Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Work your fingers to the bone and what do you get?

Productivity and your mind off your troubles, that’s what I say. I finished the match bash charts and I completed a website for matching specialists to match with during the bash today, as well as keeping up with my email. I also finished a post-placement report that was hanging over my head and way overdue. I then did 3 home visits and got those reports written right away this time. I just completed a home study update and am proud of myself for CRANKING out the paperwork. Now I have nothing to dread for tomorrow .... well, almost nothing.

I asked the kid about the cash card and they all looked like innocent baby deer, staring at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Seven or eight of them didn’t. The other one or two did. I felt like Jesus at the last supper, except that I didn’t know who it was that betrayed me.

My bottom line conclusion on this though, is that I was stupid to say the PIN number outloud, and careless to lose the card. I should know better than to be stupid enough, in a house full of kids with special needs, to tempt that way.... The card is cancelled, we’re out at least $140, and hopefully I’ve learned that it isn’t quite time to start trusting everyone yet.

Another day has gone by -- another day closer to the resolution of the other two major Hanging in the Air issues -- WIll we stay or will we go? And “How did I screw up the court papers?”

It’s late. Bart did bedtime so I could get this paperwork done. I look forward to a day of follow-up and matching tomorrow.

Just a Tiny Wee Bit Intense

I had a friend call today to make sure I was OK. After me explaining how I was (in comparison to how he was interpreting the blog) he pointed out that my personality was just a little intense.

Well, Duh. He has known me since I was 12 and spent thousands of hours with me. I would think he could read through the intensity of my posts and see that maybe I was just in the heat of the moment and there was no need to be alarmed.

I have thrown myself into work for most of the day, completing a couple of huge projects. If I could get one more done today, I would feel even better.

I am starting to feel somewhat self-absorbed and that my blogging is pathetic. I am hoping that I can see beyond me and start blogging about the kids.

Truth is, though, that blogging about some of the kids is even depressing. We tried to reward Mike and John for doing well, and now three of the other kids are jealous and angry (one of them being the kid who, bar none, has had more money spent on him than anyone else in our home ever will). Dominyk got in trouble for having a knife in his backpack for the 2nd time in two years and even though he turned it in himself (and I think it’s a miracle it hasn’t been more than 2 times in 2 years) the school is alarmed.

But, knowing myself as I do, this is a slump..... and I’ll be back at it. If even ONE of the stressors would be cleared up (the move, the court thing, or who stole the cash card) I’d be relieved.

Back to work....


As always, morning comes and everything looks a little brighter, even if it it isn’t perfect. All of the situations of yesterday are still true, nothing has been resolved, but I am more well rested and ready for the day.

I have several work related projects to do this morning and am not looking forward to them. Then I have 3 post-placement visits tonight, which I hate doing all at once, but because of surgery, everything got botched up.

Took time to post here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Trying to Shake the Mood

The layers of stress have compounded and I’m trying hard to shake my black mood. Everyoneceandawhile I find myself buried. Doesn’t seem to be much I can do to climb out of it.

I cleaned the kitchen completely again tonight. We made pinto beans and I got to have a whole 1/3 cup of them. They were tasty.

Almost through the first day of TORTURE. Who knows how many days will be left until we know.

Bottom line is that the stress comes and it goes. I’m not much of a worrier, but the fact that we’ve been “robbed” again really got to me because I actually had gotten to a point where I trusted everyone again. Silly, silly me.

We took some risks, and apparently they were foolish ones. It’s not the $140 that gets to me, it’s just how PERSONAL it feels...

Better not dwell on it, or I’ll never be able to shake this. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Stress in Layers

I am just frantic with stress today. I get this way sometimes. I’ve tried to bury myself in my work and have been working hard, but I can’t shake the stress.

Layer one is the are we moving are we not stress. Killer.

Layer two is the potential screw-up that I might have done regarding court paperwork that I can’t find out about.

Layer three is the posting of all kinds of kids that I don’t think I can find a family for. I’ve been attempting to bury myself in work, but I’ve been doing a lot of older teens today and it always makes me upset because I realize that many of them will age out.

and now, Layer four is that it appears someone is stealing from us in a big way again. This hasn’t happened for over a year, and I just hate to think that John and/or Mike are doing it again. They have been doing so well.

I wonder how many layers I can take before I blow?


I heard this definition of character once and loved it.

Character is who you are when nobody is looking/

Teaching character to our kids, however, is not always easy, and it takes hypervigilant effort every moment of every day. On Saturday, Tony had a wrestling meet. He didn’t have a very good day, wrestling kids a lot taller and a lot more in shape than he was. Last year, he won often as he was matched with kids built like he was -- chubby and short. This year, he’s not having as much luck and is getting creamed.

He came in fourth, but the tournament was a little disorganized and they have them standing as if he was first. They also gave him a 3rd place medal.

Now in the scheme of things, and because of the fact that I was ready to go home and tired of being there, I was tempted to just ignore it. But integrity, character, a teaching moment, reared it’s head and I told Tony to go trade it in. “You don’t want a medal that you didn’t earn. Go exchange it for a 4th place medal.” Surprisingly, he understood and did so willingly, which made me feel good about what we had imparted to this point.

Now I’m sure that most people would say this was no big deal. But kids watch me every minute of every day, and my character, whatever that is, shines through everything.

So even though Tony “lost” on Saturday, he won big in the character category.

Killing Time

Well, instead of counting to sixty 60 times like Dominyk would have, I killed an hour by setting up this site I’ve been wanting to set up. I need to get back to having a daily time of reading scripture, and since blogging has made such a difference in my parenting, I figured that it might help me in this way as well. Don’t feel like you have to read it, but if you want to it is linked on the side or you can just click here.

Stress, Dreaming and Counting to Sixty

Last night I had a dream that the judge in our county put me in jail for contempt of court for not filing adoption paperwork for one of my families correctly. It was a very disconcerting dream and the later part may be true, though i doubt I’m going to jail.

I have an undercurrent of stress flowing through my veins right now that is like a continuous pulsating. It has to do with work and the cabinet appointment retreat being held this week. It’s like a constant buzz and I can’t shake it. I am going to attempt today to immerse myself so deeply in work that I periodically forget about it, but the second I resurface it will be there.

I’ve thought maybe I could pass the time this week doing what Dominyk does. Last week when I wasn’t in church, one of the teenagers was trying to help out our family by keeping an eye on Dominyk. He was lying in the pew and she asked if he wanted to sit by her.

He said, “I’m already to 17 times.”

“Doing what?”

“Counting to Sixty”

She reported to me later that she didn’t get it. But I immediately did. He knew that church lasted 60 minutes, so if he counted to 60 slowly 60 times it would be over. Not a great testimony to the quality of my husband’s preaching is it?

So maybe I could just spent the week counting to sixty until the retreat is over. Let’s see, I’d only have to do it 2160 times or something like that (waking hours that is) . . .

Sunday, January 29, 2006

8 bags later

2 hours and 8 garbage bags later, I’m done for now. I feel a little better, but there is STILL a lot of stuff. I decided to go ahead and get rid of anything that nobody was going to fit in for the next two years. I was saving stuff that the boys are going to look at and say “YUCK” because they are already out of style.

I’m getting ready to have real food again!

The Day Improves

The day got better. Church was good and the whole family went out to eat. I ate something. About 24 hours before I was really supposed to, but it was sure great to do it. Then we saw a movie.

Now I’m getting ready to go downstairs and declutter the laundry room. We have so many clothes down there that nobody wears that I’m going to make myself work on that for a while.


I decided to give the naughtiest kids three chances before punishment this morning simply because punishing them all the time isn’t working anyway.

Jimmy already has his three strikes, Tony and Dominyk each have one and we haven’t even been up a half hour.

Sometimes I wonder how other family’s mornings go before church on Sunday. We show up and appear fairly normal, but only after hell has broken lose for a long time at home.

Bart’s back continues to hurt -- it’s been a week now -- and I can tell he is just miserable. I wish there was something I could do.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Holding on and Letting Go

I realized again today that it takes much more energy to let go than it does to hang on tight. You would think that the opposite would be true, but in reality, it is much harder to let go.

This morning I had to let go. The only way for me to get everyone where they needed to be was to leave some of them unsupervised for a while and that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what “normal people” with “normal kids” do, but I have a hard time not being there to make sure everything goes OK. Last night Dominyk’s sleepover did not go well. They didn’t say anything, but he forgot to tell them about meds and they brought him home almost 3 hours early, so I’m trying not to let my imagination run wild. Then I had to leave Jimmy and Tony at a wrestling match for 30 minutes and then drop Mike and Alisha (his “girlfriend”) at the recreational park and head back to watch Tony wrestle. Leaving anyone anywhere makes me nervous because of what might happen.

This is the way it is with other things, even in the spiritual realm. It is so much harder to have faith and let go than it is to hold on tightly with both hands. Especially for a control freak like me, letting go is hard to do.

It turned out OK so far though, and I told myself the whole while that letting go was the best option -- that whether I worried or not would not affect the outcome. And that’s true.

So on to more days of letting go.... (now if I could just let go of the fact that decision-makers will be begin meeting TOMORROW to discuss our future (along with the future of several others then I’d be the master of letting go.)

Not there yet.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Calm, Mellow, Night

Tonight is a calm night in our house. But before I tell you about the calm, let me tell you about the storm.

Right before dinner John decided to get into it with me. He was determined to get my goat and I wasn’t even sure why. He worked hard at it and pushed and pushed and pushed. He was in rare form, twisting my words and saying things that were intended to just really make me angry. One of the things he “shared” was that he is offended when I say he dresses like a Gangster Wannabee (and get this--) because he really is a Gangster. Now he isn’t any more a gangster than I am a super model, but he THINKS he is one and there was no changing his mind. Facts mean nothing in conversations like this, I’ve learned. Apparently, all you have to do is be the right race and say you’re in and all the sudden you’re a gang member. Anyway, it was an interesting conversation -- one which I finally realized was just his begging for attention in whatever way he could. I don’t know why I even bother to do anything but listen as my words mean nothing and there is no logic.

Another interesting conversation between Mike and Bart revealed that we do nothing for him (this is the kid who is going to have me get up early to drive 30 miles to pick up his girlfriend, drive them to the recreation area to snowboard, PAY her way in, and give them money for meals, then pick them up, drive her back home, and then bring him here, not to mention the oodles of money we spent on him last weekend.

Anyway, after all that, the calm began. Dominyk is at a friend’s house (the first overnight of his life). Rand, MIke and Jimmy are at the H.S. Basketball game. Salinda is ice skating with friends. That leaves us with only four kids here and it’s been quite nice. I took my time in washing the dishes, listening to music while I did. Actually enjoyed the time alone. I did something oh so very odd during my dishes time.

Then finished watching a movie with Bart and John because I promised I would that I did not enjoy, but didn’t express that, and then read a chapter of a book with Sadie. There has not been an argument, a melt down, or any screaming, either by parent or adult, all night long. We may even make it til bedtime!

Reason #1 Why I Want to Stay Here Forever

I may post several of these as we come close to the “will we stay or will we go decision” probably being made next week, but not necessarily being shared with us this week. (And then, just so you know, if we are moving, I will not be able to blog about it until 1) The church where we are going knows; 2) The church we are leaving knows; and 3) our children know. And it WILL be in that order, because we have children who cannot keep a secret.

Anyway, here is reason #1 why I love where we are. Everything is within biking distance in this town. Two miles from our house to everything. And so I don’t have to play Taxi Driver unless it is very cold.

I do not want to play taxi driver. I like being home and being able to get things done. If we move, it will probably be to a larger town or a city and I will have to be in that van day and night.

Right now our schools are all connected on one campus and the football field begins across the street from our house. Our kids are “walkers” and again, I don’t have to taxi anyone to or from anything -- not games, not dance practice, nothing at all unless it is VERY VERY cold.


Working Hard and Long

Trying to get my inbox cleaned out this morning. I’m down to one email, which is something I need to do that I am waiting for a response on. Otherwise, I’m good to go. Been plugging away on laundry again. It’s good to physically feel back up to speed. Hopefully I’ll be able to blog about something else now.

The morning Routine

Since learning about the flylady a few years ago, I have known that whenever I wanted to have a cleaner house, I had someone who could help me. Now I’m not the “typical” person who she usually speaks too as I don’t have a problem loving myself or with low self esteem (the Lord knows the opposite is often true). However, her reminders and her coaching can really work.

One of the things that has really helped me is the Morning Routine. If I follow this, I feel much better about myself. Now that I am having more energy, I have put it in place again.

In addition to getting myself and my children up and them out the door, each morning I try to:

put away any clean clothes in my bedroom
make my bed
throw in a load of laundry
finish loading or unload the dishwasher
wipe off kitchen counters

If I can get that much done, I can sit down at my computer and work feeling much better about the beginning of my day.

I am planning to add some more of her techniques as time goes by. She even has a whole guide to moving which we’ll need some year.

I also have the alarm on my computer set to go off every 75 minutes to remind me to change the laundry so when I get lost in the zone which may happen again today as the matching bash is next week.

It’s nice to be feeling like I want to be doing more instead of less and not to be quite so tired...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Literally Making Me Sick

Sometimes I just get literally physically sick when stress is abounding. When I returned tonight, I had a couple of pieces of very bad news and John had not yet apologized. We had a meeting with his social worker and he was swearing he wasn’t going to talk her (referring to her in not so nice terms) Then we found out that the court hearing for John has been postponed AGAIN so the county still has custody of him until March.

All that stress really freaks me out and my fingers get cold and I feel like I am going to throw up.

Some of my co-workers talk about getting rid of their stress by exercising. I actually went to the fitness center so that I could come back and report on the blog that it didn’t work.

But surprisingly after only 10 minutes on the exercise bike I felt better. My mind seemed clearer, my hands certainly were not cold, and I no longer felt like I was going to throw up.

Check here to see how my first lunch out went.


An un-named occasional reader to my blog apparently reported to my husband that she was surprised that I was going to actually miss people here because it doesn’t seem like I would.

I thought that was funny she she has OWED ME LUNCH for 2 YEARS! Here I am, the desperately lonely clergy spouse, trying in vain to reach out to people in the church, only to be brushed off for 2 YEARS!

Just kidding Mrs. C.

Sometimes I really make myself laugh.

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story

I was wrong. John did not go to confirmation nor was he in the yard. We don’t know where he was. He returned about 9:45. Bart talked to him and he was still agitated, trying to pick a fight. For this reason, it was a good thing that his Dad was the one talking to him because even though I may be “seasoned” I was tired “to the bone” (as my mother used to say) and had been worrying about him (though nobody could tell) since 6:30.

Bart basically just said, “We’re glad you made a good choice and decided to come home.” John went on again about all his complaints and Bart just listened and kept saying, “we’re glad you came home.” He’s a saint. Bart, not John.

Today Bart and I are taking a mental health day. I have a meeting in a town a couple hours away and he is going to accompany me. We may even go out to lunch so I can drink the broth from his soup.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Being "Seasoned"

I don’t know if I would call myself seasoned, but Bart and I have been doing this for a little over 9 years. There are certain things that send the blood pressure sky high and make the house tense. But, what I learned FINALLY is that if I remain as calm as I can be in the midst of those episodes then everyone recovers fairly quickly (except for the episode creator, but that’s another story).

Tonight John lost it. I could see it brewing from about 4, but the explosion didn’t occur until 6:30. He was trying to fill out job applications, but he couldn’t figure them out. I was in the middle of something, so I told him that he should fill out what he could and I would help him with the rest. (I figured Name and Address and Phone and stuff he should, at 15, be able to do). Instead he asked Bart to help him. Salinda came in to find out how to count a trumpet piece. I couldn’t figure it out, so I sent Salinda in to have Bart count out the rhythm for her. John came into my office saying “Why can’t Salinda do that in her room” to which I, not always intuitive about people’s moods, responded, “Why can’t you do that in your room?”

From that point on it went gradually downhill. Everyone and everything was bothering him. Finally, I caught him selling a CD of downloaded songs to Jimmy. I insisted that John give the money back as it was not legal to download songs and sell them. (I wasn’t going to get into the fact that it is illegal to download songs period, as that would have opened a zillion can of worms.) John refused to give the money back, so I handed him his CD and told Jimmy he was out five bucks because he just tried to buy something illegal.

The main point is that it makes me mad that John is taking advantage of Jimmy. Just because Jimmy doesn’t know HOW to download songs, he’s paying John $5 for something John got for free. He didn’t even pay for the blank CD.

Anyway, the almost end of the story is that John came in, broke the CD into many pieces, threw it all over the ground in the kitchen, and then threw the case against the wall, breaking it into many pieces. He then said, “Are you F****** happy? Are you? Are you?”“ at this point screaming at the top of his lungs. I said, very calmly, ”Actually, I am fairly disappointed in your behavior right now. I’m definitely not happy. “Yes you are! You are SO F****** happy!”

He then went downstairs, cranked his music loudly, and now he’s missing. I went outside and he pretty much threw everything in the garage he could find.

Here’s the reason for this blog entry (after all that background junk. A year or two ago I would have gotten very upset. I would have followed him down the stairs trying to get him to talk to me. I would have continued to escalate things by trying to get to the bottom of it and get it over with. I would be frantic right now about whether or not to call the cops and worried about him running away and what was going to happen.

But now, i figure this. One of two things has happened. He is either hiding in the yard (which was his past habit) or he has walked down to confirmation. Of course, there is a chance he could have ran away, but here’s the deal. Let’s say he did. Is me getting very stressed and upset going to make him come home sooner? Is it going to change anything? Nope. Bottom line is that my adding emotional stress to this is not going to have any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the night.

I think that is part of being seasoned. If John runs away, then tomorrow at our meeting where we are supposed to be talking about getting custody back, instead we will be talking about the fact that he ran. And it will play itself out. And I have learned that there isn’t a dang thing I will be able to do about it.

So, I’ll let it play itself out. If he is indeed in the yard or at confirmation, I will probably talk with him, let him clean up his mess, and let it go. If he isn’t, we’ll deal with it from there. But me getting all worked up isn’t going to help anything.

Nice thing is that within minutes of John’s outburst, everyone else around here was fine. Because I was fine. Before the house was in an uproar the whole time Bart and I were fuming.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.


Productive Day for the first time in weeks. I feel like I have actually accomplished a lot today.

I got everyone off to school
Worked 90 minutes.
Went to coffee with friends.
Took Salinda to the orthodontist.
Worked 5 hours
Went to an IEP meeting for Dominyk.
Worked 2.5 hours.

AND worked on laundry all day until I caught up! This hasn’t happened to me since December 8th and wouldn’t have if Bart wouldn’t have gotten caught up while I was having surgery.

I’m feeling quite tired right now, and not looking forward to Dinner. Way too hard not to eat.

Have one more project I’d like to complete tonight, but I’m just not sure I“ll have the energy.

Classic FAS

Last night Mike asked me if he could throw in a load of laundry while I was in bed. I said sure.

This morning, at 6:30 a.m., I woke him up. It was obvious I had just crawled out of bed. He said, “Is my laundry dry?”

I said, “i don’t know. I haven’t been downstairs yet.”

I assumed he had gone down and put it in the dryer. This morning I went downstairs and found his clothes still in the washer.

That is SO FAS.

A New Day

Things are starting to fall back together in my life. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all is well, but it does mean that things are going back to somewhat of a routine after surgery.

Last night I had one of those “parenting marathon” nights. That’s when I call them. When there is one emotional crisis demanding parental attention after another for hours. It started with Tony melting down because we had bought John and Mike new clothes that are more expensive than usual (trying to reward them for a first month home that has been so good). Then I blew it with Mike, as I described, and that led to him refusing my apologize, him saying some things that burned me (i.e. buying me stuff is not a reward. Normal kids parents buy them stuff all the time. (This is after a weekend where we spent $500 replacing some of the things he needed plus buying a snowboard as a reward for how well he’s done the last month). Then Rand completely refused to do an assignment which resulted in me being cussed out more than once and him having to go to his room for the night at 8:00. Most everything resolved itself by the end of the night.

This morning was fine. I was greeted by Dominyk with, “Well, I sure got a good night’s sleep” which made me smile.

I’m actually going to spend 1/2 hour having ice water with friends I used to exercise and have breakfast with. They are some of the funnest women in town -- the judges wife, the ex-mayor’s ex-wife, and a hilarious very-community-involved woman. They are in their fifties and two of them have been friends since high school. They called and invited me since they knew I had had surgery. Said they wanted to see the “before” me.

I rejoined FlyLady to try to get back on track with the house now that I have more energy. I did this a few years ago and it really helped to keep me on track. I shined my sink last night and this morning put away two baskets of clothes, made the bed (no, that doesn’t always happen). changed the laundry, and finished loading the dishwasher all by 7:30 a.m.

And, for those of you who care and love stats as much as I do, for some reason yesterday I hit an all time record number of visits to this site in one day. I like that...

And here’s more exciting news.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Salinda's game

I went to Salinda’s game. She did pretty well but the team lost and she didn’t score, which is unusual. She’s so fun to watch -- so graceful out there. During the game one of the girls saw her mom for the first time and and greeted her with, “Where’s my Gatorade?” I leaned over and translated for her. I said, “What she meant to say was, ”Hi, Mom. Great to see you. Thanks for coming to my game.“ The parents around me got a laugh and we all comment on how utilitarian we are at this age.

Dominyk was sledding but got cold and came into the game to sit by me. When I saw him, I looked over at him and said, ”Do I know you? Why are you choosing to sit by me? I mean, I’m glad you did, but I’m not sure we’ve met!“ He rolled his eyes at me and said, ”Ih hate it when you do that.“ I just laughed and gave him a hug.

When I was leaving the game he ran ahead and was waiting by the van. When I arrived he said, ”Do I know you?“

Gotta love that kid.

Screwed Up Bad

There are sometimes as a parent that I feel like I could have done better and then there are times when I REALLY screw up and I immediately know it.

Mike brought home his 3rd quarter progress report from his new Day Treatment School. It had all As and Bs but his behavior grades were declining. I mentioned the behavior first. Crap.

Now he isn’t speaking to me and I feel awful. I tried to apologize and he kicked me out of his room.

To defend myself, I am alone tonight as Bart is at a staff retreat, I still can’t poop, and I feel lousy. I had just walked in and been completely bombarded. I have to cook dinner so that I can watch my children eat while I “chew” a fruit juice popsicle. Everyone was crying, screaming, complaining, and demanding my attention at once. Mike came in dropped the paper in my hands and was expecting praise. Without concentrating, I blew it, simply put, badly blew it.

So now I get to deal with the aftermath of that. My work situation that I can’t post is not resolved. The pressure of not knowing where we’ll be next year is mounting as we get closer to finding out. I am NOT feeling at the top of my game.

But I heard about a friend from another friend who has a child in treatment for meth and another in jail (hi Mrs. S, Mrs. P told me about this, hope that was OK). Kind of puts things in perspective.


You can read about my Breakup and my Walmart Run


For once I’m not feeling poopy, but this story bears repeating.

Last night Dominyk came in our room about 2:15 wide awake. We asked what he was doing, and he said, “getting clean boxers.”


“Because the other ones are dirty. Don’t you hate it when you think you are farting and diarrhea comes out?

“yes, Dominyk.”

“I hate it when that happens”

Ten minutes later I hear this crash. I walk in to the bathroom and Dominyk is standing there.

“What happened?”

“I was trying to check and see if I wiped all the poop out of my butt.”

Apparently, he had lost balance when he was inspecting because whatever position he put his body in just wasn’t working.

This morning we resumed the conversation.

“Have a little trouble checking your butt last night?”

“Yup. I fell over.”

“That’s funny, I think I’ll blog that.”

“You better not. Or I will punch you. Right where they took out the staples.”

“I’m going to blog that too.”

Monday, January 23, 2006

Right Back Into It All

First of all, I need to report that I did not sleep well again last night. For some reason, Bart was snoring like a hibernating bear worse than he has since he got a C-Pap (not to be confused with Pap Smear) a year or so after we were married. I was used to it then, but last night it was driving me crazy. I wasn’t tired and I couldn’t sleep.

So I started my first day “back at it” tired. I had my doctors appointment this morning, came back, answered email and made my 2 oz of soup, headed back to the van, and went to pick up the kids (I couldn’t drive this morning, so a friend dropped them off when she took me to the doctor). We went to a movie that I’m embarrassed that I enjoyed so I am not going to tell you what it was. Ha.

After our movie, which Mike and John and I saw, we had 15 minutes until the movie that the girls and Dominyk saw was over. I usually sit down and play rigged Nokia bowling. This time I thought, “hey, I could get my daily exercise in now and joined the mall walkers (theatre is at mall). I walked 10 straight minutes, got my heart rate up to 132, and only had horrific back pain at the very end. I was surprised that I even thought of doing it and it was a good use of time. One of my goals is to get exercise in ways that don’t take chunks of my time. I’ve been thinking up lots of possibilities.

Then I came home to nasty news that I referred to vaguely in my previous post. I answered a few emails, did a lot of dishes, and then had an unpleasant conversation trying to get to the bottom of a story about a girl snuck in here last year with her shirt off or some such nonsense. That was not pleasant as everyone involved is an adolescent and is also deceptive, defensive, and angry.

Then Dominyk got obsessed with how bad a mother I am and went on for a long time.

I then did a few more dishes, answered a few more emails, handed out some consequences, and then sat down to 2 oz of the broth of the incredible stew that Bart made for supper. Everyone sat there gnawing on large chunks of beef and huge, buttered home made crescent rolls while I slowly sipped broth and prune juice. Following supper I helped Salinda figure out her new trumpet songs, spent a half hour talking to one of the moms from a family who will finally be getting their kids (she reads the blog -- Hi there Mrs. A).

Now I’m blogging and trying to decide how much extra energy I have to do what tonight. Tomorrow morning we have therapy with John and have some shopping to do and THEN, MAYBE, I’ll be able to get serious about working.

I then called Cindy and realized that my life is GREAT. What she is going through with Sarah, that I’m sure she’ll blog later, is so much harder than anything I’ve gone through today, or this week, or even this year. Remember to pray for her.

Finally, I helped Audrey get her links on her blog, picked up Mike and John from the gymnastics meet they went to see and now I’m finishing this blog entry before I go upstairs.

I think I will be tired tonight.

I Feel Like I Might Vomit

and it isn’t surgery related.

A couple of very annoying things happened today to push me over the edge. One is an ongoing issue about a family financial matter and the other is work related.

I hate stress. I hate that feeling hanging over my head that something very bad could happen.

And topping it all off is now that I am no longer in bed everyone is back to their endless barraging of me. I am dealing with things that didn’t get dealt with months ago or weeks ago or days ago in the parenting realm and I am feeling more like vomiting every minute.

One of the hardest things about dealing with FAS is that a kid with FAS wakes up every day like it’s a new day. And so he/she really wants everyone else to act like that is true as well. The past is the past, right? “Why do you have to bring it up?” I try to explain that life doesn’t work this way ... that the past does not disappear and that other people have memories. But it never goes well.

And then there is passive aggressiveness that I just can hardly tolerate. Pester me and bug me until I finally give in and agree to do what you want me to do and then the minute I agree, refuse to do it in order to punish me for not doing it the second you wanted it done. AGH!

So I Don't Leave You Hanging

They survived the mall and all is well. We saw a movie and now we’re back home again. I’m actually feeling OK, although I would love to poop. I feel like Dooce. She talks about poop often.

On My Way out the Door

Going to pick up the boys at the mall and take some kids to a movie.

Check out what happened this morning here.

To let go.. or NOt

This morning I am going to let John and Mike and the girls go to the mall in a neighboring city alone for a couple hours. To say that it makes me nervous is an understatement. Mike is a “skater” and John is a “poser” -- that is how they dress. They are teenagers. They have issues. And there is school in Sioux Falls today. So they are going to be a security guard’s focus the whole time. The girls should temper that, but it makes me nervous.

When I suggested that they not both go, it did not go well. They accused me of not trusting them, not giving them a chance, etc.

Now, I realize, that at 15 and almost 17, most parents probably wouldn’t give it a second thought, but I’m nervous as can be. John still isn’t in our custody and we have a letter in our file from our county saying Mike is not ready to live in a home setting. If something happens....

But I’m learning to let it go........ sort of.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Done -- and the Conclusion

One of the things I like about myself is even though i can get caught in some obsessive compulsive traps, I can tell myself that I am done and stop myself. I’m done looking at houses.

My conclusion: We have been TRULY blessed with our wonderful large parsonage for the past 7 years. To find something even comparable, if we ever have to buy a house, is going to cost us an arm and a leg. We have 5 large bedrooms, and plenty of other living spaces. Houses that I looked at online looked big until I got out the measuring tape and measured the rooms here.

I guess I didn’t realize how good I had it!

Tricky Waters

When I started blogging I decided that I wasn’t going to think too much about my audiences because then I would have to squelch myself and not really share what was on my mind.

I realized today that the blog has become quite self-obsessed, because it’s really not like me. I also realized, in blogging about my compulsive hobby of house-shopping in various towns, that people in our church were going to panic. And then realized how tricky the waters might be someday, whether it is this year, next year, or years from now, when we do decide to move. Let me set some background.

I am very much like my mother, and not much like my father. My mother always tries her hardest to look at the bright side of things. If there is good to see in a situation, she’ll see it. I also learned from her a complete trust that if I pray that God will do what’s best, then what is best will occur.

Now my husband, and other melancholy INFPs who think way too much about everything, will have a hard time accepting what they would call my naive faith or shallow view of life. (I’m an ESTJ, the exact opposite of an INFP, for those of you who have a clue what the Myers Briggs descriptions are (for those of you who don’t you can learn all about it here.) But I am a pragmatist who doesn’t have to analyze everything and the logic works for me. Here’s how it works.

1) I pray, “Lord, you know everything. I don’t. You know what will, could, can, would happen, and all I known is what I can see. So I am trusting you to do what is best.”

As I described in this lengthy post I believe it to be true that:

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

2) A decision is made and I believe it to be the best for me and everyone around me because I asked God, believing in faith, to give us the best.

3) I get excited about it because I know it is the best thing. I work my hardest to find the very best pieces about it and move forward, believing that the alternatives would not be best.

So, here’s the tricky waters. In a few weeks, or (please no or I’ll go nuts) months we will either get a call saying “you’re staying where you are” or “you’re moving to __________.” At that moment, I will move instantly into a “positive things about moving” mode where I find everything positive I can think of about the place we’re moving and what Bart will be doing. I will collect those things, most likely blog those things, and share them with my husband and children hourly.

Part of the reason I will do this is because many of them are not like me (husband included) and will need to be reminded often that the world is not ending because change is coming. They will need to be told that the new place is full of people just waiting to be our friends. They will need to hear every good thing I can find.

None of us WANT to leave a place that has been so awesome. I could list 50 things very quickly about why we love it here. And so the only way that I can see us transitioning is if I am the “collector of the positive” and in order to do that, I may have to be a repressor of my own grief. I can choose not to think about things I don’t want to think about, so I will occupy myself in a frenzy of positive, forward-looking constant activity and most likely appear that I never cared about anyone or anything here.

But nothing will be farther from the truth. I have lived in this town longer than I have lived anywhere as an adult. We have had the most supportive and understanding congregation anyone could ask for and we have been much more grateful than we have remembered to express. The school system has been incredible. There are so many wonderful people we have met and saying goodbye is going to be tremendously hard. Just the thought of saying goodbye makes me profoundly sad.

But I am responsible, as is every mother, for setting the emotional barometer in our home, and if news comes that we are moving, I will be the one who MUST remain focused and positive.

But in the midst of all of this, I certainly do not want to offend anyone who has loved and supported us over the last 7 years.

So, tricky waters, huh?

Skipping Church and a Dangerous Combination

This morning I am not in church and it feels WEIRD. Even before I was a “clergy spouse, formerly known as pastor’s wife” I never skipped. I’m talking maybe 20 times in my LIFE I’ve skipped Sunday morning, and 10 of those in the last 10 years when I WAS a clergy spouse. Going to church is never something to decide, it is a fact.

I came to the realization last night when Bart was exhausted and stressed and I was perky, cheerful and babbling on and on that a dangerous combination is for me to be feeling mentally and emotionally on top of things and be required to take it easy physically. I get so wound up that I can’t settle down. That’s how I was most of yesterday.

And then again last night I could not fall asleep. Didn’t fall asleep until about 1:15 and had to get up to get everyone ready this morning. Now this morning I have a headache and should probably go back to bed.

I managed to figure out how to get everything done today. Tony’s PCA and his girlfriend are taking Tony tubing and will give Mike and John a ride to ski/snowboard today. This afternoon, if Bart is feeling up to it, he will be seeing a movie with Rand and Ricardo. On Monday, an indescribably awesome friend of ours is giving me a ride to the doctor (because I can’t drive until he clears it tomorrow) and John and the girls will ride along and then be dropped off at the mall. I will return home and get three kids, return to pick up John and the girls and hopefully, if I’m feeling up to it, all six of us will go to a movie. If I don’t feel up to it, then Bart will go back and get the three kids before his 2 p.m. “pastoral gathering.”

He has to make lunch AND do 2 nursing home services this afternoon after 2 this morning. He’s going to be very very tired.

He’s had so much to do this week he finally admitted that he didn’t realize how much I did around here. He usually does a lot, but for either one of us to do what both of us usually do is quite a shock to the system.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A P.S.

For the UMC police and for people from our current church:

Please don't be concerned. Every time Bart even mentions that there is an opening somewhere he might think about some day applying to I do this. It's just a fun hobby of mine, since we've never owned a house.

This does NOT mean that I wouldn't be PERFECTLY happy and THRILLED if we would stay here. Looking for a house to buy is something to take my mind off everything else.

When he reads that I blogged any of this he's probably going to kill me. I am like totally the most inappropriate clergy spouse a person could find. I can't believe he married me.

Feeling MUCH better right now

Well, I feel much better. I think I have it figured out how I can make at least 70 some odd percent of the kids and my husband fairly happy over the next three days.

And, I’ve been having a blast speculating. I just decided to do a little house hunting even though we don’t know where we are going or if we are going. I picked a town in MN and went to see what was out there in case we get a church that doesn’t have a parsonage. I know that the whole thing is silly, but it’s keeping my mind occupied. It’s more fun than Sim City. Did you know that you can actually see satellite maps of addresses and get directions on a hybrid map with google that shows the actual picture with directional arrows. Very cool.

Here’s my dilemma. If I am not at my desk I get bored and restless and all I think about is my digestional pain. If I am at my desk, I’m still in pain but I’m not thinking about it. I’m looking at houses, and plotting routes to each of the three schools we’d need (next year we’ll have 3 in HS, 3 in MS, and 3 in Elementary). So my mind is off it.

And don’t worry, I’m only going to do this for an hour or so and then I’ll dutifully go up where I can stretch out, drink a few more ounces of something, and relax.

Slowing WAY down

As mentioned here I am not feeling as well as I did the first few days and am not sure why. But I’m getting discouraged because I have lots to do and a lot of kids. And, now that Bart took off this week to take care of me when I was feeling better, now that i’m feeling worse he has a funeral today and church and nursing home tomorrow. I can’t drive, so I can’t do any errands or help at all even when I felt like I could.

Part of my discouragement comes from the fact that it is a three day weekend. I am the social coordinator and we always try to do at least one thing every weekend that involves the kids. Whether it is going to Walmart and stopping for lunch (like I’ll ever want to eat out again (Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order? yes, please, I’d like a fruit and yogurt parfait without the fruit or yogurt please).

So, the kids are used to me planning fun things for them and I had big dreams that on Monday I’d be able to at least do something, but right now I’m not sure what will happen. I will go to the doctor and nine and then go from there. Trying to get Bart to agree to do something fun when he is stressed with the work he missed and all he’s done around here this past week (which is TONS) makes me feel bad. But the kids keep asking “Are we doing anything today?” forgetting that the whole family can’t do anything when there is only one driver.

I am now thinking I will probably not even go to church tomorrow and I was definitely planning on that.

I will reiterate: I just wish I knew what exactly was wrong. Am I eating too much? Not enough? Not resting enough? Not exercizing enough? Eating the wrong things?

I’m going to study the diet again and see if I can figure out the key.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Like a Race Horse

This is a perfect word picture of how I am feeling.

I am a race horse. (Now, I am sure with all the liquids I’m drinking, you are thinking that I am going to say something about peeing like a race horse, but this post actually has nothing to do with any bodily functions. I’m trying to save that stuff for the Shrinking Slob blog).

Anyway, I’m a race horse and I am in the starting gate. I am ready to sprint down that track if I have to. But truthfully, I would be just as content to have the race cancelled and be able to walk away. The stress is in not knowing whether or not there will be a race.

The amount of work that will have to be done in transitioning this family if we have to move is inconceivable. And depending on when we are notified, we will have a maximum of 4 months to do it. We have 6 kids on IEPs, with another one pending, so the school piece will be huge. We have arrangements to make for driver’s ed this year for 3 kids.... we have summer camp and summer jobs. This is not to mention what would happen if we would be appointed to a church with a housing allowance instead of a parsonage. Then we would have to buy a house during those months as well. And I’m getting offered opportunities to speak nationally and not sure I“ll have time to do so if I am busy preparing to move. And I haven't even mentioned packing, sorting, decluttering, cleaning. AAAAAAAH!

So, IF this is something we’re going to do I’m chomping at the bit to get going. If it’s not, I can relax and focus on other things. But I either want them to lift the gate so I can get moving, or tell us there is no race. I have learned to be happy wherever I am, so that is not an issue, but I’d sure like to know if I’ll be racing this Spring. It changes everything.

Can't Stay Away

I’m supposed to be giving myself one more day to take it easier than usually, but what I really want to do today is match kids. I find it incredibly rewarding to hear that kids are getting families and to know that I have had a part it making it happen. Time just flies by. I’ve blogged about it before. It’s the zone . The saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun” is definitely true.

I’ve been a “Serious” matcher for almost 2 years now. I started matching in January of 2003, but didn’t really know what I was doing. In 2003 I only had 11 kids come home and of those 11, I know for sure that 3 of them disrupted. Beginning in May of 2004, things started kicking into gear and I began to do some serious matching. By the end of 2004, my number had grown to 36. And I’m sure I’ve already posted that in 2005 it was 96. My goal for 2006 is 110, but don’t ask why because then I’d have to admit how shallow I really am.

I am amazed that I have found something that I can do for literally 6-10 hours every day for years and NEVER get tired of it. I don’t know exactly why I love it so much, but to me it’s like a strategy game.

So, I’m going to match today, and it’s going to be fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Definitely a Keeper

Considering the amount of time saved, ILife 06 is definitely a keeper. I won’t blog from it, as I think my MacJournal and Blogger combination is much better, but I will definitely upload photos this way and create simple web pages when I don’t have a lot of time.

Check out some Fletcher Photos here.


I must plug ILife06. I did my first web page about 10 years ago for our wedding. I did it buy buying “Learn HTML in 10 minutes”. It was nothing fancy, but it had directions, a list of who had RSVPd, a place to see where people could stay, etc.

Since then I have progressed to the point where a couple years ago I was able to create this website.

However, doing all this stuff oneself and keeping it updated takes tons of time and thus I have abandoned much of my web design. But with the new ILife06 I literally did this in less than 2 minutes because I have a .mac account and the software. It’s obvious that I didn’t take much time because I chose a travel template for wrestling pictures. Duh!

The Unvailing

As I mentioned last night, I got ILife06 in the mail and had fun messing with it to create this Website. It is going to serve as a collection of my creative endeavors. So if you haven’t gotten enough of me yet, you can check it out.

Incredible Thought

Ran across this quote on this blog and I thought it was quite profound. It really sums what I try to tell people all the time when parenting tough kids:

I once read a story in some therapist's book about how years after working with a family, he met the daughter, who had been a rebellious teenager, an all-around "problem child," and the focus of the family's treatment.  As an adult she was, much to the therapist's surprise, living a stable, constructive, independent, and happy life.  He asked her what had finally worked, what had finally turned her around.  And she said that nothing had worked, that her parents had tried everything possible, and nothing had helped.  But, she said, what had made the difference was that they had never stopped trying.

Conversation with Dominyk yesterday

Dominyk seems to get a lot of my blog space, but he’s so hilarious that I can’t help but document what he says.

Yesterday I was lying in bed when he came in from his shower and when he finished putting on his boxers we had this conversation:

“Can you please shut the door and turn off the light for me. Remember, I have holes in my stomach.”

“Well, that was your choice.”

“Yes, Dominyk, it was.”

“And it was a stupid choice. You could have just taken those pills, 3 times a day.”

“You watch too much TV.”

“No I don’t. I SAW the pills and they REALLY work.”

“DId you see them on TV?”


“You watch too much TV.”

By the way, I am continuously blogging on the Shrinking Slob blog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

An Overachiever

I loved today because it was so easy to overachieve. I always like to do more than expected, and today I was able to do so by doing anything. Everyone kept telling me to rest and not to push myself, but I wasn’t tired and I felt really pretty good. Plus, I can’t do a lot of the stuff I usually do (laundry, dishes, driving) so I had extra time to do other things I wanted to do.

I was able to work for 4 hours today as well as to help the kids tidy the kitchen for Bart (he had a bad headache and actually felt worse than I did for a while). I also messed with ILife 06 and the new IWeb program, setting up a new site for my articles that I have written in the past. I also was able to drink most of what I was supposed to and get in my allotted exercise, and get some paperwork done.

I am still coughing up air that tastes like anesthesia, which his often the only reminder of my wounds... until I stand up...

OK, I think I'm about done

If you go to the Shrinking Slob Blog you can read all about the whole thing. As much as I remember right now, anyway.

And, for those of you who are warning me to take it easy, i will report that I only spent a total of 4 hours at the desk so far today and now I’m heading for a nap.

I don’t feel tired or hungry though...

More Flowers

When I got home, I saw that another bouquet had been delivered here -- beautiful flowers! Some of them were stargazer lillies -- the exact kind I had in my wedding bouquet. Bart’s family had sent them. They were on the dining room table, but my incredibly awesome husband, told me to wait a few minutes before I came upstairs. By the time I got up there he had tidied the room, pulled the bed down, had a blanket and pillow on the recliner, and had both bouquets of flowers arranged nicely. Special liquids he had purchased were there as well, waiting for me.

Putting the flowers by the mirror was genius! Beauty doubled. How cool to be surrounded by such a loving husband and be supported by his family!


Not soon after my surgery I had a special flower delivery from the florist... two white roses. And what a surprise -- it was from the Bodies. Totally unexpected and very cool. However, when I called Bartt, he said, “White roses, huh? Isn’t that the literary symbol of death?” I said, “I’m sure she didn’t know that but it will crack her right up.” (Cindy IS from Georgia). It is also a symbol of purity and innocence as well, I discovered upon my return.

So, Cindy, thanks for sending me the literary symbol of DEATH. SO comforting.

In addition, this really dorky over talkative nurse I had said, "Oh, Look. White roses. What a meaningful symbol!"

I didn't even ask.

Seriously, though, VERY nice and meaningful. Thank you!

Feeling Right Snappy

My inbox has been cleaned, I have caught up on blogs, I have had my first drink for hour one, and am working on my 4 oz of water for hour two, I have had my first of two 5- minute walking sessions, and I’m feeling right snappy. I am going to go another half hour and wading through the desk I didn’t get cleaned, but before that I will blog on the other blog which I will link here.

Better post on the other blog

So head there..... since it’s all related to surgery right now... The Shrinking Slob update...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'm Home

Home and even at the computer but not for long or my husband and mother and going to get all OVER my butt.

I have lots of interesting, funny, and gross things to blog when I get back to the computer. I blogged in my mind the whole time I was in the hospital.

I feel much better than I thought I would, but better not push myself too hard...

Monday, January 16, 2006

NEWS FLASH: Claudia Recovering Well

This is guest blogger, Claudia's husband Bart, reporting with news on Claudia's surgery this morning. It was a routine procedure, the doctor reports success, and Claudia wishes me to tell her faithful blog readers that she "was witty up to and following surgery."

She is now resting in her hospital room, and we anticipate that tomorrow she will return home, where she will, I'm sure, be eagerly awaiting email messages from her faithful readers.

The End of Me as we Know Me

I’m heading to the hospital soon... and I really wish I had time to blog a whole lot more. But I really need to finish packing and brush my teeth instead.

Check here later and hopefully Bart will have found time to at least let you know that I’m alive.

I hope to be back on the computer tomorrow or WEdnesday, at least for a little while. Maybe I can blog while incoherent on pain meds. That would be interesting.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Other Blog

The Other Blog has been updated several times today -- the hungry day before surgery -- check out the shrinking slob blog.

The Home Stretch

Every year when January comes around, pastor’s who have been appointed to their UM Church for more than 3 or 4 years start to wonder if they are going to have to move. I have mentioned this before and since we are in our seventh year in this church, all year long we have known that in sometime between the end of January and the middle of May we could get a call saying we’re going to move.

It isn’t really cool to speculate or to talk about this much, so I will be discreet so that the “powers that be” don’t stumble upon the blog and chastise my husband. However, it looks like it is blog material.

The beginning of the decision making process starts in two weeks and after that we could get “the call” that immediately changes our life forever. If that happens, we will have anywhere from 3-6 months to completely transition our family into a whole new world. And if/when that happens, whether it is this year, or next year, or three years from now, it will be hard.

When we started doing foster care, we were told not to get attached, but we did anyway. When you’re a pastor’s family, knowing that you will move around alot, you try to tell yourself the same thing, but it never works. There are SO many awesome people in our church and the thought of leaving them, combined with the thought of them having to have a different pastor, bothers us.

Here’s a great example. This morning Tony woke up with his eye shut and very pink. I have surgery tomorrow and so there is NO way I could take him to the doctor to get a prescription, nor was there any way we could keep him home and without antibiotics he wouldn’t be allowed back in school. But we have a physician in our congregation who was willing to call the pharmacy from the church sound booth and I picked up the prescription right after church and we’re back on track.

Other examples include people who willingly keep our children for us whenever we go out of town without expecting to be paid or to have the favor returned. I could start naming all the things that people in our church have done and do for us, but it would take yards of blog space.

Today I found out a couple pieces of information that make me think that maybe this will be the year and the not knowing is killing me. I am the kind of person who can be happy anywhere, and I always love a challenge, so I think, eventually, after the grieving is done, it will ultimately be OK either way... but now that we’re in the home stretch I want to scream “I WANT TO STAY.”

Sort of like today all of the sudden, the day before surgery I want to scream “IT’S OK. I WANT TO BE FAT.” But in both situations, it may be too late.

My Husband has had a Momentary Lapse in Judgement

We eat a lot of fast food. Actually, I guess that should really read, we used to eat a lot of fast food and now my family eats fast food and I eat nothing.... for today and tomorrow anyway, and then after that I will eat nearly nothing. But you knew that.

Anyway, I do the ordering. I have probably already bragged on this blog about how I can order for everyone without writing anything down. Yup, all 12 of us, I can order without a pen. And it has gotten harder over the years.

However, I don’t do Subway with everyone. It’s too stressful. That long line, all those choices, a menu hard to decipher for littles, I haven’t taken anyone in years.

Today after church, Bart told me to go on home and he would take everyone out so that I didn’t need to smell the food and get hungrier. Very nice of him. But when he told me he was going to Subway, I realized that he had temporarily lost his mind... I can’t wait to see how stressed out he is when he returns.

Dominyk at Night

While this was not taken late at night, Dominyk is THIS energetic and bright eyed even right before bed. Last night, Dominyk was so hyper and out of control. He is like the energizer bunny and when he sleeps in and doesn’t get his meds exactly at the right time it makes it worse. And, to take things to a whole new level, now that Mike is back home he is sleeping in a room with three kids who snore.

OCD and snoring are not a good mix. He can’t get his mind off of the snoring in order to relax and sleep. And so he lies there and about every 10-15 minutes he can’t take it any longer and screams, at the top of his lungs, STOP SNORING.... thus waking up half the house. If he can get to sleep first, we’re in good shape, but if everyone else is asleep first, we’re in trouble. Last night, we were in trouble -- so finally we gave up and brought him into the recliner in our room.

While we’re wanting to go to sleep, he wants to talk. He speculated about what the child would look like if I had sex with a donkey. Bart tried to patiently explain that a) I wouldn’t be having sex with a donkey; b) if I did I would not have a baby; and c) that having sex with animals is wrong. I left that conversation to head to the bathroom. When I returned Bart had quieted him down, but now he was saying, “Mom, sometimes I start thinking about our existence. You know, like how we exist, why we exist, if we really exist.”

I just said, “Dominyk, existentialism is not something we can talk about late at night. It’s a deep subject and we need to be well rested in order to discuss it.

He seemed satisfied with my response, thanks be to God.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Check out the Challenge

Offering all my friends, acquaintances, and even enemies this challenge...

I figured it out

I think I figured it out though. It can never be about me. Now. I know that as a general rule, it isn’t about me... I don’t want it to be, but a couple times a year it is supposed to be.

For example, we tried to go out for my birthday. We went bowling as a family and out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants. It was nothing but hell. Salinda was the very worst, but Dominyk, Tony, and a couple others weren’t much better.

Now I’m ready for surgery. I need help getting things done and I need patience and a little concern might not hurt. But I’m not getting it. Bart is gone and won’t be home until about 7:30. And Salinda, of course, is being as spiteful and mean as possible.

Sad thing is, she’s so nice most of the time that in a day or two I’ll forget about all this and forgive her and move on. But now I am just so disgusted with her.

But anyway, what I figured out is that the main thing is that I should NEVER try to make anything be about me. And then MAYBE it won’t end up being So not-about-me that it drives me crazy.

If that made sense to you, be frightened.

Why I have 8 boys and two girls

This is not going to be about why I have ten kids all together. That is a mystery and one that I don’t even want to try to analyze at this point in time. This is about why, of those ten kids, 8 are boys and 2 are girls.

I have blogged about this before but I can’t find exactly where that was and I’m tired of looking. But the reason that we have more boys is because fights with boys are over pretty quickly. They may argue, they may cuss, they may even threaten to hurt you, but when they are done they are done...

Not so with girls. Hateful, spiteful, vindictive, nasty comments come pouring forth and then it is a day or three days or a week of nasty attitude and avoidance of the family and all the rest. My day was going fairly well until I had to confront Ms. Nasty Pants (Salinda) about hitting her sister (the boys in this family, according to her, should be given the death sentence for touching her, but she can hit her whenever the mood strikes and without penalty.

I had a lot of much calmer nicer things I was thinking about blogging today, but all that left me with the sentence, “Well, I guess I should EXPECT THIS. It’s not like this is the first time you’ve lied.”

Saturday, What a Day

When I woke up this morning I had five goals:

1) Get my bedroom cleaned so that when I had to live in it for 5 days it didn’t drive me nuts (including having clean sheets for my post-op experience);

2) Getting the kitchen in tip top shape so that Bart didn’t have to deal with that;

3) Getting my office organized and cleaned so when i came back to work it would be easy to get started again;

4) Get laundry done including socks so that Bart wouldn’t have to mess with finding socks when I was laid up;

5) Getting the video/slides done for church.

It’s 2:25 p.m.

Bedroom is done. Big boys did the kitchen for me.

Half way through the desk cleaning and the slides are half done.

Just have the laundry and the older kids are hogging the machine...and the office, which I may or may not get done to my perfection.

Fortunately, the kids have been relatively low maintenance today. Only two huge meltdowns and otherwise all has been calm.

Friday, January 13, 2006

One of a Kind Husband

Only a man like mine, the best there is, would blog something like this after a week when I’ve been the crabbiest I ever have....

Parenting Teens and Wanting to be in Bed at 9:30

It doesn’t work. I took 3 of the kids to our local theatre to see King Kong. It won’t be over until after 10 and I am going to be so tired. I like to go to sleep at 10, but NO, now I have kids that want to be out later than that.

Tonight is going much better than anticipated though. A friend of mine came over to have pizza with us and everyone was fairly appropriate. I’m waiting for the call to go over and watch Tony wrestle. Three kids are at the movie, 2 at the wrestling match, the others watching TV. Very calm night.

Heading over to wrestling now...

On a Roll

My inbox is clean again. I have done my duty as wrestling mom for the moment. I have ordered pizza for supper. I now would like to get as much organizing done tonight and tomorrow, as well everywhere where they want to go tonight, supervising the nine kids alone, and watching Tony wrestle.

I’m starting with my desk.

My “money taking” job at the school required me to multitask in a major way, but it was CAKE compared to what I do most of the time. It was fun to watch stress levels rise when I thought it was one of the easiest things I’d done all week.

Sometimes being warped is fun.

It Never Fails

So, I head upstairs for my 45 minutes of relaxation. As soon as I hit the sleeping point, the dog hops off my bed to puke on the floor. It was oh so delightful. I never fell back to sleep.

Now I’m up and headed for the wrestling tournament. I have to run admissions at 3:30.

Maybe not back in the saddle, but certainly on the horse

After plugging away for six and a half hours straight, with breaks only to pee and eat everything i can fit in my soon to be restricted stomach, I am definitely back in the game. Inbox is remaining empty, report to court is completed and a post placement report written. Almost everything that I absolutely had to have done in regards to my jobs before surgery is now complete. I only have a couple of projects left hanging over my head for the week after surgery.

Since tonight is single parenting and a wrestling tournament, it is my plan to lie down for a while before the kids come home. This is something that I recommend to adoptive parents all the time. Sleep deprivation and parenting tough kids do not go well together. I have a little litmus test that I take every afternoon around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. I ask myself, “Are you excited about facing your kids at 3?” If I have an overwhelming sense of dread that hits me straight in the gut, I stop everything, call the dog, and we head upstairs.

I unplug the phone, turn on Bart’s c-pap for white noise, and lie down with the comforter pulled over me, for 30-45 minutes. I love those times when I can tell myself that for that moment in time everything is OK and just relax. When I get up, things seem to be much better every time.

So, I’m rewarding myself and preparing myself for their arrival...

Have to write this even more quickly but this is almost unheard of

MY INBOX for this second is EMPTY!!!!!!

have to Write this Quickly but it Happened

I got below 100 emails in my box. If i don’t write a long message this will not change and I will actually be able to get lower. I’m hoping today I can get most of it cleaned out.

OH dang.....

My Day

My husband is leaving for two days. I am in my final days of eating and I have a list of things that I HAVE to get done before my surgery. However, I came to a conclusion yesterday.

My former dream job is open. It is the same position I had at OWU except that it is at SWU. And, interestingly, three of my favorite families in the world are all now living in the same town as SWU and most of have family members that are either working or attending the school. So, when I saw it I had a sudden urge to apply, I began to get crabby, as I am now married, have a family (understatement) and live far, far away from South Carolina.

But thinking about this kind of got me out of my deep funk (that and LOTS of inspirational music like the song I posted yesterday, some prayer, and a personal butt-kicking that was both God and self-imposed). I began to think, first of all, about the fact that college students are now part of the millenial generation. The very important things that I loved about working with the Gen X kids that I did 20 years ago, things like creativity and the love for socialization, are fading. Technology and the media have so influenced this next generation, that I“m not sure I would enjoy working with them.

I also began to think about meetings. Right now, I am able to work very hard and be very successful (and make enough money to make it worth it) in my very own home. I do not have to go to meetings. I do not have to be worried about Board Members and other coworkers who might not like the way I dress or the way I act in public. I can set my own schedule and do not have to be regulated by anyone.

I thought, too, about interruptions. I have learned, by spending the last few years working from home, that an office setting is one of the worst places to get anything done. Telephone conversations, as well as those in person, eat up time like nothing else. Visiting, catching up with co-workers, parties for everyone’s birthdays and every major or not so major holiday, and the constant temptation to go out to lunch for an hour or more suck away the day.

If I spent 8 hours working in a day, I spend 8 hours working. I seldom talk on the phone. I never stop by anyone’s cube. Meetings that I have are only the ones that I schedule and they never take much longer than the time I have allotted. I focus and crank out the work hour by hour. It is exhausting but it is so much more rewarding than the days of being at work for 8 hours and getting NOTHING done.

So, my conclusion after my minor pity party, is that I have the best possible arrangement at this time. I may complain about the workload, but I don’t want it any different. I want to be able to sit here, in my pajamas if I like, and crank out the emails and see the results. This past year I broke the all time record at AAN of number of children placed in a year. In fact, I obliterated it. And so the satisfaction that comes in knowing that all kinds of little lives will be changed forever is the final and core reason why I love what I am doing.

So I’m going to shut up, suck up, and get back to work. Sorry for the blip....

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Yet Another Dominyk Story

This really happened to Bart, but I am telling it since he probably won’t get to it.

They were at the doctor yesterday and Bart heard a baby crying. “what do you think is happening, Dominyk?” Bart asked.

“I dunno,” he responded.

The baby kept crying.

“Oh, Dad, I bet I know what happened. Every 46 seconds another one pops out. I bet another one just popped out.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know, Dad, babies. Every 46 seconds another baby pops out. One just did.”


Sometimes He Calms the Storm

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong
Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered "Peace be still"
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we're shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ
No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place.

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered "Peace be still"
He can settle any sea
But it doesn't mean He will
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

Nuff said.


Sometimes the downside of blogging every day is that when you are having a bad stretch, your blog sounds whiny and pathetic.

I have figured out that I must be going through a period of anticipatory grief about losing my good friend, food. I will try to blog about this later.

But this cloud of grief is overshadowing the rest of my life and even though the kids are doing OK, this “depression” combined with the never ending workload and lack of sleep is almost overwhelming. Add to that that sometime in the next six weeks we could find out we’re moving, and I’m a basket case.

This morning I decided, since Dominyk was going to be home sick, that the rest of the kids could get off with Bart’s help and I could sleep, since I haven’t been sleeping well. I had turned off the phone yesterday and hadn’t turned it back on, so I figured I’d get an extra 90 minutes. By the time everyone left and I settled down and fell back asleep, it was about 8:05. And, someone had plugged the phone back in, which promptly woke me up at 8:20. SO, I stayed in bed an extra 90 minutes to sleep for 15. And today I’m gone almost all day long and won’t even be able to rest.

Hopefully I’ll get over my slump and my blog will actually be enjoyable to read sometimes (although readership is up now!) What’s with that you SICK PEOPLE!


Wednesday, January 11, 2006


All of my whining about my email has made people stop emailing me that I enjoy hearing from and all the people that send me work related stuff still keep sending it and then all the fun goes out of my day...

How does this make sense?

Giving Up for Now

What a frustrating morning. Am finally down to 128 emails, but I’ve going steady all morning. Even forgot laundry, so only 2 loads got done. Dominyk has strep throat and is contagious, so he can’t go to school. He doesn’t feel THAT bad though, because his OCD mind has been running, and thus his mouth, for the last hour about how bored he is, and how there is nothing to do and how much he hates having strep throat. Very difficult to concentrate.

I’m going to go lie down with him and hopefully get him to rest and get some myself before I have to leave for appointments. The pressure of catching up before surgery is increasing, but my output is not, and thus I’m getting nowhere.

Stuck in a rut, huh? Boring blog...

Buried and Drowning

I’m just drowning in emails. I can’t catch up. I’m still at 143 and have been working frantically all morning and a couple of hours yesterday. I just can’t keep up. I have another home visit tonight and one tomorrow... it’s crazy.

Dominyk’s tonsils are meeting in his throat so he is off to the doctor. Bart is taking him so I can get caught up but I’m wondering if I will. I’m starting to think I won’t before surgery and then I’ll really be in a mess.

Just so you know, now you can leave anonymous comments....

ALso, check this out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Trip to the Doctor

Read about it here

A New Day

I have come to grips with the fact that I will not be able to finish everything I have to do by myself. So I am going to try to get my friend Mary to help me out while I go from city to city and place to place today. I have to be in Sioux Falls and in Worthington today, as well as at the Luverne Hospital for pre-surgery testing.

Last night after dinner Mike volunteered to clear and wipe off the table. He also helped Bart fold laundry. This is completely unexpected and new, never been seen before, behavior. He has never been willing to help out at all, even when begged. Then when John saw how swamped I was with work, he started to do dishes on his own, but there was so much to do, that I went in to help him. It took us an hour. If I would have done it alone it would have been two (and, just so you know, this was only a days worth).

So this morning I feel more positive and hopefully I will get done what has to be done. If not, it will not be the end of the world, it will just be the first time I didn’t get it all done...

And Dominyk is the last one hear and I just overheard him say, "I really have to go find my stuff for school now, Gizmo. I'll scratch your stomach after school -- at about 3:00, OK?"

How can you not have a good day when it starts like that?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Not that anyone cares....

This has been a dumb day. i know that nobody in the whole world cares that I started with 189 emails and that I put in 10.5 hours at my desk (took one hour off to nap, 1/2 hour off for supper, 1 hour off to do dishes) and that I still after answering emails all day long have 130 emails in my inbox.

Nobody, even my dearest friends, care. Which his why I am wondering why I bothered to write it down. I sent 144 and thought I made more progress than I did.

Tomorrow we have family therapy with John, followed by a nice brunch out (Mardi Gras, baby... ) and then tests at the local hospital, followed by a visit to translate letters to a birthmom, and a home study visit. And somewhere in there these charts are supposed to get done.

But Bart is at Salinda’s band concert, I can’t make myself work antoher minute as I am exhausted, and I need to get the little kids heading for bed...

And after three more solid hours of answering it...

I’m still only at 159. My deadline is looming and I don’t seem to be making much progress.

And I am sucking at the pulseless goal.... sucking at it.

These teenagers and their constant efforts to make ME feel responsible for the many many ways that they screw up in a given day. And the ridiculous things that come out of their mouths.

For example, “Maxx smiled and me today at school and I smiled back and we got written up for horseplay. I guess smiling is horseplay now.” (from John, who is trying to show us he is ready for public school. I explained that it wasn’t the teacher who had the problem defining horseplay).

Or, “All of the trash in the kitchen gets put there during the day while I’m at school.” That was courtesy of Mike. How could that possibly be true? If he thinks I’m spending one of my free minutes cleaning and filling up the trashcan while everyone is at school and I have uninterrupted time at my desk, then he is NUTS.“

Or, ”The reason I can’t get my homework done is because you are always at the computer.“ HELLO . We have two desktops for the kids, and two laptops that we often let them borrow. I don’t think that is why. It think it was the playstation marathon he played all weekend. That was courtesy of Rand.

And this was all in the last 1/2 hour. I feel lots of stress and I’m not sure exactly why... biorhythms? cycle? Deadlines at work I can’t meet? All of the stress of my upcoming surgery and the fact that I will NEVER eat AGAIN? Or the stress of knowing that we could get a call in the next six weeks saying we’re going to have to move? All of the above?

OK, Here's My Thought -- a new lesson/tip

I have been lost in the quicksand of email all morning long. And even though I’ve sent over 100, more keep coming in and I still have 158 in the box. I’m also trying to get charts done for a matching bash on Wed and Thurs.

This is the thought that I had this morning. My parenting is improving because I have learned this is lesson:

Every ounce of emotional energy that I add to a conflict situation increases the blowup ten fold.

Pulseless is really the goal. If I raise my voice, my blood sugar, or my blood pressure in response to a child’s attitude or meltdown, not only am I sucked into it, but I actually contribute to it and it escalates.

But it is SO hard not to. It’s a challenge beyond Survivor and beyond Fear Factor for me. I am not a non-responsive person. By nature, I am NOT mellow, laid back, calm. I fix things, and I fix them by telling people what to do.

By forcing myself to relax and not react, to seek calm more than anything else, I exhaust myself.

But I am learning that it is he ONLY way...

Barely Treading Water

I started my day with 189 emails in my inbox to go through, amongst many other things. I have been working steadily for an hour, and I have 180 in there now.

I finally have a full day to spend doing nothing but working and laundry. It’s been a long time.

I have a thought to post.

Yeah, just one. But I“l do it in a while.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

This is Why

I do not drink. I never have. I never will.

My brothers do. The birth parents of all of my children did. My father-in-law did when my husband was a child. Way too much.

We try to convince our children not to take the first drink. Neither Bart nor I have ever had one drink. Thus, we never have to worry. (Now if we could have avoided that first bite of food, maybe we wouldn’t have this nasty food addiction).

Our kids don’t always get what the big deal was, even though drug and alcohol abuse was a big part of the reason many of them were not able to remain in their birth homes. They don’t understand why we are so SERIOUS about them never tasting that first drink.

Tonight I got this email from my brother, about my other brother:

“Happy New Year. Wish I had better news.

Our brother tried to quit drinking a couple days ago and he had a seizure associated with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

He's at ______ Hospital. The number is ________. If you give them the code _______ they'll release information to you.

They didn't advise me talking to him yet, as he's not making much sense - combination delusion/medication - but he's in a stable condition and is doing fairly well for someone in his position.

Maybe I'll get to talk to him tomorrow. Call me if you want.”

Apparently he is pretty sick. This is why -- one of the many, many reasons why.

Have I mentioned this Before.... Yes, I have....

but I LOVE to match. “Matching” in my world is matching waiting families with waiting children. I have developed an elaborate system developed that I use to do it. Tonight I sat down with intentions of doing other things. I organized some stuff on my desk, started working on a to-do list for tomorrow, worked on some organization for my job, got some family paperwork filled out, but I can’t wait any longer, I have to work on my matching for a while. I just love doing it so much.

Getting the kids home is the most emotionally rewarding thing I’ve done (besides getting my own kids home and raising them) in the past ten years. It’s such a rush. But I love the process as well-- the stats, the record keeping, the follow up, the mental gymnastics of searching my brain to find a family up there for a posted kid or a kid or sib group for a registered family.

It’s sort of like a strategy game, and I’m addicted. People keep asking me if I think I’m going to get tired of it, and since I do it for literally hours a week, I should, but I never do. I like it better than almost anything else.

So, I’m going to reward myself for other things I’ve accomplished by “letting myself” match. Sometimes even I realize how weird I am.

Too Much to Thoroughly Blog

Lots can happen around here in 24 hours. Lots more than a person can thoroughly blog. Let’s just suffice it to say that last night I got a D- as a parent. I didn’t respond the way I wanted to, I didn’t keep things as calm as I had hoped, I even said some things that I regret.

Stress comes at odd times and for odd reasons in our house. It seems like everything is in a nice balance and then all of the sudden there is a moment of chaos when everything seems to be bombarding us at once, and as parents, there are times we handle it well and times that we don’t. Last night was one of those times. I had rented The Gospel and I wanted to get the dishes done so I could watch it before it got too late. Bart had worked hard to make an awesome meal of potato wedges with bacon and cheese for Salinda’s late birthday dinner. He wanted to go take a walk but had told the kids that he would give them a ride to the pool. A friend of MIke’s called and wanted to make arrangements to come over today right in the middle of the post-supper chaos. I knew I’d be at the wrestling district qualifier with Tony so I couldn’t answer. Bart said “yes” against his better judgment because he felt pressured when Mike was making the arrangements with the girl on the phone. Tony was screaming because he couldn’t find his swimming trunks....

I finally got to watch the movie and Bart and the girls joined me, but it was longer than we had thought and by the time the ending came, which is pretty intense, we were getting interrupted every 5-10 seconds. I snapped at Salinda, used my most patient voice with Mike which Bart labled “accusing”, and argued with Bart. Nobody would go to bed .... and on an on ... until I lay there thinking I was MUCH more effective as a human being when I was single, and what in the WORLD was I thinking when I decided I could be a wife or a mother.....

But every morning, you wake up, and you do it again, and you have those bad days, but you also have good ones, and then you just keep doing it again and again. And after a while you realize, in retrospect, that you’ve had lots of those days when you wonder what you were thinking and that you’ve recovered from all of them, and then the valleys don’t seem as deep any more, and the recovery time is quicker, and it takes less time to see the hope again.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Sense of Humor

Every week I do a welcome video using the Lyrics from Brother Bear. But last week I did a different video for the year’s end. I used these lyrics and I thought it turned out great. However, everyone was waiting for the beginning of the Welcome Video to signal it was time to sit down, so only about 15 people watched the movie that I spent five hours making.

So this week, I’m going to show it again with this introduction.

I think I’m funny.. I don’t know that anyone else will. But I think I’m funny.

Amazingly Agile

Mike has the most agile and flexible athletic physique a person could want. Here he is after not snowboarding for a year and having a board and boots that are, according to him, WAY too small...