Archive for April, 2011

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who/what/where?

April 15, 2011

Mara’s social workers visited yesterday and then Lee and I took her to the zoo before tumbling class, an extra-full day that left her weepily (well, and screamingly) exhausted before bedtime. I love that she’s now at a place where wrangling her into a bath can help her calm down, which is exactly what eventually happened. As we told her workers, she really does seem to be an awesome, age-appropriate kid.

We put in a conditional offer on another house we like and between the time we’d talked about it with the family selling and the time we put it in, their own conditional offer had (I gather) fallen apart, and so they were no longer interested in playing that game. We’ve scheduled an open house and I really think that once we get people looking at our home there will be someone who wants to buy it. Well, that’s what I hope, anyway.

The family worker was a bit surprised by how sad she was to contemplate this being her last visit with Mara, whom she’s known since birth. She told us to expect TPR to take a long time after the trial since she thinks this judge is slow in general but also specifically has bent over backward to try to help and make allowances for Mara’s mom. And she told to to expect that since even despite that help Mara’s mother has never tried to comply with her caseplan, probably any other children she had would be taken into care at birth. This, of course, means that we would be the first call child protective services would make when trying to place those hypothetical siblings. So yes, being in a bigger house is a good thing, though Mara doesn’t need to be in a sex-segregated bedroom until she hits school age.

Oh, and Rowan called and talked very seriously about wanting to live with us. I told him again what the expectations would be and talked about why he’s unhappy where he is. Lee is very dismissive of this, thinks he’s just never happy and that he doesn’t know what he wants, to which I pointed out that he’s 16 and that’s basically the job description. He then sent a few texts after talking to his social worker saying that we should forget he said anything, that he’d stay where he was forever. We’re not pushing him to talk about what prompted any of that, but I do anticipate him coming to live with us at some point and assumed that even before the call.

So yeah, we need to sell our house and move somewhere bigger. That’s why you keep hearing about this and I keep focusing on it too much to write on my blog. There’s nothing immediate changing — I told Rowan we wouldn’t want him to move in before school was over even if we did have a room open — but there’s plenty of room for change in the future and I want us to be as ready as we can be.

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as expected

April 6, 2011

The dream house owners didn’t accept our offer, or, rather, they said the only way they’d accept it is if we agreed to be locked in to buy their house no matter what happens to ours. Since we’re not willing to do that, no deal. However, I ripped out all the old caulk on our bathtub, cleaned it beautifully, and applied new caulk and now it looks fantastic. I’m very proud of this, though a little chagrined it was so easy. I should have done it ages ago, which is true of a lot of things this house prep is forcing us to do.

Mara is enjoying the new carpet on the first floor, which lets her safely run much faster than the (not properly finished, hence now covered) hardwood below it did. That said, the day it was installed I had to fish two different metal barrettes out of her mouth while I was taking out her braids, plus she managed to eat a tissue (clean, thank goodness!) and she peed on the new carpet a little bit. And then was that the night she was up until after 11? I’m too tired to remember properly, but it’s pretty clear that this is causing some stress for our dear little M. We’re talking and she’s doing her best. Lee’s managing not to be frustrated by this, though she keeps asking me, “But when will she feel secure????” It’s only been five months, and we know Mara learned some lessons about instability and self-sufficiency very well in her early life, and change is not going to happen quickly.

Still, Mara and I got to cheer for the team Lee’s coaching last night. The team played hard and won handily, with Lee seeming successful in pairing being demanding and vocal with being supportive and noticing the good things each girl did. Mara liked watching the game and is really, really into the sport, clapping and saying “Good job! She made it!” when someone gets a basket, or “That’s okay! Try again!” when there’s a miss, which I’m hoping is a message Mara the Perfectionist is internalizing.

We’ve just scheduled our social worker visit for this month. Mara’s family worker is going to come see her, something she’s supposed to do every three moths. Next month would have been her scheduled visit, but by next month’s visit she expects TPR to have been granted and Mara’s family to be off her caseload. Wow. Sometimes this all just stuns me, especially when I’m stuck in the little details of the everyday and then suddenly bump into a chunk of the bigger picture. I suppose that’s probably Mara’s experience, too.

We’ve also scheduled to have my mom babysit Mara this weekend so I can attend Lee’s annual departmental party. This isn’t likely to be the most fun we’ve ever had, but it’ll only be our third date-type function (I think, and I know I’m not counting my birthday dinner with my brother along!) since Mara moved in with us. I’m very grateful that my mom is up for this and extra grateful that she’s so great with Mara, but we need to find a way to make mom-mom things happen more often, I know.

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close to home

April 4, 2011

Hey, look, snippets! I’m too busy and tired for anything more at this point.

We put in an offer on the dream home yesterday, though it’s contingent on us selling our house. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our bedroom got painted Friday/Saturday and carpet went in on the first floor today. This is sort of stressful and annoying and physically and emotionally exhausting, but we’re all holding up reasonably well.

Lee talked to Mara’s teacher about the move and how Mara might be unsettled by it, also mentioning Mara’s grief about her friend Shauna’s move away. Her teacher’s immediate response was that she has a great book about moving and how it’s okay to be sad but you are also opened to new opportunities, and she’ll be reading that with the class this week and talking about it. Soon, some of the older kids will be moving on to the next class, so this is also a way to help the class think about transitions. Really, if Shauna had stayed here, she’s coming up on turning four and I’m not sure what the cutoff is, so she might have been in the group that moved on. I’m not sure if that would have been harder or easier for Mara than losing access to her completely. Mara still talks about her a lot.

We had dinner at my parents’ house last night with all three of my brothers to do some celebrating of March birthdays. The oldest brother, Matthew, was fantastic with Mara and she rewarded him with a kiss on the cheek when we got ready to leave. The middle brother, Mark, is more reserved with her but had a lot of fun making faces and encouraging her singing and ended up getting a goodbye high five. Luke, the youngest, said his girlfriend wants the two of them to take Mara out (with Lee or me along, if Mara prefers) to the zoo or something when the girlfriend gets back to town during her spring break. She has a young niece of her own and it’s so cool to watch her welcoming Mara into a similar role. So that was all a pleasant way to end the weekend.

Mara’s signed up to start tumbling classes next week. She’s been preparing by tumbling all over the place, often unsafely or inappropriately. Luckily she hasn’t done any damage to herself. I, on the other hand, fell down the stairs and banged myself up pretty well, but luckily that wasn’t until after I’d spent the whole day moving boxes out of the house. Despite being very active, though not hyperactive, Mara hasn’t managed to injure herself at all in five months, which I think is pretty impressive for age three! It’s also probably related to hypervigilance and the way she’s very careful about her surroundings, but I just keep throwing that out there and not writing an actual post about it. Sorry.

Oh, and prior to visiting my parents, we went to a little Sunday spring party at our friends’ store. This couple with three kids wrote one of the three sets of references we needed for our foster/adoption application. When we had Mara’s blessing service, we invited all three of those references. This couple ended up getting along well with another couple with two kids. Those two kids are similar in age to the oldest two of the other three, and they paired off happily and have gotten very close in the months since our party. The mom from couple two was singing at the party and the mom and dad from that couple will perform music at the next one. Meanwhile, the youngest child, who’s two, adores Mara and she likes him, her only younger friend. Apparently he prays every night and gets through blessings for Mommy and Daddy and his brother and sister and other relatives and then adds a “God bless Mara!” As I told his mom, the way he looks up to her and she guides him so gently means extra to me because he’s so close in age to her full brother, whom she hasn’t seen in over a year. I hope someday they can have a similar dynamic.

And now I’ll run to the hardware store to grab a few things, then go home to hang out with my loved ones. Lee has her first ball practice with a team of high school girls she’ll be coaching with a friend of ours from the neighborhood. It’s the team from my high school, which is kind of weird for me but also exciting.

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