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Archive for January, 2012

Make a new plan, Stan

So it was a rocky week in our household with a very, very challenging weekend.  Have I mentioned how much I frickin hate family vists????  I have?  Well, that is because I do.  I really, really do.

I try to be empathetic and understanding, I try to be calm and reassuring when dealing with the family.  Inside I am just screaming, ‘What happened to you people?!? And why oh why would you want to do this these kids?!? And if you don’t start being nice to my beautiful Blitzen, seriously, I am gonna kick your you know what.’  But then I check in and remember that I don’t know the full story here.  That people are fragile and sometimes broken and often overwhelmed and afraid.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt – life is hard and for some people, it is simply unmanageable.  And Blitzen has so many amazing qualities and these qualities came from someplace and probably some of them, maybe lots of them, came from her family.  And whether she is creative and imaginative, athletic and energetic, smart and funny because of or in spite of all that she has been through, I try to remember that it is all a part of who she is.

But whenever we have these rough weekends, I tend to want to change course.  Andrew often wants to dig in.  Probably this is what makes us a good team, we stay the course with minor but significant corrections along the way.  We continue to work on building trust with Blitzen, encouraging her to express her anger and frustration in positive ways.  But it is hard.  I told my mother today that I wish Blitzen had a ‘whoosh valve’ like on a blow-up mattress and I could just press the ‘whoosh’ whenever I see the tension rising so that all of the yuck would just blow away in a loud but benign stream of air.

Sigh….

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Drop off the key, Lee

Every week or two, Blitzen develops a new obsession.  This is driven, partly I am sure, by our constant search for interesting activities and amusing distractions.  We gave her a cheapy little key chain with a tic tac toe board.  After she had cheated us at several games, she asked if she could have a key.  Ok, sure — we gave her some keys — one for our front door (but not the building door), some old keys that don’t work, one for the basement storage room.  She is thrilled when she thinks about the keys.  Can I open the door? she asks as she races up the steps.  We made a key to the mailbox and now she is in charge of picking up the mail.

The amount of joy this child gets from very small things is simply amazing.  The amount of sadness and anger triggered by very small things is truly disheartening.  It was a rough weekend but hey, at least we now have a key to the mailbox.

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It is an interesting thing, writing this blog.  It is a record of what I am feeling, thinking, considering, at a given moment in time (but just a single moment), during my foster parenting experience.  And it is a public record, deliberately so. I’ve invited an audience in and I’ve encouraged comments and I like to hear from people.  I find it encouraging, funny, clarifying, helpful.

It is that is a great way to communicate with family and friends, every day, all at once, so they actually get a clearer picture of our life in the Blitzen era.

I feel compelled to post almost every day because people are watching and I am a little type A, so you know, I think you all are expecting something, therefore I must deliver.  And that is a good thing because if I was just journaling, I would have stopped after day 3.

It is forcing me to write in a way that I have not really written since I woo-ed my spouse via the US postal service many, many years ago when we were courting and living in separate cities and I wrote to him almost every day.  Those were “haven’t you fallen in love with me yet?” letters.  These blog posts are more like “I haven’t quite figured out how to parent a traumatized child yet” letters.  Very similar, really, because I was/am trying capture moments in time, express myself honestly, be open and receptive.  Very different because those original letters were written in cursive on purple stationary and now there is this crazy thing called the world wide web and people that I have never met from all around the world are reading my thoughts.

But the most interesting thing about writing this blog is that the reader is only getting my viewpoint (and Andrew’s).   Since much of this tale is not really ours to tell, we don’t share everything.  There is a lot more to the story.   For many reasons including, first and foremost, Blitzen’s privacy and safety, you all are not getting to see the whole picture.  These are just snapshots, taken at like 30,000 feet or photos zoomed in so close that you may not be sure what, exactly, you are looking at.  We are only revealing two small pieces of a very large and complex puzzle.

But even though the view is limited, I’m trying to convey a true sense of my journey.  Maybe someday Blitzen will write about this time too.  I hope so, I think it would be a very interesting read.

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If you build it

They will come.

Fairies, that is.

We left school yesterday for an appointment and then had a long, long rainy afternoon stretching out in front of us.  What to do, what to do?  Guess we better build a fairy house out of a flower pot.  Our project grew in scope and now there is a treehouse (the flower pot), a garden, a wooden bridge over sparkly stones, within a shoe box there are 2 bedrooms (because per Blitzen – it might be a mom and a dad and a baby fairy that would like to live here) and a kitchen with a little tiny table and refrigerator and tiny plates each holding a single pea.

All of this, artfully arranged on the window sill awaiting habitation.

We talked a lot about where to put this extravaganza of fairy living and the window sill in the living room was chosen as the perfect spot – roomy, right in the middle of all the action and sunny.

“If I leave the door open a crack during bedtime playtime, do think fairies will fly in and sleep here?” Blitzen asked.  “Could be they can just wiggle in under the window or door” I said.

During dinner, Blitzen heard a noise at the window.  “SHHHH!” she said, “I think they are coming!”  She ran over to check and confirmed that yes, indeed, a mom fairy, a dad fairy and a baby fairy had arrived.  She suggested that we remain very quiet because the parent fairies were rocking the baby to sleep.

This morning, there was a lovely thank you from the fairies to Blitzen.  They are so excited to move into their new house.  Blitzen told me that we wouldn’t see them this morning because “they are early birds and they already went to pack their suitcase so they can really move in.”

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Fairy bedrooms and kitchen

Spacious, for the whole family

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A home for fairies

It is like Versailles, for fairies

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“Ok, see,” she says, with hands held high over her head, one foot in front of the other, knee slightly bent.  “See, you can start with a half lunch or a full lunch.”

Then she bends over and flips, feet flying through the air.  A lovely cartwheel, learned in our new gym class.

Andrew mentioned that he thought the word was lunge, not lunch.  She was adamant.  “No, it is lunch but not the kind you eat.”

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