Archive for Foster parenting

An Open Letter To Our Latest Addition

MySurreaLife and our beautiful little girls March 2016

Dear Sweet, Nearly Four Year Old, Little Girl In Our Care,

I got a call from our Foster Family Agency (FFA) on January 22, while I was at work, at around 2pm.  They called to see if we could temporarily provide a home for a 3 year old girl (you!) while they looked for another home to house you, and your two older sisters.  I only thought about it momentarily before I called daddy, excited at the opportunity to have another little girl join our 5 year old little girl living under our roof.  He also thought we were ready to add to our family, if even just temporarily.

I called our FFA back at 3pm and at 8pm, you were at our house!  You had two pigtails and you walked through our door, a little timid, but with a huge smile on your face.  We asked you if we could give you a hug.  You nodded yes and me and your five year old foster sister gave you a big hug.  We were so excited to meet you.  You two played together in the playroom and watched the new movie remake of, “Annie,” which you already had seen and loved.

The past two months have been wonderful having you in our home.  You and your sister have had a lot of colds, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage.  You’ve met a lot of our family and friends and you are so loved by everyone.

About a month ago, you started having court mandated visits with your birth mom and your little brother.  After these visits with your mom, you both act a bit mad and sad, which makes perfect sense.  It must be so hard for you both to try to understand this new reality of not living with your biological family, but getting to see them every so often.  I’m so sorry you have to go through this, but I am so thankful I get to be the one who helps you cope with your anger and will continue to show you that I will be there to love you no matter what.

Last week I learned there is a possibility that you and your siblings will be moving to a relatives home.  This relative has an adult son living with her that has to be approved, so it doesn’t look like you will be going there anytime soon, if ever, but it is something that is in the back of my mind.  Knowing you might have to move again, to a third home since being removed from the only life you knew breaks my heart for me of course, but it really hurts me for you.  You have finally seemed to be adjusting to life with us.  You love going to school three times a week and whenever your foster sister isn’t around, you are always anxious to be with her.  I love that you are bonding, to her, and to us.

Today when you had a hard time going down for your afternoon nap, I put daddy on the phone and he almost instantly calmed you down.  I don’t know why or how, but you went right to sleep after you talked to him and that absolutely warmed my heart.

I just learned that your alleged biological father went into the DCFS office to talk to your social worker.  He says he has full legal custody of you, but if that’s the case, where has he been your entire life?  Why have you never spoken about him?  I wonder if you even know him and I wonder why he is coming forward now, especially if he’s never before been in your life.

The most crazy thing about your entire situation as a foster child is how many people are working on following the law trying to help you, and how rarely those people are on the same page about what they feel is best for you and your future.  Your DCFS social worker, who is not even two years out of college, is doing everything she can to reunite you with this person who wants you all to live with her.  I wonder if this alleged relative of yours can afford the $3000 dental work you need to have done because your teeth were not taken care of your entire life before us.  I wonder if she can handle the immense responsibility of having four children to take care of, four children to get bathed and dressed every night and fed and dressed and taken to school every morning.  I wonder how you will be with all of this, immediately and for the rest of your life.

For now, I must go to work and organize someone else’s life.  I am thankful for being able to be paid to organize and make sense out of a mess.  All I want is to be able to do that for your life, make sense of the giant mess.  For now, I will have to keep worrying about your very uncertain future.  However temporary your placement may be with us, my love and concern for you and your foster sister is everlasting.

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob, Little Lady

I am so blessed to have been friends for the past decade with one of the most incredible men, a man who has become my big brother.  I was introduced to “Big Rob”, as much of the world knows him, back when I was just a twenty something child (over a decade ago).  Ever since then he and I have kept in touch and in doing so, we became the best of buddies.  A time came when Big Rob needed a place to stay and I just happened to have a vacant room and so we became roommates, off and on, for the next seven years.

Big Rob is awesome, for many reasons, but mostly because he takes the time to see people in his life who matter to him.  Last year, he was in LA for work, and we planned a night of he, me and our little lady.  Ever since then, our little lady now considers Big Rob her buddy, as evidenced by the photos here.  I love that I’m able to introduce her to, and have her understand that people I introduce her to, are safe and that it is safe for her to be kind to them.

Thanks Big Rob for being the best Big Brother to me and such a wonderful Uncle to her!!!

 

Big Rob Little Lady poolside

 

 

Big Rob Little Lady Jeepin

Big Rob Little Lady

Big Rob Little Lady My SurreaLife

This Past Tuesday On Tujunga

This past Tuesday, I was surprised at how happy I was when I woke up.  I woke up and was just happy.  It’s not that I often wake up miserable.  In fact, I typically simply wake up tired but yesterday, I woke up expressly happy.  It is a good way to wake up.  I am hoping to remember to slam myself into that first morning mindset on a daily basis from now on.

After such a hectic Monday, Tuesday seemed easier, but only by a bit.  Maybe that’s why I was so happy when I woke up?  I had stuff to do – I had to call lawyers who could represent us in court, I had to go down to the Children’s Courthouse to file paperwork to make our standing with our little girl’s case more secure, but it was less to do, which was nice. After I did both of those things, it was lunch time.

Driving home from the courthouse, I was on the phone with my most favorite Big Rob for most of the ride.  I asked him where I should go eat.  I told him I wanted a big delicious salad, or just anything tasty that I could actually eat.  Being intolerant to gluten and dairy often makes dining out a bit difficult. He suggested Aroma Cafe on Tujunga.  This is one of the many reasons why Big Rob rules.  He has the most perfect ideas. Everyone thinks Aroma is great, because it is.

I drove up to find the line out the door, per the usual. I decided not to get discouraged or frustrated with my belly’s seriously grumbling situation.  I parked across Tujunga from Aroma, fed the meter, answered a return phone from one of the three lawyers I placed calls into earlier, and walked up to Vitello’s to read the menu.  Once I saw gluten free options, I made eye contact with the hostess, was seated and prepared to decide what my feast would consist of. Build your own pasta, with gluten free pasta as an option.  Score.  Arugula salad?  Yes please.  Mojito?  Uh huh. I sat back, enjoyed having five minutes not worrying about the many things I had to take care of.  This guy pulled up and made me smile until he got out of the car.

MySurreaL Tuesday on Tujunga

Who wears jeans AND leather knee high boots on a ninety degree day?  My feet started to sweat as I watched him feed the meter.

MySurreaLife on Tujunga

I happily ate my incredibly delicious arugula, almond salad and was super excited when I saw the gorgeous plate of pasta.  I was even more excited when I started eating it.  It was really delicious.  As I reveled in the glorious food, I noticed a table top sign about the restaurant’s game nights.  I had been to a restaurant in the area that also offered board games to patrons while they ate, but that restaurant is now closed so I was thrilled to find this available elsewhere.  I took a pic of the small sign, with my delicious food in the foreground and sent it via text to a girlfriend of mine who is also gluten intolerant and lives in the area.  I told her we should have a date night some game night and eat some more delicious gluten free pasta.

MySurreaLife A Tuesday on Tujunga

She promptly texted me back that, “Vitello’s is where Robert Blake shot his wife!”  Of all the luck.  Of course I then had to research what happened there and then drove around the scene to check it out when I left. I posted about my new found knowledge of a Hollywood crime scene on my FB page, and stayed on FB for a little while.  I noticed that Nickelodeon actress Madison Pettis, someone I have worked with in the past, posted that it was her birthday and that she and her girlfriends had brunch at Aroma earlier that day.  See? Everyone really does like Aroma. 

MySurreaLife Madison Pettis Aroma Cafe Tujunga

It’s always something that makes life seem so surreal.   #MySurreaLife trips me out constantly

My Most Manic Monday

Anyone who knows me knows I cannot accept not being busy.  Even when I go on vacation, I take a book, a magazine, paper to take notes on any and everything.  I’m just a do-er.  I have a hard time ‘turning off.’

Apparently I also take some sort of extreme masochistic delight in burning the candle at both ends.  I love having projects.  That being said, I currently work managing two private family homes, I am handling two public relations projects, I am consulting for a new digital checkout application company and I have a four year old foster child we’re trying to adopt, I also have a husband and a house.  Yes, I’m exhausted, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As fate would have it, my husband who works as a bodyguard, got called to go to work with the NBA in the Philippines for 4 days and left on Saturday evening.

MySurreaLife Husband and Daughter LAX July 2014

With him out of town, it is a little more work to care for our little one, but not much.  She’s a really great child and fairly self sufficient when it comes to entertaining herself.

One of my PR clients is the agency who discovered the legendary James Brown.  The part of the agency’s founder is played by Dan Aykroyd in the new movie, “Get On Up.”  The premiere of that movie was July 21, this past Monday night, at the Apollo Theater in New York.  The week prior I was working to get publicity about the company surrounding the premiere of the movie.  I also spent all of Monday morning doing follow up calls and arranging for interviews to happen with media outlets and my clients on the red carpet…until I got a call from our foster daughter’s lawyer that shifted all of my focus and energy.

I was told that our foster daughter’s bio mom had regained her Reunification Rights.  In California (I don’t know if this is the case elsewhere), parents in the social services system have two sets of rights; their reunification rights and their parental rights,  Their reunification rights allow for services to help them to be reunified with their children.  These are the first to go if they don’t go to therapy, or rehab or leave an abusive situation.  Our foster daughter’s mom had those removed long ago, so there was no worry by anyone that she would do what she needed to do to earn those back.  Somehow apparently she did and she was granted custody of her four (of 6) oldest children.  According to our daughter’s lawyer, those children are old enough to speak about what they want.  I’m confused that they said they wanted to live in a home that was unsafe because that is where they are now living, back in the abusive home they were removed from four years ago.

I became slightly freaked out at this information that wasn’t seen coming by anyone who knows the situation with our little girl.  I posted a status update on Facebook asking my FB friends to put their energies in the world that she would stay with us forever.

MySurrealife FB post asking for all good energy to come our way for our little lady to stay with us forever <3

While processing all of this information I was given about social services putting four of our daughters’ siblings back in the home they were removed from, I had to continue making phone calls and sending emails about the movie premiere.  One media outlet, a great industry resource, Pollstar.com, said they’d be happy to run a photo of the agents at the premiere.  I got in touch with a couple photographers who would be attending the red carpet.  One requested photos of my clients so he could be sure to take their photos when they arrived.  I called Dan Aykroyd’s publicist to ask if he would pose with them.  She got back to me sooner than expected and said that Mr. Aykroyd would be happy to pose with them.  Score.  One outlet secured.

Weeks earlier, I had made an appointment for our little girl to go to a doctor who was hard to get in to see, and who was also an hour’s drive away from us.  That appointment also happened to be on this same Monday that was oh so wide open on my calendar just weeks prior.  Ha.  Try to plan life and life just plans itself sometimes.

By noon I had sent enough emails that I felt secured leaving the office, with a few more to be sent, to go get our little beauty from school and make the hour drive down to the doctor in Newport Beach.

By that time, my phone was on the verge of blowing up from the amazing amounts of supportive text messages and phone calls from so very many of our friends and family.  Not that I was surprised, but it really makes me stop and shake my head in disbelief sometimes at how blessed we are with the people in our lives.  I really could not ask for more incredible, caring and supportive friends and family.  Mine are the absolute cream of the crop.

I picked up our little beauty from school and we got on the road.  She promptly fell asleep.  Because I am a genius, I scheduled the Dr appt during a time I knew we would be driving during her usual nap time.  I’m a genius multi-tasker actually!  Driving to child’s Dr appt an hour away while child gets an hour long nap. #Score

I called my mom back, talked to her a little about what’s going on and fifteen minutes into the drive on the amazingly not-so-crowded 405 freeway, I got a call from my husband.  Knowing he is literally across the world, I tell my mom I have to answer his call, hang up with her and pick up his.  He asks me if I am home.  I told him where I was and he said the alarm company called because the alarm went off.  The alarm company called him and woke up up.  It was 4am in the Philippines.  Of course.  I told him I couldn’t turn around and to let the alarm company dispatch the police if need be.  So that’s now also on my mind. Sweet mother of all things holy.

We get to Doctor’s office, I turn my phone to vibrate, text our daughter’s biological mother to find out some questions about our little lady’s history and details of her birth asked on the paperwork for the Dr and I manage to also frantically respond to various emails coming in about the movie premiere.  It is three hours later in New York, and the red carpet of the premiere was not far away.

Calls, texts and emails make my purse rumble through the entire Dr visit, worrying me that they are about the premiere but convincing myself that they were simply calls and texts from loving friends and family.  We finish at the Dr’s office just after 3pm, which is just after 6pm in New York, just thirty minutes from the time the red carpet arrivals begin.  Successful doctors appointment, including my remembering to have doctor fill out all necessary paperwork required by social services.  #Boom  I’m getting good at this adult stuff, slowly but surely.  Before we get back on the road, I make sure my clients know the names of the reporters who wish to speak with them.  I hop back in the car with our little star and I am pleased with my job as a circus performer today; I can juggle with the best of em.

images
We get back on the freeway and make it home in good time considering it was closing in on rush hour in Los Angeles.  We stop and pick up some food before we get home.  I needed food in my system in case I had to deal with a broken window or police situation back at our house.  I get home to find no police notices and no broken windows.  That is how you spell “minor relief.”
Around 7pm Los Angeles time, I got a few text messages from the agent who hired me to do PR for the agency.  He said the two other agents who went to the premiere were interviewed by the outlets I arranged for them to talk to, Variety and THR, but that they didn’t see Dan Aykroyd so they didn’t get a photo with him.  UGHHHH!!!!  The ONE major thing I was sure would be a perfect publicity tool was a photo of Mr. Aykroyd who played Mr Ben Bart in the movie and Ben Bart’s son.  So much for that.
Turns out Mr. Aykroyd didn’t show at 7pm, when his publicist said he would.  He came at the very end of the red carpet and rushed into the movie.  Oh course he did.  By the time he arrived, my clients were already inside.
Dan Aykroyd Get On Up Premiere July 21 Apollo Theater
I got our little lady bathed, teeth brushed, read her a story and got her into her bed.  I was so exhausted with everything on my mind that I myself just wanted to pass out.  Before I could I made a couple mental notes as to what I had to do the next day; file more paperwork at the children’s court house, put calls into as many lawyers as possible and follow up with the media outlets at the premiere.  Just another day in MySurreaLife I guess.  Sometimes none of this seems really real.  It seems too surreal and I feel like I must really be in a pod somewhere, while my life is computer programmed into my brain like in the Matrix.  Makes me wonder…

Mommy, Mommy! Are Those Real?

At the grocery store the other day, little lady and I stood by the “fresh” seafood counter awaiting the rotisserie chicken to be finished rotissering. She noticed some whole trout in the frozen display, pointed and said,
“Mommy! Mommy! Look fish!” I looked over, saw the fish in their entireties, eyes open, etc.

Feeling horrible for being at the top of the food chain and being partly responsible for the poor fish in their current state, I simply said,  “yep! Those are fish!”

We waited there for awhile longer, me looking around, on my phone, etc, her in the little seat of the shopping cart.   She had her head turned away from me to look at the fish in the frozen display and she started patting her arm on me, to get my attention. Her little hand landed on my little chest. As she patted the bra area, she said,  “Mommy, mommy. Are those real?”

So that happened, in public.

I explained to her that the fish were real and that they were in there so people could eat them.  She was a bit angered by that.  I forget what she said as I was trying to recover from her feeling me up while asking if something was real.  Hysterical.

Interesting Day of Trying to Figure Out What People Were Saying

In my house, I’ve become used to trying to decifer what the three year old who lives with us is trying to say.  Tonight, for instance, after reading her a bedtime story, I gave her a hug and put her into her bed.  She then said, “goodnight!  You are Hangry.”

I twice asked her to repeat what she was saying and each time, very clearly, she said, “You are Hangry.”

I responded, confused, “I’m angry?”

“Nooo!” she said. “You’re Hangry.”

“I’m hungry?”

“No,” she responded again, this time pointing at the book we just read.  “You’re Hangry.”

“Ohhhh, I’m Henry!” I finally understood.

“Yes, Hangry,” she again replied.

Tonight we also had my significant other’s 83 year old mother over for dinner.  She first said she wasn’t very hungry and that she would only like a salad.  When we all sat down to dinner, she stopped eating her salad and looked, and looked harder at her son.  He said, “yes mother?”

She said, “I really don’t like all this stuff in my salad.”  He looked at me confused, as there was only lettuce leaves left in her salad bowl.

He said, “mom, you only have lettuce in your salad bowl.”

She replied ephatically, “yes, but it’s green!  I only like white lettuce.”

He and I just looked at each other, admitting our loss at the logic of the situation.

I LOVE how surprising our days are now-a-days. From the three year old to the eighty three year old, we never know what to expect from these two!

Who Have I Become?!?!

Since becoming a parent just five months ago, my lifestyle has definitely changed.  This three year old little lady who we were blessed with, wakes me up consistently around 8am, sometimes later, sometimes a bit earlier, but always right around there.  I have never, with the exception of a 7 month stint at a 9-5 job, woken up consistently at 8am, and I’m one of those people who LOVES their sleep.  I like my sleep A LOT.  I also used to go out about town randomly whenever I could.  Now that I don’t have as much freedom to catch up on my sleep, every opportunity to get a little more rest is taken at first chance.

MySurreaLife Whoever You Are

Last night, for example, my significant other and I had the unique opportunity to stand backstage and watch The Weeknd perform at the Greek Theater.  Yesterday morning we decided we’d rather go to dinner and a movie.  I mean, who am I to allow this to happen?!  Any chance I had to go to a concert for free, let alone stand backstage at a show, was taken immediately and every moment was enjoyed immensely.

MySurreaLife Jason Charles Miller

In all honesty, my significant other and I have been to so many shows, for free and backstage, paid for and working, that it is all so exhausting to us both anymore.  Dinner and a movie is not only the more relaxing of the two options, it is also the one that will get us home earlier.  I’m not even forty, I’m acting seventy and I do not even hate it! hahaha.

We went to see “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and am I glad we did.  The cast was completely star studded; from Oprah to John Cusack, Robin Williams and the star Forrest Whitaker.  It was a brilliantly acted, Forrest Gump type story about one family and their lives through the years, all while history was going on around them.  It’s definitely a film I’ll watch again and again, and one I’d like to know more about it’s originations; possibly read the book in all my free time.  ha! It’s also a film that reminded me a lot of the lives my significant other and I lead.

MySurreaLife paparazzi

Thinking about writing this post, I realize that we all evolve, whether we like it or not.  With age comes wisdom and a greater sense of reality about our surroundings.  As in the movie “The Butler,” things happen around us, history is made, close to our proximity or not, and our lives develop and unfold right alongside the history that many others might also be experiencing.

MySurrealife NeverLook Back

My significant other and I have been right there next to so much of the entertainment history others have experienced by watching the news when we’ve watched it happening with our own eyes.  It feels good, after all these years, to take a step back and watch stories the world will know unfold on a movie screen vs ten feet away.

MySurreaLife Goodnight Los Angeles

Leaving the Park

Seeing how different children/parents deal with having to leave the park reminds me of life in general and how people deal with having to deal with change. I, for example, have had to spend a lot less time at “the park” lately.  Now that I have a child, my priorities have changed and my fun “park-like” times have changed.

I can’t go out to join friends for drinks anymore, or go out with friends as freely as I could pre-parenthood. Not that I’m too dissatisfied with that as I did it so seldom before I became a parent anyway. Going out with friends, and especially to grab a cocktail is something I have to really plan for if I do want to do it.

I have to find a sitter if my significant other isn’t in town, I have to make sure my day after isnt packed as I need serious rest after drinking anymore. I’m no young buck. Getting old has taken away my leisure of bouncing back quickly. I take days to recover now. Talk about not-okay.com

Seeing the different children on the different parts of the park is like life too. There are the little ones who spin and spin on the swings, twisting the metals chains, enjoying the drunken feeling after they’ve spun themselves around and around.  The little white boy chasing the darker skinned girl, retrieving two large sticks & asking her, “do you want a big stick?” really cracked me up. I know a few of these types of white boy adults.

Then there are the parents, molding these children into who they will become. The parents who let their children tantrum when it’s time to leave the park, not taking the time to explain and enforce helpful consequences that will benefit the children and the parents alike, with a little patience and persistence.

The parent I loved watching, probably because they seem so rare these days, was the dad with his 7-8 year old son. They played tag, laughed with each other and were completely there with each other.  Our little lady took note & watched them laugh and run and play together.  When she asked me to join her, I did in a heartbeat.  When the dad and his son got ready to go, I said to the dad, “I love how you are with him.” Without hesitation he replied with a smile, ” he’s my best friend.” That was all there was to say.

Life is my park.

In the words of Jack Kerouac, “Be in love with your life, every moment.”

We Bought A Stroller

I hope she gets used to it soon. ha

MySurreaLife and a Chicco stroller

 

It Takes Courage to Make Peace

I saw this sign awhile ago at a health foods store and just recently came across this photo I took of the sign with such incredible insights.

In my quest to be a promoter of all things peaceful and happy, I realize how much more difficult it is to be peaceful when trying to resolve conflict.  It’s so much easier to fly off the handle and let emotions overrule sensibility and logic.

MySurreaLife LOVE these phrases

Parenting this person I’ve only known a few months, I’ve seen first hand how beneficial it is to remain calm at all times, and try like crazy not to let circumstances turn me into something resembling Godzilla.  Over time, I’ve seen how the little one reacts to my freaking out vs my staying calm.  I can tell she thinks more when I am calm.  She, in turn, is also less emotional.  Working to understand one another is a win win WIN.