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Foster Care Training: Policies and Procedures

We are still awaiting our first placement. We’ve had a couple of calls for respite care, which is usually short term relief for other foster parents who need a weekend off or something. I ended up with a busy schedule in the weeks following licensing with two out of town trips for work, so we weren’t able to accept either of the respite placements. In the mean time, we are working on some at home training modules. Our agency requires more than the state minimum number of training hours per year. We are required to complete 20 hours of training annually, most of which must be through our Foster Family Agency (FFA). These include some mandatory training on topics such as child abuse reporting and sexual abuse as well as modules you can pick yourself depending on the issues you are facing, or expect to face as a foster parent.

During our first training session at our home, our social worker went over a number of topics. We were given a “Policies and Procedures” binder. Most of the topics covered here were common sense, but I’ll go over a few of the major ones, as well as policies I wasn’t aware of or hadn’t thought about.

Confidentiality

Basically we can’t say anything to anyone about the foster child and their background. Specifically any identifying information (other than the name, of course) and any information about why the child is in the system. We will be given as much information as the social workers have, in order to best serve the child. So we will potentially know A LOT of details about the history of our foster child(ren) that we won’t be able to share, even with my parents whom we are extremely close to.

Respite Care

This is short term alternative care. Every foster family is provided 4 days of respite care paid for by the agency during the first year. Many families request care through the agency and the child is placed in another licensed foster home. This is because in order to be a respite care provider, you have to be fingerprinted and background checked. My parents live about 40 minutes from us, and are willing and excited to be back up care providers. My mom attended our CPR/First Aid class with us, and they are both getting fingerprinted so they can be our respite care providers. This way the foster child doesn’t have to spend a weekend in an unfamiliar, possibly overcrowded foster home. We are so happy to have this option.

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Bubbie’s Meatball Soup

I was born and spent my childhood in Russia, a culture that has a vast repertoire of soups as a meal staple. Just like a turkey sandwich or salad is a typical American lunch, a bowl of soup and a slice of dark wheat bread is your typical Russian obed (aka, lunch). While I have mostly grown out of soups as a big part of my meal planning, and never really learned how to make what I grew up on, my mom still makes some kind of soup every week for my dad, and it was all but assured that Baby C would be introduced to Russian soups before long.

About a year ago, my mom was visiting while Baby C’s daycare was on vacation, and it is a given that no matter how much I urge my mom to stay out of the kitchen and just relax with her granddaughter, she will take over my kitchen instead and fill our fridge with all my childhood favorites (and their vegetarian versions for my Indian husband). My mom knows that I’m a bit of a lazy cook – I like to eat more than I like to make what I eat, so I tend to pre-cook, make simple things, and our mac and cheese does come from a box more often than not. So my mom makes it a personal mission to feed us in true Russian mom style, and it becomes pretty hard to argue when hand pies, pancakes and soups begin to fill my refrigerator shelves.

From the moment Baby C tasted her Bubbie’s meatball soup, she was a convert, and my incredibly lazy internal cook had to catch up. Much to my surprise and excitement, it turned out that my mom’s meatball soup is ridiculously easy to make, and over the past year, it’s become a regular item in my fridge. I make a pot sometime over the weekend and this recipe is enough for 4-6 meals for Baby C, depending on her appetite.

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Day In The Life – Philippines Edition

edit: Our internet went down and this post went up unfinished! Such is island life. It’s been updated now!

We’ve been living in the Philippines for exactly 3 months now, so I thought it was about time to share a day in the life. Because our schedules are not as rigid as they were in the US, our day to day routines are a little bit different. We typically stay home most of the week, but once a week we try to go on an adventure with the kids like island hopping or to a beach about an hour away.

8:00am – Wake up. I don’t set an alarm and this is later than I usually wake up, but I woke up at 5am the day before and was up late getting rid of millions of these flying ant-like creatures that swarmed outside of our house. Most of them were already dying, and they were all over our hanging laundry, front door, walls, and many even got inside the house. I’m still finding dead ones everywhere today. Our newest dog Popsicle was also barking in the middle of the night, and I had to come out a couple of times and tell her to be quiet. Mr. Bee typically gets up and goes to the resort side before 6:00am while the rest of us are still sleeping.

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Quil (11 weeks old), Cheetah, Popsicle, Chickie, and Skinny Puppy (Smyb’s puppy but she’s not pictured)

The first thing I do is open the door to say good morning to our dogs. We’ve adopted 7 dogs… and it’s still hard not to adopt even more! 5 of them are always here, 1 roams but is usually here, 1 only comes for dinner, and 3 puppies visit regularly. I make them breakfast which is rice mixed with a can of tuna. The dogs here are used to fish. I’ve experimented with stretching my dog food budget, and though tuna isn’t the most cost effective meat, it is the easiest and every dog loves it. I also boil a whole chicken and feed them bone broth with chicken and rice, but they prefer the tuna. I know the locals think I’m a crazy dog lady.

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Pregnancy After Miscarriages

It’s funny how things happen. After three years of trying to get pregnant, two miscarriages, and finally completely giving up and grieving the fact we just weren’t going to have children, I found out I was pregnant.

Obviously, after all that time praying and wishing and agonizing over wanting to have a baby so badly, I was overjoyed…except, I actually wasn’t. When I first saw the test, I felt numb. I felt numb most of that day. And when the numbness and shock wore off, I still didn’t feel happy. I felt scared and sad and weary.

When I told my husband that night that we were pregnant, sadly, he wasn’t any more excited than I was. In fact, he said he thought he was going to be sick. Looking back now, it sounds so heartless and messed up.

If we wanted a baby so badly, wouldn’t getting pregnant be a good thing? It is, after all, the first step. But the problem is that I had already been pregnant twice. And neither time had led to a baby. Instead both pregnancies has brought heartache and grief and pain. For me pregnancy didn’t equal a baby; it equaled a heart-wrenching trial to get through.

The next day was Saturday and I remember just lying on the couch all morning crying. I had to go to a baby shower that afternoon and I’m sure my friends thought I was down because of our struggles with infertility. How ironic that I was actually feeling depressed because I was finally pregnant.

When Monday rolled around, I pulled myself together and called my doctor’s office to see if there was anything I could possibly do to help prevent a third miscarriage. Even though I had almost no hope that this pregnancy would end any differently than the last two, I was going to do absolutely everything in my power to make this baby stick. They prescribed a progesterone supplement. Even though progesterone hadn’t shown up as a problem during testing, my doctor said it wouldn’t hurt and was worth a try.

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One and Done?

Being an older mom and having my first when I was 38, I knew that if I wanted another child, I needed to act quickly since my biological clock was clicking like a time bomb. However, unlike a few of my AMA (advanced maternal age) mom friends who currently have two under two, I still only have one daughter who will be turning three this May and I’m currently not pregnant.

So does this mean that I’m one and done?

I’ve had to think a lot about this in the past few months and I am still unsure. Ideally, I would love to have another child but I have a few fears and concerns especially since I just turned 41 last fall. Statistically speaking, the odds are not ever in my favor and that scares me.

After DD turned one in May of 2014, we were open to having another child, but we decided to wait another 6 months before really trying. Once she was a year and a half old, we started TTC but that’s when Mr. Schoolbus got busy with work and would work late nights or travelled often during the days when I was ovulating! Talk about bad timing! Fast forward a year later and still no baby or pregnancy. I’ve been charting. I peed on ovulation sticks to see when my peak days were. But life happens and sometimes DTD when you need to doesn’t happen when you want it to. It has been a bit discouraging and disappointing to say the least. So what’s an advanced advanced maternal aged mom who wants another baby supposed to do? Here are a few options:

1) FERTILITY TREATMENTS – Some of my friends have asked us why we don’t try IVF or go see a fertility specialist. I was able to get pregnant the first time without seeing a fertility specialist, so I don’t feel the need to do so with a second child. I know plenty of people who have different opinions about it, but for myself this was never something I even thought about or considered. I know that I could possibly be experiencing secondary infertility, but if that’s the case then maybe it’s not meant for us to expand our family. The cost of seeking fertility treatments isn’t covered by my insurance anyway, so that in and of itself makes it a less feasible option.

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Animal Classification Work

Classifying Vetebrates at Hello Bee #2

I have a really inquisitive four year old. We love learning about animals and about the world around us. This is a really easy and fun classification activity using a few printed labels and model animals (we mainly use Schleich and Toob Safari animals). I store them all in a little basket and we do this activity together.

Here we are classifying vertebrates (animals with backbones). The categories include:

  • Fish – have scales, lay eggs, cold blooded and remove oxygen from the water using gills.
  • Amphibians – have moist porous skin, lay eggs in water, use gills to remove oxygen in the water when young and breathe with lungs as adults.

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Books that Changed My Life: Getting the Love You Want

For the last few years I’ve been working hard to improve my marriage and mental health. Along with a lot of self-care and work in therapy, I’ve also been doing a ton of bibliotherapy. One of my most treasured reads is Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt’s Getting the Love You WantAlthough the book was first published in 1988, it was still very relevant, fresh, and illuminating to me.

The premise of Getting the Love You Want is that we choose our partner in order to heal old wounds from our childhood. Our attachment style is formed by our experiences with our parents as a young child. As children we create an idea of “mother,” “father,” “husband,” “wife,” “partner” or “spouse” from the relationships we see around us (in the book, this mental image of this parent/spouse figure is called an “imago”). We choose partners who mirror the personality of our parents, as well as the attachment style that we have with our parents. This means that our partners are likely to disappoint us in the same way that our parents do.

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No parent is perfect; although they love us, they also shape our perception of relationships in ways that are both valuable and damaging. For example, a woman who had an emotionally distant father might create an imago of “husband” and “father” that is emotionally unavailable. Later in life, this woman will select a partner who conforms to this image. She may find her partner’s reserved nature to be attractive at first, but as the newness wears off she will find him aloof and unresponsive. As a result she may resort to the same tactics to get attention from her husband that she used as a child: acting out, clinginess, guilt trips, and aggression. Similarly, her husband will have selected his wife because he was attracted to her emotional expressiveness. Later he will come to find her emotional nature intrusive and needy, as if she were his third parent. The more she pursues, the more he moves away.

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