Sunday, July 31, 2005

Home again... for a moment

Home again for a day.

Dropped a kid of at camp and two more at my friend Michelles...

leaving Tuesday for Pittsburgh to go to NACAC...

will blog more between email answering tomorrow...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Favorite Sea World Attraction

Yesterday at sea world, we saw LOTS of cool stuff. Even though there are only two rides, the kids seemed to enjoy Sea World more than Disney World. I asked them and most of them said they preferred Sea World.

My favorite part of Sea World was the Sea Lion and Otter Show for two reasons. The first is that the Sea Lions are in the season where they "bulk up" for the winter and are at their heaviest. It is also mating season, apparently. Well, during this well scripted and rehearsed show, the two sea lions decided not to cooperate. At all. Since sometimes the trainers train the animals not to obey for humor, it took a while for us to realize that they were not doing what they were supposed to do. After a while it became just hilarious. They started barking at each other and biting each others necks. These huge animals just wouldn't do what they were supposed to do. The trainers started to laugh and everyone kept messing up their lines. They said, "these guys weigh several hundred pounds more than us, so we're going to have to follow their lead." By the end of the show, some of which they had to do without the sea lions, making it pretty rediculous, the actors and trainers were all commenting on how glad they were the show was over.

Better even that that was the mime in this picture who was the "warm up band" for the show. He basically stood at first aisle and made fun of people who walked by. He did all the things I would do if I could. He pretended to be the people in front of him. He pretended to take the hair off of of a person with too much and put it on a bald guy. He especially did a great impression of the gangsta wannabees and the way they walked and dressed. I just loved it.

My fiifteen favorite minutes of the day by far.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Disney and Sea World Topics yet to Come

Becuase i can't bog much longer tonight (it's almost 10 and I have kids in the pool yet and kids souvenir shopping and soon Bart is going to come home and want the laptop....

So, here are some upcoming topics, so I don't forget:

Why I love Diversity
The sinking black hole of spending
Breast Reduction Advice
The Carribbean Bus Shuttle
My favorite Attraction at Disney World
My favorite Attraction at Sea Word
My Daughter's Jewelry
Those who Survived Shamu
Why my husband is awesome
Why Two Days is Enough
A Non-Anxious Prescence
Why is hardly anyone happy at the happiest celebration on earth?

Blisters on Top of My Blisters

Sea World today and it was a great day. We were there almost 10 hours and found plenty to do. The kids seemed less whiny today even though there was less to do than at Disney. I enjoyed it much more as the shows were great.

HOWEVER, anyone who sits at the computer 18 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week should definitely not think she can be on her feet for two days straight without punishment.

I have a bad back, thus my feet hardly ever hurt. Fortunately, God must have blessed me the past couple days, because my back didn't bother me too much. Thus, my feet are killing me. They are so NOT USED to carrying around my big bulk.

Tonight, after having a blast with the kids most of the day (they were really well behaved today, all of them) Dominyk asks Bart if he can sit with me on the ride home.

Now, for those of you adoptive mothers out there who are married and have adopted waiting kids, you know that choosing Mom over Dad simply does not happen. None of my kids ever really had a dad they knew, but all of them have some type of issues with their mother. So, I am the one to hate, not the one to lovee, and very seldom, especially from the boys, do I ever get chosen.

So, that was monumental. However, Dominyk is such a straight-shooter you would think he had my genes. I sit down in the charter bus seat with him and he says, "Mom, I hate to tell you, but I think Dad's quite a bit skinnier than you are. When I sit with him, I actually have a whole seat.

Isn't he great? Here he is asking me, "Do you think this is a good hairdo, or is this plant having a bad hair day?"

We Made It!

Well, we left at 7:30 and got home at 11:30 and we survived... a few blisters, some sore thighs for the chubby boys, and some sporadic sunburns, but we did it....

I am not going to take time to blog much this a.m. as we're heading to sea world, but I will say this: There are MANY bloggable issues at Disney World which I will attempt to reflect upon over the next week or so....

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Well, for ONCE there are no signs saying that kids need to be supervised. And even though we're on the fifth floor, I can look down and supervise the kids from up here. So, every 10 minutes or so I go and check on them. Now, before you think that I am the most irresponsible of parents, blogging while my kids risk their lives in a strange hotel pool, you need to understand that they are all excellent swimmers, their ages are almost 17, 13, 11, 10, 10, and 9 and there are LOTS of adults down there.

We're hoping to be in bed early as the shuttle to Disney leaves at 7:30 a.m. and we may stay until 11 when the last shuttle leaves .... if we can take it....

Orlando Airport

Dominyk also took pictures at the airport in Orlando.

Bart bought everyone a new Nalgene bottle for the trip so that we don't have to spend so much money on drinks over the next two days at Disney World and Sea World.

Jimmy had a rough day of it today. Behavior borderline inappropriate most of his waking moments, and literally wanting to punch me most of the time for correcting him.

Minneapolis Airport

Pictures of people waiting at the airport in Minneapolis. Dominyk took most of the pictures to keep himself from getting too bored.

Good with People

I know, it sounds like Dominyk is the only kid on this trip, but he's really the only one innocent, naive and young enough to keep saying cute things.

Today a Puerto Rican woman at the Orlando airport was having trouble connecting with her nephew. I let her borrow my cell phone. While I was trying to help her get another number, Dominyk interrupted us in mid conversation with a voice that demonstrated he was socked and QUITE surprised. He said, "Mom! You're actually kind of, how should I say it, GOOD WITH PEOPLE!"

The C-Pap

Bart has a C-Pap machine because he has sleep apnea.

During the flight today, Dominyk got very excited to see that his father would be able to rest well on the plane. Since he was seated kind of far away from his dad, he had to say loudly, "DAAAD! Look! If you want to sleep on the plane all you have to do is push this button and one of those machines like yours will pop out of the ceiling so you can breathe!"

Star Wars Liturgy

At the airport, Dominyk asked if he could write a book like I am. I told him he could use the second section of the notebook for his book.

Here is the beginning of his book, written down, exactly like this, I kid you not.

"May the Force Be With You"

"and also with you."

Looks Like We Made It

Wow, what a day.

Up at 5:30, to the shuttle by 6:30, at the airport to check in by 7:00 a.m. Plane left at 9, smooth sailing til we arrived here at 12 noon, or 1 Orlando time.

Then Bart had to get the rental van, drive half of us over to the hotel, stopping to grab lunch, then drive back to the airport to pick up the rest of us, who then went to eat and got to the hotel by 4:30 to check in.

The first group got to swim for a while while they waited.

Not sure exactly all that I should blog, but while I have a few minutes I'll blog a lot of stuff. Right now Bart and the girls are getting groceries so we can eat in our suite and four boys are swimming, Dominyk is happily playing with legos, and Kyle is sleeping, I think...

First, though, I picture of how I looked after sitting in the Orlando airport for almost 3 hours with Ricardo, Jimmy and Dominyk:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

First Stop

We're in Burnsville at the Park-n-Fly holiday inn.

Interesting trip. I had to stop in a park to do a conference call adoption staffing and then make another stop to get adoption paperwork signed.

Our trip so far has included such highlights as:

is it pronounced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Shitty Shitty Bang Bang?

Dominyk putting things in my hair until I was ready to go insane ...

Me grabbing the wrong medicine (Dominyk's ADHD afternoon meds and his meds for the infection he had around his mouth three weeks ago look strangely similar) -- guess we're going to have a VERY hyper boy with a VERY healthy mouth;

Bart reading through the Travel Guides to Disney World and planning strategy with Dominyk saying, "Ooh, and Aah, and I'm going there, and Tell me more, Dad, tell me more..."

tonight Bart went Nalgene bottle shopping at the Mall of America with some of the kids while the rest of the kids swam.

And, i know this sounds like it is all about Dominyk, but tonight we came to the hotel rooms for shower. I supervised everything but the very end when he said, "PLEASE, Mom, I'm going to be naked here. I need to put on my boxers and need some privacy." So, I stupidly left him alone and within seconds he was attempting to make coffee and there were grounds everywhere.

Now if we can just get our oldest to realize that two beds and four people equals two per bed, not him alone in a bed, two in the other bed, and one on the floor....

Getting ready for the Adventure

It is strangely quiet for a moment, but earlier today it was mayhem.

My kids, for some reason, have this equation in their minds:

excitement = disobedience

Whenever we get ready to go somewhere they get very excited and thus are misbehaving like crazy. I, on the other hand, while scurrying around trying to get ready, or sitting at my desk getting those last minute emails written, am not irritated at all by their misbehavior (believe that???)

So then I come in and want cooperation and obedience and they say no, or run from me, or simply stare at me blankly like I'm speaking a different language or like I am from another planet.

Then we have one that is incredibly defiant and bonkers. He is my poster child for ODD which is proven by the fact that he is screaming, "I AM NOT GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!" NOBODY but a kid with ODD would say they were not going to go on this family vacation.

He has called me every name in the book this morning, purposefully dressed himself several times in other people's clothing, and spent a lot of his energy trying his best to get everyone in the house riled up. He has been screaming for most of the morning.

At this point in time before EVERY family event, Bart and I are saying to each other, "We're NEVER going to do this again." And then we plan another outing a few weeks later like we never even remember what happened the last time we did something like this.

Ah the joys...

Being Careful?

I guess more people are starting to read my blog, which is fine. But one of the dangers about a blog is that when I'm blogging I'm not really thinking ENOUGH about the fact that people are actually READING what I write.

If I was thinking about that, I would probably not post so much boring junk and be more deliberate in being as entertaining and witty or as persuasive and intelligent sounding as I can.

Or I would be careful that I was not being offensive.

My tragic flaw is that I consistently offend people without knowing it. I am totally and truly myself every moment of my life. I say what I think and the only filter that I have is whether or not I would be offended by what I'm saying. Since it takes a LOT to offend me, I remain unoffended and continuously offensive at all times.

My husband is the opposite. He is the most appropriate, kind, considerate and aware person I know. He is always intuitively tuned into how everyone is thinking and feeling.

I have NO clue.

I tell people that I married him so that his parishioners would know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he was imperfect, because a perfect person would never choose to marry someone like me.

So, if you are offended please realize that I am being careful not to be offensive, but that what I am writing is viewed inoffensive by me, at least.

Think of what would happen if I was NOT trying not to offend..

Monday, July 25, 2005

I am SO Hispanic

Tonight I had the opportunity to translate for a Guatemalan birthmom who is making an adoption plan for her unborn baby. We were in their tiny little apartment with her mom, her, her daughter, and her two little sisters (who are within a year or two in age from her daughter). Mexican comedy was on the TV and we were offered bottled water.

It was like I was going back in time....

back in time to when I was 5 and we had just moved to Denver and all my neighbors were Hispanic and all my little friends;

back in time to when I was 10 and all my friends in school were Hispanic and their parents had me come over to play and made me enchiladas and beans and homemade tortillas;

back in time to when I was 17 and in High School with a majority Hispanic population;

back in time to when I was 25 and went on my first missions trip to Mexico City and felt more at home there than I had anywhere since I left Denver;

back in time to when I was 26 and 27 and made return mission trips to Cd. Valles, San Luis Potosi, and to Cuernavaca;

back in time to when was 29 and spent a month in language school in Costa Rica;

back in time to when I was 30 and living in Cd. Valles;

back in time to when I was 31 and living in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico;

back in time to when I was 34 and married and working with Hispanic migrant farm workers in rural Minnesota ...

back in time to when I was 38 and 40 and made trips to Guatemala to pick up our sons.

Sometimes I feel more at home in Hispanic culture than I do in my own. My Spanish comes back to me quickly in that setting, along with so much more -- it all rushes back -- the smells, the feelings, the form of humor, the richness of the culture, the way people relate to one another, the importance of people over material posessions, and the priority of events over time.

And for just a few minutes I forget that I am a white middle class American, despised (and rightly so) by many citizens of our world because we tend to ignore the needs of others and have messed up priorities and all kinds of other things that if I print I'll receive hateful comments....

My life is like a tapestry, with each thread representing a different part of who I am. The color of thread that represents my experiences with Hispanic culture, which would be a bright color indeed, is woven throughout this tapestry and I can't believe how thankful I am that it is.

The Mystery Vacation

WE told the kids tonight.

Here's how the clues relate --

1971 -- the year it was founded

27 -- the year the state joined the united states

Double Oh -- two letters in the name of the City

Suite -- part of the hotel name

MSO -- the airport code

Cindy, Pete and Don -- Shortened names of Donald Duck, Peter Pan, and Cinderella.

Got it yet?

Vacation Clues

If you are still with us and trying to figure out the mystery vacation destination, here are the clues:



Double Oh


Cindy, Pete and Don


if you know, email me and I'll tell you if you're right. So far none of our kids have figured it out (except the one who can't go and has FAS and is in an RTC -- he got it after the first clue).

The Dollar Store

This is what happens when you let kids go to the dollar store with money and no parents...

Socks Box torture

We used to have a box, now it's a tub. For some reason it's in my office at the moment.

My husband has been giving vacation clues each day. It's driving my Obsessive Compulsive Disordered son BONKERS.

He sits there, like this, in the sock tub saying things like, "Those clues stink. WE're NEVER going to find out where we're going. Dad shouldn't make the clues so hard. I can't guess where we're going. Nobody is ever going to tell us. I don't like this. We will never know the place. I can't figure it out. Why can't you tell me where we are going? etc. etc. etc.

for HOURS.

And I sit here and type (right now I have 7 IM messages open, am doing email, and blogging)....

At least it's over

Well, the meeting at the RTC went as expected. He sat with his head down on the table refusing to make eye contact and tried to present his case one more time about how the program isn't teaching him anything.

His goals are things like improved self-image, respecting autority, accepting responsibility, and learning to live with rules. The hilarious piece of this, if there is a hilarious piece, is that every time he refuses to do what he is supposed to do he proves that he needs the program.

Problem is, he doesn't see the connection and his self-defeating behaviors are amazing.

In fact, he could write a book on them.

We leave tomorrow on the mystery vacation. Trying to get things on my desk cleared off and keep up with email before we go.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Chapter 10 is on the Web

Chapter 10 is on the web as of this minute. I have three more chapters written that need to be typed. Hard chapters to write. Hopefully on our mystery vacation I will be able to write some more...

Watched a couple of weird movies this weekend and almost always regret wasting my time. Should have been blogging instead, huh?

Keep reading and commenting on my book. It motivates me to write more. I have a couple of people who have volunteered to help edit.....

Sunday Night Pick Up

Well, this morning I made two of the boys ride their bikes to church. I just couldn't take it any more. I think they actually beat us there, even though it's a mile.

Had a good couple hours with our son at the ranch, celebrating his birthday.

We have a staffing in the morning with the BLAMER at his RTC -- dreading it.

Started a tradition in our home now that the kids are older. It's the same tradition we had in our home .... it's called Sunday Night Pick Up. It basiically means Mom and Dad are too lazy, tired, and drained to cook, so whatever you can find to eat, you can make it.

They love it and so do we.

In fact, they have added a little extra to it and now my girls ask me what I want and pretend to be waitresses and serve me supper either in my room or at my desk in the office. Gotta love it.

Everyone has been fairly good tonight. It's nice not to have to be stressed out every moment.

Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings are so stressful for me. Every single week we make it on time, but I still don't know how.

I think things were easier when the kids were younger, actually, because I dressed them and forced them into their clothes. Now that they are old enough to get dressed, they won't.

I think they have secret sibling meetings on Saturday nights. The leader must say, "OK troops, tomorrow is Sunday morning. You know how stressed mom gets about being on time to run the projector, so we need to see if we can push her over the edge. We are leaving at 8:40. Tomorrow's plan is that none of us will cooperate until 8:30. We will lie around, undressed, refusing to eat until she is almost insane and then we will slowly cooperate and miraculously arrive in the van 10 minutes later ready to go. Oh yeah, and if she asks you to do something either scream and run away or stare at her blankly like you have no idea what she is talking about...."

I am suspecting they have these insurrection planning meetings often. While they have never actually pushed me over the edge, I have been hanging by a thread many times -- and many of them have been Sunday mornings.

Today we're going over to the Ranch to celebrate our son's 15th birthday. He has been doing very well.

Our other son in treatment is going through a faze where it is all our fault and is being very verbally abusive to us during the 2 hours and five minutes a week he is allowed to be with us.

Fortunately, Bart handles it very well. I just try not to visit when he's in this move.

OK, it's 8:35 ... time for me to walk through the house screaming, It's TIME to GOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

DInking with the Colors some more and GIZMO

Well, I dinked around with the colors.... any input?

Dominyk walked in and said, "Aren'tcha gonna blog about anything tonight?"

I said, "Like what?"

He said, "about GIZMO."

"What should I say about Gizmo," I asked.

"How cute he is and how soft and cuddly he is and how happy he is and how joyful he is and how strong he is."

He also wanted Sadie cropped out of the picture, but she's too cute to crop out.

And, just a note from the editor: the words cute, soft, cuddly, happy, strong, and joyful were NOT coming to my mind as his poop squished through my toes the other day...

Yet another chapter

Really cooking tonight. Got another chapter typed. I have several more written but not typed. The next few chapters were the hardest to write and therefore I don't feel like typing them and reliving it for the 3rd time (once live, once to write, another to type).

Hard to write because it was a hard time in our lives. Hard to write becuase I made a LOT of mistakes. Hard to type because I have some regrets. Hard to type because the chapter about getting the boys reminds me of the challenges we face with them this very day.

It's blazing hot tonight and I actually am fairly caught up with what I have to and want to do before we leave on vacation on Tuesday.

It is a mystery vacation where Bart is giving a clue a day.

The clues so far are 1971 and 27.

Anybody got a guess?

Another Chapter and a Day of Shopping

I took 6 kids shopping today. It was insane. I used to hate shopping because the kids were so little that it was hard to keep track of them.

Now I hate shopping because EVERYTHING matters. Each of them is developing their own style and I, who have no style, have a hard time paying extra so that they have the right label on them.

My style is this: four or five pair of elastic waste pants and four or five pair of elastic waste shorts. Plain colors. Black, Blue, Red maybe. And some plain colored shirts.

Every once and a while my husband gets so fed up with my wardrobe that he buys me stuff. Otherwise it's the same stuff for me.

Today all these teens and preteens are talking about brands and cool and all that .... and I'm paying more than I want to pay.

No, I'm not Cindy and I can't be -- I don't live within my means all the time, I don't shop at garage sales, and we wear shoes on days besides Sunday. But I digress.

ANyway, today it was all about looking cool. Don't get me started on the crazy styles now -- the boys want shirts that hang down to their knees to cover up shorts that hang half way down their butt ... and the shoes aren't tied and hang off their feet. UGH.

Underwear is private. I learned that a long time ago. And you tie your shoes.

The funny thing about all this is that my kids tease me that I have no style but always want my opinion about how things look. That seems odd to me.

Anyway, I saved $350 while spending $150 at JCPenney today. Certainly not a record of savings (I've saved over $1000 and spent only $100 before), but we got a lot of school shopping done.

All we have left is school supplies (which my feet, in shoes for the first time in days, could not tolerate today).

Messing with the Code

So, is it cool or what that I can mess with my HTML code and change the colors.

And yes, I do have other things I could be doing.

One quick question?

Is there a reason why my children have to shove the phone receiver DOWN THEIR THROATS before they scream "MOM" at the top of their lungs when the phone is for me?

Kids Taking up Time

Saturday morning before 8 and I still have (oh great, here I go again, counting down in my head -- 10 total, two not living with us, one on a trip with his best friend up north, and two giggling in the living room) -- FIVE kids still sleeping. This is a tangent -- but I count down in my head all the time. I start at 10 every time and think of (and say a short prayer) for the boys in residential. Then I go from there to determine where everyone is. Once and a while I screw up, but I have NEVER left a kid anywhere, which most large families have happen to them every once and a while.

Anyway, only two kids are up and I have a few hours to finish cleaning off my desk, cleaning up my email, and getting the powerpoint ready for tomorrow.

I just read My Friend Cindy's Blog and she is talking about how people say to her, "My two kids take up all my time."

I have had a theory about this for a long time. Whatever number of kids you have they will take all your time. If you only have one (pitty those who do) then that child relies on you for entertainment, someone to fight with, cook, chauffer, laundress, shopping partner, and therapist. They will take all of your time. If you have 2 kids, they will take all your time. If you have 10 they will, and according to Cindy, 39 will as well.

I have written an article about Large Families called 15 Reasons why Large Adoptive Families are a Great Resource for Waiting Kids that talks a lot about all this stuff. I do speaking events naturally to explain why some of us who are willing to take tough kids should not be ignored because of family size.

I must give the approximate stats again:

120,000 kids a year legally free for adoption.

Each year, 20,000 kids age out of the foster care system without families, leaving them virtually with no one for support as an adult.

Of those 20,000 who age out without a family, 75% of them will end up homeless, incarcerated or DEAD in 10 years.

I say all that to say this: Just because you can't do it doesn't mean other people can't. I recently heard that a judge who was talking to a mom about leaving her 9 kids for a court hearing about getting more said that "she couldn't even leave her own kid alone with her husband for an hour." Thus, this woman's husband could not handle their nine home alone for two days.

My husband has done all of our kids alone for a week before while I was speaking.... and yes, he is unusual and awesome -- cooks, irons, helps with laundry and cleaning, can preach the best funeral sermon in southwestern MN, and is a nurturing wonderful father -- but just because your husband can't do it, doesn't mean mine can't.

So, I say all this to say this: If you have 1 kid or if you have 39, they will take up all your time. So don't worry about not having enough time to add another child. It works out. And most of our kids, just ask Cindy's don't think they missed out on anything because they had a lot of sibs. In fact, several of my kids are already talking about how many children they will adopt.

I'm not saying that everyone can parent 39, but I do think you can parent at least one more than you already have. Email me and I'll tell you about some kids available in this country who do not have a single person interested in adopting them...

OK, Ok, I'm done. For the moment.

A Long Long Long Time ago . . .

a pastor of a street front church brought their newborn daughter home to an apartment behind the sanctuary located in the front portion of this building.

41 1/2 years later this newborn baby brought four of her ten children to see where she lived as a baby.

Friday, July 22, 2005


My mother always sang, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."

As a tribute to the friends I saw this past week and the hundreds of people they reminded me of from my past, the Lyrics to a song by Kenny Marks:

Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends share the good and the bad
The times that I share with my best friends
Are the best times that I've ever had

Whenever it's cold, dark and lonely
Whenever my heart's breaking too
And I'm needin' somebody to hold me
The love of a good friend comes through
When I'm facing a mountain of worry
That some people don't understand
A friend will stay right there beside me
Willing to give me a hand

Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends share the good and the bad
The times that I share with my best friends
Are the best times that I've ever had
Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends who really do care
And the times that I've really needed a friend
My best friends have always been there

Whenever I'm down and discouraged
The love of my friends never ends
My life's so much better for having
A life of good love and good friends
And wherever my life seems to take me
God, He knows how to answer my prayers
Cause when I'm needing somebody to talk to
A new friend somehow is there

Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends share the good and the bad
The times that I share with my best friends
Are the best times that I've ever had
Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends who really do care
And the times that I've really needed a friend
My best friends have always been there

Friends will go anywhere with you
Friends share the good and the bad
The times that I share with my best friends
Are the best times that I've ever had
The times that I share with my best friends
Are the best times that I've ever had

Dominyk's time

Great hairdo, huh?

Dominyk didn't get to go with us, but he wants to tell you about his time with Dad.

Dominyk's Vacation

Lake Michigan

Went up to Sawyer, MI to spend time with one of my best friends from college. He and his wife, both MDs, live near (like yards from near) Lake Michigan.

Dan and I go way back -- 24 years now, to our college days, but we are the kind of friends who have kept up with each others lives and so we don't reminisce when we get together. Instead we talk about all kinds of stuff -- this years topics included postmodernism, Rwanda (he was THERE during the genocide), medical advice :-), materialism, our place in this world, spiritual crisis, etc. And of course, I talked about adoption...

Our kids helped take care of their kids.

On Tuesday we went to the lake where I got my ever so excellent striped sunburn.

Here are pictures of their very cute kids!


So, we went to Columbus to see old friends from years ago who are still friends and it's like we haven't been apart. My best friend Bob and I used to go to their house to play Rook with them almost every weekend night for a couple years. Until late at night we would discuss, argue, and debate issues surrounding our place of employment, the Christian church, and the world. We listened to Mike sing 70's tunes and though they will argue, I believe the final record of Rook games played was 96-62 or something like that, with Bob and I trouncing on them more often than not.

This is Michael It's not a great picture, but he can be pretty nuts sometimes. His introduction to the SInging Rambos album is priceless.

This is Josetta. She is a saint. After all, she's been married to Michael for a lotta years. She is holding in her hands cards that Michael or I might big 140-145 on, but she'd probably be nervous to bid 120.

And that's Laura, who used to be six but isn't any more.

And Taylor, who only was around to pose for the familyi pictures, and used to be 3 and adorable is now 17 and adorable. I left Bartlesville for Missions trip to Mexico and everyone was sad to see me go. But Taylor could not figure out what the big deal was that Miss Claudie was going to Texaco.

Notice how happy Salinda was that morning.... I've been tortured by angry boys for years, but her looks can kill...

Ice Cream Social Post #2

On the 16th we went to the Adopt America Ice Cream Social where Sadie helped out the magician...

Silvis happenings

While we were in Silvis we stayed with great friends of mine that I worked with in Mexico. They continue to look exactly the same and act almost exactly the same. I feel like I'm in a time warp EXCEPT that their kids were 13, 11, 8 and 3 when I spent most of my time with them and now the youngest is 16 and the only one still at home.

So, when I feel like I'm in a time warp, I just look over at him and BOOM I'm back to reality.

I have lots of cute stories about him when he was three, but I will only tell one. I used to read to him often and his favorite story was "one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." After the 425th time through the book, I started letting him finish the phrases.

One day I read:

Why are they sad, and glad, and bad,
I do not know, go ask your ...

and Benji replied, "MOTHER!"

Here is cute little Benj all grown up with my kids after a trip to the Ice Cream store where he works.

Clean off the desk and update the blog day

It's morning. The house is quiet. Bart has gone for a walk, everyone else is still sleeping.

The dog is even with Bart.

Today I have a plan. For every 40 pieces of paper on or around my desk that I take care of, I will allow myself to write one blog entry about our trip and post a picture or two. I may put them in chronological order, so they may not be the most recent entry if you're looking for them.

I also will have to keep up with email, which I had down to 39 last night and is already near sixty and no one is even at work yet.

So, we're off and running...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

End of the work day report

WEll, today I hit an all time record. I was going to ask you to guess how many emails you thought I sent today, but I figured it would be more fun to just tell you.

It's 6:10 and in the last 11 hours I have sent 356 emails. That is separate emails, not how many people received them. That's like an average of one every two minutes for the whole 11 hours.

My feet still look like large bursting sausages.

But life is good.
I posted lots of kids
meaning maybe lots of matches will happen.

And my husband is coming home.
I haven't seen him for almost 2 weeks.
I will be happy to see him.

And he will be the only human on earth to get to see the full effect of my sunscreen mishap.

I'm heading to do a post-placement visit and then home to see my man and put my feet up!

Mid-day update

Well, people have been asking me all day about my feet.

Here's the deal: My husband likes it cold in the house in the summer. Really cold. I even turned it up. But, the good news is that my feet are completely frozen -- like blocks of ice. So I don't feel the pain of the burn. I have hardly moved because walking is difficult with the swelling, but my feet do not hurt. They just feel very, very, very cold.

BUT I have not walked away from my undaunting task of responding to email, which, if I would abandon, I could put my feet up and then maybe they wouldn't look like large frozen pork tenderloins.

I started with 341 in my inbox that needed a response at 7:15. It is now 12:25 and I have 229 messages left. I have sent 170 messages and have had as many as 5 IM windows open at a time.

I'm cooking, my kids are parenting themselves with a few words chipped in from me ocassionally, and I am on an email mission...

Why I never walk barefoot in my home...

OK, So I never walk barefoot in my home. I don't trust my children and I never know what really might happen. I mean I have 7 year old who told me he had been sacrificing baby chickens only to find out he egged the neighbors house. SO what might be on the floor is something I don't want on my feet.

BUT today I can't fit my stupid feet into shoes.

So, I got up to turn down the air which feels like an artic blast on my sunburned feet, and stepped right in dog doo doo. Squishy, smelly, ugly slimy dog crap between my swollen toes.

I really reallly really am not enjoying my life at this particular moment...

And no, you don't get to see a picture, and yes, I did immediately wash my foot, though it was very difficult and painful to do so.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How can anyone as smart as me be so stupid?

I am a complete idiot. Seriously, I really am.

I will post more about the trip, but we got home an hour ago and I am miserable.

Yesterday we spent four hours on the beach of lake Michigan. I don't know what I was thinking about (probably matching kids or something like that) while I was putting on sunscreen and did a lousy job.

I specifically forgot the tops of my feet and up the side of my leg and the back of my arms and half of my neck.

I look like an idiot.

I look like I lost a paint ball fight.

I drove 10 hours today and so I had my feet down and now they are swollen one and a half times their normal size plus they are orange striped.

I amaze myself.

And just so you know, the pictures don't even do them justice. They feel MUCH worse than they look.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ice Cream Social

Plans have changed and we're staying in Toledo one more night.

We just got back from the ice cream social ... four hours of adopted kids and kids who need to be adopted, adoptive families and families wanting to adopt, gathering together with volunteers, staff members, and adoption specialists from The Adopt America Network. Games, food, fun, conversation ...

Very fun to see kids that I have had a part in matching.

If the kids who are supposed to come home in the next month do come home, I will have had a part in matching 5 different 17 year old kids in the last twelve months. Do you know what a rush that is? I can't think of anything more awesome than keeping a kid from aging out without someone to be committed to them as their parents for life.

I always leave enthusiastic about matching and glad to be part of an organization that has found so many famillies for kids ... about 2500 in their history, and it looks like we may hit 250 this year.


Now I'm deciding what the options are for our unexpected free evening. We'll head to Columbus in the morning.

Might post again depending on how the night goes...

Training is Over

Well, we made it from Silvis to Toledo. Right now I'm trying a new theory ... It's 10:23 and since we get to sleep in tomorrow, I'm waiting to see if anyone will ask to go to bed.... But they will probably outlast me.

My voice is almost gone from talking over pool noise in the evenings and talking to people all day. In the same day I have found out that I made the most matches in 2004 and also and find out that I have offended a few people by the way I am. Of course those people told someone else to tell someone else who had to tell me. I was pretty hurt at first, but I just love matching children with families so much that I can't be sidetracked by all that.

My kids have had a blast with the other kids here. A family with 20 kids brought about half or more with them and my kids had a great time.

I also met a woman who has more kids than my friend Cindy. I really truly didn't think it was possible.

Tomorrow we have the ice cream social and then we are heading down to Columbus to stay with more friends and then up to Michigan to see some more, and then home to rescue my husband who I think may be getting tired of us not being there.

Sorry for not posting more!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

At a loss

I'm having technological withdrawal. Even though I have a PC with cable internet to work from, I don't have my entire hard drive. I know that I need a laptop, but I don't want to work from one all the time. I love my G5, a LOT.

I have the morning to myself to catch up on some email, but I don't have access to all of my old emails. I rely on them substantially every day ... right now I have over 30,000 of them saved that I refer to all the time. I'm like a fish out of water without them becuase my storage space on my personal hard drive (my brain) is completely full and now I have to rely on something else to remember for me.

My kids are at VBS at an Hispanic church in the Quad Cities. The friends we are staying with pastor there and they took them, leaving me with a morning alone. Strangely quiet here.

I brought an old laptop with me and tried to load stuff on it, but it is one of the first edition blue IBooks and it just won't do what i need it to do...

It will do in a pinch, but I still don't have all my stuff.

OK, enough whining. Overall, things are good...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Feeling Blessed

We made it to Silvis, IL and I am with some of my dearest friends. I'm feeling blessed nad lucky to have had them in my life and to still have them as friends.

I was also feeling incredibly awed by God's plan for these five kids. Each of them spent more than a year, and some of them as many as 8 years without families in the same Guatemalan orphanage. This morning they had breakfast together at an Iowan pig farm. Beautiful, fun, spirited, awesome kids and we are lucky enough to be their parents. God's great!

The Baby

Here's the baby of the 18 kids...

Our picnic

Our Rolfe family mom is a photographic maniac. She took this great picture of 4 of my kids and 4 of hers...

On our way

Great trip so far. Right now we're in Rolfe, Iowa visiting with a family who has three children who were in the same orphanage as our two boys from Guatemala. Along with their other children, they are a family of nine.

Last night we met one of my friend who is 10 years younger than I and she and her husband have 18 children.... Her husband was out of town but she brought 17 of the kids with her and we had a huge picnic with our three families. Amanda, my friend with the 17, still has a lot of "littles." Watching her parent made me very glad that our "littles" are now not so little any more. We actually stopped calling them "the little kids" when the youngest "little kid" was actually older than the youngest "big kid" was when he became a big kid. Did that make any sense whatsoever?

I'm travelling with four children who are being very well behaved. Unfortunately, the 4 I left at home aren't doing as well. Everytime I plan a trip, things go awry. Both little boys are sick, the oldest is being himself, and the air conditioner broke. In addition, our boy at the ranch, who they visited yesterday, is on "minus" level for talking about running away...

All that and I've not yet been gone a day.

On a more positive note, the bishops visit was great yesterday. Our New Worship service was just awesome!

Hopefully they'll be a computer every day so I can keep you updated. Today we're off for a trip to the outlet mall and then on to Silvis, Illinois...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Day Ahead

Today will be a marathon. After yesterdays picnic, I came home to some solid hours at my desk getting ready for church this morning and trying to direct the 4 kids going with me through their packing. Am also packing another child for camp, as I promised my husband I would do it before I left.

In about 20 minutes I will leave for the church where I will set up the laptop and get things ready for traditional worship, where I am running the Powerpoint. Then between services I will work on getting things ready for new worship. Since the Bishop is coming, there will be more stress to have things go well, and often they do not. Sometimes the connection to the non-Mac, 43 pound laptop that the church bought gets cut off and we don't know why. Bart's powerbook, however, stays connected. Anyway, don't get me started on non-macs...

Then after new worship we are having buffalo burgers with the bishop, followed by a quick "within ten days" visit with a child who was adopted that I totally forgot I needed to do.... then I'll come back here and finish packing the van and then we're off on our ten day adventure.

If I could somehow zap my G-5 into a nice small powerbook for times like this and every spot on earth had wireless internet, I wouldn't mind travelling. But I feel REALLY out of sorts without having a computer where I can check my email every moment. I know that I am hopelessly addicted, but I match a lot of kids every year and you can't do that if you just take a week off and forget about it.

I have a lot of situations brewing that I have to keep up with ... I have a sib group of 7, a group of 6, and group of 5, a group of 4, two or three groups of 3 ... all due to come home to their adoptive parents before school starts (in addition to several groups of 2 and a lot of single kids). I'm not even telling most people how many matches I have any more because I only care because of what it represents and I'm thinking that having a lot is going to cause some annoyance on the part of others. It's a long story.

AND there are several staffings going to take place during the next two weeks and I just HAVE TO know the results...

OK, OK. So I'm a bit obsessed.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I'm in the midst of that last minute frenzy of trying to get things done. I hate the last few hours before I leave. I never seem to have enough time to do everything I need to do.

Had a great time picnicking with two other families today -- one who has adopted as many as we have and another who almost will have in a month or so....

Fun to see all the cultures, colors, and personalities getting to know each other.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Heading to a meeting in a few minutes where decisions will be made. I'm nervous and unsure as it seems to be one of those things where there isn't a good solution.

The glory had to come to an end. The 3rd and 4th grade team my sons are on lost for the first time last night. But as one of them said, "We're still in first place!"

My day is jam packed today with appointments, meetings, etc....

Then a full day tomorrow and we're off.

Hopefully there will be places where I can blog along the way.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Undefeated times 2

Apparently both the teams that my sons play on are still undefeated. Last night, my 6th grader caught a fly ball to end the game. He was pretty excited.

Time is flying by and I'm not caught up. Every time I try to make some progress I get interrupted.

Does this sound like nothing more than a bunch of whining? I'm ANNOYING myself....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Funk

I'm kind of in a funk. Time is going by too fast. Most of what I intended to do today hasn't gotten done. Time before I leave is getting shorter and my list is getting longer and I'm getting crabbier.

I don't feel the least bit inspired. The Bishop is coming to speak at our church on Sunday and I want to make sure there is a decent multimedia presentation, but I'm running out of good pictures and time to do it.

Then Sunday we leave for our trip to Toledo via Rolfe, IA, Silvis, IL and our return home a few days later via Columbus, OH and Sawyer, MI.

Tired thinking about it, but not as tired as I was thinking about doing it in the car. At least I have the fun new van to drive.

Intended to write both my sons yesterday and today and didn't get it done....

Hotel Rwanda

I am working my way through this movie when I have time to watch a bit of it. I'll be finishing it tonight.

There is a powerful scene where the hotel manager, who is trying to keep over 1,000 refugees safe, is talking to a journalist who has gotten video footage of the brutal killings and the hotel manager accidentally saw it. The journalist apogizes and says he wouldn't have put the tape in had he known the manager was in the room. The Rwandan hotel manager says, "I am glad that you are showing the world this footage. It is the only way that they will intervene."

And the journalist asks, "And if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?"

The manager responds, "How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?"

"I think that if people see this footage," the journalist replies, "they will say, 'Oh my God! That is horrible' and then go on eating their dinners.

Unbelievably true.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

heavy sigh

What's to post? I gained another half a pound even though I was trying.

Family therapy this morning was discouraging and frustrating.

I'm behind in my work and trying to get ready for a ten day trip to AAN training with 4 kids.

I mean give me a break. I'm being really rebellious by eating 20 reduced fat wheatables instead of the 10 I'm supposed to be having.

More later when I'm less crabby.

Happy Independence Day!

We have a three year tradition to spend time with another adoptive family in our town on the fourth. We go to an "Aquatic Center", have supper at McDonalds, and head to one of our state parks before crossing the state line into South Dakota to watch fireworks.

Today our son who has been living at the Ranch got his first day pass to spend with us. We had a lot of fun with him. He was appropriate, excited to be with us, trying hard to be a good role model to his younger siblings, and overall very pleasant.

Tired tonight, but it was a good day.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Great American Novel

When I was a teenager, I had brothers who were Larry Norman fans. I think that my brother Nate memorized the words to this song when he was about 12. I was thinking about it the other day and looked up the lyrics tonight.

Funny, it was written about the sixties, but so much of it STILL applies to our country today:


i was born and raised an orphan
in a land that once was free
in a land that poured its love out on the moon
and i grew up in the shadows
of your silos filled with grain
but you never helped to fill my empty spoon

and when i was ten you murdered law
with courtroom politics
and you learned to make a lie sound just like truth
but i know you better now
and i don't fall for all your tricks
and you've lost the one advantage of my youth

you kill a black man at midnight
just for talking to your daughter
then you make his wife your mistress
and you leave her without water
and the sheet you wear upon your face
is the sheet your children sleep on
at every meal you say a prayer
you don't believe but still you keep on

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it

you are far across the ocean
but the war is not your own
and while you're winning theirs
you're gonna lose the one at home
do you really think the only way
to bring about the peace
is to sacrifice your children
and kill all your enemies

the politicians all make speeches
while the news men all take note
and they exagerate the issues
as they shove them down our throats
is it really up to them
whether this country sinks or floats
well i wonder who would lead us
if none of us would vote

well my phone is tapped and my lips are chapped
from whispering through the fence
you know every move i make
or is that just coincidence
well you try to make my way of life
a little less like jail
if i promise to make tapes and slides
and send them through the mail

and your money says in God we trust
but it's against the law to pray in school
you say we beat the russians to the moon
and i say you starved your children to do it
you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answer i've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

Perspective Dream

I had what I call a "perspective dream" last night.

I had matched a family with a sib group of 4 African American kids, which is not unusual in real life. I was trying to get these kids into their permanent home -- trying to get them from match to placement. That's not unusual either.

What was unusual was that I was on a trip with these kids through Rwanda during the middle of the genocide. I had the oldest three with me and we were doing OK ... passing a lot of dead bodies on the streets, making our way through checkpoints because I was an American. People were being shot around us and the children were scared. I got the oldest three safetly to the refugee camp where we were going to wait for their adoptive parents.

But I had to go back and get the baby. When I found him, he was malnourished. His eyes were matted together. He had several skin diseases. His body was limp and I could tell he was sick. We made the journey, but when I got to the refugee camp, they wouldn't let me past the door. They were full, they said, and he would infect others. I did everything to convince them becuase the gunfire was getting closer every minute. I woke up not knowing if I ever made it in.

All the sudden uncooperative social workers and postponed staffings, indecisive supervisors and argumentative GALs, state shut downs and people retiring, and the ever present ICPC question were such small obstacles. Yes, they are annoying, but the kids are relatively safe, I am safe, the family is safe. We are not hungry, we are not fearing for our lives, we are not watching our loved ones die.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sometimes in April

Sometimes in April is a movie I won't ever forget. One that will stick with me forever.

I ask myself tonight, what was I so busy doing in 1994 that I didn't even know that almost 1,000,000 human beings were slaughtered just because of their tribe in Africa?

I've never really been in touch with world events, but this is troubling to me. How could I miss this? It's like I lived on another planet or something.

Apparently, now the same thing is happening in Sudan and 400,000 people have been slaughtered.

More than 300,000 people died in the Tsumani this last December.

2800 people died in the World Trade Center attack.

But for some reason we respond with greater alarm the closer we are to identifying with the victims.

I can easily picture myself heading off to work in a major city, saying goodbye to my family, stopping for a diet coke on the way to work, riding up the elevator, everything a normal day, and then in a moments time everything changes forever.

I might even be able to picture myself vacationing in Asia when huge waves came up and others I was vacationing with died.

But I cannot picture myself living in a village in Africa and having my family slaughtered with machetes because I married someone of another tribe. It would be as ludicrous as if in our town, the Swedes decided to slaughter every Norweigen AND every Swede who had married a Norweigen.

And since I can't picture it, and since I've never been to Africa, and since it could never happen to me, it doesn't seem near the tragedy as the World Trade Center. The loss of 2800 human lives is a horrible tragedy, but the loss of a million lives ten years ago happened and I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW. I don't even remember hearing about it.

On September 11, 2001 at around 8 a.m. I was having an argument with my then 14 year old where I was saying something like, "I can't believe that at the age of 14 you will skip breakfast because there are no marshmallows in the cereal we have available." Our argument was interrupted by a call from my husband telling me to listen to the news . . .

All of our lives seemed to come to a screaching halt on that day and none of us will forget it.

But in 1994 nearly a million people were killed in a three month period of time and I DIDN"T EVEN KNOW.

Weekend Movie #1

I have to comment on two movies watched this weekend. But since they are very different, I think I'll just separate them.

The first was View From the Top. Nothing of merit, really, except that I was really bored afterwards, waiting for Bart to come upstairs or something, and so I viewed the extras.

Apparently one other person has seen the irony.

The Mike Myers character has this eye thing going on. So, the extras have historian discussing the history of flight attending and BOOM, the eye thing, right there, real life, in person.

Did they do it on purpose? Or was it a hilarious oversight?

A Crush

Now, at the age of forty, one would think I am beyond the age of crushes, but this guy takes the cake. I have a slide show that I do every week for church, and I just can't stop taking pictures of him. I'm sure that everyone wonders about me, becuase each week he seems to be the star of the show. I'm not obsessed, really I'm not.

I know, it's beyond normal, but what can I say? He's absolutely the cutest, don't you think?

Didn't realize

I didn't realize that the kids had taken this picture or I would have uploaded it yesterday.

(And yes, I do know how to crop and straighten, but I didn't feel like taking the time to do so.....)

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I promised him I wouldn't use his name, but since he'll probably never see the post, I'll use it anyway.

Reggie was our van salesman. And he got straight "As" in "Smooth Talking Carsalesman School." He also won the prize of saying the word "Claudia" in my presence the most times in an hour anyone ever has in my life. "Now Claudia, I'm going to go get the paperwork and bring it back to have you sign it. Would that work for you, Claudia?

Now, if he would have said "Mom" it wouldn't have fazed me. I would never have noticed at all, but this consistent Claudia stuff certainly caught my attention. I bet he said it 45-50 times in one hour. I was laughing to myself until I couldn't contain it any more and started doing it back to him. "Sure, Reggie. I'll just wait right here at this desk while you get the papers. Is that OK with you Reggie?

It was hilarious. When he finally caught on what I was doing, he then tried to stop saying my name so much but he couldn't do it. It's such an ingrained habit.

Anyway, we have a new van, it functions and has some things our old one didn't (in addition to airconditioning and a radio). Even has a DVD player and hookups for the Playstation. What more could one ask for?

The kids are excited and it's fun to have something new, although we intend to save it for out of town use and use the old one for running errands in town. We're hoping to keep it nicer without all the sports equipment, mud from the lake, etc. like the old one has.

So, a pretty dang good day, I'd say.

So far, so good

So far this day has been mighty, mighty fine. Right after I woke up, my husband announced it might be time for a new van. Since I've been the one driving our van for the last 8 years, I couldn't agree more. The engine runs great, but everything else is trashed. I won't print in here the things that are messed up, because it might not be legal, and in case the Rock County Sherriff at some point reads this, I don't want to incriminate myself. But since I know it is not illegal not to have a radio or air conditioning, I will point out that we have neither of those.

So, I was going to take 4 kids to Toledo for AAN training in the car, which would be really packed. We're having a picnic on the way with two adoptive families who between the two of them have 23 kids and 4 adults... and we were bringing the pop and chips and I didn't even think we could fit a cooler. Now I'm elated... a new van! Wow! I'm so excited.

Then I finished all of my stuff for tomorrow (almost) by 11 a.m. and I'm off to the ranch and then shopping and a movie with the kids.....

Great day so far.... more later.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Reverse Drive Through

When we moved to our town six years ago, we were thrilled with the huge city park. It was then that I started our tradition of the reverse drive through.

I am at the van at the park and each child comes to the van window to take my order. They tell me what they want, one at a time. I do not write it down. I memorize it.

I drive to McDonalds and order everything that I have memorized. (I personally think that if people get respected and admired for being able to jump high and push a ball through a basket, that I should get some kind of award for being able to order for a family of 10 without writing it down).

AFter ordering, I drive back to the park. The children come up to the window one by one and I hand them the food out of the van into their hands.

Reverse Drive Through.

We did it toniight. Beautiful night. Warm sun, cool breeze, few mosquitos.


Last night, the 3rd and 4th grade team was remained undefeated. My husband came with and both of our boys played a great game.

It's so fun to see them succeed at something!