Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Unpopular opinion: I don't like Target.

That's right, I said it.

Oh, sure, I'll happily stroll through the store and usually find something on clearance to snap up. And sure, they do interesting things with fancy-ass designers and stuff.

But I really mostly think they suck.

It started four years ago when we got married and registered there. There was some glitch in the system that made it look like several items were still available on the registry after someone had purchased them and faithfully toted that terrible printout to the register and had it scanned and everything. So we ended up with multiples of things, and they wouldn't let us return some of them without gift receipts, even when they were clearly items we had registered for, and even for store credit or THE SAME GODDAMN ITEM IN ANOTHER COLOR, even when they were items that are only sold at Target. So, fuck you, Target, for the eight bath towels in the same color in my linen closet.

Another strike against them is their horrifically bad website. I would assert that Target has the worst fucking website of any major corporation out there. K-Mart has a better website, for god's sake (yes, I checked). Target's site is difficult to navigate; there are bizarre classifications for things; nothing is intuitive; every once in a while I'll discover a dead link and have no idea how to go about locating the item I was looking for. I seriously am bummed when people I love register there, because reading registries on their site is painful. Those horrible hover menus get in my way every three goddamn seconds and since I'm using a netbook they're impossible to get out of because they take the whole screen. Ugh.

Final straw: my local Target has decided to remodel its perfectly workable layout to make things less okay. Shit is now crowded together on the sales floor, so god help you if you're trying to navigate a cart through, say, racks of clothing. Nope, sorry, you're smashing into shit left and right, hope you don't have a sleeping baby in a carseat on your cart. I stopped by yesterday to get some onesies and spent eleven minutes trawling the three racks of infant clothes surrounded by two dozen racks of toddler shit and couldn't find onesies anywhere. I finally found them on an endcap between the bottles and baby food, because of course that's where they were. Right before I checked out, though, I remembered we have a Target gift card I could use, so I put 'em back (in that totally ridiculous location) and went back today.

Guess what? They weren't there. That endcap is now reserved for sippy cups. No onesies anywhere to be seen. And when I asked a worker, she told me that they don't have a place to put all of them, so they pulled them from the floor. And no, no one could just go grab me two packs of them. Sorry.

All I wanted was six fucking long-sleeve onesies in 0-3 month size. Really, this is a pretty basic item for any store with a baby section. But it's a little complicated for Target, because of their total dedication to sucking at customer service. Looks like that $20 is going to Wal-Mart so they can trample some more workers' rights, because fuck you, Target, I'm not going to keep dropping by and hoping you've worked out how to be a functioning business.

Tell me I'm not alone in this. I can't be the only one they've ever irritated, right?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Feeling loved

We just got back from spending a long weekend not-camping with our good friends. We rented a farmhouse in Ellicottville, New York, which is home to several ski resorts. We didn't visit any of them. It was terrific.

We spent the weekend eating ridiculous foods, drinking many beers, watching about a dozen movies from the huge selection we found in an armoire in the den, and, in my case, snuggling a baby who didn't really want to be held by anyone but me or occasionally Andy. The baby was a built-in backup escape plan for not having to go outside pretty much at all. Our friends trekked out with snowshoes to explore the acreage at the farmhouse, and I stayed in the den with the baby and the fireplace and Weekend at Bernie's and Encino Man and Crocodile Dundee.

Overall, it was a really restful, lovely weekend. Our friends are great cooks (as is Andy) and the Ellicottville Brewing Company (warning: sound!) was conveniently close for keeping us stocked with growlers of beer. (If you're there in the winter, try the EVL Blizzard.)

While we were roughing it in a farmhouse with actual beds and running water and a heating system, we discussed plans for camping this summer. It was made clear that I am very much invited but that they will understand if I opt out, which is very reassuring. I don't want to be a wet blanket while camping, but I also don't want my close friends to feel slighted if I don't go. So I get to consider at my leisure and either go or not, as I choose.

We brought the dogs this weekend, too, which meant our car was packed full of stuff for us, the baby, the dogs, and the elements. Our friends volunteered to take our cooler, since we didn't have room for it. The cooler is full of the makings of the fancy-ass cheese plate we never got around to making, since we were pretty much constantly eating something. Andy is out right now picking up the cooler from our friends' house so he can bring it back here and make me a delicious cheese plate. Could there be a more awesome end to an awesome weekend?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Any votes on how I respond to this one?

We got another note from the baby's mom today!

Naturally, it's critical.

I keep reminding myself that maybe she's saying nice things to the worker, or something, and those messages aren't making it to us, and that she's doing what she can to take an interest. It's okay.

The note, in summary, says that the mom noticed that the baby has diaper rash and was wondering what was up, and also that the baby is getting a bald patch. She's not upset, just concerned.

OH REALLY? Glad you're not upset. Really relieved there.

The mom has another kid and, according to Facebook, friends with kids, so I'm amazed that she's surprised at a bald spot. If you put a baby on her back to sleep, she will end up with a bald spot. That's just what happens. Like, this is Babies 101 shit. And the diaper rash started after her visit with her dad last week, when he gave her a full bottle even though she had just eaten at daycare. Oh, and because she had just eaten, we didn't send a bottle with formula, so he must have given her whatever generic formula they have on hand at the visitation center, and her little system was messed up for DAYS. So, yeah, no diaper rash on our account, but thanks.

Here's my sister's suggested reply:

Dear baby's mom, she's a baby. I have enclosed a copy of What To Expect The First Year and also the movie Babies, for you to educate yourself. Please don't feed her weird shit, or her butt hurts, and the bald spot is totally normal and way smaller than it would be if she were with you. Sincerely, Second Mom.

What should I write back?

Monday, February 20, 2012

What not to wear: dude edition

We went to the mall the other day, and basically any time I'm at the mall I'm keeping a running list of shit I see other dudes wearing that make me especially grateful for my husband.

Here is a list of things that I'm really happy Andy doesn't think are acceptable to wear out of our house (or, when noted with an asterisk, EVER):

- Old athletic sneakers that were never meant to be worn as part of a "look" unless that look is "middle of a marathon right this second."
- ...especially if they are so old and disgusting that the laces have started to break down and stretch out until each loop of the bow is the length of the actual foot.*
- Football jerseys.
- A-shirts (known, disgustingly and colloquially, as "wifebeaters" PLEASE STOP CALLING THEM THIS) without something over it to completely obscure the fact that it's there at all.
- Braided leather belts.*
- ...especially two sizes too large, with the extra tail tucked down over again to dangle grotesquely like some rat-tail-codpiece.**
- Sweatpants.
- Gold chain necklaces.
- Leather coats with team names or popular television characters embroidered on them.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirts (is he even still alive? was the teenager wearing this shirt ironically?)
- Button-front shirts that are left open to the nipples (the better to show off the gold chains and lack of chest hair, presumably).*
- Polyester "silk-ish" shirts with dragons or flames or tribal shit on them.*
- Crocs (have some pride and do not ever wear these, ever).*
-  "Chinstrap" facial hair.

*As noted above, items with an asterisk should be avoided by all members of the human race.

**Rat-tail-codpiece would be an awesome band name. Go ahead and use it. For free. You're welcome.

What appalling men's fashion blunders have you noticed lately?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I forgot to tell you!

Yesterday while we were at court, the baby's mom walked past me toward the bathroom. I looked up at just the right time and realized our missing pacifier on its clip was attached to the mom's belt loop.

The story I'm going with is that it ended up in the dad's diaper bag, and that the mom found it later. She's wearing it on her belt because she misses the baby and wants to be reminded of her. And she hasn't given it back because we went out and bought another clip before the next visit, so she didn't think she needed to.

Because I genuinely cannot stand the idea that she took something - a comfort object, no less - away from her child on purpose for any reason.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Three more weeks.

At court this morning, the judge ordered that the baby stay in foster care at least until the next court date, which is set for March 8. There is concern that the baby's mom, who is supposed to only have supervised visits at the visitation center with both children, is frequently at the grandma's house, where the baby's three-year-old brother is. I also learned today that the three-year-old brother's dad (not the same dad as the baby's) is filing to get custody from the grandma, which is an interesting complication. The other official reason for adjourning for three more weeks is so that the mom can get signed up for the things she's supposed to be doing to get the baby back, because apparently a month isn't enough time for her to have done that yet. (Her lawyer did tell the judge that she called about one set of classes THIS MORNING. She must have done it from the court waiting room, because we were there at 9. Naturally, there was some reason about why she couldn't get into the classes.)

The baby's dad's lawyer was there with the dad and said that his client would accept custody, but the CPS investigator on the case told me afterwards that they have some issues that would need to be taken care of before that happens, and from what I can tell about dad he may or may not be willing to do any work at all here. I get the impression that custody of his five-year-old son sort of fell into his lap, so I don't know if he'll do much to work it out that this baby come to him.

The judge today reiterated to the baby's mom and grandma that there is a court order instructing the mom to stay away from the grandma's residence, and that the grandma is not to allow her to be at the residence for any reason. After court, the mom told the CPS investigator in front of me that it's her mom, she's not going to stay away from her, and that the order is bullshit, and then stormed away. The grandma then told the CPS investigator that she doesn't invite the mom over, she just shows up, and what is she supposed to do, kick her out? The investigator said, very patiently, "That's exactly what you're supposed to do. You've agreed under penalty of law to protect your grandson and to keep him away from his mom for now, so that's what you are required to do." The grandma just sort of stared at her and mumbled something about it's her daughter, what's she supposed to do, she doesn't invite her over.

I feel sad for the mom and grandma, because I really don't think they understand that the grandma might never get this baby and might lose the brother if they don't comply. I think they feel that they should be able to see each other, because they're family, instead of following the order. Like, I don't know if the grandma can understand that by accepting custody of the brother she made the choice between seeing her grandson and seeing her daughter. Ugh.

So in three weeks, we'll go back to court. It's possible by then they'll be looking to place the baby with her dad instead of with the grandma. I am so glad to still have the baby, because I love her a whole lot, but it is going to really suck if this drags out for months and months while we get more attached to her (and her to us) every day.

So! Any questions about court stuff? I'll answer if I can!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reflections the day before court

Court is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. tomorrow. The pediatrician told me today that the judge we have is known to be reasonable, but we still have no idea if that means there's any likelihood this child will stay with us.

We both feel conflicted about how much we'd love to keep this child. She has grown and learned so much in the five weeks we've had her, and we have fallen so hard for her. On the other hand, we really do believe that children belong with their families of origin if that's practical and safe. This has been hard for people around me to understand, so here's the example I give: if my perfect little goddaughter somehow ended up in foster care in Maryland, I would insist that she belonged with us. Even if her foster parents were the richest family in Baltimore and gave her a pony and had already arranged a French tutor for her seven-month-old self, I would still insist that her rightful place would be with me and Andy. The life her foster family could provide wouldn't be more compelling than blood. (I always start out this hypothetical story with "heaven forbid" or equivalent, to cancel out any bad juju it's sending into the universe.) So our foster baby also deserves to be with family, because that's her rightful place, as long as that family can care for her adequately and keep her safe.

At our visit with the pediatrician this morning we learned that in the last five weeks the baby has gained just over a pound and a half and has grown three-quarters of an inch. She's filling out, and has a little belly now and everything. It's awesome.

I found myself wishing last night that religion had anything to do with our entrance into foster care. I don't feel like we were "called" to do this by a higher being; our reasons were the faces of the specific children I knew who were let down by the system and who needed somewhere safe and were denied it. I am envious of the foster parents who can lean on their faith and feel confident that God has a plan for their foster kid, because I keep returning to the fact that this baby's future is in the hands of a judge who, like, might be having a bad day.

I've already done the majority of the baby's laundry, and I'm going to pack up her clothes and stuff tonight. Then I am going to hold this baby so tight until I fall asleep, and then I'm going to go to court in the morning and see what happens.

Do me a solid and leave me a link to something I can check out while I'm waiting at court tomorrow. It's going to be a long day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My baby mama (and, tangentially, my baby grandma)

Sooooo I haven't wanted to mention this to anyone, but we found the baby's mom on Facebook. Naturally, nothing is private, so we have learned ALL SORTS of awesome things about her.

Perhaps most important is that she was at least initially proud of the baby, and that she has recently started taking pictures of the baby at visits and posting them. So at least she wants people to think she has a relationship with her daughter. That's cool, I guess.

We also have learned that she goes out partying, that she and the baby's dad have an on-again/off-again relationship (which is currently "on"), and that she really, really likes taking cell phone pictures of herself and posting them.

I can't decide if it's a good thing or a bad thing that we have this bizarre window into her life. I know that who you are online is not a true reflection of who you really are. Maybe she goes out partying to numb how she feels about losing her kids. Maybe she goes home and cries herself to sleep. But what she posts doesn't reflect a person who puts anyone but herself at the forefront.

We send a notebook to each visit, and we usually update it with little bits of information about the baby (like today's note about how I think she's hitting her two-month growth spurt, because she had been sleeping seven hours in a row at night and now is getting up to eat after four or five). The mom hasn't ever written back, so today I put a note in with the baby's bottle (where I knew she'd look) that said, "Happy Valentine's Day! Feel free to read the green notebook and write to us." And she did! Her whole note: "Please try tummy time. - [Name]"

Again I got defensive. We do tummy time. She lies on my chest when I'm lying down all the time. We hold her so she's on her belly. She gets massaged every morning and evening, and part of that is on her belly. On top of that, sometimes we just plop her on a blanket on her stomach. However, we only do this if she's not starving (and therefore likely to be grumpy) or full right after eating (and therefore likely to spit up all over). And if the mom tried tummy time at the visit today, one of those two conditions applied, because I know the mom will feed her even if we send her full, so I always work it out that she needs to eat during the visits. So I have to remind myself that it's okay if the mom makes weird requests, because it means she's at least trying to take an interest. Obviously it would be cool if she had phrased it "Have you been doing tummy time?" but that's not likely to happen.

And now about the grandma: The worker told me that the county is going to suggest at court that the baby stay in foster care. This was somewhat of a surprise, as last we talked she said the baby is very likely going to the grandma after court on Friday. Apparently they're not 100% confident in the grandma's ability to care for this child and the brother she already has, but they don't have specific evidence to preclude the baby going to her. The judge (who is the same judge who worked with this family when the brother was removed) may or may not take what the county says into account. We will obviously still proceed as if the baby is going to leave on Friday. We hadn't allowed ourselves to hope that we'd have her any longer. It will be so much more painful if this drags out for months and then she goes to the grandma anyway. Every time I think about court, I feel like my heart is wrapped in plastic wrap and it's being crinkled.

What's your vote - is it a good thing or a bad thing that I regularly check on the mom on Facebook? Should I block her, or should I keep keeping tabs?

Friday, February 10, 2012


The baby had a visit with her mom today, and the mom showed up, which is good. However, she sent a message through the transportation company that she wants us to send the baby with a heavier blanket and a hat. I hadn't expected for this to bother me, but I'm sort of pissed about this:
A. The child was dressed appropriately for the weather. As she always is.
B. Over her weather-appropriate clothes, she was wearing this snowsuit. Which is big on her and puffy and like wearing a comforter, and which has a hood.
C. I don't totally trust the parents to take care of what we send. Her pacifier on its clip thing went missing after the last visit, which is annoying, because she spits her pacifier out all the time and we had to go buy another clip to keep it from ending up on the floor somewhere.
D. (And this is the real issue here) This child came to us without even so much as the clothes on her back. I am not kidding. The worker who dropped her off said that mom had requested that we return her carseat (which was probably outdated anyway) and that she'd want the outfit the baby was wearing, so put it aside after we changed her. I told the worker that I would almost certainly not remember which one was the mom's, so right that minute I changed her into a sleeper we had and handed the carseat and outfit back to the worker for the mom to pick up at the worker's office. So we have provided literally everything this child has, and my gut says if the mom wants us to send something different, she can go ahead and send a heavier blanket and a fucking hat. (We have several hats for her. I just didn't send one today). She hasn't provided a single thing since the baby arrived, so she can feel free to take care of this. Hmph.

I guess I resent reminders that we're not in charge of any of this. Obviously, I'll send a heavier blanket and a hat to her visit on Tuesday, even though I think it's ridiculous.

Would it be wrong for me to send her in a baby-sized Viking helmet and see what the mom says?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I talked to the worker today

And she said it looks really likely they'll release the baby from foster care to her maternal grandmother after court next Friday. The worker said she doesn't know of anything they have against the grandmother that would prevent the baby from going to her.

I asked about the dad, and the worker said he seems to talk a big game but hasn't really followed through with what he needs to do to pursue custody. We know the grandmother has custody of the brother, and so far she is the only person who has worked at all to get this baby, so we'd actually prefer the baby go to her than to the dad at this point.

Obviously, nothing about this is set in stone, but it will be easier for us if we prepare ourselves for this and be ready. I'll pack up her clothes and stuff on Thursday, so if it happens on Friday it can be more smooth. Then, if something changes and we get to keep her longer, it's bonus time.

As of this Saturday, we'll have had this child for exactly half of her life. It has changed our lives so completely that I don't know how we'll go back to not being parents. We have an overnight trip out of town at the end of the month, so that might be a nice distraction.

Back in May when I first mentioned becoming a foster parent, I said I wouldn't turn this blog into a family-friendly lovefest, and I feel like I have succeeded in continuing to swear a lot, but my focus has shifted to being ALL ABOUT THE BABY. So, you know, if she goes home soon, prepare yourself for more stupid lists about me and shit my weird coworkers say.

I don't have a feedback question, but go ahead and leave me a comment. I read all of them and they make me happy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A thing I didn't expect

So in the past week I have found myself doing something I didn't really expect, but that I guess I should have expected: defending the birth parents to various people.

The mom canceled her scheduled visit on Friday. The reaction of various people (who have all asked how the visit went) has been something like, "Well, isn't that good news for you?"

I think the problem is that these people keep forgetting we are not just in this to adopt. We'd happily adopt if the situation arose, but our primary motivation is to provide a safe home for a child who needs it for as long as it's needed. The people who think the mom missing visits is a good thing think it's one step closer to us GETTING TO KEEP THE BABY! instead of being a disappointment. If the baby is going to be reunited with her mom, it would be cool if the mom at least pretended to be interested in her. So I have been taking this weird stance where I almost defend the mom, because she really deserves every chance we can provide to get her shit together and get this baby back, even though at the same time I'm irritated that she missed a visit. And I've defended the dad, even though he's the world's most self-absorbed person and even though he hasn't confirmed a time for a visit this week despite the worker leaving two messages.

There is another visit scheduled for tomorrow, and I am guessing it will happen, because it's a joint visit (both parents attending), and it seems the mom is more invested in her on-again/off-again relationship with the dad than with this baby. I can be honest here about that, but to friends and family, I have to do this weird framing to make it easier to manage how people respond. It doesn't make it easier for me, that's for sure.

In our classes, they told us over and over that we're not just involved with the kids, we're involved with the parents too. I know there are much worse messes that foster parents have had to deal with, but I didn't really think about how our loved ones would respond.

I'm trying to just focus on how the baby is doing, which is so well! The cream we've been putting on her Crazy Newborn Rash has really helped and her skin looks a lot better. She's grown enough that we're finally switching her out of newborn-size diapers (she's eight weeks old!), and she has now slept six-plus hours in a row at night a total of three nights in a row. Andy has been taking her last feeding around eleven, and I feed when she wakes up around six, so we both get as much sleep as possible.

Anything else you want to know?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Three weeks

Today is three weeks we've had the baby. She's still mostly awesome! (The mostly part comes in a four a.m. when she'd rather be held and squirm instead of going back to sleep in her bassinet.)

On Tuesday she had a visit with both of her parents. I totally blanked on the part where I was supposed to send a diaper bag to daycare to have them send on the visit, because I'm still new at this and I'm so tired and all. I called the daycare and had them pack a bottle and some diapers and wipes and a burp rag, which they did. However, I felt like a big dummy and will absolutely have her normal bag packed for her visit with her mom tomorrow.

At the Tuesday visit, the worker told her parents about the baby's doctor's appointments tomorrow and told them they were welcome to attend. They didn't have much notice and the first appointment was at 8:45 in the morning, so I didn't think they'd show, but they both did! They were half an hour late, but they were both there. It was my first meeting with the dad, so I was nervous. He was a nice enough dude, I guess. He spent the entire time we were there talking about himself, which was interesting - he asked me almost nothing about the baby and even tried to talk over the doctor to tell me about his other kids more than once. But he was there and was happy to hold the baby and burp her and stuff, so I guess that's better than nothing.

While we were at the first visit, they ruled out Crazy Genetic Skin Condition and think instead that baby just has a version of Crazy Newborn Baby Rash. They gave us a prescription for some cream to put on it and want to see her again in two weeks to check on it. I did my very best to stand back and let the parents be as involved as they wanted to be. It was just such a new dynamic that I think it was uncomfortable for all of us. The next time I think I'll see them is at court on the 17th.

In the three weeks we've had her, the baby has gained 12 ounces and grown a quarter inch. It's going to be hard to give her up!

She's screaming at me right now for not holding her, so I'm going to go snuggle the heck out of her.