like crying. Crying? What's going on in there? I quietly walked down the hall to peek in the bathroom. Baby B was standing on the stool, looking in the mirror, PRETENDING TO CRY and making different faces while doing so. Watching her for a minute, I saw her get a bit of water on her hands to make tears, while moving from a little cry to a full-on sobfest. Eventually, she saw me in the hallway and started laughing. "What are you doing?" I asked. "I just wanted to see what I look like when I cry."

Is this her practice for her dramatic tween years?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Loving Peni

Beignet has a gramma substitute in the form of Auntie Shannon's mother, Peni, who comes to town from time to time. The drippy sweet relationship began when Peni handed Baby B a balloon at Chik Fil A. The bond strengthened when B decided to see Peni's reaction to a bedtime fit. Word is she screamed for a good long while...long enough for Peni to decide to climb up to the top bunk to help Beignet fall asleep.

When Peni comes to town, the world stops. Today, Baby B was so excited to see Peni and show her her new lunchbox. On the way to go see Peni and friends, Beignet and Ladybug were discussing whose lap they would sit in. "I'm getting Peni's lap. Remember she is so nice to me?" says B. (Ladybug, by the way, is content with any lap.)

And so that was our evening, pizza on the floor of Susan's new condo and girls in various laps. I think Peni's was full more often than not. As we left the condo, hugs and kisses being thrown left, right and center, B made her announcement that she has only said to one other person in 4 months: LOVE YA, PENI!! And oh, how she does!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Table Manners

Ladybug came to my house with what was reported to be little experience eating table food. She was in the "exploratory stage"....mashing food with her hands, putting her fist in her mouth to eat, and no idea how to use a fork or spoon. The first week she was here, we ate outside every night so that the mess would be in the grass or I could just hose it off the sidewalk. As things progressed, we moved indoors. At the end of each meal, Ladybug would patiently wait as I cleaned her face and hands and stripped her down of the food-laden clothes. Lately, she has been able to eat without being stripped down. On Wednesday, after meatloaf, baked potatoes, peas/corn and watermelon, I grabbed the washcloth and the broom for our end of meal ritual. Bug helped wipe her hands and face, and, getting ready to jump out of the chair, looked down at the floor. She gasped: "Look Tammy! No food down there!" Sure enough, more food went into her belly than onto the floor. Not a single piece of corn was waiting for the broom. Progress!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dr. Doolittle

The girls and I went to the Austin Zoo on Saturday. At home, we pretend we know what the cats are saying when they meow. We tried the same thing at the zoo. We saw three different sets of "talking animals" on Saturday:
1. The peacock. Beignet walks around the house shrieking in the peacock's high voice: Mommy, mommy.
2. The pigs. The pigs didn't want to share their food with each other. They say things like "Move away from my broccoli." and "I don't want to share with you."
3. The most exciting was the ring-tailed lemur cage. Ladybug recaps this scene every day: "Don't hurt my arm. Don't eat my carrot. OK, strawberry." (translation: The lemur said "don't hurt my arm" as he grabs his arm. Then he takes a carrot back from the other lemur and says: Don't eat my carrot. The other lemur was hardly disturbed, so replied: OK, I'll eat this strawberry instead.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Remember When?

Little Ladybug must think she has been here forever. Her favorite thing to say is "'Member?"
'Member Church?'
Yes, we went to church.
'Member li-berry?'
Yes, we read books.
'Member park?
Yep, you got to swing, didn't you?
'Member CC wear a shirt?

Is she trying to see if I am listening?

Bit Checks In

Another call from Little Bit last night. They come about once a month and always begin with an enthusiastic: Hi Tammy!

Bit has turned five since we last spoke.

"How does it feel to be five?" I asked.
"You wouldn't believe it Tammy. It feels AWESOME! But the only thing is, I keep getting older, but I am still a tiny girl. And I can't remember when I was a baby anymore."

Towel Attire

Baby B has quite the bathtime ritual. It ends, without fail, with her getting out of the tub and creating a new outfit from her towel. Sometimes I hear, "Tammy, come see my new skirt." Other times, it's "I am a baby. Look at my diaper."

Last night, I was in the kitchen when B came out to model her new outfit.

"I went to Walmart and bought this dress for twenty dollars. What do you think?"
"Oh, it's lovely. You got quite a bargain."

She walked away. I turned my back to wash some dishes and she yelled: Tammy, you won't believe it! I went to Walmart and they said the dress was more than $20 so they took it back and NOW look what they left me!

I turned to see nothing but a naked kid standing, grinning ear to ear, in the middle of the hallway. She must've found some money overnight though, because tonight she bought some "diapers" from her pretend store after bath.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dinnertime Prayer

"God is pretty. He is in the air. He take care of us in our heart. Thank you, God, a man." (a man=amen?)--Baby B.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Trip to the Dentist

Speaking of the little ladybug, we had our second trip to the dentist today. The first one was horrible for a variety of reasons, so today we went to a new dentist. The ladybug was very scared. She does not like anything to do with doctors, masks, seemingly sterile environments, funny looking chairs and tools. She TRIED to be brave. At most, I got her to open her mouth for the dentist by practicing many, many times over the past week. "The dentist will say: AHHHH! Then he will say: Oooh, look at those shiny teeth. Then he will say GOOD JOB." He didn't quite say all of those things, but was very good with the bug. Tonight at dinner, the babysitter came over. Ladybug, who doesn't seem to shut up at home, told the sitter: Dentist. Ahhhh! Hiney Tooth! Good job. Give me toothbrush." Perhaps she is proud that she survived the dentist without screaming this time. I for one am glad that we don't have to go back for six months. Yee haw.

Bad Hair Day

I will admit to being proud of my newly acquired hair skills. Most days, the girls look great. I can braid, bead and bauble as much as the girls want. We have more hair toys and hair products in our house than I have probably had in my lifetime. Even Baby Beignet tells me I have done a good job on her hair and that our new friend "looks so cute when you do her hair."

Until yesterday. I spent an hour putting nine braids in my little friend's hair as she patiently sat on the floor. Apparently, I braided a bit too tight because the braids are inflexible and stick almost straight out of her head. So she looks like a cross between an alien, Medusa, and a ladybug. Given the amount of time I asked her to sit still, she'll have to look like a ladybug till the next hair washing comes around. So I am still learning to do hair, it seems...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Little Miss No Settles In

Hoping that she won't always live up to that name, we won't keep it for long. But for now, it's the only thing that fits. Beignet will say that LMN's favorite things to say are "no" and "I no want night night." It's the truth. We hear 'no' at various volumes throughout the day. It can come with a smile, a tear, a scream, or a shriek. Baby B and I just look at each other and sigh....our ears are tired. The new Little Miss is perfecting her tantrum. Thursday, she excelled at removing all barrettes from her braids (and throwing them in various corners of the room), taking off her shoes and socks, and was working on removing her undies when she finally settled down.

There are upsides to having Little Miss No around though. When she isn't saying no or throwing a fit, she is a funny, funny duck. LMN doesn't stop. She is running, tripping, crawling, climbing, laughing, attacking, following us at all times. She adores Beignet (and the feeling is often, though not always, reciprocated). She loves shoes that light, shirts with monkeys, cats with shirts, and backpacks. She stops dead in her tracks for firetrucks and school buses. Beignet and I decided just the other day as Miss No had her shirt stuck on her head and ran around the living room saying: Where me? Where me? that we are glad she is here and we'll let her stay as long as she needs. Regardless of how much our ears hurt.

It's Fantastic to be Five

5. Special, self-designed menu of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, vanilla cake and vanilla ice cream served to a few friends.
4. "Birthday Girl" T-shirt that screamed: Acknowledge me please!
3. "I don't know why people like to give me so much presents."
2. A sisterless trip to SeaWorld tomorrow.
1. "I'm not four anymore, but I not a old lady already."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Who's In Charge Here?

Two girls and I went to mass this morning. We have been going to two different churches for different events. Baby Beignet calls one the "donut church" and the other one "the church where the other black kids are." Today, it was Donut Church day.

Beignet sat in her seat waiting patiently for mass to start. For a while. Then she got up and looked to the back of the church.

Big Sigh.

"Tammy, when is God going to come in?"
"um, God is always here, He doesn't just 'come in.'"
"Well then, when is Jesus going to start?"
"You mean Father Ed?"
"Yeah, I guess."

Friday, April 3, 2009

#12 Settles In

#12 arrived on Monday. At 2 1/2, most of her words are: "No. I don't want that. No."
She can say a few other things though:
1. "No, Mommy, No!!" (I am a combination of "Mommy," "Hey," and "Tammy.")
2. I want Nana. (her name for Baby B).
3. CC wear a shirt!
4. I see Kitty Cat.
5. School bus!!!!

#12 is a bit confused at our lifestyle. We are people on the go. Last night, we packed up to go to pajama story time. Two of us (the shorter two) were wearing our pj's when I said: Get in the car.

"No, Mommy, No! Need shorts! Need shorts! NEED SHORTS!!" She sat in storytime, not saying a word, but staring at all the kids in their pj's, none wearing shorts.

She'll figure out our comings and goings (and my name) soon enough.

The Bright Side

"Tammy? I think I'm a lucky kid." said Baby Beignet while riding her bike.
Oh yeah, why's that?
"Because I have a foster sister and a foster mom and two foster cat brothers and other kids don't have all that." And off she rode.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Movin' On Up

The draw of the top bunk. It has been calling Baby Beignet's name for a few weeks now. The bottom bunk is bigger but the top bunk is higher. She tried it out a couple of times for nap and loved it, but wasn't willing to commit. On Wednesday, a foster friend spent the night so Baby B took the top bunk, feeling most honored to be the one trusted to climb the ladder in the night for a bathroom break. Finally, B has made the permanent move. For me, it is a pain....sheets are harder to change, I have to climb up to tuck her in, but it has happened just in time....New kiddo is coming on Monday.

Easter Dresses

How did this happen? How did I get the girliest girl in the world in my house? Is this because I wore dresses every single day of my fifth grade year? Or is this because I am NOT a fan of shopping?

Baby B has been counting the days. Not the days till Easter, but the days till I would take her to the mall to buy a dress. B tried on about 10 dresses. She loved every one of them and would have brought them home if allowed. What we ended up with makes her look like a flower girl. Shiny white dress with polka dots, a delicate sweater in case it is cold, white mary janes and a pink headband. Yikes. Beignet is beside herself. "I look like a princess." Yes, tis true. I have given in to the Princess gods and allowed this frill to happen. When's the tomboy moving in?

Fantastic Fun for Spring Break

1. Shamu Express with Kate and Sarah at Sea World. Pink cotton candy and the "boat ride" came in as close seconds. "Sea World make us so busy." says Baby B.
2. Sprinkler fun with "our" new friends at the house. Cheap entertainment (especially compared to Sea World).
3. IHOP breakfast with Grampa. I have to remember to thank him for giving us a SINGING scottie dog for our 3 hr car ride home.
4. Waco's Cameron Park Zoo. Yes, Waco has a zoo. Yes, it is awesome. Giraffes, elephants, rhinos, you name it. "That giraffe is so tall, he can reach the tree."
5. Baby B's stick garden. She has yet to wonder why the garden that she spent over an hour planting by finding sticks and digging a hole for each one to stand tall has yet to grow.
6. "Camping" in Bastrop. We got in our car when everyone else got in their tents. Roasted marshmallows, nighttime hike, zip line and walking sticks personally named by our hosts. What more could a camper want?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Blondies

Word is in. All five blondies--the three brothers and their two sisters--are officially home. They have trickled their ways back to mom over a three month period. I believe if anyone is deserving of a second chance to raise their kiddos, it is this mom. Sass' mom asked the judge why she had to take parenting classes. The Blonds' mom asked the judge for MORE parenting classes. Where I have seen other mothers try to get out of things on their service plans, Blond Mom has done it all and again, asked for more.

I can't imagine it's going to be an easy road for her. In fact, having three of those kiddos in my home, I KNOW it's not going to be easy. I am hopeful for all five kids and mom that this is their new beginning.

I was thinking today that if the first two blond brothers had stayed here the whole time, they would have been here for 15 months. I think things are meant to be though. Had they been here that entire time I would never have...

...seen the third blond in a tutu.
...found a kindred spirit in the sugar-toothed Princess.
...learned that I am flexible enough to take a 21 month old.
...realized that kids, in the form of two lovely gentlemen, could creep into my heart in less than a week.
...watched Sass age from a 20 year old down to an 8 year old.
...laughed as much as I did at Little Bit's antics.
...and acclimated my ears to the New Orleans accent sleeping in the next room right now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How many times...

do I have to tell you?

More importantly, how many times will I ask that question before I remember that there actually IS an answer. Sass was certain the answer was one more than however many times I had told her to do something. Baby B was convinced she knew the answer tonight at dinner. "B, drink your milk please." "B, drink your milk please." "Please stop playing and drink your milk."

Big sigh.

"B, I have told you four times to drink your milk. How many times do I have to tell you?"

She picked up her cup, drank some milk, smiled and said: FOUR.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Baby Beignet has broken a record. Somehow her honeymoon period lasted a whole month. To the day. Not a day longer. Someone flipped a switch in the angel child this week. Did I expect the emails from the teacher discussing behavior? Did I really just have to repeat myself FOUR times to get something done? This is not the February kid in this house. Welcome March.

Things needed to turn around quickly. Teacher and I were unwilling to tolerate rolling under the tables at lunch and fighting with friends. We quickly implemented a behavior chart with smiley faces. Beignet was excited. She caught on fast and knew that green happy faces were the ultimate goal. She turned it around by the end of this week and was back to her February self. In celebration, we went to Sonic today for an ice cream cone. "Thanks for giving us reason to celebrate today." I told her. Her ice cream covered face looked up at me and said, "Don't you worry. We can do this again next week. I'll make us celebrate again." Can I have a round of green smilies please?

Lights Out

Daylight savings starts tomorrow. I love everything about a longer day of sunshine, but am going to miss the magic of the lights in my house. There's a trend in this house, no matter the kids. A wonder about the "magic" lights around our home. Blond Brothers raced to the carport every morning to see who could trigger the security light first. In their short time here, the two gentlemen invented a game around the light sensor on the night light in the bedroom. The most magical, mysterious light though has been the lamp in the living room. At 6:17 every night, it clicks on. When Sass and Bit were around, Bit would look at us both and say, "I wiggled my nose." Baby Beignet waits for the click and says: CC did that! Neither Bit nor Baby B have known the real secret.

I love the magic of the lamp. I love the wonder that comes with it. While I will also love daylight until 9pm each night, I will miss the routine that each kid develops around a single light timer.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Baby Beignet and I played sidewalk chalk yesterday with the neighbor's 4 year old granddaughter. She had come before to play with Sass, and Sass and I had been to her house. "Where's Sass?" she asked as she drew a "coyote" on the sidewalk. I explained that she didn't live here anymore, that now Baby Beignet lives with me, that my house is just a "for a while" house, not a "forever" house, that Sass went to her "forever" house and one day Baby B will go to hers.

Despite all of my (over)explaining, neighbor girl was unconvinced. "Sass will come back. She still has a bed here." No, Beignet sleeps here now. "But she doesn't LIVE here." Sure she does, she sleeps here every night.

Neighbor stopped drawing for a second and looked up at me. "Well then, what color is her toothbrush?"

I don't think that was a test question, really, but it certainly came out as one. Neighbor girl was slightly less puzzled once she got the tour of the house and saw all of Sass's stuff gone and Beignet's stuff here. She has joined the ranks of the children we like to confuse!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Top compliments of the week:
1. Thank you for letting me wear my footies to the library.
2. You don't make me cry when you do my hair. And I love my beads.
and the best one yet from Baby B, while swinging on the tree swing yesterday:
3. Tammy? I like living here now. I think it's OK to be here.

Three weeks and we are settling in....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jammie Time

Who knew that pajamas would be the highlight of our life here? Baby Beignet came with a couple of pair of pjs (that she has no idea where she got) and has acquired a couple more. Suddenly, choosing pajamas has become an event each night. They all get laid out on the floor and compared. So far, we have:
1. The Footies: "These make me look just like a little baby!" Footies are extra popular on the wooden floors.
2. The "I love Dora but these are too short" PJs: Beignet doesn't quite get the concept of capri pants yet.
3. The "Princess Nightgown": need I explain?
4. The "Balentine" nightgown. It has nothing to do with Valentine's really. It was BESIDE some valentine sleepers in the store.
And (drumroll please) the most popular:
5. "The Magic Pajamas": Magic because they glow in the dark.

What's In A Name?

Some kids' names come easy. Sass was a given her name after she opened her mouth the first time. Little Bit was just that. A little teeny bit of energy, spunk, and silliness. New Critter needed a name. Susan, one of the aunties to all of my kiddos, had the honors of naming this one, as we needed a name that reflected the New Orleans origins. So, Baby Beignet has emerged....a wonderful sweet treat from New Orleans.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Beads Galore!

You Tube is an amazing thing. In less than 15 minutes, I was able to watch demonstrations on four different ways to bead my new friend's hair. The 47 braids she came in are all still beautiful. The ends, however, have seen better days. To extend the life of the braids, we decided beading the ends would be helpful. So, a couple episodes of the Backyardigans and about 250 beads later, a new hair do (and a new skill) has evolved. The little one likes to hop up and down the hallway to hear her beads click against each other. Then she likes to stand in front of the mirror to see all the colors. How she is sleeping with all that artwork on her head remains a mystery.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Curiosity Confuses the Child

The poor children at our elementary school. They just can't figure me out. These are the things I have heard in the past week:
1. But teacher, that looks just like Little Bit's mom.
2. I know who you are! You used to be Little Bit's mom but now you're the new girl's mom!
3. Why do you keep showing up here with different kids?
4. I keep seeing you! You were Blond Brother 2's mom, then you were HIS brother's mom, then you were that tall girl's mom, then you were that little girl's mom, and now your HER mom? How do you do that?
Curiosity aside, we have been welcomed back to the school. I like being a part of that community, no matter how curious a family we are.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Silence No More

The kidless spell has been broken. Two long months with no toys strewn across the living room, no trips to the library ending with forty books in the trunk, no bedtime stories, and no chicken nuggets. The house is back in action!

Critter #11 arrived on Friday. She was in the house less than three minutes when she had the first dress up outfit in her hands. It's been an ok adjustment. Unfortunately, little one has done this before. She knows the drill. She has unpacked her clothing, established which chair will be hers at mealtime, and has designated the spot for her baby doll to sleep at night (an opened dresser drawer). So what can one learn about a 4 1/2 year old in 2 days? Well......

1. Like my mother, she can make a song out of anything. There is a constant musical hum in the house.
2. Like the 3rd brother and the princess, she likes carrots and red peppers. But dipped in BBQ sauce rather than ranch.
3. Like the oldest brother, she could make a meal out of a bottle of ketchup.
4. Like the gentlemen, she LOVED the capital yesterday.
5. Like my last two girls, she is girly girl to the core. Her only request at Target was a dress. Let's not get started about the elaborate, beautiful braids adorned with appropriate hair baubles.
6. And like all the previous kiddos (and my mother, of course), I still have a lot to learn about her.