Friday, February 1, 2019

a productive january

Looking back, I would have to say that January 2019 was a PRODUCTIVE month. That's really the only way to describe it. Not the most exciting, not the most fun...but possibly the most productive month I've had in awhile. And since I like productivity...I'm happy, haha.

Here are some of my productivity highlights:

1. Completed our foster care training classes. This was three weekends of Friday 5:30-9:30 and Saturday 9-1 classes. Although I hadn't really been looking forward to the classes in terms of content (I was looking forward to taking them and being done with them so we could move forward in the foster process, haha), I have to say that Matt and I both really enjoyed them and found them very interesting. Heartbreaking, yes. But really helpful, too- not just for our future in foster care, whatever that will look like, but in our parenting journey with Millie, and in understanding more about the reality of 'the system' in Georgia. Anyway. Since we had to spend so many hours there (and so many of our precious few weekend hours away from Millie), I'm glad it ended up being really worthwhile. And now we're done with it! We've had our first home study visit, and we hope/anticipate being done with those and ready for placement by the end of March or early April!

2. Relatedly, we have made great progress reworking our downstairs guest bedroom into a foster kid bedroom! We ("we" is generous....I) cleaned out and organized the closet, moved a bookshelf, books, and our 'office' upstairs to the other guest room, obtained and repainted a dresser, and Matt assembled the crib. Now the room is empty-ish and ready for kids! 

3. I completed two huge JUST BE A GROWNUP, ERIKA, DAMMIT tasks that I've been procrastinating for....uhhhhh....a super long time. I got life insurance!!! I know, I know. To be fair- I used to have life insurance. It was something my grandparents set up and paid for me (and my siblings and cousins) starting when I was a baby. I guess it was whole life insurance or something? Whatever, it was life insurance. But a few years ago they (or their financial advisers, or my parents...I really don't know who, to be honest) stopped doing it (for all of us) and we all got some nice checks for the money that the accounts had accumulated, and that was the end of my life insurance. So it's been on my to-do list since then, but I just dreaded it so much that I never did it. BUT NOW I DID and to be honest, it wasn't bad at all, except for the part where the medical exam nurse lady came to my work to get blood/urine/vitals and I had to pee in a cup in my (public) bathroom and then carry the vials of pee back to my office but when I got up to the sink area of the bathroom to wash my hands there were like TWENTY RANDOM COLLEGE GIRLS THERE (I guess they were in our building for a meeting) and I had to just lay down my pee vials like NBD while I washed my hands and I have probably never been that embarrassed in my whole life. BUT OTHER THAN THAT it was fine, thanks, and now my family is ready for whatever tragedy may befall.

Relatedly, Matt and I finally met with an attorney to get wills written up (and other related boring things like medical directives and such). It is also abominable that we've waited this long to do that, but let's just focus on the fact that now we have done it and we can sleep a little better at night. Hooray!

Are you also failing at doing scary adult tasks like that? Let me encourage you that YOU CAN DO IT and maybe it won't be as bad as you think it will! Unless you have a Pee Vial Situation in your work bathroom, in which case...Godspeed. At least if you die of embarrassment your family will get some money.

4. I read 7 books! According to Goodreads, I am 13% of the way to my 2019 goal of 52 books, and 3 books ahead of schedule. I'll take it! Here are the books I read- this is just a screenshot from Goodreads, but you can see the average rating (which means average of all the Goodreads users) and then my rating (the stars).

The two 'duds' (lowest rated) were both 'twisty thrillers' and the main characters/narrators were male psychotherapists. So I'm just going to say that that isn't my fave book set-up. Hahaha. The middle five books were all fantastic. Notably, 4/5 of them were written by diverse women and featured diverse characters (or...not sure what you call the 'characters' in a memoir...just real people, probably, hahaha). My book club is going to hear Tayari Jones speak next week and I am so excited! I've already raved at length about A Place for Us, so I won't plug it again, but if you haven't read Becoming or An American Marriage yet (they're both SUUUUPER popular, so chances are you have), you should. Circe was the one that surprised me the most- I only read it because my book club picked it. I NEVER would have picked it up otherwise- it's Greek mythology. THANKS BUT NO. But once I got past the dread of reading it and reliving horrid high school memories of drudging through (excerpts from) The was actually reallllly good. It was MUCH easier to read than I'd anticipated, and a complete lack of knowledge/memory about mythology was not a problem. Most girls in my book club felt the same way, and we had some really fantastic discussion about the book. So while it was definitely one of the most intimidating books I've picked up in awhile, it really was worth it to me. 

5. Another more subtle bit of productivity was making some progress towards encouraging Millie to do things independently. This is something we've started to realize we need to work on, particularly in light of the fact that we will likely have another baby or kid who will also have need of parental help in our home soon. So while Millie CAN do many things for herself (change clothes, go to the bathroom, fall asleep at night...) and does them when she has to (at school), we've always been pretty lax at home. I mean...she's our (really old) baby!!! I know she can put pants on by herself. But if she wants me to help her do it, I don't mind. Whatever. I have time. It's time we spend together. It's fine. (And I truly do feel that way.) If she wants me to sit next to her while she goes to the bathroom...why not? She won't always want to spend every second with her mama and daddy, so I'm not just itching to make her do those things on her own (when it's not inconvenient for us to "help" her...although we're not really helping her do anything in the bathroom, just providing company, I suppose). BUT it may not be as convenient for us to keep doing that all the time once there is a baby or toddler that legitimately needs more adult assistance, and the last thing I want is for Millie to think "new kid equals Mom & Dad abandoning me," so we've been trying to start encouraging her to be more independent now. So far she's done great with dressing/undressing herself (I still pick out her clothes because I'm not insane) and pretty good with not needing us to sit next to her in the bathroom every time she goes potty. A surprise success has been teaching her to shower instead of taking a bath- she's always been terrified of the shower, and therefore we still give her a bath every night and it takes like half an hour (and one of us stays with her for the whole time). But recently we started just talking about showers and how 'big kids' usually take showers, and Mommy and Daddy take showers, and all of the sudden this week she was like "I'M TAKING SHOWERS NOW!" and it's been great!! We are still currently staying in there the whole time with her and helping to wash/rinse hair, but she is really doing great (and enjoying it). I feel like she may be able to do this pretty independently in the next few months. The hardest hurdle is going to be getting her to go to sleep at night without laying in bed with her for a long time. We've always just laid with her (we alternate nights) until she falls asleep, which could be five minutes or an hour (always longer with Matt because he puts up with SHENANIGANS during this time. I'm on team 'I will lay here as long as you are quiet and don't move. If you move or talk, I'm leaving,' and then she falls asleep in five minutes and I'm done. But Matt can't handle that harshness, hahahaa, so he's in there til 10:00 p.m. Mainly because he also falls asleep.). Buttttt I think we need to get her to be okay with us leaving after we finish stories and prayers, even if she isn't asleep. It's not fun. She screams and cries and acts like she's been abandoned and sobs things that break my heart. BUT...she does stay in bed and is over it and asleep pretty quickly (probably within like three minutes last night), so I think we need to suck it up and stick with it. This will be harder for Matt than me, hahaha. (Things we will NOT be changing: she always (well, probably 90% of the time) comes and gets in bed with us in the middle of the night and sleeps with us the rest of the night. This is the highlight of my life and I will never stop it or feel bad about it.)

So this has been kind of all over the place, but in conclusion, I am happy with what we accomplished in January! I normally don't require my home life to be all that productive (I get my productivity fix at work!), but this was a happy exception. And now I'm done and can just coast the rest of the year. That's how that works, right??


  1. We are in the same sleep situation except Bowen only wants me to lay with him so essentially it's my job and I usually fall asleep too. So I am definitely gonna take any tips you give on this!! We have at least been able to cut the shenanigans down a know the I need to go potty, brush my teeth, wash my hands, etc.. All of the things we have already done. haha

  2. The Pee Vial Situation made me lol!

    January felt like a freaking eternity, but the upside I guess is more time to get more done and you certainly did that! Camille only takes showers now and it is amazing. She still needs some help but can wash her body pretty well and then just needs help rinsing her hair. WIN!

  3. Congrats on getting things done in the month of January! I will keep you, M and Lil Miss. M in my prayers and you start opening up your heart and home as foster parents.

  4. This does sound like an extra productive month and in so many different ways, so props to you! I loved the pee vials story and really wish I knew what they said about it/you when you left, ha!

    Also, I think since we never had any other children, we have also been more involved in these tasks with the twins than we need to be. Thankfully they will go to the bathroom with us, but we are still involved in bath time, getting dressed, etc. Clara is the needier of the two for sure- I could probably kick Colby to the curb and tell him he's on his own and he'd be ok with it, but that wouldn't exactly be fair ;)

    Anyway, so excited to hear about your fostering adventures!!

  5. Sweet Millie is your baby, but I love your approach to making sure she won’t feel abandoned if/when a new baby arrives. Especially because you won’t get a ton of lead time before a call comes.
    I’m in awe of you and Matt as I’ve always had a deep feeling about fostering, but the timing has never felt right. Thankfully my job allows me plenty of snuggles with babies/toddlers, so my heart is filled to the brim.
    I cannot wait to hear all about when a new baby arrives even though I know you’ll have to be somewhat tight lipped on the details!

  6. I lucked out and the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs, #nerds) offers Life Insurance to members without a physical! So Brent and I got it a few years ago (yes really late in parental life as well), and we did wills in October, you know when our oldest was NINE so we're way worse than you ha. I have never been a 'lay in bed until you fall asleep' kind of parent and if you come in my room at night, do NOT think you are getting in my bed ha. We have a couch in our room that Drew ends up on periodically but we went through a good 6 month run of keeping a permanent pallet on the floor for her - that way she could come in the room but NOT get in bed!

  7. We need to do the living will. We decided that my cousin is our choice for some one take Kate if we die, but as we rarely talk, I'm trying to figure out how to call her and ask. Kate comes into our bed every morning and I also unapologetically love it. Highlight of my life indeed ! Sometimes it gets a little sweeter as my cat snuggles with me too

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  9. Misc question, but how does being a foster care parent work, if you work full time outside the home? Are you able to use your own daycare? Do they just give X dollars for daycare? Do they have daycare options? Just curious. I have been interested in foster care before, but because I work fulltime, I didn't think it would be an option.

    1. Hey there!! Great question! I can only speak for Georgia, but I'd guess that a similar system applies in most states. :) In GA all foster kids automatically qualify for CAPS (or maybe it's CAPPS), which stands for something, I'm sure, but not sure what. Ha. Basically it's a system that pays for your childcare. Individual daycares/schools can choose whether to accept CAPS payment or not. (From what I understand, most do- they still get paid the full amount they charge, it isn't like a 'negotiated rate' or something, but instead of getting a check or debit payment from a parent, they have to file paperwork with the CAPS program and get the money from them. Apparently it's a bit more work for the daycare upfront, but once the system is going, it's typically fine.) So if you're a working parent, they encourage you to go ahead and ask around to see what daycares in your area accept CAPS so that if you get a foster placement, you will not have to make as many phone calls trying to find daycare. Luckily for us, the daycare where Millie already goes for after-school care (and summer camp) does accept CAPS, so our foster kid will be able to go there (IF they have availability- sometimes they are full for a certain age or whatever, just like any daycare). One thing we learned in our training classes is that (at least in GA), they strongly encourage all foster parents to put their foster kids in daycare/childcare at least part time. Even if it's a SAH parent with other kids staying at home...they ask that the foster kids still be enrolled in outside care. I thought that was interesting. I think that for me personally, the hardest part of working fulltime and trying to be a good foster parent is going to be juggling all of the mandatory appointments, many of which will have to be during work hours. Like within 72 hours of taking a placement, the child is supposed to be seen by a pediatrician and dentist, and within a week (maybe 10 days? can't remember), have a psych eval, PT/OT evals, etc. Like a ton of appointments all up front. And then if there are issues, then obviously ongoing appointments for whatever the issue is. I feel like that could be super tough if you don't have a pretty flexible/understanding work environment! Anyway, if you want to chat more, feel free to email me!! mattyerika AT

  10. Thanks so much! Just the info I was looking for... will look into it here too. Will be interesting to hear how things go for you!


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