Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Ahhh technology

I have aquired a functional laptop with wireless internet.

I am in my bedroom, in front of a stupid movie, resting my aching back, and still blogging, checking email and doing whatever else I want to do on the computer.

Heck, I could even work from here.

Ahhh technology!

Just a hint on the widgets

As you can see, if you hit post, it looks like it isn't doing anything but it is.

And then if you hit post again, it posts it again.

Moral: Don't Doubt your Widgets!

Dashboard Widgets

IF you are blessed, lucky and fortunate to have a Mac, and IF you have TIger, then you have widgets.

If you have widgets, you can blog without even going to the internet.

It's really pretty cool, in fact.

So, since I'm messing with my widgets, I thought I'd make sure my Dashblog was working from my Dashboard.

Macs. Gotta love 'em.

Dashboard Widgets

IF you are blessed, lucky and fortunate to have a Mac, and IF you have TIger, then you have widgets.

If you have widgets, you can blog without even going to the internet.

It's really pretty cool, in fact.

So, since I'm messing with my widgets, I thought I'd make sure my Dashblog was working from my Dashboard.

Macs. Gotta love 'em.

Back pain

I did something weird to my back today making it miserable for me to sit, which, is NOT OK. I mean if it is miserable to exercize, to walk, to stand, I can live with that because I don't HAVE to do that.

But I have to sit at my computer and get things done. It's a must.

So I sit here in pain, waiting for it to go away, with several ibuprofen in my system and no relief.

And children torturing one another in the background, or chanting "I'm bored!" or screaming.

And each scream sends pulses of pain throughout my lower back.

I could go on, but I'll spare the reader.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I just read my friend Mary's blog and her countdown to school and I would just like to say that I am on the home stretch. I can see the finish line.

School starts on Thursday. It is just one more full day away as today is almost behind us. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to summer and move into fall.

My kids crave structure and I don't care what anyone says, structure without school is HARD to do. Especially when I'm trying to work AND blog faithfully. :-)

However, for the first time ever I'm thinking I'm going to miss them when they go back this year. During moments of peaceful interractions, they have been fun to have around. They are getting to the ages where we can have very interesting and fun conversations. They are interested in what I am doing for my jobs and in who I am as a person more than ever before. They are developing their sense of humor and can see the irony and humor in our family life and in the personality quirks of their siblings.

They have also been very helpful. There's always someone willing to run to the Post Office or Bank or Grocery store for me. Sometiems they volunteer to make MY lunch instead of me making theirs. They help with laundry, though not perfectly, dishes, also not perfectly, and cleaning.

In two days it is going to be very quiet here and for the first time, I'm not sure I will like it as well.

Time is just going by too dang fast you know. Before I know it, they'll all be grown...

Breathe In, Breathe Out

We just got back from having lunchables in the park. My idea of cooking.

I took my 17 year old to fill out a job application. He and I have a joke that I use when I feel like I am doing too much thinking for him. Now some of my kids do require my direction often, and I do a lot of their thinking for them. But sometimes I catch myself answering questions that they can answer for themselves.

At that point I say, "Breathe In, Breathe Out."

This is their clue that maybe they are relying on me to tell them to do things they already know how to do.

It works fairly well.

My Blogging Personality

Your Blogging Type is Artistic and Passionate
You see your blog as the ultimate personal expression - and work hard to make it great.
One moment you may be working on a new dramatic design for your blog...
And the next, you're passionately writing about your pet causes.
Your blog is very important - and you're careful about who you share it with.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Interesting Conversation

Tonight we had yet another interesting conversation in the van. I had to take the kids to the park and then go have yet another "conversation" with the 16 year old Spanish speaker who decided to place her baby for adoption and then changed her mind. She is wavering again.

Dominyk said, "why doesn't she make the decision already. It's not even a hard decision."

I asked, "Why?"

Because she should just let him get adopted.

I asked all the kids why.

"Because she is young."

"because she isn't married."

"Because the baby wouldn't have a dad."

"because she doesn't have any money"

Now the kids in my van at this point were my four youngest boys -- not always bright and with some significant issues. These are kids who have said to me when angry, "I wish I was living with my Birthmom."

I found their comments tonight very interesting to say the least...

Before and After

I have been working on this for days. I was hoping to start the school year off with some semblance of order.

Looks like my hard work paid off.

I'm sure you can telll which shots were "before shots" and which ones were "after shots".

I Think I'm Alone Now

And all of the sudden, after noise and fighting and chaos, I'm alone and the house is quiet. One is with a PCA, two at the park, one at tennis practice, one at the pool, one at football practice, and one sitting somewhere here in this house quiet as a mouse, probably in front of the TV.

And just think ... in just three short days it will be like this here for 7 hours a day.

I will be sighing in relief...

Day Maker

Not that anyone cares all that much about this, but in April I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes or real diabetes depending on how one wants to frame it (and whether or not one is in denial).

So, I started working really hard on lowering the blood sugar and losing weight. In three months I had lost about 16 pounds and then things started to get crazy. We went to Ohio, we went to Florida, we went to Pittsburgh. I still stayed away from sugar, but was having way too many carbs.

I stopped testing my sugars obsessively and didn't get weighed (notice I saw weighed and I can pronounce my Ls) since the beginning of July.

I had to go back to the doctor today and I was super stressed that I had gained the 16 back and I was going to be having to start all over again.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Record breaking day

I think that I have spent less time in front of the computer today than i have in months.

Came home, fixed big huge cookie sheets full of nachos with those leftover black beans (kids at them ALL) and then watched a very stupid movie. Went to the park, read a whole book, tried to watch a couple more dumb movies, just sat around.

Part of it was just that I needed a break, but another reason was that I was kind of having an emotional shut down.

Bart had the weeky visit with our son at the RTC and it did not go well again. He is doing a lot of manipulating, but the bottom line is that we are in a very tight corner with this situation. According to him, everyone is telling him that it's a voluntarily placement and we can take him out at any time. However, these same people are telling us he has a 30% or less chance of success if we bring him home. If we go against their advice and say we want to bring him home, they can either file a CHIPS (been there, done that, hated it) or we can live knowing that if he comes home and chooses not to do what he needs to do and gets in trouble with the law, we will have been negligent to have removed him from the program.

There are several other things going on with this that I probably better not blog, but the bottom line is that we can't win either way, and every day that goes by he hates us and blames us more than he did the day before.

In addiiton, the birthmom I've been translating for changed her mind in the last hour of her 10 day period and now I get to translate for the situation when the devastated adoptive parents give the baby back to her.

I have to face the next two days home alone and PCAless again as Bart is heading back to the Cities for another weekend.

So, what could I do? I had to escape in books and movies and bide my time until tomorrow comes and I can try to work on some of these situations.

It's almost like I have a consistent diet of nothing but stress daily lately, and I'm ready for something different.

Dang, I hate it when I get whiny.

An example of the joy...

Several years ago I fell in love with the song "Enloqueseme." Roughly transalted it says,

Ooh, baby, I can't hide it
I feel in through out my body -- the craziness of our love
Ooh, baby, it's deep inside my hear,
passion like a fire -- the craziness of our love...

So, it's not exactly a Christian song, but it's got a catchy beat. Sung by La Onda Vaselina (don't ask).

In Spanish it goes:

Uuuh baby, no puedo esconderlo
Siento en todo el cuerpo la locura de tu amor
Uuuh baby , se metiĆ³ en mi pecho
arde como el fuego la locura de tu amor

Dominyk is trying to sing it in the shower this morning. Not sure why it came to his mind, and not knowing the words, but knowing his numbers, he's loudly singing, "cuatro cinco zero" instead of "no puedo esconderlo!"

That kind of stuff brings me joy, but that I've written that it's kind of a "you gotta be there" sort of thing.

But I've been doing some blog surfing, and even if this is one of my dumbest blog entries it's still better than paragraphs of how some 20-something got totally wasted on vodka shots last night and ended up in bed with someone whose name they can't remember, or the list of what songs a teenager has listened to today, with a narrative including the f-word 34 times in 100 words, or a blog dedicated to hair-replacement products.

Dontcha think?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A P.S. on the Youngest Boy

Even though his OCD and incessant torture can get to me sometimes, he's my baby.

When he was almost 3, after having lived with us for 2 years, he moved out. Saddest day of my life.

And then we got him back. Happiest day of my life.

He is one of the children who is most bonded to me, and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. Even though some days he can be most annoying, there are also days when he brings me great, great joy.

Everything is my fault

Don't be fooled by that face!

Today was quite a day. "Single parenting" though I know it isn't really single parenting, because I can at least call and yell at my husband when he's out of town.

No PCAs.

Just me and 7 kids in a van. My youngest, who has OCD, had decided that his obsession today was how much he hated me, how much he wished he was living with his birthmom (who he has not lived with since he was 9 months old and doesn't even know), how much he waned to kill me and the ways he would do it, and how we never get to do what he wants to do. He wanted me to buy something and was saying over and over agian, "IF you buy me something, I will stop yelling at you."

To which I calmly replied, over and over, "No. If I buy you something today after you have acted this way, then next time you'll try it again. I will not buy you anything."

He kicked me, called me several unmentionable names, and slapped me acouple times. He then proceeded to verbally torture me for most of the ride home.

When I walked in the door, our son in residential called. Since we had made modifications to his plan he was doing very well until he starting thinking "If I got some modifications, I bet I can get some more." He called today to say that he thought he should be getting more than one visit a week and that he had been promised this by his father, which simply is not true. While I was explaining to him that I knew for sure that Bart had not said this and why, four or five kids were literally surrounding me while I was on the kitchen phone, talking to me, grabbing me, and trying to get my attention, wanting to ask me questions. I told Mike to hold on for just a second, to tell them to chill and leave me alone for a while, and the phone clicked.

After I cleared the kitchen I called back to make sure that he didn't think I had hung up on him on purpose. I asked to talk to him and his response, "I don't want to talk right now." Click.

So, not only was I hung up on once, I was stupid enough to think it was an accident, and called back to have it happen again.

I say all this to se the stage for a rant which will hopefully be half-hearted at best, but must be had at this time.

Everything is my fault. In my house, if something is lost, it is my fault. If someone misses a meeting, it is my fault. If a chore is not done correctly, again my fault. If anyone is frustrated about any of the general daily events in my home, they can somehow be traced back to me.

I realize that this is my role as a mom but .... in addition ...

If we go back far enough in time, it was my idea to move back to MN to get to know Bart better, which led to our marriage. It was me who filled out the first foster care paperwork, me who made the first call on each and every one of my kids, etc. It all leads back to me.

The part that I have the most trouble with, though, is that all the anger for everything that has happened to all of my kids somehow gets placed on me. Since most of them don't remember birthdads, it isn't their paternal figure that abandoned them. It wasn't their paternal figure who didn't get their act together to get them back. It wasn't their paternal figure who drank in the womb.

So if someone is to be blamed and hated, it is the maternal figure. And since I'm the only one they have, it becomes my fault.

Dominyk's birth grandma called me a couple weeks ago to tell me that she was moving to a southern state and would not be able to see Dominyk this summer. She promised she would call the next day to tell him that she was moving and explain that his week long visit was not going to be happening this summer. Apparenlty, she didn't get to it. So eventually, when he kept asking when he was having his visit, I had to be the one to explain to him what happeend.

But is he mad at her? Naw. He's mad at me.

I know this is what I signed up for, but sometimes it gets to be overwhelming -- to be the sole designated target for everyone's anger and pain.

And now that I've written all that, it doesn't seem quite as bad as I'm describing, but sometimes it is.

My friend Michelle has recently said, "I am not an extraordinary person doing an ordinary thing, but an ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing. I know this is true because I really don't have the personality for what I am doing. But I do it, day in and day out, not always well, not always selflessly, not always patiently.

It is my hope that some day I can look back and say that it WAS all my fault -- but that it will be during a time of rejoicing for the fulfillment that our adult children, once the hurt and angry kids of our past, have come so far that I can be the one to blame for some of their success.

Inspired by Cindy

After having read over and over again about Cindy and her beans, I asked her how she makes them.

Made 4 pounds.

The 8 of us didn't quite eat as much as Cindy's tribe -- they can go through 8 pounds I'm sure, but we did polish off 2 pounds at least.

They were good. I had one serving and I'm stuffed.

First meatless meal we've had in a while. First time I've cooked in a long time.

Major Accomplishment

Rand moved in with us when he was in 5th grade. He was diagnosed with Panic Disorder.

He had played basketball and was a tall kid, so we signed him up for fifth grade basketball. After the first few weeks, when practices were leading to games, we found out he had never been to practice after the first few days. He had been hiding in the bathroom.

This pattern continued. We'd give him a break, he'd beg to be in a sport, we'd sign him up, and then, a week or two later, we'd find out that he had been skipping practices again.

So this year he wanted to go out for football and to say I was dubious was an understatement. I even told him that this year, he would pay for his equipment and his registration himself to see if he was serious.

Well, the first two weeks of "two a days" are over. The coach, knowing his history, has had the team surrounding him with encouragement. We only live a block and a half from the school, but one of the players has given him a ride to practice twice a day every day. And he's survived. Last night we went to family night and stood with the other parents and watched him fit in. Third tallest on the team -- 6'5 and 300 pounds. Today they are scrimaging and he got himself up at 6:30 to go with the team.

The bottom line is progress. As adoptive parents, Bart and I can seldom compare our children to other kids the same age. But what we can compare them to is to their former selves. Rand still has a lot of progress to make, but compared to his former self, he's come miles.

Way to go, son!

New emotion

From reading Bart's blog, if you do, you know that he took our oldest son back for his sophomore year at college yesterday and helped him move into his dorm.

A year ago I went along for Parents Weekend and participated in the excitement. As a former Christian college Dean of Students, it was meaningful, paintful, and joyful to me on many levels. It made me miss my former life as a single professional. It made me miss working with college students -- people with so much energy that can be chanelled in so many great directions.

It made me think about the years I spent investing in their lives, chanelling that energy, being a part of their development.

And when we were in the final parent/child ceremony (whose mission statement was "Make the Parents Cry", I shed tears as well.

But last summer Kyle was hardly ever home. When he was he seemed to be arguing with either Bart or I most of the time. He was not working full time, but his free time was never used to be a part of our family system nor to contribute to it. When he finally left for college I was not grieving. I was relieved.

I missed him some last year, but it is hard to miss someone who virtually was never around. When he was home he was either in his room or in front of the TV.

This summer was different. Through a program administered through the state, we hired Kyle to work with our two younger boys who need virtually constant supervision. Thus Kyle was spending time with at least one of the members of our family 40 hours a week. When we went out on family outings he chose to come with (getting paid to come along and help out made it worth it I guess) -- something he hadn't done since he was twelve (When he was twelve we learned that if we were doing something he didn't think was fun and we made him come, he would ruin the day for everyone, so since he was trustworthy and responsible enough to be home alone, we let him stay here).

So a summer of Kyle getting up to come and talk to me (even if it was about his work schedule) was much different than last summer when he wouldn't even grunt as he walked past me in the house. A summer of Kyle coming on family outings was much different than his "if it isn't a movie I want to see with snacks I ain't coming." A summer of overhearing him at least attempt to use some people skills to get along with his siblings was different than years of listening to him torture them.

I'm sitting at my desk for one of the few times in the last three months, I'm not going to have him stop by to mark his timesheet and find out the schedule for the day. For one of the few times in the last three months, I'm heading to Sioux Falls with the kids without his help. For one of the few times in the last three months he won't be here to direct, guide, and put up with for 8 hours today...

And for the first time, I think I truly miss him. He has become an adult and changed so much over the last year. And for anyone who knew him at 11, he is a completely and totally changed man -- by the grace of God and to the credit of his father.

Yesterday Bart and Kyle were discussing Nurture vs. Nature. Kyle thinks it's nurture. I agree. He's living proof.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Little Things

When I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic (see, I'm still in denial) I started to obsessively check my blood sugar -- like every couple hours. I realized quickly that stress made it jump way high.

I tried to explain it to my kids and told them that the little things were what stressed me out. I got more stressed out by consistent disobedience over little things than the major issues in my life.

I told them, when I die, I want my headstone to say, "Mother of 10: It Was the Little Things that Killed her."

My youngest has never forgotten this moment. When his siblings aren't listening to me he'll often say, "Remember, guys, it's the little things that are killing her.


All summer long I have been trying to work hard, play hard, and get everything done that needs to be done.

I have had the help of two PCAs and my husband.

Yesterday one of the PCAs started his college classes. Today my husband is leaving to take my other PCA, our oldest son, back to college.

I am going to be doing alone what four of us have been doing for the past 3 months for 4 of the next five days.

But I've done it before, and Cindy does it with 39 all the time.

So I won't feel sorry for myself...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Our Day at the Park on Sunday

Sometimes I let the kids have the camera to see if they can come up with better shots than I do, and sometimes they do.

Apparently, my kids are reallly interested in world peace.

The Envy of All

While women all over this country are franticallly trying to get dinner on the table for their hungry families, I am finishing up a little paperwork at my desk and blogging.

Into my office wafts the smell of shrimp and fish being cooked in my kitchen by one of the best chefs in the county. I am basically stress free, waiting for the sounds of "time to eat" being screamed through the house!

Ooh, there it is. GOtta go!


There are days when Cloning seems like a good option.

There are just so many days when I'd like to be multiplied.

For example, today I have been absolutely swamped. Desk looks better, but still not great. A placement report, a post-placement report, a post-placement visit, birth-parent translating, several phone calls, Instant Messages (as many as 8 or 9 open at once) emails coming in every minute, parenting 7 children, supervising 2 PCAs, being a supportive wife when I can be, doing laundry every 1.25 hours on the dot (even programmed my calendar to send me an alarm), Child Information Forms, scheduling meetings, etc. And I'm on it.

BUT, if I could clone myself here is what my other selves could be doing:

1) Having fun with my kids during their last free week of summer;
2) Cleaning the house -- parts of it are driving me crazy;
3) Scrapbooking -- haven't been able to do it for MONTHS;
4) Cleaning off my hard drive. I need to back up and delete and organize my 80 gig of info;
5) Making cool movies and slideshows and messing with Photoshop;
6) Spend time with adults in person doing adultish things like drinking coffee or being in a bowling league;



the 7th me could be exercising hours a day and eating right so that I could at the end of the cloning experiment, when I would rejoin myselves, I could choose the body that had lost weight.

Doesn't that sound awesome!

Waking up Motivated

For a change, I'm waking up motivated. I have a goal of getting my desk reorganized so that I can actually work at it. It's driving me nuts lately. I can't get a thing done because I feel like the papers are going to reach out and choke me they are piled so high. Hopefully I'll make some progress.

I'm going through my mail today and Dominyk, who is nine, received notification from his insurance provider that they are no longer providing Erectile Dysfunction (ED) drugs. i don't think I'll tell him. It might devastate him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It Sure is a Good Thing ...

that I am now an "adoption professional." If I were not, I would feel a great need to fit another child in my house and lately I'm feeling way too tired for that.

In addition, we have found out this week that the same judge who is handling the Child Protection case (against us -- long, annyoing story) is also set up to handle the juvenile deliniquency hearing for another child AND the finalization of Ricardo's adoption from Guatemala. Now THAT should be interesting. I hope that either he will pretend he doesn't know us or at least let us tell him that we already had Ricardo here before John and MIke started going "awry" (can people go awry?).

Anyway, yesterday I placed the seven kids, today I did a post-placement visit with a pre-teen, and I left so glad to have been a part of finding them a home, yet glad I wasn't going to have to do the hard stuff.

Again, anyone can do this, you just gotta wanna do it and be willing to live with what you get....

it All Comes Crashing Down

Yesterday I had an awesome day. I had lunch with a friend of mine who is in a new position. He has worked hard to get where he is and seeing him sitting at his new desk after all the hard work was great fun. We hadn't had a chance to talk for a while, so it was fun to catch up.

I then spent six hours at the home of a family who just came home with seven new kids ages 15, 13, 8, 6, 5, 4, and 3. Gorgeous kids. Their two birth kids are doing well and they are going to do awesome with them. It was fun to be a part of it and to know that these kids probably would have not been adopted otherwise.

But as it always does, today all the elation of yesterday is replaced with exhaustian and annoyance. i have all the paperwork to do for the placement, which is going to take forever. Other things have happened which I will not blog about. I'm exhausted, crabby, whiiny and cold. My desk is a mess and I have two more appointments today in addiiton to parenting my children and supposedly doing laundry, etc.

I should have blogged last night, but I didn't get home until 10:30. Then I could have captured all that joy before it was nothing more than a distant, fadiing memory...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Addicted to Moving

When John was home this weekend, we picked up on something that I think is a phenomenon experienced by many older kids in foster care.

There are some good things about moving every month or two. First of all, you can be the new kid. Lots of attention is given to the new kid. People want to make friends with the new guy. The new guy is cool.

Secondly, you can make up a whole new story after each move. Nobody knows you or your past, so you can recreate yourself with people who don't have a context to check on whether or not you are telling the truth.

Third, you can be a real player when you move a lot, especially if you can stay ahead of the truth catching up with you.

I saw a video a couple weeks ago with teens being interviewed who were in foster care. One of them used the phrase, "I guess I'm kind of addicted to moving." I think this is such an accurate statement.

Why stay in one place? Staying in one place means accountability. Staying in one place means relationships. Staying in one place means the scariest thing of all: The expectation of attaching to people who really care about you and are committed to you for life.

I wish there were more people out there who would consider giving older kids a chance. Living life without ever having to stay in one place does not create a healthy adult. Cindy, in this blog entry, explains the benefits of adopting older children.

Check it out and when you decide adopting a teenager is the way that you want to totally transform the life of one person, you know where I am.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Creative Eating (and proof of my excellent memory)

Tonight we took $100 to the water park. WE had passes, so it only cost $10 for us to get in (2 spectator passes). We then explained to the kids that there were 10 of us, and we had only $90 for food to last for the whole time we were there.

We decided to just let them have what they wanted to eat. It was an interesting experience, and also something we NEVER do. Here were the results.

Kyle had a Philly Steak Sandwich, Cheese Curds, and free water.
John had a Walking Taco, Chicken strips and Fries, some M&Ms and free water.
Jimmy had a frozen lemonade, a coke, a hamburger and fries.
Salinda had nachoes, half a funnel cake, half an Italian ice, and a bag of doritoe
Ricardo had Dippin Dots and a Hot Dog, free water.
Sadie had nachos, half a funnel cake, half an Italian ice, a bag of doritoes and a donut
Tony had fun dips, an ice cream sundae, an ice cream sandwich and some beef jerky.
Dominyk had dippin dots, a licorice rope, a funnel cake, and half my quesadilla.

What Bart and I had is inconsequential, but just so you know, we didn't spend our whole nine bucks.

I found the various colored tongues and lips today to be a fine photo subject.

Not a single good one out of 63

We took 63 pictures today and not a single one of them was really good. Thank God for digital cameras where I don't have to spend money to develop horrible pictures.

Took our "rain check" tickets to Wild Water West and spent from 4-8 there with everyone but Rand (had football) and Mike (still in residential). John (on home pass from residential) even got to come. I messed up my already screwed up back this morning bending down to pick up dirty laundry to throw in the washer, so I did nothing but sit, snap pictures, hand out food money, and read Mac magazines.

It was a nicer day and the kids seemed to swim more.

Bart and I just looked like a couple of 40 something parents who had had a long summer and were just a week away from school starting. Tired, tired, tired...

Do it For Love

For those who cannot view the movie I posted, here are the lyrics to the song that is in the background. There are so many times when I feel like I just have no reason for doing what we do. And then I remember this song.

Do It For Love (by Hall and Oates)

I would fly ten thousand miles
In the pouring rain
Just to see your face
I'd bare my soul to a total stranger
Just to say your name
And I'm not ashamed

Just to love you into every morning
I would change my name
And run away

I won't do it for money
I won't do it for pride
I won't do it to please somebody else
If it don't feel right

But I'll do it for you
And at least I'll try
I don't need any other reason
Than I feel it deep inside

I'll Do It For Love

I would write your name across the sky
So the world could see
What you mean to me
I'd sing songs at the top of my voice
In an empty room
Just to dance with you

And to love you into every morning
I'll leave the world behind
And I'll slow down time

I won't do it for money
I won't do it for pride
I won't do it to please somebody else
If it don't feel right
But I'll do it for you
And at least I'll try
I don't need any other reason
Than I feel it deep inside

I'll Do It For Love

What I do for love can take us anywhere at all . . .

Our lunch with Mike

Mike got to eat out for the first time in 8 months. We went to a Chinese buffet, and boy did he eat. He must have made 8 or 9 trips to the buffet (and he'd already eaten before we left). When we finished playing at the park he wanted a Big Mac combo so he ate that too. I thought he'd be throwing up last night but apparently he did OK.

This is a kid who complained about the food at our house and never ate much. Guess you don't know what you've got til it's gone.

To his credit he was appropriate for the two hours he was with us and seemed genuinely glad to be with the family.

Lots of changes in a year

Having John back this weekend has helped me realized that there have been lots of changes in our family in the last year.

In the past, there was a general feeling of anxiety and stress in our home. It was partly due to the kids and their issues, but in retrospect, it was mainly do to my reaction to them. I have a few tragic flaws (although I know we're really only each, as humans, supposed to have one). One of my flaws is that the truth be told. Now my husband might say that truth is truth in my perspective, but I totally disagree with that. Obviously, my truth is THE truth.

Anyway, because of this tragic flaw about the truth being told, I used to respond to everything. I ignored very little. I was hyper-vigilant about preventing problems. I felt like I needed to be consistently correcting, admonishing, challenging the statements of my children. You can imagine how that went.

I've learned to ignore them. Now that may sound like not-so-decent parenting, but I have truly learned to ignore many of the things that my children say. And it has made a huge difference.

John came back into the family system expecting it to be the same as it was and did a good job of recreating it. By the time he had been here a couple days, he had done his share of stirring up the pot. However, my response to him, with one nasty exception, has been much calmer and I laugh more at him and take him less seriously. He just left the room saying, "i hate you mom" and I laughed and said, "I know you do" and he laughed too. Previously things would have gone much differently in that situation.

Bottom line: Ignore your kids. It works wonders. :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Great Sermons for Life

My husband is a great preacher.

I mean, face it, I'm one lucky (blessed?) human being. I am guaranteed great sermons for the rest of my life (or at least for the rest of his life, which really would be unfortunate if he died first because...

and I digress, but this is a very accurate observation that I must make ...

If Bart died tomorrow, God forbid, I would be a widow with 10 children. No man, even if I was hot, sexy, gorgeous and thin, would come NEAR me.

On the other hand, if I died tomorrow, God Permit, please (just kidding), there would be lines of older single women -- widows, divorcees, "old maids", who would love to rescue him. There would be hoards asking for the chance to come in and be his salvation.

So, I figure, God knows this, and either we're dying simultaneously, or I get to go first....

Anyway, I know this is disjointed, but here's my point. Most people luck out of they get a couple of good preachers as their pastors, unless they are church hoppers. Someone who sticks with a church over the years knows that they are going to end up with a bad preacher somewhere along the line. That's not to say that they would have a bad pastor, but there are pastors who can preach, and pastors who can REALLY preach.

I am married to a pastor who can REALLY preach and I get to listen to him almost every Sunday. I have for 10 years now, and I hope I can for years to come.

Saint Bartholomew

My husband is a saint. Every Sunday morning he chooses a couple people to go over to the church with him when he goes early. Usually he takes the same two kids with him who know the routine and are easy to supervise and redirect.

I usually come downstairs to chaos with all the "hard kids' fighting and carrying on. This morning I came down to find that he had taken the three most difficult and one other with him. No fighting, everyone here is ready early.

I IMd him that he's a saint.

He is the most unpredictable man I know, and it makes my life exciting. For example, a couple weeks ago when we went to the fair, I came home to find him shampooing all the carpets with a new carpet shampooer. NOT what I expected to find him doing after an exhausting day at the fair.

For someone who detests boredom, I sure picked the right guy!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Message from God

Throughout the last year we have had two of our sons living in out-of-home placements due to their behaviors. It has not been easy. The experience has included a "child in need of protective services" petition and other delightful circumstances. I've been misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misquoted. I've felt much like Cindy in this post. Being accused of being the CAUSE seems ludicrous.

One of our sons is 30 miles directly east of us, one son is 30 miles directly west. We have to go to these cities very often for unpleasant encounters with judges, social workers, team leaders, staff members, and a bunch of other people. I should state that every encounter is not unpleasant, but I always plan on something happening that is going to upset me, and I'm seldom wrong.

In each direction there is an overpass where the same individual must have penned some graffiti because they look identical. On the post of each overpass, in blue spray paint, are the words "Trust Jesus."

I don't know why whoever wrote it did it, and I certainly am not advocating vandalism, but every time I head in either direction, I receive the same message. It is a reminder to me, from God himself, of the verse that I memorized in the old King James version when I was 13:

There hath no temptation taken thee, but such as is common to man. But God is faithful, and will not allow thee to be tempted above that which ye are able. But with the temptation will provide a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (I Cor 10:13).

Paraphrase: Ain't nothing gonna happen to ya that you can't handle with God's help.

So whatever I may be facing when I arrive, an angry son, words of rebuke, accusations, misunderstandings, frustrations, the reminder to me on my way, painted on that dirty post, is to Trust Jesus.

However I might be feeling on my trip, discouraged, upset, misunderstood, anxious, depressed: Trust Jesus.

Whatever conversation I might be having with my husband on the way, whether we vehemently agree or disagree about how things should be handled: Trust Jesus.

Whatever the results that I'm anticipating: further struggles, delays in justice, lack of vindication, more criticism: Trust Jesus.

Some day, whether it is before the boys are 18 or afterwards, this chapter in our lives will be through. It is my hope that my biggest memory of these challenging days will be that I obeyed the advice of the graffiti vandal and Trusted Jesus, and that his promise, that there was nothing I couldn't bear, remained true through the days, months and years of our struggle.

Trust Jesus.
No matter what.
Trust Jesus.

Home for the Weekend

John's here for the weekend. Everything hasn't gone perfect so far, but it's close. The older I get, the more I'm learning that there are just some things that are going to happen with each kid, and nothing you can do is going to stop them from happening, so getting completely bent out of shape about them will do absolutely nothing.

How's that for vague?

Isn't he handsome though?

Trip Down Memory Lane

We knew he was going to be trouble even way back when.

Dominyk at 18 months.

Movie to Share

I did this movie this last winter.

Do It For Love

Hope you like it!

Friday, August 19, 2005

If you are Point A, and you want to get to Point B ...

I was trying to explain this to our 17 year old son, who I have been referring to in my own mind as "the lump" this summer because he has done absolutely as little as possible. He refused to get a job, basically got fired from volunteering, and was told he needed to help around the house to earn electronics -- so he sat and did absolutely nothing for hours, refusing to earn the electronics and thus having nothing he could think of to do.

Right now he is sitting in the front seat of our old, completely ruined in every way except the engine, van pretending to drive.

He passed driver's ed training in July, but failed his permit test. He hasn't been able to retake it because he has been gone.

Here's the clincher that I tried to explain to him today:

In order to get a license, you have to have insurance. Since our family policy is not to let kids get their license until they have enough money to pay their insurance, he can't get his license (not to mention not yet having a permit at 17 because he couldn't either get good grades or earn enough money to pay for Driver's Ed until this summer). At any rate, all week long I have been trying to get him to apply for a job and he is refusing.

So, even though he knows all this, he is still picturing driving in a few months, alone, probably in a car that he is planning to purchase.

I am both highly amused and fairly alarmed by his absolute denial. I suppose it is similar to me envisioning myself in a size 14 (OK, now you skinny folks, now would NOT be the time to laugh) as I munch on a box of crackers.

I don't know how to motivate him. I guess I will just let him live in his fantasy land. But sometimes living with someone who is living in a fantasy world is stinkin annoying.

Tech support

For years I have used the internet to be my "support group" for my adoption journey. Becuase the computer is available 24/7 and nobody can here background noise, it's an ideal tool for connecting for me.

I have participated in chat rooms, list-servs, and also use email and IMs to connect with other adoptive parents. However, I am finding the blog world the most enjoyable of any of these kids of technological support."

Several of my friends who have adopted are blogging, and reading a few paragraphs from each of them every day has been so enriching. I enjoy hearing their perspectives, seeing their pictures, and realizing how many things we have in common even though we are in different states, have different numbers and kinds of children, and sometimes have very little else in common than our adoptive experience.

Some of my friends blog like I do -- whatever comes to mind, a picture here and there. Others, like my husband and my friend Kari, create a work of art with each entry. All of them either make me think, laugh, cry or just smile. Yolie's always gives me a different perspective as she is an adult adoptee and Sarah's actually makes me hungry for healthy food. I could site more examples, but I'm on my way out the door.

I love technology more than almost anything else not-human in our society. I love what I can do with very little talent. And lately, I especially love blogging as I feel like I am so connected with so many different people.

Blog on, folks!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Job (as in the guy in the Bible, not something I want Rand to get)

Job was incredible. As adoptive parents sometimes I think we think things are tough, but we didn't have it like him. And yet his response was so much different than ours is sometimes.

Love this Praise Song -- kind of my song for tonight, for this hard year:
Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Oh, There's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to stay
Well Blessed be your name

Tribute to My Dad

Yesterday, on Rand's birthday, my dad turned 83. I'm not even sure how to give a tribute good enough to describe a man like him.

My dad married later in life, at the age of 40. I was born when he was 41. He was a bivocational pastor of an inner city church when I was growing up (working nights cleaning the City and County of Denver building).

But more important than his vocation was his unwavering integriity. He has never ever let me down. He has always maintained his faithfulness to my mother, has always told the truth, has never stopped loving me (or my rebellious brothers), has set an example in the area of personal piety, has lived within his means, and has faithfully done what he needs to do, day by day, no matter how boring or seemingly insignificant.

In my book, he's a hero because he has been faithful in the little things all his life, without recognition.

Can't even do justice to him, and so glad he's lived this long.

Now his days are filled with reruns and crossword puzzles, and I try to call him every couple of days with a new joke -- and even when I don't have a new one, he laughs as if he'd never heard it.

Love you, Dad!

Definition of Success

Yesterday, Rand turned 17. He came to us at 11. He had had 15 different foster care placements, had been in the system for 7 years. Had an adoption disruption that separated him from two younger siblings.

He's not the same kind of success that Kyle is. Kyle also came to us at 11 with a history as well, but Kyle is bright, motivated, and a survivor. After years of dedication from Bart, Kyle is now a college sophomore, making good grades, who has held down a job since he was 14, drives, and was involved in many different activities in high school. Everyone who meets him thinks he is polite and is impressed with him. He's handsome, dresses with style, and the outside observer would perceive him as one who does things right. He got tips at Dairy Queen, for goodness sake.

Rand is a success in a very different way. He has overcome many of his issues. His IQ is not really high, he still needs special ed. But as a child he was diagnosed with Panic Disorder, PDD, ODD, RAD, Expressive Language Disorder, PTSD, and was drug exposed at birth. When he was 9 he spent most of his time rolled up in a tight ball. He could not bounce a basketball or a play with a yo yo. He was in a Level 5 day treatment program for his EBD issues at school.

Rand is now 6'5" and weighs 300 pounds. He was on the B honor roll all last year. He made so much progress that he "graduated" from all EBD services a couple years ago. He has completed driver's ed. He is on the football team this year and has been making it to all his practices, a huge accomplishment because in past years he's only lasted a couple days and then pretended to be at practice and not gone.

But the biggest success is Rand's heart. He is tender hearted. He is cooperative most of the time. He is respectful. He has maintained solid friendships with two other guys at school who he is loyal to. He just finished being a Junior Counselor at Camp Friendship, a camp for developmentally delayed children and adults that he used to attend. Next year they have said they will hire him for a paid position.

Sure, he still has his issues, but he loves to be helpful. He does things that other kids his age are too cool to do, like keep score at little league baseball games so it is done right. He's the only 17 year old I know who thinks that being helpful is more important than being cool.

Happy Birthday, Rand. You've come a long way, son!

You're Ruining My Life (and my Dreams)

I woke Dominyk up for his medication this morning and I have been paying for it since 8 a.m. This is his obsession of the day. He was having a dream about being in love with a girl with a horse and I interrupted that dream. Now he is not ever going to be able to find out what happened. He'll never be able to return to the dream and finish it.

He has listed several things he is going to do to me if I ever wake him up from a good dream again. It's been a great morning.

He just stomped out of my office saying, "You're ruining my life AND my dreams!"

Our first Conversation of the Day

Bart and I had our first IM conversation this morning. The grief he refers to is in regards to our oldest going off to college. I loved college so much that even though I'm a little sad to see him go back, I know he will be in a good place where he is happy. I was raised to love kids and then let them go. Bart and Kyle are certainly better friends than Kyle and I are, so he is really going to miss him.

However, my reason for blogging this is to show how much fun it is to have a husband who knows me so well and is so quick and intelligent.

Claudia says: (8:48:24 AM)
how are you?

Bart says: (8:48:38 AM)
   feeling some anticipatory grief

Claudia says: (8:48:51 AM)
   to counteract my anticipatory joy?

Bart says: (8:48:59 AM)
   guess so.

Claudia says: (8:49:08 AM)
   well, I'm sorry you're sad.

Bart says: (8:49:13 AM)
   I'm sorry you're not.

Bart says: (8:49:19 AM)
   I'm not that sad.

Claudia says: (8:49:27 AM)
   And I'm not that not-sad.

Bart says: (8:49:36 AM)

Bart says: (8:49:38 AM)
   fair enough

Claudia says: (8:49:51 AM)
   That's a bloggable conversation.

Bart says: (8:50:05 AM)
   there you go!

The Downside of Blogging

Something very sad happened last night. My incredible husband wrote the most touching and meaningful tribute to me on his blog. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever written about me.

However, it included some information that was a "secret." While it was a good thing, it was a thing I haven't told many people about because of the reaction some would have. So I had to ask him to take it off.

It was so hard to do that. I won't post his feelings, because they are his, but I felt awful.

I don't like having secrets and I don't like having them because some people are small minded and don't get it.

Because of my job, I have lots of confidentiality issues to worry about. I don't like that either. I would love to be able to post photos of the kids who are going to new families, etc, but wow, would THAT be a breach of every employment agreement I've signed. Even kids placed in an adoptive home are wards of the state they came from until the family finalizes in court.

So, the downside of blogging is that I can't have a separate blog for the people who I trust and I know understand. It has to be all out there, where the world can read it, with the possibility of misunderstanding, jealousy, gossip, and brewing everywhere.

But my husband is still awesome and I hope he'll continue to blog. He's such a great writer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Brushing it

Dominyk just said this and I had to blog it before even thinking of addressing any other issues more serious or deep.

He has had the electric toothbrush going in the bathroom for about 4 minutes. I thought he was doing an especially good job since he pulled a tooth out today that was his most recent object of obsessive compulsion. He nearly yanked it out last night as he stayed up late being bothered by it. Finally this morning he got it done.

Bart just walked in and saw Dom in the bathroom and asked him what he was doing.

He had the lost tooth in his hand and responded, "Brushing it so the tooth fairy likes it."

Not Quite as Desperate

For some reason I'mn ot quite as desperate for school to start this year as I have been in the past. Sometimes I'm just exploding with stress by this point, counting the days and minutes, yearning for the first day of school.

But this year it's different. The kids are older, I'm enjoying them more, I guses, and while it has been crazy here at times, it hasn't been impossible. I look forward to the routine and having uninterrupted hours, but there are things we have to trade for that -- like earlier bedtimes, earlier rising times, and a hectic schedule.

Wow, this is a boring blog entry.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: in 15 days I will be sending my kids off to school, but this year I'm not dancing around singing, "it's the most wonderful time of the year."

Even if I do feel that way for a few minutes of each day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's All Relative

I have begun my journey as a mother of a teenage girl. She's only 12 and a half, but she is acting like a teenager.

I am currently surviving 5 teenage boys, but girls are a whole new ball game I'm finding out.

Today she and her sister helped with the little girls who were here and did an absolutely incredible job. They were so good with them and I was so proud.

However, on the way home, I said something she didn't quite like, and boom, all the sudden a new person took her place. A mean, vindictive, hateful face replaced the calm, cooperative mature one that had just been there. She refused to acknowledge any sentence I spoke for the next fifteen minutes until we arrived home.

I have been trying to help her understand that her measuring stick is a little warped. She wants to believe that because she is better than her brothers, who have tons of diagnosis, meds, and special needs, that she is OK. I tell her that for her to look around our home and believe she's perfect, is like me going to a Sumu wrestlers convention and declaring that I am thin.

I try to tell her that staring straight ahead and refusing to listen to me for a straight 15 minutes is no better than cussing me out or flipping me out -- the inward attitude is still the same. It is an attitude of disrespect and whether it is displayed the same way as her brothers or not, it is still not acceptable behavior.

So I'll let her choose to either live with the consequences of her behavior (an early bedtime, becuase anyone who responds that way MUST be tired) or she can change her behavior. EIther way it's OK with me.

It's going to be a long six years.

News Flash: It's Not About You

This is Dominyk's new saying. I think he heard me telling his eldest brother, who is serving as his PCA this summer, that he needed to be careful to remember that his job was not about him, but about the kids he was serving.

So, Dominyk put together his thoughts and every time his brother tries to do an errand or take care of some personal issue "on the clock" Dominyk states, "NEWS FLASH: It's NOT ABOUT YOU!

Don't we need to hear that about 20 times a day? It's like God is saying that to me often. When I start to feel like I can't do it any more, when I'm tired, when I get discouraged, when I don't see progress, when I'm moody or depressed (notice all the I's in that sentence) God reaches down and gently nudges me: NEWS FLASH: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

What a great world we would live in if we could, as individuals, put ourselves aside and focus on others and the needs of our world.

Because really, it's about God and people and bringing the two together in whatever ways we can.

BIG SURPRISE: SIb group of 3 arrives at my house today

Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

However, they aren't really a sib group (they are actually a baby and her two aunts) and they only stayed three hours and they went back home.


Just thought I'd fool a few of you who might think I'd add three girls at this point, this young. I'm not that nuts.

Although they will be returning for a while on Thursday. It's a long story. They are just guests and will be visiting while their mom/sister helps me out a little bit during the week.


Monday, August 15, 2005


One of the things that I constantly battle with is balance. I tend to be obsessive compulsive when it comes to working, especially when I have jobs that I am passionate about.

If I let myself, I can sit at my desk and work from when I get out of bed until I get back to bed, with the exception of meals. I can stop long enough to talk to my kids as they interrupt me all day long, but I don't do things with them awful enough.

OK, go ahead and say, "How long has it been since your last confession?"

Anyway, everyonceandawhile I pledge to do better. This is one of those everyonceandawhiles.

Last night I walked away from the computer by 8:30.

Tonight I took the kids to the park for a couple hours and then later we did the DQ/scary story in the cemetary I already blogged about.

I know i'm not a great parent. I am committed to my kids and I try to hang in there with them, and we try to make sure they make good choices, etc, but I don't fall into my definition of a good parent.

But I'm going to try to do better, and every day I'm going to wake up and do it for another day.

Until they are all grown and I regret not having loved it more when it was happening -- all the fighting, arguing, spitting, cussing, farting, burping chaos will probably be missed.

Or maybe we'll be like Cindy and just fill our house with grandchildren and grown children and die being surrounded by it all.


Silly Tradition

About once a summer some of us get ice cream and drive out to the cemetary and I tell one scary story.

The story always has a surprise, not so scary ending, and the ending is always the same: the noises that we thought were ghosts, or a bear, or a burglar always turn out to be big, brave Dad coming to rescue us.

Tonight I did a version of a blinding blizzard burying our van in a dark cemetary at night -- thought they were getting older so I should combine some versions to make it scarier.

The jumped at the end and screamed like they were supposed to.

And they loved it.

Silly dumb thing that we did once years ago and it stuck.

Very Very Very Annoying Habits

I don't have any. So don't go there.

But my kids have some.

I have a spitter. It's recent, just started this summer. Continuous habitual spitting. Lovely.

And of course, I have my OCD chanter who has a consistent monologue throughout the day about his boredom.

My girls have the habit of simply not responding at all to what I say. They just sit and glare at me or stare at their feet.

And that's not to mention the unnecessary, repititious noise that I have previously mentioned.

In addition to having bad habits, Dominyk is a truth teller. Calls it like he sees it. Every time.

We were arm wrestling the other day and as he was bending my arm back I mentioned that it hurt me when he did that.

He said, "Mom, it's cause your arm is too fat. No offense."

Do nine year olds say, "no offense!"?????

It's Over ...

... for a while. At least the stressful part is.

Once again court confirmed that my fears were validated. A statement I made three months ago was put in a report. I could give details, but I'm kind of learning that opening my mouth never results in anything good.

And you can read about the meeting with Mike if you want to by looking at Bart's blog.

I'm back and home and physically and emotionally exhausted. Just trying to make it through. At least at this moment it's quiet here....

WIsh I had a Remote

I wish Life had a Remote. I've thought this many times.

If it did, I could do lots of things.

LIke right now, I could fast forward my morning.

There are other times when a remote might come in handy as well. Just think how often it would be if we could:

Hit pause and make everything else stop while we took time to collect ourselves, think through our actions, make good decisions, calm our emotions or just TAKE A NAP!;

Hit rewind when something was awesome, and live the good times over and over again;

Change the channel when we didn't like what was happening. If life was offering us a thriller, we could switch to a romantic comedy. If life provided the news, we could switch to a cartoon. If we were dealt a real-life drama, we could just push a button and the three stooges would pop on. Or, if we found ourselves in the middle of an episode of the three stooges (which I felt like I was riding home with two of my sons yesterday), we could switch to some nice educational programming.

But the number one purpose of the remote in my life, would be the mute button. I bet life at my house would fairly comical without the sound. Watching the kids do what they do without having to hear it would make it seem quite bearable.

A Remote for Life: Just think of the possibilities.

High Anxiety

This morning is a high anxiety morning for me. No matter how many times we go, court makes me nervous. Too many people in a child protective situation with two many differing agendas who can twist my words around and make me feel inadquate, or harsh, or lenient, or over-protective or neglectful, or too focused or distracted -- just depending on what I say.

Fortunately our son is doing very well in this placement (the ranch). He has been there almost three months and hasn't had a single major episode of anger. He is due for his first home visit this weekend and all of our interractions with him have been pleasant. One of the things that I have been impressed with is the fact that not once in this whole year of struggle has he ever blamed us.

As soon as court is over, we then have a meeting about our other son who is living in the RTC. We are having a meeting because nobody knows what to do with him. He is absolutely refusing to do what they say and has made no progress in three months. We feel trapped becuase we have told him he has to complete the program, but he is regressing every day. The reason why he is is because he is trying to prove the place isn't a good fit -- but how much do we make him stay there with no progress just so that he doesn't "win?" IT's a tough call.

And, in addition, he is the opposite of our son at the ranch. We are the entire reason for every problem he has. We put him there and we can take him out at any time (according to him -- not exactly true) and therefore his suffering is because of us. He says he doesn't even want to come home any more. That he wants a new family (highly unlikely -- anyone interested in a 16 1/2 year old with 3 recent juvenile offense charges who is unable to complete the first level of his residential treatment program even though he's been there 8 months? - - didn't think so. I mean I can match kids, but not even I could find a family for a kid like that).

So, I don't want to live this morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

New Mercies Every Morning

Last night I was crabby. Tired and feeling like I was in a corner I couldn't escape from.

Our son in residential is not doing well at all. He's to the point of saying he doesn't want to come home to live with us anymore, he wants a new family (although they would never release him even to us right now, much less try to find him another family). He's trying to blame us for who he is and where he is and he is regressing instead of making progress. But he has been told 1000 times he has to complete the program, and he's refusing to do anything to get him there.

And then there's the corner of hiring your own child to work for you and ... well, I'm not going to go there, but I'm sure you can guess what that corner could be like.

But, the beauty of my personality combined with my strong faith is that I truly believe verses of scripture like, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" and "Thy mercies are new every morning, Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "The sun will come up tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, they'll be sun" ... oh yeah, that's ANnie, not God...

So every night when I'm tired and feeling cornered and helpless I tell myself what my mother used to say to me every time I went to bed tired and depressed as a child and teen (in fact she still tells me this now), "Everything will look better in the morning."

Saturday, August 13, 2005

School Supplies -- have to whine a little more

Every single grade is different.
Everything has a twist to it.
I am surrounded by Walmart and Pamida bags.
Everything is supposed to be marked.

Who still has last year's backpack? (Now let me digress on that one. If you take care of your backpack you don't get a new one, but if you lose or ruin it, then you'll get another one. Last year, I made the kids who lost theirs take the old backpacks of the kids who didn't lose their's, but right now I just can't even keep all that straight and bought new backpacks for whoever wanted one.)

Anyway, if you're in 3, 4th or 5th you can't have a Trapper Keeper, but in 6th you need one. Folders have to be certain colors and you can't have college ruled until middle school, only wide ruled.

And if you are in elementary you need gym shoes, no black soles. Middle school you have to have gym shoes AND clothes.

In high school, there are no lists, so you're on your own.

Except for the $80 calculator for 10th grade.

I have had a child in every single grade now, so I think I have it down. Maybe.

Registering Kids for School...

...hould not take a full day of ones life.

We have the registration form.
And we have the health form.
And we have the Milk form.
And we have the lunch forms.
And we have the internet usage agreement forms.
And we have the athletic physicals.
And the athletic permission slips.
And the fees to pay for the milk.
And the fees to pay for athletics.

all this times 7.

And this of course, does not include anything related to our college sophomore, which I already did (financial aid, etc)


all the IEP stuff.

Or the stuff for the boys in other schools who are in residential.

I've been working on it most of today.

But sometimes it is kind of fun becuase I enjoy being so unique -- for example, my ten kids were born in eight different places, including a foreign country and 3 US states.

My kids are of three different races.

My kids are all messed up as far as ages and grades. For example, my 2nd to the youngest is in 5th, my 3rd to the youngest is in 4th, but so is my 4th from the youngest.

I have two kids in 11th, two in 7th, and 2 in fourth.

The med forms are always interesting with all the psychotropic meds and dosages.

Poor, poor, people out there with boring lives who have one or two kids and five or six forms with nothing to write on them.


What the Fair is about for John

This year, the fair was about being with his family, which was kind of cool.

But it was also about going on rides, as he knew we spent a lot on the wristbands and wanted to make sure we got our moneys worth.

He hung out with Bart and I a little, took his brothers and sister on varying rides with him, and was really fun to be with the whole time.

What the Fair Means for Salinda

For Salinda, it is about not doing anything that might get her any added attention. It's about being perfect or, if not perfect, invisible. It's about not drawing any attention to herself.

And it's about her friend who came with us having a good time.

What the Fair Means for Sadie

Sadie likes attention. Lots and Lots and Lots of Attention.

So, the fair is about posing for pictures, and having people see how cute she is, and getting noticed.

Of course, she too eats, rides rides, but for my Drama Queen, it's about attention.

What Going to the Fair Means for Dominyk

Going to the fair means different things to different people. I thought I'd give an explanation for some of us who are very different in the way we perceive the fair.

WE'll see how far we get.

For Dominyk, the fair is about stuff. Free stuff. It can be free stuff from the booths in the expo building or from tables along the run way. Items from last night included a hairbrush from the casino, a selection cards with a different fish on each of them from who knows who with complete explanations of each fish and their habitat, several yardsticks, a lint brush, and a gumball with "save sex til marriage" on the wrapper.

It isn't just about free stuff that he gets legitimately, it can be about free stuff he finds on the ground. Stuff that other people have dropped or lost, stuff that other people have discarded (like broken yardsticks).

He just loves to get stuff. Sure, he rode rides, and he had stuff to eat, but it was about the STUFF.

What the Fair is about For Parents

Pouring money down the proverbial drain.

You know, this summer we did more than ever for our kids. We threw caution to the wind and did things we hardly ever do. Our cash flow is a little higher right now and we wanted to spend it on memories for our family.

But the end result, as I noticed yesterday, is not gratitude, but a constant asking for more. When we pay for rides and food, they want money for games. It's always MORE MORE MORE.

Not to say this isn't typical behavior, but when your kids don't really get much, you want to say to yourself, well, they get so little it's no wonder they want more.

But when they get a lot and they still want more? Annoying.

But what the fair is REALLY about for ALL of us is ...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Obviously My Better Half

We just returned from the fair. I'll blog more about that tommorrow.

I just read my husband's first blog post. Impressive, isn't he? You can tell the opposites attract.

I mean how shallow am I compared to him? I'm getting ready to write about things at the floor like caloric intake of fair foods, or how my youngest loves getting free fish trading cards in the expo building, or how embarrasing it is when Jimmy talks with his hands and explains that John is in the bathroom...

and Bart is blogging about inner callings and important and deep stuff.

He is so cool!

We balance each other out well -- he at times envies my optimism, but explains it as being a result of my shallowness. I am often amazed at his introspection and depth, but see that it has it's downside as well.

The other night I told him that it was funny we shared the same future as "My future's so bright I gotta wear shades" and his is "so bleak he needs a miner's hat with a flashlight attached."

I just found out that 4 kids I matched almost a year ago got home to Tennessee from TX today and that another three that were matched over a year ago are going from TX to Indiana, and that a third three, also matched a year ago, are going from FL to WV.

I'm going to break my own personal monthy record this month, and that is the coolest!

Finally, John, our son from the ranch, spent the day at the fair with us and it was very fun.

However, for those of you who pray, please pray for Mike. He is doing horribly and is about to self-destruct. There is nothing we can do and he won't even try to make any progress. He's been without any significant progress since Memorial Day and we're beginning to worry about him.

Enough blathering for now ... I think I'll read Bart's blog again and make sure I understand it well before talking to him about it. :-)

Our New Hospital

Our town has a brand new hospital and clinic. They've been working on it for years.

I wanted to see it sometime.

Just not this week.

If you read everyday you know that Salinda was there Tuesday night in the E.R. when we thought she might have appendicitis. Of course, she didn't, and by yesterday was dancing and playing tennis and eating pizza.

Yesterday I got to return to the hospital so Dominyk could have stitches put in his finger. He was fishing and had a pocket knife that his PCA loaned him, and he decided he didn't want to hold it any more, so he'd just stab it into a chunk of wood so it would be handy.

But he forgot to move his other hand out of the way.

So, two hours and 3 stitches later, we were back home and life was going on again as usually. Next week we get to go back to have them taken out.

Today is the fair in Sioux Falls that our kids have been looking forward to ever since last year when we went. When I suggested that since we had already seen Disney World and Sea World this summer, so maybe we didn't need to do the Minnehaha County Fair they looked at my like I had lost my complete mind.

And because it was Salinda who wanted this worse than anyone, and since she is almost ALWAYS helpful, sees things to do to help out, and seldom complains, we're going.

Salinda is the girl who asked for a later bedtime. I asked her to petition in writing. Her essay was called, "My persuasive essay about bedtime" and included such statements as, "I like to clean up around the house at night so that we can wake up to a clean home. If you let me stay up later I'll have more time to clean."

Petition granted.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Nature Photographer

Dominyk played "nature photographer" at Sea World instead of riding the rides. He had so much fun taking pictures of plants and animals that we don't have in MN.

And to think, we paid $60 for him to get in and he was satisfied with a Digital Camera and a little foilage.

Changing the World, One Blogger at a Time

I'm not going to link all these people, because they might not want me to, but I started blogging a few months ago.

And then my friend Cindy did.

And then my friend Eric did.

And then his wife Jodi did.

And then Cindy's daughter Sarah did.

And then Cindy's daughter Yolie did.

And then my friend Mary did.

ANd then she got her friend and mine, Kari, to start.

And then my friend Amanda started blogging.

And so did my friend Michele.

And today Bart had me help him set up something.

I follow all these blogs daily and have no clue who is following mine...

Quality of LIfe

The birthmom I am translating for is wavering, so I had to translate a meeting with her and the agency worker.

I am still struggling over the whole issue of quality of life.

Here's a scenario: An illegal family of immigrants with no money, living in poverty or an upper middle class family of US citizens in the suburbs. Who can provide a higher quality of life? A no-brainer, right?

And yet I have lived in a third world country and observed the poorest of the poor enjoying things we take for granted, content with their lives, fiercely loving their family members, and happy.

I have lived in this country and seen the wealthy able to enjoy nothing, no matter how extreme, never content, fighting consisently with their family members, and miserable.

Which of these two groups of people has a higher quality of life?

Have we bought into the idea that education, material possessions, economic success, and career advancement are synonymous for happiness and a high quality of life?

Sure, we can talk to a birthparent about the future and opportunities for the child they are considering placing for adoption, but sometimes I think we go overboard in emphasizing it as a quality of life issue.

I know this opens a whole can of worms, and maybe i'm just overtired, but sometimes I'm not sure that we know what the right answers are as much as we think we do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Night in The Hotel with No Pool or Cable

The last night of our Orlando adventure, I was in a suburb of Minneapolis in a hotel with no pool and no cable with six kids and we got there at 6:30.

Miles to go before we sleep.

But, Dominyk saved my day. He handed out my credit cards as tickets and set up a show. He couldn't think of what to do for the show, so he ended up being my "dummy" while I was a ventriloquist.

These are shots of the crowd (he told them where to sit) and of us doing our unrehearsed "show."

You Know that You're Old When...

you hate a car like this.

We got this as our rental while in Pittsburgh and grew to hate it more and more every passing moment.

We couldn't get into it easily.
We couldn't get out of it easily.
It had annoying seat belt clangers.
The seat belt was too tight.
Bart never seemed to park it quite right.
The break and the gas were too close together so he kept hitting both of them.
Only one suitcase fit in the trunk.
There were only 2 doors, so we had to smash the other suitcase past the front seat to get it in the back.
People kept saying, "Cool Car" and we kept having to say, "Rental."

It was such an annoying experience, driving this mustang, that it made me feel like I was 100 years old or more....


Back at home and it is so incredibly chaotic here. Everyone is adjusting to being back together again -- and not well. I'm still exhausted, the kids are tired, everyone is bored, nobody has anything they can think of to do, and they are pretty glued to me. I've had five or six in my office almost continually since I came down at 7:30....

and then -- all of the sudden, they're all gone. ONe went to Dad's office to torture him for a while, 4 went to the lake. Leaving me with two quiet girls who know how to let me work ...


The Day that Never Ends

Yesterday was the day that seemed it would never end.

Got up at 3 you know, for the early plane ride, went to the hospital to interpret, came home, worked, then after supper, went to pick up my Guatemalan contingency, and came home, so exhausted I was dizzy and nauseaus.

Got undressed, got in bed, and then my daughter, who had had stomach pains, threw up for the 6th time. When I went to talk to her about her pain, and she described appendicitis.

So back on with clothes and over to the ER for an hour for tests.

Didn't rule out appendicitis, but it probably isn't that.

So, I was up for 21 hours. Haven't been up that long straight since I was in my late twenties, I don't think.

And I woke up this morning to many troubling thoughts requiring me to get out of bed and get moving.

I've decided to start referring to it as my "Too Do" list because it always has too many things on it. I needed to start working on that annoying list, so I got out of bed, still not fully rested....

Hopefully this day will be shorter...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Thank God for Other Wackos

I'm so glad I know other people as crazy as me.

Because then, when I leave my kids with them, and my kids do something borderline awful and certainly annoying, they can still be my friends.

For example, my dear Guatemalan sons each managed to do something interesting today. The 13 year old called 911. Everyone told him not to, so it wasn't an intelligence or ignorance issue, it was a defiance issue.

And, the other one decided to light a fire. Lovely, huh?

But she didn't freak out. Becuase she has kids that have done, are doing, or will be doing the same things.

Beautiful, huh?


Got up at 4 this morning to catch an early flight, which is 3 this time.

It's 4 and I feel like it's 10.

So tired I can barely focus.

Went straight from the airport (after stopping at home to pee) to translate for the Guatemalan birthmom who had the baby yesterday.

Incredible new respect for birthmoms who make adoption plans for their newborns. She was so strong and so sure she was doing the right thing. So committed to him having a better life that she wouldn't even let herself hold him becuase she didn't want to change her mind.

Strong, strong, strong girl, only 16.
Already a parent of a one year old.
I was so proud of her.
Walking out of the hospital, obviously in pain.
Going through labor
and leaving the hospital alone.
Knowing it was a sacrifice of love.
People tried to talk her out of it.
But she knew what she had decided to do.
And did not waiver once.
From the first time we met a month ago until now.
Sure of the right thing.
Sure she wouldn't change her mind.
Following through like a trooper.
I was amazed.

In awe .... I have so much respect for her.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Great Guy

I have had the best week I've had in a long time being with one of the greatest guys there is. Sometimes in the midst of parenting 10 kids, pastoring a church, and me having 2 part time and all consuming jobs, we forget why we like each other. But this week I remembered.

He's so intelligent and quick-witted and he has a great sense of humor. He's also quite kind. And he's sensitve. Quite the catch I'd say.

Plus he cooks, helps with laundry, irons everything and supports everything I want to do. He lets me buy the software I want, for example, which too me is way more significant than flowers on our anniversary, though he usually does that too.

And he's the best dad ever.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much I lucked out.

Tonight we actually did the "date thing" -- dinner and a movie, but not in that order. Saw Must Love Dogs, which was OK, not great, and ate at Smokey Bones, which was OK, but not great, but my date -- more than OK, and definitely great!

I knew I hated Pennsylvania

The first guy I ever fell in love with was from Pennsyvania, but now I have more than one reason to hate the state.

We literally spent two hours going 25 miles today.

Road construction and a detour and it was SO frustrating. We woke up with lots of energy, ready for our last day away and then THAT....

Also, our hotel is located in such a weird place it was hard to find.

LONG two hours.

So now we're in the hotel, Bart is snoring away, and I'm going through email. We were hoping to do something a little more fun and go to bed early since our flight leaves at 6:20 a.m., but instead we may do nothing....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Fun Day Exploring Ohio

I am getting ready to help write a grant proposal about finding families who are willing to build relationships with teens over age 10 in the foster care system by training church members about the children and how to support adoptive families. Kind of complicated, but lots of cool components.

Reason I wrote that is so that you would understand why my husband and I might spend 5 hours driving around various Ohio Cities today trying to get a feel for the state. We saw a great deal of Cleveland, and also saw Akron, Canton, and several cities in between. There are so many more churches in Ohio than MN, but that's good, because there are 10 times as many kids in foster care in Ohio than in MN.

Excited about the possibilities of the proposal, which includes making connections with kids in residential treatment.

Also had two excellent meals today at Bahama Breeze and Carrabbas. Very good food at both places.

Enjoyed lots of great conversation with my fun, witty, and intelligent husband all day today.

Church was good too.

Great day. Ready for a good night's sleep.

Always Wake Up Happy Until . . .

I have one of those secretly annoying optimistic personality traits where I wake up happy. I usually believe upon awakening that it is going to be a good day 90% of the time. I'm excited about life and ready to go.

Until someone pisses me off, which, if I'm home, sometimes happens BEFORE I even wake up, and often within seconds. Kids are complaining and fighting or something else goes wrong and my mood plunges.

However, when I am on vacation and there is no one, except Bart, who rarely bothers me anyway, to piss me off, I can be relatively happy for a good portion of the day.

Today he brought me breakfast in bed, which sounds more glamorous than it is ... He actually had the air on 32 degrees all night and so I was too cold to get up and he almost prefers to have breakfast with a newspaper down at the little free breakfast room thingy at the hotel, so he brought me up a bagel and a banana and I ate it under the covers, but still, kind of like breakfast in bed, don'tcha think? Haven't done that in years.

And now we're off to worship at the church that our current MN bishop used to pastor.

More on that later.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blindly Follow

We came to Ohio, Poland to be exact, and checked into our hotel. Noticed that a big Italian family with 9 kids is having their reunion here tonight-- big signs and everything.

Got settled in and decided to go eat out but all the nice places had lines out their doors and down their streets. I guess Poland, Ohioans like to eat out on Saturday night.

So, we eat at Steak and Shake (no shake for me) and come back to the hotel. The car we rented somehow turned out to be a mustang, which, in comparison to a mini van, is a little hard to get out of. Suitcases too big from the trunk, etc.

But, we drug the rest of our stuff of the mustang, and headed into the hotel. Got into the hotel and there's no Italian signs, there is music playing, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," and all the sudden I'm disoriented.

I blindly followed my dear husband into the Hampton Inn, a good block north of the Fairfield Inn, where we were staying...

all the stuff back in the car...

Bet we looked like idiots!

Over for Another Year

Well, NACAC is over for another year. The session I spoke in went well .... the one Bart did, even better.

Now we get to explore Eastern Ohio and enjoy each other for a couple days until we head home and hit the ground running...

Reminded and fired up again about the importance of finding homes for older kids. Heard Pat O'Brien, my hero, and other great speakers. Got to catch up with old friends. Good time was had by all.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Was inspired today by two presentations that included adults who had either been adopted or "unoficially adopted" by foster parents. Now their 26, 27, 32 and they are functioninng and they are OK.

I love to read Cindy's blog (link over >>>>>>> there) and hear about her grown kids that are grateful.

Touching stories give me hope that there is another side to all this and that we will survive parenting our ten and live to tell about it.

Good authentic Mexican food with a good friend I met through matching (A DFPS worker from Texas) and my husband. Now back to the hotel for the evening.

Tomorrow is our presentation and the end of the conference..... then a couple days to relax and see the sights and finally back home.