Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Our morning started out magical. Open one present, play with it for 20 minutes, and then "oh, we can open another one?" Then the idea kicked in that ALL of those things under the tree (and admittedly there weren't a ton this year) would get unwrapped and the slow paced portion of "magical" disappeared. Big Sis got fast at unwrapping. Little Sis had no interest whatsoever in the entire event, not even the paper. In the end, there was paper everywhere, toys hidden underneath, cookie crumbs here and there, and three happy girls enjoying the morning.

The day ended just as fun with dinner with friends, little girls coveting a piece of birthday cake and crowns from Christmas crackers, and staying up way past their bedtime.

I love Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

There is nothing I like more on Christmas Eve than having gifts and wrapping and stocking stuffers strewn about the house waiting to be organized for Christmas morning. Christmas morning is always chaos, with unwrapping, cookie eating and playing. But Christmas Eve is just me, staying up late, enjoying what I can do to make things special for the kids in the house. Candles lit, Christmas music in the background, some assembly required--I love that for three Christmases now, I have been given the gift of kids a week or two before Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Two New Sisters

...arrived a little over a week ago. I had five weeks of the single life--sleeping in, sleeping through the night, going out without investing in a babysitter, and hardly cooking at all. As lovely as all that sounds now, it wasn't what I wanted, so I was happy to have two new ones coming up the walk.

And yet again, I find myself breaking my self imposed rules on age limits. The younger sister is the youngest to ever come into the house. At 14 months, she is so much a baby. But so far she is fun. I am finding I have to childproof in ways I have never done before. Canned cat food is a huge draw, as is anything in the washing machine. I am wondering how many random items (pecans, rocks, Little People, magnets, etc.) I will wash before she loses interest in that front loading machine.

Older sister (almost 3) is a love bug already. My arms are never empty, my body is never still...she's either snuggling or making me play with all the toys. Her favorites so far are the Dora puzzle and the dress up bin. She, like most of the preschoolers who have been here before, loves my repertoire of kid songs and rhymes, finger plays, and silly sayings.

Welcome to both cuties. I am so glad you are here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Night Owl's Ten

10. LOVED Spiderman. But said: Spidermanch! (complete w/ web making fingers) every time.
9. Interpreted the word "hell" in a song as "milk". She called the song "My Milk Song." I saw no reason to correct her.
8. Became very best friends with a cat named Stubby, even though for a few weeks in the beginning, she was his worst enemy.
7. Was my own personal parrot. If it came out of my mouth, it came out of hers minutes, hours, days later.
6. Along those lines, went up to the birthday girl who had just finished her cupcake at her party and had a rather messy face, and said loudly: NIIIIIIIICE FACE!!!
5. Fell in love with a pair of black mary janes with kitty cats on the toes. I secretly adored them too, so it was a good purchase.
4. Was the Queen of Finger Plays. If it exists, she knows it. "Thumbkin" was at the top of the charts this week; "Five Little Pumpkins" last week.
3. Got in Little Guy's space one time while he was crying and said: OH THE DRAMA!! (see #7).
2. Called Chick Fil A "Chickaway".
1. When she said: "I want applesauce," it did not mean the food. It meant she wanted to sit cross legged.

Night Owl exceeded even the second blond brother in how often and how loudly one could say: I love you. My favorite was a day when I left her at daycare and she was on the top of the playscape screaming: I LOVE YOU, MOMMY! over and over again.

I love you more, baby girl.

Itty Bitty's Ten

It's nothing I would have wished on them or me two days after Little Guy left, but sometimes planets do not align on move dates. So today, the girls moved too, leaving a very empty house behind.

10. Best party trick ever = me: Who loves the baby??? her: Mama!
9. Sat at the dinner table with one leg up on her chair. If she could sneak it there, her foot would go up too.
8. Looked like Cindy Lou Who, only a few shades darker.
7. Had her favorite lift-the-flap ABC book that she chose to read every night.
6. Was, until the very last week, afraid of CC but adored Stubby.
5. Started talking up a storm in the past 2 weeks. Her longest, most clear utterance was: Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!
4. Never grew tired of pushing chairs around the house. It was anybody's guess what chair we might find in the middle of the hallway or bathroom.
3. Wanted so badly to be a big kid. Big kid bed, big kid shoes, big kid utensils, big kid puzzles....
2. Had a bib that caught food she dropped in a pocket. When she cleaned her plate, she would just stick her hand in the pocket and eat the "leftovers".
1. Developed a very random fear of flies which caused us to create many o' games and stories about flies, where they were, what they were doing, how to get rid of them, and how to be their friends.

Never, ever will I regret breaking my no-under-twos rule, Itty. I love you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Little Guy's Ten

I am more confident in some kids' landing spots than others. More hopeful that they'll be ok, will never be involved in the system again, will live a good, good life. Little Guy will have that life, I am sure. I imagine he will miss us for a bit, and I know we will miss him for a long, long time, but in the end, he's gone somewhere relatives who already love him.

What's not to love about such a sweet Little Guy who...

10. Had a favorite stuffed animal that he slept with every night. Only it wasn't an animal. It was a stuffed flower named "Flower."
9. Was a bit difficult to understand at times. He appeared to think that restating himself using a growling or squeaky voice would help to clarify his message.
8. Came in speaking one language, left speaking two others. Never learned the English equivalents of "aqui" or "mira".
7. Wore a pink princess dress around the house regularly and cried if he didn't get the better of our two magic wands.
6. Chose a phone book instead of a booster seat for meal time every night after going to a friend's house where the phone book was the only option.
5. Said "Thank You" frequently. Almost every time, it was with the enthusiasm of being given a hundred bucks, no matter if I changed his diaper, buckled him in, wiped his nose, or gave him some M and M's.
4. Went about a month where he said at least 20 times a day: Mom? I have Spider Man shoes.
3. Could not eat Teddy Grahams without pointing out that at least one had a missing leg and therefore needed to limp from his bowl into his mouth.
2. Most recently learned phrase of excitement: "Check it out!" pronounced: Teh ih ow!
1. Mastered, at the age of three, the sighed-out-may-as-well-be-accompanied-by-an-eye-roll "MOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!" if I didn't answer him fast enough.

Stay sweet, Mister. I love you!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Itty Bitty = Strawberry who should have really been dressed like a crab
Little Guy = Shark-turned-into-Shark/Superhero/Cat because his mom left the top part of his costume at school, so we had to improvise with pieces of Beignet's costume from last year
Night Owl = Ladybug Cat because she was envious of Shark/Catboy's whiskers

Regardless of what they were supposed to be or became, two olders had a good time figuring out what this thing called Halloween was all about. Sharkie hasn't stopped talking about the candy (yes, I let him eat a piece). Ladybug Cat hasn't stopped discussing the "monsters" that came to the door. "It no monster, Mommy. It only KIIIIIIIIIDS." Nobody but me was impressed with our pumpkin, or even wanted to touch it. And everything just may have been a little too new/different/unusual for Itty Bitty since she was not exactly the happiest, carefree kid all weekend. Maybe next year....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Birthday

Dear Curly,

Today you are six. I wonder what you are up to. All of the older kids here have talked about their birthdays, but you, my friend, were obsessed with planning. So if all goes according to your plan, today you are having a Transformers birthday cake but with Ben 10 napkins. You will go to Chuck E Cheese today. You will get "so many presents" and you will blow out six candles, one shaped like the number SIX.

I have reread all of your stories today in honor of you. I still love you and hope you are having fun in kindergarten, with your family, and in your new house.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!
Love, Tammy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lost in Translation

Sometimes you just need to know the context:

"Mommy, it water down there." = I peed the bed.
"Itty Bitty I don't like that shoe fly." = Itty Bitty doesn't like flies.
"I had fun day Dora." = I like Dora.
"CC no CC and no Stubby" = a cat
"Jumping shoes" = sneakers

FAQ #3

Actually, this one only gets asked every six months. In my living room. By my caseworker. While filling out some six month review to keep us all in compliance. Something to the effect of: How does the family feel about fostering?

The answer changes with the mood. With the day. With the recent entries or upcoming good-byes. It is fluid. I can never give the answer I want because it's asked while kids are wanting attention, while my brain is in 4 different places, while my caseworker sits beside me waiting.

Tonight, this would be my answer:

I’ve just watched a video of my 3 current kids pretending to catch flies at the dinner table. I watched it in its 20-ish second entirety no fewer than 25 times. It is the most simple game we created out of necessity after leaving the backdoor open way too long the other day. This is what I love about fostering. Over three years, I have fostered piƱata hitters, puppeteers, hair braiders, skateboard riders, thumb suckers, ice cream lovers, dog petters, stroller riders, Capital ground hill roller-downers, cat feeders, story book readers, footie pajama wearers, laugh-till-you-pee-your-pants-ers, and yes, pretend fly catchers. I love that we are a family. Though who we are changes, what we are doesn't. I like to think that the difference between my family and any other family is just the descriptor that sits in front. I love that sitting at the dinner table with three kids still makes me, at least once a week, get up laughing and say: Hang on, let me get the camera.

A week ago, having processed again the idea of Little Guy leaving soon, I was NOT a fan of foster care. There are times where I hate the idea that this constantly changing family is my life. That when I say Hello, I know there will be a Goodbye. That there is a need for homes like mine. That kids ultimately grow in their skin here, become secure, happy little people, are embraced by the community, are adored but then they have to move again. That I watch a variety of children have a single birthday and then watch them leave.

Tonight though, having watched the fly saga happen at the dinner table and in the tub, after reading over and over again a story I have written for the kids to prepare them for Little Guy’s transition, after playing This Little Piggy with 30 little piggies while putting on three pair of pjs, while patting Itty Bitty back to sleep, I am on board. Though it changes with the kids, with each backstory, with court dates, visits and transitions, it is home for me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Year Three

I am pretty sure that three years ago, I did not spend my Sundays lip syncing to Raffi and performing puppet shows with bath toys over the top of the curtain so that I could stay in the shower just a few more minutes. I think I may have read books with more than 10 words to a page. I may even have finished a project a little more time consuming than building a lego tower.

Year Three has been filled with ups and downs, hellos and goodbyes, firsts and lasts. It held the first child to be adopted from my home, the first to be reunified, the first to be the third in the home, the first (and second, and third) to not speak English, the first (what I consider to be a) baby. It's held long, carefully planned moves and very quick barely-time-for-good-bye moves. It's held arrivals with a few days notice and arrivals with 30 minutes notice. It's held very easy kiddos and tough nuts to crack. It's held much, much joy and much, much heartache.

Entering the fourth year, we are approaching the disbanding of our little United Nations. Soon, a little toddler bed in the corner of the room will be vacant. There will be no kissing good night Puppy, Bear, Panda, Flower, Water and Little Guy. There will instead be an emptiness in our family which I imagine will be filled with another story, another hello, another set of firsts, favorites, and fun. The girls, as long as they are here, and I will continue on our ride, ready for the next kiddo who needs a good stop for a while.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


We've finally picked up our pj story hour habit again after taking the summer off. What this means is that children actually see DARK. Little Guy is fascinated by the dome light in the car and the security light in the carport. Night Owl frequently comments: Cars! Light! (yes, cars have lights) and Mommy! No see!

Tonight we timed things perfectly and got home just as the fireflies were performing their finale for the evening. I find there are many things I have a hard time explaining to my kiddos, but trying to get them to see a firefly at just the right second was tricky. They weren't getting it. They were smiling and nodding at my excitement. They were pointing at the moon. And then, almost simultaneously, they all saw what I meant. "Wow!" "Look at that!" "Mira!" "The light, mommy. The bug light!" Even Itty was pointing and screeching. What a fun end to an already good evening, and a reminder that even little teeny tiny things can get a big "Wow!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Night Owl

I just found a pair of Owl's socks in the washer. Why is this so significant? Because nearly three months ago, she was a tornado. A dumping, kicking, spitting, tearing, hurting, screaming storm of a child spinning wildly around out there on her own. Initially, nothing I did could convince her that she had someone on her team here. Fast forward two months, though, and we have a kid who follows every routine introduced and appears to love it. Shoes in box. Socks in washer. Backpack by table. "All Done!" All that with no direction or reminders from me.

I am not sure I have seen this type of progression in any of my kids. Absolutely, it is wonderful for me to not have to hover. To not worry that her alone in the room will cause a cat to come out limping. To not wonder if we can go out in public without having to quickly leave. To have little concern that Little Guy is getting the brunt of the storm. To sleep through the night. Yes, it's lovely.

But more lovely is the child who has emerged. The one who smiles and tells everyone "hello". Who pets, feeds, and plays with cats. Who takes turns with Little Guy and makes him laugh. Who entertains us all with her dancing and singing to ballads on her favorite CD. Who walks around singing "Allelujah," "Happy Birthday!" and "I love you, so-and-so". Who sleeps through the night.

I loved you even when you were a storm, little Owl, but what fun it is to see you now!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


When no one in the house appears to understand what "It's your birthday!" means, it's easy to make it a special day. It was such a contrast to the last birthday in the house--Ladybug--who, with the help of Beignet knew exactly what to expect, what to sing, and that it would be a big day.

On par with the rest of our low key life, turning three was low key, but fun and special all the same. Zoo trip, cupcakes and chickfila. Trike, tub toys, and puzzles. Sister, sister, mama. Auntie, Auntie, and Auntie.

Cute boy. Sweet boy. Birthday Boy!

All I Ever Really Needed To Know...

...I learned from an eighteen month old:

--Carry house keys when taking out the trash.
--Forget about chokable and breakable. Think lickable and drool-tolerant.
--Toddler teeth are sharp.
--Worry not about bathroom germs. Every surface of the bathroom will be touched and mouthed in the time it takes to use the restroom.
--Favorite word = NO = not endearing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Spectacle We Are

Our little family in public tends to get some stares, which I don't entirely understand because I know I am not the only one on Earth with three kids this small. Nor am I the only one with three children who don't match me or match each other. It's the comments, though, that crack me up:

From the HEB worker in the store, looking at all three children in the cart: Where do you plan on putting any food?

From the guy in the HEB parking lot who was waiting for me to shut the car door so he could get in: Wow! Looks like you have way more to deal with than I do. Take your time.

From the person at the daycare potluck as I was trying to get all three some water and a cookie: So, do you ever get a chance to eat?

From a different daycare mom after she mathematically deduced that two of my children are less than nine months apart: Wait. How'd you manage THAT?

From the homeless man in the McDonald's parking lot: Your kids are beautiful, but it looks like you got it kinda rough!

Rougher than being HOMELESS??? I think not!

There's Something About Super Models

...that makes Little Guy incredibly happy. The Santa-just-arrived-and-left-me-all-I-ever-wanted kind of Happy. I have been hiding the Shape magazines lately, but decided to conduct an experiment. I turned this:

into this:

by using a Sharpie marker. I left the modified mag on the coffee table, thinking my guy would skip on by it. This morning, he ran out to the living room: "I eat Kix! I eat Kix!" and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of the book on the coffee table:
"My book? My pretty book? I look at it?"

It's something about these fit women that grabs his attention. To make matters worse (or weirder), his new teacher was telling me yesterday that Little Guy has a favorite book that he carries around all the time so that no one else will look at it. "What book is it?" I asked. And she showed me this.

I can only imagine where his head and eyes will be when he's a teenager.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Rare Treat

Since her arrival in June, Night Owl has slept through the night only four times. That's four of fifty-six nights. Most nights, we are up-down-potty-patting back-crying-fussing-walking around-bad dreaming-Yo quiero-ing, No quiero-ing, up and down a bit more. We're batting less than 10% for getting decent sleep. Not. Good.

But, last night was a treat. She slept....all night!

A song to celebrate:
All Night Long

Unfortunately, I am too tired to party with Lionel. But a few more nights of 6 or 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep may find me with more energy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Name Game

Little Guy is very into naming people these days. Unfortunately, his voice is very tiny and he repeats himself till you acknowledge what he has said.

So a car ride home from daycare typically sounds like this:
"Itty? Itty? Itty?"
--Yes, that's Itty's car seat.
"Owl? Owl? Owl?"
--Yup, that's Owl's spot.
"Little Guy? Little Guy?"
--Yes, there you are.
"Mommy? Mommy?"
--Yes, here's Mommy.
"CC? CC?"
--CC's at home.
"Stubby? Stubby? Stubby?"
--Stubby's at home too.
"All done!"

...and then he starts again....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ode to Privacy

to the tune of "Yesterday"

You're not here as much as you used to be.
I once had zero kids but now have three
Oh, how I long for Privacy.

Six eyes always watching over me.
When I change my clothes and when I pee
Oh, how I long for Privacy.

Two eyes at nighttime often spy on me.
I wake up and they're in front of me
Watching me sleep,
Oh, Privacy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FAQ #2

With each new kid, more people in our lives get curious and start asking questions. This week's top question, triggered in part by the 2 newish arrivals and in part by how darn cute all 3 of these kids are, is "Don't you get attached?"

The short, pat answer to THIS one would be the very obvious: YES!

How could I NOT get attached to a 2 1/2 year old who sings along to the Glee soundtrack in the back of the car, who holds his baby foster sister's hand in the car, who randomly comes up to me and asks me to BEEP? (his nose).

How could I NOT get attached to the 3 1/2 year old who sings Puff the Magic Dragon with a very thick accent, who sneaks up behind me every single time I am cooking to yell BOO!, and whose first English words have been: Thank you. and I love you, Mommy.

How could I NOT get attached to the "baby" who waves bye bye to anyone who passes by while she is in the shopping cart, who runs up and down the hall with a slapslapslap of feet because her feet are so flat, who puts on her own clothing by wearing pants and shirts on her arm as if they were purses.

This is the part of foster care to treasure. The daily ins and outs that yes, make everyone in this house love each other and attach. It's the part that lets me ignore the end of the story.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Girly Mags

"Hey, Wow! Look! Pretty!!"

These were the first four English words to spill out of Little Guy's mouth at once. Sadly, they were in response to seeing this in a magazine basket in the living room:

That was yesterday morning. Last night, Little Guy came home from daycare and went straight to the magazine basket to look some more. Who cares about Bon Appetit and This Old House? He wants swimsuits.

This morning, he got up, ate breakfast and sat on the couch, thumbing through the magazine, with an occasional "Oh pretty" or "MY book". Admittedly, it was creeping me out a bit---a 2 1/2 year old pouring over the very fit, mostly naked bodies pictured in "his" book. So I hid the magazine. About an hour later, he started looking for it. Filing through the magazines in the basket, I could hear his disappointment as he said, no, no, no to each magazine. Knowing his magazine wasn't in the basket, I wondered what he'd decide on. Then excitedly: "Oh, here is!"...the previous month's edition of Shape. And off to the couch he trotted, ready for some more eye candy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Special Little Something

or someone.

There's this Itty Bitty thing in my house. She wreaks havoc on any sort of organization, tidiness, and timeliness. She slobbers all over the place. She eats cat food. Yet she is the cutest thing under the age of two that I have met in a long time.

I had no idea I would enjoy a little tiny person so much. I had no idea that a little tiny face could crinkle a nose AND show two dimples when the smile is big enough.

Not saying that I will break my "no kids under 2" rule again, but am certainly glad I did this time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Night Owl

The tornado has downgraded herself a bit. She is still a bit of a wild card, but much much different than two weeks ago. One thing has not changed though: She is not much of a sleeper. Which of course makes me not much of a sleeper. The night owl is great fun during the day, though. She eats up any and all attention and thinks many many things are Que Bonita! (Que bonita--how pretty!-- appears to be her word for cool!) Night Owl loves ABC songs, Max and Ruby, the Puff the Magic Dragon book and colored tablets for the bathtub. She has recently discovered flashlights and matchstick carrots with ranch. Stubby and CC (who are both called Estubby) are the favored members of the house (and very tolerant, I might add). Hopefully sometime soon, all this fun and excitement we have during the day will wear her out enough to make her a bit less nocturnal.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Welcoming Sisters

Little Guy and I have been hit by a tornado. And her little sister. Last week brought our new 3 year old friend and the teeniest thing to set foot in the house. We are settling still, but in a week I have learned:

3 year old insomniacs DO exist.
My latent Spanish skills come in handy, even if only a few verbs are conjugated.
16 month olds are actually way more fun than I thought they'd be.
Bananas and strawberries are more coveted than cookies and french fries.
Behavior management and conflict resolution between a 2yo and a 3yo is difficult when each of us speaks a different language.
Introducing Ring Around the Rosie to 3 toddlers can make one dizzy if they ask for more/mas enough times.
Getting in and out of car seats takes an exceptionally long time.
Doing anything, really, takes an exceptionally long time.
The front of the shopping cart that has the little seatbelt thingy is the spot coveted by all.
It is possible to change diapers on children in the trunk of the car.
It is difficult to fit a cat carrier into a Honda Civic with three car seats.
Empty playgrounds are the best place to enjoy 3 small children without worrying one might get lost in the shuffle.
No one ever gets tired of singing the Wheels on the Bus (except me).
There is no need to get 4 separate plates to eat off of at picnics. No matter what is on their plate, they want what is on mine.
Even tornadoes can be tamed with much much focus.

Welcome little girls! I am looking forward to enjoying you more.

Never Say Never

How many ways can I break my own rules? Let me count them:

Four to seven year olds only (16 months to 9 years)
Sibling sets only (plenty o' singletons)
Two kids at a time (three)
No behavior problems (had 'em)
A break in between every sibling set (hate breaks!)

Based on the rules, Little Guy would not be here because of his age and "single-ness". The new two would have been immediately disregarded because one is still considered a BABY. Where has my backbone gone? Not sure, but glad it's temporarily out of joint because I am thoroughly enjoying this newly chaotic life in the HOV lane.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Most Perfect Afternoon

Each time I think I have experienced all the emotions at their deepest points in this fostercare world, something else happens. Today started with an almost blank schedule, a late drop off at daycare and about 15 minutes of "What should I do all day?" Then the phone rang. I'd been hoping for a good long while that this invitation would come and had recently dismissed entirely that it would ever happen. Apparently, good things come to those who wait (albeit impatiently). Today, I was invited to see Beignet for the first time since she moved.

I don't remember the last time I had been so nervous--the willing the clock to move faster but worrying what will happen at the end kind of nervous. In the end though, there was no need for such worry. Baby B gave me the biggest hug--it may have equaled 6 months of bedtime hugs, a tour of many things special in her life (like baby dolls and High School Musical DVDs), and a spur of the moment letter written as I sat watching: Tammy, you are so nice and so sweet, Tammy. XO XO.

Today was a good reminder for me of some of the reasons I did not choose to adopt Beignet. The idea that I wasn't ready to get off the foster ride but felt that she didn't need to be on it any longer. That she should have brothers and sisters. That the fast paced life of a two person family wasn't what she would find in a ten person family. That what might be out there for her was more perfect than staying here.

Today was reassurance that things for her are as they should be. For today, I am thankful.

Life in the Slow Lane

Admittedly, I enjoy the hustle and bustle that comes with the preschool crowd and having more than one kid in the house--the fitting three field trips into one weekend, the playing board games and hide and seek and kickball for long stretches of time, the (I never thought I'd say it) nightly rounds of 20 questions at the dinner table. The past four weeks have not held such high energy days. With Little Guy here by himself, we are a family in the slow lane. Everything moves slower. The slow life is different, but it is still good. It is carefully watering about 50 new plants using a 1/2 cup measure--twice. It is chasing the same plastic alligator around the tub every night. It is feeding the cats by putting about 10 pieces of food in a cup and then into their bowl over and over. It is singing the same toothbrushing song every time teeth are brushed. It is speaking in one word sentences for the bulk of the day. It is reading the same 2 books every single night since Curly and Sister left. It is early to bed and not even early to rise. It is stick a nap in the middle there and get a lot done. It is rolling cars up and down the hallway on hands and knees over and over and over again. It is endless games of peek a boo. It is different, but it is fun. And soon enough, I imagine, I'll be wishing for just a day or an hour back in the slow lane.

Monday, June 21, 2010

(Nice) Things I've Been Called

I think I was called "Mah!" today when I picked up the shadow from daycare. A step above "Hey."

Other things I have been called:
Mama (Shortie)
Ma'am (the eldest blond)
Aunt Tammy (???? Sass, when she didn't want people to know we were a foster family)
Mommy (Little Bit and Monkey)
Kemmy, then Kammy, then Tammy (Bug)
Mimi, then Mammy (Sister)
Hey (most everyone at some point in their first week)
Tammy (eventually everyone except Monkey, Sister and Shortie)

It could be much, much worse.....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Name Change

I spent a solid month butchering my little guy's name. Despite my requests to CPS and CASA, no one would/could contact the family to see how to pronounce a name that is far from an American name. So I heard it said by someone of his nationality, attempted to imitate it, came up with my best rendition of it, and eventually he responded.

Exactly one month after being called this butchered name, I was told that that is NOT in fact what his birth family calls him. The name he answers to is the most American type name you can think of, such as John or Richard. And he answers to it immediately.

It's been an interesting week of retraining the brain to say "John" rather than the three syllable, stress on a different syllable than you'd think, name that I got so used to. "John" doesn't exactly LOOK like a John. He looks like a (insert real name here). But, we'll get used to it. He certainly has.

A Sense of Accomplishment

My shadow (who hopefully will one day NOT be my shadow and will therefore have a name of his own) has learned many more English words this week. His favorite for now is "I DID IT." said as all one word. It started appropriately while buckling himself in his car seat. It even transferred appropriately to other contexts like taking off his shirt by himself or filling his diaper. He hasn't quite mastered what it's for though because he's using it for subjects other than himself. So, when Stubby jumped into the windowsill, his whiskers moved back in surprise at the very loud: I DID IT! And the shadow hasn't yet figured out that something like I did it! is only appropriate in such an excited manner when you should be PROUD of the accomplishment. Not, say, when you have just dumped all the toys onto the floor or spilled your milk.

Monday, June 7, 2010


My new little shadow came with four English words: NO!, MINE!, uh-oh, and banana.

Now we have (with some help and occasionally some broad interpretations): choo choo train, Whoa!, Wow!, oopsie, CC, Stubby, yes, "Day" (Curly's name), "Deh" (Sister's name), "Hey!" (what all kids appear to call me at first), woof!, more, Thank You, water, and my two personal favorites from today:

"Home Depot" and "mulch".

Friday, May 28, 2010

Curly's Top Ten

10. If he learned anything while here, it was that "jeans can match with anything."
9. Was truly disturbed by vague phrases such as "the other day" and "most of the time". "Why did you say 'the other day' when we did that on Wednesday?"
8. Was not a very humble child. A compliment like: You did great on that. or I like your picture. would get "yeah" as a response.
7. One night at dinner, when Monkey had just moved in, observed that "there's no husband in this house." and then "You better get out there and find yourself one, Tammy."
6. Curly + Sequence for Kids + desert island would probably = eternal happiness
5. Could not multitask to save his life. I am pretty sure he heard: "Curly, you cannot brush your teeth and sing at the same time" at least once a day.
4. Got busted once for cussing at school. When I asked him which F word he used, he innocently replied: I don't really remember. It was the one that goes with Mother.
3. Dressed himself by putting socks on first. But then was quite content to only have socks on (and I mean ONLY socks) for a good long while before putting on the rest of his clothes.
2. Instantly became the best big brother to our new little friend. No one else has gotten a chuckle out of little guy yet.
1. Had me laughing on a daily basis, but not intentionally because he was sooo serious.

Wishing you a smooth ride from here on out, Curly. I miss you!

Sister's Top Ten

I thought I had a couple more weeks with the blondies, but today brought an express exit. Six-and-a-half months of things to enjoy about a used-to-be-quiet three-year-old:

10. Had the best sour face when eating something she didn't care for. One eye opened, one closed and a whole lot of squinting and pursing of lips.
9. Said 'um' backward: "muh".
8. Most uttered phrase? "Me too!"
7. Was obsessed with hair....Sister wanted LONG hair, ponytails, bows, mohawks in the shower, "unicorn horns" in the bath, and as many hair toys as her fine blond hair could handle.
6. Became my Friday morning breakfast date before speech. Same restaurant, same booth, same waitress, same food.
5. Was the best ever crosswalk kid. She'd go barreling toward the crosswalk as fast as her little legs could carry her, surely making all cars think that my wild 3 year old was running out into the street, and would hop right in front of the walk. Then her responsible self would kick in and she'd walk carefully across, while saying "Day Doo" (thank you) to the crossing guard.
4. Pretending to put hairspray on was a regular activity. Which is more a puzzle than anything else. I don't use hairspray, neither does birthmom. Where would one acquire such a skill?
3. Loved hunting snails in the backyard and sorting them by Mommy and Baby.
2. Her first final consonant was /m/ in the word "worm." Sister got a LOT of practice saying "worm" during the attack of the maggots in the carport.
1. Decided in the past month that she was a Big Girl and "not a baby", but stayed my baby at bedtime and while dropping the boys off at their daycares, when she remembered how great it is to have your feet never touch the ground.

Sweet, sweet Sister. I will miss you!

Playing Church

I was so happy the other day when Curly and Sister decided to play "church". It reminded me of Bug and Beignet, and well, it was pretend Church, which is way better in my eyes than pretend fighting and battling and killing (some of Curly's favorites). Sister walked around the living room with a book held high while she sang. Then Curly sang. Although I am not quite sure he believes in separation of Church and State:

"We pray that our minds open up to the love of God to live in states of power, indivisible".

Then he opened Sister's book and began: Ok, can you please stand for the first reading? It's called "The Lizard is a Cop."

Next Sister walked around pretending to sprinkle water on everyone. Brother made some demands about "ok, now it's time to sit." "Ok, now it's time to stand." "Ok, now you can get on your knees." and then Church was over for the day.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Curly's Chatter

Because the mouth is non-stop, lots of fun comes out of it:

1. After he thought I told him not to get his backpack out of the car when I was really talking to the little guy: Tammy, you can't call ALL the boys in the house "buddy". If CC and Stubby AND him are Buddy, then I don't know if you are really talking to me. I might not listen.

2. After 6 1/2 months: Do you mind if I call you mom? Just for a little while? (and he did, three times, and then stopped again).

3. In the middle of brushing everyone's teeth: Hey, would it be ok if we stopped what we were doing really quick and did the hokey pokey? (sure....)

4. At dinner: When I grow up, I'm gonna be 37 just like you. Won't that be cool? (yeah, except then I'll be 69...)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Little Denial

...goes a long way.

My brain is ignoring the calendar on the wall. The one that, if all goes according to plan, has four more weeks till my kiddos leave.

The thing is that we are having so much fun lately. Everyone has loosened up. Curly is laughing and not planning every minute of the day. Sister has declared herself a "big girl" and is trying all sorts of new tricks. Both LOVE "the baby," even though I am pretty sure the 2 year old "baby" would argue that term if he had the words.

Curly, not knowing this move is as soon as it is, is so excited to plan summer camp (he'll get to go for 2 weeks), a trip to Sea World with our new friend (but we have no weekends left together), and craft nights being introduced at story hour (we'll get to make a couple). It's taken six months of hard work to get the balance that is feeling safe and happy in a foster home even though you really still want to live with your mom and dad. A balance that will be jostled in the next few weeks until the bunk beds are empty again.

Until then, we are planning on enjoying every bit of the sprinkler in the yard, the Easter candy that remains, the "list making" of games that we play at dinner time to share with Mom and Dad, and forgetting that we will soon have packing to do.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our Little Sardine Car

is filled again. A new little guy came on Saturday and life is hustling and bustling all over again.

I love three though. I really think it's a magical number. What's not to love about:
3 carseats in a civic
3 showers/baths back to back
3 teeny pairs of shoes lined up with three cartoon character backpacks by the back door
3 story books (plus mine) at bedtime
3 mouths laughing at each other in the back seat of the car
3 kids' eyeballs looking for each other as we pick up each one from the next daycare (ok, so the 3 daycare thing is not something to love, but hoping that will change soon)
3 cuties at the dinner table to play "word games" with...though admittedly, it's still a bit tough for sister and our new friend doesn't speak much either, but at least Curly and I can pretend they get their own turns

I love what a new kiddo has brought out in Curly and Sister. It happened with the Little Monkey too. Different concerns, different play, different personalities. It's always an adventure at first to figure out foods and habits and fears. Add Curly's constant questions to the mix and the world is never silent. But for now, it's good, and we're hoping that's the way it stays.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Career Choices

We went to Sea World last weekend. Both kids had a great, great time and now have their future professions picked.

Curly plans on being a "Shamu trainer." "But if I can't be that, then I'll train the sharks." Why could he possibly NOT be a Shamu trainer? Because the trainers wear these whale tail necklaces carved out of wood and Curly is "not sure I know how to shape wood like that."

Sister has a profession too. Figuring it out was like playing charades with a three-year-old. Hands over head, look down--way down, jump! Hands pointed down. Swimming hands. Clapping hands.

"A high diver?" I asked. "muh, yeah! Da woh!" (um, yeah, that one!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A weekend of (very) random quotes

While drawing/writing a letter to Curly's "best friend" with whom we ate lunch today: I just made that W into a pair of boobs! Wow!

After making me a birthday card: If I am still here in July, I'll go ahead and give this to you a month early. But for now, you have to wait.

While getting a splinter picked out of his palm: I AM GOING TO DIE FOREVER!!!!!!

On dinosaurs: What if a T-Rex and a triceratops lived in our house? Would there be room?

On carnivores: What if a human ate another human? Would that be killing them? (unless you ate them raw...)

At least 50 times a day, while trying out the new "appropriate" cuss word: RATS!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Something Special

A few days ago from Curly:

I heard on the radio that the bluebonnets are blooming. Are they?

The next day, while pulling out of our driveway which has quite the view of bluebonnets:
Tammy! The bluebonnets are blooming!!
--You're right!
What does that mean, anyway?

It means this:

Last night, the kids' caseworker was over. Curly is notorious for constantly interrupting when all of our social worker types are over. This time though, the interruption was authentic and came with the cutest look of wonder I have ever seen out of this kid:

"Tammy! I have to show you something!! It's something special!!!"

Special indeed:
"All of our seeds are growing! Every single one! No one was left behind!!"

As it should be.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Finding Eggs

It was pretty clear to me when I pulled out the plastic Easter eggs that Sister in particular had no idea what they were for. We have spent a week practicing egg hunts. Which seems pretty silly, but have you seen kids hunt eggs recently?

Last week, I stuffed the eggs with old Valentines candy and hid them. Curly caught on quickly, being the competitive guy that he is. Sister, though, stared at me like I was asking her to clean the catbox. Until she opened the eggs. Now, we are hunting eggs daily, stuffed or unstuffed, living room or backyard, in anticipation of Easter. Today, we had a small egg hunt at Sunday School. There was a three egg limit, then you had to go sit down. I am happy to report that Sister was the first one sitting down with three eggs and a big smile.


Twice this weekend, people who know me but don't know what my "deal" is, have approached, asking about the kids. Not sure what the lady at church thought exactly, or was thinking I guess, when she said: I thought you were just bringing different nieces and nephews to church with you. (every week? every race? for 2 1/2 years?) They are well-intentioned, of course. And curious. And I am happy to be the spokeswoman for what a great experience this has been. But inevitably, and I know it's coming before they get the words out, I get the #1 most frequently asked question: Isn't it hard to let them go?

I have been asked this question by people in the grocery store, people at church, at school, at work, pretty much anywhere. The super short pat answer is "yes." Dear Abby would surely have a snappy comeback to give me. But the truth of the matter is this:

Letting kids go--no matter how long they stayed, no matter what I thought "might" happen, no matter how right the next stop for them feels in my bones--hurts beyond hurt. It hurts 1 month, 3 months, 4 months later. When a certain song comes on the radio, or a certain phrase comes out of Curly's mouth. When I pull out the bin of 3Ts that Little Bit wore that Sister can now fit. When I find beads from Bug's hair underneath what was once her bed. When I celebrate annual holidays with new kids and floods of memories of the "old kids" come back. My swiss cheese of a heart aches all the way to my toes. Each kid has crept in so snuggly, changed the core of who I am, of what I enjoy, of how I look at things. So yes, letting them go is horribly difficult, and emotionally wearing, and yeah, maybe I won't be able to say goodbye too many more times.

But then ask me why I do it? Thankfully, there is so much more to fostering than saying goodbye. There is saying hello, you are safe, I love you, we want the same thing, you are an amazing kid, you make me smile. There is going to the same park with 15 different kids and finding out what each one's favorite is. There is watching my friends love on each kid differently and sometimes the same. There is seeing how a community comes together in support of foster kids and their families. There is developing routines and little traditions that may last 2 months or 11 months or more. There is learning what makes a kid tick, what makes them smile, what makes them cry, and what makes them squeal with joy. There is the journey as a whole, which in my mind (and I often have to repeat this to convince myself), outweighs the goodbye at the end of the trip.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The List

I keep a list beside my bed of all the kids I have ever been called about. Some have names and ages, some just names, some just ages, a couple just say "sibling group of three." Today I got a call for a kiddo who ultimately didn't land here for some logistical reasons. Some kids don't come because CPS finds someone else first, some don't come due to logistics like daycare not having space. Many kids (more so in the first year than now) don't come because my placing agency places way too much faith in me and calls me about: teens, babies, preteens described as "runners", sibling groups that I do not have enough beds for. Regardless of why they didn't land here, I still think about them often, wondering what they would have looked like, enjoyed doing, taught me.

Today, as I added "2 year old boy" to my list, I counted.

92 kids have made my phone ring in less than 2 1/2 years.

15 of these I have had the pleasure of meeting and loving.

I am hoping tonight that all 92 are in good, safe, happy, and fun places.

The New Dinner Time Game

Poor Sister. She is our target for lots of games because she is so willing to PERFORM. Curly is determined that between him, me, and Miss Sally the speech therapist, we are going to get Sister talking. To be clear, she DOES talk some. It's just that we understand so very little. Curly calls it "baby English." Our dinner game is seeing which of us can get Sister to repeat the most words. They are not clear. They are often "muh". But if YOU are the one she repeats for, you win the game. Yes, you have caught on....Sister decides. Last night:

Curly: Say Stubby!
Sister: No.
Curly: Say CC.
Sister: No.
Tammy: Say Leave me alone, Curly.
Sister (with great grin): Nee me no, day day!

I won!

Flying High

"Cheers" at the dinner table have become regular guests. Tonight's cheer was "We got to go to the kite festival with Miss S." An adventure well worth such a cheer. Our festival experience included a wonderful friend, a 3 mile round trip walk to/from the car, a kite string that would NOT stop getting knotted, and a stranger approaching us w/ an already flying kite he wanted us to have. I am pretty sure our kite knocked a few people on the head, cut a couple of strings, and wandered off on its own at least twice.

Curly can't quite figure out what "annual" means. He is confident that we will go to the Kite festival again very very soon. I'm thinking the school playground may become our own personal space for the next not-so-annual kite fest.

As an aside, this year's festival brought back strong and fond memories of the two Blonde brothers. I think by the time the festival hit, I knew our road was coming to an end and just needed to have a fun day with them. It was a blast. It did not entail 3 miles of walking or 3 hours roundtrip on the bus. It just involved one very happy 9 year old climbing a rock wall, a 5 year old getting his face painted, and a foster mama enjoying every bit of two kids that were rather, rather tricky.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A bit on the type A side

(The author fully acknowledges that this is a pot-calling-the-kettle-black type of post. Fully.)

"I'm a planner," says Curly yesterday. "I like it that way!"

I am sure he's heard me allude to him as a planner before, but didn't realize how very much he likes it. Here are some of the things that have been planned out recently:

1. Underwear: I will only wear my yugioh underwear on Tuesdays.
2. Behavior: "Hey Tammy, I have an idea. What if at school I do a pattern? Green day, green day, red day, green day, green day, red day?" "Well then you'd get this pattern at home: Good job, good job, uh-oh lose a privilege, good job, good job, uh-oh lose a privilege." "Oh, never mind then."
3. Books: How about tonight and on every Monday, I will read a bat book, but on Tuesdays, I will read "I'm Bad." and on Wednesdays, I will read....
4. I will eat special Kix every day at school except on Tuesdays. Then I can eat the other choice. "Well, what if you don't like that other choice?" It doesn't matter. It's TUESDAY, so I have to eat it.

So tomorrow my yugioh underwear wearing curly headed boy will NOT be eating special KIX, should be getting a green smiley face, and will read about the bad dinosaur at bedtime.

Life is predictable. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let's all be this crazy

"Tammy, I am going to tell you something that is so crazy, you won't even believe it. It will be the CRAZIEST thing you have ever heard. But it's really really true. Are you ready?"

Yup, go for it.

"I love school soooo much that I wish I never had a day off. I even want to go on Saturday, Sunday and holidays!!"

Awesome, see what your teacher thinks about that tomorrow.

"Oooh, good idea!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Monkey's Top Ten

10. Favorite phrase consistently through her stay: Uppie Mommy.
9. Put. A. Period. After. Every. Word. For. Example.: I. Brush. My. Teeth. Now. Mommy?
8. Had an obsession with toothbrushing. Snoopy toothbrush and bear toothpaste were out of reach for a reason.
7. Entertained Curly at dinner by making different animal noises on demand. Curly: What does a monkey say? ooh ooh ooh. What does a cow say? mooooooo. And on it went.
6. Brought out the envy in Stubby's personality. If Monkey was on my lap, most often, so was Stubby. Whether there was room or not.
5. Best seat in the house for storytime: my lap. Oddly though, she faced in rather than facing the book. Just laid there and listened.
4. Enjoyed taking her pj's off after bedtime and then yelling for me to come help her put them on again. What kind of game is this, my friend?
3. NOT a fan of veggies. Any kind, any shape, any flavor.
2. Loved the birds on the telephone wires on the way to daycare. "Look. Mommy. Birdies. Up. There.
1. Almost always gave me three sweet little pats on the back when I picked her up.

Your stay was far too short, Little Monkey. I will miss you!

Saying Goodbye

I had forgotten that Curly and Sister were here when Beignet left, so they had taken part in her good bye party. When I told them Monkey would be leaving, the first thing Curly said was "When will her party be?"

um...right now, of course.

So we did it, right then, just the four of us. In two year old style with what we had around the house. Thankfully, there were some leftover cookies. Monkey sat in her chair while we said "Cheers" and "clinked" our cookies together, and sang her the now traditional "We love you so and so" good bye song.

I am not sure I would have taken three kids for the first time if they were all unknown. But Monkey was a known to us. Despite her short stay, it was worth the effort to see what she brought out in our very quiet sister, to hear the giggling girls down the hall, to see Curly be a good big brother even to a stranger, and to have a loving leech on me all the time.

When we say "cheers" at our house, it is to celebrate something good. What were we celebrating last night? "That Monkey even had to come to our house." said the curly one. Amen to that.

Translation Please

From the bathroom the other day:
Frog legs on the ottoman.

What? Oh, Frolicked in the autumn mist. Got it.

I will make up my own song about Puff the Magic Dragon, Ok, Tammy?

"Puff the magic dragon, you make my heart feel so awesome."

For some reason, whatever it may be, we LOVE Puff in our house right now. Wonder when he will cease his fearless roar.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Howler Monkey

I thought Sister was bad about being held all the time. "All the time" for her was walking Curly into school and after I picked her up from her daycare. New two year old has given new meaning to being carried all the time. All. The. Time. This is what I feel like with the little monkey on me almost every waking minute unless I am cooking.

When she is not on me, or at my feet saying "Uppie! Uppie, Mommy!" she is often howling to make me pick her up. She has created the perfect nickname for her cute little self.

Welcome Little Monkey! I am glad you are here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Speech Therapy

by the big brother, not by the foster mother. Curly's choice words to "practice talking" with Sister while I was cooking dinner tonight:

Say Lady.
Say Man.
Wow! She said it.
Say Uno.
She can count in spanish!!!
Say Penis.
"Mee nuh!"


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two Quiet Girls

It's a little hard to blog about two girls who don't speak much. Hard to describe little bottom wiggles to chipmunk songs or funny little runs where the right foot kicks out to the side. The two girls are sweet though. Sister has welcomed our new little one with nothing but love. How they communicate so well in silence is a mystery. Today, during 20 minutes of water play with only a plastic cup each, they each only said one word: More!! Until it was clean up time, when I got "ah maaaa!" from Sister (Aw Man!) and a big "NO MOMMA" from our 2 year old newbie.

One of his stranger habits...

Curly is a very serious dude. He reminds me regularly that he does not like to be called things like Buddy, Sweetie, Silly, Turkeyhead or Goofy because, in fact, "That's not my name. My name is Curly." He is the polar opposite of Beignet and Bug who were reminded almost nightly to not be QUITE so silly at the dinner table. But he cracks me up all the same...he just isn't doing it on purpose.

Learning new words has become Curly's thing. He lets new words roll around on his tongue at different decibels, frequencies, and with different facial expressions. He likes me to define new words over and over and over. He's taken the word love to a new level though. Or a new place. The bathroom.

For whatever reason, Curly likes to yell out his new words while he pees. With the door open. So the house and all of its visitors can hear.

A sampling from this week:
Friday: Chickachicka Boom BOOM!
Saturday: Chimichanga. Ha. I like that word. CHIMICHANGA.
Sunday: God and the HOLY SPIRIT!
And today: QUESADILLA!!!

Keeping a running list of these words could be mildly entertaining....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Right and Wrong

Some things, over the past 2ish years, have felt very right. Others very wrong.

Two Gentlemen moving quickly on to relatives: right
Sass waiting in the paperwork shuffle to move to her aunt's: wrong
3rd brother leaving this foster home to join the other two blonds in another: right
Little Bit flying to a relative she didn't know w/ very little notice: wrong
Beignet finding forever, even though it was not here: very right

So when my caseworker called to ask if I would take a third...a kiddo who had been here on respite before...I had to really think on it.

But it felt very, very right.

A very crowded civic, full dinner table, extra bed in the green room later, Curly, Sister and I have added one more. Curly will point out that "Now it's even. We have three girls and three boys (the cats)."

Even or not, having our new little one here feels exactly the way it's supposed to feel.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Regarding Story Hour

We went to pajama story time for the first time the other night. Neither kiddo questioned the idea of wearing pj's to the library. Both had never been and seemed to enjoy it. Except when it came to choosing a movie. Curly had chosen a PG movie that I didn't want to watch.

"Sorry, you can't get that one. It's not G."
"Why can't I get this movie?"
"Because we watch G movies at our house."
"Awwwww Mannnnn! I don't WANT to be a G kid!!!"

oh, but for a while you will be.....

A few days later, we were singing one of the songs for story hour.
"Why did you take us to story hour anyway? Are you getting tired of reading to us?"

Nope, just enjoying you experience all this new stuff.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Note to Little Girl

Dear Little Girl,

Why I like having you here:
1. You have a really cute dance to the Leap Frog ABC thing on the fridge.
2. You wear your star shaped sunglasses or bunny ears no matter the hour, no matter the location.
3. You have so few words, and what you do say is almost impossible to understand, but we have these ones down: Day-Day (brother), Mimi (Tammy), and Doh!! (Dora).
4. You walk around with your forearm covering your eyes when I have to wake you up before you want to be up in the morning.
5. You chose a very boyish looking dog from Build A Bear this evening and dressed it in a purple sequined shirt. Very classy looking. You named him/her "Da!" which brother and I broadly interpreted as "Spot."

I am glad you are settling in and giving me fewer dirty looks and more smiles. Keep them coming.


A Note to Little Guy

Dear Little Guy,

Why I like you already:
1. You like M and M's almost as much as I do.
2. You yell "Rock on, Freaky Dude!" for no apparent reason while going down a slide or riding your bike.
3. You have not let a day go by without commenting on your curly hair.
4. You are a puzzle magnet.
5. You had a no good, horrible, very bad day yesterday but a great day today, which reminded me that kids are allowed to have no good, horrible, very bad days but that they are still good kids.

I know you don't want to be here. You tell me that many, many, many times a day. But know that you are safe here and enjoyed, and that we are both hoping for the same thing--the ending you want and that will serve you best.