Working and Not Working

Working and Not Working

When people see us for the first time in awhile they haltingly ask us  ‘So…how are things working?‘ As in, ‘how the heck are y’all adjusting to now having six kids instead of three.‘ For the most part, things are going well.

Here’s what’s working:

The physical part of the job is going better than I thought it would. I’m cooking every night, the laundry is caught up, getting everyone up and moving and getting everyone down to bed – it’s all going swimmingly. Oooh! And the first week we had them my friends brought us dinner every night and the church’s foster care ministry showed up with gift cards, diapers, and meals for the freezer! So score!

IMG_6608Everyone is on time to school, forms are being turned in, lunches are being made, and homework is being done.

Of course, I say that but I do need to admit that there has been a lot of this:


“Heather, Can you please bring James home? I have to take the fifth grader to clarinet lessons.’ “Carl, Can you bring Henry to football? I have to take James to Cross Country. ‘ So, it takes a village and all that.

We’ve learned how to tweak the things that don’t work. The two year old is grumpy if you wake her up, the 3rd grader needs to lay out her clothes the night before, the girls need to sleep in their beds not on the floor, the fifth grader hates long car rides, the phrase ‘it’s not fair’ has been banned from the house, and on and on and on.

Some stuff though? Well, it’s just not working. It’s two things really and they directly relate to each other.

Number one, and this is going to sound ridiculous, we can not figure out a good seating arrangement in the car. When we sold the Silver Mine (my old Acura MDX) and bought the Black Pearl (our Honda Odyssey) I thought it was plenty big enough for eight people. It seats eight – we have eight – end of story.

No, not end of story. It does seat eight but once you add in a big car seat and backpacks and people with short tempers etc…Well, we’re like sardines in there. Do not suggest a bigger car.  I can hardly drive the Odyssey it feels so big.

A reoccurring, as in every single time we get in the car, fight is over who sits where. Before the foster kids moved in the rule was the oldest gets first choice of seats. If the oldest wasn’t in the car the next oldest got first choice. That worked very well. And then came the fosters. Suddenly, Henry no longer got to sit in the front if James wasn’t there. And Stella always has to sit in the third row. And, oh the belligerent complaining that began. Which, can I just say, I NEVER got to sit in the front when I was their age so what in the world are they complaining about?!

First, I tried just saying ‘sorry Hank but you’re not the second oldest anymore.’ Bad idea. Second, I tried a rotating every other day system. That didn’t work either. Billy suggested assigning seats and never letting the older boys get a turn in the front. I’m not crazy about that idea. So we start the morning off on the wrong foot with complaining about who sits where and we pick up from school with the same arguments.

Any suggestions?


The second issue we haven’t been able to fix is all the blasted fighting between Henry and our fifth grade foster son. They fight ALL.THE.TIME. As in, they can’t be in the same room with each other without fighting. And you may be thinking ‘Oh, I fought with my sister/brother all the time growing up!‘ Well, that may be but it’s driving us batty. I need peace in my house and these boys? Oh, they are not giving it to us. It’s strange because we spent a ton of time with these kids before they permanently moved in and Henry and the fifth grader got along great. The second they moved in though…

Several people recommended the book Siblings Without Rivalry. It’s really good and when I implement those principles it’s definitely better but I’m not always around. So, until this guy actually turns into Superman and starts making peace instead of war…


…what are we to do?

No, seriously, I’m waiting on you to tell me what to do.

Ahem…still waiting…


Elbow Surgery

Elbow Surgery

Suddenly adding three kids to your brood increases the noise level in the house by, oh, about a thousand million percent. It doesn’t bother me too much. For the most part, it’s happy noise. My biological kids are handling it like champs. For real, the other day James and Henry walked into the laundry room and found me all teary.  I told them, ‘I’m just so proud of how well y’all are handling all this.’ Henry rolled his eyes and said ‘Sheesh, what a drama queen.’ James remarked ‘yeah, you should probably increase our allowances.’ Miscreants.


Sometimes though for Hank…well, he’s my sensory kid. He gets overwhelmed pretty quickly by noises and chaos in general – it can all be a little much for him. So, all this extra noise and lack of space has been an adjustment for him. I needed him to have a way to tell me when he needs some quiet. He needs something to say besides ‘all these people are driving me crazy.

So, I told him to tell me that his elbow hurts. I told him ‘when everything gets to be too much just let tell me that your elbow hurts and I’ll know you need some space.’ Ingenious right?

I also used this idea when the boys were toddlers to get them to keep their hands off of their business. You know how toddler boys are. 


Really Mom? 

We took the kids to Gatlinburg the week after our foster kids moved in. It was pretty ambitious. Maybe a wee bit too ambitious. After the stupid long car ride the last thing we wanted to was to look for a restaurant without a big wait for eight people. Luckily, No Way Jose’s – this fun Mexican joint right on the river – could take us immediately. We gratefully sat down with the knowledge that churros were in our immediate future.

After that car ride though Henry’s ‘elbow’ was really hurting. Like, this kid needed elbow surgery his elbow was hurting so bad. I took him outside and we looked at the river for awhile.

IMG_6467I told him ‘It’s pretty loud in there, isn’t it buddy? I know this is hard on you. You can tell me anytime things are getting squirelly and you want to talk about it. I mean, really baby, what do you think about all these HUGE changes going on in your life?’

He sat for a couple minutes and thought about it and said ‘Yeah, it’s hard sometimes but at least there are Churros.’

Well, we’ll always have those won’t we. It’s his depth and mindfulness I enjoy the most.

The Bammer Upstairs

The Bammer Upstairs

Last month our family opened our home to a two year old who was in foster care. A couple weeks later her  eleven year old brother and eight year old sister joined her. So…family of eight.

Y’all, it’s a lot of laundry.

large family laundry system

We took the classes that DHR makes you take. Got fingerprinted and background checked and finally got liscensed. It’s a long and thorough process – as it should be.

We learned about kids that lie and kids that wet the bed and kids that steal and kids that just want to go back to their parents – no matter what. I thought that they had covered every kind of situation that was out there. We quickly found out that they hadn’t.

What we didn’t learn…What DHR failed to teach us…What they didn’t even think to mention…

Is what to do when one of your foster children is…is…dare I even say it? A Bammer. Yep, I said it. That’s right kids, I now have an Alabama fan living in my house. In. My. House.

I wash Alabama t-shirts and fold Alabama sweatshirts and walk past a bedroom that now has an Alabama poster hanging in it. An Alabama poster! In my house!!!

Y’all! I can’t even about all this.

So…DHR clearly needs to update their teaching curriculum.

Bed wetting – there’s a book for that. Lying? I can google the heck out of that business. But a Bama fan? Oh man – where do I even start? Like, ‘RT’…you know, that phrase they say…is something I actually have to hear now.


And don’t tell me ‘just tell him he’s an Auburn fan now’ or ‘you’ll change his mind.’ I mean, maybe he’ll eventually like Auburn but, good gravy, the kid has lost so much. If he wants to keep that part of himself I guess he can.

Even though y’all, it’s an Alabama poster hanging in my house!

He asked us if we would take him to a football game. People, there are limits. If he wanted to go see an inappropriate movie I wouldn’t take him – same thing, am I right? Uh huh…Sure.

Well, maybe Billy can take him – Although, if I recall correctly my last trip to Tuscaloosa was quite successful – Laura Lee and I went to the 2010 Iron Bowl. The one with Cam and Lutzie and all that business so maybe Tuscaloosa isn’t that bad.

And maybe folding these Alabama t-shirts isn’t that bad.

But still…what was DHR thinking?