As I welcome myself back from a 10-day vacation (actual, not just from blog-land) I find myself struggling to write a little bit. I have so much to say about our case and yet I'm continually reminded (on the inside) to be cautious about what I share in this case. Maybe it's that there really isn't much to share. So ambivalent this case is...
As I welcome myself back I also find myself catching up from all the stuff not done while I was gone on vacation and now I'm staring straight down the barrel of back-to-school preparation on top of normal life. All the way home (we drove for 2 days each way) I thought about how I couldn't wait to get home and get busy cleaning and organizing and doing all the stuff that's needed to be done. I was excited about it. Now that I'm home I just want to take a nap.
We will have 3 kids in public school starting in a few weeks. Logan goes to a magnet school for gifted children. He will continue there this year (YAY! - love that school) but his newest siblings are not allowed in. Our district is crazy as far as placement rules go. Seriously. Anywho...I was "lucky" (no joke) to get my two oldest foster children into the neighborhood school, together.
This neighborhood school requires standardized dress, which is basically uniforms with more variety. These two children have not had a school with standardized dress before so it's time for me to buy them new clothes. Logan's school does not have to wear the uniforms but still needs bigger clothes. Baby Baby is quickly becoming not-so-babyish and needs 9 month clothes. The little girls (including Summer) do not need new clothes right now but will feel left out if they don't get at least something. Oy. Clothing 6 kids for back-to-school is expensive.
I decided to take them one-at-a-time, in part because I need to in order to keep my sanity and in part because I wanted to make it a special trip for each of them. They don't get that much 1x1 time with mommy on a regular basis so I wanted to see if I could make this fun and memorable. Boy am I glad I was able to pull it off, at least with one so far. My oldest foster was first to go. She was excited for many reasons and I could tell it was special for her too. After we picked out a few items I suggested we go try them on. Her response "Oh, like in the bathroom?".
Mie "Sweetheart, have you never been to a store before that has fitting rooms to try on your clothes before you buy them?"
No. She had not. She had no concept of fitting rooms and was in awe as we went back to try things on. I made a big point to tell her how beautiful she was as she tried on her outfits. We bought many, many items AND to top it off the man at the counter was inspired to let us have 15% off, just because. The grand total for her clothes, not counting "winter wear", was $209. In reality that isn't bad but if I multiply that by 6 - Yikes! Not counting winter clothes? Yikes.
Truth-be-told, I will not be spending $1300 on clothes for my kids this month. I spent $65 on Baby Baby's 9 month wardrobe immediately after dropping the $209 on uniforms for miss beautiful. That took care of him. Though I'll pick something up for the little kids I will buy them one or two things, not a ton - I have a ton of clothes in their sizes already. Logan will need a sizeable amount of clothes - I never really bought him a 6 year old wardrobe only 5 and made due with what we had with minor supplements so he's really due for a good refresh. That being said I'm collecting the Kohls cash I earned from buying clothes for the other kiddos to help fund his purchases. The last little boy already has some uniform clothes from when Logan was in private K - I'll start with some but will need a good amount more.
In addition, I've come to learn that several nearby counties offer some sort of clothing reimbursement for foster children. The county these children are from offers $300 per year or $1200 for the group. In order to qualify I have to submit individual receipts (one per child with nothing but the reimbursable items on it) to the local county board and wait to be reimbursed by check. I clearly cannot use it to fund Logan or Summer's wardrobe but it will go a long way to getting these kiddos new clothes AND getting them some quality time with mommy.
I'm really looking forward to these shopping trips. Next up - school supplies!