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Archive for February, 2012

Has, apparently, re-emerged.  From what  I understand, he has been missing for about 8 and 3/4 years.  But it is tpr time and so the agency found him (or maybe he was always found but now he wants in?!?).  There is talk of visitation and building a relationship. This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, I am suspicious as hell and a little pissed – where have you been, buddy? Blitzen has really, really needed you and um, well, where HAVE you been?  But people change, they grow, they step up and take responsibility.  And knowing your parents is a really important thing – even when your parents have struggled (or just plain failed) to do what they need to do - it is really critical to understand that piece of who you are and where you come from.  So, if Blitzen has the opportunity to develop a relationship with this person, then I want to support it.

Now I’ve chatted about family visits before.  The nemesis of practically every foster parent if all the blogs I obsessively read are any indicator.  Blitzen’s mom thought it would be a grand idea to just announce to Blitzen that mystery dad is back during the last visit.  The visit which was chaotic as usual, the visit where no one was prepared to help manage the emotional fall out from such a pronouncement.  She just blurted out ‘Your dad wants to see you’.

Ok, great.  But when, bio mom, when?  And how, bio mom, how?  Think!, bio mom, THINK!!!!

The agency is gonna do their thing, check this guy out and try to set something up.  But here is what I know, the number he gave the agency does not work.  There is no plan, formal or informal, to see him again until the next court date in May.  But Blitzen now knows that he is floating out there, wanting to see her and is mentioning it several times a day, ‘My dad wants to see me’  and she is so hopeful when she says it.  Andrew and I play our neutral, optimistic, non-committal role and ask her how she feels about that.  At some point soon, she is going to ask, ‘When can I see my dad?’ and of course, no one knows.

Sigh….

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Andrew’s tuckus

So…..the other day I walked into the kitchen and gave my wonderful husband’s adorable tuckus a playful swat.  This interaction was witnessed by Blitzen, who looked at me, quite shocked and declared:

‘Girls can’t grab boys’ booties’

Carrie – to myself, think fast, think fast.  Out loud, ‘Well, I think it is ok if the people are married and everyone agrees that it is alright’.

Blitzen, sternly, ‘No, GIRLS can’t grab BOYS booties!’

Carrie – to myself, ah, very interesting, what to say, what to say.  Out loud, ‘Well, I think that girls can do anything that boys are allowed to do.  But you probably shouldn’t grab anyone’s booty unless you are married to them and they’ve said that they don’t mind’.

Blitzen, with a tone intimating that she knows that I am little slow but she is willing to work with me, ‘Of course they can’t.  There are boy things and girl things’.

Carrie – to myself, thank goodness we’re no longer talking about butts and touching them.  Out loud, ‘Of course they can.  I can’t think of anything that girls can’t do.’ To myself, except like play in the NFL or get elected as the president in most countries and …. Out loud, ‘Except maybe grow a beard’.

Blitzen – ‘My mom shaves under her arms’.

Carrie – ‘Oh, that is nice, some women do that but you don’t have to.  It is a decision you can make for yourself when you get older’.

Blitzen – ‘I am going to shave under my arms’.

Carrie – ‘Excellent, let’s talk about it again in like 4 or 5 years’.

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Family movie at home

I went to brunch, with friends.  Grown up friends and we ate at a place where someone brought your food to the table and the napkins were linen.  Oh joy!  But that is not what the post is about.  Andrew and Blitzen spent Sunday afternoon together and had plans to watch the original Muppet movie.  Apparently, it lasted about as long as the popcorn.  There was lots of fast forwarding and skipping about and such.  We probably should have predicted this since she watches the same scene in high school musical over and over and over.  They went to the park instead.  Fun was had by all.

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Creativity

I think that I have mentioned before what an incredibly creative child Blitzen is.  It is amazing that despite all the drama and trauma she has experienced, she is able see a world full of magic and wonder and possibility.  On Friday, Blitzen recieved a really cool book with photos of fairy houses out in nature.  Apparently, this is a thing and people have created some rather stunning, miniature abodes for imaginary creatures with woood and grass and flower petals and seashells.  Blitzen was enchanted and inspired.  And using some logs for the fireplace, some flowers from the vase on the table and some doll furniture, she created Fairy House #2 — perhaps this is the country abode of the fairies that occassionally visit and leave us notes.  I thought it was quite brilliant, not to mention beautiful.

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Funny Blitzen Quotes

‘You gotta work with me here, lady!’ is what Blitzen said to me this morning after noting that my shoes did not go at all with my dress.   Everybody is a fashion critic.  And for the record, they were just my walking to work shoes…

‘You never do anything around here but clean’ was shouted at me last night when I declined to cover the guinea pig cage at bedtime.

‘Come to mama’ with a shake and shimmy when I asked if I could have a hug and a kiss on my way out the door.

‘I’m just enjoying being a kid’ when explaining to my co-workers why she would not be staying at the office and working with me all day during her winter break.

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Blitzen loves her babies, loves them, loves them.  And tries very hard to be a nurturing and loving mama to all 6 (Ginger Snap, Muffin Cupcake, Hello Daisy, Aurora, Joshua and one that I call Sacajawea because I cannot remember her real name but she has long ponytails tied with these fringy leather bands so…).   On Sunday, she decided that they needed a stroller.  Upon hearing that I wasn’t willing to go to Toys R Us to purchase one, she suggested that we make one from scratch.  Below, a photo of an hour plus of labor, trial and error, and thoughtful problem-solving.  The first ever cardboard and masking tape stroller.  And she loves it and so do the babies.

Carefully designed with custom features

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The tea party

My mother-in-law, P, is helping us with childcare this week (woo-hoo – you rock, P!) while the NYC schools are weirdly closed for a week for winter break.  Not to get all old fashioned on you but when I was a kid, winter break was at the end of December and then you just had to suck it up until springbreak.  But that is not the point of the story.

P brought Blitzen a tiny little tea set that she thought might be a fun addition to the fairy land sitting on our living room window sill.  Now Blitzen, master of all social graces, can be really suspicious of gifts.  She usually thinks, upon recieving them, that they are wrong or crappy in some way and eyes them warily until you explain how marvelous they are.  The events as they played out this morning, as told to me by Andrew (you never blog anymore, sweetpea, so I’m stealing your material!).

So P gives Blitzen the tiny tea set.  Blitzen asks, oh so politely I am sure, what is this?  P explains it is a little tiny tea set.  Who is it for?  Blitzen inquires (demands).  It is for someone small.  Me? Blitzen asks.  No, someone smaller, is the reply.  A baby? Blitzen asks.  No, someone really tiny, that flies.

Apparently Blitzen’s eyes lit up, she got very excited and said with great joy, IT’S FOR AN EAGLE?!?

Ummmmm — ok.

The bird of prey tea party was just getting underway when I left for work!

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The rewind

Blitzen has adopted and an adapted a habit of Andrew’s — the rewind.  When Andrew would like a verbal ‘do over’, he will say ‘rewind’ and then say whatever it is that he really meant to say.

Blitzen has trouble speaking respectfully when she is sad, angry or frustrated.  She will often lose her temper, start yelling or name calling.  There are two levels to this – 1) extreme emotion that she cannot process and it all just comes flying out  2) it is clear that she just doesn’t always understand how people can interact without injecting conflict.  And I honestly believe, that sometimes when she is raising her voice to me and Andrew, she doesn’t hear it, doesn’t understand that this is NOT how people behave at the dinner table when you run out of parmesan cheese and she is always so surprised when we call her on it.

We’ve definitely been following a ‘one step at a time’ model as we work through some Blitzen’s more challenging behaviors, focusing on the most urgent issues first.  But now that her aggression is a little more under control, we’ve been focusing on speaking respectfully to other people even when she is upset.  And so she has adopted the rewind.

For example, we will be walking down the street and she will rudely demand that I get out of her way.  I will look at her with love and kindness but also the expression on my face that says ‘I know I did not hear you say that, try again’.  And she will make a funny brrrr-weeep noise, shake and shimmy her whole body and then say sweetly, ‘Carrie, could you move, please?’

It is really funny and she has started to do it even without the look.  She is catching herself and rewinding to use friendlier, kinder words.  It is amazing to see how many strategies that Blitzen has been developing to manage and modify her own behavior.

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A play date with Dancer

We had a really great play date with Dancer last night.  Blitzen and her sisters see Mom every other week.  On the off weeks, we’ve been picking up Dancer from her afterschool program, bringing her home for dinner and a little play time.  This gives Nana a much needed break and it gives the girls some ‘big girl’ play time without the littlest sister.

In the past, Dancer has spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to maintain the peace, working to keep Blitzen from melting down, letting Blitzen be the best at everything, picking up after her, etc, etc.  This is a really stressful thing to watch and I am certain, if you happen to be 11 year old Dancer, it is an extraordinarily difficult way to live.

But last night, something kind of miraculous happened.  Dancer went into Blitzen’s closet and chose 3 things to do – 1) a beading / make your necklace activity 2) a kaleidoscope kit that Blitzen received as a gift but has shown zero interest in putting together and 3) some scrapbooking stuff.  The girls negotiated and came to an agreement, first they would work on the crafts and then they would play what Blitzen wanted to play — dolls.  I am sure some of you are like – so what, that is what kids do.  Well, not my kid.  Not only did she allow Dancer to direct the play without stomping off and pouting, her frustration level stayed fairly low when Dancer had to take the lead on kaleidoscope construction.  And here is the thing that thrilled me, Dancer DIRECTED the play instead of trying to do the job of Andrew and me.  Instead of parenting and constantly ATTEMPTING to comfort her little sister, she played and had fun.  As an added bonus, they did most of these activities together but without Andrew and I joining in / moderating the play.

And then it was time for goodbye.  Guess what?  Everyone just hugged and said goodbye, see you later.  No tears, no threats, no drama.  YAY!

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100 guppies

It has been a rough week at school for Blitzen.  She missed ‘rally’ for the first time since she started there in November.  Rally, from what I can tell, is a big, free-for-all, reward-for-good-behavior type thing on Thursday afternoons in the auditorium.  There are snacks, music and dancing, sometimes a video and just crazy, wild fun.  Blitzen LOVES rally.  But everyday this week, Blitzen has stormed out of the classroom at least once each day and yesterday, she ran out 3 times.  At home, it is fight.  At school, it is flight.  So no rally.

At dinner, we had a lot of things to discuss.  What is happening at school and an incident with the babysitter that afternoon.  Blitzen doesn’t really like to dive deeply into her feelings and behaviors and will do just about anything to avoid it.  But when we have these conversations at dinner, she just tries to change the subject.  Last night, the conversation went a little bit like this:

Andrew  — How was school today?  I haven’t looked at your point sheet yet.  (School employs a point system and Blitzen loves to get all 72 points – sometimes she does but this week, not so much).

Blitzen — Not good.  I got a 60.

Carrie — I saw your sheet and noticed that you left class again.  That has been happening a lot.  What’s going on?

Blitzen — The kids, you know, the boys, they just be getting on my nerves and my teacher.  But wait, wait, can I ask you something?

Carrie — Yes, you can but this conversation about school isn’t finished.

Blitzen — I know but it is about guppies.

Andrew — We can talk about guppies for a minute but we’re coming back to what happened at school today.

Blitzen – The guppy in my science class is pregnant.  And when her babies are born, she won’t know they are her babies and she will try to eat them.  We saw it on a video.

Carrie — Wow.  Are you going to separate the baby guppies from their mom?

Blitzen — Yes, you know what you have to do? You have to put the babies in another tank.

Andrew — Are you ready to talk about what happened at school now?

Blitzen – No, no, wait, I just gotta tell you something.  One time, at my other foster house, I had 100 guppies and the mom guppy tried to eat all the babies and the baby guppies were really mad at the mom so I had to separate them.  The baby guppies had to live in other tanks – I had like 100 tanks too.

Carrie — That is a lot of tanks.  Now let’s talk about why you ran out of class today.

And on from there.

Now I am willing to wager a significant amount of money that Blitzen never had guppies before.  But mostly I think it is fascinating how, even when she is avoiding talking about difficult things, she ends up revealing so much.  What an interesting tale – you separated the baby guppies from the mom guppy because the babies were mad and they all ended up in separate tanks.  Hmmmm, this story sounds very familiar and it has nothing to do with guppies.

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