Thursday, November 22, 2007

Everyone should have one

I'm so sick. My face is turning blue, I have such a hard time breathing. I'm as sick as I was for my wedding, and if I had insurance I'd probably find out I have pneumonia. I've eaten two bowls of EasyMac since Saturday, but I don't know if those count because every time I get a hacking coughing fit, whatever's gone into my stomach makes a reappearance. I've maybe kept down a glass of yerba mate a day, out of the 4 I've tried. The Hub stayed home from work two days this week because I can't be trusted to stay conscious long enough to make the Huckster a PB&J -- the dizzy + the tile = black and blue elbow from Monday, the dizzy + the wall = goose egg on back of head from Wednesday. I even have a phlegm/barf bucket next to the bed. How's that for fancy?

However, I do have antibiotics and a steroid inhaler, samples given to me yesterday by our GP at Huck's appointment for his sleep issues. Very handy, that appointment, and very glad I made it a week ago before I took a dive. Steroids good. Leftover codeine cough syrup from my former-and-now-under-investigation evening and weekend doctor good, too.

With how Huck and I handle the holidays (healthwise), I should just go ahead and book an appointment for December 24th now. Someone will need it.

So, yes, I suck around here right now. But at least I decided last month that I wouldn't be hosting Thanksgiving. And the pie I was going to contribute is no longer needed -- turns out they don't want a serving of blueberry bronchitis -- go figure. But Hubs will once again fry the turkey out on the driveway, plus we have an Adorable! Boy! to share, so our contributions are set.

And here's an example of a time when I think to myself, "Self, everyone should have a Huckle, because Huckle is an enchanting, fantastic little boy who knows how to disarm the crustiest of crusties with a few words!" I was busy trying not to suffocate myself (ie throwing up in the kitchen sink -- yay garbage disposal), and after the throwing up came the gasping and the tears and the spitting and the sobs (I'm not just being dramatic, I can't throw up and not cry -- just can't). Hubs and Huck were watching me from the family room (they're both very used to it after the last four days -- even the random blackouts don't have them running anymore), and Huck says tearfully to Hubs, "I just want Mommy to be happy again."

Swoon. Again. Well, more of a stagger -- Chin vs. butcher block on a straight-down crumple.

I'm gonna give Huck the credit for that one, though, not the lack of oxygen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Name Change

What do y'all think of "Cash" as a first or middle name for a boy?

We're finishing our legal papers, and this is the last sticking point.

He's not a James, or a Owen, or an Emmett, or an Oliver, or any of my other favorite names.

And we're changing his name on paper only. My dad showed me how easy it is to locate someone with a DOB and first name, and considering our security concerns, we'd like to make it a little more difficult when Huck's dad gets out of prison in May 2008 or May 2027 (those 20 year sentences with parole eligibility after a year are kind of confusing...).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh, Hello, Google Search

Google searches that hit my site in the last 100 visitors:

how to get pregnant after going off of nuvaring (Long Island Iced Tea?)

spray paint swirled with water vases (sounds interesting. I used acrylic paint.)

the amount of GHB found in 1 aquadot? (anyone else think this person has a few refill packs of his kids' aquadots and wants to know just how many will make for a fun night?)

can women get pregnant off dogs (please tell me you're 8 and asking this question. and if you find your way back here, the answer is yes. yes, you can.)

Getting to Moderate

If you remember, we've been trying to get Huckle's level of care reviewed for a long time. When he came to live with us, our SW (at the time) asked Huck's CW (at the time) if she could have it adjusted (but she moved a few weeks later and it never got done), then I know we brought it up again in March the first time we met Olsen (no state CW from mid December to March), were told it would be looked at, then never heard from Olsen about it again, then in May our SW (another one from the first) started working on it, but Olsen was not cooperative sumbitting his part, which is one sheet of paper with Huckle's name, SSN, DOB, case number, time in care, diagnoses, and a three line narrative. Without that piece of paper, it didn't matter if we and our SW submitted one page of information or 1000, Olsen's summary and reccommendation was what mattered.

The three times we were able to get Olsen on the phone between his visit in March and when he stopped being available to us in June, he told us he'd get to it soon. And as you know, he (still) hasn't returned a phonecall or email since July. Our SW was finally able to get ahold of him in September, probably because she was new (again) and he didn't know who she was.

So Olsen got it together in the first week of October, and it went to review. Hooray!

But then the LOC came back at basic. Hubs and I decided to let it go, since we could appeal with new information, but we didn't have any new information to add. We'd already given psych, developmental, and six medical assessments -- there wasn't much more we could cover.

And then Olsen admitted to our SW that the reason for the basic result was because he hadn't done his piece of paper. Instead, he'd printed out a onesheet from 15 months ago, sent the paperwork off, and prayed for rain (just guessing on that last part).

With that little tidbit out there, we decided that, yes, in fact, we'd like to reapply for a LOC change, since the onesheet has to be updated every few months, and without a current one, Huckle's application was denied without being reviewed.

I went apeshit. The same night, Olsen assured everyone -- his boss (we got his boss involved around this time), Huckle's attorney, us, our SW, our lawyer, and the adoption worker -- that the onesheet was now updated and the application was already resubmitted as of 4:40 that afternoon. That was the 23rd of October. We started waiting again, since it takes about ten days for an answer.

On November 8th, we still hadn't heard anything, so we went back-channel (again) and had someone inside CPS check on the status of the application.

Guess what? Hadn't been submitted. No record found. Nada.

Not a shock, of course, considering Olsen's record. Dismaying, though, that his supervisor and her supervisor hadn't been any assistance, even though they'd personally assured us our difficulties were over.

This time, we called more people. Since Olsen couldn't be bothered, and his supervisor also wouldn't help, and the next supervisor was now out on maternity leave, we went higher. Hubs talked to the right person (we hoped! so far we'd always thought we were talking to the right person, and yet nothing), and all he mentioned was the difficulty with the LOC and that Olsen hadn't been here in "five or so" months. She promised that she would call back the next morning by 10 AM (it was around 6 PM when she returned our call) after she knew what was going on, since she'd never heard of us or Huckle before, nor had she heard of any problems in that unit.

By 9:30 the next morning, 4th-up supervisor (Program Director? I think that may be her title.) called Hubs back. She said that everything, even things we hadn't mentioned, would be taken care of by her deadline of 11 AM that day. That afternoon, our agency SW called me while I was at Kid n Ewe and said, "Maerlowe, you won't believe this, but I've gotten about twenty emails today from Olsen, the adoption worker, the unit ADA, Huck's attorney, and it looks like everything is taken care of! I don't know what happened, but I guess Olsen finally came around! Huckle's LOC paperwork is in and will be back in a week, he's been approved for adoption assistance, his file will be redacted and a copy will be available when you adopt him instead of April to September, and the adoption worker wants to schedule the adoptive placement for the end of the month!"

I did disabuse her of the idea that this was all a spontaneous act of responsibility on Olsen's part.

On November 15th, one year and five days after Huckle came to live with us, 15 days before he becomes our adoptive placement, and about 40 days before we (think we'll be able to) adopt him, Huckle was classified as LOC Moderate.

About damn time.

Does it have to be that hard?

New Smile

I know I've mentioned this before, but I really like Huckle's/our therapist.

Even though she's supposed to be Huckle's, we're always involved in the sessions. Mostly, he plays while she observes how we interact, and we discuss issues we need help with. She gives advice, sometimes we try things out during the sessions, then we report back on the results the next time we see her.

She's particularly wonderful because she believes that her job is to guide us in the right direction as we help Huckle heal, since we're with him all the time, and she sees him at most once every two weeks. We're the players, she's the coach, that sort of thing.

Regarding the new house and family stuff, she said I'm doing the right thing. She added that, when he asks, I should be as nonchalant as possible, act like he's joking around, tell him how silly that idea is. When Huckle's not talking about it, when things are going well, that's the time to say serious things and reinforce that he's here, he's staying, he's ours. When he starts talking about the new mommy, I'm to tell him that I am the new mommy and that there aren't going to be any others.

Anyhow, the last time we saw her (September), she told us we probably didn't need to come in regularly, just when needed. When she saw him, she was amazed at how much he's grown, and she commented that he's starting to look like me. His hair is darkening, his skin isn't ghostly pale anymore. She also mentioned that he was an entirely different child than he was when she first met him. (I think our first session with her was in April.) He comes to me, he lets me touch him, he doesn't ignore me anymore, and he's about as compliant as a four year old gets -- it was nice to be reminded of how far we've come, even since late Spring, when by then we'd done a large share of the work already. (If you weren't reading when he first came to live with us, Hubs and I spent the first few weeks worrying that Huckle might be autistic, he screamed all day long, I wasn't allowed to touch him, I wasn't allowed to be more than three or four feet away, and Huckle and I both spent a good portion of our days together crying. I took down a lot of posts from back then, they're still here, just unpublished. But in general, the first months were very very difficult.)

Here's the coolest part: at the end of the session, she commented again how good he looks. Then she said, "When I first met him, he smiled like someone just stepped on his foot. Now, he smiles just like you." Then she paused a second, and said, "Did you realize that he learned to smile by watching you? You taught him how to smile."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanks Much.

Thanks for the support, you guys.

He doesn't know how close we are to finalization. Wednesday night was the first time in months that we've talked about what adoption is, and that he's going to be adopted in a little while. We didn't want to tell him about it and then have it not happen when we think it will happen (by the end of the year, but nothing set in stone yet).

Thankfully our therapy appointment is Friday morning (today). He didn't bring it up at all on Thursday, though he did say, "Mom, when I'm 18, where do I have to go to be a college?" (During the "what is adoption" talk Hubs said that he would stay with us until he's 18 and goes away to college, or he can live at home during college, which is Super Special Big Boy School.) I think he was worried about turning 18 very very soon, like tomorrow, and I explained to him that even his Very Big Boy Uncle is not 18 yet, and couldn't go to college yet. He seemed to calm down after that. My brother is 6 foot 4, so if he isn't big enough yet for college, I think Huck realizes he's got some time left. If only I could blame the college talk for the last few weeks, but sadly, only for today.
Since Huck says just about everything that comes into his mind, I'm hoping that the lack of "I'm moving out" talk means that he didn't think about it yesterday. As hard as it is for me to hear it, I can' t imagine being 4 and believing it.
Want some good news?
Huckle becomes our "adoptive placement" instead of our foster son on November 30th.
Hopefully, we'll be able to finalize right before Christmas.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Our First Staffing

Hubs and I went to our first staffing meeting today. Maybe there've been others in the last year, who knows, we were never notified, and I think the only reason we knew about today's meeting is because of the number of supervisors we've been in contact over the last month.

Anyhow, all we really did was answer questions about Huckle's medical, dental, emotional, mental, social, recreational, and familial goings-on. I did lay eyes on Olsen for the first time since March, the second time ever. We even spoke to him during the meeting, the first time that's happened since June. I don't think he was expecting us to come to the meeting. Oh, well. I was nice, factual, and non-confrontational. I do know he could be worse, and even though he sucks (for reasons not detailed here), he's probably average. After all, it only took 5 months for him to fax the HESGH (Health, Environment, Social, and Genetic History Report) to our SW so we could sign it and return it (needed for the adoption paperwork to be filed), he's only failed to submit/properly submit the LOC change application for 11 months, and even though he lost Huckle's file for almost a year, has only seen the kid once, hasn't updated any of Huck's records ever, and couldn't pick him out of a lineup, we're lucky to have such an individual holding the reins of our family. Safe and secure in Olsen's heart and arms, we are. So reassuring. Such an advocate for Huckle. Such a friend to us. Makes me glad to know that his well-informed, conscientious, careful work accounts for and makes up the only opinion that CPS cares about.

WTB New Family

Anyone out there ever wanted to velcro their kids' lips shut? Maybe some eyelets?

Over the past three weeks, Huckle's started telling me it is time for him to get a new house and family. He doesn't say this when he's mad, he doesn't say this when he's unhappy, he doesn't say it when he's in time out. When we're playing play doh, or reading a book, or driving home from school, cooking dinner, whenever, he starts in on it. He only says it to me, not hubs. Until yesterday, we didn't start talking about the (hopefully) impending adoption with him. We're thinking that his internal clock is telling him that he's been in one place a long time (About as long as he's been in one place anywhere, as a matter of fact.) and that he'll be moved again pretty soon. (Too complicated for a hyper observant 4 year old?)

He's been saying things like:

This house is old. I need a new one.
You can bring me to a new house, but then you come back here.
This is not my house.
You are not my mommy, you are my old mommy and my new mommy needs me.
This is for when I meet my new mom. (Said after he'd gotten a garbage bag from the pantry, opened it, and started putting his toys, movies, and clothes in it. Toothbrush, nighttime diapers, all that stuff was represented.)

When he says this stuff, I tell him he's staying, that he won't get another mom, that he's stuck here until he's 55, all sorts of things along that vein. Even though I want to throw up when he starts going on about it, I'll say things like, "You goofy Gus, Mommy and Daddy and Huckle are a family forever!" as if he's joking, or I'll say, "Huckle, you are not moving to a new house. You are staying with us," very seriously. Still, he keeps it up, and he's getting more insistent that he's moving out. He says he'll miss us, his dogs, his room, and the rest of the family, but says that's okay.

What I'm saying is that reassuring him isn't working. We do have a therapy appointment this week, but I think I might lose it before then. Last night he talked about it every hour or so, and by the end of the night I was a mess. He and I had been doing so well together, and as far as frequency and rejecting behavior, this feels more like March or April did.

So? Velcro?

Thursday, November 08, 2007



I'm so frakking happy, and I can't wait to hear every detail that disclosure allows. I'm crying over here for you all.


We're still holding our breath for you, FosterAbba and FosterEema.

I can't be the only one checking every fifteen minutes, can I?

Of course you're all invited!

All of y'all can come over and float kegs whenever you like, you know that!

As far as our anniversary is concerned, we had a good time last night. We went out for cocktails at our friend's pub, then walked across the town square to another friend's bistro, where we had the most fantastic lamb and short ribs in memory, then walked across the street to another friend's coffee house. Makes me remember why I agreed to move here in the first place, this little town that's boomed in the last three years since we arrived.

We got home at 10 to relieve Hub's parents (who are still in town another few days -- this time has been much better than their last two trips), went to bed for some adult fun, and then all hell broke loose.

Item 1: I threw my back out during adult fun. The Hubs referred to it as an "illegal dismount" due to (Item 2:) the bottle of champagne that Hubs and I shared during dinner after a beer apiece at the pub. I'm thinking I'm now allergic to any kind of wine, not just reds, cause I was sure to order a chardonnay-only champagne, not blended with pinot noir or pinot meunier, and I still turned red as a tomato and threw up violently for about 4 hours, got a migraine, runny nose, the whole shebang.* And you just try to throw up in the toilet 6 times a night with back spasms and no relief because (Item 3) your after hours and weekend Dr. Dora who sees uninsured people for the low price of $25 a basic visit turns out to be the state's biggest vicodin/oxycontin/valium script writer, at an average clip of about 700 pills per day between the town's 3 pharmacies, and she's just been raided and shut down by 5 law enforcement agencies, including the DEA. So even though I've never gotten anything stronger than a Zpack and cough syrup from her, my name is in with the other 4000 people she's seen (70 percent! of whom were there for the drugs), along with my husband's name (flu), my father in law's name (needed a blood panel done while visiting), and my son's name (ear infection). I guess if I'd ever been there when there was another person in the waiting room, I might have figured it out. I guess 6 PM is too early for the hillbilly heroin crowd... And you know, there's been many times in the last months I could have really used a 250 count bottle of valium.

*This allergy has only started in the last 18 months or so, and it totally and completely sucks because I'm am ISG-certified sommelier, and, uh, to work in that field you have to drink the frakking wine. So, gonna be really hard to rejoin that portion of the workforce if/when we move to another state.

"Here, Huckle, have 1250 roofies."

Allrighty, then. Huck's favorite toy of the moment metabolizes into GHB when swallowed.

This is after he got nearly the entire line of Dora and Diego toys for his birthday over the summer, then less than a month later we had to take them all away.

And after we fed him jars of Peter Pan peanut butter.

After our dog's kidneys were trashed by "premium" pet food.

I'm thinking I'll bake Aquadot pies and send them to the CEOs of all these MNCs, Bill O'Reilly, Dumbya, and FosterAbba and FosterEema's #7.

Who else deserves an Aquadot pie? I've got plenty, since I bought a refill kit, and the kiddo won't be seeing them again, so they may as well be repurposed. Or maybe they'd be more convincing as chocolate chip and M&M cookies.

This is not the sort of thing I mean when I say that my kid is a rock star. Supercool, yes, in possession of felony-weight amounts of drugs, not so much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

3 Years Down

I just realized that today is my wedding anniversary. Huh. Go figure.

So now I'm busy hunting down a special something from eBay for the Hub. He wants a certain type of beer stein, saw a few that he liked this weekend, but they were $300 and that's a lot for a mug, you know?

There are good and bad parts to being married to a nationally-recognized beer brewer. The fancy equipment's (such as ridiculously expensive pewter topped imported mugs) price tag and the amount of space the stuff takes up is not so good, but oooh, the benefits. How many other girls get to sit down (on the couch!) at the end of a long day and choose between a Saison, a coffee porter, an IPA, a black lager, or a 8 year clover honey mead, all on tap (well, the mead is in 5 gallon glass bottles)? (And, oh, do we have a stockpile of kegs now that we haven't had a single house party in the last year.) I do sometimes wish he weren't so good at it, since then I wouldn't have to try to subtly incorporate the plaques and mug-trophies and actual trophies into the decor, but that's just selfish, I suppose.

Ah! The Hub remembered our anniversary before I did, and he's already got a sitter and reservations and a plan! Last year we were in the middle of our week of visitation with Huckle before he moved in (on 11/10/2006), so all we did was Italian food and Borat after we dropped him off at his foster home. We were slightly paralysed by fear that night. I remember that I ordered lobster ravioli, ate one bite, then sat there fretting for the next forty-five minutes.

What a year. If I knew then what I know now...

File Read

Today we were finally able to read Huck's file. No shareable details, of course, but I will say that there was a lot of stuff missing. However, we did finally learn the names of his other foster parents, including one set he spent a year with, and we're going to write to them. We've known these two's names for a year, of course, but their last name and his first initial fill up about a page in our phonebook, and we didn't want to spend the next year cold calling all the A. Martinez listings. So, you know, yay!

The state SW continues to be a slug. Whatever.

Some good news during the file reading, though it has nothing to do with us. Somewhere out there, a family in Minnesota was chosen for a Region 8 sibling group! Congratulations, whoever you are! The kids' SW was excited about the possibility of doing her Christmas shopping at the Mall of America, she said, so maybe ICPC will get pushed through quickly? She's motivated, this one. Can't wait to get on that plane, I tell ya. We warned her about taking your first trip to Minnesota in December, as I'd inflicted that pain on The Hub the first Christmas we were together. Hubs recommended layers, and lots of em.

Down here, though, I'd kill for the need for layers. It was 91 on Saturday afternoon (after a brisk 55 at 6 am), and I got a frakking sunburn and a sun migraine. I tell you what, I can't wait until January when I can get health insurance again and go see a doctor. I'm getting migraines more and more frequently, just another way I'm taking after my father. Good times.