Friday, September 30, 2005

Now with a picture

Here’s the glitch.... for $20.42 I guess you can blog but without a picture.

However, linking to sites is easier than doing the html that I have to do with blogger on Safari.

Our Family Website

and apparently you can insert a checkbox (why I don’t know) ❑.

Or you can link to whatever artist and song is playing on your ITunes Randy Butler - Holy And Anointed One (which only a teenager would do. I’m sure YOU don’t care what i“m listening to, nor do I care what you are listening to...

There are also special characters: ☃♡

Apparently, I am going to have to take an extra step to blog from here with pictures...


I decided that if I was going to be blogging, I needed to have an archive of all of my entries somewhere besides cyber space.

So I bought a new journaling application that will help me blog.

This is a test to make sure I didn’t just waste $20.42.

Advent Devotional #2

Sick and Tired

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! 
But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13

Do ever just get sick and tired of being sick and tired? Sick of hearing about evil people doing evil things? Tired of hearing about national disasters, tragedies, hunger, war, poverty? Tired of being bombarded with negative images from the media that portray the hopelessness of a world filled with people who do horrendous things? Sick of feeling a sense of despair that there is nothing we can do in the midst of so much pain? Do you just want it to end? We certainly have evidence everywhere that we are not living in a place where righteousness dwells.

It is hard to imagine what people must feel like when they think there is nothing more to life than what we can see . . . that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that there is no hope for a new heaven and a new earth. As Christians, we don’t have to settle for the here and now as the ultimate conclusion of all things. We know that there is a promise that God is going to create a world where righteousness dwells.

In the midst of the frantic pace of the holidays, Christmas should be seen as the beginning of hope – hope that all the despair of this sin tragedy filled world will some day be no more. As we celebrate the birth of the One who came to save the world, we will do best to remember that this Savior, entering humanity as a helpless infant, came not only to make our day to day lives more bearable, but to give us hope that the best is yet to come.

Lord, help us to focus on how we might best live a life of holiness and godliness and remind us that we do so in anxious anticipation of a new and better world. Amen.

Advent Devotional

ADVENT? you ask.

Yes, our congregation does an advent devotional book for our community each year. A few members of each of the churches in our area writes two devotionals, with an assigned passage. Then the book is published with a devotional for each day of Advent.

Deadline is tomorrow, so I started working on mine.

Thought I'd share them, not necessarily because you want to read them, but because it gives me satisfaction in having them completed when I know that someone else is reading them.

Just finished the first one:

The Long Kept Secret

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages 
but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith -- 
to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. 
 Romans 16:25-27

Authors, producers, directors, filmmakers, actors, actresses . . . and the list goes on of folks who have made a living because so many of us love a good mystery. We sit through an hour or two of a movie, or spend a longer time reading a book, to find out how it is going to end. There is a secret in there somewhere and we anxiously await the discovery we know we will be rewarded with in the end. The longer it takes to reveal the secret, and the harder it is to solve the mystery, the more we enjoy the book or the movie.

Through the message of the prophets, God hinted that there was a secret – a mystery that would some day be revealed. For hundreds of years, faithful followers of God looked forward to the day that Messiah would come. They hoped it would happen in their lifetime and they anxiously awaited the revealing of this mystery.

The challenge for us is to capture the wonder of this revelation. After all, for us it was not a secret nor a mystery – as the revelation took place before we are born. But if we put ourselves in the place of those living under the tyranny of the law, maybe we can get a glimpse of the wonder they experienced having finally discovering the long kept secret and understanding the mystery of salvation.

Does life sometimes seem a mystery to you? Do you have challenges and problems that need solved that seem to have no answer? At this time of Advent, let us stop and ponder this mystery that was promised by the prophets and fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah that was promised so long ago. This Messiah not only was the revelation of a secret and the conclusion of a mystery in ages past, but He can be the same solution to each of the struggles we face today.

Lord, reveal the secret of your salvation to me in a new way this Advent season. Amen.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

At least I'm not...

a dental hygienist.

I just got back from having my teeth cleaned and I sat there in the chair trying not to cough flem on this woman -- every muscle in my body braced so I wouldn't cough.

I sat there and thought with every breathe how much I would HATE her job.

It's even worst than being a dentist, I think...

Now that that unpleasant task is over, I have the meeting with my son's probation officer to look forward to...

Knock on Wood

I have noticed a change in my youngest, but I didn't want to blog it for fear it would Jinx it.

Since he started his first year of preschool (there were two, as he repeated Early Childhood Special Ed, or FLUNKED it, as my kids would say) all the way up til the end of last year, mornings were a huge battle. He would lie around, totally unfocused even though we woke him up early for his meds, making up silly games, playing with the dog, and refusing to get going. It took almost an hour and more than all of my patience to get him out the door. I had to choose his clothes for him, sometimes nearly dress him, argue with him. There were times I was nearly in tears trying to get him out the door. Couldn't find back pack, couldn't find shoes, and in the winter you can imagine -- boots, gloves, hat, coat, snowpants. AAAAAAAH!

This year he's like a different kid. He needs no direction. He does what he is supposed to do. He can almost always find everything. It's amazing.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


One plate of rice and beans and I'm stuffed.

Bought corn tortillas, and had my home made salsa, and when I closed my eyes I was almost back in Mexico... Savoring the flavors, recalling the memories...

It would have been a lovely trip down memory lane

EXCEPT the word "Mom" was being repeated consistently over and over again redundantly and repititiously as I attempted to take a trip back in time....

kind of ruined the moment as nobody was calling me mom in 1993...

Salsa Verde

I know that I will come nothing close to Sarah's expertise as a chef, but I have a recipe for salsa that I brought back with me from Mexico. SInce my husband is out of town and I am having to cook, I made it to go with the Cindy's beans and rice recipe.

When I moved to Mexico in 1992 to serve as an administrative consultant for a Bible College there, I lived with students. We were blessed, during my first semester, to have cooks that prepared food for us, but later because of a transition, cooked our own food. For breakfast we had beans, eggs and tortillas. For lunch we had beans, tortillas and some kind of meat or soup. For supper we had beans, eggs and tortillas. Occassionally we would have something a little different for the noon meal, but the rest was pretty much the same.

When I arrived, I saw this green salsa that didn't look all that good and the students ate it on everything. They ate it with the eggs, with the beans, with whatever they were having. They spread it on mashed potatoes, ate it with fries on the rare occassion we had them. It went on beef tacos, and was spread on roticerree chicken. It was just the standard for everything.

The first time I tasted it I wasn't sure what I thought . . . but after a few months, I was addicted. I realized just how hooked I was when I caught myself dipping a grilled ham and cheese sandwich in it.

When I moved to Minnesota in 1994, I instantly bought everything I needed to make the salsa so that it would not be removed from my diet. Life progressed, I made it for Bart when we were dating and he hated it, and so I made it less and less.

Here's how you do it -- I learned from a girl from a remote village (3 hour walk from the closest bus-stop) in the Huasteca -- an area located in the Sierra Madre mountains of the state of San Luis Potosi. She taught me on a gas stove in a small kitchen in Puebla and this is the first time, this very moment, that I will have ever written it down.

Here are the ingredients:

12 tomatillos
6 chile serranos
2 or three garlic cloves
1 onion
a Knorr Suize Chicken bullion cube (or, for those of you vegetarians, I'm sure a vegetable bullion cube would work fine too)
a handful of cilantro

Here's what you do:

1. Remove the outer husk from the tomatillos and wash them.
2. Pull the stems off of the serranos.

(I was taught to cook the onions, chiles, and tomatillos in oil, but since have modified this to broiling)

3. Broil the vegetables until the tops are brown.

Dump all the vegetables in a blender. Blend on high until they are completely blended. Add the garlic and bullion cube and then blend them again.

Put in more cilantro than you think you should and blend some more.

Taste it with a tortilla or tortilla chip. If it is too overwhelmingly spicy, add some water.

The key is to balance the number of tomatillos to the number of chilis so that it doesn't come out too spicy. This takes experiementation.

I've found that the 12 relatively large tomatillos and 6 relatively small serranos works well.

Anyway, if you like spicy salsa, this it totally the best ever. If you're a wimp (like my husband and half my kids) you may not like it, but it's still the bomb.

See why I'm not a food writer?

Live Locally or Think Nationally

For the first time in months I had "coffee" with my "coffee buddies" from a couple years ago. I met these women when I used to go to Curves and afterwards we would go out for breakfast to replace the calories we worked off at Curves. These three women are some of the most fun-loving hilarious people I have met in MInnesota. They genuinely care about other people, they know how to have a great time, and they are just fun to be around.

However, with the busy-ness of my jobs, I have not taken time to be with them. They are very active in our community -- always helping out other people, serving at funerals, volunteering at the school, etc. In comparison I do absolutely nothing.

I wish that I could find a way to do both -- live locally, and think globally. But focusing on finding homes for as many kids as possible nationally leaves me doing virtually nothing for my local church (only volunteer about 4-5 hours a week), nothing for the school anymore, don't do wedding showers or funerals...

If I don't maintain focus, I won't get as many kids home. But every once and a while, I feel guilty for not doing everything I "should" do in my community.

Part of the problem is that I know how to do too many things -- I can make web pages, I can make videos, I can edit photography, I can write grant proposals.

And there is so much that needs to be done....

Too bad there aren't more hours in the day or that I couldn't figure out a way to clone myself...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Running (on empty)

Too many not good things happened today for me to blog them. Would just make me seem like a big whiner.

So, I'll just say this:

i'm doing the single parenting thing. Worked hard at my desk all day long, nearly caught up on laundry, and after school took one kid to the store to buy wigs for the scarecrow display, another couple kids out for a bite while leaving the kids in sports a make yourself a frozen pizza note...

Headed to the soccer game where I left one child, recruiting one PCA to bring him back, and now I'm heading to meeting in a neighboring town.

I will come home, put seven kids to bed, and fall exhausted into mine.

I could NOT be Cindy. Not with my low energy level, that's for sure!


If I had to very specifically narrow down the worst thing about having a large family I think it would be socks. In MN we wear them nearly year round. I know for sure, that for me, laundry is the worst part of having a large family ... it just never seems to end. Loads and loads every day and there is a never ending flow.

But even more specifically, it's the piles of inside-out dirty sweaty boy socks. Gag.

It looks like there are only four more loads of laundry on my floor today. This is after a series of unfortunate events that left all of our extra blankets and comforters soaked, so it's been months since I've been caught up. But I did two full loads of socks (gag again) and I may actually see a clean laundry room floor before the kids get home from school.

Now, I realize that this is not a bloggable event for most people, but for me, it is!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Technological Error

I just called myself.

And confused myself.

Had the cell in the pocket, didn't lock the phone keys.

Somehow moved in my chair to dial my home phone at my desk.

Saw the caller ID, was very confused.

Said hello to my cell.

I thought one of hte kids had the cell and was messing with it, but decided to double check my pockets before screaming at them about not messing with my cell.

Good thing I didn't. I'd hate to be screaming into my own pocket.

Odd feeling of Accomplishment

I woke up motivated today and tackled my workload with vigor.

I did a new time management trick: I divided the things I needed to do into three categories:

Hard, Medium, and Easy.

I told myself I had to do at least 1 hard thing for every 3 easy and 2 medium things. I know it doesn't make sense to most people how this could motivate a person, but then you gotta know how my mind works.

I worked consistently all day long (with the exception of lunch with my husband, who postponed his trip by a day, for which I am very grateful).

I accomplished a lotta stuff, including finishing writing a home study and writing a post-placement report, as well as several little details like getting things ready to be mailed, making phone calls, etc.

And at the end of the day my desk is cleaned off and all my trays sorted through. I'm hoping for equal motivation tomorrow, which might actually get me to the point of feeling like I am sort of kind of a little caught up.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Best Laid Plans ...

Tonight we decided we wanted to go out to supper, just the two of us. Not for hours -- just somewhere in town before Bart left for 11 days straight.

We had some things we wanted to talk about.

So, I instructed the most responsible to keep an eye on the least responsible and make sure that he wasn't doing anything dangerous. Told her to call if things got out of hand.

Guess how long we were gone? Three minutes. I am not joking. Three minutes. We weren't even half way to the restaurant. Apparently Most Responsible decided that taking a pop Least Responsible wasn't supposed to have constituted something dangerous that required her to intervene. So, she tries to take the pop away from him, and bashes the can into his gums. He therefore decides to really get her for her invasion of his ability to do what he wanted to do. He gets out a knife and threatens her with it.

But the phone call we got THREE MINUTES after leaving the driveway was, "Mom, HE is already threatening me with a knife and calling me names." No details about her behavior, simply his.

So we came home and decided to attempt to talk in our bedroom. I had string cheese for supper. It wasn't quite as we had planned it.

Bottom line is this: We should have known better.

Never Quite Like It's Supposed To

Can you believe this layout was on a website? Me either.

It never looks quite like it is supposed to. I follow the guidelines, but mine always look dorky and dumb.

"A tearing off of the top layer to reveal journaling underneath will be a nice touch."

OR, maybe it will just make it look STUPID!

It Never Fails

By some odd stroke of luck and coincidence, I was given the gift of over three hours virtually alone. Since my scrapbook stuff was still out from yesterday, I decided I would keep going.

And I couldn't find my ink cartridge. And then I ran out of paper. And then Mike called from the RTC and, like he always does, managed to suck me into an argument that resulted in me being infuriated with myself. So I had to call Michele who always brings my blood pressure down. By the time I found the cartridge, went to the store and bought by paper, got home and loaded the printer, and printed the pictures, I only finished one two-page layout in the whole three + hours. The rest of the family arrived home just as I was scanning the page.

Now I'm emotionally exhausted, but hoping to get a second wind as I have all I need set out.

I found my new method to be working quite well. I used to scrapbook at the Dining Room table -- I would haul everything out and only be able to work until the next meal. This weekend I tried (not that anyone cares at ALL about any of this) working at my desk. I cleaned it off first. I found that working at the desk, with my ITunes as my radio, the internet for ideas, and a little space to work, I accomplished much more. Plus, last night when it was time for supper I didn't have to quit.

So even though this chair is where I sit for 60+ hours a week to work, it is now where I will sit to scrap ... simply because of the productivity factor.

If you look at my layouts, they are like the rest of my life -- get it 80% good enough, cover the concept, and ignore the details.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

It's a Sports Theme

I figured out a trick today. I actually have my scrapbook supplies sort of organized into folders like Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, School, Sports, etc.

I'm finding myself much more motivated if I get out just one folder and find the pictures to go with the extras instead of trying to find extras to go with the pictures. Not having to dig endlessly through supplies to find what I'm looking for is keeping me more motivated to continue to scrap.

On a Roll

Even though it takes some extra effort to scan and merge these, it's motivating to have other people see them as I get them done.

Without my great writing and photo-sending friend's letter and pictures, this took a lot more effort, but it still turned out OK. I've never claimed to be a great scrapbooker, but seeing how much my kids love to look at them motivates me to continue, even if I'm talentless.

I still have thousands of pictures left to scrapbook, but even having a few pages done feels like a big deal!

A two page layout!

I haven't scrapbooked in so long I can hardly remember when it was I did it last -- maybe April or March...

But today I watched Salinda march in the band festival and then came back and got everything done for tomorrow. Then I had a few free hours and instead of being lazy and watching a movie or sitting around playing Backgammon with strange men from Turkey on Yahoo, I decided I had enough energy to scrapbook.

Lucky for me, I found a letter from friends and pictures she had sent with it. Her letter did my journaling for me and her pictures were easy to arrange. 20 minutes later and I've got a two page layout done!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Nighttime Dreams

Just like Cindy I have dreams about getting a job outside of my home. They always involve my former career as a college administrator, and often include a live-in position like I had for several years.

Last night I had another one.

The theme is basically this: I am back at one of the two institutions I used to work for OWU or SDSU. I am applying for a job that sounds awesome -- like one of the jobs I used to have. A lot of people I love, who are no longer there, are back and they are wanting me to join them and have things like they used to be. They offer me a great job, which includes a place to live.

All of the sudden, at this point in my dream, it hits me. I am married! I have ten children! I already have a couple of jobs. I can't take a live-in position! I can't work like I used to in my twenties, going in at 8 and staying until 11 at night. I fall asleep at ten these days. It all comes crashing in like a flood and I have to say, "WAIT! I can't accept this offer! I have children."

I have had this dream at least 40 times and I don't know what is burried in my psychy -- perhaps my desire to feel validated as a professional? Or maybe it's just wanting to relive days that I thought were very hard, but compared to now, were much easier? Or possibly it's just nastalgia.

But it's nice to be a person who looks back on the good old days and recognizes them as good. I had jobs I loved and I felt I was created to do, people surrounding me who I had/have deep connections with, and a deep sense of passion and purpose.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Big Dreams, No Money

I have a lot of plans in my head that could change the world. I have ideas that could make a huge difference. But they take money.

I've been a Director of Development before and I know that it is a game of competition . . . writing the best proposal, having the right connections.

I'm working on an idea right now for combining my two greatest passions: my faith and adoption. The ideas I have and how well I think it would work are so on target that I can see it play out in my head step by step.

But what I can't necessarily see is how the funding is all going to come about. There are way too many worthy programs out there that deserve the money as well.

Picture it with me:

1) A congregation would be trained to support adoptive families -- all who will come learning about the needs the kids have, what they have been through, and how best to reach them. These people learn what they can do to be of assistance to an adoptive family. They sign up to help in whatever way they can the adoptive family/families already in their church.

2) Once the congregation is trained, challenge them to find two or more additional families willing to provide a lifelong connection to a child or sibling group. These new pre-adoptive/pre-mentoring families would begin their journey with the following things in place:

a) A mentoring adoptive family that goes to their church;
b) Another family or two who are going through each step of the process with them;
c) An instant prayer/support group of adoptive families once they complete the process;
d) and a congregation of people who have already signed up to help in any way they can.

3) Relationships would be built with various institutions to allow members from the congregation who are not yet ready to make a commitment to adopt, but would like to mentor teens and children in treatment. These families would spend time with kids in Children's Homes, Boys Ranches, and Residential Treatment Centers, providing them with someone to call when they earn phone calls, someone to come and visit when they earn visits, and later possibly someone to spend holidays with. Eventually, if not leading to adoption, might lead to a lifetime connection with caring adults that these kids so desperately need.

What do you think of the plan?

If you are a millionnaire and stumble on my blog, please email me.

If you are not a millioniaire, please provide feedback on the concept.

Or just pray that there will be foundations, organizations, etc. that will be willing to risk such a venture.

Because, as my husband says, "there is nothing more damning to the soul of a child than impermanence" and kids can't wait.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

People who Play Sports and Players

I realized long ago that there is a distinction between athletes and those who participate in athletics. It started teh season that Kyle wrestled in 6th grade. It was all about how many snacks he could eat. Right before his match he would want nachos, pizza, and a couple snickers bars. I came home and told Bart, "There are kids who wrestler and there are wrestlers. Kyle is content to be a kid who wrestles."

We have had several kids who are not serious about a sport -- it is enough to participate, be on the team, have some fun. Once and a while they win or do something good, but for the most part, it's just about being part of something and we're OK with that.

But a couple of our kids hve some real talent. And here is one of them. True to his Central American heritage, when it comes to soccer, Ricardo knows what he's doing. We've Got Ourselves a Player.

Small Victories

Today we got news that the county is probably going to make a decision that will further damage the already fragile relationship we have with our son in the RTC. When I first heard the news I was nauseous. My extremities were cold. It brought back all kinds of memories of feeling trapped.

I wanted to escape. I wanted to eat a lot of food I shouldn't. I wanted to leave my house -- drive to the mall and buy something. I wished I had a friend I could call in the middle of the day and escape with. I felt incredibly frustrated, sick, and claustrophobic.

But I redirected myself. I fixed a healthy lunch, I sat down and tackled a task for work I didn't want to do. I opened the window so lots of heat would come in to warm my extremities.

I let it go and moved on.

Something I can't always do.

And whenever I can conquer myself, it's a victory.

Because often my biggest enemy is in the mirror.

Dental Report

Not so bad after not having gone for more years than I want to admit.

No cavities.

Need cleaning (Duh)

No gum disease . . . so I don't have to have the scraping that they threatened me with years ago that caused me not to return.

Whole lot a work, not a whole lotta motivation, but we'll give it a go....

Who Would Want to Be A Dentist

Other than Steve Martin, the sadist in Little Shop of Horrors, who would want to be a dentist?

I have five minutes until I leave for my own dentist appointment -- something I haven't had for way too long.

Why would anyone want to be someone that nobody wants to see? Why would you want a profession where people dreaded coming to you? Why, in addiiton, would anyone want to put their hands in other people's dirty mouths all day?

The whole thing is just disgusting. I want to enter the building and say, "FIrst of all, I am fat, but I am not dumb. I do know that I am supposed to brush three times a day and floss once a day. I ALREADY KNOWED DAT (as Jimmy used to say while learning English). So DO NOT lecture me, do not tell me how to brush or how to floss. Just do what you have to do in silence.

But instead, I will most likely choose to be socially appropriate and even though my shirt is slightly stained, I am wearing socks. Gotta be presentable when your husband is the pastor of the down town church you know....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tired, Tired Tired

The past few days I have been exhausted and unmotivated. Today I did manage to get a couple of projects completed that have been hanging over my head, but I am still very far behind.

Took a few minutes to create another movie depicting the essence of another of my children, my youngest.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Finally a Fletcher

4 years ago today we were in Guatemala picking up our 9th child, Jimmy. While at the orphanage, this cute little guy ran up and nearly sat on Bart's lap. We were immediately hooked.

It took almost three years to get him home (which is odd, since we aquired 8 children in 3 years from 96-99) but we did it and today we finalized.

Our kids were very well behaved and looked nice. We had the same judge as we have had for our sons in out of home placement, and I hope that he at least could tell that we had some kids who were doing well!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Family Meeting

I swear there are days when the kids get up in the middle of the night and huddle together in some remote part of the house and make a pact.

Here is what the leader has everyone repeat,

"I, ________, solemnly swear, in front of God and all these witnesses that for today I will not listen to my mother. I promise, that even if my life depends on it, I will not obey. I will not, under any circumstances, be directable. I will not, even when forced, be respectful. I commit to a day of swearing, talking back, and fighting with my siblings. This is my solemn vow."

And then they put their hands together, as in a time out of a sports event, and chant "Drive Mom Insane, Drive Mom Insane, Go, Fight Win."

They had a meeting last night . . . and they are getting close to victory!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Stupid slip of paper

I just spent 45 minutes looking for the soccer snack list. Never found it.

So I'm going to the store to buy snacks so that if it IS our turn, I will have them there.

I found 437 pieces of paper that I DO NOT need, but not the paper I do need.

Most of the time I am very good at this. I have a clip board where I always put everything and it works well. But people touch my clipboard, or every once and a while the important stuff doesn't get there. I have the schedule, I have who plays, I have the team roster, I have everything BUT the snack schedule.

And you would think that I would know someone on the list well enough to call them and ask who brings snacks, but NOPE, no United Methodists on Ricardo's team this year.

Next time we move I'm getting out of the house more so that I know more non-United Methodist than the grocery store and Pamida clerks, the people who work at the bank and the post office and the mental health center secretary!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Don't Make Us Sing This Song

If you didn't download the video in time, then you missed out, because not it has disappeared from the web.

However, there is link to the music still available.

Listen to it.

Powerful. Been ringing in my ears ALL WEEK LONG!

I will post the lyrics if I can find them another time -- or I may have to listen and type if I can't find them online.

Paved Paradise

When my husband is home we kind of go about our own business. I'm usually at the computer or in the laundry room, he is in the kitchen or resting in our bedroom.

We connect via MSN during the day quite a bit, he at the office at the church and me here.

I read his blog, he reads mine. :-)

At night before we go to bed, we discuss stuff -- usually our kids and what they should go through.

But the amount of time that we actually spend together is not great.

So why is it that I feel so out of sorts when he is out of town? I'm a confident, assertive, in-control, woman of the O-Os. (I've always wondered how we will refer to this decade -- the O Os?)

Guess it's true ...

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone....

Watch Out -- I feel a RANT coming on

I am asking myself this question today:

How can I continue to recruit people to take on kids that are SO hard?

All day long I've been hearing about horrible situations with kids trying to get through the adjustment period and of parents having to live through it. Once you've done it several times, it seems easier to take, but people going through it for the first time often just don't make it.

I have also been hearing stories about "the system" putting families through all kinds of nasty stuff because people can't get their act together. Most of the time I can justify some things, but if I told you some of the things I've heard, you would be appalled at the way that families are treated.

And then I think of the court system and how many families like ours end up there -- either because we are accused of something falsely, because we are supporting a child who needs residential treatment, or because we are sitting with them as they deal with juvenile charges filed against them. I am thinking that there may be two people in the room who are not self-preserving -- the bailiff and the court reporter. Everyone else has an agenda that includes covering their butts and making sure that their integrity, reputation, and future employment is not jeapordized by anything they say. This being the case, how can the best interest of the child really be served?

So, I am saying:

How would you like to go through endless scrutinization, piles of paperwork, infinite red tape, be abused by the system, have your character smerged in court, and live with people who, by nature, are going to make your life a living hell WHILE they try to recover from the hell they have lived through?

Come on, sign up!

Not a long line. Hmmm.

Today I am not ranting because of what has happened to us, because our lives are cake in comparison to many people I know. But I speak for all of us when I say:

We are doing something HARD, but it is something GOOD. Do not act as though we are the problem or the cause. We are supposed to be the ones who are rescuing these kids. Aren't rescuers treated as heroes? Instead we are victimized, blamed, put on trial, condemned without proof, drug through the mud, forced to file for bankruptcy, and left emotionally exhausted in the wake of being denied services until we don't know where to turn.

But the bottom line is this. Just becuase something is HARD doesn't mean people shouldn't do it. And the impact and the rewards are too great.

So once again, I'll stop my rant, because even though it is not our fault, it is not the kids fault either. Nobody asks to be born into an abusive or neglectful situation. Every child starts life as a helpless baby and where they are taken from there they should not be blamed for. Somebody has to meet them where they are and walk with them to become the best person they are capable of becoming.

And since I can't do it for them all, I have to have help, so I will continue to recruit. After all, didn't Somebody once say, "Take my yolk upon you and learn from me, for my yolk is easy and my burden is light." Yup, the same Someone who was destined to die a criminal death in my place when He was totally innocent, when He should have been the hero, he was spat upon, taken to court, mistreated, blamed, and scorned. And though like us, He was the victim of supreme injustice, He had the power to stop it all and yet He did not . . . He chose to go through it for us.

Nothing else on earth has ever made me understand more what it might feel like to be God than parenting hurt children. And today I see the clear correlation between what Jesus did for me and what Bart and I are doing for our children.

Maybe this should be my new recruitment verse:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

No Wonder I'm the Way I Am

Check out my latest video.

Husband is out of town, I'm doing it alone. I turn on the camera, but apparently the kids don't realize it is on.

Notice in these five seconds that my drama queen was allotted to try to tell me a story how many times the oldest we have at home says "Mom." Notice how difficult it is to follow her story. Notice how still she doesn't sit. And notice that she remembers, mid-thought that she "has to go yell at Tony."

It's no wonder, with this kind of thing going on in my world all the time that I'm not more insane than I am.

Returning our house guests home today, don't know for how long or if forever. Sad, it was fun having them here.

Desk is piled high, email box has over 200 in it and mroe will come in today, still over 15 loads of laundry on the floor (all of our blankets got wet -- don't ask), several overdue projects I need to work on. Too much to think about.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Moments of Pure Bliss

This houseguest of mine sampled our big pot of beans that we're having for supper.

Then her mom bathed her and put her down for a nap. When she woke up her mom was outside hanging clothes (She is so convinced that it is much easier than using my dryer -- a thought I'VE never had).

So, since her mom wasn't in site, she let me rock her for 15 minutes. SLeepy and warm and content.

Moments of pure bliss.

Need new meds?

Our youngest who has severe ADHD and OCD is having a hard time in school so I got him in for an emergency appt. with the psychiatrist.

We were discussing how the meds weren't quite doing the trick. The whole appointment Dominyk, without knowing he needed to, did a great job of convincing the doc I was right -- he spent the appointment trying to stick his tongue through the wiring of the fan to see if he could touch the moving blade. He refused to be redirected. We left with a higher dosage of almost everything


This picture is of him eating "turkey filet miƱon" at a picnic. I tried to explain to him that it was really "fork food" but he would hear nothing of that. He grabbed it in his fist and ate not only one, but two ...

Only Want One Kind of Thing

I don't care about clothes. I don't care about shoes. I don't wear makeup. I don't even HAVE a purse. I could care less if my furniture is nice or I have pictures on my walls. I can even drive a cruddy vehicle for a long time.

BUT I LOVE TECHNOLOGY. I need the latest thing to be able to do cool things. I'm restrained most of the time.

But I let it out that I wanted a new digital video camera for my birthday and my awesome husband got me a great one.

The first footage is probably not something I should make available to all, but if you want to see it, let me know and I'll email you the private link.

My husband left this morning for three days. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Something that Counts -- more rambling

Today I was in rare form. Cranking out work like a machine almost non-stop. And I'm still buried.

There is an optimum level of life for me -- it exists somewhere between overwhelmed and completely overwhelmed. Lately I have felt like I am beyond my optimum level to the point that I can't handle it. But I can't stop too long to think about it, I must keep pressing on.

There is a joy in this -- working like an obsessive compulsive maniac workaholic the entire day of my 42nd birthday, eating lunch at my desk -- and the joy is this:

What I'm doing counts. At the end (or actually, sort of in the middle, as I still will work another couple hours, have a delicious meal prepared at my request by my husband with our seven children who are at home and our two guests, attend bell practice, help with homework, and put kids to bed) of the day, I can say that what I am doing really matters.

I was talking to a friend of mine last night who is an immigrant from Central America. She has already given birth to nine children. Three of them are here in the U.S. with her and her husband, the other six are with grandparents in their home country. I found out today that she is 33.

She told me that yesterday she worked for 9 hours at a machine that cuts meat. She said that her arms hurt, her back hurt, her legs hurt. She said that if it wasn't for the grace of God, that machine would have cut off her three middle fingers on one hand yesterday because it malfunctioned. She said that her work is very, very hard. And she gets paid a fraction of what I do.

Today I had a very different kind of day. I sat at my desk almost the whole day. I sent out 142 separate emails today, some of them to as many as 85 people each. I got up a few times to change laundry, once to go to the orthodontist, once to go to the psychiatrist, and once to go to the store.

If any part of my body hurts, it is from sitting too long. I didn't almost lose my fingers.

All those are blessings, but the real clincher is that what I did today ultimately matters. Even if I was using my education and experiences to climb the corporate ladder, it might still mean that my time was being invested in nothing more than working hard to make money so that someone else could make money to pay other people to make money.

Instead, my work goes to finding permanent families for children who wait. Ultimately, I have a chance through what I'm doing, with God's help and guidance, to direct a family to the child or children who need them most. Those children will have a safe place to work through all the abuse and neglect they have experienced. They will have a chance to grow up in an environment where they learn a new way of life. They will also have a chance to break the generational cycle of poverty, addiction, criminal activity, and domestic violence that their family of origin may have experienced for generations.

So, while other people are working long hours to do something that means nothing, my countless hours of relentlessly attempting to match children with families will ultimately matter. It will count.

And for that I am incredibly grateful. Not only do I have a job where I don't have to abuse my body, but I have a job that has the ability to impact the world forever as every life that is turned around will have a transforming effect on every generation to come.

How could I ask for more?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rambing Stupidity After a Long Day

Our day in court, that Bart describes thoroughly in his blog, was emotionally exhuasting. Then I was working on a very tedious project making charts for the AAN matching bash. So many kids that need homes!

Then tonight we picked up a couple house guests for a few days, or maybe longer -- a very long story, but a non-English speaking friend from a neighboring community is going to hang out with us for a while and see if it helps her pick up some English. She has a baby who is a little over a year old and quite cute. I went to pick them up tonight.

I'm in the recliner in my bedroom blogging (ah technology) Now we're putting everyone to bed and watching Rachel Ray do Hawaii on $40 a day. Give me a break -- what kind of a job is that? Travelling around the world and getting paid to eat? Except she must have to work out all the rest of the time to work off all that good food.

So I'm definitely tired and ready for bed tonight! Tomorrow I turn 42 and I'm celebrating it with an ortho appointment, a psychiatrist appointment, and bell practice.

I did not put that in there so you would make a big deal about my birthday, because I don't want anyone to, which now is making you think that if I didn't want you to, I wouldn't have told you, but it really is true that I don't want a fuss made. I should just delete this...

I should never have introduced everyone to my husband's blog because he so outwrites me. You'll all start liking him better than you do me. Even my mother likes him better.

But you gotta compliment me for marrying well. And did you know that in addition to liking to watch the Food Netowrk, he can cook about anything, what he makes is always delicious, he cooks a great meal for the family almost every night he's home, and he irons -- both his clothes and mine?

When deciding who to marry I was fairly bright. As Cindy taught me, I didn't just fall off no turnip truck, fool!"

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Husband's Writing is Brilliant

Check it out and see if you don't agree with me:

Why It Matters Part 2

Nearly 30% poverty rate

I just watched the video that I told you about last night. Based on Psalm 137, it talks about the feelings that the children of Israel had when they were in Babylon and their captors asked them to sing.

Psalm 137 says:

On the banks of the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept
when we remembered our home, so far away, sweet Zion.
hoping they would fall into the waters and disappear,
for our torturers were demanding songs from us--
songs of joy from days gone by, songs from home.

Such cruel men taunted us.
How did they expect us to sing,
while still tormented, brokenhearted, homesick?
O Jerusalem, even still,
please don' escape my memory.
I treasure you and your songs,
even as I hide my harp from the enemy.
And if I forget, may I never sing again;
may I never play well again.
For what use would it be,
if I don't remember home
as my source of joy.

Remember, Lord, how the Edomites, our brothers,
the descendants of Esau, stood by and
watched. Gloating, they said,
Destroy it, tear it down to the ground,
when Jerusalem was being demolished.

Still I am even more horrified
by the violence you've committed,
daughter of Babylon,
(killing innocent children,
torturing and degrading others).
I only hope those who make you pay for this
will laugh in your face,
so you will no longer walk so proud.
Maybe they should dash your children against the rocks,
so you will know how it feels.
May you live to see this and not die before.

Bart asked the congregation in new worship yesterday tell him some of the questions they had about the whole situation and one of them was, "Why didn't we do something about the near 30% poverty rate in the first place?"

Excellent question. Natural disasters bring out the best in people, but what about the conditions of the poor who are among us all the time. Or, as I've said before but my friend Kari said so much better, what about the kids in foster care who most people don't know exist.

If we were motivated to do what we needed to do every day to take care of each other, then when natural disaster strikes, the disaster would be lessened.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A good day all around.

There is only one thing that our son at the RTC lives for and it is one of the things he has not been able to do even once in 9 months. Today he earned a few hours wtih us and after eating as much as he could fit in his belly at a pizza buffet, he spent three hours at the skate park and it looked like he was having the time of his life.

He has told me before that for him, not being able to skateboard would be like me not having my computer. I can't imagine it.

So, even though I've been very frustrated with his manipulation (going from loving us and wanting to come home, and hating us, blaming us, and saying he'll never come home), it was nice to see him having such a great time.

The other kids got along pretty well today and everyone was in pretty good spirits. A contrast from the feeble attempt to make a day about me for an unspeakable reason yesterday.

In fact, today has been a great day in many ways.

Our worship services were especially good.

To download the video we watched today click here

It is so incredibly powerful. And no, I didn't do it, but I wish I had.

"You're not my real mom" (a more humorous occurance)

The way that Dominyk frames things is hilarious almost all of the time.

For example, he told me a couple nights ago that he thought I would be an excellent candidate for the "Biggest Loser" program, said in all honesty, with no guile.

He also told me that a teenage friend of ours was no longer experimenting with what style she wanted, because she had "Gone Gotham."

He is always grabbing things he's learned and putting them together in the most unusual way, nothing like they way they were intended.

We went bowling yesterday as a family, including our son from the ranch, and it did not go all that well. Dominyk had an especially hard time and was making most of the family miserable with his inappropriate behavior. When we expressed our frustration, he got fixated on how he should not live with us, and how we should ship him off to military school, and why can't he just go live with his best friend's family.

He concluded with,

"I shouldn't have even been born. But NOOOOOOOOO. My REAL mom and dad had to go and have SEX.

By the way, you're not my REEEEAL mom and dad you know."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Friday Night Football Attempt Two

Last night was a much more successful night of varsity football. Many things were better.

1) It was a home game;
2) We didn't all go, leaving the kid who caused the most trouble last week home;
3) The kids actually had their own money for snacks;
4) It wasn't cold;
5) There were no bugs;
6) The kids who had passes or money and didn't want to sit with me got to go hang with their friends (this may seem sick, but we have this policy at our house to try to teach attachment and benefits/responsibilities of family. If I pay your way in, you sit with me. If you pay your way in, you can sit with whoever you want. With attachment disordered children, it is difficult to help them see that there are responsibilities as well as privileges to being part of a family. Having the connection of being with those fitting the bill has helped some of them to get it.)

Friday, September 09, 2005


Every once and a while, a lot less than when I first started doing this adoptive parenting thing, I get into a power struggle or an argument with one of my kids that gets hard core.

Now, if I were me, I would have having myself as a parent, because I'm bright, quick, and I can argue someone into the ground. My husband says that I should have been a prossecuting attorney.

Basically, once someone decides to start with me, especially if they are a child, and I give them several chances to bow out, but they dig their heels in and it's show down time, they are gonna lose.

Last night my 12 1/2 year old daughter decided she wanted a round. I was really patient, much more so than usual, so I lasted the whole night without really arguing with her. I gave her her choices as to what she could have as a consequence if she chose not to listen to me, and left it at that as the night progressed. I even gave her several chances, but for some reason she was, as Cindy says, "stuck on stupid."

So, I gave her a very simple choice. I made it simple on purpose so she would choose the right thing. Go up, change your sheets (she had spilled fingernail polish on them and said she couldn't sleep on them the night before and had to sleep with her sister) and go to bed OR you can be grounded for the weekend.

She went outside instead. Then she went upstairs but would not go to bed. 75 minutes after I sent her, she was still sitting up on her bed. She never did change her sheets.

I waited to see how things were when she woke up. No change in attitude, I tried to give her a few more chances, and then finally said, looks like you can spend some time at home this weekend.

Then it was my fault. I told her, "If I am unmotivated and can't seem to get my hours in at work, I am mad at myself. I don't call my employer and say, "I can't believe you set it up so that I had to work or not get paid. This is all your fault"

Then she says, "Loving and caring people don't do this to their kids."
To which I responded, "loving and caring people obey their parents so their parents don't have to consequence."

Then she started her search to find something I had done wrong to prove I was an idiot. She came up with a policy that she thought I had broken with a PCA and one of her brothers (totally off topic, and she had her facts mixed up anyway).

Finally, she had nothing else left so she starts to scream, "You're not my real mom."

And she was right. But I don't respond to that. Because I know then, that they are at the end and have nothing else they can think of. I don't bring up what her life would be like if she was with her birthmom. I just let it go.

I gave her younger sister (who has a tendency to align herself with her sister instead of her mother every time) a ride to school, so she didn't have to listen to the poisen all the way there.

And I'm sure she'll make the weekend miserable.

Way too long a post I konw, but I wanted to set the seen and to all who read who are adoptive parents, remind ourselves that we are going to hear "you're not my real mom" often because it is the one thing that we can't really argue with. She's right, I did not give birth to her. I'm as real as they come, but I did not give birth to her.

All kids use what they can, our kids just have one more weapon to use when all else fails.

So, girl, if you ever read this, know that real moms are the ones who listen to the words, "you're not my real mom" over and over and over again, and never walk away.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fashion Trends

I'm not the queen of fashion.

In fact, my husband has to buy me clothes or I don't buy anything more than an occasional pair of polyester pants at Walmart with elastic wastes and maybe a super plus size t-shirt or two.

But I do think it is weird that:

guys want you to see their boxers;

socks are supposed to be cut so low that nobody (especially parents who check) can tell if you're wearing them;

dress shirts that are supposed to be ironed and are made to tuck nicely are worn wrinkled and untucked;

the wasteline for guys is now half way down their butts;

shoe strings are tucked inside of shoes instead of being tied to keep the shoes on so that the backs of the shoes can be walked on all day long and shoes last 1/4 of as long as they should;

belly buttons are to be shown by girls, but boys shirts must reach their knees;

shorts for boys are to reach below their knees, while girls shorts need to be so short that guys can see their buttcheeks;

things are pierced so many times that you can see any space between the holes;

and I won't even start on tattoos.

While I'm not stating that things were great when I was a kid (I'm not going to brag about leisure suits and bellbottoms) at least we knew that:

underwear and bra straps should be hidden at all costs;
socks were supposed to be seen above the shoe;
ears were only meant to be pierced once, if at all, and nothing else was intended for piercing.

Raising these kids to adulthood may be, as my mother used to say, "the death of me yet."

Laugh or Cry

I never know for sure whether to laugh or cry when one of our kids does something that reveals their Reactive Attachment Disorder so candidly that it could be textbook.

For the last three weeks our son in the RTC has been verbally beating us up every visit, hanging up when he doesn't get his way with phone calls, and saying that he does not want to come home. He has warned us that he is going to really get us in court next week because if we loved him we would get him out.

Well, he changed strategy today and my husband got a letter saying basically this.

1) I'm sorry.
2) I hope you'll forgive me.
3) Here are somethings I want you to buy me.
4) I think now I want to come home.
5) You say you don't bring up the past so you should give me what I want.

Without even a break in paragraphs.

Three weeks of hatred and "I never want to come home" and "you're going to be sorry" and in a day back to "BUY ME STUFF."

So, should I laugh or cry?

What's the Difference?

According to websites I've checked, people are coming out of the woodwork to ask to care for children who were victims of the Hurricane Katrina.

I understand the desire to help, but I am often amazed at what triggers people's response.

There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care in this country who are victims of much more serious things than a hurricane, and yet finding people to do foster care is very difficult.

Why would caring for these children be any less heroic than caring for Katrina survivors?

I could go on, but I don't think I have answers. But it makes me ask questions ... and wonder ...

Oops, They Did It Again

I am in my office getting ready for the day. The stragglers who haven't left for school yet are puttsing around here. They come in to say good bye. I check them over.

Silly boys, I have a window right next to me, so when they go and change their clothes and put on the shirts-that-are-long-enough-to-be-dresses, I can see them ride by on their bikes, shirts flapping in the wind.

Maybe I should just send an email to the entire elementary school staff that says, "I dress my boys appropriately and then they CHANGE on the way out the door."

Or maybe I should just let go and chill.


By the way, for those of you who have been asking, Bart blogged.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Teenagers in the Foster Care System

They sit.
In institutions.
In children's homes.
In ranches.

Many of them are not aggressive.
They do not have mental illnesses.
Their behaviors are under control.

But their birth parents can't care for them.
No foster parents sign up for teenage boys.
And nobody will adopt kids straight from an institution.

And so they sit.
Their social worker comes once a month.
Nobody else calls.
Nobody else visits.
Nobody else writes.

They plan their futures.
Maybe job corp,
or the military.
Or try going back to the birth parents that abused or neglected them,
because they are the only family they have.

And they sit.
Around TVs in dark cottage lounges.
On porches of long buildings.
On the grass or a park bench outside the institution.

And they have friends,
other kids like them,
that society has abandoned.
And they talk with those friends,
about how life will be different,
"when they get out."

But who will be there for them
"when they get out?"
A new social worker
with a transition program
and a couple hundred bucks.

But even as adults they will have no one.
Nobody at their high school graduation.
Nobody to brag to if they get into college.
Nobody to write home to from Iraq,
or some other country where they don't belong.
Nobody to attend their wedding.
Nobody to be grandparents to their children.

And yet we say things like,
"It would be HARD to adopt a teen."
"What about my other children?"
"I've finished raising children."
"I've done my part."

And we wonder why our prisons are filled.
And there are so many street kids.
And why teenage girls get pregnant.

Because we think
if something would be hard
we can't, shouldn't, don't have to
do it.

Statistics say that 75%
of kids who age out without a family
end up in prison,
or homeless,
in ten years.

Someone should be screaming
and yet the people who know these kids
think it is too much to ask,
to invite someone to start parenting
a kid when he's a teenager.

Someone should be saying
Even if it is the hardest thing
you'll ever do,

really, you should do it.

if we want to make the future
different than today
if we want to change society
we can not do it with programs
we can not do it with politics
we have to do it with people,
ordinary people willing to do extraordinary things,
who will take a chance
on one kid
for a life time.

And if enough of us
will commit to that one kid
for a life time
then all those kids
would have someone.

and sometimes
is all they need.

My Boys Like to Wear Dresses

What the heck is up with shirts so big they go down to your knees? My little boys (little = 10 and 11) consistently plot to wear their older brothers shirts. They have me inspect them before leaving for school and then quickly change into a shirt that reaches their knees.

I just don't get the point.

Or they have on a dress shirt completely wrinkled (that they switch after inspection).

I remember once when John was told he could not wear dirty pants to school. I think he was in 5th grade. I told him that he had to change his pants. He changed and left for school.

He got suspended later that day for telling his friends that the remote control battery in his locker was a bomb. I arrived at the school for this meeting and the first words out of my mouth were, "You are SO busted for wearing those dirty pants."

The principal and teacher thought I was all kinds of weird, but the little twirp had worn clean pants to school and taken the dirty ones with him and then chnaged when he got there, thinking I would never know. Probably wouldn't have if he wouldn't have gotten SUSPENDED!

WE've had kids hide coats and sweatshirts under the tree in the front yard becuase if Mom says it's cold out then I would rather freeze to death than admit she's right.

I have several boys who should get together and write a book called, "The All Inclusive Guide to Self-Defeating Behavior."

If my husband wasn't the pastor of the "main street church" in town and his reputation didn't matter, I would just let them make fools of themselves....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Some Items on this Blog are Not as they might appear

I just noticed that the link to the review of the Total Woman book that I quickly pasted in to my most previous post for convenience sake just came from kind of a weird website which if you peruse it might lead you to believe that I am equally weird.

While I am weird for many reasons I am not, as some of the readers of the website I linked to, contemplating Sado-Masochism or any other such wacko weirdo thing...

I'm just in a hurry and careless, two of my more endearing personality traits...

Labor Day and the Parsonage Inspection

In about an hour some people from the church are coming to do the annual walk through of the parsonage.

I can't even tell you how much that bothers my husband, who is a private person, a perfectionist and does not like people to see that we "live in filth."

Well, we don't, but being a perfectionist, I suppose one could conclude that in our clutter.

I'm not a housekeeper. Not my gift, not my passion, in fact, I down right hate it. The kids do chores, and I try to keep up with things, but it is by no means a priority.

But yesterday, he was so stressed about it, that at 10 a.m. I turned OFF my computer (nearly killed me) and cleaned for 7 straight hours.

Labor day. Ha!

But he was satisfied and for once I felt like THE TOTAL WOMAN, a book I read back in the 80s or something. I'm so NOT this person that for a day it felt kind of rewarding in a sick way.

Being THE TOTAL WOMAN is my goal in life. (what is the symbol for complete, utter, dripping, unrestrained sarcasm?)

Unexpected emotion

Last night we had to take John back to the ranch. He had a pretty good weekend and our other kids enjoyed being with him.

We had just finished a picnic in the park with a family who adopted a couple boys after meeting us (I go to help them adopt, it was way fun!). Their kids have been here three years and made a LOT of progress and hte parents have learned tons as well.

One of their sons and John have always gotten along well, and so they were having a great time. In fact, by the end of the night, everyone but Dominyk (and us adults of course) was playing football together, including the girls. It was interesting to note that when we came to this town 6 years ago and frequented the park nearly weekly, most of the kids were very content on the swings, slides, and other park equipment. Now they're organizing 5 on 5 football games.

So, John had a fun weekend and he did not want to go back. He convinced me to come into the cottage when we got back to help him carry his stuff. I had brought our ten year old and he helpd carry stuff as well. We got in and he put his stuff in his room and came to say goodbye. I was talking to some of the other boys and John came to hug me goodbye and just broke down and sobbed. He wouldn't let go from hugging me and I kept reassuring him that he could make it through and that he would be home soon enough, but it was very hard.

Tony saw him and just broke down as well. Tony's quite sensitive (in combination with his ODD, which is a unique mixture to say the least) and this just really hit him. As we drove home he said, "All those boys are so sad there."

We talked for a long time about how it made a big difference to have parents and to live in a home. Since he had cried the entire trip there (30 minutes) because I wasn't going to buy him a snack (you know -- the send our spending money to hurricane relief thing -- the way home was a great time to talk.

We talked about how not having a snack was not that big of a deal when you had a mom and a dad who loved you, a house to live in, plenty of clothes and food to eat, and the same bed to sleep in every night.

We also talked about how his behaviors and Johns at his age were very similar and that he was heading down the wrong path.

I don't know how much of it he got, but this morning was one of his best ever.

And John will be OK. He's doing well there.

And I'm emotionally exhausted, but otherwise, how can I complain? I have all of the above, 10 children I love, and school happens four times this week.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sacrificial Gift

On Saturday we agreed that we would forego anything that costs money for the weekend and send what we would have sent to UMCOR to help with hurricane relief. Since lunch and a mantinee with snacks can often equal more than $150 for our family, this will allow us to give more generously than otherwise.

The sacrifice on the part of the kids has been fairly minimal. They have found things to occupy their time and don't seem to be too concerned. We've been to the City Park twice, the State Park twice, and there have been multiple playstation games and a video or two.

But Bart and I have been suffering a little listening to the background noise of all the interraction. They seem to be having fun, and it isn't entirely out of hand, but we have to intervene continuously and the arguments seem endless.

I know, I know, no room to complain when we're safe and secure and our belongings and loved ones are with us -- but as scripture says, "I will not offer anything that costs me nothing.

Another evening at the Park, Another Chapter on the Blog

I'm finding the laptop especially nice when I take the kids to the park. I can type chapters of the book that I have written, something I hardly ever do when I am connected to the internet.

Had a pretty good day. A couple of the boys got in a fight and our son who is home from the week from the ranch was involved. Very interesting how we processed the whole thing -- how we have all changed. However, some of the things that have come out of his mouth, obviously his understanding of things he has been told, were fairly alarming. I am so proud of his progress, and yet still no that we all have a long ways to go.

One more day and then the kids will go to school and be there for 4 straight days. I'm hoping to accomplish much this week...

Check out the new chapter. It's a nice one (as in, it's a bunch of nice memories, a cool story about the power of faith and prayer, and an introduction to some neat kids).


The United Methodist Committee on Relief is one of the things that makes me proud to be involved in the UMC. They do a great job in times of natural disaster.

Hearing about UMCOR and the response to Katrina reminded me of this story.

About a year and a half ago, Kyle had his last choir concert in High School. We decided it was an event important enough for the whole family to enjoy.

Dominyk, of course, was bored (of course, he was bored at Disney Word, which I keep reminding him).

When it was over Dominyk (probably having seen something on TV) started to say, UMCOR, UMCOR!

I laughed and said, "It's encore, Dominyk, not UMCOR. And it means do it again, sing another one."

He glared at me, thought a minute, and started to say "NONCORE. NONCORE"

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chapter 16 Is On The Blog

Just added another chapter to the book --- See link on right.

Some hours at the park

I loaded up the van and went to the park while my husband did a hospital visit, committed someone at the graveside, and sat through the weekly two hours of what bad parents we are courtesy of our son in the RTC.

So, we went to the park and I had the laptop and I typed chapters of the book and I had the notebook and I wrote chapters of the book -- hopefully I'll get them blogged tonight while I am watching a movie in the recliner in my bedroom.

Our son is home from the ranch for the three day weekend and we had a meeting about him on Thursday. He couldn't be doing much better. I have had my hopes up so many times about my kids that it makes me nervous to believe in a transformation, but he is doing really well.

Today he even got his hair cut short. Looks like a new man.

And when you compare it to two weeks ago you'll see that he got a lot cut off!


My friend Cindy told me to use Firefox instead of Safari so I could use the blog tools.

Safari for Tiger has RSS feeds so I like it becuase I don't have to look up every blog every day to see if it is updated. I just put the bookmarks for the RSS feeds on my bookmark bar and I could see every moment if there were updates.

But the opportunity to use bold print and italics just might make me change my mind.

Or maybe I"ll just use them both.

Double the Work Load

I'm blogging now while I am watching my powerpoint for church tomorrow to make sure that it fits the song.

Blogging while my computer is busy -- using the laptop -- is pretty cool! Very enjoyable actually. Having the opportunity to do two things at once.

This is a "typical" Saturday at our house. Can't come out of your room (except to have breakfast) until it is clean. Try to find things to occupy yourself while asking, "are we doing anything today?" while Mom and Dad are swamped visiting the ones not living here and preparing for church.

We try to do things on weekends, but with gas prices the way they are, we aren't going anywhere today. I rented a DVD and some playstation games from the video store -- figured it would be cheaper than going anywhere. They seem content enough.

I'm preparing for a "Matching bash" next week which means lots of hours of following up on which kids are available and which ones are now matched, changing information -- lots of data collection -- and it is very time consuming.

That's my Labor Day weekend. Dominyk is obsessed with the concept of Labor day and he's said to me several times this week, "You CAN take a break. You know, it is LABOR DAY!"


Another Friday night in America

Let me summarize last night this way:

Gas money (at $3.00 a gallon) to get to the away football game: $23
Burger King before the game for eight people: $33
Entrance fee to get into the game: $28

Watching our son not play football

(while listening his siblings complain
that it was cold,
and the bugs were bad,
and that they REALLY needed a snack)

... priceless?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why I Love School

Most people know that I love school because I get time to myself. But there are so many more reasons, like:

feeding the children once a day during the week instead of three;

a cleaner house because there is no one here to mess it up;

kids who are ready to go to bed at bedtime because they are emotionally exhausted;

a routine so that I myself get into a better routine with dishes, laundry, etc;

less bickering, fighting, arguing and disobeying;

less time for kids to earn consequences, thus less time for me to have to hand them out and monitor them;

time for Bart and I to have our weekly lunch date;

activities to go to that are cheaper than movies, miniature golf, bowling, and other such things that suck up our money when we're trying to have fun and make memories a family;

more connections with friends so that there are more options of things for the kids to do;


I get time to myself!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I should have thought about it ...

Just got an email from a friend in Houston. With all of the destruction and tragedy in New Orleans, never once did I think about the children in foster care. Apparently 20-30 thousand people are coming to the Astrodome in Houston and the caseworkers in New Orleans are going crazy trying to figure out where all of the foster children are. They are going to need people to offer to basically do foster care without pay.

Tragedy on top of tragedy . . . how many months or years will this natural disaster keep children from being in permanent homes? How many children are now orphaned who do not have viable relatives to raise them who will end up the system?

Another thing to pray about as we pray for the situation...

Changes, Meltdowns, Great Progress and Lightless Tunnels

I changed some stuff today. I should know better. But they'll figure it out. Most of our kids have lived with us a long time and you would think that changes and transitions would not be such triggers. And even though their response is better -- dirty looks and stomping away instead of raging, for example -- my kids just flat out don't like change.

I changed the chore combinations. Recently I allowed three of my children to choose to do more chores for more money. Since the groupings were getting annoying and there was little variety for those doing two chores, I mixed things up a little. You would have thought by one's response, that I had asked him to change schools.

I also changed the routine. Instead of everyone bombarding me after school, I explained to the children that from now on I would deal with the older kids school stuff after the little kids went to bed. They thought this seemed like a great plan as they would be able to stay up later.

But now the first after school time came and they were ready to bombard simultaneously with the "little kids" (ages 9-11). The response I got when I reminded them that I would do their stuff later tonight was what I would expect if I had refused to come to their wedding or something.

Our 7th graders are feeling especially annoyed today. Their once easy world that included lots of free time is gone forever. Now they have band practices and instrument practice and extra homework. And sports practice is every night, not just a couple times a week. That means that instead of 4 hours of free time a night, they might have one or two IF they don't have much homework.

Tonight my youngest had his anticipated meltdown. His meds wear off right about when school gets out and he has spent his day trying not to cry when he doesn't have friends and he thinks his teacher talks too much (a common problem for him). So when he gets home, it is time to CRY! He recovered more quickly than usual though and is off playing now.

We went to a staffing today for our son at the ranch. The report could not have been much better. He is doing everything he is supposed to do and more. He has even become a leader at school who is helping his peers to change their negativity (their words, not mine). And his grades are better than they've been in years. He gets to come home for the weekend. Today everyone seemed pleased with his progress and it may even be that we are going to be allowed to have him come home when he completes the program and not have to jump through any more hoops.

The lightless tunnel belongs to our son in the RTC. He has decided now that his attorney is his friend and that his parents are his enemy (even though he expects us to welcome him home with open arms if he can get out). We found out today, though, after many stressful conversations, that the same judge who is signing his placement papers to keep him in the institution is the one who is going to hear his juvenile deliquency case. Not sure the attorney is going to try to fight against the judge.

This particular son has a combination of FAS, ODD, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. To put this in layman's terms, he needs an external brain because his doesn't function like everyone elses, but he believes he is all powerful and can control his destiny, and refuses to listen to anyone who has advice for him. Thus he concludes that a certain path would be best ofr him, when in fact, it would not, and believes that he has the power to make it come true, often ostrasizing those he needs most in the process.

As much as I get frustrated and annoyed with him, the bottom line is that I feel very sad for him as he seems to be getting more entrenched in these patterns instead of making progress.

Time will tell, I guess.

Back to school pictures Round 2

Back to School Pictures round 1

Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone

For any of you who were raised in the throws of 70's borderline legalistic, completely evangelistic Christianity, you might know the tune to this song.

The words, of course, have been changed.

Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone, yes my kids are gone;
Now my soul is free and in my heart's a song;
They are off to school you see,
and that's good enough for me,
I will now breathe clear and free,
Praise God, my kids are gone!

But, just like last year, I am now having technical difficulties. Wait all summer to have silence to get something done, and then have so many computer issues I have to address them first.

And I only have an hour to work before we head to a staffing.

And our son in the RTC is acting as if we are the enemy as he now has an attorney who is trying to convince he needs to get out of his placement. The hearing is in a couple weeks and I'm already dreading it.