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Well, there’s nothing like a long sleep to help with grief.

I’m feeling a little more energized, perhaps because the house is a HUGE mess.  I suppose I should actually clean up a little of that mess before I write of directing my energy at it.  Or maybe I’m just using visualization to help me get started?

I’ve been really behind in my blog reader, so as I’ve been slowly catching up on my foster blogs, I’ve read a lot of grieving stories.  It surely does help to know I’m not the only one profoundly affected by the little ones who float in and out of our lives.

So anyway, for memory’s sake, I do want to actually get a little bit about the boys down on paper, er, screen.

Steve was 7, very very quiet, tall and gangly.  Alex was 5, more mischievous and more talkative.  He did have a speech impediment though, so I had to ask Steve to interpret a few times, as much as I tried to avoid saddling him with that ‘older brother’ responsibility.

They came from poverty, educational neglect, domestic violence, etc.  The freaky thing we learned later is that their home was less than 2 miles from ours.  We drove by it a few times and while they did notice it, they didn’t act like they missed it either.  They also hardly mentioned their mom or family.  So we made sure to avoid that route anyway, but I was very surprised by their apparent apathy towards their home and family.

The boys settled in no sweat with our kids – they played Brio trains like nobody’s business!  Seriously, would you expect two impoverished black children to know so much about Thomas?  The whole Thomas thing always struck me as very very white.  Anyway, it’s a good thing we have a huge box of tracks and trains.  They spent so many hours playing, especially on that first snow day, and I could tell it helped them feel more comfortable.

They took a few days to get comfortable with me and Husband, especially Steve.  He would lurk around the house, especially the kitchen, looking expectant.  At first, I would ask him if he needed something, which he always said yes to, and then he’d just point at what he wanted.  Often, it was candy, 🙂  (Note to self: finish the Christmas candy sitting around.)  After we’d warmed up to each other, I started ignoring that behavior and requiring him to use words to ask.  He was reluctant, but especially during our last few days together, he talked so much more.  Even his school was reporting he was expressing his feelings and talking more than he had ever before.

And the school – what a complication that might’ve been, although it turned out not to matter.  The boys’ school was about a 10 minute drive away, and I was told after accepting the placement that they would continue to attend that school because the school would provide transportation.  Now, let me say that I am lucky enough to live in one of the best districts in my area, and our elementary school is GREAT.  I was vaguely insulted that they didn’t want the boys to go to our school.

After meeting their teachers and counselors there, I can see why it might’ve been okay to keep them there.  This school showed so much compassion and caring.  The staff definitely went above and beyond what would be expected of them.  If the transportation actually had worked out, and they had stayed with us longer, I guess it would’ve been all right.

BUT the transportation promise turned out to have been a misunderstanding, so I ended up driving them to and from school every day.  Not a really big deal, but it did add 45 – 60 minutes of driving to my day.  I thought I was done with that after Mark and Nikki left!  And if they’d stayed with us?  I like to think I would’ve insisted they transfer to our school, but I know it would’ve been hard on the boys, and what if the caseworker had threatened to move them to another home in the district?  (Not that one was necessarily available, but she still could’ve threatened…)  I’m not sure how I would’ve reacted.  At some point, all that extra driving is unsustainable, but the boys really did have a loving environment at that school.

There’s a LOT more I want to write about their schooling and education, but this would turn into a truly monstrous post.  Also, I guess I really should go do some dishes and work out some of this sadness.  Before the next call comes.

 

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Steve and Alex have left.

They went to a somewhat distant relative’s this afternoon.

We only found out when yesterday afternoon, although we had been warned it was likely.

I have so many emotions, and I want to get them out, but I’m just too tired.  It’s been a long 24 hours, and even more so for the boys.  Short story, they didn’t want to leave our house, we didn’t want them to either, but protocols must be followed.

More tomorrow.

Mondays, for me, are always my breather day.

I can take some time, do some cleaning, relax a little, as Husband and the two oldest are back at school.  I do enjoy the weekends, to be sure, but Mondays have their own rhythm of calm.

This week has not had a Monday yet.

Of course, the real Monday was a day off school for everyone, and Baby got puky sick over the weekend too.  Tuesday had Daughter home from school feeling sick.  Wednesday came and Junior was sick.  And then (da da dum) Wednesday night we got a call.

Easy one to take – two boys, 7 and 5, coming from a combo of neglect, poverty, and physical abuse.  No behavior problems reported, some sort of intellectual delays/mental retardation for both.  Sure, bring ’em on over.

Steve, the older brother, and Alex, the younger, are very sweet although semi-feral.  First night, they didn’t go to sleep until 11 pm, not because they were running around yelling or throwing fits, more because they just didn’t seem sleepy.  I’m sure their nervousness was not helping that, but I think they may be used to staying up late, or just putting themselves to bed whenever.  Either way, first night was tiring.

Thursday was a snow day, and again everyone, including Husband, was home.  Luckily, the boys and Junior were very easily entertained with our ginormous tub of trains and tracks, but we also ended up doing play dough.  And wikki stix.  And watercolors.  And reading books.  And playing toy food.  Oh man.  Husband ended up puking that night and we had minor issues with Alex and dinner (wanted that second piece of pizza but refused to eat a baby carrot first.  He got mad enough at me to tear up the picture he’d made me earlier that day, although he did it with a smirk on his face.  Take that, strange woman!)  Props to Steve for eating a serving of salad after each piece of pizza.

Oh, and did I mention it was my birthday?

Anyway, the boys at least went to sleep earlier, closer to 9.

Finally, today, got my kids to school, took the boys to their school, and went home to enjoy my first normal day of the week.  And got the call to please come pick up Daughter from school because she felt sick.

Here’s looking forward to next Monday.

(I’ll blog more later about the boys – had to steam off a little pressure over my week first!)

 

Disappointment – we’d planned a playdate with Nikki and Mark and Mom at a local fast food establishment.

She called this morning to cancel, because they’re broke (both Mom and Dad have been looking for work for a few weeks.)

I’m REALLY glad she’s taking fiscal responsibility, but I’m pretty sure she could’ve called last night or maybe even two nights ago to reschedule, rather than right before.

So Daughter got upset and started crying, and the neighbor boy, who LOVES playing with Mark and whom I’d invited to go with us, showed up right after I got off the phone with her, and I had to send him home crying.

What a way to start the day!

 

So it’s been 3 1/2 weeks since Mark and Nikki left, and I think that’s the longest we’ve gone without a placement since licensing.  This is the least antsy I’ve been awaiting the call ever – I hardly even think about it at all, but then again we have had two major holidays in that time.

Those holidays could also account for why there’s been no calls, or not, I really have no idea how holidays affect these things.  Our agency used to have separate emergency homes for the placements that had to take place during off-hours, and then would move the kiddos to long-term foster homes within a day or two, but that system stinks for the kids, so they recently switched to everyone being ‘on call’ for those emergency placements.  So I’ve been prepared, even on Saturdays, Sundays and sleeping hours, 🙂

But we did tell Lulu that we won’t take any placements after Jan. 31, so the closer we get…well, I don’t know how I feel.  Do I want to have extra kids around while taking care of a newborn?  Well, okay, I may want to, but should I have them?  Should I just take my six months and enjoy it?  And another added complication: a planned out-of-country trip the end of July, just before our six month sabbatical ends.  Lulu has told us it’s not impossible to take foster kids out of the country, but it will involve a lot of paperwork – duh – and may not be able to happen at all, depending on the family circumstances involved for the foster kids.

I just really looo-oove making my life more complicated.

(And I think it’s funny how much I’m analyzing my feelings even though my feelings have nothing to do with when we might get a call.) (But my feelings might convince me to extend our deadline a week, and then another, and then…)

 

Yep, it has been nice.

We had a nice, relaxing break.  The peace and quiet of just three kids is so profound.

Mark and Nikki’s family called once over break, but then the reception broke up, and we still haven’t called back (we’re awful procrastinators).  I really need to do that, for our kids’ sake and so I can talk to their mom.  She wrote me a really sweet letter thanking us for all we did, and I don’t want her to think we’ve just dropped them out of our lives.

But honestly, our own kids have adjusted very well to the changes.  Daughter complained about missing Nikki a bit, but it was surprisingly easy to settle back into our family-of-five routine.

And getting just two kids ready for school in the morning is SO much easier than four.