Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

came and went in a flash. I love, love, love doing Christmas with kids--from the counting down the days to the nightly walk around the neighborhood to see lights. Here are our highlights for December (in no particular order):

1. Alvin the Elf: Alvin learned that he had to stay up high after D touched him, nearly ruining his magical powers, on the first day. I am not sure Alvin curbed anyone's behaviors, but he was a fun start to our day.

2. Trail of Lights: The most crowded trail. The most patient children. The most beautiful lights.

3. Happy Birthday Jesus: Nothing sweeter than two 2 year olds singing 'Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!' with cakes made out of blocks. Peanut was so excited to have a real cake, real candles and a whole lot of people singing on Christmas night.

4. Wheels. It took D a while to spot his but,  "oh. my. gosh. Tammy!", eventually he did. Why can't it be warmer than the 40s so we can all enjoy this toy? Instead, he is enjoying it while I am standing shivering on the sidewalk.

5. A couple of suprise visitors: Just stopping by to drop off treats. I love surprise visitors.

6. Planned visitors: My mom and dad stayed for a few days and were a fun addition to our busy Christmas. My mom made hobby horses for these three and the Sisters. We're going to have a rodeo soon.


7. Down time to enjoy these guys. We've had a lot more time to play, a lot less hurryhurryhurrying to do, and D and I even had a date today to see Monsters, Inc at the movie theater.

Merry, Merry, Merry!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Super Kitty

C.C. rode off into the sunset last week. Whether he found a sweeter deal with another family or used up all of his nine lives, I don't know. But he has left an emptiness in our house for sure. Anyone leaving deserves a list of ten, of course. Why would this guy be any different? C.C.:

10. Was named by my Little Sister. His real name was Cutie Cat. She, as a 10 year old, wanted to name him Princess or Snowball. Cutie Cat was her third choice.
9. Liked to be cradled like a baby. Peanut really got a kick out of this recently as he would come to us right before dinner every night for his nightly song of Rock a Bye Baby.
8. Let some of the top bunkers--the Older Gentleman and Sassafras, in particular--share the top bunk with him.
7. But would have nothing to do with the Third Brother or even Little D up on the top bunk.
6. Had to wear a Tshirt for a very large portion of his life. My favorite was the one that said: Party in My Crib 2 a.m.
5 1/2. As a kitten, got his head stuck in the bike spokes in my apartment. Never have I heard a meow quite like that.
5. Drank out of a glass or the faucet.
4. Was one of those cats that loved laying on paper. So I could never read the newspaper or a book when he was around.
3. Loved deli meat. This started when he lived with my friend for a few weeks several years ago. She reportedly fed him turkey meat when she made lunch every day. He was disinterested in breaking that daily habit even six years later.
2. Had a fang pulled a few years back so sorta looked like Elvis if his mouth was in just the right way.
1. Somehow managed to stretch his entire body across the queen sized bed and fill it. If a cat can have a big heart or a big soul, CC's was as big as his body.

Peanut keeps walking around the house saying "CC lost. CC lost." D has already stopped hollering "Bye CC, Bye Stubby" in the morning. Now it's just "Bye Stubby." Stubby and I feel the loss the most, I suppose..having loved our family member for almost 13 years.

Everyone should have a pet as awesome as you, C.C. Thanks for putting up with all of these crazy kids with me!

C. C. 
March 2000-December 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

So Proud

Peanut, from the backseat of the car, as I slammed on the brakes to avoid a near collision:


Just what I was thinking.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Getting Ready for Christmas

Warm feet

Most fought over toy this week

and Alvin the Elf sleeping on the job

Something Else

Buddy, at times, can be...well...something else. His tantrum timing is off. His funny faces and dances are during the most inappropriate moments. He takes us by surprise on a regular basis.  You just never know what you're going to get with our little dude.

Absolutely, there are moments where his antics have me pulling out my hair. But other times, I can laugh and just say: Buddy, you are something else!

To which D replied tonight:
"Yeah, like a cheetah-tiger, or an elf, or a sandwich, or something else like that, right Tammy?"

"EXACTLY what I was thinking."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

(Other) Boy Genius

Buddy likes his fruit. I'm not one to turn someone down on fruit, but you have to eat SOMETHING other than fruit from time to time.

Conversation at dinner tonight between me and my used-to-only-have-three-words little boy:
"You want more orange?"
"You need to eat some of your other food first, please."
"You can't just have oranges. You need to eat some of that first."
And what did the little turkey do?
1. Load up spoon.
2. Pretend to eat, complete with lip smacking sounds.
3. "Nom, nom!"
4. Put spoon (still filled with food) down.
5. "Tah-Dah!! All done!"
6. "Orange?"

Um, no. Nice try, Buddy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Boy Genius

"Hey Tammy, you wanna see me do something funny?" (while taking his shirt off)
"Um, sure? But is it appropriate? Because you don't usually take your clothing off like that."
"I don't know. We have to wait and see. You will either say "D, that's not appropriate." or you'll laugh."

In the end, I laughed. He had pulled both arms into his shirt and was walking around saying "Look! I'm an armless man!"

Appropriate? The jury's out.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012

Despite my best efforts as a speech therapist, D cannot get it right. But he's very excited that the winner of yesterday's election is...

Rocky Mama.

Congratulations, Rocky Mama. I'll keep working on him to get it right.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Can We Have a Thesaurus Please?

It was pretty toasty out yesterday for being November. I think the high was 85 or so. Five kids and I were playing out front in the sun. Little D was chalking on the driveway.

"Jeeeeeeeee-sus!" he says, as he wiped sweat off his forehead.

"What?!" I say.

"It's hot out here."

"Yes, it is, but I better not ever hear that word come out of your mouth like that again!"

"Oh. Ok."

Long pause.

"Not even if it's hot out?"

Not even if it's hot out, dude....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

If Only He'd Listened

or his mother had followed through. Where would George Lucas have taken things?

Heard in our house last night:

"Light Sabers are NOT FOR HITTING! If you cannot be gentle with that thing, I will take it away. You know not to hurt other people's bodies."

That was me talking. Sternly. To all 42 inches of Darth Vader.

It was a bit hard not to laugh.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

You Can Say THAT Again!

One of Peanut's most uttered phrases and definitely her longest one:

"Don't poop in the tub!"

Learned after a few nights in a row of her doing the exact opposite.

Amen, Sister, amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A is for

Buddy came in with three words: a solid "no!", a word to drink (deedee) and a word to eat (nom-nom). He could not hold a fork or crayon or his attention long enough to color.

Imagine his surprise today when his new obsession with the Magnadoodle brought this:

He was so excited he scared the cats away.

"APPLE!!!!! My apple!!!"

You don't even have to turn your head all wonky and squint funny to see that he's right.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012


Five year old accurately assessed the other day that I have nicknames for everyone. They've taken a while to settle and he thinks his should be different than what I think it should be, but whatever, we'll let him win this round.

Here we are:

Welcome "Little D". I have no idea who he thinks called him this in his past life because he cannot tell me. He often introduces himself like this: "My first name is ____ and my last name is ____, but some people call me Little D." Since he's the biggest of the group, "Little" doesn't exactly roll off my tongue. But he answers to "D" just as well. D is 5 and chatty and all boy and a really awesome dude.

This is our Buddy. D, who has a very loving, compassionate side, calls him this when Buddy is upset. Buddy is two and getting less and less crabby. He loves nail polish and blocks and singing Elmo in the car and copying (good or bad) what the other two do. All. The. Time. Buddy has the best little crooked smile that is coming out more and more each day. (You can't see it on his feet though.)

And here's Peanut, our just turned two year old. Who clearly thinks she rules the roost (and her brother does nothing to help dispute this). Peanut likes to be carried and puts babies to bed on their tummies and covers them with washcloths and can sit and pat them for several minutes. She's a holy terror in the car and for about 30 minutes before bedtime, but is otherwise a sweet little addition to the house.

As an aside, three children thought it was the most hysterical thing ever to have their feet say "cheese" last night. So much that they were so wound up at bedtime that we had to read an extra story to calm down.

Happy Feet.

Over the Hump

I finally got around to changing my "feet" picture on Facebook to this:

I'd like to say that I was just waiting for my polish to be redone and the boys' blue polish to wear off. And maybe that was some of it. But a lot of it was just me getting used to new kids and feeling like "me plus three" really equaled "us". 

Getting new kids is hard.  There is some level of fun and excitement to figuring out the new additions but there's also a lot of junk to get through. No kid gets pulled for a "small" reason...the stories are always hard to hear. I remind myself that every single thing is new to the kids here. Every smell, routine, place, person they meet--everything. They have so much to adjust to, yet the only change for me is them.

If someone were to ask me what the hardest thing is, it'd be this: The fear that these kids won't ever feel right--them with you, you with them, them in their own skin, you in your own.  There comes a time with every new transition that you hope the well that is love for other people's kids has not dried up. You worry that your new family will never run like the old, well oiled machine before it. You wake up each morning with strangers who are wondering who rocked their world so much and why on earth they are here in the first place.  But you allow yourself to get caught up in the logistics of getting them settled--teaching routines, making appointments, keeping up with CPS stuff--and then one day, when you come up for air, you realize that yes, these little beings are just as cool as the fifth or the ninth or the seventeenth one was and that your mama claws can come out for them when needed and that you actually enjoy them, warts and all. You are reassured that the well has not run dry.

And finally, you feel right in your own skin again and know that you are over the hump.

Year Five

Another year already?

This year, I am thankful for:
My Fab Four and the opportunity to continue loving on the Sisters
More space, in the form of our new house, that gives us much more room to roam, run, and make messes
Caseworkers and family service workers, old and new, who stick around on the ride with me
And three newbies who are turning out to be pretty fun additions to the kids I carry in my heart

The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.

Or so it seems. Here's to the start of year six, twenty-five kids and counting...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Miss Two!

A little peanut turned two today. We had to celebrate exactly how her brother did--at Chuck E. Cheese. I am quite confident I have never been to Chuck E. Cheese's twice in a month. Still, the birthday girl and brothers had a great time. We came home to cake (too disastrous to photograph) and presents. Someone is now the proud owner of two baby dolls, baby bottles and a stroller. I think if she could have slept with the stroller, she would have.

Happy Birthday Sweet Two Year Old! I'm looking forward to watching you grow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Family Tree

Current three and the Sisters were at the park yesterday. A mom apparently asked Big Sister if she was the new guy's sister. Her answer (not in its entirety but pretty close):

"No, he's not my brother. He's HER brother and HIS foster brother. And HER foster brother is HIM and HIS foster sister is HER and HIS foster brother is HIM. And that girl in the blue jacket? She's MY sister. But not my foster sister."

The lady then asked a question that I couldn't hear.

"No, we used to be foster kids but now we aren't. She's still our mom but now we're just friends."

Pretty sure the lady gave up after that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shoe Fetish

His name would be the Town Crier if it weren't already taken. But boy do my shoes make him happy!

For the Record

Yes, she can get out of the pack n play by herself.


Poor Eyesight

"Why are you wearing bunny ears, Mister?" says me.
"These aren't bunny ears! They're LASER EYES! Take a picture!" says he.

So I did.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sisters, My Sisters

I got my wish. These little feet that walked out the door in March regularly walk back in.

In the most peculiar of relationships, we are a family still. "We" in this instance includes Big Sister, Little Sister, their parent and stepparent, their step siblings, occasionally a gramma or grampa, any kid that's currently in my house, and me.

People think it's a bit unusual that we all hang out together still, that I spend time with the sisters every other weekend, and that they occasionally spend the night. They still call me Mommy. Big still reminds me that I am the best mommy in the world, and Little still refuses to have her feet touch the ground when I am around.

I wholeheartedly agree. Peculiar is a word for it. But it's working for us all.

I am enjoying watching them grow still. Today, Little Sister is the exact age Big was when they arrived. It has been invaluable for me to see them flourish in a place that I didn't want them to go. And I think it has been nice for the girls and their family to have someone who can remind them of things that they did or said in the 15 months they were here. Like regularly wearing "leg warmers" aka "rainbow slinkies" on their legs.

Last weekend, I had all five kiddos. My new three and my old two. It was a whirlwind of 24 hours, but was so so fun. Looking forward to many more of these weekends.

Imelda in the Making

There's a small girl here with a big problem.

What to wear, what to wear?

These are allllll hand-me-downs. We didn't even have to go shopping. When her feet grow a bit, there are twice as many in the next size up.

We could have a shoe monster in training on our hands.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Freeze Frame

My kids are frozen in time. Tiny will always be an almost two-year-old, Glamour Girl, four. Kids from way back when, like the first blond brother or Miss Sassafras, will never be tweens or teens in my mind, even though they are by now.

What has me this week is that the new 5 year old's birthday is one day after Little Guy's. But when Little Guy left, he was three. Surely, he can't be five?

It's strange to think that the little quiet thing who followed me around watering plants, who merged into a noisy little thing who liked girly magazines, could now be playing legos and trying to ride a two wheeler.  In the same way, it's hard to envision that the current dude was once that small and maybe doing similar two year old things.

In another life, I'd like to have a reunion. Just me and 25 kids at their current age. They'd all sit around and talk about which was the favorite park that time or what their favorite Sea World show was and how many times their foster mother served them chicken nuggets or pbj for dinner. And I could just sit back, watching, thinking that I knew them when...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I'm not sure it'd be anyone's top list to move into a new home five days before a birthday, but we made the best of it.

The requests were Spiderman cake AND cupcakes, a present, and a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.  Easy enough.  Daycare got the cupcakes, we got the big cake, he got the presents and like it or not, we all got to spend time at Chuck E. Cheese. The birthday boy was content to "play" video games without tokens (no, people, I was not refusing to give him tokens...he just didn't WANT them most of the time). We were lucky enough to have someone the kids knew before moving here join us at Chuck E. Cheese and to have the next door neighbors come over to sing and have cake.

All in all, it seemed like a good birthday. I can only hope that when he looks back at things, the thought is more on the side of "That was a fun day!" rather than "That reminds me of when I moved."  It doesn't hurt to hope there, right?

As a side note, I am thoroughly enjoying a five year old in the house. It's been over two years since Curly left. Since then, a parade of kids three and under have come and gone. I've forgotten what it's like to have a long(ish) conversation, a kid who can clear his own plate and choose his own clothing, and who might spend over an hour at the table intently working on something like this:

Happy Birthday to my new lego-loving boy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I imagine mine is not the only household to have such an exchange.

Me: Go get your pajamas and underwear to get in the shower please.
Me: Where's your underwear?
Him: Right here.
Me: Those are your pajamas. Where are your underpants?
Him: *blank stare*
Me: Dude, where are your underpants?
Me: I mean the clean ones.
Him: Oh.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Five months is a long time. It's time enough to mourn the Fab Four, pack, move, paint, paint some more, spend some time with the Sisters, read some books (more than one in a few months even!), get bored, get really bored, miss being a mom more than I imagined possible, and get more kids.

It's also time to NOT eat mac and cheese, cook very often, change any diapers, clean the house regularly, do a zillion loads of laundry each week, or have to haul someone out of Target screaming.

But now we're back. And by "we" I mean "three plus me". Wednesday brought a 26 month old late night surprise. Yesterday brought an almost five year old and his 23 month old sister. So far we are all figuring each other out. The playroom has been broken in. The double stroller back in use.  And the rounds to various playgrounds have already begun.

Welcoming 23, 24, and 25 for as long as they need to stick around.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

***crickets chirping***

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Packing Up this time.

There's a divot in the hallway wall, about half way up at about kid shoulder level. I know GG put it there, not because I saw her do it, but because many times, as she walked by it, she rubbed it gently with her pinky finger, looking up at me as though willing me to ask how it got there. I never did ask, but I haven't since walked by without wondering how she is.

There is not a speck of this house that doesn't make me think of at least one kid.  I remember who I bought glow-in-the-dark stars for and why. Sass picked out the pink closet knobs as a reward for tolerating the mess that was our house when the floors were redone.  The light switch extender was bought when Sister couldn't reach the light in the middle of the night. The growth chart, marking entries and exits of 22 kids and sometimes their friends, has officially been packed away. I know where the hiding spots for scared kids were, the tantruming spots of my best fit throwers, and could probably point to every corner of this house that has been vomited in. The spot by the front door that Curly stored the few belongings he came with, sure that someone was coming to get him again any minute now, is cleaned out. The wall of everyone's photos is taken down, frames stacked in a box waiting to be hung again. The sandbox, a favorite spot for the United Nations, is cleared of every shovel and bucket collected over the years.

So here I go, packing up as many sippy cups, crayons and stickers as I have memories deep in my heart. Looking forward to a new space for the next kid, however many may follow over the years, and all the memories we'll all create.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tiny Man's Ten

I've spent the last several minutes looking at pictures of this little thing when he first arrived and still wonder: What was I thinking???  Obviously, I wasn't.  And I am so very thankful I had that lapse in judgement.

11.  Responded to "dude", "doodle", "doodlebug", "tiny", "tiny man", and occasionally his own name.
10.  Loved Kleenex.  It was not at all unusual to see him stand on his tip toes, grab a tissue, actually blow his nose, and then toddle off to throw the kleenex into the bathroom trashcan.
9.  Spent a good chunk of time in my arms this morning watching a solid waste truck picking up people's branches and tree limbs. "Truck! Mommy! Truck Tree!!!"
8.  Called Little Sister "Wobbie" which is nothing at all close to her real name. But you can be darn sure we reinforced that cute little misnomer so it would stick.
7.  Had a slapstick sense of humor at a very young age. The girls used to take turns jumping off their chairs, from sitting position....not even a big jump, and he'd laugh his head off. 
6.  Pronounced "thank you" "Gum". I think it started as him copying "you're welcome". It got even cuter when he started combining words to "Gum, Mommy, Gum" when I handed things to him.
5. Loved the hair dryer.  Sat on the stool in the bathroom every time I dried my hair and patiently waited for his hair to be "dried".
4.  Called anything with feathers "duckie." Last week, when we went to Sea World, we saw a show with an acrobat lady suspended from a ring above the water.  She was dressed as a parrot or some exotic bird.  Mine was the child screaming "DUCKIEEEEEEE!!!!!!!" for about half of her performance.
3.  Clearly, soooo clearly, grew up around three girls. He loved playing babies and wearing heels and carrying purses and putting on chapstick as much as any other kid in this house.
2.  Was the world's most considerate roommate.  Tiny slept about 6 feet from my head. If he woke up before I did, as early as he could stand, he'd grab a book off the nightstand and "read" rather than waking me up.
1.  If he loved you, he petted you on your arm or your head. Wobbie was petted on her arm during dinner on a regular basis. I was petted on my ponytail every night before putting him in his crib.  The cats were petted as much as they would allow. When he wanted held, he often lifted his arms and said: Pet Mommy. As crazy as it sounds, I'm going to miss my ponytail being petted.

A year ago, I had NO idea what a baby would be like. When he was on his way, I had to call a friend from the baby aisle at the grocery store so I knew what to buy. I remember being somewhat startled when she said: Did you get formula? (WHAT??? He's gonna need FORMULA?!). Thank you, Tiny Man, for being my learning experience. Any baby who walks in after you will appreciate what I have learned in the past year.

And in case I've ever left any doubt in your mind how much I love you, Doodle: Right up to the moon--and back.

GG's Ten

Two days short of a full year with the Glamorous One.

10.  Took a sudden interest in nonfiction recently. Particularly animals. Even more so, SEA animals. I'm still wondering why the National Geographic kid series found it necessary to put a picture of some surfer with her arm bitten off by a shark in their shark book.
9.  Did not subscribe to the motto: Less is more. With chapstick, how many markers one might need, clips in hair..nothing.
8.  Could eat me under the table when it came to chips and queso.
7. Thought juice pops, ie. frozen apple juice, were the best dessert ever. When she moved today, she held a brand new package of popsicle molds and a full bottle of apple juice on her lap all the way to her house.
6.  Had an affinity for acorns. No telling where you might find one in the house, car, or washer.
5.  Favorite thing to do during one on one time: BAKING. Though I think ultimately it was really just the licking the beater part that she loved so much.
4 1/2. Loooooooooved BACON.
4.  Was a master tree climber. Except for the day she decided to wear her bike helmet in case she fell so that she wouldn't hurt her head, but when she DID fall, the helmet got stuck between two branches so she was suspended about 3 inches from the ground till I could get her unstuck.
3.  Called the shower "up water" and the bath "down water."
2.  Was a veggie eating queen. Especially carrots and raw spinach with Ranch. The other night I asked her which she wanted: carrots or spinach. She looked at me and said: Why can't I have both? ...well, of COURSE you can!
1. Waited until last night to show any sort of outward loving any of us by singing me Tiny's lullaby song and staring me in the eyes on the "I love you" part. I knew all of my and the Sisters' work to love her was paying off on her inside.

Missing you already, GG. Never forget how loved you are!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Should I Be Insulted?

My adorable talking Tiny Man has "titles" for many of his favorite books.

This one he calls "Brown Bear," pronounced "Bwa Ma."

This one he calls "Fergus" but Fergus sounds remarkably like a four letter word with an -ER attached to the end.

But this one? This one he rummages through the book basket for daily. When he finds it, he turns to the first page and says:


A New Invention

Something one of my patients said to me today reminded me that I didn't want to forget this.

We do not watch TV very often here. By "very often" I mean maybe an hour every other month. Big Sister probably saw 15 hours of TV in her 15 months here, and half of that was probably the first week after GG and Tiny arrived.  It is a VERY SAFE ASSUMPTION that she is allowed to watch much more TV in her new home.

On her recent visit, two weeks after moving, she said to me in disbelief something like: Mom! Did you know you can actually turn on the TV and there will be a show on there, like Dora or a cartoon, or something like that, and you don't even have to put in a DVD?!!!??? It's for real! You just turn it on like you're gonna put in a DVD, but if you don't put in the DVD, there will STILL be a cartoon on! And if you push a button on that button pusher thing, you can see a DIFFERENT SHOW even!  Isn't that AMAZING, Mommy?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here We Go Again

Round two
 Admittedly, the goodbyes are getting tiresome.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Different Kind of Spectacle

I remember hanging out with Ladybug and her mother in public.  Bug didn't call me mom, but clearly we had some sort of relationship. She didn't call her mom "Mom" either, so that alone raised some eyebrows, but probably not near the eyebrows that have been raised lately.

I can't help but smile when situations happen where I am with all four of my kids and the dad to two of them out in public.  We've been at McDonald's, parks, and the dentist together.  All four love on him as if he's daddy to them all.  All four love on me. All three talkers call him Daddy and me Mommy. We are nowhere near the same age, nor do we look like we'd run in the same crowd.  But to strangers, we have got to be the oddest couple or the biggest mystery around.  Makes me chuckle every time I see some woman at the park, eyebrows raised, pretending to watch her kid on the slide while giving us a sideways glance. Don't you wish you could figure us out, Lady?

Reunion of the Four

We had a Fab Four reunion today and it was FABULOUS. The four and I hung out at our familiar places--our favorite park and home--and got to soak in the fun for one last time before GG and Tiny move.  Big, Little and I will continue to see each other, but I don't think the pairs of siblings will have that opportunity again. It was fun to see the best friends playing again.  It was more fun to see their reaction to seeing each other again after two weeks.  Even more fun was holding my girls for probably about six of the eight hours they were here.  And best of all was this, which I will carry in my heart till my dying day:
"You're not my mommy anymore but you are my best, best friend, right Mommy? I can still see you and love you and it won't ever stop."
Agreed, Baby Girl.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You May Disagree

GG: Why you never had a baby in your tummy, Mommy?
Me: Because I don't really WANT a baby in my tummy. Some people do.  Some people don't.  I like getting my kids from (caseworker)'s work.
GG: Well, how do you tell God that you don't want a baby in your tummy?
Me: Um,'s not really up to Him, I guess.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On Four

A friend asked me the other day what I gave up for Lent.  "My sanity." was my response.  To that she replied something like: "You gave that up a year ago!"

No one's arguing with her there. A week without 1/2 of my Fab Four has let me step back enough to see how hard four under four was initially.  And four under five eventually.

Things that were tricky:
1. We really never got good at getting in and out of the car gracefully (gracefully = me not nagging) or quickly.
2. There is no denying the fact that corners, many corners, were cut over the year. I killed trees from using paper plates, made PBJ for dinner at least twice a week, relied heavily on carrots with ranch as our vegetable of the day, and actually, God forbid, let kids skip brushing teeth from time to time.
3. I'm pretty sure I never sat through an entire meal, even cereal, without getting up at least 5 times.
4. Sometimes, I had to pick which screaming child got the attention first.  I know the sound of each kid's cry for help, pain, attention, and frustration. Pain wins first, attention second.
5.  The laundry situation was OUT OF CONTROL. Not just the washing/drying, but the keeping growing kids in clothing that fits and sorting out the stuff that doesn't.  It was never ending.
6.  I am not sure a day went by that I felt like I really met everyone's needs on the first try.  Someone was bound to hear "in a minute". Someone was bound to have to remind me that I said I would do something "in a minute." Someone was bound to have to wait to be held.  Sometimes for longer than I'd like to admit.
7. There is a reason that God does not allow for four kids to span just 29 months without science involved most of the time. In April 2011, no one wiped their own bottom or put on their own shoes.  Or cleared their spot or buckled their carseat.  By Christmas, two kids had all those things mastered. By March, three kids could do it. While life got easier in that regard, all four ultimately learning to talk and wanting to be heard became the challenge.

But there were so many things that were wonderful, that I would take back in an instant with one fast phone call (are you listening CPS and LSSS??), that cannot be separated into a list.  It was the gradual forming of our family and the friendships within it. The idea that 11 months ago, it was two against two with a grown up trying to make things mesh together.  It was the watching one kid grab another's hand crossing the street, bring someone a toy, just do anything nice for someone else really. It was watching the babies become best friends.  It was the pointed effort it took to ensure that the big girls got their mommy dates and that everyone got one on one time daily.  It was always having a kid to hold, to show something cool, and to make me laugh.

It was chaotic. It was tiresome. It was crazy. Yes, all of those things. But it was fun. It was entertaining. It was rewarding. It was a year I'd willingly repeat over and over and over.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Feeling Old

Regarding the movie Parent Trap that I told Glam Girl that I saw when I was a little girl:

"Did your mom take you to Target to buy it?"
"No, baby, we didn't have videos and DVDs when I was a little girl. You had to go to the THEATER to see a movie."


We've had a little obsession in our house for a couple of months now.  He looks like this (and no, he's not IN our house, but he gets talked about an AWFUL lot):
Meet Cesar.  I am not sure I support Cesar's profession...his owner apparently parks him whereever and charges $5 to ride Cesar around a parking lot.  The guy is making a killing based on what I've seen.

We first saw Cesar here at the corner of Ben White and S. 1st in a Chuck E. Cheese parking lot. We were at the light and Big said: What's that big horse doing at Chuck E. Cheese?  Because it was one of my cooler Mom moments AND because it was Friday in rush hour AND because we were four lanes away from Cesar, we went around the block, flipped a Uturn, and parked to see Cesar.  I remember GG being the bravest and Little Sister never leaving my arms. But none of the girls shut up about this camel for a good two days.  Until we saw him AGAIN that Sunday in a car wash parking lot.  Again, we went out of our way, parked, stared, oohed and ahhed (and no, did not pay to ride).

Cesar was in the paper recently. I cut out the article. It lasted till Little and GG fought over who was going to get to stare at Cesar and the page ripped.  The fact that we all allude to Cesar by his first name should say something about how much he's come up in conversation.

Today, GG, Tiny and I were driving home from the park.  "OH MY GOODNESS! IT'S CESAR!!!!!!!!" Who's not going to turn around for THAT response? So we saw him once again, took a picture of him to text to the girls and then went on our way.

For about two months, Tiny has been saying the word "gamma" all the time. We first thought it was "Gramma," but he has no context for that. Then we thought it was something to do with eating.  Today, he said it in the parking lot while staring at Cesar.  GG and I figured it out at the same time.  She looked at me at the same time it clicked in my mind. "He's saying "camel", isn't he?" Yup.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Little Sister's Ten

10. Somehow ended up with the nickname "Moo." It started with an alliteration of her name, but eventually her name was dropped.
9 1/2. Once woke up crying "I don't want a donkey, Momma!!!"
9.  Fell in love with broccoli. She'd eat it like crazy. Her favorite stuffed "animal" was her broccoli. When she first learned to talk, she called it "bwatahtee". We were all sad when she learned to say it correctly.
8 1/2.  Was soooo serious outside of our house or off of the playground. She was a completely different kid when home. And a monkey on the playground.
8.  Had a herniated belly button that we called her "buzzer."  When she arrived, this thing was really big, but as she got older it got smaller.  This appeared to make her sad as one day she came up to me, lifted up her shirt, pushed on her belly button, and said: Mommy, my buzzer broken!
7.  Called me Daddy for about six weeks.
6.  Was Tiny's absolute best friend. Never have I seen two babies adore each other like these ones did.
5.  Partied in her bed at bedtime on a regular basis.  Eventually though, she rubbed her legs together about five minutes before she was going to fall asleep. It was a sure indicator that things were about to get really quiet.
4 1/2.  Liked to sit on the kitchen counter and watch me get dinner ready.  She did this from when she was 14 months old all the way to the end.
4.  Had two favorite books: The Pout Pout Fish and 10 Trick or Treaters. There were bits of each one that she could recite from memory. I loved her rendition of Pout Pout fish best, but could never get her to do it for a video camera.
3 1/2. Recently learned the phrase "long time ago." Which she pronounced "Yong time ago!!" She used this in the context of finding something that in her mind, she hadn't seen in a long time. It could have been a pair of pajamas or a jacket. She said it so frequently though that the older two started mocking her toward the end.
3.  Got some dark blue animal footies from a friend. She wore them every time Tiny wore HIS blue animal footies. And there was drama to be had if they were not clean.
2.  Spent more time in the baby carrier than the baby did. She figured early in the game that I was a sucker for carrying her around on my back.  I often cooked dinner and cleaned up the living room with her on my back.
1. Very early in her stay, learned the appropriate response to "Who loves you?" was "Mommy." But as she got older, she liked to trick me and name different people or animals in response. "Who loves you?" " Mommy do!" Last week, it sounded like this: "Who loves you?" "Mommy. Tooooo much."

You are so right, Moo. I do.

Big Sister's Ten

I haven't had to write a list of ten in ages. Which is fine by me. But these girls are easy to do. The hard part will be stopping at ten.

10. Once screamed from the back of the car: "MOOOOM!!!! LOOK!!!! There are HORSES on the playground!!!" She was mildly disappointed when I explained that they were dogs called Great Danes.
9.  Thought it was so cool, "so super awesome" actually, that she could walk backward. As a four year old.
8 1/2. Did not like thin mint cookies. Which worked to my advantage, obviously.
8.  Never really mastered the art of using her index finger to point.
7.  Was 2012's Punky Brewster. NOTHING matched and the more patterns one mixed together, the better.
6 1/2. Still thinks that God is the guy who hands out communion, and was so disappointed the day before she moved when she figured out she wouldn't get to go to church again.
6.  Could not pronounce the word "lasagna". Which was mildly entertaining till one day at dinner she exclaimed: "Mom, I LOVE veggie vagina!"
5.  Was sure to announce to anyone walking their dog near our house that dogs "kinda freak me out so I'll stay back here."
4 1/2. If someone was crying, she'd go up to them, give them a little back rub and say: "It's ok, GG, you can be my sad friend."
4.  Was the world's worst back seat the point of questioning right turns on red and speed limits. This was the main reason that she was the kid in the 3rd row of the car.
3.  Did some pretty crazy stuff while sleepwalking.
2.  Went up to every single kid in her class on the last day of school and said, every single time, "Let me give you a big hug because you are never going to see me again."
1.  Spoke from her heart so often that sometimes it killed me.  She is loving and appreciative and I can only hope that she takes that lifeskill to her grave. It was not uncommon for her to say something like "Thank you for thinking to tell me that my sausage might be too hot to eat." or "I just love you so so much, Mama."

The good news here is that we already have a date that we'll get to see each other again. It's way too far in the future for me, even though really it's not that far away. Until then, Sister, I'll be missing you like crazy.
I love you, Baby Girl.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


We disbanded the Fab Four today.  I watched in the middle of a driveway as two sets of best friends gave hugs, at least two of them completely unaware of the significance. I have heard Tiny ask for Big and Little no fewer than 50 times today and have kept GG busy enough that the magnitude of change has not completely set in. Big Sister planned out almost 24 hours of celebrating including Stacy Park, Phil's (which she pronounces Feeeeeels), ice cream, breakfast out, and a playground stop on the way to her final destination. It was an awesome 24 hours. And a wonderful 15 months.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our Songs

Every kid in the house, even the cats, have their own "song." I am not sure what made each one the official song of that child, but they know their songs, they ask for their songs, and bless their little hearts, they even ask me to sing their songs. Over and over again.

Big Sister decided this was her song one day.  She calls it "When I was a little girl, you loved me". If we hear this song in the car, it is not unusual for either of us to interrupt whatever anyone is saying to yell: HEEEEEEYYYY Mommy! Do I love you???

My oh my.

GG's song was hard to come by. She's a bit picky and requested that I give her some choices for her love song.  This is the one she finally ended up with. She calls it "The apple in my eye song." The rest of us call it "GG's Home Song". She likes this video in particular because there's a little girl in it.

Tiny has a couple.  Actually, several made up ones regarding having a dirty diaper, though I have spared YouTube from my renditions of those songs.  Most often though, his love song is this one.  Everyone calls it something different, but mostly Tiny's Love Song, from a lullaby CD the girls listen to at night.

Little Sister's love song remains to this day the Pete's Dragon Song she used to sing when she was about 1 1/2. She sings it less now but makes me sing it every day.  I am not a very good sounding dragon.  She also has her "bouncing song" that we all love.  It's title came from Big Sister, who loved to watch Little dance as a 15 month old. All she did was bounce her diaper up and down.  She still does it on demand. (As an aside, the videos of this song seem really creepy to me.  The kids have never seen them, but here's the one with just the lyrics shown).

Her last song is the refrain from this one.  For those of you who know her real name, it's clear where it came from.  For those of you who know her personality, even clearer!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Let's Go Potty Now...

...everybody's learning how, come on and go potty with me."

I am not sure what the definition of fully potty trained is, but I am calling us finished.  Little Sister stays mostly dry, except for at the playground (in which case, who cares if there's pee in the sand?).  I will admit to actually enjoying potty training her.  We had fun. We have songs and dances and chants and cheers. Tiny claps every time I say: Little Sister went potty! We have a "hurrrrrrrrry, Sister needs to go pottyyyyyyyyy!" run that we do around the kitchen table. Do I think we are in the pee free zone? Nope. Poop free, maybe (and thankfully). But I actually am going to miss the time spent sitting in the tiny bathroom with her, making up stories about poop and pee, waving goodbye to them as they go "down the hole", and singing our handwashing song.

Next time I have to potty train someone, maybe I won't approach it with such trepidation.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Can I Test Out?

On our way to get five of us to three different places by 9am today, the girls asked me what I was doing today. I was off to do my annual training for behavior issues/restraining kids. "I have to go to a class so I can learn to be a good foster mom." I said.

Big Sis, damn I love this kid, did not miss a beat: "But you already ARE a good foster mom!"

Thank you, Baby Girl, I needed that today!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't Blink

They'll be walking out the door before you know it.

February 2011

April 2011

July 2011

September 2011

November 2011

February 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Wish

I found this in a draft of a blog from November 2010. Written the day after I dropped Little Guy off at his relatives.  I can only hope that this really did happen. And that the kids in the house now should have the same future:

As I was leaving, Little Guy's relative walked me to the door and said: We as a family want you to know that he will grow up knowing you were his second mother. We will not erase these months from his life.

Keeping It Real

As previously mentioned, I have no idea how to explain to a 2 year old that her mama soon won't be her mama anymore.  But I sure know how to get someone excited about having their first sleepover in their forever home:

 Overnights are starting. Exit date is set, although still unknown to the Sisters. 14 months worth of love to fit in these things.

I am not sure they are big enough.

The Secret is Out

With everyone transitioning in the very near future, there's so much talk about what things will be like. Big girls are very concerned about me...what will I do? who will I play with? will I be sad?  We were talking the other day about how other kids might move in here, which led us to talking about the days that each of them arrived.  Clearly, our lifestyle and what type of family we are is not a secret. Especially to us. Or so I thought.

"...then someone like (favorite caseworker) will call me and say,'Tammy, can you be a good foster mom for some new kids? They need somewhere safe to live for a while.' Just like she did when you came here."
"Wait. WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!? You're a FOSTER mom???"

It took 11 months, I guess, for the cat to come out of the bag.

Oh, Heavens

Conversation with GG the other day:

"What happens to your body when you die?"
"Your heart stops beating, you stop breathing, and your soul goes to Heaven so you can see God."
"We get to see DOGS!!????"

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baby Brains

Four and a half years ago, I signed up to foster preschoolers to early elementary aged kiddos. I don't remember now what my rationale was.  Probably a bit of "babies are boring" and a bit of "I know how to work with preschoolers better." I dunno.  I do know that I didn't have the insight that I have now on what it is going to be like to say goodbye to the babies in the house and there are moments where I think that alone would keep me from doing this again. (Though I know in the end, it'll really do the opposite...MAKE me do it again).

So here it is.  Two kids have lived here literally HALF OF THEIR LIVES. I am their mamma.  They run out of the CPS office, from the arms of their mothers, into my arms screaming "MOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYYY." They contently go to their bio moms, yes. But they RUN to me.

The older girls "get" some degree, thanks to some very open discussions.  They understand why they are here, that it's a temporary thing, that soon they won't be here anymore. There is anxiety and there are worries. We can work through these because we can talk about things.

But how do you tell that to a baby or toddler who thinks you are IT?

You don't.

You hope in your heart of hearts that all that scientific stuff you read about neural pathways and developing connections and the ability to attach is right.  You hope that even though they won't remember your face or anything you did with them, they will remember the feelings they had living here--what it feels like to be loved, attended to at all times, adored. And you hope more than anything that someone will take up where you left off.

Surely There's Another Way to Put It?

Without disclosing too much of a family tree here, I was alluded to as so-and-so's "other baby mamma" today by someone who knows fullllllll well what my relationship to these kids and their parents is.

Pretty sure I've never been called a Baby Mamma before and needed the laugh. Thank you, Mr. Low Vocabulary.

Audio Dynamite

Due to a recent cleaning out of a cabinet, our world has changed. Drastically.  Because of this:

Not only have we learned the words Hakuna Matata and Chim Chim Cher-ee, we have learned "rewind," "fast forward", "no, you can't push the skip button", and "eject."

The girls are fascinated by this thing. Fas-ci-na-ted. It's been the topic of many discussions for over a week now.  I may have to hook up the VCR next.

Hold It!

Public service announcement to everyone who can't keep their opinions to themselves:

I think it is AOK for a four year old to be held.

I like holding all of my babies.  You know why?  For several reasons:
1. Little Sister holds my hand with one hand and my pony tail with the other when I hold her.
2. GG would like me to cradle her like a baby on a daily basis. I think she's a damn cute "baby."
3. Tiny now knows how to say: "hold me". How can I resist that?
4. Being held is a calming, soothing, "get my keel straight please" thing for Big. Why would I take that away from her?

But well-intentioned strangers, teachers, acquaintances, really..if you have children of your own, guess what? When they are 6 or 8 or 13, they aren't going to want you to hold them anymore.  Why not hold the 40 pounds while you can???

And what you may not know when you make your well-meaning comments to me is: I won't be able to hold these 40 pounds for much longer at all. Why would I not enjoy this? So please, dear stranger in Target, when I smile sweetly at you and say "Everyone loves a little holding, thank you for your concern." please know that I am thinking a completely different, not for 4 year old ears, message.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Revisionist History

from GG:
"Martin Luther King didn't like white people.  He said that all white people need to ride in the front of the bus. We (black people) want to be back here by ourselves."

Apparently, we still have some work to do. But she DID get this part right: "Even if people are not nice to us, we should be nice to them because we are all the same."

Good girl.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Planning Ahead

We don't even have an exit date yet. Sure, in our heads and in our hearts, we know it's somewhere down the road, but no one is packing. I suppose we have discussed that we have spent our last Christmas together, but we still have a ways to go. Yet the worrier is still worrying. Worrying her little heart out.

"Mommy, when (caseworker) comes to take me to live at (x) or (y)'s house, I'm gonna be so so so sad. I will give you a big, big hug so I will never forget you."

Right back at you, sweet girl.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Safety First

Maybe it stems from my constant explanation that the reason they live here is that they were not safe in their other home and that Mommies and Daddies are learning to keep their kids super safe.  Maybe it stems from the idea that at least 200 times a day, the kids hear me say: That is not a safe choice. Who knows.  But I am apparently raising a couple of ninnies at this point.

Example 1:
GG: "I have some jewelry at my Gramma's house but it's chokeable and I don't want Tiny to choke so I left it there."
Big Sister: "Well, did you put it high up on a shelf at your Gramma's house?"
GG: "No, it's in my jewelry box."
Big Sister: "Well you know, GG, Tiny can still reach it if it's in your jewelry box.  He can still choke on it at your Gramma's house. You don't want him to choke on a chokeable, do you??"
GG: Um, no.  I forgot.

Example 2:
When seeing a man walking on the 71/I-35 flyover, yes, flyover:
"Why do you think that man is walking there? That is a very unsafe choice!"

Example 3:
When coming back from a family visit:
"Will you please talk to my (x), Mamma? S/he is NOT WEARING A SEAT BELT in the car and that is NOT SAFE!!"

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

Big Sister turned four last week and we've just stopped celebrating (though cake for breakfast, thankfully, remains). Big could not make up her mind about much to do with her birthday. Her cake went from rainbow to pink to blue to Rapunzel to "just chocolate." My kinda kid!

For whatever reason, despite the many many experiences and field trips this last year has offered her, Big Sister only wanted one thing for her special day.  Another trip to Chuck E. Cheese.(admittedly, it was much more fun than I anticipated).

Sister has let everyone she sees know that she is four now.  May it be a wonderful year!

Happy Birthday, Big Sister! Do I love you, my oh my!!

Monday, January 2, 2012


Through Blogger's little stats section, I was made aware that one can google random things and surely unintentionally end up on this blog.

Today's best example:  Google images "I love you so much hand sign".

We cannot, for the life of us, get our speech therapy business to the top of a google search, but put a three year old's middle finger on your blog, and she's the 2nd photo of "about 523,000,000 results."

And that, my friends, is AWESOME.

What are we celebrating now?

We love celebrations here.  What are we celebrating today?


for the first time in a year. Heaven!

Slacker Days

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not sit still.  Not because I have four kids, but because it's just not my nature.  There's so much fun to be had. Why sit around?

I learned the answer: Because you can.

We had eight stay home days over the holiday.  We got in the car only to go to family visits and to celebrate Christmas with friends. What did we achieve?
1. Jammies till at least 3 p.m. on more than one occasion.
2. Not a single day where the playroom was "closed" because "we don't have time to get toys out tonight."
3. Almost all of our new toys from Christmas have been played with. Not just for five minutes.
4. Multiple bike rides around the block.
5. We have rediscovered our sandbox.
6. We ate in every single meal except for Christmas day. (and not all of those meals were sandwiches)
7. Four kids played play-doh for more than an hour at a time.
8. We had time to get out the glitter because I had time to clean up the mess.
9. Almost every book in the living room was read.  At least once. 
10. The word "hurry" was (mostly) absent.

There were even a couple of times where all five of us were on the couch. Sitting. Doing nothing. No tv, no books, no toys. Just there, being slackers. I loved it.


I asked one of the girls the other day to tuck in her shirt.  "Aw, Mommy! But I don't want to look like Urkel."

Poor Urkel. He's been a fan of ours for months yet now his name is mud?

It started months ago, when a onesie and a pair of shorts resulted in this:
I made an off-handed comment along the lines of "Oh Tiny, you look like Urkel."

Urkel became a compliment. Dressing like Urkel became a goal, especially for Big Sister who would run into school, shirt tucked in and skirt hiked up to her chest, saying: Look!! I'm Urkel.

Something has happened in the past couple of months though. Urkel is now NOT desirable.  No one wants to look like this anymore:
 Except for Little Sister, who pulled her undies up Granny Panty style today, all the way to her armpits and said: Take picture me, Mommy! I Urkel!!

At least he is cool to someone.