Thursday, June 30, 2005

Escape Plan

Last night I sent our youngest to his room. Actually, I had sent #5 to his room becuase of what the youngest said he did. The youngest wanted to play with #5 so he told him me later than he had lied. So I said, "Well, I guess if you lied, you should go to your room too."

I heard from some of the other kids that the youngest was making an escape plan. Becuase I was involved in something else and because it was late and I was practically brain dead, I ignored them.

My husband came in and started his sentence with the same annoying words he always uses. "Did you know that . . .?"

Now, I know that the following informaiton is going to be something that I know nothing about becuase it is going to be something that had I known about, I would have put a stop to.

SO, "Did you know that your youngest son has tied sheets together and climbed out of his window? "

I was tempted to say, "Of course I knew. I was the one who asked him to do it!" But instead, I sighed heavily, and said, "Of course not."

So sure enough, I found them -- eight clean sheets from the linen closet, all tied together and his window wide open with the sheet rope hanging from it. I searched to find him and then we had a little talk.

I can't wait to hear about which of our neighbors saw our 9 year old shimmering down the front of our house from a window facing the street with us inside apparently condoning his behavior.

Heavy sigh.

Podcast Experiment

This is an experiment. I am going to attempt to make my first podcast. This voice is not similar to mine but when my new USB microphone arrives I may even let you hear my voice as well as the endearing voices of my children.

Let's see if we can make this new technology work.

My First Podcast

OK, so I know that the voice I set to read my blog is annoying and that I set her talking too fast and that the whole thing is hard to understand, but it WAS ONLY A TEST.

The point is, I figured out how to do it. And THAT is cool.

There's Always Hope

I've been trying to write to our two boys who are not living with us every single day that mail goes out. It's a huge commitment, and it takes a long time. I try to send pictures or things they would enjoy. Today I made hope postcards for my two boys that I'm sharing with you...

One of the things I've been trying to do is express hope to them. In the adoption world, holding on to hope is crucial -- not just a steadfast hope in God that all things work together for good for the kids who are turning into adults before our eyes -- but even before that. Hope that we'll be approved, chosen, and that the kids will come.

Today I placed a beautiful little boy with a family that has been trying to find the right child for them for over a year. We thought they would be chosen for a group of two, then they read the paperwork and realized that it wasn't the right match for them. Then we thought another little boy was the right one and right before travelling to meet him they learned information that they had not heard before. And finally, this little guy. He's here. I saw him. I took his picture. He is with a GREAT family and they have a wonderful new son. And it's a great match.

The four teenagers that I placed a couple weeks ago are with a family who was chosen for the girls a year ago. They waited a year before the kids came home.

Another family I know was matched almost a year ago with a group of 6 teenagers. SIX TEENAGERS! And every roadblock that exists has been placed in their way. And they are still not home.

Another family has been waiting for 2 years to get matched and just today we have a lead that might be the one.

I could go on and on.

But this hope that is required to make it to placement is the same hope we have to have afterwards..... We've got to hang on believing that we are going to see our dreams become reality.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Feeling frustrated and created this..... Guess I'm just angry that people don't get it, that people don't get me, that people don't get us... that they don't get why ... that they don't care anyway... Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one, even though I know I'm not....

Little League burnout

I think I may be getting a little burned out on baseball. Tonight I sat through my 3rd game this week. It took 2 hours. My son was not the hero. In fact, I'm sure there are many who are glad when he and the other kids like him don't make it to the games.

Tonight I was at the game thinking about how much people still act like high school. There are the same kinds of groups -- all grown up. There are the parents who think that they and their kids are the coolest. They are the real deal in their own minds. The hit of the town. Then there are the obvious outcasts. They have kids who aren't wearing the right brand of pants or shoes. They are the ones who don't get the hits. Then there are the genuine, real folks who truly care about the whole team and have kids kind of in the middle of the pack. And then there are those who say nothing, but internally believe that they are so much better than everyone else. I think I fall into the last category.

Sometimes I catch myself being arrogant in the irony of it all. My kid is being made to feel small by a kid whose parents have not been farther away than the Twin Cities (4 hours from here). My brave kid, who even though he had only spent one night away from his orphanage for 8 of the first 9 years of his life, was willing to go, sight unseen, to another part of the world where nobody spoke his language. He is being looked down on by a kid whose parents are afraid to drive in city traffic.

People in our town who don't know us don't get it. They see us as weird. (Heck, people who do know us think that - in fact, I think that!). But many of them think that we are somehow inferior. My husband and I travel and speak in national conventions. We have made international trips. We go places to train other people. I've lived in a foreign country. I learned to drive in downtown Denver.

And yet, because my kid never saw a baseball field, or even that much grass in one place, his first nine years of life, he is the one who "doesn't count." And our family, because we didn't grow up here, will never really belong.

In our town you can play on two different kinds of teams: Travelling baseball and community ed. My kids play community ed because many of the tournaments are on Sundays, and I don't want my kids gone from church. In addition, my kids probably aren't good enough.

My rant tonight is spurred on by a comment made by one of the parents. This parent came late to the game and sat down and said, "Are we losing?" And another parent responded that yes they were losing (her son was on the opposite team from mine." She said, "Well, they do have 2 players on their team, Bill and Bob (names changed)."

Of course, Bill and Bob are on the travelling team and are pretty good, but EXCUSE me, they do not make up the whole team. What does "THey do have two players" mean?

I usually don't get this bent out of shape about things, but tonight was an off night for me. Today was an off day.

I am reminded of when I was trying to explain to a neighbor about my kids. See, I'm pretty proud of them for what they have overcome. They are far from perfect, but considering how they could be, I think they've come a long way. They had done something to irritate the neighbor and I said, "I would love to sit down and talk with you about my kids so that you might be able to understand them better.

She said and I quote exactly, "I don't want to know anything about you, and I don't want to know anything about them. I just want YOU to keep THEM over there!"

Maybe the issues is just that people don't want to think about it because then, God forbid, they might have to do something about it.

If they think about the fact that every day 20,000 kids age out of the foster care system without being adopted . . .if they think about the fact that in third world countries children are being sent out to the streets from orphanages at the age of 12 or 13 because they are too old for an orphanage . . . if they think about the abuse and neglect that the children face . . . then they just might have to do something about it.

Reminds me of a song by Daniel Amos about a guy watching TV when the starving children come on. His solution is to change the channel:

For they got their faces to the window
Pressin' their faces to the window
Little bitty beggars with the great big eyes
I turn the channel but to my surprise
They still press their faces to the, window

Isn't that what we want to do with all the negative stuff going on in the world? WE want to forget about what is going on in Sudan. We want to ignore what is going on in the rest of the world. Why? Because how can a good person KNOW about this stuff and not do ANYTHING?

So we choose not to know.


Technology is making me crazy. Because every time technology comes up with something new, then I need to make sure that I learn how to do it. It has taken me to a place where I have become a self-taught desk top publisher, graphic designer, garage band music maker, video maker, flash movie creator, and a photoshop addict.

And now there are podcasts.

Since we have a very cool new worship service at our church, which I have created a flash based website for, I definitely am now thinking that we need to have the service podcast.

So now I have to teach myself the programs I need to use to develop an mp3 of the service and hope that even ITunes will list our podcast, which I think would be cool.....

Can't keep up with the technology though, and that, in the midst of everything else, is killing me....

Exactly how many chins do I have

I've been thinking about blogs and about how in order to blog and think that people will read what you blog you need a certain amount of ego strength, don't you?

I mean, if you really believe that what you have to write is worth reading by someone, don't you have to be fairly egocentric?

Like the ego strength it takes to post a picture of oneself such as the one above that my youngest took of me against my will.


Night before last, after his shower, Dominyk decided to mark his worst injuries by putting a CD label over each one, so that the scratch, scar or bruise was in the hole in the middle. Of course, he didn't TELL me he was doing it until he had it done, and ignored me when I told him he would want to take them off.

By morning they simply would not come off no matter what.

Last night, he pulls up his shorts and says, "Mom .... I'm Mutating!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Still Undefeated

Posting scores makes me actually care more about the progression of the season. Both boys each had one really good hit tonight and Tony had a great inning at third base, being responsible for several outs.

Bart actually got out of his meeting early and sat through most of the game with me. Fun to have him there.

Too much stress and chaos in the home for me to focus enough to blog well tonight, so maybe tomorrow they'll be more.

My Heartwarming Son

Somehow, my youngest seems to warm my heart almost daily with the things he says. He's only nine, but for years he's had this wisdom.

Examples from times past include:

"You know Mom, God is like a huge bridge over the biggest ocean. And as long as you stay on the bridge, no matter what happens in the water, you'll be OK."

"Duh! God doesn't care what color your skin is!"


"Everything matters in life."

When we watched Simon Birch Sunday night, Dominyk was in tears. The next morning he said, "At the end, when he died, I wanted to run from the room and scream, "I just can't take it anymore" because it was SO sad."

and when we saw Napolean Dynamite he said, "I don't like it that those kids are taking pleasure in other people's pain."

I didn't hear the rest of the conversation, ut I just overheard him when his friend arrived, with all the sweetness and authenticity he could muster saying, "But I don't care if you smell!"


When a person eats nothing but things that taste like cardboard and grass, they deserve to lose weight, don't you think?

i hate it when I try and don't lose.

Tuesday is weigh in day and I will rant every week that I gain or don't lose, especially when I try fairly hard. Like last week. Gained .2 pounds. Gotta hate that!

Monday, June 27, 2005

See what I'm talking about?

This thing with the lip...

That Thing with His Upper Lip

Whenever this particular son of mine isn't paying attention, his mouth does this. How does he do it? We have all tried to make our lips do that, but they won't cooperate. Amazing.

Little League Meanderings Episode 4

Tonight it was not 3rd and 4th graders, but 5th and 6th graders. And my 6th grader is not really a hitter or a catcher. He is a "stand and pray for 4 balls so I can walk" and a "please please please don't let the ball come to me" kind of a player. The picture shows his distaste for the heat and dust.

But his team won, so we can't complain.

Some things that happened at the game tonight:

My youngest stood at the top of a huge hill at the game and in full volume screamed, "MOOOM! Tony said the F word."

I was talking to my friend who has a 13 year old son just like I do. We were talking about that age and how they argue all the time. He asked what we were talking about and she said, "We were talking about how you argue all the time, even about dumb things. And his response? Yup, You guessed it, "Nuh Uh!!!!"

All three of the boys who were not playing were covered in dirt, sweat and mosquito bites by the end of the game.

The game took forever. One hour and forty five minutes of watching boys who are just figuring out how to walk in their new bigger bodies swinging at wild pitches. One hour of pollen blowing into my eyes making them water even though I have taken a one-pill-covers-24-hours non-drowsy allergy pill.

I forgot it was picture night and let my youngest waste 53 pictures figuring I could delete them. Most of them were pictures showing how his siblings were places I told them they shouldn't be and he wanted proof. I forgot all about battery power. Fortunately I was reminded in time to save enough for the team picture.

Another night at the baseball field.... Four nights a week for 6 weeks ...

One of My Secret Parenting Tips (that is no longer secret)

Sometimes I trade hair for other things.

Now, I don't REALLY care how my kids hair looks most of the time. I mean they want to make a statement or something and so I usually let them do what they want with it if they can pay for it themselves.

BUT, after a while, I get tired of looking at something hideous so I trade hair for something else.

For example, our next to youngest had let his grow horribly long and it was sticking out everywhere and he couldn't manage to comb it very often, and so he disappeared for two hours one day, earning himself two hours in his room (so he can sit there and think about how long I worried about him. Two hours is a LONG time, isn't it son?)

Anyway, he didn't WANT to go to his room for 2 hours so I said, I'll tell you what. Let me shave your head down to a number 2 and you don't have to go to your room at all. And voila, no more long hair.

Most recently, our second oldest said, "Mom, when do I get to start choosing my own bedtime." (Well, it had been a while since he asked, and he is almost 17, and even though he has some delays, it was probably about time) so I SHOULD have said I guess now is a good time. BUT I had a stroke of genius, and instead said, "I guess after you get your hair cut." He made the call to set up the appointment within the hour. (This was after months of me mentioning how badly he needed one).

Looking at the before/after shot above, you can why it was a relief when he came home tonight looking semi human again.

Sometimes my brilliance amazes me....

The Missing Element

I have also discovered, in browsing my blogs, that i really need a cell phone with a camera and blue tooth so that I can put my pictures on the computer. I absolutely cannot be expected to have my camera with me at all times and you never know when a bloggable moment might occur and if I don't have the camera I'm screwed, whereas I always have my phone with me, so if I had a camera phone I would always have the ability to snap a photo of something fascinating, interesting, or entertaining and blog it.

Here is a perfect example of the kind of blogging I could do if I had a camera phone.

A Classic Camera-Phone-Necessary Blog Entry

And her blog is in the Times top 50.

If I really let go

Occassionally, when I am tired of writing case notes or sending endless streams of emails and faxes trying to match children I read other peoples blogs. Now right now I'm not talking about the blogs that I am addidcted to and have RSS feed bookmarked so that the second they change them I know it that belong to my friends who I like and enjoy. I'm talking about browsing blogs of complete strangers.

I've decided that the reason that my blog will never become a "bestseller", in whatever terms that would be defined, is that I have to be carefull not to offend anyone. I'm not just me. I'm a pastor's wife. I'm a social worker. I'm a member of several different adoption affiliate committees. I can prove it. Google Me

Anyway, I can't possibly totally let go and say every funny and sarcastic, cynical, sardonic thing that I think in my ever so sarcastic, cynical, and sardonic mind because even though I have never been one to care about what people think, I am connected to people who care what people think, and thus....

Besides, the blogs people find funny have lots of cuss words in them. Can't cuss.

So, I guess my blog will never be on the top of the Time's Top Fifty Websites: Blogs becuase I have to keep from offending, not express all of my opinions, and keep it clean.

Not that I would compromise my integrity and start being a foul mouthed offensive jerk just for the sake of fame....

But sometimes I just wonder what it would be like if I were ..... UNLEASHED....

Mexican Night Recap (and the 5 second rule)

As I predicted, not a lot of authetic food, but a lot of GOOD food (thought I had a limited serving of just a few lower in carbs and without sugar things). We did bring the only Mexicans, but there was a "Smack It" "Jesus Loves You" Piñata (redecorated) and water balloons. The kids had a blast and we had fun watching them.

Last night someone mentioned the five second rule (you know, if something is on the ground for less than 5 seconds, it's OK to eat). Well our oldest son, who is usually quite picky about cleanliness, decided to apply that rule at college this year. They were having fast food and his burger dropped on the ground. Using the five second rule, he went ahead and ate it ... BUT when it fell on the ground, it picked up a rock, and he bit into it and broke his tooth.

So, the five second rule is costing his parents $1,000 now that his secondary insurance was cut off at 18.....

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Last Night's Nightmare

Last night I woke up at 4 completely exhuasted. I had dreamed that the bishop had called and we were being reappointed to a church in the middle of nowhere in an unincorporated village of less than 200 people. They had built us a nice big house there, but the church was small. And to top it all off, we had to be there on June 30th. In my dream I said to Bart, "Do you know what day it is????" and he reponded, "Yeah, the 20th." I said, "NO! It is the 26th! We have four days.

I called my boss immediately to tell her that I would have to transfer all of my families and realized how behind I was on my case notes and began to panic.

How would I EVER get all my files caught up and pack up a family of 10 in 4 days!!!

It's been a long time since I've been that happy to wake up....

Mexican Night

For anyone who knows me well, it is no surprise that I hate cooking. The very thought of it stresses me out. I hate the whole thing, from start to finish. I hate menu planning. I hate grocery shopping. I hate assembling the ingredients. I hate measuring, I hate mixing. I hate putting it in the oven. I hate watching the timer to make sure it's done. I hate taking it out. I hate cleaning up and I hate dishes. And, now that I'm pre-diabetic and only can eat from my Gluco Menu I don't even get to eat anything good any more.

But I have a husband who loves to cook. He thinks grocery shopping is relaxing and baking is therapuetic. So only once in a blue moon do I have to cook and the kids dread it. For example, on Friday night I was here without him and we had leftover lasagna that I had frozen the last time he made it, and of course when I reheated it it got a little too brown on the top. So, needless to say, I don't cook often.

But tonight is Mexican night. Back six years ago, when I was younger and more ambitious, I had a family from our church over for dinner and made all the dishes I learned now to make in Mexico. Two different kinds of tacos like I bought on the streets of Valles, San Luis Potosi and the ones I ate in Mexico City at the taco stands, and Three Cheese Chicken Enchiladas. I also made salsa and several other things. Well, they never forgot that night.

So, tonight we're having a Mexican potluck at the church. We will be bringing the only authetic food (maybe maybe not) and the only authentic Mexicans, our daughters ( of this I am sure)... but it will be a good time. I have burned a CD of Mariachi music and I guess there is a Walmart purchased piñata.

BUT, the point here is, that the family I cooked for six energetic years ago is expecting met to cook again. And so I did. Actually, I am. I'm waiting for the tacos and enchiladas to bake in the oven. I'm sure it will taste good, but I never think anything is worth my effort.

I'd rather blog ...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

How Do You Measure a Life?

As a clergy spouse, I am accustomed to having plans interrupted by funerals. But while my husband is very comfortable around death, i don't do so well.

Today I took the phone call saying that an elderly man in our congregation had passed away. I remember the first time that we met him. When we moved here six years ago we hosted parsonage gatherings and had everyone come to our home to meet us in groups. We had each person introduce themselves and tell a bit of their story. It was great because people were telling things to us that nobody else knew, and they were learning about each other. One of these things was disclosed by the man who slipped into eternity today. He told the group that he had married his wife (over sixty years ago now) because her father had offered him a cow.

In thinking about his life, and my father's who is near the same age, I am asking myself the question from the Musical Rent (whose trailer I saw yesterday at the theatre). How do you measure a year? How do you measure a life?

The lyrics say:

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.
Seasons of love.

525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan.
525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?

In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.

It’s time now to sing out, tho the story never ends let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Remember the love!

Measure in love.
Seasons of love!
Seasons of love.

I guess that's the answer. A life, a year, a day is measured by love.

One Reason Why I go to Church

Apparently this blog now allows me to upload photos without needing to use Flickr. Cool.

Traditional Worship is the hour of the week where I do absolutely nothing but sit, reflect, and listen -- to the pastor (who, by the way, is quite good at my church) and to God.

It's the hour of the week where I sit next to my children and most of the time we don't argue. My daughters often sit close to me and even let me touch them even though other people are watching and they ARE getting kind of big.

It's the time where I can reflect on God's goodness. It's a time where I can reconnect through Scriptures and hymns, with memories of other times and people in my life.

The rest of my week is crammed full of going here and going there, visiting, writing, composing, answering, asking. All of my space in my mind and even my physical space seems to be completely full except for that hour.

There is something comforting about being in the same place each week with the same people doing the same thing.

And most of all, during that hour, I feel blessed. I am so full of gratitude for my blessings. I get perspective. I get in touch with who God made me to be and recharge for the week ahead.

So I look forward to tomorrow when I can look next to me and see my beautiful daughters, look ahead and see my incredible husband, look around and see friends who love me, and look up ... and see a God who through the seasons of my life remains faithful.

One of My Favorites

One of My Favorites
One of My Favorites,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
I didn't get permission from anyone to post this, but I think it turned out really cool. It's for the opening of the welcome video for church a couple weeks ago.

Sometimes I spend hours working on the stuff and so I want a few extra people to see it....

The Downside of Technology

Baseball Tony
Baseball Tony,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
I actually sort of got caught up today. Not caught up as in with housecleaning, but caught up sort of at my desk. At least enough so that I gave myself permission to play a little....

But then I fall into the deep abiss of technology and end up spending a couple hours making this collage that didn't turn out quite like the picture in my head and probably won't mean much to anybody....

It's amazing how technology that was supposed to save us time has actually swallowed up so much of mine.

I could mess with my Mac 24-7 -- making movies (already did one for church tomorrow), making DVDs (working on one for my folks), slide shows, creating music in Garage Band, and the list goes on. But then I feel a little on the guilty side for "wasting time."

Oh if only there were more hours in the day....

Friday, June 24, 2005

Another Ranch Visit

Went and had supper at the ranch again tonight with three of my boys. Had a chance to say hi to the boys we have met there and had a long time to spend with our son who lives there. He opted not to include any of the other guys in our time tonight, which was fine with me.

I think I keep a pretty tight reign on what is happening at home, but I found out some stuff today about things that were happening here at home when he was living here that were troubling to me.

Also am realizing that we have a lot of ground to cover and lots of things to talk about over the next several months before he comes home. Lots of bridges to rebuild and lots of communication to take place.

One of the most frustrating things that I have found is that nobody is using correct adoption language in any of his therapy. He moved in with us at the age of 8 and four six years referred to his birth parents as birth parents. He's out of our home for six months and now they are his "real" parents. Why can't people get the language right?

He also said that he was destined to be just like his birth dad -- hanging out with the wrong crowd, etc. I said, "if what you were saying was true, both of your uncles would be pastors since your grandpa is one." He knows good and well that even though my father is an excellent example of holy living that my brothers are both the opposite of that. I reminded him again that we all get to choose who we want to be.

A Former Me

Tonight I did a little more trip planning for our July trip to Adopt America specialists training. I'm taking four kids with me and we are going to stop and see some old friends on the trip. After getting off the phone I took a world wide web trip back to my former self.

Before I got married, which seems like 500 years ago, but really wasn't that many, I enjoyed life as a single person. From 1988-1992 I was the Dean of Students at Bartlesville Wesleyan College which is now Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I felt like it was a job I was made for. I was single, put in 16-18 hour days, was completely passionate about transforming and developing the lives of students, and I had a blast doing it. After four years I resigned, which is a huge, long, not-always-fun-to-tell story, and moved to Mexico to serve as a consultant at Instituto Biblico Peregrino..

It seems hard to believe that it's been 20 years since I was a student at BWC and 13 since I stopped working there. That place was my life for such a long time. The relationships that I developed there are lifetime ones. I had mentors, supporters and friends there and we lived in close community with one another. It seems like a zillion years ago.

Just 13 years after leaving there I am a married mother of ten, with a college student myself. I looked at the website tonight and only a few of the people that I worked with are still there. The rest of us are scattered everywhere.

Sometimes it's hard to believe I'm the same person as I was then.... so much has changed.

Completing my day with a trip down memory lane....

Much Better Today

As you can tell by reading through my blogs from yesterday, I was really a mess. I took an allergy pill and it threw me off. I was really feeling weird. In addition, I lost the contents of my address book for a few hours before I recovered them (over 2000 very important contacts) and several other things on my computer.

I'm only responsible for 3 children this afternoon and evening, which is kind of different.....

Bart took 2 with him to the Cities, and 2 are at camp, and one is actually an adult by legal definition.....

We're going to have supper at the ranch and try to do something fun before then...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Little League Meanderings Volume 3

21-20 in the last inning.... Both boys did great.

Nothing unusual happened.

Nobody annoyed me.

It was an utterly blogless game.


originally uploaded by Maeflye.
So far undefeated, 3-0....

Really Really Cool

I just downloaded a WIdget, running on Tiger, that lets me post directly to my blog without even being on the internet.

Very Cool.

Wanting to do this for a LONG time

Ever since I saw Deborah Hage's website I've been meaning to add our Christmas letters to our website. It certainly adds perspective as you travel with us from year to year.

I have had a very weird day. My allergy medicine put me into some kind of a weird world somewhere between reality and someplace else....

Hold Music

I just returned a phone call to the Residential Treatment Center where my son is (not the one at the ranch, the other one). Since he had to go there for running away so much, it's a lock down facility.

When I call, they put my on hold and here was what I heard, screaming in my ear:

"And I don’t wanna start over again
I just want my life to be the same
Just like it used to be
Some days I hate everything
I hate everything
Everyone and everything"

Interesting hold music, huh? Sounds like Everclear was singing for the boys inside right into the phone, getting the message out, representing their angst....


originally uploaded by Maeflye.
When Ricardo went to the symphony in May, the kids said he looked just like Pedro from Napolean Dynamite. Think so?


MIght as Well

Might as well start doing this too....

The "Catcher"

The "Catcher"
The "Catcher",
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
Here's Tony from the other night -- anxiously awaiting the machine to pitch for him so that the ump behind can toss the ball back to the coach to feed the machine again.....

Day of Rejoicing

As an Adopt America specialist, I get to help match kids with families. Every single day I get emails from social workers asking me to help them find homes for the children on their caseload. More times than not they are teenagers and I can't find one family interested. This plagues me. I post them to the other specialists and we try, but most of the families wanting to adopt area looking for children under 10.

But today is a day of rejoicing. For almost 3 years I have been trying to find a family to adopt a sibling group of kids. For some reason, this was a group that everyone overlooked. In fact, at one point, we were considering adopting the oldest of the kids if someone else would adopt the other three.

I had the group matched two or three other times and things fell through. I was very discouraged.

Finally, some friends of ours who already have 17, said they were interested. They went through the process and were selected. They felt, after reading the material, that they could only parent 2 of the 4 -- the oldest, almost 16, and the youngest, 11.

But the oldest all the sudden had decided that he didn't want to be adopted. After waiting for a family for years, he, as many teens do, decided he'd rather stay where was safe.

The family decided to go head with the youngest. They travelled down to meet her and got to spend 10 minutes with the oldest. They explained to him that the invitation was always open if he changed his mind.

A couple days ago he called his social worker and said, "Is it too late to change my mind?" To make a long story short, they both arrived yesterday.

He now has a family committed to him after living for years with no one to call his parents.

So, even though the other thousands of children way heavy on my heart...

even though I am saddened at how long it is taking for my boys to come back home ....

even though my allergies are killing me, my neck is stiff, and my head hurts ...

even though my allergy medicine is making me drowsy...

and even though I am not feeling very motivated today,

it's a good day.

Because any day when a child who is almost sixteen finds permanency after waiting for years is a good day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Supper at the Ranch

Had supper at the Ranch tonight. Ever since we visited this past weekend, our son has been at the highest level he can be every day. I'm not sure why the change, would like to think it has something to do with us, but not really sure it does.

Spent 45 minutes visiting and then had supper in the dining hall. Five of us went, so there was a table in the corner set for six. Good meal, good conversation.

Got to say Hi to the three kids we met the other day. One of them had his family there visiting as well. He called Bart over and introduced them to his family. Thought it was interesting that he remembered Bart's name and that it was important for him to introduce his parents to him.

One little step at a time....


By some miraculous act of God, I got to sleep until 7:50, but I had a stiff neck and was a little groggy. All the sudden, in my half sleep stupor as I'm heading to the bathroom for a shower and realize that the golf bus is leaving in 5 minutes! I send semi-bilingual son #6 running down to get son #7 and tell him that the golf bus is leaving. He doesn't quite get the message there so I am yelling down two flights of stairs for him to hurry or he'll miss it.

I amble into the bathroom and as I am seated I realize that golf is on Thursday and it is WEDNESDAY. I send my only possible messenger out to try to track him down and bring him back so he is not fruitlessly looking for the buss, so (semi) bilingual boy runs out side, in his boxers no less (because I have just woke him up for tennis (also on Thursday) , to try to yell at him and get him back home. He fails, so he has to dress and ride his bike to retrieve the little golfer who golfs on Thursdays, not Wednesdays.

What a way to start the day....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

LIttle League Meanderings Round 2

So, the second game of the season and my 3rd and 4th graders' team is undefeated.

My first thought was of how silly it is that guys who grow up and don't leave the town they have been in since high school still call each other by their last names when they're in their forties. All these guys calling each other by their last names or high school nick names. . . very interesting phenomenon.

And this time I sat away from the crowd, by myself, playing Nokia bowling, which by the way is rigged.

So, I'm feeling pretty carefree, thinking my kids are occupied, playing another endless fruitless game of rigged Nokia bowling (watching carefully of course, when either of my sons is batting or the ball heads in their general direction). I am noticing that my 4th grader is actually playing "misser" instead of "catcher." Now, this is not an insult, because he tries very hard when someone on the team throws him the ball. But when he is supposed to be catching the pitches that the machine throws, he knows that the umpire is behind him, so he doesn't move very much ... he'll catch it if it's convenient, but otherwise he just kind of lets the ump get it and throw it back to the coach to feed into the machine. I bet those high school umps dread the innings when he is playing "catcher."

But boy, can he hit. He's not a fast runner, so he has to hit the ball FAR ...

Anyway, I digress.

So, all the sudden I notice behind me that there is some commotion. There are three or four men next to the fence looking up. I get this sinking feeling and only one word comes to my mind. "Dominyk" Yup, my eyes go up and there I see my youngest son, perched on top of the barbed wire fence, with his jeans caught. Two or three guys are trying to help him get down. I'm sure that somewhere in cyberspace there is a blog out there by someone else who is writing something like this,

"Tonight at my sons baseball game there was a young boy caught on the barbed wire on the fence dividing the fields from the highway department storage area. I asked myself as soon as I saw him, "WHERE is that boys MOTHER? Why is he not being better supervised."

So I ambled my largess over to the fence, and looked up and said, "Well son, it looks like you need more supervision than you're getting." I thanked the men for getting him down and ripping only his jeans and not his skin, and spent the rest of the evening trying to get him to stay by me.

So much for my nice relaxing evening at the baseball diamond.

Time but No Topic

It isn't often that I have free time. In fact, I really don't ever have any truly free time. But everyonceandawhile I come to a point where I can't motivate myself to do anything I should be doing.

What I have discovered, though, is that blogging requires more than time. It requires inspiration. Most blog entries are mediocre. Some are pathetic. Everynowandthen there is one that is a classic -- inspired -- golden.

I have been restless today -- wanting to do more than I'm doing, but not knowing how. Frustrated that there are people in this world who are actually bored -- people who have hours to watch television or participate in recreational activities. My world is full and yet there is so much more to do.

Twenty years ago I really believed I was going to change the world. Now some days I can't even make myself change the laundry. I want to do more, be more, accomplish more, matter more .... for the sake of important things.

I'm a much better dreamer than I am a finisher. I love to think of ideas and make plans to begin programs and develop strategies, but the daily muddling through the same old stuff annoys me.

I have tons of ideas of stuff I want to do, stuff I want lots of people to do, but I'm so entrenched in all of yesterdays dreams that have all these details I have to live out ....

Now THIS entry is rated pathetic in my book...

Ever had a Conversation with Yourself?

I'm not a perfect "social worker." In fact, I'm not even licensed. I help families by writing homestudies and stuff, but my supervisor has to sign off on everything I do. I have a Master's Degree in Counseling, and some would say I have some adoption experience, but I'm not "officially" official. However, I am officially unofficial, making me, I suppose unofficially official.

Anway, i digress.

So, having been in the position of depending on a social worker, I hope that makes me a little more compassionate as a social worker. But sometimes, I think some of my think I'm smiling or chuckling at them, but I'm actually smiling or chuckling because I have been them. I am talking to my former self.

I was the absolute worst "client" when it came to getting my children. I was such a relentless nag that I am amazed that my social workers put up with me. I was VERY demanding.

So now I'm on the other side of things and every once and a while I catch myself smiling in recognition. I feel like I'm having a conversation with myself.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Now That's the Ticket

I'm thinking things are going well for our non-strategy.

Called out to the Ranch tonight (after 7) to see how he was doing.

Heard kids in the background saying, "tell your mom and dad I said hi."

Now THAT's the ticket....

The Lost Boys

So, utilizing our new non-strategy, I decided to call the ranch after school and see how his day went -- if he gets a "no choice" at school, then he can only get a level one at the cottage, and if he only gets a level one at the cottage every day, then he can only earn 4 achievement points a week, and if he has to have 300 achievement points to get, and he only gets four a week, then it will take him 1 year and 160 days to finish the program. Yes, I've figured it out.

It's supposed to take 6-9 months, but at his current rate, which is only 4 achievement points in 3 weeks, he's going to be there until he's what, 25? Ok, I'll do the math. Ok, I was off a little. He'd only be 21 1/2 at that rate.

Anyway, I want him home sooner, so I called to check on him.

I called and the same switchboard operator who has been answering the phone since he arrived tried to connect me. She came back on the line and said, "I guess the boys can't get phone calls until after seven."

Since nobody told me this rule, I'm assuming it is not something they tell all parents, so does that mean that nobody tries to call? It's like these kids are invisible. No visits, except for the required monthly visit from a social worker. No phone calls. No letters.

And in two or three years they will be dismissed into the world with nobody but a bunch of staff on a ranch to fall back on. Even though this ranch does really well with them, it appears, and is there to support them after they leave, it's still not the same.

the lost boys....

Distraction upon Distraction

And it's not the kids!

It's part of the conspiracy! just like snow days, staff inservices, early outs during the school year.

When do I get all of the comptuter problems in the world? When the house is quiet of course. I have spent almost 3 hours just trying to print some pictures to send to our boys that don't live with us -- and letters to go with them. But there were so many glitches. ARGH!

I am not paranoid. Everyone is out to get me!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Chapter 7 is done

Check it out ....

Chapter Seven

The Boys at the Ranch

Well, we just returned from our first visit and I feel like I should report back to blogworld

Went well. We were there almost three hours. Three of the guys from our sons "cottage" were able to spend the whole three hours with us.

i learned lots of interesting things from them -- actually talked more to them than I did with our son -- but that was because he was so busy reconnecting with his siblings that he hadn't seen for a while.

I don't know how much of what they told me I want to post, but I think this one thing will be enough for tonight.

We met an almost 15 year old caucasion kid who I will call Jack. He is witty, articulate, and really seems to know himself fairly well. In order to complete the program, you have to have 300 achievement points. Jack has 450. However, there are no foster homes that will take teenage boys.

Most recently he found out from his social worker that there were 15 new licensed homes in the city where the ranch is. BUT only 3 of them will take kids over 12 and the three that have will ask for girls. So he continues to do well, waiting and hoping for someone to get licensed so he can live in a family setting once again.

I don't even know what my concusions are about the system, and boys in care, and residential treatment centers, but I'm finding out some interesting pieces of the puzzle. Seems I get more confused about it every day.

Bottom line? People willing to let teens live with them, either as foster parents or adoptive parents, are few and far between and these kids desperately need someone!

I know, I sound like a broken record......but if 75 percent of kids who age out of the system end up dead, incarcerated or homeless in 10 years, we HAVE to do something....

I don't always agree with everything she says, but I agree with a portion of Rosies point on this blog.

Father's Day Ironies

It's Father's Day and the whole day is irony at our house. We don't have traditional roles here, so the whole thing is weird.

For example, Bart always does all the cooking. So, on Mother's Day things are just like any other day. This year he made the best meal! I take it easy all day long. But when it comes to meals I usually take it easy. On Father's Day, we eat out. :-)

EXCEPT that today I'm making stromboli for our picnic at the Boys Ranch. Homemade stromboli (well, bread-machine dough home-made stromboli). I get so stressed out when I cook. It's not fun for me. The girls helped and we made Snicker Salad after I put the strombolis in the oven. Now I'm waiting to see how they turned out as one of the doughs looked odd.

Another example, is that I love it when my kids remember me on a holiday, but I am not overly concerned if they don't. Bart cares a little more than I do, but it doesn't count if I remind them. So Mother's Day, which is during the school day, is trumped up by teachers to be a major holiday. Father's Day, which comes in the summer, has no educational support. So I always get more stuff, more recognition, etc.

In addiiton, to add to the contrasts, all and all I'm a pretty (I was going to say sucky here, but don't want to offend) average mother. I am committed to my kids and I love them, but I am not over-nurturing or the "ideal Mom." However, my standard for myself is pretty low, so I am fairly satisfied with my performance. I figure I'm "good enough."

On the other hand, Bart is the best Dad ever. He genuinely cares for, nurtures, stresses about, worries about, and adores his children. He goes out of his way to do them favors to show them he loves them. When I figure they can ride their bikes, he gives them a ride. When I figure "if it's not bleeding it doesn't need a bandaid" he'll put one on just to make them feel better. When I say, "This is the last time I'm going to tell you to go to bed before I really lose it," he says, "Come here, son. Do you need a little attention? How about a hug? But, to poor irony upon irony, his standard for himself is perfection and so he views himself as a mediocre, at best, father.

Finally, Bart is the only Dad that most of my kids know. Almost all of them remember another mother, but they don't remember another Dad -- so while Mother's Day is often a time for acting out and stress, Father's Day, fortunately is fairly low key.

So, for whatever it is worth, Happy Father's Day to the best dad a kid could ever ask for ... with hopes that he'll realize it some day and that his kids remember to tell him too.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How Hard Can It Be?

Today I'm heading to the Boys Ranch with the girls and I have to stop and get gas.

How hard can it be?

I first pull up to the pump and reach in to grab a credit card from my wallet. How hard can it be?

No credit card. I mean, I have Penneys, Sears, Younkers, Kohls, my National Association of Photoshop Users Membership Card, my Sams Card, and 73 Culvers tokens, but no Visa, MC or Discover...

So I decide to just pay cash. How hard can it be?

I go to the pump and pull the pump out to pump the gas. How hard can it be?

Pre-pay Only Pump. So I decide to go in and write a check. How hard can it be?

I get in the truck stop where there is a huge line and a loud speaker saying, "Shower number 247 is now available. Shower number 247 is now available? and I'm thinking to myself I hope they don't have them numbered starting at one.

So I get up to the register and I say, "Pre-pay for pump . . . uh . . . " (how hard can it be)?

I see the car and I see a sign above it saying 2. So I say, "Pump 2."

How much? $25? Are you sure the tank will hold $25 worth becuase if it's a check, I can't give you a refund. (Come on now, I want to say -- our lawn mower practically takes $25 to fill it up with gas prices these days!)

I head out to finally pump the gas. How hard can it be?

Gas pump won't work. Nothing will come out. A voice comes out of nowhere, "your pump is a pre-pay pump only. You must come inside."

I push the call button. How hard can it be?

Call button broken.

I decide that I must have the pump number wrong and that pump #2 must be farther ahead, so as I'm getting in the car to move it. I drop my checkbook. Cash starts flying out of the car. I run to get it all. How hard can it be?

It keeps evading me until I am quite embarrased and the guy across from me gives me a patronizing smile.

Then one of my girls points to Mr. Patronizing and says, That man over there didn't have to pay for his gas!"

I look at his gas flowing freely until "click." He says, "That's weird. It stopped at $25."

You guessed it, he was at pump two, I was at pump one. Fortunately, he was nice enough to pay for my gas.

But again, I ask myself, "You were just getting gas. How hard can it be?

First Boys Ranch Visit

I had to report back that our first visit to the Boys Ranch went well. I took the girls with me (told them they should be trying to look ugly, but it's impossible for them). We met the on duty staff at his cottage, saw his room, and had a chance to go to the conference room to play cards (it was very windy outside). We then had our own private table at the dining hall. We got to see how things are done and later made plans for tomorrow.

Turns out John has up to 15 guys at a time in his cottage. Of the kids there now, he has only seen 4 of 5 of them have a visit from anyone the entire three weeks John has been there. Tomorrow we're going back.

Am impressed with the staff there and it seems that it is a place John can learn in. The staff say he is trying to "find himself."

He seemed genuinely happy to see us and enjoyed his time with us.

One day at a time we're going to reclaim our boys who are not living wiith us, both of them.

One day at a time.

Living at the Boys Ranch

We have a son who has just completed an awful year of moving around. We asked our county for help as it was too dangerous to have him at home. They gave us help by filing a "Child in Need of Protective Services" petition with the court and gaining temporary custody of him. He has thus been back in foster care and has been in and out of several schools, several placements and has been in the psychiatrict hospital twice this year (note, this is a different child than the one who was in the psych hospital last week).

Anyway, I'm not going to go through that whole story. Maybe it will be in the book, if I ever finish it. By the way, I did write another two chapters, just haven't gotten them typed or blogged.

So, this tender hearted, loving, and very charming young man who is at the same time very angry and sometimes violent, has finally been moved to the facility we had asked the county to place him in last fall. It's a boys ranch where many of the other children do not have families.

Having been shocked as to some of the things that had been conveyed to professionals about our family in the past, I decided to go in and visit with his team leader. She was awesome. I told her the whole story about our son -- from day one until now and she listened.

We have determined, Bart and I, that we are going to have to reclaim him. He has been living out of our home almost consistently (with the exception of three weeks) for almost a year. We fear that he has begun to believe that institutions are better than a family -- that it is easier to manipulate people and get your own way when there are more folks to manipulate -- that it isn't is hard when nobody expects you to love them.

So, I asked our son's primary staff person tons of questions. She was very careful to explain their system and to listen to everything I had to say. I explained how we felt our best strategy at this time was to make sure that everyone around him knows that he has a family who loves him. In the past he has told stories about us to manipulate people.

Fortunately, this facility has a very open visitation policy. We can come as often as we would like and bring as many of our children as we would like. We can eat in their dining room, with our son, free of charge as long as we let them know in advance (although she did admit that if we ALL wanted to come EVERY day that might pose a problem, so there were SOME limits. :-)

And, the icing on the cake is that we will be able to have contact with the other boys at the ranch who don't have families. Many of the guys know that they are going to be there until they turn 18 have no contact with their bio families. They have no visitors, except their social workers, and they receive no letters or treats from home.

Our strategy is this: the more time we can spend with him out at the ranch, the less lies he will be able to make up. The more contact we have with his peers and the staff, the less likely they will be to be judgmental or critical of our family size or our decisions. And the more people there that love us, the harder it will be for our son not to realize that having us as his family is a good deal.

So my goal now is to have as much contact with our son as possible -- to wow him with our commitment to and love for him. We are going to approach this as if we have just been matched with a difficult teenager who we are committed to adopting. We are going to get to know him again and have him get to know us again.

And, in additiion, who knows what might happen with the other boys there? Maybe we'll be able to build relationships that will help others as well. It is our goal to provide support for all the boys in his cottage....

Maybe this whole nightmare will have a redemptive element. Wouldn't that be cool???

Friday, June 17, 2005

Little League Meanderings

originally uploaded by Maeflye.
In our small town, just as in many towns of any size (trying hard not to offend a soul here), there are people who don't even pretend to have social skills.

For example, last night Ricardo has his first baseball game. Due to a snaffu on my part, he didn't make it to his first practice and he's never played before. So this cute little guy, all excited for the big day, is getting his game shirt.

The coach is 8 inches away from him, directly in front of him, looking for his shirt. So I figure it is a good moment to explain things. I stand directly behind Ricardo and say to the coach, "Ricardo has never played before. He's just learning English but he's pretty bright and he'll understand most of what you say."

Now, I'm accepting a warm welcome. I'm expecting him to look up, give the new (VERY VERY CUTE) player a smile, and say something like "that's OK, we're glad to have him."

Do you know what he said? Absolutely nothing. He didn't even look up. He didn't smile. He said nothing until I finally walked away, bewildered.

So what am I supposed to assume? Is he deaf? Is he a racist? Does he just think that I'm stupid because I'm fat? Or does he just not possess a single social skill?

OK, so I'm recovering from this episode, still shaking my head slightly, and I sit down on the bleachers and start to observe my surroundings. I look up and see several women who look like they probably had their ten year olds when they were 6 or seven. They are wearing short shorts, sporting their perfect (though probably paid-for-in-a-booth) tans and giggling together in small groups.

I look up and prancing by are three chubby 4 or 5 year old girls. They look up on top of a dirt hill where a little boy their age is playing. They yell up to him, "Hey, you can't play there. There's poisen ivy." He starts to answer them, "No there isn't. It's safe up ... "HEY! Wait a minute, I don't have to listen to you. You're GIRLS!"

I was also distracted by the woman next to me who had glued on her toenails and I could tell that each one was glued on. I realize that I know nothing about glueing on toenails, but wouldn't the goal be that nobody could tell?

But we won, 25-15 in just 3 innings of machine-pitch baseball.

Baseball always reminds me of this song that brings tears to my eyes every time because it reminds me of how much God loves me no matter what:

A Song About Baseball by Bob Bennett

Saturday at the baseball field
and me afraid of the ball
Just another kid on Camera Day
when the Angels still played in LA
I was smiling in living black and white

Baseball caps and bubble gum
"I think there's a whole in my glove"
Three and two, life and death,
I was swinging with my eyes closed
holding my breath
I was dying on my way to the bench

But none of it mattered after the game
when my Father would find me and call out my name
A soft drink a snow cone a candy bar
a limousine ride in the family car
He loved me ... no matter how I played.

But none of it mattered after the game
When my Father would find mea nd call me by name
Dreaming of glory the next time out
My Father showed me what love is about
He loved me ... no matter how I played.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Time Outs

I currently have two children in time out, one screaming, one sulking, and one dog barking all at the same time. I have my office walls lined with children. I have one honking the car in the garage. I will replace the one sulking with the one honking and turn the honker into a screamer. Then I will have a crier and a screamer in here while I'm supposed to be working, which is why I am blogging instead. I have already dismissed the tattler and the parenter from the room.

The sulker within four minutes of leaving his time out became the cusser and is now in SUPER time out in his room.

And the only kid that wasn't in trouble came in to join in the time out fun and voluntarily sat in time out.

There have been times today where I have been trying to answer emails and match children with families with five or six kids in here who were only in here because they couldn't think of anything better to do.

I am saying profound things like, "Male dogs don't have tits" and "Don't say weiner" and wondering whether I will remain sane.

My question is this, "Why doesn't my state have year round school?"

I talk to people, like the checkout lady at Pamida, and she says, "I just so look forward every year to when my children get out of school. I love having them home with me."

And I'm thinking, "YOU'RE HERE!!!!! They are not home with you. They are at home and YOU ARE HERE!"

Always wipe the seat

I have 8 sons. One of them is very conscientous and always does things the right way and is very clean.

The other seven can't lift the seat.

I scream as they head into the bathroom, "Lift the seat", but every time it's my turn to use the bathroom, I have to wipe the seat.

Every single time.

Oh the things I would blog if I could really really blog

If I knew that ONLY the people I trust the most would be able to read my blog, oh the things I would blog.

So, now I have to be very very vague and if I trust you you can ask what I'm really talking about.

Have you ever needed to make a decision and ignored your own wisdom? Been at a cross-road and been able to see right down the road knowing EXACTLY how it will turn out and KNOWING that you would be an idiot to go down the road?

And then, for some reason, unknown to yourself, you talk yourself out of rational, realistic thinking and you begin to dream that maybe the road really won't go where you think it might? Maybe it will be different, in fact, maybe it will be a nice, easy road?

And then, in that dilussional moment, you say to yourself, "Yes, this road will be great" and you head down it.

And then you get several steps down the road and you not only want to cuss your self out and slap yourself, but you want to beat yourself over the head over and over, again and again, hitting yourself until you bleed, attempting to punish yourself in addition to knocking some sense into yourself? You want to take out all that anger on someone else but you know that you deserve it because you were SO INCREDIBLY STUPID?????

Never been there?

lucky you.

What to Blog, What to Blog....

Which of the various topics that come to mind should I blog to define our anniversary?

Should I blog about another family meeting at the psych hospital where I was told that I needed to stop trying to conduct therapy with my son and start just listening to him?

Or should I discuss the major fight that broke out while I was trying to enjoy dinner out with my husband for our anniversary? And how we returned to the dismal reports of how bad everyone was.

Or should I rant on and on on how difficult it is to be someone's boss and their mother at the same time and try to balance what I need to have with keeping him fulfilled, confident and happy?

Or maybe the burning compulsion I have to find homes for teens. I think I'll pick the last one but let you read for yourself what Pat OBrien has to say about it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Our Wedding -- June 15, 1996

Our Wedding -- June 15, 1996
Our Wedding -- June 15, 1996,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
Today is our anniversary. Nine years ago today I stood in front of over 300 of our best friends and family members from 18 different states and a foreign country and commited myself to the most intelligent, insightful, competent man I had ever met. I promised him our lives would never be boring.

Nine years and 10 children later, I have kept my promise. Our lives are not boring. And I know and understand my husband a lot better than I did then, and love him even more.

So today, I repeat those words, in front of all blog witnesses:

I Claudia, take thee Bart, to be my wedded husband,
to have and to hold, from this day forward.
For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health,
til death do us part.
And thereto I pledge you my faith.....

and, as I said when I gave you that ring,

I give you this ring, as a sign of my vow.
And with all that I have,
and with all that I am,
I honor you,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost.

Here's to you, the one who has allowed me to be me, the one who always frees me to pursue every dream I've ever had, whther it's too big, unrealistic, or just plain silly, and the one who picks up the details that I forget because I'm so immersed in whatever I'm doing.

I know we've created ourself quite the roller coaster to ride, but I wouldn't want to be in the car with anyone but you.

I love you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Best Feeling Ever

I just got home from welcoming four teenage girls into their adoptive home. For the first time in years they aren't going to have to worry tomorrow about how many points they have or what level they are on. They aren't going to have to have a social worker checking on them (except me, but I don't count). They aren't going to have the stigma of being foster kids any longer.

Instead they have loving parents who own a resort where they spend their summers. Their new parents are both college professors. They won't have to worry about whether they will have enough money to go to school.

Now I know that things aren't going to be perfect. The adjustment is going to be very hard, but the feeling for just this moment are profound.

It reminds me of when we were in Guatemala picking up our sons, one each trip, who were almost too old to live in their orphanage. We saw boys just a little older than them on the streets -- selling gum, shining shoes, washing windshields, hailing taxis for tourists at the airport. And we knew that they could be our boys in a few years had we not stepped in.

People ask me, "How can you do this?" I ask, "How can you NOT do this?" Tonight I don't understand how anyone would not want to change a life forever. How could anyone resist the feeling of bringing a kid from a life of abuse, neglect, poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence, generations of alcoholism, etc. and showing them another way to live?

The single best piece of advice I ever received about adoption came from a seasoned parent who said, "Never live more than one day at a time."

So for today, I am only thinking about this feeling -- the incredible joy of putting four girls, ages 17, 16, 14 and 13 into an adoptive home with parents who I know will hang on to them for dear life and love them forever.

There's no feeling like it.


Just wanted to see if I was cool enough to hyperlink.

Blog of My Friend Who Can't Hyperlink

Those moments of Chaos

Lunchtime today was total chaos. I am trying to get a homestudy update written AND prepare for the placement of a sibling group of 4 this afternoon. Lots of paperwork.

So, I have two PCAs here working with my two youngest sons to "free me up" to get my work done. But today they added to the chaos. It was noisy and out of control. People throwing balls in the house, people screaming, them all trying to make their own lunches at the same time ...

The noise was unbelievable.

Now it is over. They have finished eating, their chores are done, and most of them are gone outside or away to do something else and it is perfectly quiet.


For a while there I really thought I was going to lose it.

Now I'm waiting on a few answers to some questions before I can finish what I am doing. Everyone I need answers from is out to lunch I guess...

Monday, June 13, 2005

and it all ends OK....

Well, my nasty day seems to be ending OK.

I got a call from our son who we met with this morning admitting that he was pretty mad this morning and being much more appropriate. It appears that this wave is done and we're ready for a climb back up roller coaster hill number 243.

But it's good to go to bed not having him furious at me and having him admit that his medications do help him and he should probably take them.

And I'm heading to bed having gotten a couple hours of work in -- only 52 more emails to respond to and I'm caught up. (Better than 118 where I was 2 hours ago)....

So many waiting kids, so few families, so little time...


Yesterday was a great day. Our church services were awesome, my girls were snuggling (even though they're almost getting too old for that) everyone behaved. Afterwards seven of the kids (everyone who was home) went out to lunch and then to a park with us.

We came home feeling mighty good about our kids and parenting.

This morning the tide turned. We had a meeting at the psych hospital where one of our 16 year olds is. The bottom line was that he is blaming me for his mistakes and that even the therapist was labeling my attempts to get him to do the right thing as "conditional love."

I hate it when I pour myself out only to have professionals come in and make me feel like I've done something wrong. Ever since we started this whole "out of home placement" deal with our boys, their lives have gotten worse, and yet still someone manages to write or say something every time that makes me feel like I did something wrong.

I'm not the one assaulting staff members, or physically harming my "peers", or stealing conditioner from the office, or having to be restrained.

I'm just the one that is attending the meetings, reading the reports, making the phone calls, going to the visits, filling out the paperwork, checking boxes on psych test after psych test....

And yet when they screw up, I'm the problem...

So, after the meeting, I have to get him clothes and drive another 50 miles round trip to take him some clothes because their was the insinuation that we were not properly caring for him even though we did not make the decision to send him there.

Heavy heavy sigh.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

An Accomplishment!

After a dry spell (like a 3 year dry spell) I actually wrote another chapter of the book.

You can see the link to the side.

The blog has been a motivator, that's for sure!


Of all of the challenges of having a large family, laundry, to me is the worst.

And the worst of the worst is socks.

right now we have 10 people at home.

10 people x 2 socks per day (minimum) x 7 days = 140 socks per week.

And then there are the 1, 247 socks that never seem to have a mate.

Finding matching socks is hard and getting people to not wear other people's socks is harder.

And in Minnesota, in our sophisticated world, we do wear socks, even in the summer.

Well, most of the time anyway.

I've tried buying lots of socks exactly alike. I've tried buying each kid a different brand. I've tried washing them with the darks, and saving them to wash alone. I've tried letting people share socks, and telling them they must wear their own.

The 1, 247 socks whose mates are yet to be found are in a big rubber tub in the laundry room. They get pawed through when we get desperate and an ocassional "Eureka" (or some other expression) signifies that a match has been found among them.

But the absolute worst is finding a boy outside in the mud, without shoes, wearing MY SOCKS!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Why I Don't Cook

Just so you are aware, I do not tell anything but the truth when I blog.

We sat down to a meal tonight of roasted pork tenderloin, baked sweet potatoes, green beans almondine, cranberries, and frozen yogurt with Snickers for dessert. Bart made it. A veritable feast.

Our youngest, age 9, took one look at the pork and said, "As of right now, I am a vegetarian."

Our oldest over several moments, and in several different ways, explained why he just could not eat squash, yams or sweet potatoes.

Our oldest daughter, usually polite and soft-spoken, said, as she choked down her sweet potatoes, "This is like an episode of fear factor."

Free Moments

I had a few free moments today, so I updated our website. Now it's at least not months behind.

Someday I'll REALLY redo it...

But for now it is at least current.

But I don't WANT to?

WE are going somewhere today and my kids don't want to go. It's not going to be fun.

Kids reasoning:

I don't feel like it, thus I don't have to do it.

It isn't going to be fun for me. I don't want to do it.

If there isn't anything in it for me, then I don't need to do it.

And if I don't feel like it, and it isn't going to be fun, and I don't want to, and there isn't anything in it for me, I shouldn't have to.

Because really, it's all about me.

Unfortunately, it's not just kids that feel that way anymore, is it?

The Snowball Effect

I have a son in the psych hospital ... again. This is visit number 2 for him, #6 for a member of our family.

We finally had to admit him after Thanksgiving into a residential treatment facility because he was choosing to run away weekly, and then it became daily, and then he was gone most of a two week period. Each time he ran, he went farther down the food chain of humanity to find shelter until we had to protect him from himself.

The problem is that once we made that decision, it seems like the snowball effect has taken over. His attempts to improve there have their ups and downs, but with each cycle it seems that the problems are getting bigger. Now he was moved to the hospital because the RTC couldn't make him take his meds. Come to find out the hospital can't either. So we're just taking another trip arouund the merry go round to end up in the same place.

It's been going on with him and with another one of our sons since July. And the more assistance we need from the county, the less control we have until we feel like mindless, helpless pawns watching our sons go around and around and around, gathering more trouble with each spin around....

And I ask myself this question: If it is this hard for my boys who have a family who loves them and is committed them to make progress in institutions, would it not be impossible for those who have no family? What about the teens who are waiting to be adopted, hoping against hope that someone will be willing to take a chance on a teen? And if they lose hope, how will they ever be adopted when the records they are creating are reviewed by a potential family?

75% of teens who age out of the foster care system will be incarcerated, homeless or dead within ten years.

Why does it seem like I'm one of so few that care at all that this is happening? Why am I the one who sees their faces in my dreams? Why am I the one who can't sleep some nights because their stories and their futures haunt me?

How can we convince people of the incredible impact they can have on a life if they are willing to:

let go of their own self-interest

grab onto a troubled, family-less teen

and never let go?

The Ironies of Life

Wild Water West
Wild Water West,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
Last night, as I'm dining on a 1/2 a bowl of chili and a few baked tortilla chips, after testing my blood sugar, my oldest is heading to the store to spend tens of dollars on protein so he can bulk up as he works to be buff.

I'm living on a diet of cardboard and grass and he's spending money to put on pounds because he can't eat enough to give him what he needs.

If it's body mass he needs, why can't I just give him some. I have lots of fat I'm willing to share so that he can turn it into muscle.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Why would anyone want to be a 13 year old boy?

I am going through my 5th 13 year old boy. I can't believe I'm still alive. (And Cindy, don't EVEN brag that you've already been through 8 of them or whatever...)

He has spent his day in "Consequenceville." Every time I turn around he is saying or doing something so obnoxious, annoying, or mean that I have to hand out a consequence.

Days like today I tell Bart, "Today Consequences are Chocolate, and I'm stinking Willy Wonka."

I just don't know how these 13 year old boys can be so irritating for such extended periods of time. I remember when my brother was 13 -- my mother said to me, "Beware... you really don't want to mix menapause with teenage boys." Why didn't I remember THAT when we were adopting 9 kids in five years, 7 of them boys?

She used to refer to "unnecessary, repititious noise." I've been living in it. Fortunately, I only have 3 more 13 year old boys to survive in the next 5 years.

Three years from now I'll have 8 teenagers.

I'll be a blathering idiot by then ... if I'm not one already.

Last night, Dominyk was pretending to help me out of my chair. He said, "Mom, one of these days you're going to need a CRANE to get you up."

And he's only 9.

Oh the joys I have to look forward to....

My Friend Cindy

I have an amazing friend named Cindy. She is the Queen of all Large Adoptive Family Parents. She is mom to 39 kids and she does it without a husband. I have met her in person and she has more energy than 50 of me put together.

She has a blog and the link is under my link section. You should check it out.

She's the best!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


WEll, we consulted when deciding if we really wanted to go to Wild Water West. Bart wanted to give the children a day to remember for his 41st birthday.

Well, Accuweather said it would be cloudy until noon, then the sun would shine until 4, then it might rain. We took our chances.

It was cold. I never even got in the water and I was shivering at the picnic table. But the kids had a little fun, even though Dominyk's lips were turning blue. Then at about 3:30 it started to warm up.

At 3:45 they closed the park because it was supposed to rain, but it never has.

Good news is, though, that we now have free passes to go back some evening when it is nicer ... and we won't be checking accuweather.

Happy 41st Bart! You're the best!

Dominyk's Lips are Blue

Dominyk's Lips are Blue
Dominyk's Lips are Blue,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
His lips were even bluer than the picture shows, but we still had a great time!

Sadie at WWW

Sadie at WWW
Sadie at WWW,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
Look like she's having fun?

Tony at www

Tony at www
Tony at www,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
How cute is this? Despite the cold weather, Tony had a blast and went full blast most of the afternoon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Question of the Day -- Who is it Really About?

I won't go into any details, as I sit here, not telling my children to go to bed, because it is summer after all...

I'm hoping they'll just drop exhausted in their tracks, but it isn't working....

But something happened today that appalled me.

Someone I know was trying to convince someone else I know not to do something because it might be too hard ... it might cost them too much personally ... it might be too risky ... it might not work out.

Does God call us to do things becuase they are easy? If we are doing something that is socially just, do we not do so regardless of personal expense?

If it costs too much, or doesn't make sense to other people, or might be too hard, should we say "no, I can't do it?"

Bart and I adopted our children because we wanted to give them a home. We did it because of what we thought might happen to them if we did not.

We didn't do it for us.

It wasn't about us.

It never has been.

It never will be.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A day of interruptions

From the time i got up this morning until about 2 p.m., the longest I went without an interruption was less than 4 minutes. It's going to be a long summer.

Read the Beatitudes from "The Message" translation and liked them a lot. From Matthew 5 ....

3 "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
6 "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.
8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.
10 "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.
11 "Not only that - count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable.
12 You can be glad when that happens - give a cheer, even! - for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

If you're really desperate

This is a link to an old blog.

I thought it was a little too caustic, but I guess it isn't that bad...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dominyk's Self Portrait

Dominyk's Self Portrait
Dominyk's Self Portrait,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
It's amazing how much mischief you can see in his eyes even though only parts of them are showing!

Gizmo by Dominyk

Gizmo by Dominyk
Gizmo by Dominyk,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
We just returned from a bike ride and walk at the park. Dominyk was thrilled to have filled the memory card with pictures of Gizmo in multiple poses.

This one conveys his exhaustion after a romp in the park.


originally uploaded by Maeflye.
I am working on new worship slides. Every once and a while I think they are almost as good as the ones people sell, and since I'm about as unartistic as one can be, it surprises me.

Photoshop is amazing.

Feel free to download, copy, and use....

Friday, June 03, 2005

What, if anything, is Blog-worthy?

If what I ate for breakfast is not reviewed as interesting, then exactly what is?

What is blog-worthy?

I would HATE to have a boring blog.

I mean, how can a woman with 10 adopted children have a boring blog?

Who Reads a Blog?

I have been browsing blogs -- in my spare time and wondering...

Who reads blogs?

I mean, how does a blog become famous so that people are commenting day and night?

I have seen people making fun of blogs and how they tell what people had for breakfast...

read that just before I was going to post about how the neighbor, who makes cakes, brought over a mistake last night and how having it in my house is making me risk higher than ever blood sugars that lead to blindness, kidney failure, and amputated feet....

so now I don't want to post about my menu items.

Also saw a woman who was fired because her boss saw her blog.

Today was a much better day by the way -- although I was interrupted, on the average, once every 4 to 6 minutes...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Everything is Bloggable

I have borderline OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). It's been self-diagnosed, but my recent desire to blog has proven it to be true more than ever.

Did you realize that everything is a blog topic?

Just today, on the trip to the orthodontist, I wanted to blog many topics:

The fact that I have driven the same van 150,000 miles (of the 157,000 on it). I'm assuming my husband and oldest son drove the other 7000. But the places it has been and where it has taken me, the arguments and fun times we've had inside, all bloggable.

The unbelievable amount of money that orthodontists make. While I'm sitting there talking to the guy about how yet another one of our kids probably needs braces, there is a constant barrage of numbers going through my mind -- $5100 x how many people per hour x how many hours per day x how many hours per week -- he's making a killing.

The not so bright things my kids say. Example from today, "Mom what's a drag bus?" (Dont' ask)

The fact that I have son whose name has been consistently mispronounced by 2 of his siblings for 6 years.

I could write paragraphs, blog entries, for each one of these topics.

All of the sudden, everything is bloggable.

Do It yourself Haircut

Do It yourself Haircut
Do It yourself Haircut,
originally uploaded by Maeflye.
Just testing the Flickr photo posting software.

Our youngest gave himself this haircut last month...

I've been Summered

First official day of Summer.

What a day .... This morning I indicated that it had been a long one already by 7:30. Here's how the rest went:

8:00 - 9:15 I tried to work my job.

9:30 -- Headed to the Residential Treatment Center where one of my sons is to a staffing for him. He's doing terrible. The meeting was disheartening and sad as he had been doing very well. He was disrespectful and rude. I left annoyed, sad, discouraged and upset.

Headed home. Assisted with the supervision of the creation of lunch while trying to eat something healthy myself and trying to answer a few emails for my job.

At 1:45 headed to the doctor, which of course took way too long, then to the pharmacy (sick kid needed antibiotics) which took too long as well and then rushed to the Orthodontist 30 miles away. Barely got there in time. Then rushed home for a soccer game...

Returned home to find things not as I had hoped and the dryer broken.

Tried to coordinate supper. Didn't have a lot of success. Four kids, two soccer games, two different times, both during supper, nobody ready to eat, can't find the shin guards,"I don't want to wear boxers"....yada yada yada

Got into an argument with a very big teenager (who happens to be my son) who was refusing to simply listen to what I had to say, decided to shove me out of his way and stomp off. He's still laying low.

And the youngest is missing.

And I'm trying to sit down to eat something healthy and that in and of itself makes me crabby.... Do you think there is an award for the most meals eaten in front of the computer while trying to sneak in a few work emails?