Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First things first: Huck loves his new school. I've heard a detailed description of the playground and the snack, and he says that "The girls tell me to push my glasses up!" Right now I'm stalling him until noon as best I can, but he's ready to go go go go go go go.

Some of you may recall a difficult experience at Huck's other preschool last February, blogged on April 13th. Remember how the impetus for that exchange was my being ten minutes late because of a traffic accident?

Some of you may also recall that we were recently inspected by the state, and that things as silly as having fruit on the kitchen table was treated like physical abuse.

So my school anxiety is fairly high.

Enough preamble: Huck's school gets out at 3:15 for the preschoolers, and the rest of the school gets out at 3:30. Preschoolers are not able to take the bus, so parents have to pick up and drop off. There are two parking entrances in the school, one for bus and parent pickup, and another for faculty. The entrances are twenty feet apart on the same street, and preschoolers are the only ones that get picked up in the faculty lot. Yesterday morning, it took me six minutes from the time I got Huckle strapped into his car seat in our garage until we walked in the school.

I left the house at 3:00 to go pick my boy up, figuring I'd sit in the parking lot with the ten minutes to spare.

Half a mile from the school, traffic stops. There's a line of parents about 100 cars long waiting to pick up their kids. And the line isn't going to move because 1. No kids other than preschoolers are out of class yet, and 2. Cars aren't allowed into the bus + pickup lot until the buses are gone, which means 3:45. 3. The bus/pickup lot line is only one lane.

So I could see the school, but didn't have any way to get there. Time passed, and between 3:03 and 3:30, I move about twenty feet forward.

In the take home packets we got at Meet the Teacher Night, it was written that at 3:30, preschoolers will be taken to the office and the school will begin calling the child's emergency contacts to make sure that someone will be arriving at school.

Anyhow, I sat in my immobile hunk of metal with tears streaming down my face, because really, if washcloths get me cited, then I may as well start packing Huckle's stuff if the emergency contacts are called on the first day of school because I didn't come get him.

Around 3:40, I pulled out of the line, parked illegally in front of a model house, and started walking to the school.

After crossing two large fields, a drainage ditch, and a softball field, I got to the school at 3:55. By then, I was sobbing. But I'd remembered to put the windshield pickup pass in my purse.

And out of the 40ish kids in the afternoon preK classes, about 25 were still sitting outside in their pickup lines with the teachers.

I swear, I'd never been so happy to see so many four year olds sitting on pavement. Huck ran to me and launched himself into my arms, I apologized to his teacher, told her how bad it was trying to get there, and waved happily to all the other kids as Huck and I set off for the car.

And together we crossed the parking lot, the softball field, the drainage ditch, a field, four lanes of traffic, another field, and the model home's backyard. Huck yammered the entire way, and we were eaten alive by mosquitoes.

We got home at 4:30. We both took a nap until 6.

I think I'll leave for school at 2:30 today and bring some knitting. And a few drinks. And this time, I won't wear my cute little kitten-heeled sandals.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Woohoo, Folks! We have PreSchool!

The Huckster is dropped off, with not a tear or fuss on his end (seriously, how can this be the same child that came to live with us? how?).

I think that now, and for the next three hours, I shall walk around my house naked, blast the stereo, uncoil all the cords on all the appliances, and put a container of blueberries on the counter.

Okay, actually, I'm kidding about the blueberries. Instead, I'm going to fire up the Xbox 360 and play Bioshock. I've been watching The Hub play it all weekend, now I get dibs as the only biped in the house.

I wonder if Huck will need a nap when I go get him at 3:30. You know, I might be able to parlay this "school" scheme into four or five hours on my own each day...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I started this as a comment on Baggage's post, but it got really long. Go there, then come back.

Yup. That about sums it up.

And while we're at it, we may as well remind people that the kids being taken away is what's first on your mind all day, every day. Bump on the head? Maybe he'll be taken away. Tantrum at the grocer? Maybe he'll be taken away. Fall asleep in his bed while you lie with him to soothe nightmares? Maybe he'll be taken away. One of your pets is two weeks past due on her rabies shot? Maybe he'll be taken away. Raining every day for a month and the grass looks like a jungle because it hasn't been dry enough to mow? Maybe he'll be taken away. Kid sees your pubic hair sticking out of your swimsuit? Maybe he'll be taken away.

I am not kidding when I say that I live in fear.

Ten months ago, we said yes to a barely-three year old little boy who was so shell shocked that we wondered if he might be autistic. This little boy couldn't walk more than a few steps at a time, all the veins in his body showed bright blue through his skin, he broke out in hives each time he ate, he'd had an ear infection for 3 years, and people lied to our faces when we asked about drug exposures and behavioral issues. He couldn't breath, he couldn't sleep, he couldn't see, he couldn't hold a goddamn fork, and each time he saw an african-american man or woman, he'd scream the N word. He hit and bit and kicked, he put a pillow over my face while I slept, he told me he'd "fuxking kill me," on my birthday he told me, "I hate you and I'm never (going to) love you," when my husband asked him to give me a hug and say Happy Birthday, and once I found him eating from his diaper.

And still, we kept with him, when half a dozen other families had thrown him out after a week. We were ready to love him before we met him, and even though most of my hair fell out from stress, even though I cried myself to sleep most nights for the first four months, and even though I wanted nothing more than to run away from home and never come back, I love him with every ounce of my being. I can't imagine my life without him, and when there was a chance he'd go back to his mother last December, just a month after he came to live with us, I felt like I might die.

And now? Now, Huckle still has some problems, he is still difficult to parent, but NOTHING I described above is present. Huck runs, jumps, and does the twist. His favorite YouTube video is "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" followed by "Fish Heads." He accentuates important points with musical-theater style flourishes. He's five inches taller. He considers broccoli to be his favorite veggie, he can recite a dozen books from memory, he hugs our dogs and protects the cat, he jumps into the pool, he can breathe and sleep and hear and see, and even though his head gets turned by the Blonde Posse that is my family, he is my shadow. He gives hugs and kisses, and he means them, and his body relaxes when I hold him.

And that's the thing. The Now with Huck is worth all the Then. I look at him and think, "We did this. The three of us did this," and I am amazed at the difference that ten months with us, therapists, and doctors can make. We've already been through our own little version of hell, so as furious as I am over the banana thing, the handtowels, and all that other stuff, I can't do anything about it, because the only thing that I could do to remove that stressor is to quit, and there's no fucking way that's going to happen. We will never abandon Huck, we will never throw him back.

So there's the rub.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Here's a photograph, taken a few weeks ago, of us trying to take pictures of Huck's sprouting molars. He moved around a lot.

I can't sleep. I am so scared that the things from my last post might get our house closed down and Huckle moved somewhere else.

I've been crying on and off for about 12 hours now. A bowl of fruit? Terrycloth hand towels? A fridge with a thermometer built in?

I understand that standards have to be maintained. I understand that a lot of terrible things can happen to a child in foster care. If there were rotten bananas in the fruit bowl, I could understand. Or if the cake weren't still kind of warm from the oven, if it were covered in ants or flies or whatever. But partly frosted with a picture of half a donkey? WTF. Every time we've had social workers, fire inspectors, or the health department out here, there's been a bowl of fresh fruit, or at least a few lemons, out in the open. Everything that we were cited for this time around was in the same state the last time we were inspected, and back then the evaluator told me a nightlight in the hall was burnt out, but he didn't write it down, I think he was just letting me know.
After the first thing was noted, I started following the evaluator around with our digital camera. I have photographs of the evaluator with almost everything mentioned in frame. They were all covert hip-shots without flash, but you can still make out the towels, the vacuum, the fruit, the digital display on the fridge.

My lawyer is out of town until Tuesday, and although I know a lot of real estate, divorce, tax, estate, and corporate lawyers, I can't find anyone in my book that could advise me on this.

I do have one "in" that, should we need it, could prove useful.

I started the adoption paperwork. We'll get through this, hell or high water, adopt the Huckster, and keep our license for when/if a biological sibling is born and brought into care. If we have a license but we don't have foster kids in the home, no one comes around, not even our agency.

It also looks like Huck's grandmother just moved to a house five miles away from us.

Here's Huckle's cake, chocolate fudge with cream cheese frosting:

Cake based on Huck's current favorite book, Donkey-Donkey. I had a bunch of leftover red frosting, so, yay, flowers. Last week I made a blue colored cake with blue frosting, and Huck pooed blue for a week, so I went for a white background so as not to freak out his new teacher on Monday...
This book now beats out The Owl and The Pussycat, which he's been able to recite for about five months. The moon, the moon, the moon...This was my all time favorite book, my mom tells me. She says she read it to me six times a day from 2 to 4, when I started to read it myself. The photographs are wonderful. I still love to look at it. We've got a lot of books that used to be mine. There's a shelf of "Fragile" books in my room that Only Mommy holds.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Cindy just posted here about higher standards for adoptive parents.

(Not that what went down here is in the same league as what Cindy goes through, of course.)

I was recently surprise-inspected by the state and had the following infractions noted.

1. Uncovered/unrefrigerated food: A) Bowl of (unpeeled) bananas and apples on kitchen table. Bananas and apples purchased the day before yesterday-- they are not rotten or nasty or buggy. B) The cake I was in the middle of frosting when the doorbell rang: I did not put the cake or frosting back in the refrigerator before I answered the door.

2. No thermometer inside the fridge. (There's a digital display on the outside of the fridge that shows the inside temperatures of both the freezer and refrigerator.)

3. No safety lock on vacuum cord. (Cord was coiled and snapped in place, and the vacuum was in the garage.)

4. Licence not posted out in the open. (It is taped on the inside of a cupboard door next to the emergency numbers.)

5. Unsanitary Conditions: No paper towels in bathrooms. (We use fabric towels, and have many hand towels next to and under the sinks.)

I think there was another one, but I'm so mad right now that I don't even want to look at the forms. This is the second time we've been inspected by the state in nine months, though we had warning for the first. The visits are supposed to be random, spit out by some computer program. The insane thing is that having a bowl of fresh fruit on the table, a modern fridge, not advertising to everyone who walks in that Huck is our fosterkid, and washcloths are as big a deal (number-of-infraction-wise) as if the inspector had witnessed me slapping Huckle across the face five times. I am so angry that I am shaking.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Huckle: Mommy, can you give me some dinner so I can finish it up and then you can give me dessert and then I can watch Cars and then I can go to bed and then I can go to the pool and the park and the icecream store? Dinner first, though.

The adorable, it is overwhelming.
My life just got ten kinds of easier. And not a moment too soon...

Huckle's been approved for pre-k through the school district (cutting it close, aren't they? six days until the year starts they tell us). AND..........

He's in the afternoon class!!!

I swear, I would have kissed the mail carrier if she'd been there.

No waking Huck up at 6 AM to let him roll around on the ground and cry for an hour.
No forcing him to eat.
No worrying about traffic.
Plus, I'll be able to run errands while he's in school, which was the biggest pain in my behind last year, when places didn't open for another two hours past his drop-off time.
And seriously, everyone knows that the hours between 2 and 5 are the worst of the day, unless your kids are sleeping. I feel like I just got a get out of jail free card in the mail.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I am furious.

Because of a mixup with Hub's work, I'm without health insurance. His company was purchased for the third time in as many years, and the insurer changed for a fifth time, and somehow I didn't make it onto our policy with Cigna. I can't get on it until the open enrollment in January, so I need health insurance for the next 3 months, just in case something happens.

I have now been declined for individual policies by two companies.

Aetna (who was our last insurance company before the switch) declined me because I twisted my foot two months ago (while on Aetna's insurance!), hurt a tendon, and went to the doctor, who prescribed Vicodin. No broken bones, nothing turned up on the xray, just swelling and mucho pain, followed by Aleve and painkillers. Declined.

Unicare declined me because I AM A FOSTER PARENT WHO PLANS ON ADOPTING HER FOSTER CHILD. No matter that he will not be put on my (temporary until January) insurance, I'm automatically declined for being "in the process" of adoption, even though we've not got a court date scheduled, nor has official paperwork has been completed. I'm automatically declined because HUCKLE IS LIVING IN MY HOME and he'll be adopted someday. Declined.

Fury. Aetna and Unicare, Suck It. Cigna and Northrop Grumman, Suck It.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hi! We're still here. We're chilling out. Things are pretty good.

Hubbers is working out of offices for the next few months, so I'm much more frazzled.

Huckle went swimming yesterday, and for the first time went past his waist in water. He even jumped off the side of the pool to me, while holding my hands. Amazing what a little swimming peer pressure from kids half his age will make him want to try.

I've been working like a madwoman any chance I get. My productivity stinks, I'm cranky, and behind, but that's been the case since November, so I'm sure I'll be fine.

Glad y'all would have been alarmed by the boss's call, too. I'm usually quite rational, but even I thought that there was some sort of EVP strangeness going on.

Huckle was recognized by one of his grandmother's friends the other day. It was out in a very public place, nothing wild happened, but it was strange. That was the first time something like that has happened.

More later. Have a good day!