Monday, January 30, 2012

Making new friends as a grown-up is weird

Tomorrow night Andy and I are going to dinner at the home of some new friends. We met them through our foster classes and they were the closest in age to us, and they seemed like decent folks. We noticed them chuckling at the same kinds of things we chuckled at. We learned that the girl (lady? woman? the female half of the couple, anyway) teaches at my old high school, and the dude works at the same company as my brother (no, they don't know each other). We ran into them in a bookstore and got to meet their adorable son, who was busy trying to fit all of his chubby little baby fist into his own mouth.

So we friended each other on the Facebook, and have sort of kept in touch that way. The girl messaged me a week ago to ask me a question about our CSA (they had a share in a different farm last year and it sucked, so they're going with our guys this year!) and suggested doing dinner! Hooray!

We're doing it at their house, so their now-toddling son doesn't get up to any shenanigans. They're making spaghetti and meatballs and we're bringing salad and wine. I really hope it's a fun, relaxing evening with new friends who will someday be old friends.

So, like, do we bring some sort of hostess gift besides the wine? How long are we supposed to hang out after we finish eating? We don't have comfortable routines to fall back on!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Today is Saturday.

Court was on Thursday. I didn't attend, but the baby's worker relayed that the judge ordered that the baby remain in care for now, that no one mentioned the grandma being likely to end up with the baby (she has apparently changed her mind and now wants her, but they still have to investigate fully), that the dad (who is listed on our paperwork as "putative father") showed up and requested visits, and that the next court date is on or around February 16.

The baby had another doctor's appointment on Friday (yesterday) to check her weight and follow up on Wednesday's dermatologist appointment. She gained an ounce, which is good, especially because she hadn't gained anything between last Friday's visit and Wednesday's. I also told the doctor (who I like very much) about how awful things were at the dermatologist, and she cracked up and told me that she and the baby's worker had laughed good-naturedly about how they gave us a baby younger than we were hoping for, then she has all sorts of complications with her health and a million appointments, and the doctor said the baby's worker (jokingly!) said she was going to put off our payment paperwork for a few months, just to haze us even more. So I like that the professionals we're working with have a sense of humor about what we're dealing with.

Mom was, again, invited to the baby's doctor's appointment yesterday, and was reminded several times about times and dates, and didn't show up and didn't call. She has seen the baby once since we got her, and the dad hasn't seen her at all. I was actually super-pissed for the first time Wednesday night about how little interest the mom has shown in trying to be involved with her kid. The dermatologist told us she thinks the rashy stuff the baby has is actually a rare genetic skin condition that can also sometimes affect the teeth, hair, nails, and, very rarely, cognitive development. As far as I know, the mom doesn't know this yet, because her phone is turned off and she didn't show up for any appointments. This beautiful, sweet little girl is growing and developing (she's now making all sorts of awesome cooing noises, and has started smiling enthusiastically at us!) and her mom is missing out on it.

We're hoping that if the grandma does get custody, we'll get to meet her before we have to hand the baby over. As it stands, we are thinking we'll have the baby at least until the next court date, but of course bizarre things have happened. We're treating it as if we know she'll go to the grandma, and so every day we have with her is a bonus day in which we get to love and snuggle her.

I've been working from home for the last two weeks, and I'm going back to the office on Monday. The baby will start at a daycare near our house. It will be interesting trying to live a normal professional life again, since I haven't really had to think much about doing things by certain times very much in the last two weeks. Wish me luck!

How y'all living this week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today was not fun.

One time a few years ago, when we went camping, which you all know I hate, I was helping slice lemons to put on the fish we were grilling for dinner. I was using a shitty dull serrated knife, which slipped and sliced my palm. It bled a lot, and all of a sudden looking at it I felt really light-headed. I thought I was maybe going to throw up, and then I thought I was going to pass out. I actually laid down in the dirt in the campsite and breathed really deeply. Andy told me later that he had never seen me react to blood like that and that he wondered if I wasn't maybe being overdramatic so we could stop camping. This story will be relevant in a minute.

Today was another doctor's visit (this was the third, for those of you keeping track). The baby's mom was supposed to show up, but didn't. She called the worker an hour into the visit to say she wasn't coming. The worker had also left her messages suggesting a visit for 1:00 yesterday afternoon, and never heard back from the mom. So that's fun.

Anyway. Today's doctor's appointment would have counted as a visit if the mom had shown up. Instead, I was told she hasn't gained any weight since last Friday, so we should start waking her up every three hours during the day to feed her. Then two different people had to look/poke at these weird pimples-turning-into-scab things she's had since we got her, which of course made the baby scream a lot. Then I got her settled down just in time for them to give her three different shots. I actually teared up at the second one. It sucked. They also scheduled ANOTHER appointment for Friday morning, to check her weight again, and they referred us to a dermatologist for the skin stuff.

About half an hour after we got home, they called to tell us the dermatologist had an appointment this afternoon, so I got to go home, sit down for twelve minutes, then head to another office seven minutes from the doctor's. I was there for over two hours. First we had to strip her, so two different people could come in and look at her skin (separately, of course, for maximum discomfort). Then they did a scraping of one of the scabs, and I got to hold her while she screamed. The results were not definitive, so they did a biopsy. This involved a shot to numb the area, then fucking punching out a small circle of her skin while I held her still. I looked over at the wrong time, and started to sweat a lot. Then I felt dizzy. Then I looked over while they were putting a stitch in the biopsy wound, and then I had to go sit down. Then I had to lay down on the examining table while a nurse got the baby dressed and swaddled. Then I spent twenty minutes deciding to finish the apple juice they brought me, not barf, put my shoes back on, and slowly sit up. Not a little embarrassing.

We have to go back in a week to get the stitch removed, at which time they'll have the results. In the meantime, it was probably the worst day the baby has had in her entire life, and I'm eating pizza and drinking wine and going to bed early.

Tell me I'm not the only sissy about blood. Please reassure me.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Settling in

We have had the baby for ten days and are starting to get a little used to it. The lack of sleep is still bullshit, but we're trying to find what works best for both of us, and the baby seems to be thriving. She had another checkup yesterday (one week after her first) and has gained four ounces, which is great.

The baby had a visit with her mom on Wednesday. We also got to meet the mom, which is part of a program our county does to a) humanize both sides (i.e., mom doesn't think we're baby snatchers, and we get to see that mom is a human being who made some bad choices, not a monster), and b) make sure everyone is on the same page about the baby's care. The meeting was about as awkward as you'd think it would be. Her mom is 21, but we both thought she was younger. She seems a lot like a kid in a lot of ways, and she's definitely not a confident parent. We did our best to reassure her that it's our job to support her goal of trying to get custody back, and in the meantime we'll keep the baby safe and take the best care of her that we can.

I thought it was interesting (but honest) that the mom talked about trying to get the baby back and if she gets her back, instead of talking about it as an inevitability. She even at one point started to say, "Well, if I don't get her back, you..." but the very skillful worker (we love the baby's worker, you guys) redirected her by gently interrupting and saying something along the lines of, "Well, we know that your goal is reunification and Rachael and Andy are here to support that, and they'll keep the baby until that happens. But the ball is in your court and you know what you need to do to get things moving."

Towards the end of the meeting, the baby kept fussing (mom was holding her loosely, and patting her very, very gently, when the baby has shown a marked preference for snug holding and firm patting). The mom tried shifting her once or twice, then said, "Well, maybe Second Mommy can do something for you" and handed her to me. The baby quieted pretty quickly, which made me have all sorts of feelings. She actually referred to me as "second mommy" or "[baby]'s other mommy" a few times. I guess it's good that she trusts me, and I'm trying not to read anything else into it.

I invited the mom to the baby's doctor's appointment on Friday morning, but she said that she was going to visit a sick family member out of town. I am playing my "assumption of positive intent" game and believing mom that she was, in fact, going to see a sick family member out of town.

On Thursday at court, they decided that the baby would stay in care for at least another week (until January 26), when there will be another court date. At court, mom identified another possible resource who she thought might agree to take the baby, but then it turned out later that mom hadn't actually asked the person, so it looks unlikely. (For those of you not familiar with foster stuff, the parent can identify a friend or family member who might agree to take the kid, and said resource would then have to agree to become a certified foster parent within a certain amount of time and have their life totally torn up and stuff. When I told friends that mom had identified someone to take the kid they were all amazed, but it's not like they just take her word for it that her roommate's cousin Jenny's best friend would be a good choice or whatever.) Oh, and we found out from the baby's worker that the grandmother has legal custody of the baby's three-year-old brother and has since he was a baby, so he won't be being placed with us. The grandma declined to take this baby - apparently she said she has her hands full with the brother and doesn't want to be responsible for the baby too. In court the mom (or her worker) requested that they ask grandma again if she'll take the baby, but we haven't heard anything further about whether that's likely.

We signed the baby up for daycare yesterday. She'll be six weeks old on Tuesday, so she'll get her first round of shots on Wednesday and she'll start daycare, if she's still with us, on Monday so I can go back to work. The daycare is about a mile from our house and they just opened an infant center, so the baby will be part of their first group of infants. Right now they only have two other babies signed up, and they're both part-time, so our little peanut will get lots of attention.

What haven't I told you that you want to know?

Monday, January 16, 2012

More baby info

If you aren't interested in babies or whatever, maybe just go read my archives for a while, because I haven't really thought about anything else since Thursday afternoon. (Don't just stop reading, though! I love you! Have you seen my extensive archive?)

So. Here's a little more about this baby, and our time with her so far, as it comes to me and in no particular order.
  • She was a month old on Friday. 
  • She was almost certainly a preemie, as she weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces at her checkup on Friday. Many of my friends' babies were significantly larger than that at birth.
  • She practices smiling when she's waking up and falling asleep. She smiled at Andy the first night she was here, and now she owns him for life, I think.
  • Andy is a natural caretaker, which means things have been pretty smooth, as these things go. He also needs less sleep than I do, so he is happy to get up with her in the night (as long as I wake him up and tell him to). He also is doing extra work to take care of me, like making sure I've got enough water around and that I've eaten recently, because:
  • For the first time in my life, I've been forgetting to eat. Usually when people are all, "Oh, I forget to eat sometimes!" I'm all, bullshit, lady, that's called anorexia. But my sleep has been so messed up that my body is reacting by just being sort of confused, which means I haven't really felt hungry much. I forgot to eat lunch on Saturday. Just realized at, like, 5 p.m. that I hadn't eaten anything since a piece of baked oatmeal that morning. So Andy's been working on making sure I've had enough food. Also, writing this bullet reminded me to eat breakfast.
  • I have always been a very deep sleeper, so it's a huge shock that the instant the baby fusses, I am on FULL ALERT - wide awake and ready to fix things. The FULL ALERT takes a little while to wear off, which sucks. Like, sometimes she just wants her bassinet jiggled for a minute, but then I lie there, wide awake, for another twenty minutes. That happened last night and Andy was lying next to me, snoring quietly, and I was actually really jealous of him.The FULL ALERT also makes it really hard for me to nap during the day so far, even when Andy has the kid in another room and I know everything is cool.
  • We know the baby has a three-year-old brother who we're pretty sure is with the grandma. The matcher told us part of the reason they picked us is that if it comes to that, we could take the brother too (we're certified for up to three kids). We've discussed it, and obviously we'd take him too if they ask us to.
  • To further confirm my belief that people give you things when they find out you're fostering, so far:
    • A good friend stopped over with two bags of newborn clothes, some of which her kids have outgrown and some of which she stopped and bought for us when we told her how tiny the baby is.
    • My aunt and uncle overnighted us a stroller. Their last name is McLaren, so their go-to baby gift is a MacLaren stroller. They didn't know if we had a stroller, so they had one shipped to us. What the what? (The funniest part, to me, is that a kid needs to be able to support herself to sit in the style they sent, so we can't use it for another five months or so, if we get to keep her that long.)
    • On Friday, some good friends of ours ordered our favorite items from our favorite Mexican joint and came over with several bottles of wine so we didn't have to cook. When we were done eating, without me or Andy even noticing, they cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher. 
    • My brother and his wife and her sister (so my sister-in-law-in-law, I guess) stopped over yesterday. My brother's wife and her sister are both pregnant (and due three weeks apart!) and while the sister was out shopping for some baby stuff, she picked up a few newborn-sized sleepers for the baby, just to be nice.
Okay, this post has gotten a lot longer than I expected. Let's blame that on sleep deprivation and coffee, shall we?

What else do you want to know?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fostering: the baby has landed!

We have a baby. She's a month old. She arrived at 8 p.m. on Thursday, four hours after we found out we were getting her, and will be here until at least Thursday, when there's some sort of court date, and at which point we'll probably find out if she's leaving soon or will be here a while.

She is two weeks younger than we initially said we'd take, but I'll work from home and stuff for the next two weeks, until she's old enough to go to daycare. Because we weren't expecting to take a baby so young, most of the clothes we have are too big for her. And because she's extra small - she weighs 7 pounds, 10 ounces - even the limited amount of zero-to-three-month stuff we happened to have is huge on her. Thankfully, we are friends with an extended family with lots of small kids, so I activated the phone tree and will have warm newborn-sized clothes pouring in soon. In the meantime, we have enough for a few days, and also it's a great excuse to snuggle her a lot.

Things I have learned in thirty-eight hours of parenthood:
  • Babies this young have no pattern. The first night, I was up with her for an hour and a half and Andy was up with her for an hour. Last night, she was up for half an hour around 2 a.m., then she slept until 7:30.
  • Having a baby in your house means there will always be a million baby-related things laying around everywhere.
  • You will always need to be doing a load of laundry.
  • Baby formula is pretty disgusting and turns white things tan and also costs two million dollars.
  • It is possible to love a baby with your whole heart immediately.
So, posting will probably be sort of light for the next little bit (till Thursday, at least). When she's sleeping, it seems more important to do laundry and take a shower and hang out with the dogs (who are confused by this new toy, to say the least) and stare mindlessly at the wall because I'm so tired. Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Overheard at work

Bald, good-natured manager: Hey! Love the short haircut! Maybe go even shorter next time, so I won't be the only bald one in the office! Ha! Ha!
Very quiet, mild-mannered twenty-something who just cut his hair: [quiet agreement, haha]

I haven't dyed my hair in, like, a year - this is an incredible thing for me - and I can honestly say, while I miss having blue hair, I do not miss the monthly inane conversations like this.

Is every job like this? Isn't there anywhere I could work that doesn't have these people?

Monday, January 9, 2012


Like everyone else in America, Andy and I are trying to get back into our regular eating habits now that the holidays are over. Today I brought all the last of the candy from our stockings to put on the free table at work, so we don't find ourselves mindlessly snacking on it, and we're working on planning meals again so we don't fall into a don't-know-what-to-cook-so-let's-go-out rut.

We are starting to work on eating some of the awesome excess stuff our CSA provided all summer, which will be helpful because our freezer is so full I couldn't fit ice cream in it the other day. We're also planning to get an additional freezer - the stand-up kind - so we can freeze more of our CSA stuff instead of letting it get icky on the counter or in the fridge, and also so we can buy better-quality meats and stuff when they're cheapest. (Regarding meat - here's a confession: we usually buy those giant bags of Tyson's poultry-internment-camp-plus-unnecessary-antibiotics chicken breasts from Sam's. I know. I've seen Food, Inc, and I know how terrible Tyson's is. But they're fucking cheap, and one breast is three servings. I'm working on remembering that paying more is worth it when it comes time to check out.) Anyway, eating veggies we got from a local farm, and the million soups we made from them, is an awesome way to spend the winter.

I have also faced the fact that I don't like eating cold cereal in the winter, so I'd been making excuses to take too long for a bowl in the morning, which always meant stopping somewhere and eating something bad for me. I'm not a morning person, so getting up earlier to cook myself something isn't happening. Enter the best solution ever: baked oatmeal! With recipes for a pumpkin pie version and a gingerbread version too! I made the gingerbread one and have been so happy about eating it every morning.

I'm guessing you, too, have been eating delicious and healthy things, so lay 'em on me! What delicious, healthy recipes can you share?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fostering: adoption credit

Today's post is a serious one. I'm reposting an eloquent, thoughtful post by an awesome, experienced foster parent about an important issue. Here's the scoop on the situation with the adoption tax credit from Teresa at Foster Care: Our Love Story:

There is a tax credit available for people who adopt. It is intended to offset the cost of traditional adoption and provide incentive for perspective parents to adopt special needs children from Foster Care.

When adopting from foster care, almost all of our kids qualify as "special needs". Some of the qualifications for that are sibling groups, minority children, a child that has been in care over 1yr, or children with medical or developmental disabilities. If you adopt a special needs child, you are eligible for the entire adoption tax credit.

In years past, this credit could be used against your income tax. So you would get a bigger return, but the benefit was linked to your income and how much you pay in taxes. So for Middle class families, it could take years before you saw the full benefit of the tax credit. If you were a Grandma on Social Security who adopted 3 of your Grandbabies, you would never see this money because you don't owe taxes.

In 2010, however, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which had some small print that made this Adoption Tax Credit a refund. This means that for every child adopted from foster care through 2011, their adoptive parents would a receive a $13,170 check regardless of their income or taxes owed. This was great news for people who got to adopt in these past 2 yrs. Granny gets the money she needs to move to a bigger apartment or start college fund for her kids.

Unfortunately, this refundable credit went away on December 31, 2011.

The plan for people adopting in 2012 is that you can get credit up to $12,170 for each adoption against your income tax. However, the remaining amount can not be used in following years. You'll get a bigger tax return for this year, but not the check for the credit amount and there is no benefit beyond 2012.

In 2013, the Adoption Tax Credit goes away all together.

There is a petition going around to try to get the Tax Credit extended. I signed it, and I hope you will too. The financial incentive shouldn't be the reason people adopt, but hopefully it helps keep siblings together or keep higher needs kids in stable homes.

Click here to sign the Adoption Tax Credit Petition

This is a form letter you can send to your State representative

Me again: It takes, like, less than a minute to sign the petition, and the form letter is already written for you. Maybe take a second and do something good? Thanks!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baby names

Fact: "awkward baby names" is the most common search that brings people to this blog (I just tried it, and somehow I'm the first three links). I'm guessing they mean names like "Drew Peacock" or "Ima Hogg" or whatever instead of just the dumb stuff people in my city name their kids, but hey, it's my blog. So, here's a fresh batch:

- O'neil as a first name
- Si'ryii (pronounced Siri, at a guess. Maybe they're Apple fans)
- Dino as a first name
- J'dyn
- Merve
- J'Anna
- Madisyn
- Madelynne (why?? She will never not have to spell this out for people.)
- Quanta'z
- Ahlaea (again with the spelling)

Andy and I officially laid claim to a family name when we were visiting cousins last week. Turns out most of my cousins thought we were weird for considering it. The name is my grandma's maiden name, and we're thinking of some way to combine it with Andy's grandma's maiden name. I'll let you know if and when we do anything with that.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions or whatever, 2012

So here's my list of goals for this year. None of these are revolutionary, and some of them are repeats that I should have done in 2011. You'll note there are fewer goals than last year. I think it's reasonable to note that we could end up with a foster kid at any minute, so I didn't want to add a whole bunch of stuff we'd like to do but isn't crucial. Anyway, here they are:

1. Get our kitchen knives professionally sharpened.
2. See a dermatologist (bonus points if he/she uses primarily natural stuff).
3. Take a picture of every item I knit (I give away most of the stuff I knit, and I have a terrible memory).
4. Knit myself a sweater.
5. Take at least two overnight trips with Andy (this is a repeat, even though I accomplished it last year, because it was so awesome for us).
6. Get tattoo (and artist's mockup, for customized stationery, because that's so badass).
7. Take multivitamin, fish oil, and Vitamin D supplement at least five times a week (because I feel a lot better when I do).
8. Find some sort of health/fitness class to do at least once a week. I need to spend more time keeping myself healthy, but I know myself well enough to know that I am not interested in going to a gym. I need some sort of scheduled workout that involves learning, so I'm looking into yoga, or tai chi, or maybe some sort of noncompetitive martial art or something that fits with my schedule and isn't outrageously expensive.

So! I think these are doable and reasonable, and they're all things that I feel good about getting done. Here's to a productive, healthy 2012!

What are your goals for 2012?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lovely little evening

I'm still working on perfecting this year's list of goals, which should be up tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm making this soup for dinner, using this awesome immersion blender I got for Christmas, waiting for Andy to get home so we can enjoy the hell out of it. To be honest, I saw "carrot soup" and went, "Meh," but then she said she was inspired by that awesome carrot-ginger dressing you get a Japanese restaurants, and I was back in. But hey, it's not like Smitten Kitchen ever steers me wrong, so I shouldn't have been a hater. Fact: just so you know I'm totally faking it when I act like I have it all together, I knew I had ginger in the fridge so I didn't buy any for the soup. Turns out the ginger left in the fridge was just about petrified it was so old. I couldn't even grate it. Basically, I tried to grate it, then just threw the whole chunk in the soup and decided our soup will be fragranced with ginger instead of full of it. Oh, and the onions I used both had green sprouts on the top, so I chopped the weird parts off and used them anyway. Nice.

I just discovered that Hulu has all of the current season of Parks and Recreation, so I think Andy and I will be hooking his laptop up to the tv and spending the evening on the couch with some dogs and some knitting. I'm still trying to finish my mom's sweater - but I've decided when I'm done I'm going to knit myself a badass hat and scarf set to go with my new winter coat, so I'm feeling more motivated!

How are you spending your first week of the new year?