We Blew Bubbles: Ten Minute Memories that Helped to Get Us Through

Thinking back to the ten minutes outside of the mall, if these few hours were going to be all that we had, it was going to be a happy time but being outside, where there could have been CPS stalkers or another threat to our family, made us cringe. We wanted away from all of these threats and knew that we should stay inside until the lawyer called with the paperwork that would allow us to leave.

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We Blew Bubbles

bubbles

One of the greatest joys in childhood is to watch that magical liquid on that transformational wand fill with air and float around defying the very gravity that holds us to the earth. Granted, this is an outside activity and, in the mountains of West Virginia, outside activities are very limited for children due to the weather. So, there are three options. One is to brave the weather, the other is to forego bubble blowing, and the third is to forego calling bubble blowing an outside activity. This decision is generally made based on the adult’s priorities and sadly, these generally do not consider the magnificence of this activity in the eyes of children.

 

While my grandchildren were in foster care, their foster parents were a bit older than myself and my daughter which may have played a role in their decision to forego outside activities when the weather fell below 70 degrees. Now I do not like the cold (thus the decision to move to warmer weather) but I can suck it up down to about 40 degrees.

 

Now, while the children were in placement, we sent gift bags at each visit (more about these can be found on  Still your Children: Supporting your child during out of home placement. and Making the Most of Visitation: When you try to parent a child two hours at a time  ) and sometimes bubbles would be in these bags. One day, at a visit, we were informed by my granddaughter that she had asked to blow bubbles the day before and they had told her it was too cold. Perhaps to them, it was and this post is not about their decisions but rather about ours.

 

It was a bit rainy that day so we had gone to the mall for our visit. We had eaten, done some shopping, played in the soft play area, and had about 10 minutes left before we would have to put them into the provider’s car, hold back our tears so they would not be upset, and wave goodbye until the next week.

 

How do you make a memory in ten minutes? You make a mad dash into the Dollar Tree, grab up some bubbles, and stand under the awning blowing bubbles that float off into the falling rain! The pure joy in their giggles, the smile on my daughter’s face, and the approval of the visitation provider are all edged in my mind forever.

 

Bubbles became very important after those ten minutes. Bubbles showed the children that we would stand with them in the rain. Bubbles showed the children that, even if only for a few moments, everything could feel happy again. I guess bubbles showed us the same thing.

 

Fast forward several months and countless containers of bubbles later, the children were coming home. The CPS case was dismissed!!! The following Wednesday, we had an MDT meeting to discuss reunification and it was determined that it would be immediate. We had to stay in the state until the judge signed the paper but we could leave from that meeting and pick up the children!!!

 

Now, due to the advice of so many as well as our plans in place prior to the case, our plan was to leave the state as soon as the children were in our custody and not to return to our home in West Virginia. But, we had to wait on one piece of paper. We were so scared during those hours that the nightmare would start all over but we did not want to be scared. We wanted to enjoy this time.

 

Thinking back to the ten minutes outside of the mall, if these few hours were going to be all that we had, it was going to be a happy time but being outside, where there could have been CPS stalkers or another threat to our family, made us cringe. We wanted away from all of these threats and knew that we should stay inside until the lawyer called with the paperwork that would allow us to leave.

 

We refused to feel like prisoners anymore though! My daughter began laughing as she ran through the house and I heard what sounded like an air pump. Immediately, giggles filled the house that had been so empty for the previous years as the bubble machine filled the air in our kitchen. The magic of those bubbles will forever be engraved in our story of healing.

 

Minute Memories Last Forever!

“Gigi”

Potty Training Times Three

Today, my mother and I decided that it was the time that we embark on a journey towards freedom (from changing diapers). Due to many reasons, our family does not utilize day care outside of family members which places my mother and me with my four grandchildren for much of the day. While this is a blessing, it is also A LOT of WORK!!! You see, these little darlings range from the age of 3 to the age of 17 months and there are four of them! It is like a toddler fest all day every day mixed in with cuppies and diaper changes and non stop cries for “num num!”

Clarabelle (age 2 almost 3) is potty trained which has resulted in a great deal of savings on the diaper runs. We have worked with the other 3 independently but on super crazy days we fall back into the daycare mentality of changing all the diapers at once and running around on “cuppy patrol.”

So, we have decided to do an all out potty training attempt. All three. Gloria (age 3) has Down’s Syndrome which makes potty training a bit difficult but, as her school is working with her now and she follows her cousin, Clarabelle, to the bathroom, we believe that she is ready for this. Elliott, (age 20 months) and Braxton (age 17 months) have both began taking their diapers off and, when we are not fast enough, adding to the daily cleaning list. (Yes, this has happened). So we believe that they are ready to begin, as well. The issue, of course, is getting them to tell us when they are ready to go. Not only is this difficult with one child, when there are three we anticipate that (A) they will be too busy and (B) we will be making a lot of runs to the bathroom.  But, with three, the savings will be amazing!!! In fact, I believe that if we conquer this over the next two weeks, then their parents should send us away on a nice weekend getaway (HINT HINT)!!!!

So, we know our challenges and can envision the rewards…here we go!

Wish us luck!

“Gigi”

Prisoners of War: Bringing our Children Home from CPS Captivity

pow

I will once again preempt this post by stating that everything on this site is intended to promote hope and bring awareness to obstacles that we have faced in our family. I understand that our tactics in working through the hell of CPS may not work for everyone and may come across as somewhat sheepish as we smiled through our tears, spoke politely, and held our tongues about our anger with the system. Regardless of these differences in approaches, the fact remains that my grandchildren are safe at home and we did not have to jump through mandated hoops. Our anger at the system, our shock that this could happen in a “free” country, was the same as so many others are feeling right now and all that we could find online was stories of TPRs and brutal war tactics. We chose to use war strategies that worked in our case.

However you fight your battle, know that it is possible to win. That was all that I wanted to hear the entire case. I wanted to know it was possible. I wanted to know that all of the stories online did not have to be MY story. I wanted to know that there was a way to bring my family home. Just as when two families have of Prisoners of War received the news that one has been freed, the other family then has hope that their soldier will come home, I wanted to hear that my grandchildren would be returned. Not being able to find this could have led me to a state of depression with no way to come out of it. Not being able to hear that there was a chance could have cost me my life as it has so many other broken parents. I WANTED TO LIVE THROUGH THIS! So, I decided that I would be that positive outcome at all cost and that when it was over, I would tell others that it is possible and that they must continue to fight every day.

The difference in how I tell my story is that I am not filled with hatred. I could be. I could wake up each day fueled with anger and go into attack mode. But (A) my grandchildren need my happy goofy self to play on the floor and I cannot do that if I only focus on the negative and (B) we did not win our case by coming off as being in attack mode. Yes, THIS IS WAR but WARS ARE NOT WON WITHOUT STRATEGY!

When you enter a war, you assess the situation. You learn as much about your enemy as possible. You find out what allies you have and who is still on the fence that may serve your cause with a little bit of influence. You find out who the actual enemy is and who is simply a soldier following orders. You can take out all the soldiers that you want but unless you go for the true enemy, then you only win a battle rather than the war.

When we watch the news, we often wonder why our military leaders make certain decisions that seem to be detrimental to the primary cause. Why do they appear to be diplomatic when there are clear threats to our safety, our freedoms, and our way of life? There is a bigger picture that the news does not cover. There are interactions that we may never know about. There are moments that even these leaders question their own tactics but move forward with confidence so as to not show weakness. But the fact remains that all tactics, all strategies, all methods of winning are justified when the outcome is favorable. One battle at a time. One soldier returned. One life saved. Every win serves to justify the choices of these leaders.

In the war against CPS, and trust me this is a war against the entire system, we have assessed the primary enemy. We are aware that we must stand together against the corruption of the system and this must be done with all of our emotions. When the military wages war, it does so with a primary goal of defeating the enemy. THIS IS THE PRIMARY GOAL and we cannot waver in our efforts. However, when a soldier is taken captive, we must first be diligent in bringing them home. Often times, we must use diplomacy rather than aggression.

OUR CHILDREN ARE PRISONERS OF THIS WAR!

Make no mistake, throughout our case, we were aware of the primary enemy. We knew that we would continue to fight once our battle was won. We knew that bringing home my grandchildren would not be the end of the war. But we were in that battle at that time and there was no one else that could fight it for us. We read all of the posts that told us to scream and yell and never be agreeable. For some, this tactic was working but for most, I watched their battle continue with devastating outcomes. I grieved as I watched prisoners of war essentially become casualties of war. I feared for my own family. I feared for the families of others. I spent countless nights watching and listening. I studied the battles of others and strategized accordingly just as military leaders review previous battles and adjust their tactics.

To some, we may have appeared weak and, even as we tell our story, our tactics are under scrutiny. In fact, many times we question ourselves. Some moments throughout the case are not without regret. But I will stand by our choices because, at the end of the day, we won our battle and came back up to continue to fight the war.

Our children did not enlist for this war. They did not come into this battle with an understanding that they could become prisoners. They are not trained to withstand the manipulation, the hardships, and the emotional distress of being taken a prisoner. They are depending on us to bring them home from their captivity at all costs.

When one tactic fails, do not give up, re-strategize!

“Gigi”