Last Home Study Visit - Check!

The homestudy social worker came for her final visit this last Thursday…

I felt surprisingly nervous, but also excited. There was a flurry of activity and errands to run in the weeks leading up to her visit, including:

  • Getting the right safety latches, which took a couple of tries, since my complex does not allow drilling into any part of the cabinets. 
  • Procuring, then cleaning and setting up the crib and changing table.
  • Hanging a mirror and two art pieces in the nursery room, plus finally hanging the last of my art in the rest of the house, including a beautiful but heavy mirror I inherited from my grandparents. 
  • Buying a gray chevron crib sheet, that happens to match the gray chevron changing pad cover that came with the changing table. 😊
  • Getting Zoey a new dog bed and throwing out her raggedy one.
  • Unpacking the clothes and toys passed down to me from my brother and sister-in-law. It was so fun to hang the clothes on little hangers and put them away in drawers!

As I went through all these preparations,  I found myself imagining more and more my life with a little one; what I would be doing at various times that would be dramatically different than what I normally do. For example, playing on the floor with a little one instead of watching TV or going on a walk through the neighborhood after work with the stroller versus just Zoey.

At one point, I was standing in the nursery with Zoey, asking her if she was ready for a baby to be here, saying, "Pretty soon, there's going to be a little one here crying,"  then making crying noises. Lol  I guess I'm trying to get both Zoey and myself ready for a huge change.

The social worker visit itself was surprisingly anti-climactic. My as-mentioned very young social worker was friendly but down to business. I offered cookies and fresh strawberries, along with mineral water. I think she ate one, maybe two, strawberries, as she went down her required question list fairly rapid fire. She did seem a bit more enthusiastic about the nursery, and appeared to really like the hot air balloon wall decals I put up.

She said everything was fine, except I did forget a couple of safety items: first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and carbon monoxide detector. What would cause high levels of carbon monoxide, anyway? No idea… But I ordered these items on Amazon, and once they arrive I can send a picture to her and complete the checklist. Then, it will be likely around three weeks of writing up the report, sharing it with me in the supervisor, making edits, then issuing the certificate. Whew! I'm on the homestretch, though!


Next Step Considerations

After getting a white crib -  with all the pieces this time - and a nice, solid white changing table with drawers off of Next Door (I love that website!), I've pretty much got the nursery together now! I need to find a small, not too pricey glider and pick up some small clothes hangers.

In the rest of the house, I still need to get safety latches on a couple of the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen. I did get a safety mechanism for the front door knob and mats for the front door, kitchen, and bathroom. My bathroom is ridiculously small, y'all. It's sort of fitting because I'm definitely not a 'spend a lot of time in the bathroom' kind of a person. I do all my getting ready in my bedroom.  But I wonder how that will be with a kid… I guess I can make adjustments or add storage items later.

After the drama with the agency I'm working with, as well as word-of-mouth warnings I've been reading from friends and online, I admit I'm feeling some worry about whether I'll actually get placed with an infant within a few months. I'm thinking about whether I can get comfortable with the idea that I may need to foster a child or two before I connect with my forever child. There is so much potential loss associated with that idea, but also the opportunity to be a loving and stable influence on other children going through a traumatic time.

Once my homestudy is complete, I plan to consider all my options – both new options and those I've considered before. Summer seems like a good time to do that. My thought is that all I can do is keep taking the next step and making the best decisions I can.

Final social worker visit is a week from tomorrow – wish me luck!


Home Study Drama

My spring semester at the college ended yesterday. Our program graduation on Thursday went well,  and the speeches the graduates made were extraordinary and moving. After some stress around budget changes, we were given the same continuing hours for fall, and it feels great to have that continuity. Additionally, I was given a few hours a week during the last half of June and all of July before we have a full week of retreat and orientation when fall semester ramps up at the beginning of August. With these hours, the court disbursement I finally received last week, the non-profit work, and my career counseling business, it looks like it may be a little tight this summer but OK.

In this present moment, I'm looking around my house and recognizing there is a lot of cleaning to be done. I  feel jealous when I hear people being struck with spring or summer cleaning fever. I must have a strong immune system when it comes to that illness. haha  I do get motivated by outside catalysts, and  yesterday I scheduled a big one –  my final social worker visit on June 15th. I intend to make a list today of all the actions I need to take and what I need to get in place before she comes.

I had a scare last week when my social worker sent a lengthy email about additional policy changes which shift their demographic to a higher number of older and special needs children. I understood this was always the case, but I guess they are expanding relative searches for infants, among other things. She then asked me to expand my per age and or special-needs parameters. I wrote back that I was not comfortable with that and reminded her of previous in-depth conversations we had last year about it. She wrote back that in that case they would be unable to work with me. What? I was freaked out, needless to say, after jumping through inumerable hoops and literally being on the threshold of completing the homestudy. I wasn't sure she knew I've been communicating the past two months with their agency coordinator and completing all the replacement forms based on my move. So I sent those to both her and her supervisor and also left a voicemail with the supervisor Friday late afternoon.

And in my worried state, I also started doing some research with the county I live in now to see which parts of the homestudy might transfer. I will say I really liked the two women I spoke with in this county, but they needed to do further research about it...and regardless, I would need to redo the intensive interviewing process. I was clear I wanted to complete the homestudy with my current agency, since I'm so close, then consider options about how to move forward. Once completed, the homestudy can travel with me to other counties, etc.

So, long story short, I finally heard back from the supervisor on Wednesday, and she said there was a miscommunication and she did not mean they wouldn't work with me. She just wanted to stress the policy changes and likely longer timeline for placement with an infant. I said I understood but still wanted to complete the homestudy, which she was fine with, thank God. I think my social worker may have expressed things more strongly than she was supposed to. In any case, I'm super relieved!

No big plans this weekend, but I'm looking forward to attending the new church I found tomorrow and hiking with a friend on Monday. I hope you have a fun and relaxing holiday weekend!


Family Frustrations

Side note: I'm super ready for a new laptop; typing in an iPad mini is for the birds...

 I'm feeling a little angry today about family dynamics. Trying to remember that it's not about me and it's not really something I can control, but I still feel some sadness and longing for things to be different.  After my mom died a couple of years ago, The rest of my family went to Lake Tahoe that next summer and scattered her ashes into the lake, which was a special place for her.  Prior to her passing, as you might remember from reading this blog, it was a several-year tradition for us to all go to Tahoe together as a family over the Fourth of July.  One trip there with S was particularly traumatic, but that's another story.

In any case, I just assumed that we would continue this tradition as a family going forward, but last year I received a rude awakening that my brother was going to Tahoe at a different time that summer and my sister wanted to be there with her immediate family only, and some close friends. Maybe if I had a partner and child or children, I would also enjoy going there sometimes by ourselves (this is a separate issue of feeling like a lower-class family member because I'm single), but I think I would still value and support us all being there together over the fourth. I made it known last year that I was disappointed and in future years really wanted us all to spend this time there together.

 Which brings me to this year... A month or so ago I talk to my brother and he told me that he and his family were planning to go at a different time and not be there for the Fourth. Argh!  I was frustrated and upset and let him know that I was super disappointed. I asked him to please consider my wishes on this and said I thought that the memories we create there would be really significant and important going forward in our lives. He seemed a little chagrined and agreed to consider this.

Then, recently I messaged with my Dad about the Fourth, and he said he and his partner, Mary, are planning to go early and leave on the third, and that my sister wanted to be there with her immediate family alone over the holiday. WTF!  A big part of the experience is the freaking holiday! Going out on the boat to watch the fireworks, hanging out on the dock and going to get drinks, etc. We can do a lot of these activities prior to the fourth I guess but part of the fun is preparing for the holiday and going out on the boat. To me, this significantly changes the experience.

 I feel like I'm the only one that cares about making this meaningful, but also that I am the one who's feelings and opinions are least valued.  I guess part of the equation is me living in California and the rest of my family living up in Eugene and having just more time together and casual conversations about it in the course of their lives.  But I'm really tired of getting blindsided by, and not included in, these decisions.

 I did message with my brother this morning and have plans to talk to him this afternoon, and he said they might be moving their plans around so they could come to Tahoe on the Fourth. This is super exciting news, but I hope we then can actually stay for the holiday. I left a voicemail for my sister expressing these hopes. If you were me, how would you feel, and how would you try to mediate the situation? I'm not sure it's worth creating a huge issue with my sister, but I resent her being the favorite and getting more say in the matter.

 To end on a positive note, I completed my child/infant CPR training yesterday! It was actually quite informative and helpful. Almost done with my homestudy replacement forms and plan to get the social worker visit on the calendar soon, maybe by next weekend.


Lots happening and lots to do

I participated in my first Petaluma community event yesterday, which is called Butter and Eggs Day, in reference to Petaluma's farming roots.There was a parade and I rode on the decorated hay wagon truck as part of my college's entry. There were staff with their kids, as well as students mostly dressed in graduation caps and gowns. Everybody in Petaluma and many beyond Petaluma came out for the event and I had a great time. I got to know one of my students a little better who was riding next to me, and on the other side was my supervisor and her two young boys who were super cute and involved. I bought a small bucket of freshly cooked fried chicken (I shared!) to start the event off, then later got snowcones with my supervisor and her kids. Yum!

 As this event implies, I'm feeling more comfortable in my newer job and have an increased sense of competence and belonging. The bad news there is that there is current budgetary uncertainty for the summer, so I'm not sure what if any hours I'll get for June and July. Fingers crossed.

I have three pieces of good news to report, however: First, after being called in for an interview at the College of Marin – which is next-door to my nonprofit in Larkspur, about 30 minutes from my new home – I received the thrilling call that I was hired as an adjunct counselor! I don't know whether I'll have summer or fall hours yet, but it's wonderful to not just depend on one college for counseling hours. Also, the College of Marin is smaller and seems like a fun department, as well as having handy proximity to my nonprofit. Oh, and I can have eight more hours a week at the nonprofit this summer if I want… Of course they pay considerably less.

Second, I landed a new (phone) client for 1000 bucks! This gets me partway there to covering less hours or time off in summer. I also changed my Meetup group location to Petaluma and plan to have a Meetup sometime in the next month, in hopes of landing another client or two. There is reasonably-priced office space to rent here, too, like I was doing previously.

Third, my townhome complex manager, after I assertively reminded her of her promise, was able to schedule my washer/dryer enclosure to be built next week. Woo hoo! The weather has turned nice and sunny finally, but  I was still worried about my washer and dryer being out in the elements. 

In addition to landing summer work, my plate is chock-full of to-do's, it seems. Feel free to skip this next action step section, but I find it helpful to list intended actions on my blog to reference and, in a way, hold me accountable. My current to-do's or action steps:

Adoption action steps 
  1. Research child care in Petaluma
  2. Put together crib and hang decals/art on the wall
  3. Purchase a changing table or use the table I have with a changing pad
  4. Find a small children's dresser in white or red
  5. Complete CPR class Second Saturday in May 
  6. Fill out replacement forms for Homestudy
  7. Make a visitation appointment with the social worker for end of May
  8. Prior to the appointment, make sure safety latches on necessary drawers and cabinets and medicine lockbox is working  
Home actions. Except for unpacking, which I'd like to finish up in the next week or two, none of these have a set timeline 
  1. Finish unpacking few boxes downstairs
  2. Unpack bags and suitcases in my room
  3. Hang art
  4. Buy bathroom rug, towel bar, and hooks for bathroom and bedroom
  5. Re-finish blue end tables or paint myself - new handles
  6. Get a vanity table and chair for bedroom
  7. New mattress for me
  8. Buy new dog bed for Zoey

Per last post, actions to get involved in meaningful activities locally: 
  1. Start going to farmers market Saturday afternoons
  2. Attend swing dance workshop and dance in May
  3. Try out a new church every first Sunday of the month until find one that clicks
  4. Attend upcoming local activism fair/tabling event -  contact and attend meeting for local political organization or closest transition town group


Unpacking Physically and Mentally

I'm slowly getting unpacked and tired of dealing with boxes! I only have a few left of current items. Thank God I have a space under the stairs to store a lot of boxes that were in the attic. At some point I have to pare down some of the memorabilia from my mom and grandmothers, which is hard as I'm sure you know. I also have quite a few plastic bins on a utility storage shelf on the back patio. Praying they're waterproof! They are supposed to be. Kitchen is pretty much unpacked, which feels great.

The management promised me they would build a structure to protect my washer and dryer on the right side of patio within a couple weeks, and tomorrow is two weeks. Unfortunately, we've continued to have greater than expected rainfall here in California. I think they are OK so far but don't want them to get rained on further! Ironically, the manager is talking about the rain as an obstacle to them completing the project, aargh.  Rain rain go away.  Sorry for the boring moving updates… Hopefully this won't be the center of my focus much longer.

On a reflective note around moving, I was talking to S, who has provided some support for the move, and he shared his hope that I connect with local activities, like I did when I was living in Oakland. He said that when I was living in Martinez, it seemed like I was remote, and my involvement dropped off. I didn't really enjoy hearing that reflection! I did ask him to consider what his own feelings and motives may be around bringing that up, but I want to take in the essence of truth that may be there. I think there were several reasons why I didn't get more engaged locally in Martinez and that my activism, dance, and theater activities dropped off, including:

  1. The commute time was doubled to get to dance or interplay in Oakland/Berkeley.
  2. For a good amount of time, I was focused on my business marketing training and getting business clients.
  3. I injured my knee at the end of 2015, which  prevented me from dancing for several months and I never really got back into it. 
  4. Roommate and relationship drama sucked my energy for part of my time in Martinez.  
  5. The last half of 2016 and beginning of 2017, I was working toward completing my homestudy, which also takes focus and energy.

So some of the reasons were out of my control, while others relate to my priorities at the time. I do notice that the activities that dropped off the radar, were related to creativity, soul enrichment, and community that goes along with that. I want to make an effort to reengage with at least one or two of these activities, both for my own enrichment, but also because I think they will make me a better person and a better mom. And I see the role they can create in providing community and support when I have a child.

On that note, I researched swing dancing in my area and contacted the instructor for a workshop I hope to take May 20th, followed by a dance. One thing I did do in the last few months in Martinez, is find and attend a (spiritual) church a few times.  I looked into this type of church in my area, but didn't find anything. Ideally, I would really like to find a church in Petaluma because I want to be grounded as much as possible in where I actually live.  So I might attend a Presbyterian or progressive Christian church, if I can find one near me.  I want to keep this intention in my awareness going forward.

 Off to unpack more boxes and maybe even put together the crib! Wish me luck.


A little worse for the wear, but I made it!

I survived the move! It took most of the day and into the evening on Monday, but I'm in Petaluma!  The commute was wonderful Wednesday to Friday of last week, though now commuting to my nonprofit job is not so great – 35 to 40 minutes from Petaluma. After April I'm going to request we follow through on the idea of working from home on Fridays, so I'll only need to do that Mondays and Wednesdays.  Overall, it's a giant improvement in commute time and quality of life.

Last Tuesday, I wrapped up my business in Martinez with my landlord, grabbed the last few items from the house and did some cleaning up, which added up to a sense of relief and closure.

My Internet was set up yesterday, and I've unpacked a few necessary boxes, but there's lots of unpacking to go!  I was looking forward to settling in and doing a lot of that this weekend, but unfortunately, yesterday at work I started feeling really sick in the morning, with an upset stomach, headache and achy-feverish feeling that intensified over the next couple hours. I left early and took vitamin C, rested, and went to bed very early. In the middle of the night, I woke up all hot and sweaty and felt like my fever had broken. This morning, knock on wood, I feel much better. Hoping it lasts! If so, I can unpack a few boxes today, still taking it pretty easy, then follow through on my Easter plans for brunch tomorrow.

Once I get settled in a little more, I will be excited to start walking downtown for movies, drinks and meals, and just figuring out my life in Petaluma as far as favorite stores, farmer's market routine, etc.  I will also be excited to get the kid's room set up! The bedrooms are both upstairs and carpeted, so it feels more cozy and I'm looking forward to getting it put together.

A down note, is that this complex does feel a little low-end...it's in a great location, as I've mentioned, but the grounds are not kept up very well- not much landscaping and groundcover and there are little bits of paper trash sometimes on the ground. The townhouse itself is more like an apartment, I would say. It has two stories, but the units are side-by-side and I can hear noise from my neighbors. It's quite small, as mentioned, and the carpeting is worn. From what the manager said, I get a sense that it's gradually being upgraded, so we'll see how things evolve. It has the necessities of what I need, including two bedrooms, a dishwasher and garbage disposal, a back patio area with space for Zoey to use, and located not far from a great downtown. I wish it were nicer, but for now I think this is definitely workable.