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Oh MAN.  I guess some of it is I’ve just finished recovering from the intense, but brief, bug that Husband now has.  (And so I had to go tuck him into bed just now, while after my vomiting, I had to clean up after myself and continue to supervise five children.  Okay, that ‘supervising’ did turn into three hours of old “Magic School Bus” tapes while I slept.)

Right.  So the visit yesterday went really well.  I met Mom face to face, and enjoyed talking to her.  I hate to let on too much to the caseworkers and such, but our relationship so far is great.  I actually enjoy talking to her, while the other moms have merely been an obligation I didn’t mind too much.  I don’t think we’d be friends IRL, but for bio-moms, she’s awesome.

She gave the kids a reasonable amount of presents.  Some of the things were a little weird/crappy (really hard paint-by-numbers for Mark, a dress-up outfit for Nikki that’s obviously too small) but somehow I doubt reunification would ever come down to that.

They got a book from dad, who I found out is NOT supposed to have our phone number or contact with kids – we’d gotten a brief phone call from his jail a few days ago.  Whoops!  Mom apologized profusely for giving him our number, and I guess I believe she didn’t know, because he had phone contact with Nikki and Mark at the relatives, so why not now?  I’m half-tempted to argue they should have contact, but I also like the idea of the fewer people with our phone number, the better, and maybe there’s something about him they know that I don’t!  I think he gets out within a few weeks, so I guess we’ll be okay until then.

I also need to get them both into the doctor to check on this rash they’ve had since they arrived.  It’s worse on Nikki, covering her lower abdomen, one shoulder, and her thighs.  It looks sort of like staph (and we’ve had problems with that more times than I want to think about) and sort of like pimples.  It doesn’t itch her, and I’ve got no clue what it is.  She came with a steroidal cream from early this summer, but it obviously hasn’t worked!  Mark has a small patch on his neck, but it looks different, so maybe it’s not even the same thing.

(Because I’m so paranoid, I did a quick search on various STDs, and it seems none of them have symptoms like this.  Whew!)

Plus we scheduled another visit with Mom for next week before school starts, so that’s a four hour time commitment that will pay me $35 (50 cents a mile, baby!).  And I had to schedule the psych eval for Mark (mid January, another morning of school he’ll miss) plus another worker came by today for a visit (because Marge is in another county, one of our county’s workers does the monthly home visits.)

So looking all this over, I guess none of it is usual or everyday, but when I combine it with my usual and everyday, plus all five kids home from break, I’m just not finding enough time to finish anyth


and I mean that in the plural noun sense, not the singular verb sense.

So far, it’s been a good Christmas, especially for our first one as foster parents.   I certainly hope there are many more, but this one has been mostly a success.

One of the biggest problems is due to the fact that Mark and Nikki’s relatives provided two big sacks of gifts for them.  Some problem, huh?  It was quite a blessing.  However, their family, it seems, does the traditional ‘open-everything-at-once’ on the 25th.  And then Christmas is over.  Husband and I decided several years ago to spread out the present opening over the whole Christmas season, a la The Twelve Days of Christmas.

(We still haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer on when Christmas officially ends.  It seems there are three big choices: Jan. 6 (Epiphany), the Sunday after (Baptism of Christ) or Feb. 2 (Candlemas), depending on your denomination.)

Anyway, it’s usually worked for us.  But with Mark and Nikki’s presents, things have gotten off-balance.  I unwrapped and checked their presents, but then I rewrapped them, so I don’t know what they will be each morning until they open them.  That came to a head on Saturday, when Nikki unwrapped socks and shoes, Mark unwrapped two pairs of shoes, and Junior got a cool dinosaur fighting toy.  Yeah, I don’t blame them for having green eyes and grumbling voices.

So I guess I’ll either have everyone open all their presents, or I’ll have to try and give my kids lame presents too.  It’s all a bit complicated for me; I like Christmas to be as simple as I can make it, and this is just not working like it usually does.  But I really like my Christmas traditions!  Whaaa whaaa…

Oh, and one more minor fail: this morning, Nikki unwrapped Battleship (the game).  An odd choice for a 5-year old girl, yes?  I thought so too when I checked it, but I’m not here to question their choices, so I let it go.  It just occurred to me they probably mislabeled it, and it was supposed to be Mark’s, which also makes sense because Nikki has 3 extra presents.