Monday, October 31, 2005

Trick or Treat Report

About the cutest witch I’ve ever seen . . .

and not a bad night -- actually. Probably the best one so far in all our years of trick or treating. We only had three that wanted to participate -- the rest stayed home to hand out candy. At our house the rule is when you start middle school u r 2 old 2 trick or treat, but this time even Ricardo, who is only in 4th grade, opted to stay home -- he said, in his cute little Guatemalan accent -- it’s StoooPId.

The three who went walked, didn’t fight much, and got along. Our tradition is that Bart and I follow along in the van, keeping an eye on everyone.

Tony kept misjudging the size of his mask and caught it on the top of the van, smashing his face against his mask, and then crying. So this kid who cries at least 35 times a day for no reason smashes his face and starts to wail. Bart asked, “Did you hurt yourself” and he responded, screeching as only he can do, “Of COURSE I hurt myself, otherwise why would I be crying! DUH!

Bart and I got the giggles, which seldom happens

Answer: 3

Question: How many years in a row has Mike run away on Halloween night?

-- but THIS year, he’s not run away from home, so we can sleep a little better.

We told the group home to call when they found him unless it was after 10 p.m. -- if so, they could let us know in the morning. It’s really hard hard HARD to sleep when you know the sheriff could be calling any minute. Trust me, I’ve tried dozens of times.

Opposites attract

Contrast my posts like “Your fat jiggles when you ring bells, Mom” with this and you’ll see that my husband and I have a compatibility that is not generated by similarity.

Answer: 15 (give or take)

Question: How many different scenarios are there for the county’s plan of what will happen when Mike gets picked up again?

The conversation with the social worker was mind boggling. If he comes back and doesn’t run again before “transportation” can get there, he’ll go to a “consequence program.” If he comes back and does run, he’ll go to the detention center, and then the “consequence program” and then back to the group home. If he comes back, doesn’t run, and goes to the consequence program and he completes it, he will return to the group home. If he goes to the consequence program and runs from there, he goes to detention, back to the consequence program, and then back to the group home. If he doesn’t complete the consequence program in 15 days, he goes to detention and then back to the consequence program to try it again before going back to the group home. And there’s more but you’re probably tired of hearing about that.

Of course, if his UA comes back positive or if there was criminal activity while he was on the run, then he goes immediately to detention, at a place that will make the place he was at for 10 months that he hated so much look like Day Care...

Answer: 36 Hours

Question: How long does it take a kid with FASD/RAD to run again after the cops bring him home?

Yup, the social worker called this morning to find out if the program would keep him and WHILE she was on the phone, the alarm went off and there he went.

I don’t have time to rant for pages about this, but at least if he would have come home he would be running locally where the cops know him, we know where he goes, and where he is relatively safe.

This time he came back, the girl he was with covered with hickies and evidence at least one of them had been taking some pills, but the results of the UA aren’t in.

So now the consequence programs are full, he’s on the run again, violating probation again, and basically take steps to really screw up his life . . . and here we sit, miles away, glad we were not in support of this placement...

Sunday, October 30, 2005


I decided to play bells this year ... I had tried several years ago when the kids were younger and it was so stressful going to practice because it is the same time as confirmation during which my husband is always busy every year...

But since we have now been here 6 years, we know that we may not be here a whole lot longer and I wanted to play one more time. One of the reasons that I like bells is because when I am playing them, it requires so much concentration that I cannot think about anything else, which many times in my life, is a good thing.

This morning we played and I did NOT do well. I was so bad I just had to laugh. We’ve been practicing the same two songs for 2 months and then, during the performance, I have to completely miss several key notes: Picture it with me:

The tune is going in people’s heads: Fairest Lord sus, Rul of all Na , O Thou of God and the Son...

It was not my moment of glory, that’s for sure.

Overheard by others in Church today . . .

Actually, I hope they didn’t hear, but here are a couple of comments:

Tony: Mom, when you ring the bells real fast your fat jiggles;

My husband, while preaching, said, “Hundreds of years ago, were people worrying about terrorism.” And Tony, whispers to me, “Yup, they probably WERE, because YOU were alive back then!”

and finally, they may have overheard me saying,“Dominyk, you can NOT eat the sound booth.”

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Answer: 24 hours

Question: How long does it take a runaway with FAS to be found by the cops even in a large city?

Yup, they've found him. He's back at the same program, but has violated his probation now so we don't know if he'll be able to stay or if they will move him somewhere else.

Tricky to know which would be better -- because if he doesn't get consequences, he'll run right away again. But if they move him somewhere else that is more restrictive, he might just run from there....

But at least he's safe for tonight....

One of those GOOD days

Today was a day without very much stress. Unique in our world. I went to pick up John to spend the weekend at home and then we went to Penney’s to buy a couple things (save more than you spend and it doesn’t count, that’s my motto -- so I look for the good sales and hit them at Penneys). Then we came home and had lunch, and I got things ready for tomorrow. I started designing a new website for a friend who wanted some help.

The kids have been very relaxed and compliant. Lots of electronic stimulation, I let a friend of John’s come over, Bart took the kids to get pumpkins which they carved. . . just a very low key day.

We don’t have many of those, so when we do, it’s awfully nice.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Answer: 8 days

Question: How long does it takes a teenager to run away who convinces his social worker that he does NOT need a lock down facility because he has changed and doesn't run away and won't ever run away again?

Yup, eight days ago our son Mike, against our better judgment, was placed in a non-secure facility in a much bigger city four hours away from us with the news that he would probably spend the rest of his childhood there and never come home.

Now, 8 days later, he has run away from this facility and is who knows where. At least we don't have to carry the guilt, because if something happens becuase did not approve of the placement or the decision for him never to return home, but Kari's post does not comfort me.


I am realizing that my world view is a fairly positive one. I truly believe that God has called each of us to be faithful and to leave the results to Him. I’ve watched my parents live this way for 41 years. Every day they do what they believe God would have them to do. They did so in raising my brothers and I and my brothers did not “turn out” they way they hoped or dreamed. But they still keep being their parents and loving them day by day, doing what God has called them to do, faithfully, praying for them every day, and leaving the results to God.

My mom was a teenager when she first felt that God was calling her to work with the Navajos. She dreamed of being a teacher. But each day she did what she believed God was calling her to do. She went to a Bible school after high school that did not give degrees. She then served God through her church for years, working and living in a “deaconess” home as a single woman, even though she had been in love with my Dad since she was 13. By the time she was 33, she was able to marry him (see the story here). She then gave birth to three kids and began a day care so she could stay home with us where she (and we) loved an extra 6 kids a day (with only 2 under 2). When we were all school age she got a job as a paraprofessional in our elementary school where she stayed for many years.

In 1992 she and my father went with their church in Denver to Sun Valley Indian School on a “Work and Witness Team.” They fell in love with the place and six weeks later moved (at the ages of 70 and 63) to volunteer their time. My mom did the laundry for 150 kids for 40 hours a week. They ended up selling their home in Denver and buying a double wide trailer so that they could work at the school as long as possible. After about three years of laundry, and at the age of 66, my mom told the administration that her back was getting too bad to hang out and fold clothes. She asked if there was something else she might be able to do.

At that time she was asked if she might like to teach. SInce the school does not require a college degree, she would be able to do so there. A Pre-First position was open, and she accepted it. So, at the age of 66 she began to work as a teacher to the Navajo (and other Native American) children. Her goal is to teach until she is 80 and she turned 76 this year and is still going strong. She has to rest more, and teaching is about all she does (she used to be the volunteer queen of every church we’ve been in), but she is thrilled to be living her dream.

My life is what it is today because my parents chose to do what God called them to do every day and leave the results with Him. If they would have done things differently or gotten in a hurry, life could be very different for me. For one thing, had they married out of high school, I would be 57. No thank you. Also, had my mom decided that she needed to go to college instead of be home with us, the attention we received may not have been enough to give me the strong base I have. Or had she not done day care, i wouldn’t know it was possible for 9 kids to be under the same roof peacefully for hours at a time.

God gave her a dream and she trusted God with that dream and did what she needed to do for 50 years before she saw that dream come to life.

And so I can’t help but believe that a similar task is mine -- to faithfully do what God has called me to do every day and leave the results to HIm. In parenting my children, who don’t all appear to be “turning out” I cannot lose faith and think this is the end -- after all my brothers are 40 and almost 39 and my parents still believe and pray that God will transform their lives some day. If my parents haven’t lost hope for them, how can I be discouraged when my oldest is only 18?

The song “Thank You" by Ray Boltz was overused when he first wrote it, but I really think this is a descriptor of what Heaven will be like. I think we will spend eternity meeting people who our lives have impacted that we didn’t know about. I believe that a vagrant, who stopped by our church and Bart gave money to out of his pocket, will come up to him in heaven and say, ”I don’t know if you remember me, but about 10 years after you paid for a night in that Comfort Inn for me, I remembered your gesture and it brought me back to God.“ Or a hurricane survivor might come up to us and say, ”I just found out that it was the fact that your family gave up pizza for a month and sent money to UMCOR that got me back on track after Hurricane Katrina. That gesture is why I’m here.“ Or maybe some one will come to us in timeless eternity to say to me ”My great grandfather was a student at BWC when you were Dean of Students. Your chapel speeches turned his life around and for generations we’ve all been serving God faithfully.“ Or maybe it will be something as simple as ”I used to watch you struggle with your kids when I worked at Pamida and wondered why anyone would adopt so many kids. The more I thought about it the more I realized it must have something to do with your faith, and so I headed back to church. Since then my life was very different and now we’re here in heaven together.“ Or Bart’s sermons, or my speaking engagements, or articles we have written, or even our blogs, might have someone we’ve never met or don’t remember coming to us in heaven to say, ”That was the key to my life turning around. Your faithfulness changed my life.“ And I certainly hope that I meet some of the kids that I’ve matched who will credit the home I found for them as the turnaround piece of their lives.

I could go on and on, but a reader with average intelligence has already gotten the point.

So that is why I can live through bad days, bad weeks, bad months, bad years (like the last one) because I believe that results are not my responsibility. Evaluation is only necessary in programming and grant writing. Life cannot be evaluated with numbers and stats because we don’t know all the details.

My parents are an excellent example of daily faithfulness and I intend to live like them.

I intend to every single day get up and faithfully do what God has called me to do. I know that I won’t do it all perfectly, but I’m going to keep doing it every day. I am going to keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing that it is making a difference, even when I can’t see that it is. And I’m going to leave the results with God.

I realize that this is getting quite lengthy, but I must close with a tribute to a very dear friend who went to Heaven on Christmas day of 1990. He was my pastor and had struggled with a lifetime of pain and illness while still doing all that he could to change the world. After a kidney transplant failed when he was about 25, he had to decide if he could go through another one. He chose to do it and then spent the rest of his life dealing with the pain, discomfort and struggles that came from this -- ultimately dying from complications of the disease. When I worked at the college, I would stop by and visit he and his wife on nights when I had had a particularly bad day. Their tradition was to light candles and reflect together at the end of each day together -- instead of watching TV. I loved to join them for that time. He was a dreamer and had ideas and plans of how to impact the world, but his time on earth was way to short and he knew he didn’t have time to accomplish them all.

I believe he was around 45 when he died. I’m almost that old now. But even at the end of his life, which none of us would view as ideal, he used to quote this verse:

God Is, God Knows, God Cares
nothing this thought can dim;
God always gives the best to those
who leave the choice with Him.

I know now that if he could believe that in the midst of pain and knowing His life was short, how can I believe anything less?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Rush

God has used me to work a few miracles and it is always a rush.

Whether it is networking to find a family for a kid who is 17 and about to age out ...

or whether it is helping a social worker see a way to make something happen that they didn’t think was possible . . .

or finding a family interested in a kid who has not had a family interested in a LONG time . . .

or keeping a big sibling group together that the state was thinking about splitting . . .

whatever it might be, there is a super good feeling that comes with being a part of making something that others deemed “impossible” possible.

I don’t have time to list examples right now, but have examples of each of the above. There are times when social workers have completely given up on finding a home for a child and tell me about the child/children as a last ditch effort (like while I’m in a bathroom stall during a break from when I’m doing a training). Or there are situations where I find a family for kids whose workers really never planned to place them and I email and call and make lots of people on the chain of command angry until they are actually forced to give the kids a chance at a family and then we make it work.

So while a lot of my job is just plain work (most days I send between 100 and 200 emails, sometimes reaching over 1000 people as many go to groups of people) there are those moments of joy . . . where that kid or kids whose worker was without hope now has hope. And that makes the day to dayness of the hard work worth it.

There’s nothing like the rush that comes in being a part of a miracle.

Pet Peeve

One of my pet peeves is people who complain about their jobs but have no plans of quitting. All my life I have been amazed that there are people who will for years complain about their jobs without any plans to get a different one. Why would anyone consign themselves to that kind of a life?

When and if I start complaining about a job, I’m looking for a way out. If there is no way out, I do not complain. Actually, I have been blessed with the ability to find fulfillment in almost anything I do. As a 16 year old I had a job as a secretary for Denver Girls, which is now called Denver Kids. I remeber having a sheet of paper tucked into my desk where I had printed “Secretarial Olympics” where I tallied my statistics -- things like number of envelopes stuffed in one hour, number of labels put on envelopes in one hour, how much time it took to type one page of case notes, how long it took to put stamps on 100 envelopes, etc.

Every time I had a new project I would try to break my personal record. See, I told you, I can find meaning in anything.

I think I have realized, in my years of working with people, that one of two things take place. One is that people train themselves to be unhappy and will never like any job they have because they can only see the bad. The other one is even more unfortunate: people get into a habit of complaining and griping when they really aren’t as unhappy as they appear. This is most tragic, because after a while people assume that they are really as unhappy as they act like they are and then they end up losing jobs that they loved.

I have gotten fairly negative (as my blog reflects) over the past three weeks and I’m talking to myself here. There are SO many things I could be doing that would be worse than anything I’m doing now (like standing and cutting meat all day for minimum wage as one of my immigrant friends does). Going to try to break the negativity habit and focus on the positive...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Should I Be Concerned

All my kids are at the pool (who aren't at confirmation) and I start bell practice in 15 minutes, so I am hiding a the church in my husband's office. I am completely alone and nobody knows where I am for 8 more minutes when I will emerge. It's kind of a weird feeling.

I was blog surfing, something I seldom have time for anymore (in fact, I don't have time now, but I had to bring two of the kids to confirmation at 7 and I figured why go home and turn around in ten minutes and come back, even though I could have worked those ten minutes...

Anyway, I'm blog surfing and come across a blog that I could have written. The topic of the blog was living with the "when . . . then" syndrome . . . always thinking "when this happens, then I'll . . . " It's the idea of planning on being a great person as soon as something else happens. LIke when I graduate, or when I get this new job, or when I get married, then I'll be ready to lose weight, or be less stressed, or be kinder to my family or ... you fill in the blank.

Anyway, the woman writing was overweight and had been through a stressful year. I totally identified with a lot of what she was going through and thought it sounded a lot like me. At the end of the blog she confesses that her shrink had recently diagnosed her with depression and borderline personality disorder.

So my question is this: Should I be Concerned?


Last night my husband made another delicious meal. Barbequed meat balls, rice, vegetables, and home made rolls along with the best batch of chocolate chip cookies ever (which I had a couple of, and shouldn’t have, BUT for those of you who care, I wanted 12 and only had 2, so there is THAT).

Bart had told the kids that if they didn’t want the rolls cold they could heat them up in the microwave. Dominyk disappeared for a minute (which is not uncommon at dinner time) and then returned to the table. A few minutes later Tony left to go warm up a roll. He came back with this roll, now dark brown, formerly a buttery white. He had found it still cooking in the microwave. We asked Dominyk how long he had put it in for, to which he replied 88:88. It was as hard as a brick and very very hot.

He did suggest that it was so hot we could just put it in the bowl with the other rolls to heat them up, but it was smelling fairly burnt, so we declined his kind offer.

You ARE the System

I watched a Hallmark movie last night about a judge who did foster care for a teenager. It fit in very well with my blog from yesterday, because she did something that was not “the way you’re supposed to do it” and of course, since it was fiction, it turned out great.

I am not necessarily saying it was a great movie, but there was a great line in the movie. The judge (jacklyn smith) had to rule on the case late in the day and since the foster parents were unwilling to keep the girl one more day, she had to put her in a detention center for three weeks during a court recess.

Her ex-husband confronts her about her choice in making this girl go to “prison” for nothing. The judge says, “it’s the system . . . there’s nothing I could do” to which he replies, “you ARE the system.”

What if each of the professionals in the child welfare/foster care/adoption world believed that? What if we stopped blaming the system and acknowledged our part in it... would we then see it change?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I blog but he BLOGS

For those of you hoping Bart will blog, he did today and as always it is meaningful.... sad, true, and meaningful.

go there

Number One Priority of People in the System

Wouldn’t we all love to believe that it was the children? This is Child Protection, right? So the priority should be the best interest of the children.

But it really isn’t.

The number one priority is making sure that I (as a professional) don’t get myself into trouble. Covering My Butt has to be my priority. And every professional and every agency and every person in the legal system has the same responsibility.

And if everyone is so busy making sure that nobody gets in trouble, then how do the kids get best served? What if breaking a rule is the only and best way to meet the needs of a child? What if taking a risk might help a kid?

And those who really do care about kids, which I still believe is most of the people in this business, are trapped by having to follow all the rules and knowing they can’t do what is best because if they do then they themselves, and their employers, could get in trouble.

It’s a crazy system.... our legal system has encouraged everyone to cover their butts. I was annoyed after blogging about Erin Brockovich to find that the movie wasn’t the whole story. Of course, there are people like Fumento who have to tell us the rest of the story and point out how the lawyers got rich by taking advantage of the people ...

The irony, however, is that it looks like Fumento is making his money by writing books about how people are taking advantage of the legal system to get money. Think about that for a minute.

So what we have are laws that were designed to protect children and people who chose careers to do so and the whole thing, as viewed on one of my more cynical days, is just a big cover your butt circus and the children are the ones who pay.

And for any of you who might be defensive, I’m one of the people in the system, so I’m pointing fingers at myself.

And I don’t have any answers either. Today I’m just mad.

Another Little Piece of Technology

My friend Cindy taught me about Site Meters today. Now I can see who is reading my blog (by city, not by name) and when. For someone who loves statistics, this is very cool...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Best Meal in Luverne

Tonight I am convinced that in our house the best meal in town was served. I know for sure that the meal we had could not have been purchased in any restaurant in town and I doubt that on a Monday night, families were fed like ours.

Now, I am not a food writer like Sarah but I can tell you what we had. Steak, with the very best of flavors, topped with delicious sauteed mushrooms, cooked carrots, home made buttermilk rolls, and baked potatoes. Monkey bread was for desert for the ones who could fit in more food.

So good I can’t even explain it all.

And it’s all because of Chef Bart, the multitalented man I married who can not only preach, teach, and write but can cook meals that would make the Food Network (or, as Dominyk says, the Food Neck Work) stand in awe.

Working From Home

Sometimes I sit back and close my eyes and envision what's happening in the offices of all the people I work with . . .

Like this morning everyone is kind of dragging in a little late with that Monday morning look on their face . . . grabbing a cup of coffee and telling each other about the highlights of the weekend.  Soon people will be heading in to check their email and then planning all the visits and paperwork they have to do for the week....

My life is so much different as I sit here alone, organizing my tasks with nobody to talk to except electronically -- and no break times all day -- except for every 70 minutes when I go downstairs to change the laundry. No pot of coffee on anywhere, not that I drink it anyway, and no time to talk about anyone’s weekend anyway.

There are times when I miss the people parts of working from home, but the amount of work I get done at home alone is about triple what I ever got done in an office setting...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Just Call Me Erin

It took me most of the day yesterday to get stuff for Sunday done, so I set all of my creative time aside to watch Erin Brockovich for the first time. It was the TV version so the language was changed making it more tolerable.

What a great story though. . . Erin reminded me so much of me in many ways. She saw the people that she worked with as people, not as cases. There is one scene where she is being challenged by a very “snooty” lawyer who was telling her they had to go fill in the holes in her research. “There are no holes” she replies. “Things like phone numbers . . .” the lawyer says, and Erin replies, “Whose phone number do you need?” “There are over six hundred families here, there is no way you know all their phone numbers.”

Erin says, “Which phone number do you need?” After a long silence, the lawyer pulls out a file and states a name. Not only can Erin give the number, but tells age of the client, her parents names, her aunt and uncles name, her address, how long she has been sick, what diagnosis she has, etc.

This reminded me of my work with Adopt America. We have our children coded and put into our systems with numbers like WB2942. But to me the kids are more than just a number. (I’m changing names here, for data privacy purposes), but I can tell you for example, off the top of my head without looking it up, about three boys and a girl. Their names are Adam, Dylan, Rebecca, and Jordan. They are half/white half Hispanic. They are 14, 12, 10 and 8. They have been waiting for a family for over two years. Their case worker is in (leaving city out) and her name is Shayla Johnson. The 12 year old is diagnoses with Bi-polar, all three have ADHD. They 10 year old has ODD and the 8 year old girl has asthma. I can also tell you that the state that they are from often overdiagnosis bi-polar, but that this diagnosis is what is keeping many potential adoptive parents away. I can tell you which three families the worker is currently considering for them and what states they are from.

Erin’s success in prosecuting this case was because of her connection with the people. And I believe that my success as a “matcher” is because of the same thing. In 2005, I have been a part of making it possible for 82 children and teenagers to be placed in the homes of families who have made a lifetime commitment to them. Four of them have been 17.

I do not see children as numbers, but as people. I see each and every case, even though I am now working hundreds of children, as not just a case, but a child and I work long hours to make sure that I do everything I can to see that they get a home. I can’t control the system, but I am bound and determined that I’m not the one who is going to drop the ball.

There are a few things that Erin and I do not have in common, however. I am not twice-divorced, I have a supportive husband, I have 3.33 times as many children, I look NOTHING like Julia Roberts, I only drop the “f bomb” when I’m quoting my children, and ain’t NOBODY gonna give me $2,000,000 for my efforts....

Saturday, October 22, 2005

One of the Things I Like About Myself

I always have something to do. There is never a time when I can’t think of anything to do... not that I can always motivate myself to be productive, but when I want something to do I can find it.

Because I had such a stressful work week, I decided that this weekend I am actually going to take two days off. I know this seems like nothing to most people, but for me not to touch anything work related for two whole days will be a true test of self-discipline.

But, when I’m not working I have creative projects going on that use a different part of my brain and by working on them I can actually feel refreshed, though tired, when I am done.

For this reason I continue to do slides/powerpoint for new worship on Sundays in addition to a “welcome” video featuring pictures from the last week’s service. Using the song “Welcome” from the Disney Movie “Brother Bear”, these videos are our “call to worship” in our very unique, oh so much more than contemporary, worship service.

I also scrapbook, as my blog indicates... I scrapbook digitally when I’m too lazy to get stuff out . . . I’m working on writing my book. Every couple months I put together slideshows of all of our pictures and burn them on a DVD for my parents. I am working on a DVD of all the past Welcome Videos to sell and raise money for apportionments (church contributions to social justice issues).

I design websites like LAFTER and United Methodist Church and Catch the Spirit. I create them but then hate maintaining them as you can tell by all the broken links.

I always can find something productive to do even when I try not to work....

and I like that about me.

I can even do things like make it look like my son is on TV....

Friday, October 21, 2005


Sometimes things get so overwhelming for me that I almost feel paralyzed. Stress does that to me. I have friends who are motivated and work better when there is crisis and an overload of stress, but it just shuts me down.

I’m sure that without my jobs my life would still be high on the stress-o-meter. Ten kids, many with special needs, a husband who is in a high-profile, people saturated profession where he is not always the hero, living in a retirement neighborhood, county involvement in our lives....

And then add my jobs and the crisis that everyone there experiences that I have to support them through ...

I realized this week that I was ill prepared for conflict and chaos. I grew up in one of the most incredibly stable homes you could imagine. Very little ever changed from one day to the next. I can’t remember my parents even having an argument in front of us. Everything was well planned out . . . there were few surprises. Faith was simple and God was good and there was nothing that couldn’t be handled with enough faith and prayer.

I live with a house full of people for which this was not the case. They grew up surrounded by chaos and conflict and without a secure base. They are much more comfortable than I with negative emotions and anxiety.

It seems odd that a good start to life would make me so inept at something that people without a good start are so good at.

(And if you have followed this blog, there is something seriously wrong with you)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Self-Defeating "System"

It’s interesting how my blog reflects my moods, I have noticed. When things are going fairly well, lighthearted things make it here. When they aren’t there are rants and rages and lots of deep reflective angry things...

Today I was thinking about “Child Protection” and how the system defeats itself. This has been brought on, primarily, by the involvement of our county in our lives. For example, we have a trial coming up ... even though everyone in the court room is in agreement.... but I“ll save that blog for another day.

Right now I am thinking about another situation in which a family had siblings placed with them and now their county is involved. It’s a long, confidential story, but my question is this:

Why do good people, setting out to do a good thing, become suspect the second they try to do it? Why would a part of the system attack people who are seen as heroes by another part of the system?

Part of the problem with the ”system“ is that ”the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.“ For example, I work with social workers on both sides of the picture all the time. One side is the workers who have families looking for kids. The other side is workers who have kids they are looking for families for. I sent out an email about a child to all of my contacts who are social workers of families looking for kids. They read the emails, and if they are interested, they contact me and I give them the contact information for the social worker who has the kids. A few weeks ago one of these family workers asked for contact info. When I gave it to him, he sheepishly responded that he guessed he could walk the study down the hall. Apparently they shared the same building, but were not communicating.

However, more than just the ”left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing“ often the left hand is waiting with an axe to chop off the right hand, or the other way around. Counties, always watching out for their own budget, may not want children with special needs to be placed from another county into theirs because that child might require services that would cost too much. Many ”child protection workers“ are suspicious of the motives of adoptive parents.

My biggest frustration is that people who step up to the plate and say ”Sure, I’ll parent a child who has been birthed, abused, neglected and sometimes tortured by someone else. I will bear the brunt of their pain, I will attempt to deal with their challenging behaviors“ are often slapped by the very system who is asking them to do so. Motives are suspect, a standard for foster and adoptive parents is higher than standards for the abusing neglecting birth parents, and many disruptions occur because another piece of the system steps in to scrutinize the placement.

But regardless of the crap that we go through the bottom line is this: the way the system works is not the childrens’ fault. Whether or not the system improves, children will still be in it. If we do not find people willing to ”march into hell for a heavenly cause“ the children will stay there. And systems were never designed to raise children.

So even when I see adults crushed and bruised by the way they may be treated from start to finish of the process, I will still ask more adults to be willing to do so . . . because to refuse to work with a system that is notoriously inept and bad would mean ABANDONING CHILDREN to that very system. I will not let that happen. I will continue to beg people to willingly suffer, to put their own thoughts, feelings, and self-esteems aside, and to welcome a corrupt system into their lives. For if we refuse to do so, we knowingly say to the system, ”I do not want to work with you, so I now leave you with the task of raising the children.“

I will relentlessly fight to change the system, to point out its errors, to change the minds of the players in the system one person at a time and I will NEVER turn my back on children in order to save adults (myself included) pain and discomfort. Someone has to pay the price, and it is NOT going to be the kids ... because the price they have already paid has been way too high.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Empathy Pills

I wish I could manufacture a set of prescriptions that made people feel exactly like a psychological disorder. Like an empathy belly. these pills would temporarily cause a person to feel EXACTLY like a child with ADHD, or FAS, or OCD. For one day they would have brains that didn’t work right, the inability to remember things, or the need to pick at scabs until they bleed every day.

When they were invented, I would start by taking one of them myself. I’m sure that I would never be the same after experience what it is like to be one of my kids and what they have to live with every single day. I’m sure my husband would be willing, for a day, to try one as well.

I would then let each sibling take a pill that showed them what it was like to be each of their other siblings. I read things about families who have kids with lots of medical concerns and how the “normal” kids grow up to be so kind and compassionate. Because my children’s disabilities are hidden, my other children do not see them and deep down, I don’t think they believe they really exist. My almost 13 year old girl (need I say more) cannot keep her mouth shut about how the kids with disabilities are being spoiled and how they never get in trouble and how I ONLY punish her (simply not true, but the fact that she is almost 13 should have given you that clue anyway).

Then there is a myriad of professionals to whom I would give the pill. Therapists, teachers, school psychologists and principals, social service staff, physicians, etc. I would give one to each of our neighbors (though I’d probably have to sneak it into their coffee as they have no desire to learn more about my children.) I would let people in our congregation try one. I would give them to my parents and my inlaws.

I really believe, that that pill and that day would change the way everyone responds to my children, including me. But since there is no such pill, I will pray ... pray that those of us who are healthy and whole will be able to empathize, be patient, and care for those who are not. And that one by one, we can educate those around us to value and celebrate the uniqueness of children with these issues. Amen. So Be It.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

School Pictures

I don’t know about life for everyone else, but sending out school pictures reminds me of a bulk mailing from when I was a secretary and stuffed envelopes for a living.

The whole project took almost 5 hours -- I write a letter to go with them, cut them all out, decide who is getting what size, print labels, get them in envelopes.... it’s quite a chore.

But it is now done....

and I’m glad.

Busy day -- we’re off to court for John and in MN there are only three days of school this week, so I’m trying to cram in as much as possible.

At least court will be preceded by lunch alone with my husband.... every cloud has a silver lining.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Sorry I've been such a pathetic blogger..... My trip to Toledo and the results of my absence both in my other job and in my family have made it difficult to find time to blog.

Yesterday I did school pictures for 2.5 hours and I'm still not done. Cutting, sorting, making sure the right relatives get the right pictures... and then they will all have to be scrapbooked. It's a chore, that's for sure.

Hopefully I'll do a better job of blogging in the future...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday, Joyous Sunday

When Large Adoptive Families can get 7 or 10 or 13 or 15 or 20 or 24 kids ready and to church on time,

NOBODY ELSE HAS AN EXCUSE to skip or be late.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Another Reason for the Clash

I discovered, on the way home from seeing John and the guys at the ranch (preceded by dinner together at La Fiesta, and grocery and clothes shopping for Mike, who of course couldn’t come along, nor will he like what I picked out.... but I digress...) . .

anyway, I discovered that the second reason for my children and I having a hard time reconnecting is that they think I’m stupid and I just came from a professional environment where people treat me like I’m smart. In fact, professionally, most of the time, I am treated as if I am an expert, smarter and better than most.

Then I come home and it slaps me in the face that my teenagers think and act like I am the dumbest of the dumb.

I finally said to them, after being corrected, scolded, reminded, and mocked repeatedly, “Why don’t you guys just go ahead and have your conversation without me. I am apparently WAAAAAAAAY too stupid to be able to participate.”

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rude Awakening

I’m sure that my return from a trip is a rude awakening for my children. Not that my husband doesn’t do a fine job without me, but we have different styles of parenting....

compare, say, Atila the Hun to a labrador retriever .... well, maybe not quite that much of a difference.

But when I come home they get reminded of what they were supposed to be doing.... they get chastised for what they didn’t I was gone.... they get a big huge dose of reality.

Are you surprised that they aren’t exactly excited for me to return?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


My decision was to watch TV and play Gin. Not that anyone cares, but I won a LOT of games tonight.

Also watched, “We Were Soldiers”, a movie I had no intention of watching, but I got caught up in it at the beginning when it was about people, and endured the gory violence in order to find out what happened to them all.

It was interesting that I watched that movie tonight as three young men that I know fairly well in our community were deployed to Iraq today. Their parents are my friends. Their parents are my age. One of the guys graduated with our oldest son (in fact, this was the Guard unit he almost joined three years ago).

I have been burdened by our struggles with the county and MIke’s move, but I cannot imagine being on of my three friends today -- saying goodbye to a son who might not make it home alive.

Being away from Bart for a few days or a week is hard for me -- I can’t imagine being the wife of a man who was heading off the war.

I’m going to bed grateful that my children and my husband are safe, alive, and well... and that I have so many other things to be grateful as well.

Not Gonna Be Shaken

Last night I was exhausted and discouraged about the Mike situation. I grabbed the Gideon Bible in the hotel room for bathroom reading material and literally opened up to a passage that has brought me comfort for years, coming to my attention every time I need it. I place it here to encourage you as well.

Regardless of what anyone says about or to me, I have set the Lord before me and I will NOT be shaken.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 
       you have made my lot secure.
    6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; 
       surely I have a delightful inheritance.
    7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; 
       even at night my heart instructs me.
    8 I have set the LORD always before me. 
       Because he is at my right hand, 
       I will not be shaken.
    9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; 
       my body also will rest secure,
    10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, [c] 
       nor will you let your Holy One [d] see decay.
    11 You have made [e] known to me the path of life; 
       you will fill me with joy in your presence, 
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I’m not sure how I feel about the message translation for this passage, but I do like this verse:

    8Day and night I'll stick with GOD;
    I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.

A Day without Blogging is like...

Well, it is kind of disjointed. Yesterday I flew to Toledo and last night I was going to blog the day, but I was too tired to blog it. It was a pretty good day, but in some ways very long.

Today was a good day. I slept a long time last night and I don’t have much of the stresses of home, even though some of it does follow me. We made good progress on what I believe is a great proposal for a potentially awesome project. Had some good meals with good friends and now I’m back to the hotel by 7:30. My biggest decision now is whether or not to watch TV or play computer gin -- interspersed with some work of course.

I had to write a letter to Mike explaining why we are refusing to be part of his transition. He isn’t going to understand it. I guess right now our theory is that if we are going to do our very best and be accused of being unsupportive we might as well give ourselves some emotional space and earn the title.

It isn’t going to matter much what we do ... Mike isn’t going to understand or care -- except when it comes to not getitng the stuff he wants. A pretty sad state of affairs, I think.

There are so many things wrong with the system that I can’t make it make sense. Troubled children are empowered, adoptive family systems are blamed for the issues that the children’s birth family systems created (see Cindy's rant and Yolie's take), and the amount of hassle required to reunify with children becomes so impossible that even the best of parents are tempted to give up. Has to make you wonder.

So I’m giving up four days of my life to write a proposal for money which will allow us to recruit many more good people to do this. Why, because as I have said it previously and much more eloquently, It's not about us.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Lovely way to start the day

Yesterday I wrote a long detailed email to Mike’s social worker about how we felt like we needed to distance ourselves from him emotionally during the transition because he is being so negative and vindictive. The response I got was one sentence. “What clothes of Mike’s do you still have at home?”

Bart reminds me that we are not her clients, but an acknowledgment of our pain or loss or whatever would have been nice.

Now I’m heading to the airport feeling unsettled when I should be feeling great about getting away. But the fact is, that even when you’re away, you’re never really away.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Brief Ranch Visit

So fun to drop off John when he is in good spirits. The guys literally flock around me. A couple of them are even initiating hugs. They are always very excited about the monster cookies that Bart now makes every time John comes home. We take dozens back with us and the guys love them. A couple of them have said they are the best cookies they have ever had in their lives. So looks like Bart is stuck making them for a while...

A Blogging Sloth

Just haven’t felt much like blogging today. I think it is the stress about Mike, my preparations for a trip tomorrow, being exhausted, my cold, and many other excuses I could come up with.

Going to Adopt America Headquarters tomorrow to work on a grant proposal. Won’t be home until Friday night.

John has been home for three days and couldn’t have been much better behaved. He has been nearly perfect the whole time. We have to take him back tonight.

He’s halfway done with the program -- so we’re hoping he’ll be home for good by Feb or March at the latest.

Hopefully I’ll have time to blog more in the evenings in my hotel with nothing more to do....

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A New Day

Great is thy faithfulness
Oh God my father
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Lord unto me.

I love this song and the verses that talk about God’s faithfulness being new every morning...

The last few nights we have been very sad... Our response to Mike’s impending departure has been very hard.

But this morning Ricardo was baptized. The liturgy surrounding it, having our District Superintendent here to administer this sacrament. having great friends joining us to be his sponsor, the music, the friends.... and especially the liturgy that surrounds baptism in the United Methodist Church cannot help but inspire hope in us.

I used to not understand liturgy much -- I wasn’t in a church where we “said the same stuff all the time.” But I have really come to appreciate the deep meaning of the words we have repeated and heard over the baptism of 8 children we have been able to have baptized.

We answered “we do” to these questions:

Do you renounce the spiritual orces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord,in union with the Church which
Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

WE answered “we will” to this question:

Will you nurture this child in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided
to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess theirfaith openly, and to lead a Christian life?

(pretty serious stuff)

And then he said of Ricardo:

Pour out your Holy Spirit, to bless this gift of water and he who receives it, to wash away his sin and clothe him in righteousness, throughout his life, that dying and being raised with Christ, he may share in his final victory.

And then, as the water is placed on his head, the pastor says:

The Holy Spirit work within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

And thus hope Springs eternal!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Willy Wonka has RAD

If you haven’t seen WIlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I would recommend it because of a two or three minute clip towards the end that can give real insight into the RAD child.

Willy offers Charlie the opportunity to come with him and run the factory. Charlie says, “Only if I can bring my family” to which Willy replies, “Well, then I guess I’ll have to go now.” He offers again and Charlie declines again. He looks at him with the most shocked look on his face and says, “Now that is just WEIRD!”

Unfortunately, WE have at least two kids that would have the same look on their faces. These are are boys who do not feel guilty at all receiving birthday and Christmas gifts when they don’t give them. They are kids whose attachment to us is only based on what we can provide for them and if we chose not to keep giving, they might walk away.

If they were offered Charlie’s Chocolate Factory they would hop in the glass elevator and disappear from our lives forever in a heartbeat. No second thought. And if they saw people choose their family over the factory, they would have the same look as Johnny Depp and say, “Now that is just WEIRD.” RAD makes a kid see life so differently than we do that it is hard to even figure it out. As Cindy says, “my daughter with RAD thinks no more highly of me than she does a cockroach.”

I won’t tell you the “rest of the story” in case you haven’t seen it, but it really hit me tonight that some of my kids really don’t get it. They do not understand that people are more important than things. And they may never get it.

B. J. Thomas back in the early eighties, made a Christian record album.... and on it there was a little ditty that I still have memorized:

“Using things and loving people
That's the way it's got to be
Using things and loving people
Look around and you can see
That loving things and using people
Only leads to misery
Using things and loving people
That's the way it's got to be.“
Using things and loving people -- that’s RAD.....
Willy Wonka has it. So do some of my kids. And if you haven’t lived with it, it’s hard to believe it exists.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fickle people and feeling like Jesus

Jesus was talking to a crowd of people about John the Baptist. He was telling them that, basically, they were fickle. He said in Matthew 11:

"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: " 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge  and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."

Either way, the people were angry. John the Baptist was as holy as they came.... he lived a simple life in the desert and did the bare minimum -- ate grasshoppers for goodness sake. Jesus came and lived the opposite way -- he went out to the bar with the guys. He wanted to be where the people were. And they said negative things about him as well.

Tonight we took our son in residential out for dinner and bought him a pair of shoes. It was a reward that he received for accomplishing a task that was supposed to send him home with us.

The result? He was highly excited about his upcoming move. We were sad and depressed. He accused us of not being supportive. I said as little as I possibly could and so did Bart. I mentioned, because I thought he’d want to know, that a girl had run away and that her mother was calling our house this week to find out if she was with him. He said, “I wanted to make this a POSITIVE visit so please don’t bring up anything from the past.” I tried to quit talking.

So, we buy him the shoes and take him to dinner and when he has it all and is on his way back to the center, Bart gets to hear all about how awful we are once again. With shoes in hand and a full belly, he walks away from Bart refusing to say goodbye, refusing to give him a hug, refusing to be respectful.

The irony and the reason for the Scripture text above, is that he would have turned it around had it been the other way. Had we said, “Mike it is GREAT that you get to move four hours away from us” he would have brought it up later and used it against us, about how we couldn’t possibly care about him or we wouldn’t have been so happy when he was leaving.

For the last 10 months he has told us that we should not be accepting the recommendations of the professionals to keep him where he is. He has made us feel horrible for not going against them. Now his quote tonight is, “I don’t know why you can’t be happy for me when this is what the professionals are recommending.”

We cannot win. We will be mistreated and verbally abused whatever we say, whichever direction we head. We are the enemy...for now . . . after seven years of trying our hardest to do our best with him.

SO, we played the flute and he wouldn’t dance,

we sang a dirge, and he didn’t mourn.

Regardless of what we do, we’re the bad guys, we’re responsible for his negative actions, but can’t take credit for his positive ones. We are the ones to take from, to use, to mistreat, and to blame.

But just as Jesus loved that generation of people, fickle as they can be, we will recover from our hurt and we will continue to love him. We will continue to support him emotionally. We will attempt to do what we can and hope against hope that some day we will see the purpose in it all.

And I will continue to encourage people to adopt hurt children, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger . . . and what we gain from the joy and the pain, is worth it.

Deborah Hage one of my favorite adoption/attachment speakers, ends her seminars by singing the chorus to Garth Brook’s song the dance -- and though I don’t know that I believe our lives are left to chance, I do think that if we knew the future, we might skip out on the pleasure, in order to avoid the pain.

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance.

A Paradigm Shift

I just realized that I’ve developed, over the years, Panic Disorder, when it comes to the phone and mail. Ten years ago, when I was single, I used to love getting mail and getting a phone call. Now whenever it rings or whenever the mail comes, I worry about what it might bring.

Discipline slips come in the mail, for example. I have kept every one in my files because I have a plan: When all of my kids are out of high school, I want to go back and count them and measure them. At that time I am going to determine how many rooms of the house I could have wallpapered with them.

Court Documents also come in the mail -- except for when they are very serious, as I learned yesterday. In order for for the social workers to follow the law, ours had to file a permanent foster care order for our our son at the Ranch. Her plan is to ask for a continuance in court until he completes the program, at which time she will file an order for him to return home. But, this order which is called “Petition for the Termination of Parental Rights OR Other Permanency Plan Petition” is served by the sheriff. So yesterday I was served TPR papers by the sheriff (went along with the news about Mike and the washer breaking -- great day!).

Phone calls come from angry children who don’t live here, from their caseworkers and therapists, and from their treatment center staff. Phone calls come from the school with all manner of interesting and troubling information.

So, I have gone from dreading the phone ringing and the mail coming. I find myself getting cold extremities at its sound (kind of like Pavlov’s dogs. Call it classical conditioning if you will).

Caller ID should help, but it doesn’t always. For example, we have friends that I love talking to who, because he is a physician, have a blocked number. So does social services here in town. So when I see “Private” I don’t know whether to rejoice or panic.

Sometimes my caller ID doesn’t show up and I have grown to hate that, because I like to know what to expect.

“Let the machine get it” I am sure some of you are thinking. But I CAN’T let a phone just ring....

All of that to say that I think it is interesting how things can change -- from phone calls and mail being something I longed for to something I dread....

Thursday, October 06, 2005


The amazing and wonderful father of my children has arrived home. After 10 days of doing it alone, he’s back to do it with me. But you would think we just had a birthday (and birthdays are NOT good). Anything that brings excitement brings this odd climate of hyperactivity.

The kids, who for days, have stayed away from me, were filling my office. The air was just buzzing with excitement. You’d think he’d been gone a year.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where good things brought good feelings?

It's a Crying Shame

Wow, what a day it has been so far. We found out for sure that our son is going to placed into an institution until he is 18. He is only 16 1/2. He is excited. We are sad, disillusioned, disappointed. He’s excited. The way he looks at, he isn’t going to have to put up with the parents he never wanted or needed any way.

So after 7 years of beating our heads against a brick wall our reward is that he is not returning home until he finishes his independent living program, which we are not convinced will prepare him to live independently. What will happen when he is 18 we cannot predict, but we don’t think it looks promising.

It’s very hard to hang on and believe you’re making a difference, when things like this happen, but we’re trying.

I can’t even tell you what all I did today -- because dealing with this is like having a fog hanging everywhere.

But I can tell you that my washing machine is broken, and that doesn’t help matters...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

43 years with the Wrong Woman

When we were kids (and still, actually) my dad loved to make us laugh. Usually reserved and quiet, every once and a while he did and said something silly or ironic to make us laugh.

One of his traditions was to say on his anniversary, “11 years with the wrong woman”, or “17 years with the wrong woman.“ We would giggle because we knew that he knew that she knew that he believed that she was the perfect woman for him and always would be.

So yesterday when I called my parents first thing in the morning to wish them happy anniversary, I said to my Dad ”43 years with the wrong woman.“ And he quipped, ”You know, I’ve begun to ponder that.“

As if all the sudden, after 43 years, maybe he was thinking, for the first time, that he might have ended up with the right woman after all.

My parents are a classic example of a marriage where from day one the possibility of divorce was never pondered. It simply was not an option in either of their minds.

Sixty two years ago, when my mom was 13 and my dad was 20, he came to work for her father. My mom was lying in bed, as it was fairly late in the evening, but she could see my dad and his buddy through a crack in the door. Two thoughts crossed her mind, ”That man needs a haircut“ and ”I’m going to marry him someday.“

They knew they were in love way back then, but followed God’s call on their lives, heading in different directions. Twenty years later they reunited, having served God and their church as single people, and realized they were still in love. Neither had dated anyone else those whole twenty years.

And so, 43 years ago yesterday, they said their vows in front of a tiny crowd in an inner-city Denver church, and began to make a life. Eleven months later, I was born to two people who, though they knew nothing about bonding and attachment, did the most excellent job of making sure my every need was met. I am sure that I occupied almost all of their free time as they were SO excited to be parents.

I remember when I was in third grade one of my friends told me her parents were getting divorced. I announced publicly that my parents would NEVER get divorced. My friends laughed at me and said, ‘How can you know that? You don’t know what will happen.“ And I, will all of the confidence of an eight year old said, ‘Some things you just know.”

So, happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thanks for making me right, as you know I love being right. And thanks for giving me such a great example of so many things, one of which is a marriage where divorce isn’t even in the range of possibility. And thanks for giving birth to me and loving me, attaching to me, building my self confidence, and contributing so much to who I am today.

It is because of you that I’m who I am, for better or worse, and I’m eternally grateful.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

12 hour day

My kids were as good today as they were yesterday. WHich is fortunate, as I sat here for 12 straight hours getting ready for a matching bash at adopt america.

My kids did what they were supposed to do, didn’t fight, and even made supper (including mine, served at my desk) and cleaned up.

They were awesome!

And I almost got it done. Sent 290 emails today, many of them to multiple people. FInished 8 matching charts.

Now if even 1/4 of the kids I posted could get homes -- most of them will older and I will probably dream about them tonight as so many of them crossed my desk -- so many kids over 10 that may never find a home.

Now, I’m going to fall into bed, exhuasted, and hope that my coughing doesn’t keep me awake again tonight like it has the last 4 nights.

Sorry for not bloggin. It is my parents anniversary, which I was going to blog about but that will have to wait until tomorrow...


Monday, October 03, 2005


Some days are like this.

You know Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?

Well, some days are like that, even at the Fletchers.

Some days are so bad that I almost have to laugh when they are over.

or cry

This morning started with me discovering, right off the bat, that someone had stolen money, somehow, from my locked office.... AGAIN. Then it progressed to me discovering that our son in Residential had lied to me . . . AGAIN.

Then I headed to Sioux Falls to get the Powerbook fixed and I found out that it may cost up to 800 to get it fixed.

I returned home to discover that one of my families that I had matched was back to square one after several months.

i then realized decided to go upstairs and rest only to discover that some of the boys had broken into the girls locked room . . . AGAIN.

I gave up and came downstairs. After school I got a call from Dominyk’s PCA -- they had been in a car accident. He had Dominyk with him, they were OK, but it was going to take a while to clear up. confronted the money from the office suspect and the girls room break in suspect. This resulted in, of course, several lies and defiance ... AGAIN.

Ricardo, my nearest to perfect son, all the sudden fell apart today. He didn’t come home from school. I called the school to see if he had left there and found out from his teacher that he had not completed homework, refused to bring his planner home, and crossed out the note in the planner she had written to me about it.

Fortunately, we discovered that he had been with Dominyk and the PCA had forgotten to tell me that, so he did come home. But then, much to my dismay, I found out that he had been part of the girls room breakin, in fact, he had found the key. This was a first for him. He admitted to neglecting his homework, leaving the planner at school, and crossing off the note to me.

I then headed to the 7th and 8th grade football game. On my way their I discovered that someone had ridden Kyle’s bike . . . AGAIN. I told the two little boys with me to stay by me, but they ran off . . . AGAIN. When I got seated I realized that my son who was supposed to be dressed and playing was sitting in his street clothes on the bench -- meaning only one thing ... he had skipped practice, unbeknownst to me. Therefore, I wanted to leave and come home, but instead I had to search for the two that had run off.

By the time we made it home, only to find the bike rider slash breaking and entry boy refusing to do what HIS PCA was telling him to do. I lost it and did way too much screaming in response to being called a f**** b**** three times. I quickly left for a second football game where I killed no less than 67 little black bugs a few of them before, and most of them after they had bitten me.

We lost the football game and during the football game I found out that the child who I had not suspected of taking the office money was actually the culprit and it only took me 30 minutes and wading through 6 lies to find out what actually happened and how much he had taken.

And during the interregation of office thief, a nice gentleman said to me, “Excuse me ma’am, did you know your son was playing with matches?” So I look over and three feet from me Dominyk is trying to light something on fire. Twenty minutes later, same game, I turn around and he has climbed to the very top of the high bleacher fence.

I returned home to face two more meltdowns, being cussed out by a different kid, and finding my bike, which I have only forced myself to ride 3-4 times, moved, apparently ridden, and most probably in need of repair.

And I checked my email to discover that another family that I’ve helped matched 4 times, has once again been let down.

And I have a cold and keep coughing up large chunks of flem, while fighting my own bladder so that I don’t have periods of stress-induced incontinence, and nobody in my house ever lifts the seat or wipes it when they pee on it.

and it’s HOT and in MN in October this is not typical.

And, as you know, last but not least, my husband is seeing the sites of Seattle and I am only a little over half way through with his 10 day absence.

So, when I go to bed tonight, if I ever get to, I will be glad that today is over.

And, the sad thing, is that there are many out there, professionals included, who would deduce that my parenting is what makes these kids act this way.

And this is the biggest tragedy of all.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


I thought I better add a P.S. about why the office got cleaned today. Supposedly one of my co-workers from the Adoption Agency is coming here to help me organize paperwork for the next couple days.

I didn’t want you to think that I had a huge desire to clean that was unprovoked by any reason at all. That would be highly uncharacteristic of me.

Nope, have to have a motivation -- and I did, and so now it’s clean.

(I even vacuumed the rest of the house . . . now THAT is something that doesn’t often happen.


With the help of Rand and Jimmy, we whipped most of the office in to shape.... Desk is for the most part tidy -- rest of the office is quite neat, I even vacuumed it a little.

When I was a pre-teen and teen my mom would force me to clean my room. (mean, huh?) I remember always starting with my desk and getting lost there for hours. There is something about sorting through old stuff that I enjoy -- all the memories and all the nostalgic feelings come pouring in.

In my cleaning today I came across a church directory from the winter after we moved here six years ago. The kids we had then were 3, 4, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 13. Add six to that and you have their ages now: 9, 10, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, and (almost) 19. Add a 11 and 13 year old in the mix that we’ve added since the picture....


It’s a whole different ball game parenting kids ages 9-19 than it is parenting kids ages 3-13. Back then there was a lot more physical energy required -- now it’s almost all emotional energy.

Some of them have made such progress over the years, and others seem to be even worse ...

Weren’t they cute?

Of all the nights....

I completely understand my husband’s need and desire to be a part of things outside of our local community. I encourage him to be involved in various committees . . . using his gifts to further God’s kingdom.

I’m actually even to a point that even though I miss him, there are times when it isn’t absolutely unbearable around here.

But when I have to walk across (or waddle more like it) the big football field alone, in all of my fat glory, while every other mother who had a husband (well, almost) has her husband there with her, THOSE are the moments when he should be here!

Friday night was a good game -- we won, it was parents night. and even though Rand didn’t get to play, he was dressed, he bought a flower for his mom, and he was just like everyone else....


We have found the perfect solution to Sunday dinner when Bart is not home. I’ve blogged it before, but it works so well that I must mention it again.

Two big cookie sheets covered in chips, layered with those black beans left over from the first night I cook, and then lots and lots of cheese, a little of my Salsa Verde, some sour cream, and it’s a great meal.

It takes about 10 minutes max and we can eat right after church.....

This afternoon I’m planning on getting my office in shape. My office office is the end dumping spot where everything migrates to in the end. When we clean another room, stuff ends up back in here as it’s final resting place until serious organization can take place.

My new software lets me change colors at will as I type.


Technological Nightmare

This morning in church was a technological nightmare! First of all, my recently acquired Powerbook that had a broken hinge, had a wire burn out and so I had to transfer everything over to the Dell, not having it ready for first service. Then I had to use the Dell making it very complicated.

The result was much stress for two full hours, an $800 dollar repair bill in order for me to get it fixed (I had already called and decided it wasn’t a necessary repair -- WRONG).

Then I just lost it on the way home when Tony spit directly on the new van because he was mad at me...

I am so tired of him acting like he is 2 when he is ten. Perpetually stuck at two for eight years is getting VERY tiring ... and he’s only this way at home and at church. Otherwise he holds it together like perfect angel at school.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Sometimes I Make Myself Laugh

I just spent five minutes making this slide.

Why would a Buffalo Meatloaf Dinner need a nice slide?

And who wants to think about eating Buffalo while looking at one?

Sometimes I do things like this just to keep myself entertained.... regardless of how stupid.