Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day Treatment Is Coming

I received a call from Boo Boo Bears counselor at Heron Creek, his therapeutic school.  Apparently, the principal contacted our OHP Care Coordinator's Supervisor, to make sure he followed through on the referral to a day treatment facility for Boo Boo Bear.  It felt great to have that kind of support from an unlikely place.  As you can imagine, it's not a "normal" process for a school principal to contact anyone from the insurance provider.  I am grateful.

Now, I have to go to these day treatment facilities and interview staff.  There are two places here in Portland that Boo Boo Bear could end up.  Lifeworks and Perry Center (Trillium).  Both have their positives and negatives about them, and I'd like to go with the best facility.  This is a day treatment ONLY, so he will be with me every morning and after.  The school district will provide transportation to and from.

I'm hopeful for change.  Boo Boo Bear deserves a better quality of life, and so do I.  My daughter Maiya has been very patient and she certainly needs a break from all this havoc.  Boo Boo Bear, has the potential to be an amazing, lovely man.  He's so darn handsome and funny and VERY talented.  If only he could express himself in ways other that anger.  Time will tell.

I'll fill y'all in as I get more information.


xoxoxo
Casey

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day After Team Meeting

Boo Boo Bear's team meeting was yesterday.  We discussed his current increasing needs in the home.  Over the weekend he managed to break the trim around his bedroom door and almost had his entire door pushed out of the frame.  An emergency call to a contractor fixed that.  four hours and a 1/2" piece of primed plywood over his bedroom side of the door and Viola!

Moving forward we have an appointment with Dane Borg, an adolescent clinical psychologist here in Portland, Oregon.  He did Boo Boo Bear's initial evaluation, but he was so young then that much has changed.  I'm hopeful that a current evaluation will reveal Boo Boo Bear's deficiencies and give us some insight into what makes him "tick".

Meanwhile, I'm tired, but hopeful that things are getting better.  Although there's no sign of that happening at this point.  I know God is in control and it is not His plan for Boo Boo Bear, or me for that matter, to live in this state of disarray.


xoxoxo
Casey

Sunday, June 3, 2012

40th Birthday Follow Up

     My bestie, Heidi, had this beautiful 40th birthday cake made for me.  It's so pretty and I was sooooooo surprised.  It took three days and two birthday parties to eat it all.

     My Mom made an amazing tiara from a lush red leather that she tooled "happy birthday" into.  Each side has plumes of feathers form her Guinea Hens and a shiny red heart rock.  It's hard to describe, but super cute!  In all, I received two tiaras, confirming I am in fact a real princess!  I am blessed to have the friends I have in my life.

     I am equally blessed to have made the friends I have here on blogger.  Many of you have be   thoughtful in your posts to me, and all of you have made a difference in my life.

     Tomorrow is the big meeting at Heron Creek, Boo Boo Bear's school.  We'll be talking about day treatment as an option.  I open to ideas they have, but I really need to see movement in Boo Boo Bear, and I think a facility might be good for him.  I'm worried about the not so great parts of it too, but I have to consider all options for him.  Ultimately I know God's plan is in motion and I'm a willing participant.

     My sister has spent more time at the house than usual and has allowed me to have some much needed down time.  Ahhh, respite.  Sweet respite.  She's struggling with him as much as I am,  
but at least I'm not doing it all alone.

    Have a GREAT week!


    xoxoxo
    Casey



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just An Update

     I got a text this morning from Boo Boo Bear's therapist, saying that she is recommending a day treatment facility.  If this happens, it will be through the summer and into the school year.  He would actually attend school at the treatment facility.

     I'm super nervous about this.  I do believe Boo Boo Bear needs an intervention.  He is currently receiving intensive services, but they aren't working the way then should.  I'm concerned that he'll be around children with worse behavior than his, that he'll be scared, that this environment will become his "norm".  But I'm equally worried that without a serious intervention with therapy, he'll continue to back slide on his progress and I could lose him altogether.

Please just keep us in your prayers.


xoxoxo
Casey

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reluctantly Writting

     It's been about a week since I've posted here.  I'm super stressed and I think a little depressed.  Boo Boo Bear's behavior is escalating daily.  I'm questioning my ability right now.  I'm tired and angry that life is so hard right now.
     Boo Boo Bear has been with me for a number of years.  Two years ago his behavior was so extreme that he was going to be temporarily moved to a residential treatment facility if immediate progressed wasn't achieved.  Thankfully, through medications and intensive therapy, we made major progress in a relatively short period of time, which allowed him to stay with me and my daughters.

     Here we are, two years later, and out of the blue, the old Boo Boo Bear returns.  My day begins with an early morning "eff you bit-- get my breakfast" and ends with a "I'm going to effing kill you, you effing bit--".  There are holes in his wall again, the one year old bedroom door is almost broken through to the outside, and my nerves are shot.

     We have skill builders come to the home three times a week and his therapist is here twice a week.  Additionally, I'm in constant phone communication with his therapist, who is in constant communication with his psychiatrist and we aren't getting anywhere.  He can barely handle half days at school, daycare is OUT of the question, I have zero family to lend a hand and I'm feeling really stuck.  I have Bible study group at my home every Thursday and even that is possibly being moved to a more peaceful location.

     I want to cry, but I have fear in letting my emotions get that low.  I'm struggling just to be nice and patient with him, and that's not good.  Boo Boo Bear needs serious help.  I need light at the end of the tunnel.  I'm taking him Monday to a prayer room/healing room. 

Normally I'm positive in my writing, but I'm hanging on by a string right now.

Accepting all prayer...


xoxoxo
Casey

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Was I Thinking!

    
     We left for vacation this last Sunday morning. Myself, Maiya and Boo Boo Bear, were invited to go to Seaside, Oregon for a little retreat to a beach side condo with a good friend of mine. I knew there was some risk involved in taking Boo Boo Bear away from the routine and the security of home, but I really needed a change of scenery and a break from the monotony. Besides, what kid wouldn't be thrilled to have sand on demand and a heated pool?

     Half the way to the beach, Boo Boo Bear began to tantrum. Mostly he just wanted to hit Maiya with his plethora of toys and to demand that she allow him to do so. Of course, this Mama ain't playin', and immediately pulled over to allow him the chance to hand over the weapons of mass destruction. He refused and was offered a ride in my friends husbands car. Well, maybe not offered, let's just say it was strongly suggested. Relieved that we would make it the rest of the way with my daughters limbs intact, we once again commenced the hour and a half journey to our beach getaway.

     Once we got there, my visions of sandcastles and starfish were abruptly aborted. We arrived just in time for a spring storm to crash any thoughts of a sandy adventure. And worse yet, the realization of all of us confined to a condo with my darling Boo Boo Bear became a daunting reality.

     To make a VERY long story short, Boo Boo Bear's tantrums matched the bellowing storm in every way. Unpredictable and yet we knew it would be blustery.  Both storms continued throughout the four day event with each moment a lashing, raging, pounding, and exhausting experience.  I couldn't wait to get home and away from the storm, both varieties.

     We did make it home safely, mostly because my darling Boo Boo Bear slept like a baby.  Maiya and I were, and as of today still are exhausted.  We agreed that in the future, condo vacations are best meant for the two of us.  Boo Boo Bear is more of a camping type of guy anyway.  We have lots planned for this summer, camping galore!


xoxoxo
Casey Everly


   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another Vacation

     It might seem like I vacation a lot, but rest assured, my life is no more glamorous than anyone elses.  Truth is my good friend has a time share and invited my family to spend a few days in Sea Side, Oregon.  She must be crazy wanting to vacation with my brood, but who am I to suggest she reconsider?  Honestly, this vacation is much needed and couldn't be better timing.

      Boo Boo Bear's behaviors have really escalated over the last two weeks.  I don't know what is going on with him.  He's angry and tantruming constantly.  When I send him to his bedroom he gets so mad he kicks and hits and is constantly trying to break his bedroom window.  Thankfully I installed 1/2" thick plexiglass over the glass window (with DHS approval).  I can't figure out what is triggering this behavior.

     I'm also in the process of selling my two cars and purchasing one that hopefully meets all our needs.  This is a very stressful process for me.  I've owned my prized Durango for several years now, paid cash for it.  It was my dream car, bright red with creamy beige leather and all the trimmings.  It's a bitter sweet situation.  The company I used to work for paid my insurance and all the gas.  Now that I'm no longer employed there, they aren't paying my expenses, duh.  But, now I can't afford the gas.  So,in addition to owning the Durango,  I bought a car, a Saturn to be exact.  It gets great gas mileage, but doesn't have the seating capacity of the Durango.  So each vehicle meets one of our needs, but neither can meets them independently.  Super duper long story short, I can't afford both of them long term, and I have to sell them.

     All this is happening at the same time that Boo Boo Bear's behaviors are escalating.  Change is difficult for me, especially change that has such a huge financial impact on my family.  I am after all a single Mom and foster mom, money is tight and there's little room for mistakes.  So, vacation time will hopefully give me some space to consider therapeutic options for Boo Boo Bear, and my vehicle decisions.  Wish me well and if you feel like sending some prayers our way, we'd appreciate it.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wrap Around Serivces, DD Services, DHS And Lil' Ole Me

    Boo Boo Bear receives many services through a variety of agencies.  The funny thing about this fact is that when I initially became a foster parent, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and level of DHS involvement in my personal space.  Now, nearly eight years later, not only is DHS still here, I welcome them.  In addition to DHS, I have several other agencies providing supports for Boo Boo Bear on a daily basis, one of them being his MHO, who has the ability to continue or end Boo Boo Bear's wrap around services.

     We have team meetings at the MHO's office to discuss Boo Boo Bear's progress in all areas of his life.  We are constantly brainstorming ideas that may provoke change within him in a more natural way.  We talk about issues that have come up over the previous weeks and how they should be addressed in order to minimize the overall impact on our family.  And more recently, the MHO facilitator is challenging us with discussing what Boo Boo Bear's MHO ICTS discharge criteria should look like.

     It makes me squeamish to think about his level of services dropping.  Prior to receiving services, Boo Boo Bear was a candidate for an inpatient treatment facility,(not what I wanted for him).  His behaviors were extremely severe and he was a danger to himself and others.  Thankfully, that did not happen.  He qualified for ICTS which included wrap around services.  Medications and intensive therapy was a crucial part of his reform.  It's been a slow process, but one that is working.

     After much deliberation, the following is the criteria I decided needed to be checked off the list prior to Boo Boo Bear's discharge from the ICTS.

·        Attend full days at school
·        Completing age appropriate work in school
·        Appropriate interaction at school. No violent behaviors toward staff, peers, property
·        Safe during bus transportation
·        Safe toward both mom’s and siblings
·        Safe toward family property.  No more holes in doors, walls, ceiling, property of others
·        Safe toward self. No, “I’m going to kill myself” statements
·        Appropriate language when angry.  No more “F Bombs”, calling me an a---hole, etc.
·        Restrain from physical attacks on mom.
·        Able to respond appropriately to a “no” answer
·        Able to safely go into community, stores.
·        Able to travel in car safely.
·        Able to safely attend daycare setting, allowing Mom to go back to work.
·        Able to participate in age appropriate activities: sports, neighborhood play, family interaction
·        Able to self soothe in uncomfortable situations. IE unable to do activity he wants at that moment.

     It's a long list, makes me tired just typing it.  It's also the list of possibilities.  A list that once a check mark resides next to each action item, means Boo Boo Bear is a success story, that he beat the odds stacked against him.  I'm excited to watch the changes that continue to grow within him.  He's learning to be happy, which in turn makes the household happy.  Time will tell to what extent the ICTS  will remain a part of our daily life.  All I can hope for is that they stay long enough for Boo Boo Bear to glean all he needs.


xoxoxo
Casey everly

Monday, May 14, 2012

Boo Boo Bear's Current Struugle

     Boo Boo Bear is currently at Heron Creek, a K-12 therapeutic school in Oregon City.  He's been there since pre-school, and is now in second grade.  Heron Creek's primary focus is therapy first, secondary is curriculum. 

     Boo Boo Bear has really struggled at school this year.  He's done everything from pounding his fists on desks to stab his counselor in the face with a pencil.  I've had to pick him up from school a few times because he wasn't able to ride home safely on the bus and he's been suspended for a few days. 

     In December of 2011, Boo Boo Bear's suspension led to a review of his IEP, which left us all in agreement that full days are to demanding of a schedule for him.  We determined half days would be in his best interest, allowing him to build some successful interactions in his school day, and minimizing his possible failures.  He is currently still attending only half days at school.

     Boo Boo Bear's behavioral issues don't appear to be decreasing however, and are becoming more a part of his "norm".  He is easily agitated and becomes confrontational both physically and verbally nearly every day.  Once home, he is very tired and shows less frustration tolerance than what I would expect from a child only attending school half days.

     Because of this increased behavioral issues at school, I am looking into a day treatment program.  I'm nervous because of the possible negative impact this could have on him.  I worry to have Boo Boo Bear influenced by the kids who are worse off than him.  I'm equally worried that if I chose to do nothing, then either nothing will change or things could continue to worsen. It's clear to me that he needs additional therapy in a school environment. 

     I would appreciate ANY advice, any stories good, bad or otherwise.  I know I'm not alone here.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wishing Us All A Happy Mothers Day

     I don't know what the weather is like where you all are, but it's beautiful here in Portland, Oregon.  That's saying a lot, since this is one of the rainiest states.  It's supposed to be 83 today and 93 tomorrow! Wooooo hoooo!  Just in time for Mothers Day.

     For any Mom and Foster Mom out there that feels less than appreciated, misunderstood, underestimated, overworked, sleep deprived, over budget, underpaid or simply just pooped, this one goes out to you:  YOU are appreciated, understood, worth every ounce of effort, a hard worker, and YOU have a blessing being prayed over you right now!

     We are changing futures people!  How amazing is that!  Because of us, the course of the future is changed, and the children and families we've worked with with, in turn, change the lives of others.  It's a continual blessing.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

   

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hacked And Citalopram

    Hi friends, I'm so sorry about that.  It seems I was hacked.  Some villainous fiend installed a virus that had remote access onto my laptop and allowed them to manipulate my computer from anywhere in the world.  They then prompted it to start its evil work the next day.  My computer guru friend Brian, found it and disabled it for me. YAY!!! 

     Scary stuff.  I'm the only user on this laptop.  My kids couldn't have gotten through my plethora of passwords to have done this, and my computer is guarded almost as well as the Declaration of Independence

     Speaking of the Declaration of Independence, has anyone noticed that our government is slowly and purposefully destroying our constitutional rights?  Ugghhh, not a good side note for this blog.

     Anyhow, back to family...  Boo Boo Bear is getting an alteration to his medication regimen.  He's gaining weight and becoming easily angered and physically aggressive since he's been taking  Citalopram.  It's only been 1-1/2 months since he started this med, but he's gained almost 9lb and there are several new holes in his bedroom door and walls.  Now that I've read all the side affects, I can clearly see he's the epitome of a poor candidate for the med. 

     The weather is beautiful here in Portland, Oregon.  Maiya is home schooling away, Lilly dog is basking in the heat, I'm catching up with my friends here and Boo Boo Bear is tantruming in his room.  Ahhhhh, what a life.


xoxoxo
Casey everly

    

    
 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Computer Is Down, Sorry

I'm borrowing a computer tonight.  Sorry I can't read anyone's posts.  Should be back up by Wednesday.

xoxoxo
Casey

Friday, May 4, 2012

Featured Friday: Mom No Matter What

     Mom No Matter What is a blog written by a Christian, married, stay-at-home mother to three adopted children. Her professional background is in advocacy. She has a particular interest in mental-health advocacy for children served by the public behavioral-health system and the child-welfare system.

     I've only met this amazing foster and adoptive Mom through her blog, and first met her through this post: You've Heard of Duct Tape Wallets, But Duct Tape Socks??   Her story brought me to such an emotional place.  Her post is real and honest and a heart felt release of words and emotions.  I instantly prayed for this family and I know the family is praying over these kiddos to.  God is answering these prayers and I can't wait to start reading about Dumas being released from these issues.  Prayer is powerful folks, and God promises that whatever we ask Him in Jesus' name He will give us.  A war is being fought in the heavenlys for this child and the Lord will prevail.

     As I read through this account of Dumas and some of his compulsive issues, my emotions raced as I imagined myself in the writers shoes.  And then in Dumas's shoes.  It brought me to a tearful place and I had nothing but compassion for this precious child, Dumas, and his remarkable adoptive parents.

     I can relate to this story of Dumas all to well. My foster son has many issues that have caused him to self harm, harm others, harm pets and in many instances, cause property damage. Some of his issues are not as prevalent as they used to be, thanks be to GOD, therapy and medications. Dumas's story hit home for me in many ways.

     The average person, with or without child, can't begin to image what raising a special needs child is like.  Add on the extra problems of being a foster child and the intensity of the needs increase ten fold.  I'm sure most of us can think back to a time when we couldn't have imagined being involved in some of the situations we are now living with daily.  How could we have imagined that we would some day be smack dab in the middle of dealing with these sweet little babes and the severe conditions their bio parents created for them. 

     From what I've read, this foster and adoptive Mom and her husband, have provided these kiddos with a solid, nurturing, loving home.  They have dedicated their lives and skills to be advocates for those precious little, broken hearted children, and made it their mission to build these children up the way only a mommy and or daddy can.  This couple is raising these children to be successful people.  They are working daily to change their lives by creating a solid foundation in them for which a future can be built.  They are teaching them right from wrong, a faith in the Lord, self control, love and respect, and we know the list goes on and on. 

     Please take a few moments to check out her blog  Mom No Matter What , and send her a comment.  She has many great stories, some funny and some tearful, but all wonderful.

     After asking permission to write the above, I received an email from Mom No Matter What.  She wanted to make sure I included the following: I am very touched.  Please don't change a thing, except to note that we are not anything close to perfect--just doing our best and counting on God to make up for all of our flaws and deficiencies. 

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

  


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pack Packs And Moshclofs

     Pack pack's are used to provide safe commute for your kiddos most important cargo; books, crayons, papers, lunch pails and if you're not an avid pack pack checker, you'll likely find last weeks sandwich crust.  It's the word most likely used by your preschooler to second grader when they are referring to that cartooned bag with shoulder straps and zippers galore.  Pack pack is an easy word to figure out.  Sounds a lot like the true pronunciation, back pack, and is only one letter off from its actual spelling.  But, do you know what a moshclof is?

     Speech impediments, lisps, slurs, beautifully blundered words our lil' nuggets come up with are so cute.  I love the made up words or mis pronounced words they say, so innocently and intently.  Usually the words slowly morph into the real, grown up version of the word as they age, or if they are corrected (something I don't rush).  But some kids still hang on to their version of a word in to grade school, and some of us never grow out of it.  Have you hear of brotox, fantabulous, or maybe craptacular?  Yup, made up words by grown ups.  Although they definitely don't carry the cuteness appeal. 

       Maiya, my now 13yr old,  had several words that just melted my heart when she spoke them.  She started speaking relatively early and came up with some doozies.  Some of the words she used were a variation of what she thought she was hearing.  Pack pack was one of them, then there was bafroom, nana (banana), peas (please) and so on.  Most words that contained an "s" sound were funny because she wouldn't use her tongue and teeth to produce the sound, rather she'd blow air through her nose to mimic the sssss sound.  I bet you're trying to do it right now, aren't you?  Some of them were just plain silly words that she'd put together to convey a thought.  And, some were new names for things all together.

      For example; she got a kitten and was told she could name it all on her own.  "Go ahead Maiya", I told her,  "name her whatever you want, she's all yours."  Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into.  Treebook.  Treebook was the name my precious little bumpkin wanted to name our new fluffy puddytat (Yes, another word I refuse to give up).  I guess I did say what ever she wanted.  After much deliberation, and several heated family meetings, we settled on Catty.

     So, back to moshclof.  This was Maiya's word for washcloth.  She truly believed this was the correct word for the 10 x 10 piece of fabric or face cloth one would use to wash the face and body.  Just a little soap and a  moshclof and your squeaky clean.  Maiya continued using this word until she was 12.  Then, and against my wishes, her older sister corrected her.  So was the end of the days where moshclof was a staple in our home.  I'm sure Maiya will still blunder words as she's increasing her vocabulary.  And I look forward to each one of  them as a reminder of her innocence and inexperience in this world.  I love my little bug, short for lady bug, my pet name for Maiya.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Numero Uno

I love my family.  I have so many random pictures of my kids it was hard to pick which ones to post.  I think pictures can share emotions equivalent to words.


Boo Boo Bear
Grandma Suzie
Lilly dog
Boo Boo Bear
Kayla, my almost 20yr old











Kayla & Maiya SISTERS
Maiya's Big Beautiful Eyeball

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Boo Boo Bear, Sharpie Marker & My Car...

     Boo Boo Bear was in 1st grade when he began to learn how to write his name in both lower case and capital letters.  What a terrific bench mark for little kids.  They work so hard and have so much pride in the accomplishment once achieved and they practice, practice, practice to their hearts content.    Boo Boo Bear was no different than any other kid.  He'd write his name on every piece of paper he could, sometimes twice.

     I can recall wanting to write my name in the worst way.  I would watch grown ups write everything from their name, to checks, to anything that included a pen or pencil and words.  And oh my gosh, when they did the fancy cursive writing!  I could have watched FOREVER!  I practiced my cursive on anything I could.  Nearly every book I owned had my version of cursive, it looked something like the picture to the left.  It was written in pencil, it was written in pen, but mostly it was written in crayola.

     Now I wish I could say that all of Boo Boo Bear's writing attempts were like that of most children, thankfully most of them were.  We provide all sorts of writing instruments for our children; colored pencils, number 2 pencils, chalks, crayons, and under supervision, we may even bestow upon our little nuggets the coveted ball point pens.  But NEVER, and I mean NEVER EVER do we allow or offer our precious little learners the insidious permanent marker, better known by its street name, Sharpie.  So how that lil' nugget of mine got the Sharpie into his precious mitts is still a mystery to this day.  Somehow he ever so quietly, and most likely in super hero stealth mode, was able to practice the capitol "K" (first letter of his real name)  on not just one, but both the backs of the driver and passenger seats in my car.  Yup, big GIANT K's.

     I've not touched those K's for more than a year now.  It's easy to forget they're there when I'm never in the back seat of my own car.  And even easier to forget when I've repeatedly told myself, "Casey, forget it.  What's done is done, let it go."  But now that the emotionally charged part of me actually has let it go, I figured it was finally worth a try to eradicate that villainous Sharpie marker.

     Google is great for trouble shooting a problem.  I read so many stories promising do it this way, do it that way....  I can't believe the chemicals suggested.  I mean, how could there be so many bottles, pastes, goo's and sprays?  Each one claiming it's sure to do the trick. I hadn't heard of most of them, let alone did I know where to find them.

     The more I read, the more I realised most of these remedies simply would not work.  After months of reading I found a solution that was so incredibly simple AND it made sense.  So, for anyone that has had a Sharpie attack, here's your answer: to remove Sharpie from fabric.  I wish I wouldn't have waited so long.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Monday, April 30, 2012

Summer Camp For Special Needs Foster Kids

     Boo Boo Bear, my seven year old foster son, is as cute as a little boy could be.  He has big brown eyes, thick curly hair, the chubbiest chub cheeks you've ever seen, a gruff little voice that makes his lisp absolutely adorable, an incredible sense of humor and witt, and has been diagnosed as special needs.  I mentioned before in my post  "Boo Boo Bear, My Special Needs Foster Child", some of the behavior issues he struggles with.  He suffers from PTSD, Anxiety, Compulsive, Oppositional Defiancy Disorder ODD and ADD issues.  Because of this, he exhibits all the related behaviors you'd expect.  Unfortunately, these aren't all his struggles.  He also has some significant bowel and skin issues, both of which have landed him in the hospital numerous times.  Boo Boo Bear is one adorable and complicatedly difficult lil' nugget.

     Because of his disorders, Boo Boo Bear can feel very lonely and excluded.  He often misses out on much of the "regular" kind of kid stuff like sports, over nights with friends, and even just typical neighborhood play.  Summer time can be excruciating for a lonely kid.  Throw a few special needs on top of that and POW BAM BOOM, you've got an explosive situation and one miserable kiddo.

     Thankfully, and through two years of seeking, I've found a summer camp that works with special needs foster children who are just like Boo Boo Bear.  This is a week long, you heard me right, a WEEK LONG, children's camp, that has a therapeutic staff.  I had to apply for Boo Boo Bear, which was an easy process.  I'm putting this link: Royal Family Kid's Camp International Camp Search  so you can inquire for your special needs foster child too.  This is an international camp, meaning that there are hundreds of locations within the USA and several other countries.

     Now, if you're not already in complete shock that a camp like this exists, I've got another whammy for ya that should completely blow your mind, the cost of this amazing camp, are you sitting down folks, this camp is a whopping...$20!  The organization relies heavily on donation and volunteers to provide these camps at little, and in some cases, no cost to the fostering family.

     Boo Boo Bear's application is off in the mail, awaiting approval.   I'm super excited and hopeful that his application will be approved for a week of camp.  He needs this so badly.  I can only imagine what it might be like for him to experience interaction in a safe and structured play environment and to realize he's not alone, that there are thousands of other children just like him.

     I would love to hear if anyone out there has been involved with this camp or one similar.  Also, if you are aware of ANY international programs that works with kids like ours. 


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 27-April 29 I Will Be On Vacation

Hi all, I'll be gone the next couple days, enjoy your weekend!

I Think I'm Going To Try A Wordless Wednesday

     I've been reading along with other foster mom bloggers, trying to glean ideas for my blog.  One thing I've noticed is that most of them have a really clever way of getting out of blogging at lease one day a week, and in some cases the weekend. 

     I love writing every day, don't get me wrong, but I didn't realise the time commitment involved.  First, I have to decided which event or thoughts in my day to write about.  I'm OCD and ADD, so this in itself can be quite a process.  Then there's the writing part.  Whatever the finished piece is, has to reflect my personality accurately.  Sometimes what I'm trying to convey doesn't come out the same once on paper, or in my case computer.  My kids think I'm a tad bit obsessive about it, but I'm NOT, I swear!!!  It's just that, I feel strongly committed to sharing this part of my life with people JUST LIKE ME, and anyone who knows me, knows I have a heckofa lot to say! 

     One fellow blogger mom, (I'll post her site as soon as I can get my link to work) has a "Wordless Wednesday", which allows her to forgo any writing that day.  She instead, posts pictures of the kiddos and family and I would guess any pets she might have too.  I like the idea that I could have a break from writing.  This is a two fold benefit; I can dispel any notion Maiya and Boo Boo Bear has that I'm compulsive with my blogging,  I could be in and out of this thing in 15min, and they'd be none the wiser.  And, I can simply rest, ahhhhhhhh.  I'm practicing this one.

     I'm also thinking of doing a "Featured Friday", where I will write and feature a fellow foster parent blogger.  By doing so, I'll have the chance to take the time to really dig into someones blog life, his/her stories, and get a good feel for the emotions and characters behind them.  I also want to support the foster parents that take time out of their busy day, to write for OUR benefit, and I'm sure it's wonderfully therapeutic for them too.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boo Boo Bear, My Special Needs Foster Child

    My foster "Son" , Boo Boo Bear, (not his real name) is a rambunctious seven year old, and that's putting it mildly.  He is diagnosed as a special needs child.   He has a number of social/emotional behavioral issues, and a handfull of physical issues that we manage with help from professionals involved through his wrap around services.  Our therapy provider is Catholic Community Services.  We do in-home therapy 4-5 days a week.  This involves a designated therapist that meets with him once a week and then myself once a week, and "shifts" or skills trainers/builders.   He's on an assortment of  medications that help him regulate his extreme emotions and are meant to allow him to access his cognitive thinking.  He attends Heron Creek, a theraputic public school with a private school setting, that specializes in special needs children, most of them behaviorally challenged.  He also sees a psychiatrist monthly, and has a full team of care coordinators.  In other words, this little nugget is a hand full and then some!

     Over the course of Boo Boo Bear's childhood, I've made special accommodations in to home so that he has a safe place to play, grow, and release excessive energy.  While not all of these precautions are needed now (thanks to therapy and a great psychiatrist), they all have been and essential part of our life.  I want to share some of the alterations I've done to give special needs providers ideas of what can be done within the home, and relatively cheap. Over the years, accommodations have changed to keep up with Boo Boo Bear's ever changing personality.

       Some of the safety changes included removing traditional light switch plates, that typically have two small screws to affix them to the wall, and replacing them with  a smooth screwless plate.  My little guy would unscrew the plates and try to get to the wiring.  The electrical outlets had to be completely covered with a smooth plate.  His bedroom window was broken during a tantrum and was immediately replaced with a new window, but for his protection, a 1/2" sheet of plexiglass was professionally installed on the inside window casing.  This would protect him from falling and from broken glass in the event he managed to break the window again.  The plexi had to be approved by our DHS case manager and certifier.  All dressers, and I say dressers plural because he's gone through five, had to be screwed into a stud in the wall because during a tantrum, they'd be flung over.  These are only some of the alterations done. 

     Some of the fun things I've done is installed gymnast rings in the ceiling studs in the center of his bedroom.  I found these at IKEA and they cost next to nothing.  The swing motion helps soothe him and he can swing to his hearts content.  I also installed rockwall hardware from Home Depot.  This is a vertical installation through the sheetrock and into the studs of his bedroom wall.  It took him a while to build the body strength needed to reach the ceiling, but this is one determined kid.  He wasted no time as he set out to meet the challenge.  He has a kick boxing bag with stand that I found at a garage sale for $5, and I found some kids boxing gloves at the local Good Will.  All of these things have helped Boo Boo Bear to exert the energy, frustration, and often times down right anger, away from people and personal property.

     Boo Boo Bear is a VERY loving lil' nugget, and always has such regret after an emotional outburst.  Having these tools has really helped him in so many ways.  I'd love to hear about things anyone else has done to alter the space used by their foster child or special needs child.  I wish I would have done many of these alterations sooner than I had, but kids don't come in a neatly packaged box with a manual, and many of my occupational therapy attempts were purely trial and error.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From One Foster Moms Blog To Another

     Since I've started blogging, I've been scouring the Internet for single foster mom's and dad's that blog about her/his experiences.  I've been both surprised and disappointed to find there aren't many blogs like this out there.  I do have high expectations of people, which is a character flaw that I'm working on in my personal emotional growth, but COME ON PEOPLE, I need to know you're out there!

     It's a tad intimidating to write and be willing to share about my daily life and I'd hoped more people would be as open with their life as I intend to be with mine.  I found that many of the blogs are just plain dead.  In other words, someone started a blog and never returned to update it.  Some people never even came back to follow up with a second post.  Bummer!  I really am trying to find people, a community rather, that I can identify with, and feel a part of.

     Today, and by accident (I was surfing for a specific topic), I found a blogger that does a GREAT job of chronicling her life as a foster mom.  I meant to just drop in, peek around and if I saw anything I liked, I would be sure to leave a comment and say "hi, good job blogging foster mom". But, like a kid in a candy store, I got lost in the sweetness of the blogs tales of family, foster kids, bio parents and spicy humor.

     If you are a Foster Parent, better yet, a single foster parent, you should check out her blog: I Must Be Trippin' .  This lady, Mimi, has such a zest and love for the kids she fosters, and lets call it what it really is, she is their surrogate mommy.  Mimi is a single foster mom of multiple foster children.  In her blog, she's positive, creative, and funny, making the reading informative and enjoyable. Just reading her posts inspired me to throw on my work clothes, get out the tool box, and start wrenching on a custom attitude adjustment, special for yours truly.  I want to have a glass-half-full kind of perspective. 

     Mimi seems to be the kinda lady I could see myself sitting with on the front porch, a mojito in hand, swapping foster care war stories.  Each of us showing off our battle scars, recalling how each scar is a reminder of a child's life we've impacted.  Many times, a foster parent impacts the life of all the family involved with the foster child.  To choose to foster these innocent, precious little people is a big responsibility, and an even bigger personal reward for the foster parent.

     I'm grateful for people like Mimi, that work diligently to share daily life stories that encourage and support like minded people.  With a blog, you have the ability to touch the heart and minds of people and families anywhere in the world and allow the opportunity for everyone to find someone to connect with.  I can only hope that my blog will bring joy to someone else the way Mimi's did for me.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Monday, April 23, 2012

How To Turn Garbage Into Money

     I mentioned in an earlier post that I refurbish furniture to bring in extra money.  I really just started to do this only a few months ago when I was in a serious need of instant cash.  To tell the truth, my home went into foreclosure.  My bank is currently under investigation for my situation specifically, but regardless of the reasons why, and why it wasn't my fault, or within my control to prevent, the foreclosure status was real and happening fast.

     Fees above and beyond my mortgage were accruing weekly, and it became painfully obvious that I wasn't going to make ends meet unless I took immediate action.  First line of defense, PRAY!  I can't stress this enough, God promised me I wouldn't lose the house.  I believed Him and knew that He wanted me to get off my duff and put in some elbow grease to increase my monthly income, but I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to do.

     During this time, my eldest daughter, Kayla, was working for the local dump.  One night after work, she brought me a beat up, left for dead dresser, thinking I might clean it up a bit and use it somewhere.  When I first saw it there was the ew factor, but then I really looked at it.  I wondered if this beat up corpse of boards and nails could possibly be brought back to life.  The more I looked, the more I realized it had good bones.  The structure was intact for the most part, it was real wood, and I could tell that at some point in its life, it was quite a looker.

     Five days and to many to count hours later, the dresser was done.  Clean, sanded, and painted, b-e-a-utiful!  It was a hardwood dresser with great lines and made to last.  Little did the original manufacturer know their dresser would live so many lives.  If they only knew that their creation would be abused and left for dead, painted on, written on, scratched, dented, chipped, and that in its final days, when it should be laid to rest, literally in the ground, that it would be given a second chance at life, that it by golly would shine once more. 

     The dresser cost me nothing but paint and sandpaper and probably some of my lower vertebrates (small price to pay).  But the investment reaped a whopping $100 profit and a new set of skills.  That dresser was my first and I've gotten much better in time with methods and resources.  Now I'm on my fifth piece of furniture.  My skills are increasing with each experience and so is the selling price of my pieces.  I've been able to purchase a random orbital sander, more brushes and rollers, and a few other odds and ends with my dresser sale profits.  I'm learning new painting and staining techniques every day.   I got my latest fixer upper dresser off Craigs List for $25, and it's selling for $150.  All the work was done in one day.  This one's a flat black finish with distressed detail.  To achieve this look, I  sanded down to the wood, primed, painted with latex flat black, sanded 120 grit, painted, sanded, painted, sanded, then when I thought my arms were just about to fall off, I put the final finish on with SC Johnson Paste Wax and WOW is she purdy!

     I'm no longer in foreclosure, thanks to God, my family and friends (Mom, Sara, Heidi. and two others that choose to be anonymous) but I still refurbish furniture to bring in fun money, and extra bill money.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Working Hard Pays Off

     Boo Boo Bear is only seven, but he definitely knows money can be his friend.  Or at least he wants it to be.  Poor little nugget, he wants so badly to have money so he can buy all of his hearts desires, although there probably isn't enough money on Earth.  He struggles so greatly to discipline himself enough to earn it.

     He came to me four days ago, desperate for a new pair of shoes and knowing he didn't need them, but really, really wanted them.  He knows me well enough to know that frivolous spending is out of the question right now.  So when he offered to do chores to earn his new shoes, he got my attention.  He had a glimmer of hope in his big brown eyes and could hardly stand still in anticipation of my answer.  I thought this would be a great opportunity for Boo Boo Bear to learn how hard it can be to earn money, the dedication it takes to get the job done no matter how tedious, tiring, boring or dirty it might be, and that with hard work, possibilities can be endless and results enormous.

     The job we agreed on was pulling the weeds.  Not some here, and some there, but ALL the weeds in the front yard.  At first he was like the energizer bunny, full of energy and happy to get right to it.  About 20 minutes later, reality must have set in because all of the sudden his body language and the hanging head told me that for him, the task became daunting and overwhelming.  Lots of tantrums, emotional highs and lows were to follow for Boo Boo Bear over the next three days.  He wanted those shoes more than candy, probably more than air.  He knew the agreement we made would not change, no weeds pulled, no shoes.

     Today, Sunday, Boo Boo Bear completed the weed pulling task.  It was a painful process, more so for me than for him, I'm sure.  But he did earn his shoes.  A gorgeous pair of sneakers with bright green laces.  He is a proud boy today.  Shoes are already worn in and looking like they'll be worn out sooner than later.  Thankfully or not, weeds grow back fast, and he'll have another chance to make money for his next must have.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Son Has Two Moms

     This situation is as unconventional as it sounds  Although we do have fun with it and have even made our own family song, "my two moms".   Yes, my son has two moms, but it's not what you might think.  There's no step mom and there's no "partner".  My son, our son,  is also my nephew and foster child. 

     Through a series of events, Boo Boo Bear came to me as a small infant at 2 1/2 months old.  He knows where and who he came from and that it wasn't me that packed that chubby little bundle in my belly.  He has a baby book that was made especially for him, that shows both moms from the pregnancy through early childhood.  He's only known life this way and we've worked very hard to be as open and honest with him as we can.

     His bio mom is mama Sara, or if you ask Boo Boo Bear,  just plain mom.  I've heard stories that in a herd of sheep, if a mother sheep calls her little lamb, that the lamb somehow knows it's his mom calling that it can actually differentiate the mama's call through all the other baas and cries.  Or when one of the of lambs are crying, its mama knows which lamb cry is hers, and runs to his aid.  It's kinda like that for us.  We're both mom or mama, but the tone in Boo Boo Bears voice helps us identify which mom he's asking for.  It's kind of  a cool way of communication.  It's like we have our own secret language that really only consists of one word.

     My sister, Sara and I work dilligently to parent Boo Boo Bear as two mom's.  Co-parenting is not an easy job, but is crucial to the sucess of our child and children from divorce.  Sara has been back with us for nearly two years now, after a long leave of absense.  She's become an amazing woman and a geat mother.  Because of circumstances, Boo Boo Bear will remain with me permanently, but Sara spends every weekend with us and is always available for our son. 

     There have been many struggles, some probably obvious and some I wasn't expecting.  Having a two parent house hold was new to me and having another mom for Boo Boo Bear felt exciting, was a huge relief and also stressful.  We've bumped heads so many times, I swear I should have a goose egg the size of Texas!  However, our mama raised some strong willed, thick headed gals, so despite our issues,  we've survived each other, with love of course.

    Strangely, Boo Boo Bear plays us like any child would in a divorce situation.  "mom said I could", "mom doesn't make me do that", you know the drill.  We've built a united front, and stick to it religiously.  We bicker later if necessary.  At the end of the day, Boo Boo Bear is one lucky dude to have us both in his life, and God knows, Sara and I need each other to make it through his.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Friday, April 20, 2012

Boo Boo Bear's Therapists' Last Day

         Daphna was assigned to work with my family, more specifically, with myself and my foster child Boo Boo Bear, who was almost 6yrs old when she started.  Boo Boo Bear had significant behavior and emotional regulations issues that caused him to display unsafe behavior towards self, others, animals and property.  He was, prior to working with Daphna, unmanageable and nearing a change of placement from the foster home he’d lived in for 5 ½ yrs to a possible treatment facility placement.  Six months into intensive therapy, with Daphna as his primary therapist, Boo Boo Bear began to show marked improvement.  Now, almost two years later and continued weekly therapy with Daphna, Boo Boo Bear has made great, measureable progress and demonstrates manageable and safe on a day-to day basis.

Today was Daphna's last day as Boo Boo Bear's therapist.  We've worked with Daphna for nearly two years now through Catholic Community ServicesShe's worked one-on-one with our family on a weekly basis for a very long time.  She's taken another job in the same field, but will be working with troubled teens vs. family and smaller children.  We had a luau, disco ball and yummy pizza to send her on her way.  We Will Miss You Daphna!!!

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Good Morning My Princess & Prince

     Remember those commercials, "the best part of waking up...is Folgers in your cup", are your singing it in your head?  They paint such a Norman Rockwell picture of a beautiful, stress free, relaxing, WELCOME to YOUR Day kinda picture don't they?

      They make me think of birds chirping me awake instead of an alarm clock, the fresh roasted coffee beans percolating and brewing to perfection while the aroma gently wafts through the kitchen, up the stairs, around the corner, under my blanket and into my perfectly moisturized nostrils.  Eyes gently flutter open, my hair still perfect from the day before, rosy pink cheeks and somehow my mascara is perfectly in place, beautifully coating each lash with such perfection, Kim Kardashian herself would be jealous. What a bunch of bull pucky!

     Let me paint you a picture of what a real morning, with a real family, really looks like: 7:15am, Maiya: "GET OUTTA MY ROOOOOOM!"  Boo Boo Bear: "I'M NOT IN YOUR ROOOOOOM!" Me: Eyes are stuck in closed position to much pressure to open, bed warm, must try to wake-up, kids in imminent danger....rollll left, aah bed so warm, pause....it's quiet....could it be???are they done??? Pounding food steps down the hall, pounding foot steps back up the hall.  Foot steps stop at what sounds to be right in front of Maiya's bedroom.  "MOOOOOM! Mooooom he's in my room again!  Me: Good morning guys.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meeting With DHS Certifier Today

     I recently, and by the grace of God, brought my home out of foreclosure status. (I have lots of ideas that I'd love to share if you're going through this)  I've been waiting for this to get resolved before I pursue bringing in another Foster Child to the house hold.  I have a four bedroom home.  It's a 1970's updated split level, which is great for a gaggle of kids.

     A couple weeks ago I called my DHS Certifier, Matt, and asked him to look into the option of having another kiddo placed here.  I'm looking for a DD Eligible child.  DD kids are a bit more work that having a standard foster child, but the compensation can be double.  Look, if I'm qualified, willing to work hard, have the space...than why not?  So, my certifier is coming over today with the paper work and to do his regular home inspection.

     I'm nervous at the thought of another child, but I'm already home much of the day, and there is such a great need for someone with my skills and knowledge of the system.  In the past I've fostered up to two children at a time.  It's been a while, but I think I'm up for it.  Worst case scenario, I go through all the hoops; meetings with DHS, DD Services, bio parents, therapists, psychologist, psychiatrist, teachers, medical doctors and finally court to get the child through the labyrinth of the system, and get them receiving his/her benefits and then they can move to a more permanent placement.  I don't see things going this way, but I'm open to possibilities.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kayla's Filming On The Set Of Leverage Tomorrow!!!

Yay!  My 19yr old daughter Kayla, works with Extras Only and  got a small part on the set of Leverage that films here in Portland.  I'm so excited for her and can't wait to see her on the TV!  I'm a proud mama.


xoxoxo
Casey Everly

My approach is a bit off

     This weekend I bought my first pair of yoga pants.  For most women this would be no big deal.  For me, going to OLD NAVY with the intent of actually purchasing clothing for myself is A BIG DEAL.  I found the perfect pant.  Black, snug, cropped and a bit flared.  Ahhhh, cute with sneakers, cute with flip flops and oh so comfy! 

     All was well in my world until....they unexpectedly disappeared.  Now, my house is clean.  Not just tidy, but actually clean.  Things are in their place as they should be, (did I mention I'm ADD and OCD?)  All laundry is done.  Floors are clear of clothing clutter.  There is not a hiding place to be found here and yet I CAN'T FIND MY YOGA PANTS! 

     My dresser was the first place I tore through and to no avail.  Long pants, short pants, mostly to small of pants, but NO yoga pants.  My next thought is Maiya must have received my perfectly folded new yoga pants in her laundry the day before.  So, I ask her to look through her clothes to find my pants.  She assumes I'm accusing her of having them and immediately takes offense to my inquiry and subtle demand to commence the search party for the illusive pant. 

      One thing leads to another and before I know it I'm yet again arguing with Maiya rather than finding my pants.  She's intensely denying having them, I'm intensely pushing her to start looking.   I did have a moment of clarification concerning my approach with Maiya, and really my approach in life with people in frustrating situations.  Had I come to Maiya with a sincere expression of my feelings about why the pants were important to find and would she be able to help me, perhaps I could have avoided one more conflict with her.  She felt bombarded with a silly mission of finding a pair of black pants and I felt unheard and unimportant. 

     In the end I never found the pants.  I ended up wearing another pair of stretchy, black, cropped pants.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Morning

Just how many times can my teenager say "I hate you" before a morning cup of coffee?  Well, in my case about 10.  Thanks to a friend, I've started working through The Total Transformation.  Its supposed to help me with my kids & their challenging behaviors.  Mean while, I'm running out of things to remove from Maiya's room.  She lost the privilege of a door now, which makes it all the easier to remove more items.  She no longer has her computer or makeup, and now it looks like hard labor is inevitable.  I'm wishing I wouldn't have sprayed the weeds with Roundup, I could have given her hours of unusually cruel and torturous weed pulling. 

Good Morning!
xoxoxo
Casey Everly

Monday, April 16, 2012

Though I lost my keys, really lost my mind...

Locked my dog, and I thought my keys, in my bedroom today.  Called a locksmith I met while Craig's Listing over the weekend.  He said he'd be right over if I needed him.  Mean while, Kayla came over to help my situation.  When she came in the house she said she found my keys.  Confused I asked, "where?", "locked in your car Mom".  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!  Luckily, after much inspection, we realized I neglected to lock my car.... So, keys, still in ignition, were obtained just in time to let Lilly out from her kennel in my locked room.  Locksmith Craig's List guy was called and thanked for his now not needed services and I decided I need a nap.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly

First Day of My Blog!!!

Day 1:  Today is the day I begin my blog.  This is my public diary and account of daily successes, failures, thoughts and experiences.  I know I'm not alone in this.  I do have God, who thankfully understands better than I, what heartaches I've had, my fears, dreams and hopes, struggles and most importantly, my future.  Our future really.  Because it's not just me. 

    I think I'll begin with my children and as I learn to blog as a habit and as it becomes more of a natural part of my life, I'll fill you in on how I got here.

     I have three children; Kayla who is 19, almost 20, Maiya who is 13 and wishes she was 20, and Boo Boo Bear (not his real name), my foster son who is 7.  Each is precious to me is his/her own way and each drive me nuts in ways only he/she can.  Come on people, you know what I'm talking about here...

     Kayla no longer lives at home.  So that leaves Maiya and Boo Boo Bear here with me.  Oh, almost forgot our cat "Catty" and our Mini Rat Terrier, "Lilly".  So there you have it, mi famillia.

     Right now Maiya is in her room at her desk working on a Geography project for school.  I home school her through Clackamas Web Academy as of the end of December 2011.  She's been lolly gaggin' and is behind on her daily assignments, which would explain the lack of a bedroom door for her right now.  The goal is two assignments per subject per day.  She's behind a week due to sickness and then laziness.  Soooo, she lost her door until she's caught up.

     Boo Boo Bear is at school.  He attends a special school for kids that don't necessarily fit in at a typical public school.  There are approximately 10 kids of all ages and 5 teachers who are also therapists.  He only attends half days right now due to severe behavioral issues.   Ugh, sometimes makes for a long day for me.

     I started on another dresser.  Just got it all sanded and began the paint process this morning.  I've been refinishing furniture as a way to bring in some extra cashola for the family.  (I'll tell you more about that later.) Thank God for Craig's List!  I can buy a $15 dresser, solid wood of course, and paint it up pretty to resell for $80-$100.  It take some know how, tools and time, but when it's done and sold, WOW that feels good!

    I feel great about writing.  It's not particularly my forte, but I really hope to find someone, anyone really, that has some common life experiences.  I want to help someone with my story and be helped by someone sharing theirs.  I have so much to share and I'm a bit overwhelmed as to where to begin my story.  I think over time, I'll be able to share how we all got to today, me sitting here writing and thinking about how blogging could change my life and maybe yours too.

xoxoxo
Casey Everly