Boho Berry Challenge October 2018: Planning



Get ready guys, I'm doing something a little different in October! 

One of the Big Names in the Bullet Journaling world is Kara from Boho Berry. She is one of the cutest, most artistic BuJo-ers and has literally made a business centered on planning.

To be clear...I do not bujo like Kara. My bullet journal is way more about planning and organization than being artistic, and we live very different lives so I don't track what she tracks or use the same exact system she uses.

I still find inspiration in her layouts; but really one of the biggest reasons I continue following her is because of her Boho Berry monthly challenges. These were created as journaling prompts, but I don't always do a full journal entry because...I don't feel like it. In the past I have just done a really short response. I don't do every month, and I don't answer every question every month. But they are fun occasionally.

This month though, I want to use it as a Blog Every Day challenge. 

The theme is Planning, and talking about planning and journaling in my bullet journal seems a little pointless. I like the idea of a blogging project and sharing how I use the system.

Personally it can be a little annoying when people blog every day...it's so easy to get behind. However, this is my blog and I think I will have fun doing it. Gonna try to keep it relatively short though. So I hope you enjoy it...and if not, I'll be back to my normal blogging style next month.

Find My Husband a Book!

Fellow readers, I need help!

I convinced Hubby to read the His Fair Assassins series, which he loved. Legitimately loved; to the point where I got to explain what a book hangover was.

Now that he has read all three books (a big deal for someone who does not consider himself a reader), I need more ideas!!! He has seen the laboriousness that is reading, and I want to keep the momentum going.

Here is why I think that series worked so well for him:

-mythology/culture of specific gods
-wars/fighting/strong sense of right & wrong
   -warriors/assassin (but like...for justice/a purpose)
-kind of historical (although the political aspect not as important)

Besides the HFA series, his only other true book loves have been Harry Potter- because he is a 90s child, obviously- and Playing for Pizza by John Grisham.

The reason I think Pizza resonated with him is

-sports (specifically football, which he likes)
-American interacting with other cultures

I know, Pizza doesn't exactly track with the other two. But that's what we have.

He has also read a lot of Chuck Palahniuk...I've tried reading several of his books but cannot identify why he appeals to so many people. Maybe one of y'all can figure it out and recommend something similar...I'm totally lost when it comes to this author.

The only thing I have so far is maybe The Lunar Chronicles, and Children of Blood and Bone.

Anyone have any recommendations? 
Please & thank you!

Favorite Everyday Things



original photo by Dose Media on Unsplash, edited with Canva
 
Over the past few years, I have tried to be more thoughtful with my purchases. This doesn't always happen, but I have definitely made improvements and cut down on the "oh why did I ever pay money for that" regret.

Here are few things I really love and use, some daily and some weekly and some that are just good to have when I need them.

Bullet Journal
I've raved about bullet journaling in general for the past year. It can be done in any notebook, that's part of the beauty of the system, but I did "spring" for the official Bullet Journal notebook. There's tons of reviews, so I won't go into too much detail, but I like that the paper is ivory versus white (easier on my eyes) and it is already numbered which is the best because it saves me time. Also like the pocket and fact that it is so easy to customize. I've talked a lot about anxiety lately, and using the bullet journal system to organize what I can has literally become a foundation for my sanity. That sounds dramatic, but sometimes you cling to whatever is helping you float. Bullet journaling has been helping me float.

Truth be told, I've had some trouble with Rainbows lately. Mainly because I can't find the ones I want in town! I bought these Double Layer Classic Leather with Arch Support 11 years ago as a freshman in college. It's finally time to buy a new pair- and honestly, that's probably only because I waded into a river in Colorado with them for like an hour about 5 years ago. They are pricey for sandals, in my (poor-to-barely-middle-class) opinion, but considering they lasted over a decade it works out to about 6$ a year. And trust me, I've worn the hell out of them. My MIL gave me money to get new ones for my birthday...but I could not find the double layer in town, and I want that extra support. So I ordered online...in the wrong size. Just returned and can't wait to get the exchanged correct size. These are practically mandatory in ENC, and it's for a reason.

Coconut oil
Okay, okay, I try not to be too hippie-dippy.  But this is seriously the best thing for my skin. I use it after showers all over instead of lotion, but the best thing is how it has been working as a face wash/moisturizer lately. My face has been breaking out like crazy lately and it suuuucks. But I started using my scrubby facial pad and coconut oil (run hot water over the pad, dip in coconut oil, scrub face, wipe off with towel) and my inflammation has went waaaaay down and zits began receding. It would probably be too heavy if I just used my fingers to rub in, but the water+scrubby combo is doing great.

Bathroom Shelves
We bought our house five years ago. Pretty much ever since then, I've been trying to figure out how to organize my bathroom counter. It's been a hot mess, and hubby hates how much room I take up but hello, you have literally nothing to do to your face because you're a cis-hetero-dude and I have a lot because I'm a cis-hetero-chick and that comes with PRODUCTS (and truly, I'm minimal compared to a LOT of females). Anyway, fast track to a few weeks ago when I finally broke down and ordered these shelves. Per the reviews, I purchased separate wall anchors but managed to install them myself. They're working wonderfully! So glad I finally did it (seriously, 20$ including the extra anchors and maybe 40 minutes of time).

Personal tool kit
Probably around the same time we bought our house, I bought my own tool kit. Hubby has tools, but he reorganizes them at a rate that annoys me and I can never find anything and he doesn't like when I reorganize them so it was simpler to buy my own simple toolkit. I bought this one, not because I particularly care for pink but I wanted to clearly differentiate between my tools and Hubby's tools. The color does that, and it's more than adequate for basic home maintenance plus it was fairly affordable.

What are some random, everyday things you love?

My Teenage Rebellion


Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash


I wanted to write about something other than my anxiety, so I did what any good blogger does and google'd "blog post ideas." Most of these lists are super predictable but I came across this one from fat mum slim that suggested the following:

That one time you told a huge lie and kinda got away with it {or perhaps you didn’t and that would make an even better blog post!}

For some reason, after writing, I felt like I had already blogged about this...but I can't find it in my archives so I'm gonna do it anyway. 


This will probably not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been hanging around my bloggy-sphere for a while, but I was a bit of a goody-goody in high school. I was a huge nerd, a Junior Marshal (top 22 of my class, which handily meant I was able to participate/help with all the graduation events for the class above me- which now-Hubs was a part of), Beta Club, National Honor Society, and at least 2 other career-field specific organizations.

And the literal one time I did something kind of bad, I got caught.

 My junior year I took Radio & TV, which meant we got to work on student announcements and run the school radio station (no one listened to this station, it just meant playing whatever CDs you wanted for an hour).

So one day my teacher was out and we had a sub. My friend and I were assigned to the radio station and the rest of the class was supposed to work on whatever project we had going on.

This was a pretty chill class. We could leave campus for "projects" and generally try whatever we wanted (within reason).

Well, on this particular day my friend & I decided we wanted food from off-campus. Not a huge deal, since literally everyone else in our class had done this before. But technically since we had a sub we were supposed to stay on campus. We decided to ignore this and go anyway. I can't remember which one of us actually left campus- maybe me- but either way the driver returned before the class period was over and we ate joyfully.

At some point some of our classmates came in. Maybe they saw one of us in the hallway, maybe they were just bored and wanted a change of scenery...either way, they came in and immediately smelled the food. Whether someone specifically tattled on us or they just casually mentioned it around the wrong person, lots of people found out.

By the end of the day, pretty much everyone knew and was asking about it. 

The TA from my English class, other students, etc. It was a topic of conversation for every class I was in. There was lots of "I'm so disappointed in you" from teachers, "I can't believe you did that" from students, and a select group of "I can't wait to see you in trouble."

I highly suspect this last group was to blame for how big of a deal this turned into. See, remember that Junior Marshall thing I mentioned up there? Apparently the girl who was 23rd on the list got very excited at the thought of me getting expelled and that honor going on her transcript instead.

There was literally one person in that Radio & TV class who didn't treat me like a piranha...and she was not the one I would have considered a friend until that day (while those I did consider a friend pretended I didn't exist for a day or two).

The person who was the nicest about this?

The teacher whose class I skipped. The next day she called my friend and I outside the hall. She could tell I was a nervous wreck. She calmly explained that she knew about it, it had been reported to the administration- because other students were so adamant, otherwise she would have been satisfied to deal with it herself. She stressed that several other students had done the same exact thing all year and the standard punishment was X days of detention, which is what she was recommending.

We were called into the vice-principal's office later that day and he was a real dick. Mainly because he stressed how much I could have lost because I had so much going on and I shouldn't let my implied-less-worthy friend "drag me down."  He was likely trying to "put the fear of God" into me so I wouldn't screw up again, but I recognized even then that he was writing her off and that felt like bullshit. One, because she was a lovely person and didn't deserve to be written off. Two, because the idea that I should be punished more intensely because this was my first (and only) strike seemed like complete bullshit.

We received the standard punishment as our teacher suggested. We showed up every day that week and worked really hard, to the point where the janitor who monitored detention shaved off some time because we finished the same amount of work as other students in less time (this was under the radar of the administration, and very kind of him).

I didn't tell my parents, because...well, I was a teenager and scared to get in trouble. I just said "Hey I've got to stay after school this week." And because I was involved in so many things they just said "Okay."

Fast forward to something like 3-4 years after I graduated. 

My mom randomly calls me one night asking if I know the girl, and I said yes. Apparently she ran into this girl's mom and it came out that their daughters went to school together. The other mother recognized my name and mentioned something about us getting suspended together, and my mom was of course shocked. So I explained the situation and said no, it wasn't a suspension but just detention and told the whole story. She ended up thinking it was kind of funny especially in comparison to what she had heard.

And that is the story of how I am clearly not meant for breaking rules.

Getting Help for Anxiety & Depression

Hello, everyone.

I finally admitted that I officially have anxiety and depression.

Y'all probably knew that. I should have known that.

I was every fucking cliche in the book, guys. I know it all. I am a classic caretaker...I know the importance of "putting on your own oxygen mask first." Literally all of it. But it didn't help. I still thought I wasn't allowed to fail and I still thought the world would end if I didn't take care of EVERYTHING in exactly the right way. 

Anyway.

I called my OBGYN because all this started after having my baby. They said no, and to call my PCP. My PCP is in surgery all week so he couldn't see me, and I guess the PA isn't authorized to deal with anxiety meds? I usually see her anyway but basically that office wasn't an option so they told me to call my OBGYN.

Yay, American healthcare system, as I cried on the phone to two different receptionists at my desk because both offices are only open during the hours I work.

To be clear...I am still fairly blessed/privileged/etc. I had the 30$ to put towards my co-pay and pharmacy medication. I had to wait only 3 days before being seen. There are many people in America, and other places, that do not have these things. So I realize that I am better off than many- but just as "not good enough" can occur way before "rock bottom," "better than" does not mean "good."

Anyway. I got an appointment at the OBGYN. I went. They reiterated multiple times that this was a PCP issue but still gave me some meds. Disappointing but fuck 'em. I needed help and they were the closest life raft.

I've read online that PPA/D can last for years...my OBGYN said it's not considered a PP issue after this long...people IRL said yeah it definitely is...I don't know guys. Call it whatever you want, it sucks.

The pharmacist said it will likely take 4-6 weeks for the medication to actually start working and get fully in my system. He stressed that some people see a "bump" in mood within a week, then calm down and kind of go "Oh it wasn't really that bad, not sure what the big deal was." And then they stop taking it...DON'T DO THIS! That is the point where it's started working and it's important to keep going.

While my anxiety is definitely less than it was*, I'm not sure if this is due to the medicine or other changes I have made in my life. Either way, I feel more "neutral" than good, kind of like I am coasting and slightly detached, but not necessarily an elevated mood so maybe I'm just not going to be one of the ones who sees a "bump;" or maybe this is what he was referring too and we just would use different words to describe it.

Less does not mean gone- it's been over a week and I still had a racing heart within the last 24 hours over something minor. Not as intense and it doesn't happen as often, but it's definitely still there at times.

I do feel like my sleep wasn't great the first few days on it...but my sleep hasn't been great anyway so I can't say the medicine made it any worse...also there was a hurricane and lots of stress around that so most people I know haven't been sleeping great...it's hard to tell. I've had 2 nights of good sleep in a row now so maybe my body is adjusting.

If I do decide to come off it in a few months, I need to do it slowly. A friend was taking the same medicine and stopped cold-turkey without talking to her healthcare provider, and she said it was miserable.

I also dropped my class. Now that I've admitted what is going on in my head, I feel like I need to just stop EVERYTHING in my life that isn't actually mandatory. It's turned into a landslide, and I don't believe that medicine alone is going to just magically fix everything. Just need a true, real break.

Also going to see about getting some counseling through my church. I don't know if my insurance would pay for anywhere...but I think just talking through some things and getting some stuff off my chest would be a huge help.

Anyway. That is the story of the start of my recovery. Again, I feel like it will take some time to truly deal with everything. But I've made a start. People have been wonderful and I'm getting support like I never imagined. I'm stepping back, trying to let go of some control, and being honest. It feels like a good first few steps. 

I Said It, and It Feels GOOD

I told my mom that I have anxiety and depression.

I told my mother-in-law that I have anxiety and depression.

I told my husband that this isn't a 'new life change' type of hard, having the boys- this is two years of anxiety and depression crashing down on me.

I told my case worker- I am so sorry, but I have untreated anxiety and depression. It is making my heart race and I'm unable to eat due to stress and I feel so bad for failing these boys but I can't do this.

Do you know what every single person said?

Thank you for being honest- please get yourself the help you need, and thank you for trusting me.

EVERY SINGLE ONE.

I was worried my mom would either a) cry that something was wrong with her baby, or b) say I told you so regarding foster care. What she actually said was "This is what we were concerned about (plus, with the PPA/D), if it is happening I'm so glad you recognized it and are being honest."

That makes it sound kind of like an "I told you so." It truly wasn't, and I am super sensitive to I-Told-You-So's. It was more an acknowledgement of "There were XYZ possibilities, Z occurred, good job on recognizing it is Z, thanks for being honest."

When I mentioned that I wasn't sure what to say to the social worker but I was trying to hint that I didn't think it could be long-term, she said "No. You have not been being truthful for two years- it's time to say it. No hints. Be blunt. Tell the truth."

I was worried my MIL would say something similar or be worried about Babycakes. What she said was "PPA/D is hard, I had it. You feel alone, and I hate that you feel that way. But what you are doing is hard and you have a right to say that and take care of yourself. Be honest."

I was worried Hubs would be mad at me for willingly going into foster care without admitting my unresolved issues. What he said was "I didn't know this was that bad, you kind of made it sound like you thought you were over it. If you're not, okay. Tell the case worker it's too much."

I was worried my case worker would be mad or disappointed in me. What she said was "This is not unusual at all, it happens all the time. Please don't be so hard on yourself. You are great with the boys and this is part of our job. You don't know until you are in it, and that's just the way it is. Thank you for being transparent and honest with me. It's so important to be upfront and let us know."

I cannot stress enough, it is not the boys. It's not even having them in my home and dealing with any "issues." Truly, the behaviors they are exhibiting are super mild for foster care. Every story I've read is "Well I finally had enough when I ended up in the ER and all my money was gone." THIS IS NOT THAT. These are perfectly lovely boys...and if that is fucking me up, then I NEED HELP.

And I don't want it to be a cop-out, BUT FUCK I NEED HELP. I HAVE UNTREATED ANXIETY AND IT'S GETTING WORSE. I actually made the call today to get a doctor's appointment and discuss this shit.

For two years I felt alone, and like I literally couldn't breathe sometimes. I thought 'Oh postpartum issues eventually go away when your biology straightens out, right?' WRONG. While there is debate over whether this is postpartum or just regular anxiety/depression...it's here and it's only getting worse.

And you know what happened when I finally forced myself to say the words?

EVERYONE WAS FANTASTIC. I seriously thought these conversations that day- because I just let the floodgates open on everyone- would be the hardest I ever had.

Not even fucking close, guys. 

Every single person was like "Yeah that happens, cool let's move forward with this new information."


I told the case worker there was no rush, and initially wanted to keep the boys with us until the next court date which was about 2 weeks away. However, Hurricane Florence drastically changed my plans. The initial path predicted had my area of NC being hit at a catastrophic level. The reality was, if I was stuck at home alone with 3 kids for days at a time during that intense of an event...I would have had a panic attack and/or mental breakdown. And I say alone because my husband is considered emergency personnel and truthfully I didn't know when he would be back home, if at all. And while I could have evacuated to my family...evacuating hours away in a natural disaster with high-needs children would not be great for my anxiety either. So I requested a new placement for them before Flo hit. It was difficult and piss-poor timing, but I felt oddly good about standing my ground and being honest.

Foster care is a supremely shitty thing to have to fail at. I know from the outside looking in, I look like a careless idiot.

Part of me thinks I should feel like a monster. But in reality...I feel like I just got my first deep breath in a long, long time. And the relief of that is how I know I am mentally unhealthy. Because a part of me realizes I could be judged...but a bigger part of me just doesn't care.

For the first time in a long time, I'm being honest. And it feels amazing. And hard, because I have let the floodgates open and now I have a LOT of shit to work through. But I'm doing it, and the world isn't ending.

Giving Up on Foster Care

This a post I am terrified to write. But I’m doing it anyway, both because it helps me to write things out and because I can’t find anything like on the Internet- and I refuse to believe I am the only person to feel this way.

I was so arrogant thinking I could do this. I was not at all prepared, and I seriously do not believe my mental health can handle another placement- and I say that less than a month in and with a placement that is truthfully pretty light on “issues”- no known sexual abuse, fairly mild learning/behavior things that are perfectly reasonable and expected given the reality of foster care.

It’s very strange because I have 0 regrets about going through the process. I’m so glad we followed this dream. But I do not feel it is sustainable for me or my family. Ideally, the boys will return to their birth family within a month at their next court date and I will never do this again.

Everything I read says it’s so hard but just push through! It’s totally worth it! But I am not sure.

I don’t know if you can “quit” foster care after one placement. But I really really think I might have too.

Things change. The wind shifts. I know this.

But I also think that I have to admit that maybe I am not better than everyone else at ALL hard things. Maybe i need to calm down and just...live life instead of trying to take on ALL THE INJUSTICES.

I still feel for these kids. But I truly feel like I am not capable of making their lives any better. I am already too weary, and am I not back at full strength to take on this big thing right now. It was wrong of me to get on this journey when I am not ready- I was told that, and I did it anyway. I am incredibly disappointed in myself for that- but two wrongs do not make a right. I cannot continue on this path and put myself in a place to continually fail kids who have already been through so much when I am starting to feel in my heart that I am overwhelmed...how can I commit to that? How can I ignore what is best for everyone?

Part of me feels crazy because I wanted this and fought for it for so long. And again, I do not REGRET it or having the boys in my home. I am proud of myself and Hubs for even trying. But what if we try and fail? I’m worried that people will judge us harshly for tapping out. Can we really just go “Hey, we’re not cut out for this?”

I feel like you should be able to say that- especially when the stakes are so high. But it also feels shitty- I’ve been SO SANCTIMONIOUS  about this topic. And saying no to hurting kids...fuck that makes me feel like a monster! But so does being a shitty foster mom...

to be clear, I have not physically harmed these children or called them names or withheld food or any of the terrible foster parent cliches you see in Lifetime movies...but I do not feel like a good mother figure or equipped to deal with their baggage, which they have no control over and should not be ashamed of...and I am a big believer that something can be "not good enough" even if it's not "rock-bottom"

I truly thought I could do this. I had great intentions. I wanted to help. But I’m also reading all this shit about how people shouldn’t view themselves as saviors either and I wonder if I’m living out some white Christian do-gooder bullshit, or working through some psychological issues that I didn't realize I had.

I still think the situation of foster children needing loving homes SUCKS...I jut don’t feel like I can help with any kind of a solution.

My goal right now is to get through to the next court date on a few weeks. After that...I don’t know. I feel like I can only think of continuing on a short-term basis. Can I think of taking care of THESE BOYS, that are actually in my home and trying so hard to adjust for just a few more weeks...and no more? Is a few months enough to “give up” regarding regular life or do we have to keep going...

Hubs thinks maybe a younger, single placement would still be possible. But those are rare...which is the whole reason I initially thought we could try siblings. And I’m thinking of a million reasons why fostering is not right for ME anyway.

I thought all of my postpartum issues would make me better suited for foster care because I could understand some things...and now I'm thinking I am a fucking idiot for not realizing that this mom thing is so hard for me and I need to give myself some fucking space. Okay, this thing that is glorious for everyone else (motherhood) is good for me and again, I LOVE BABYCAKES SO FIERCELY but it it is...super tough for me to find my way. And I need to acknowledge that...and I didn't start working through those feelings for real until way too recently.

I don’t write this to scare anyone away. I still think adoption and foster care are desperately needed in a lot of cases, and that we should care about our fellow humans and try to help. But I’ve slowly learned since having having admitting to having motherhood-related mental health issues that it’s important to be realistic also...and that is something that took me YEARS to vocalize and I really didn’t understand or even attempt to say until after I was already on the hamster wheel of life Hubs & I agreed too (this is not a dig at him- we had a general idea of life, that included foster care/adoption based on MY desires, and we worked towards that...it takes a LOT for me to change plans mid-stream, and I am terrified to admit to wanting to give up on this dream).

Anyway. I hope this doesn't make anyone think I am a monster. But I also know that...being judged for this truth feels better than living a lie. And the fact that I am even considering admitting this "horrible thing" to other people so readily makes me feel like it has to be a truth because let's be real, failure is my absolute biggest fear so if I admit so readily...it's for a damn good reason.

Because I have nice internet friends who worry about me (and probably everyone involved in this situation), I'd like to say now that conversations have been had and steps taken and you will see the resolution of this story soon- I have been writing blogs as I feel the need and pre-scheduling them, so what you are seeing is slightly behind "real life" events. I thought about deleting these posts, but I wish I had been able to read about someone else struggling with me so I'm leaving them up even though being this open is really, really scary for me personally.

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: September 2018


I thought I was reading a lot this month...but apparently not. Whoops. Truthfully, I kinda have but it's been re-reads and I don't count those in my yearly total. Rereading the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has become my calming nighttime routine and I've read Books 2 & 3 this past month (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

This was my only new read of the month, apparently. It was really interesting, a good dysfunctional family drama which y'all know I'm always up for. The ending felt slightly cheesy, which is why it's a 4 star review rather than a 5. But this is one of those books where the chapters are told by various characters, and I really enjoyed that. It can be tricky but when it's done well it feels so cozy and I love the little trails and tie backs that show how everyone is connected.

Hopefully I will be able to make my way to the library soon and pick up some new reads. What have you been reading this month? Link-up & let us know!


Life According to Steph

Things I Dislike that Other People Love

 Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


Today especially there seem to be all these flags about things people love...that I really just can't stand. After about the 3rd one in a few hours I thought "Hmmm...this feels like a blog post."

So here is a list of some things that other people seem to really love that I can't stand.

Conversation mode in an email inbox
This has been driving me fucking BANANAS for a few weeks now, especially since getting Thing 1 & 2 for foster care.  There are so many emails and sometimes I try to just CC everyone (the school counselors, the many different social workers, etc), but they only reply to me. Or they send it to me but then I have to remember to pass on to Hubs because no one emails him. Anyway, the stupid "conversation" mode makes it too hard for me to tell who has seen what and what I need to forward, blah blah blah. I want an old school, one message at a time inbox. I FINALLY figured out how to do this and I swear, I immediately felt my self calming down when I looked at my newly organized inbox.

 Pumpkin spice lattes
 To be fair, I love pumpkin spice in a LOT of things. But it just does not go with coffee for me. I'm all about that salted caramel life.

Candy
This one is kind of a cheat, but it's something I just really figured out. I've been slowly cutting down on sweets over the past year or so- definitely not cutting them out, but much smaller portions. I wasn't sure if it was just an age thing or what, but I figured out around Valentine's Day or Easter (some holiday with a TON of candy in the house) that when I eat a lot of sugar my face breaks the fuck out. Like, pimples EVERYWHERE. And it's annoying and also fucking painful. People talk about zits/acne/"bad skin" like it's just involving looks, but my face gets physically uncomfortable. I literally can't even enjoy it anymore because I know what I'm doing to my body...I'm so old.


Sprinkles
They are overrated. I mean, I guess they look celebratory but they are messy and just do not taste good.

 Dramatic TV & Movies
I'm just over it guys. I want an old-school, cheesy standard comedy shows. Something happy and funny and only slightly irreverent.  The real world is tough enough for me, I don't need that crap voluntarily now too.


 What do you think is just...overrated?

Officially Foster Parents

It happened...we finally have a foster placement.

There are now two little boys living in our home. They are brothers, one is early elementary school and one is the same age as Babycakes.

Things are...different. Sometimes hard, sometimes hopeful.

I do not regret our decision, but I certainly feel differently about this than I did when it was just an idea. The reality is...hard. I feel...on the outside of a lot of things. Fostering just isn't common, but everyone has an opinion about it. And I am starting to see why certain red flags were mentioned...but I'm also feeling like there are so many signs that confirm our decision to do this.

The way foster care works is that when the child/ren is removed from their birth parents, the birth parents are given a set of instructions/goals/etc to work on. If they show progress on these goals, they get increased contact with the child/ren until the child is approved to go home. There is also something called kinship placement, where the child/ren stays with other family members from the birth family. Both of these are still potential outcomes for these boys (hereby referred to as Thing 1 & Thing 2, because it is the first kid-centered pair that popped into my head). They currently have limited contact with their birth families.

This is probably as far into detail as I will go regarding their case, both for legal reasons and their privacy and our privacy.

It's hitting me for real that...I don't know how long this will exist. I don't know if these boys will be here in a month...which is both good and bad, honestly. Please don't think badly of me saying that- they are great children. Not perfect by any means but...they're kids. I care for them and I want them to be safe and loved and have a steady home. However...when a child who has been in my home less than 48 hours calls me Mom and says I love you...it breaks my heart. Because yes, on one hand it is sweet. But on the hand, it is heart-breakingly sad. Because as a mom I can't imagine Babycakes doing that with another woman. It fucking sucks to consider. It is a testament to how broken their childhood is already. So I can't respond with the genuine joy I now have with Babycakes. It kind of makes me feel like a liar- because I care for them, and I have love for them...but they are children and can't be expected to understand the various ways "love" exists in the world, and I worry that what I mean and what they think I mean may be different (realistically, almost certainly it is). Or are they saying it because they think that will make them able to stay longer, or make us be nicer (also super depressing)...or do they just not remember our names because they've been forced to meet so many new people during this journey (a very real possibility)?

Only 2 weeks into this placement and I can truly say I hope reunification can occur. I see how Thing 1, the older one, will randomly remember his parents and grandparents, and also how he tries to settle into our home. It's something that is so hard to balance, both for him and for us. And he's already asked how long he will be here...and I don't know. I want this family to, as my husband so eloquently put it, "get their shit together."* Just...do what you have to do to take care of your kids. If you need help, please get it...please use these resources...nothing would make us happier than seeing a happy reunification.

*That probably sounds judgmental...seriously, it's just the simplest and most blunt way to put this. We want this family to succeed and get their kids back and everyone end up happy. 

Maybe it would be easier if we had only taken in one- and if we had taken in someone closer to Babycake's age. There are definitely a lot of ways I think we are not the best match for these boys. And I struggle with that, because in some ways they deserve things we can't give them...but I also wonder if we are better than...whatever the other option would be.

I've wondered if it is realistic to even think of the possibility of adopting these boys (because literally, could be gone tomorrow or they could never leave). I've wondered if we should continue with the idea of adoption at all...I've wondered if we should just foster and not renew in 2 years (the length of a foster care license in NC). I've wondered if we should just do respite care for other foster families instead of long-term placements (basically weekends or holidays when foster families need a break- think of it as the equivalent of sending a child to stay with family for a small break but within the foster care system) and if that's even an option.  I've wondered if we should foster for 2 years and then try to have a baby biologically. I've wondered if I'm ready to have another baby biologically now and if we could possibly afford it (or try, nothing with kids is guaranteed). I've wondered if I would maybe be okay with Babycakes being an only child. I've wondered if in a month or 3 or 6 I will still have these boys in my home, and deeply in my heart- after all, I wasn't immediately attached to Babycakes either (although hormones and the biological process of pregnancy/delivery 100% contributed to that). This has made me view parenthood and our family and Babycakes- my forever child- in a new light and that at least has been interesting and kind of great (which also makes me feel like a terribly selfish bitch because I am not trying to pretend I am a perfect mom by any means, or flaunt my choices in a system that has clearly taken choice away from so many- under the guise of the greater good, but still...).

I see how broken the system is and know firsthand, after even this tiny glimpse, why people avoid it (which I knew in theory but secretly judged) and yet still feel that we can't all willingly ignore what is a true crisis.

At the end of the day...I went into this willingly. I am in this willingly. And I have no clue what will happen, and it's almost pointless right now to even consider what I want to happen. These boys are here, and we're taking care of them.

 Babycakes is a friggin' CHAMP. I miss my one-on-one time with her in a way that I never saw coming, to be honest. This has illustrated how intensely I love her; I struggled so much in the beginning of motherhood and then felt such guilt over that struggle that I didn't even realize how fiercely and intently I have come to embrace being her mommy. But she has rolled with everything and accepted these boys and played with them and loved them and generally been amazing. I know it can still affect her and we may see some things pop up later, but she has been great so far. It has been really hard to find resources specifically for families who foster with biological children already in the home other than "Oh it worked fine they learned so much," and I get that a lot more now because it is very different. But as an individual she is handling things much better than I feel I could have asked for.

I am super proud of Hubs & I. Our communication has been great, our teamwork has been great...we are rocking it at this moment. We have had one fight...which is pretty freakin' fantastic given this situation, and we both calmed down and acknowledged our poor communication/blind spots and made up and let it go. So while things are definitely a little crazy in our house, we're holding strong in a lot of ways.

To sum up...I am taking it day by day, and doing the best I can. We are getting by. We are seeing improvements and regressions. I don't know what the future holds, and I'm trying my best to make peace with that.

We are a foster family.