Sunday, April 30, 2006

Day is Done and we're Safe and Sound

Went to church. Desecrated the Sabbath and bought socks. Went to second service. Got everyone packed and out the door. Flights went smoothly. We ate and it's 9:45 Atlanta time and we're safe in our nice hotel room with a king size bed. We'll be getting into it and going to sleep very soon (I hope).

Even in the midst of a Murder Mystery I still had thoughts of John and our sessions with him. Last night I had a very disturbing dream. John and I were in a room and he was very agitated -- the way he gets when he's really angry about something. He was surrounded by the people who were in the meeting on Friday -- social worker, psychiatrist, family therapist. They were standing watching us and critiquing me and my reaction. The problem was that he had a huge pile of shoes that never seemed to get smaller and he was throwing them at me... hard. I realized that the people watching were hypothesizing that my response to him angrily throwing shoes at me was going to determine how long he continued to do so. However, the fact that I was dodging shoes, trying to make sure none of the younger kids came into the room, and trying to keep myself safe that I had no mental energy left to process what response I should have.

I won't insult you by interpreting that dream, but it is such a perfect metaphor for our situation. It invades my thinking every 5-7 minutes no matter how many times I tell myself to stop thinking about it.

Maybe tonight I'll finally be tired enough that I can sleep.

Giving UP

Not completely. And not on any particular kid. But on matching socks.

Between services I’m going to desecrate the Sabbath and go buy each boy and maybe each girl a new package of socks for the week.

We’re trying to frantically pack everyone because last night when we were supposed to be frantically pack everyone we were dealing with two very angry, very hurt, very confused little girls who act like mature women until things get to be too much and then it all falls apart and we realize that they're really just babies inside sometimes.

So this morning is frantic. By tonight I will hopefully be peacefully blogging from some nice hotel in Atlanta...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ironic Underwear

The girls are very upset about John (their only birth brother) being gone right now. Instead of asking us about him or dealing with it, they both started nasty arguments with us tonight ... picking up many of his manipulative techniques.

So, after the arguments, Bart and I were talking to each other, wondering if they were upstairs still crying or if they had fallen asleep. We were both nearly in tears after the stress of this week and I decided to check on the girls, expecting the worst.

I got up there and Salinda (which my auto spell corrector keeps changing to Slander) was sound asleep but Sadie was very bouncy. She started to tell me a long story that made Salinda laugh and I realized that she was faking sleep.

The story is about how they had spent the last fifteen minutes playing with a pair of my very large (large enough to fit MY butt) underwear. They both climbed in to see if they could fit at the same time, fully clothed (they can). They threw the underwear at each other, wrapped it around each others necks, blew snot into it, and Salinda was even attempting to put them down Sadie’s throat. Fortunately they were clean, but the comic relief it brought to all of us (them doing it and me hearing about it) could not be replicated. We laughed until we snorted which made us laugh more.

We made it through another day. . . but this weekend has shown me just how far things have slipped because our focus has been on John. It’s ironic that John is the child claiming not to have the attention, when our other kids are truly the ones being neglected. We haven’t even felt free enough to laugh in weeks.

I’m afraid I know where this is all leading, and it breaks my heart, but the girls especially suffer so (in a weird, being oh-so-manipulated way) when John is here. Such weighty, weighty decisions.

But anyway, leave this blog entry thinking of how much fun my daughters had playing with my larger than life underwear... Amazing that God could use something so small (OK, something so BIG) to break the tension, get us to laugh together, and help us to reconnect.

Nothing Good at All To Report

Well, maybe not quite anything. We actually got a lot done at the house with some wonderful people who gave up a Saturday to help us.

We are both very stressed not only about the John situation, but about the computer situation as well. We have very little patience for the other kids and and therefore they test it more. We are not responding perfectly.

And I downloaded a new MacJournal Program that is not formatting things right. It drives me nuts and I don't have time to figure it out.

These have been some of the toughest days of our lives.

Friday, April 28, 2006

We're Packing Our Bags

We’re packing our bags to head to Mankato. The cloud of lost data is overwhelming our souls. The guilt, the anxiety, the grief, the anger, the frustration. And we must remain calm.

Why? Because if we aren't calm, the children won't be.

The Inconceivable

Last Friday night the kids messed with Bart’s laptop and it wouldn’t turn on. He took it in. They sent it to be repaired. Never mentioned he might lose his data. WE couldn’t back up because we couldn’t get it turned on.

Now that the hard drive is replaced and all the data is gone forever, we are finding out that we could have saved the data. But it’s too late.

And I feel as horrible as a person can feel. Computer stuff is my responsibility in this house and Bart had asked me to help him with backup before and I never had time.

This is by far one of the worst things that has happened in a long time. Years of Bart's work is gone. Things are NOT getting better.

The Meeting

The meeting lasted almost two hours. John was there for about an hour of it. He was all over the place with his responses. First everything was my fault... then it was his mental illness. Then he needed more meds. Then he didn’t need to be taking any at all ever. Then he was sorry and loved us... then it was back to how we were his only problem.

Some of my “favorite” quotes of the day included,

Psychiatrist to me, “I hope you are going to write a book someday about why families shouldn’t be allowed to adopt more than 3 children.”

Psychiatrist to me, “No wonder he acts that way if you respond the way you are today.”

Psychiatrist to me, “See your husband. He’s responding the right way.”

Bart to me on the way home, “Living with you is like living with a wolf alpha male.”

And these were coming from men I like (Bart and Dr. D).

Social worker to me, “Not every parent can parent every child and not every child can be parented by every parent.”

The conclusion? John wants to come home and promises he will do better. We are not sure he can and we are not sure we can change or parent him differently. So we don’t know what will happen. The next meeting is the Monday after we get back.

Most are not thinking he can return home and if he can they agree it won't last long.

Beginning the Day and Why I Didn't Want a Buzz

Woke up at 6 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Now I’ve been at the computer for a half hour and most of the kids are off to school. We’ll leave in 40 minutes for the meeting about John and then we’ll be leaving after school for Mankato.This picture should demonstrate clearly why I new the buzz was not going to be a good plan.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ending the day

Well, this day is coming to a close. Still 137 emails in my box. How can that be true? A whole day of work and I’m only 13 ahead of where I was when I got up. Don’t you get tired of hearing me whine about this?

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 we have a meeting about John.


I am now moderating comments as a result of the majority wishes on the poll.

Censorship... Isn’t it grand?

Thanks for all the ideas!

Thanks for ideas for Dominyk. The teacher is being very cooperative and I just got a message from her saying that there are other boys who have their hair cut short (we did take him to get it all cut evenly before we took him to school) who have been nice to him and saying it looks like theirs.

To their credit, the school has been really good about most things. I don’t know what the deal is. If we weren’t in the middle of endless calls to the psych hospital today, I’d be going to battle. But there are bigger fish to fry at the moment, especially considering that they are saying they may not let John stay at the psych hospital until we get back from our trip.

I have been working frantically all morning (as well as been on the phone). The conclusion? I have 152 emails in my inbox. 2 more than i did 5 hours ago.


Just have to Vent for a Moment

The school (and I won’t blog who made the decision because too many local people read my blog) won’t let Dominyk wear a hat. It’s against policy. I even forwarded the picture to them.

He is going to be so upset as the kids make fun of him as it is and he is very embarrassed.

I bet if he had a medical diagnosis, like leukemia, instead of a psychiatric diagnosis (OCD) he’d be wearing the hat.

Sometimes rules should be allowed to be broken.

The Haircut (So Awful)

Poor little guy just looks so awful. He had sap in his hair and it was bothering him, so he started to cut it off. Then he found out it wasn't "even" so he got obsessed with making it even. (This all occurred when we thought he was asleep).

The most tragic piece of it is that he has the huge spot of open sores that he picks at and hair that he has pulled out due to his OCD and now it isn't covered.

We're asking the school if he can wear a hat.

Back in My Desk Chair Again

Very smooth and peaceful morning. I’m back at my desk, hoping to make some progress -- there is a LOT for me to do over the next few days.

The school has been notified that John won’t be there. I will be calling the pscyh unit sometime this morning to see if/when we need to go see him.

We are waiting for our “hair stylist” to get to work. Dominyk decided to cut the sap out of his hair and it looks so awful that we can’t send him to school until it is fixed (hoping to remember to get a picture to post). He gets teased enough at school without giving them more fodder. So I have called the school and let them know that.

I have 50 emails from my trip that need to be reformatted and sent and 150 emails in my inbox, a post placement and a home study visit today, and matching bash charts that really should be done before we leave Sunday, but I may end up taking them with me. I also have a desk that is a complete mess.

Tomorrow we will head to Mankato with 5 kids. Rand will be staying here with Salinda. And Sunday we will leave for Georgia. It will be great to go knowing that John and MIke are being kept safe -- we may actually be able to enjoy our trip.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sad, Discouraged, but Oddly Relieved

Well, I spent the day trying to figure out what to do about John. By the time I read my email on my return, the answer was clear.

Just since I have been gone, John has managed to get the school so concerned they want to schedule an emergency IEP meeting. He also was kicked off of the baseball team because yesterday he skipped the game. This means he has zero motivation to stay in school.

Then we find out that both last night and tonight he was out riding a moped through traffic, dangerously cutting right in front of large vehicles.

So, we called his guardian who made it very clear that he did not think we were doing anything wrong. What a huge relief. He suggested that we have him return to the psych hospital for an assessment.

So we had law enforcement find him and transport him and I gave consent over the phone. I will probably have to take clothes over tomorrow and sign some stuff, but for now he is safe and our other kids are safe and we are safe. This temporarily resolves many issues for us.

On a different note, Mike is no longer in foster care. That placement “disrupted.” He is now in shelter care waiting for them to find a place to put him.

Bags are Packed

It's 6 a.m. I'm showered, and my bags are packed. We're heading to the airport soon. I slept OK, but not great. This morning my email program has decided not to cooperate. I'll be ready to be done travellling.

This trip went very smoothly compared to our Houston Trip. We were only lost a total of 40-50 minutes instead of 4-5 hours this week.

Heading back to the real world....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And as a final note... more guilt.

Bart just called to tell me that the hot water heater is not working at our house.

How can I not feel guilty and just go to sleep when I feel like I've deserted him?

Guess I'll have to try.

Blogging Laws

There should be a law against blogging when one is tired. By this time of night I am very tired and everything seems monumental.

Just had a great lobster pizza for supper and now am planning to go to bed early. I'm just exhausted.

Had a virtual argument with Salinda on MSN tonight that didn't feel virtual -- she just hates being parented and decided that she'd be rude.

Then we have big decisions to make about the weekend. The kids are burned out on going to Mankato and working on the house but we have people from the church coming over to help, so we can't exactly not go. Salinda has a band solo and John has a baseball game and John is supposed to have detention. Bart and I are leaving on Sunday, so we hate to leave the kids and go without them on Friday night, and it's a little late to start making plans. Salinda thinks she should be allowed to stay home alone all night but she's only 13 (part of the substance of our Virtual Argument).

So, we have decisions to make and none of them seem good. I hate it when my brain keeps rushing ideas through my head about what to do and every idea has several reasons why it won't work well.

Sometimes the pressure is so much I don't know if I can stand it.

And that's why there should be a log against blogging when one is exhausted. Things WILL look better in the morning.

An Eventful (and almost restful) day

Just arrived in Dallas after a day in Austin. Not too stressful, good people to meet, lots of matching. Fun. I'm getting tired, but we're going to have a real meal tonight and then probably go to bed early.

Most of the news from home isn't too horrible, other than the fact that John is being awful in school. He is burying himself deeper and deeper. I am looking forward to being home and seeing the kids, but not looking forward to dealing with John's never ending behaviors and crisis. Just the thought of it makes me tired.

We saw this sign at the office we were at. Made us laugh hard. I wonder how many tax dollars and committee meetings it took to come up with this Administrative Act.

An Uneventful and Restful Night (and why I don't Iron)

Very uneventful night and I slept well. The news that things were OK at home helped me to finally sleep.

This morning I ironed my "over sized shirt." Now, picture that. A shirt that for me is over-sized, is OVER-SIZED and a lot to iron. Bart always does all the ironing at our house -- becuase he is a perfectionist, likes to wear 100% cotton, and because I suck at it.

This morning is proof.

I ironed, and ironed and ironed and it still doesn't look good. It looks better than before I started but not much. Ugh.

We're off for a meeting at the state office and then a day of matching in the Austin Region -- and then driving back to Dallas.

For people who think I'm tanning or something fun on these trips, think again.

Monday, April 24, 2006

An eventful (but not restful) day

Learned about lots of kids, spent time with great people, learned some about contracting and a private agency, drove three hours, and now are going to eat and fall into bed.

Professionally, a very fulfilling day.

Personally, still worried about home stuff -- though Bart reported it's been a perfect day there. God answers prayer!

I'm heading off to eat and sleep early. Big day again tomorrow.

Uneventful (but not restful night)

I could not go to sleep last night. Tossed and turned trying to figure out THE solution for keeping John and everyone else safe. Didn't conclude anything good.

Woke up earlier than I needed to and couldn't go back to sleep. There isn't a whole lot to report from the hotel room. Room is nice, bed was comfortable, nice shower. My pantyhose have a rip. But nobody has made me mad.

Bart reported that after 9:30 last night everything was fine except he had a hard time getting John to take his meds (as I had predicted).

We'll be heading out in about a half hour for our day of meetings and matching. The nice part about these trips is that I do truly enjoy the business parts of it. The adoption workers in Texas have begun to become friends (if one can use that term and still remain professional) and it is always great to see them again. I look forward to seeing them and working with them.

If everything could just be OK at home when I leave...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

There is a Positive Note

A friend of ours did come over and cut the lock off of Dominyk's bike.

And I got a very cute message from Tony on my cell phone having me listen to a song. He finished by saying, "call me back if you didn't get this. Tony Fletcher."

Made me smile.

Safe in Dallas (but is Bart safe at home?)

My flight was fine -- everything went very smooth. I even had a chance to stop on my 4 hour drive at our new house for a nap as I had planned more time than I needed.

John, however, as I always worry he will, has had quite a day. Just today he has managed to:

Tell Salinda that he bought cigarettes;
Take Jimmy into the van and start it (with a key, we believe, he stole from us, but he says he started it with a hanger);
Light play money on fire and throw it in the air, a piece of which landed on Tony and burned him;
Tell people who are "junking" (It's junk days in our town) that they could take Tony's bike, even though we just paid $40.00 to get it fixed;
Move his stereo to the Dining Room and turn it on full blast, refusing to respect Bart's request to turn it down;
Light a candle by sticking a piece of paper into a toaster and filling the house with smoke; and
Showing Jimmy a cigarette he intended to smoke.

This is all between 2:00 and 9:15 today.

There just aren't answers that make sense as to what we should do. I know that everyone has their opinions, but when he is in this "mood" it is difficult to redirect without a major blow up. We will ask his therapist on Friday what his recommendation is.

it's very very hard not to feel like a complete failure... first Mike and now maybe, after fighting for two long years, we may not be able to keep John home either.

I even offered him a substantial reward to do what he was supposed to do this week... guess that didn't work.

And even though he tells me not to, I always feel so guilty for leaving Bart to deal with it all alone.

But at any rate, I'm in Dallas, I'm going to bed soon and will hopefully sleep.

Leaving following the latest chapter of the never ending bike saga

We did get Dominyk a bike this weekend. It was a nightmare getting it and everyone else home.

i set up the combination lock I bought him last night and said at least 5 times, WHATEVER YOU DO do NOT change the combination.

Guess what he did right away?

Now he has the bike locked up to the grid by our front porch where Bart didn’t want it in the first place and can’t get it off.

Now I have to leave Bart with that hanging over his head.

Other than that, though, we had a pretty good morning. John seems pretty level and the others are doing OK.

So I’m off....

The Sunday Morning Same Old Same Old

Sitting here hoping my kids will be ready on time, knowing that my endless prodding will probably not make much of a difference but too nervous not to prod, nag, raise my voice in hopes that it will make a difference. 8-9 on Sunday morning I think might be my least favorite time of the week.

John came home last night fairly stable even after a misunderstanding and some frustrations. He ended up not getting supper and sitting on the steps for a while waiting for the people he was staying with to come home. He even got up and is very cooperative this morning so far, even when I made him do something he didn’t want to do.

Mind boggling, this mood swing stuff. You really never know what kind of kid you have living with you from moment to moment.

In about 4 hours I will be heading out the door for four hours alone in a vehicle and several more in the plane. I look forward to a chance to have some space, but I know that my mind will fill with the very worst of my worries and concerns the second my pace slows. The Mike situation looms over me as well as John’s mental illness and how he will do with Bart here alone (historically not good at all) and all the million things we will have to do between now and our move date...

I still have 1/2 a suitcase to pack, but I think my paperwork preparation for the trip is over. I’ll have 30-45 minutes after church to finish packing my suitcase and give Bart med instructions (some of them have changed).

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Moment in the Midst of the Marathon

Taking a minute to blog today before getting ready to leave again. We’ve been home for 10 minutes so far.

Last night was a pretty fun time. Mike and Kari and 4 of their kids came over for dinner with another couple we had not yet met and their friend (who is half of a couple without her other half). The two families are planning to adopt and wanted to meet others who had done it. We had six kids with us, so there were ten kids. The adults had T.J. Finnegans Pizza while the kids ate Dominos. By the time the night was over we had consumed 4 extra large and 2 large pizzas.

We also had a lot of good conversation. We are pleased to know that as of the end of the night both families were still planning to adopt waiting kids.

The gathering as preceded by Dominyk christening the new home with the F word and Rand and Tony working together to somehow keep Bart’s laptop from starting. We were in peak anger mode when the other families arrived.

Before Kari’s and Mike’s son Ben came over I had a long talk with Dominyk about being a good role model. I explained how he was used to being the oldest, but since Ben was younger than him, he needed to be careful to teach him only fun things. I explained that he needed to think before acting and keep Ben calm.

Well into our conversation after supper and birthday cake for Mike and Dominyk, we realized that everyone else was within eyesight and that Dominyk and Ben had disappeared together alone. We were alarmed and went looking for them. They came up looking mighty happy.

We asked them what they had been doing and Ben simply replied “playing.” But when I asked Dominyk what game they had been playing, he responded matter-of-factly, “A Killing Game.”

So much for role modeling.

Today we reserved the day for people from the church to stop by and meet us and help out if they wanted to. The three families that came were quite helpful -- one bought a wide variety of dessert bars, which totally threw my diet (the Mint Chocolate Brownies were WAY too good) and the other two helped with various projects. We got our bathroom door fixed, a desk built, shelf paper put in, wood carried out of the basement, and towel racks put in the basement.

At this moment I am nervously waiting to hear how John did. I talked to him around 2 and things seemed to be OK, but now I can’t reach the family he is staying with.

Now it’s time to plan out my trip, print my maps, and load my laptop with the things it needs for the trip. Then I’ll pack my clothes and fall into bed to rest up for a long long day tomorrow as I fly to Dallas.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Not Exactly Dunn Brothers

But I don't have to buy a Iced Chai Tea Latte either. I'm actually doing a post-placement visit and "borrowing" the signal from the house next door. I'm actually staying home with three kids under 4 while their mom picks up their new older sister who is refusing to get on the bus. Bart is back at our house with the 6 kids we have with us.

We made it through yesterday, though I don't know WHAT I was thinking. Tony and Dominyk together with a stop at the dentist office, a change in schedule, a transition, etc. made for a ROUGH go of it for a couple of hours. And last night we didn't get to sleep until about 11:30 because the little boys could not (or would not) settle down).

This morning I visited the elementary with Dominyk, Sadie and Ricardo, and the Charter School with Rand. Then after lunch at home we went shopping for furniture and then I came over to do the post placement visit.

I have heard no news from Luverne, which is almost always good news. I'm assuming John and Salinda are doing OK.

Tonight we are planning on having some fun with Kari and her family and a couple of families who are hoping to adopt. Hopefully we won't scare them away.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

MId Day Update

Managed to pull myself together enough this morning to get several things done I needed to finish at my desk. Bart promised he’d go through all the books while I was in Texas, so that’s a relief. And all I have left that I really HAVE to do is pack and clean up the kitchen before we leave.

I have taken a few minutes to read about coping with a family member with bipolar. I’m not sure I can follow all of the advice, but at least it helps to see that there are other people living through the same thing. For a long time we were not sure if John was bipolar, but recently it has become so clear.

We are going to have to do a lot of education of the other kids and of John himself if we are going to make it through the rest of his years at home. We also need to keep working to get the right therapist and medications.

But for now, I’m going to rest a little, pack, and get ready for a weekend of respite from him, though I will think about him most of my free thinking time.

I’m excited to spend time with Kari and her family on Friday night as well as to meeting new people from the church on Saturday. But I could punch myself for the way I plan my life. I always book myself into impossible schedules and then have to live through them. Think I’ll ever learn? Don’t answer that.

A Real Trooper

I love it when a kid rises to the occassion and makes me proud. Does this look like the face of a kid who didn't get his major birthday present, didn't get his birthday dinner, and only got gifts from 2 of his siblings?

Not Relieved

So last night was so bad that this morning, when I’m supposed to be feeling relieved that I’m getting a break, I just feel like crap.

To make a long story short, John was perfect at confirmation but as soon as he saw me he started right in again. Then his wallet was found in Dominyk’s pocket, so he slapped Dominyk across the face with the jeans, and not lightly.

I felt so bad for Dominyk (even though he shouldn’t have had John’s wallet). He didn’t get his main birthday present, Bart was too sick to cook his birthday dinner, and he was still taking it well. But that’s how his day ended. )And he woke up this morning to find that one of his siblings has already taken one of his walkie talkies that he got for his birthday last night.)

Then John spent the next 15 minutes swearing and accusing me of many odd things. Fortunately, by this point, I had gotten him out of the house to take his stuff to the place he was staying, so I took the brunt of it and everyone else didn’t have to listen to it.

My concern is mostly for me -- that I can continue to be nurturing and loving when he is not agitated (which really is 80% of the time). But it is very hard for me to transition from “Shut the f*** up before I kill you” and “I love you so much Mom” within 20 minutes time. I feel like I’m all over the board with him emotionally and I don’t know if I can keep coming back to him being loving and kind when he is so very mean to me.

Bart had to go to a meeting on his way to Mankato today, so he took one child with him. I have five kids and the dog to take with me and they were supposed to be packed and ready to go last night. However, the John episodes distracted from that and now we aren’t even close to being ready. This will leave me with a lot to do at my desk and very little time to do any packing or organizing today. We can’t leave later than planned because we have 3 dentist appointments on the way.

And finally, I am furious with myself. Yesterday Tony wanted to earn some money, so I told him to bring the books from the basement up the stairs so that I could look through them and decide which ones to keep and which ones to pack. I was remembering a shelf of books. His PCA was here to supervise his working, so I just left for the store.

When I came back, my entire office floor was filled with books. I will have no time whatsoever to do anything with them. I can barely walk in here. When we get back Saturday night, I will only have a couple hours to pack to leave for Austin and Dallas on Sunday so the books will most likely be here until a week from today at least How dumb am I?

There are some days when a person really shouldn’t blog. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another One of Those Nights

John had another hour of opposition tonight and it got so bad I had to ask a male friend of ours to come over. I was going to call the cops but knew it would not get us anywhere. He was out in the garage, refusing to get out of the van, honking the horn repetitively for over 10 minutes. He stopped just a few minutes before our friend came over.

The friend volunteered to stay and give him a ride to confirmation. Otherwise he probably wouldn’t have gone.

Question is this: Will he come home in the same mood or will it be gone when he gets here? Will he be cooperative for the rest of the night, or will he be wanting to continue the battle? At least by this point I have learned that if he does come home balanced and happy that I will shut up for now about the evening and just take the good mood when I can. If I dare confront it, he may go back to that awful mood.

And again I ask myself: How long can we do this? Will it get better? How much of it can he control? How much of it does he even understand? How much can we take? Are there answers?

A Walmart Story

Today Kari posted a Walmart story. I have one of my own. I am wondering about customer service skills -- I mean, just the basic, treat people with respect, be decent kind of customer service.

Today I went to the counter to purchase a few things. It was the counter closest to the bathroom. When finished I realized it was my last stop and I needed to go before heading for home. So I asked the clerk, “Can I just leave my stuff here for a couple of minutes while I go to the bathroom?”

She rolled her eyes, grabbed the bags, and set them down next to her without a word.


Do they teach that in Walmart Customer Service Training? Eye Rolling 101.

She rolled her eyes.

And it All Went Great until about 5:30

When John got home from baseball. He and Jimmy teamed up together to ensure that Dominyk’s birthday celebration was less than happy for everyone... except Dominyk. He was unfazed by their behavior, and even though he can’t get his bike yet, he was happy and appropriately grateful. His ability to self-differentiate is admirable.

Our plans for tonight have changed and re-changed several times because of a friend who needed a babysitter and then didn’t. I’m trying to get John’s medications delivered to the houses where he will be staying tonight plus facilitate rides for 3 people going to confirmation at 2 different times.

Everyone also needs to be packed for this upcoming weekend in Mankato. I’ve got “miles to go before I sleep.... miles to go before I sleep.”

Weird Morning

Bart had a terrible headache and thus suffered through our “staff meeting” luncheon, so we did very little planning. The food took forever, but the restaurant paid for it, so that was good. Then the bike Dominyk wanted wasn’t there so a came home empty handed

However, I returned and nothing was in the mail, email or on the phone messages to make me mad. John actually had a good morning in school. I’m going to rest a while and then handle the rest of my night and plan for the weekend.

I’ll be gone for about 13 of the next 15 days, so I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed..... Nothing taking time to poop and have a nap won’t cure though...

And a Couple More Birthdays

Winner of the “absolute best” adoption supervisor award, Mrs. L., has a birthday tomorrow....

And our own personal temporary garbage man, Mr. F., will be getting older this weekend.

Two pretty awesome people. I’m blessed to know them.

Happy Birthday (My Baby is TEN!)

Dominyk turned 10 today, bringing all ten of our kids into the double digits. He is the most frustrating, adorable, destructive, delightful, annoying, hilarious, hyperactive, sweet bundle of wild boy any parents could hope for, even in their wildest dreams. In the midst of his special needs, and there are many, is a creative, bright, fun kid who, like Nathaniel in the Bible, has no guile.

There are few days that go by where he doesn’t do or say something that makes me smile and warms my heart. There are also few days that go by that he doesn’t do something incredibly destructive, cuss me our, or threaten to hurt me. But he’s been with us the longest and I think this gives us a better idea of how much of what he does is related to his special needs and how much is volitional.

Last night he bought a phone for $2.99 on clearance that doubles as a Destiny’s Child single song CD player or something weird like that. He was so excited that he kept wanting to use it, but didn’t really have anyone to call. Thus I received a “Hi, Mom, ”I Love you Mom“ message on my cell phone with Destiny’s Child playing in the background.

It’s kind of sad that he’s 10 though. Having little kids is fun. But the truth us, little kids turn in to big kids, without permission, whether we like it or not. When we moved to Luverne 7 years ago strangers asked if I was running a day care. My guess is that in Mankato they’ll think I’m a youth pastor.

When Dominyk moved in over 9 years ago, we never knew what a ride it would be. But since, as with all of my kids, the good comes with the bad, I would do it all again. Because in spite of the trials, he brings so much joy.

Happy Birthday Dominyk!

Morning Joys

First, before I forget, my kids were showing my blog to our District Superintendent last night. John was leading the way. He was showing him the pictures and clicking on the links and saying things like “My mom does too have a friend who has 39 kids” and “here’s one of her friends who has 19 kids -- they helped us paint our house. They might be getting four more.”

But he never read a word. He declares he can’t read, but I know better. I also know, though, that reading at a second grade level he is not going to wade through all that I write. I just thought it was ironic since the question was asked this week that he was “reading my blog” last night and didn’t even notice anything on it that bothered him. (And yes, he would have said something if it did, believe me.“

We went to bed feeling pretty relieved. The house is clean, there is a new pastor lined up to come here, though it won’t be announced until Sunday and until then is a big secret, and we have a somewhat relaxing weekend planned. Bart has a meeting in Mankato on Thursday night, so we are all going to go there to spend Thursday through Saturday there. John has opted to stay here as not to miss his first baseball game. Salinda is still deciding. Everyone else is coming with.

So Friday we will see the last two schools and Saturday we will be at the house greeting people from the church who are coming over to help us get things done. Today Bart and I are shopping for Dominyk’s birthday and then having lunch and a ”staff meeting“ to plan projects for Saturday.

So, at this point there hours where something that isn’t family related could make me crazy are few and far between over the next 4 days, and that’s good.

Our whole family needs respite from Bi-Polar Personality Disorder so we look forward to our visit to Mankato.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

MInd Boggling

Electronics go off at our house at 9. Strict, maybe, but the amount of crap on after 9, and the fact that the TV is two stories below us, justifies my case to me anyway. We also have a new washer and dryer that nobody is supposed to touch.

Last night at 10:45 John was doing laundry and watching TV in the basement, two things he knows he isn’t supposed to do. The last time I left him home alone he asked me to do so so he could earn trust, and he had a girl in his bedroom.

I found out today that he has a game on Friday night and we are supposed to be in Mankato on Friday night. Then we found out that Bart has an interview in Mankato on Thursday night. Things started to get very complicated, but I figured out a plan that would allow him to stay home and not miss his game.

His conclusion? He should be allowed to stay here all night alone. I reminded him of his behavior last night and what he did the last time I trusted him home alone for an hour.

Now he is stomping around the house (or possibly has snuck out, I haven’t heard a stomp for a while nor have I done a thorough search) mad because I won’t let him spend the night here alone. Not gonna happen. It’s just mind boggling that he can think that we would be crazy enough to leave him here unsupervised over night. Whether his behavior is controllable or not isn’t the issue -- it’s just a set of simple facts leading to an intelligent conclusion.

And I’m not even bringing up with him what happened at school today.

I also haven’t yet blogged that the new pastoral candidate is currently meeting with the committee a the church. It’s 8:15 p.m. and within the half hour that family will show up here for a tour right at bedtime. I can’t imagine how wonderful that is going to be.

Meltdown City

Today must be National Meltdown Day and nobody bothered to tell me. John did his at school, earning him Saturday detention and time after school. Dominyk did his immediately upon his return from school. Tony is in the middle of his right now. His included the breaking of my old digital camera -- the camera that we just got back from where MIke’s social worker rescued it from a friends house and found out last night that the dock that charges it had been broken. Now maybe everyone will understand why I don’t let anyone TOUCH the things I care about. Anyway, John had borrowed it after it was returned from MIke and when he found out the dock wasn’t charging he didn’t bring it back to me, but instead left it in the living room, where Tony managed to throw something at it and knock it off.

It’s a team effort, the destruction of my world...

Errand Blitz and Small Town Living

I hate errands. They distract me and take me away from doing what I love to do -- which is to be in a constant flurry of emails attempting to find homes for waiting kids or working with my families trying to get their studies done, match them, or help them stay sane.

So I save them all for blitz. In 45 minutes today I dropped something off at social services, went to the post office, went to the bank, went to the liquor store (for BOXES folks, come on now, you know better than that -- made it almost 43 years without my first drink, not starting now, even though there are times when I’m pushed close!), and stopped to buy detergent.

In that 45 minute errand blitz I ran into two people who I don’t know, one of whom I swear I’ve never seen before in my life, and they both said, “Gearing up for your big move? We’re sure going to miss you here in Luverne.”


Obsessive Compulsivity

I fixed the cell phone situation and it is much better than anticipated. If anyone cared.

Do you think that it is taking OCD to a new level when I do something that I kept forgetting to put on my to do list and then come home and put it on the list and check it off just so I can feel good about doing it?

I'm not Even Sure I think it is funny

Last night Dominyk decided to break into my office and put a drop of blood on each of the keys on my keyboard. He admitted to it later and said that he thought it would be a funny joke. He wanted to scare me.

After John’s Academy Award Winning Performance in the E.R., this very weird borderline mentally ill thing wasn’t even that funny. Of course, it was night time and I was very tired because I didn’t find it until 9:15, but it didn’t make me laugh.

One more note on the John thing that is funny. John was “convulsing uncontrollably” until the IV went in. Then immediately, as soon as the IV was flowing, they stopped. I asked the nurse, “What is flowing in the IV?” She, knowing us fairly well, said, “It’s Saline.” And I, knowing that John doesn’t know what Saline is, said, “Seems to be working well.” The ER nurses and I shared a secret smile.

John came back last night and was perfectly fine. He literally went from appearing to be an immobile, seizing, severely injured person into a completely healthy with no issues or complaints in less than 30 minutes. Isn’t modern medicine impressive?

Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk Talk

Well, we did it. We are cornered into upgrading our cell phone plan because we went over this month. WIth all of those trips to Mankato and Bart and I discussing our children from afar, we kicked it over the top by a lot. Now we can either go up to a new plan or we can pay a lot of money. They’re good at getting what they want, that’s for sure, and what they want is our money.

So, one more thing on my things to do list today...

Monday, April 17, 2006


OK, I added a poll. And I added because I seriously want to know what people think. So, give me your feedback about anonymous comments by voting anonymously. Ironic, huh?

Why Adopted kids have MA as part of their subsidy package

I just got back from the E.R. John was at baseball practice and got a bloody nose. He fell down and then started to shake and act like he couldn’t get up. He insisted he could not move, so the ambulance has to come, put him on a straight board with a neck brace. Meanwhile he is shaking, but it is completely responsive. He shook but it increased in intensity whenever it was important that it increase. My voice, for example, brought on more violent twitching.

They checked him out in the E.R. for about 45 minutes. They concluded that everything was normal. The doctor suggested he run on weekends so he could be in better shape and that he put vaseline in his nostrils before going to bed.

I won’t blog all of the thoughts that went through my mind during the whole ordeal. But he’s been home now for a half hour and seems fine. I feel like a bad mother for being skeptical, but from the very beginning we were convinced he was a boy crying wolf. I am sure I appeared to be an uncaring parent, but I wasn’t about to get emotionally invested in thinking he had a brain tumor or was epileptic or any other kind of serious issue until someone told me to. And he isn’t.

He has full clearance to participate in athletics and to go back to school tomorrow.

So, it’s a good thing adopted kids have M.A. Not that we are happy to have the government pay for all of this, but we sure couldn’t afford the copays on our insurance.

Too bad MA can’t pay to replace the $36.00 + tax Underall shirt that they had to cut off of him.

And, to add fuel to the fire, his coach stopped by to drop off his glove and report that he has missed a practice and so now he has to miss yet another game. He lost 2 for the smoking incident, and one for missing a practice, so that’s 3 games he doesn’t get to play in. Since a couple got rained out, who knows how many he actually will get to play.

90% of my Emotional Energy

Lately 90% of my emotional energy goes to John who jerks me around all day with his rapid mood swings and explosive behaviors.

Bart left 20 minutes ago with Rand, Jimmy and John to go to lunch and a movie in Sioux Falls. Salinda is babysitting for the day. I am here with 5 children and the house is completely quiet. John isn’t here to get everyone going and right now they are all fine. I hardly know what to do with myself.

It’s a very odd thing to have 10 children and to have one or two of them take up so much of the emotional energy and create so much of the stress.

I wonder if it will always be this way and that when one calms down another one will take their place? Or will there actually be a time when things feel “normal?”

Odd Conversations

In a totally different way, my husband is hilarious. Last night after we had one of our heavy conversations about whether or not what we do matters, about whether we should have chosen something else to dedicate our lives to, whether we were making any progress, if it was worth it, etc. etc. etc., we decided to put the conversation on hold (as we have perpetually done for years) and go to sleep.

A little contextual note have a dog who is part Papillon that Bart loves.

So after our deep conversation, Bart sits up and begins this conversation.

“How would you like to adopt a Papillon?”

“We already have a Papillon.”

“I know, but I found this website of Papillon’s waiting to be adopted. A lot of them have special needs.”

(laughing) “What’s it called, ”AdoptUsDogs?“

”I’m serious. There’s one in Pennysvania that is hard to place because he has seizures.“

”Do they have them listed as mild, moderate or severe special needs?“

”No. But this one is really cute. He is incontinent when he seizes.“

”you crack me up. We’re not getting another dog.“

Apparently this is the dog he was talking about and there really is a special needs page. Isn’t life interesting?

My Hilarious Dad

My Dad has been a very committed Christian for over 65 years. He is soft spoken, but his faith is strong and he knows Scripture better than anyone I know. He also quietly quips all kinds of hilarious things, one sentence at a time, over the years.

I don’t know if anyone else will find this as hilarious as I did, but I’ve been laughing about it ever since. Last night I called my parents and my mom wasn’t home, so my dad answered. Our conversation went like this:

“So Dad, What’s new?”

“He is Risen. At least that’s what they’re saying down at the church.”

Sunday, April 16, 2006

More Pictures of the Weekend

This picture is exactly what things were like during several hours of the weekend. They were wild. Lots of people all over the place. I like this picture because it is full of people but not a single person in it is a member of the family (though Salinda’s best friend that came with us from Luverne is in the shot).

At one point in time on Friday we had the photographer, 5 members of a family, three members of a family of 8, three members of another family of 8, 11 members of a family of 21, and 5 members of our family of 10 all at the house at the same time -- along with the pizza delivery man and the woman from the TV station. It was bedlam.

Seven of the 10 pizzas were gone in less than 20 minutes...

Is it Every Day or just Holidays that Suck?

I have a theory. I am not sure if it is correct or not, but it’s a theory.

We have very few holidays or birthdays that aren’t awful. For some reason we have at least a person or two that ruins every single special occasion in our lives. And it isn’t always the same person. We have had a few pretty rocky hours today. Church was good, and everyone is calm now, but we had a few hours of nastiness between church and about 3:30.

I just called Kari and they aren’t having a good day either. Cindy is already blogging that they didn’t have Holiday Hell, but it’s only 5:38 her time and I’m with Vanessa, her daughter on this, that she might be blogging a little too soon.

But I have a theory. Maybe it isn’t Holiday Hell, maybe it’s just bad every day and we don’t realize it until it’s a holiday and we care if it is a good day or not. Other days are bad and we don’t notice because they are just days, but when holidays are bad we notice.

So, is it holidays that suck, or is it every day and we only notice on holidays?

The Only Proof

I had 9 kids who looked anywhere from good to perfect this morning. When we walked into first service the 5 youngest boys had ties on, the youngest three in suits. The girls had on new dresses and looked gorgeous. By the end of church, ties and jackets were flung who knows where and I missed my chance to get pictures. Five minutes after we got home the dresses were off. Now I have only two pictures that prove there was even decent Easter clothes in our family -- the ones we took before church.

My husband looked hot in his special Easter chasible (is it OK to say someone looks hot in clery attire?) and sounded so good when he sang the liturgy that it reminded me again of why and how much I love him.

And all of the kids, John included, were appropriate all of first service and most of second. John was the polar opposite of last week where he refused to stand when he was supposed to and tried to sleep. It was like having a different kid with me. He even sat by me and hugged me a few times. It's so nice when he is like this.

But most importantly, I experienced the spirit of the resurrection once again. My heart was once again filled, as it is every Easter morning, with profound and overwhelming joy, as we sang together loudly, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today, Alleluia."

He is Risen, folks.

He is Risen indeed!

Easter Sunday

Last night we did our Holy Saturday ironing vigil. I find all the clothes for Easter morning, and Bart irons them all. (What can I say? He’s perfect!)

So this morning everyone will be in dress shirts and ties or new dresses and shoes. For one Sunday we will look pastor’s familyish (I always make them kind of dress up, but Easter is the only time we do it.

Not that it is easy. This morning I blog in the midst of arguments, twitching, screaming as I try to tie ties and tuck shirts and make people brush their teeth.

We’re making it though... maybe even on time.... but the stupid battery is no longer charged so no pictures for now!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Home again again

Wow, what a weekend. I think it is best that I blog multiple times a day, because I have so many up and down emotions that I can’t fit it all in.

You can tell that we’re tired cuz our entries are short but I won’t repeat what Paula and Kari said about the weekend. Read their blogs and you’ll know.

We got a lot done and had a ton of fun, but I am not used to the physical labor required by a weekend like this. I am just exhausted. But our friends are so great, and our kids have so much fun together. It was great being together.

And to his credit, John was very good yesterday and today. Trying really hard to be appropriate. And I think his new dosages and timings of meds are helping.

I promise I will blog more tomorrow about the trip, but I have Easter clothes to get ready. After cleaning up all the paint stuff, with lots of help from Kari and some help from my kids, we left Mankato in time to be home by supper time. Afterwards I did dishes here.

Not having the metabolism of Cindy nor the physical energy of Kari or Paula, I’m wiped out. I am used to working hard all day long while planted firmly on my BUTT. This on my feet all day doing physical work for three days is not only unusual, but it is painful, annoying, and exhausting.

But how can I complain when I have such awesome friends.

One thing I did want to blog though, is what Kari said about my blog. She said something like this this weekend. “Your blog is like a serious car accident. You know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t help yourself.”

I considered making a poll about this, but I’m too tired and can’t think of all the responses, but do you think that is a compliment???

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The 200 Barrier

Church Growth Experts write and talk about the 200 barrier (for attendance).

Well, yesterday, for the first time ever, I broke the 200 barrier. My site meter shows that I had 200 visits to my blog yesterday. Pretty impressive. I'm excited about it. I've been blogging for over a year and yesterday was the first time I got to 200.

Trivial to some I'm sure. Important to me.

Getting ready to leave Dunn Brothers and head back to the house to meet the electrician. By then I hope to have the emotional energy to deal with my return to the mall.

Mid Day Report from Dunn Brothers

I'm sitting in the famous Dunn Brothers that Kari frequents. I am drinking a decaf iced chai. Makes me feel urban if not yuppy (which I am sure is a word that went out in the eighties). I dropped of the kids at the mall (the girls, Rand and John, and Salinda's friend). They hvae a cell phone and their a few blocks from me so I'm sure they're safe.

We got off 3 minutes ahead of schedule this morning, only because I announced that we would be leaving 30 minutes earlier than we needed to leave. I said 9:15, knowing we had to be gone by 9:45. We were driving out of the driveway for the final time at 9:42.

Things have been as expected. Everyone is with the program but John. He literally argues about everything I say. It's so draining and no fun for me. But 30 seconds later he wants a big hug. His moods are all over the place, he remembers nothing of the bad spurts, and my patience is wearing thin. I have had a headache for the last 5 hours.

There is good news though. The school Rand and John and I toured today (which he has decided he definitely wants to attend) is perfect for him. They have a separate building that houses EBD classrooms and a few tech ed, mechanical type shops. John can be mainstreamed as much as possible, but if he can't handle it, he can be in one of those two rooms all day long. He can still play sports, so it's the best of both worlds. He liked it, the people we met were friendly, and it looks like a good fit. Rand is still undecided and wants to see a few other schools.

In a little over an hour I'm heading back to the house to meet with the electrician. Then I'll shop with the kids, we'll eat at the mall food court, and then we'll go back and possiblly paint a little tonight.

As predicted, John sucked out all of my emotional energy by having a fit that I wouldn't buy him a pair of shoes when he has 3 pair that fit him. I even reminded him early in the week that he could work for money before we went to the mall. Instead of working he snuck out 3 nights in a row and tried to steal the car. But now he wants new shoes. EVERY time we go shopping we have this horrible arguments yet he is unwilling to help out at home even if he is paid.

But we're a horrible family because he only has 3 pairs of shoes. Each of them cost more than $75.00. Plus, we've bought him two or three other pair over the past year that have disappeared. Wow... I think I have Parenting Teens Stress Disorder myself.

At any rate, I've survived half the day. Hopefully I will survive the rest as well. Now I need to tend to emails.

Not Quite Like Last Weekend

This weekend isn’t going to be quite like last weekend. John is coming with us, and that will make all the difference. WE’ve already argued that he can’t bring along his huge stereo (If I can’t bring it, I’m not coming). He is declaring what he will and will not do. I think he’ll be OK once he is surrounded by other people tomorrow, but I dread tonight.

I have to go to the mall to do some clothes shopping, something I haven’t done a lot of lately and something I truly dread. I haven’t had a pleasant clothes shopping trip with John in years. He really does need some summer stuff, but his waste is 38 but he wants size 44 shorts. It’s a battle every step of the way. I could go on and on and on about this but it would bore you.

So, I’m not nearly as excited about this weekend as I was last because of who I am bringing. I’m also going to find somewhere to be online because I have a lot of work details to keep up with this week. So maybe I’ll have time to blog.

Teenagers that Don't Go Anywhere

Kyle was about as “normal” a teenager as a person could be (well, other than the fact that he acted like he only had one parent, his Dad, but anyway, I digress). From the time he was 14 he had a job and he consistently had at least one job from then until now. He was involved in everything at school and had lots of friends. Thus as he was growing up, it was our struggle to get him to spend some time at home with us. He was hardly ever here.

Mike, when he was home, was like Kyle. He didn’t want to spend a minute with us. (However, now he is using the fact that “we never talked to him” as proof that our parental rights be terminated. Again, I digress).

I expect Salinda to be similar to Kyle as she gets older, and even now at 13 she spends lots of time with friends.

The rest, however, like to be home. (Except John, who only goes out by sneaking out after we’re in bed, but again, I digress). Most of the time it isn’t a bad deal that they are here because then I don’t have to worry about them. But sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming.

Last night I went upstairs about 8:45 because I hadn’t had time to talk to Bart all day long. From 8:45 until 9:30 when we had at least two and sometimes as many as six kids flopped all over the bedroom. They weren’t being horrible, but they were teasing each other and us and being generally annoying. Bart at one point said, “Who ISN”T in here?“

I guess it’s nice that they want to be with us. Too bad it’s never until after we want to be ASLEEP!

Here's a picture I took on my cell phone when we were messing around up there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Last night I had a dream that these people I know who are upset with me actually had a conversation with me and we talked everything through and worked it all out. It was so nice to feel all that conflict resolved.

And then I woke up. As a coworker said to me today, “Reality Bites.”

Glue Time

Doesn't Ricardo look like he is thoroughly enjoying being with me?

A Warm Fuzzy

We saw our kids’ psychiatrist for the last time today because we’re moving. He wrote a wonderful letter for me to help get a subsidy increased, he commiserated with me about Mike’s situation (he had been his psychiatrist) he listened to me and changed John’s meds. He did everything I asked him to do and was very clear to all three of the boys that they had good parents. When I left his office, he gave me a hug -- very uncharacteristic of him. He told me were wonderful parents doing great things for our kids. He went out to his vehicle to get me a CD he had of country music hymns. I’m sure he felt that as a pastor’s wife I would like them. I’m listening to them now and actually I’m not minding them. Quite soothing.

When I explained about Mike’s situation he said something that made me chuckle. When I told them some of the things that they county was saying, he said, “Well, what do you expect? You’re not dealing with brain surgeons here.”

At any rate, he was very complimentary about our parenting and with all of the professionals we have had telling us the opposite over the past two years, that was great to hear.

It wasn't the phone, it wasn't the email....

It was the snail mail. Hearing for Mike is scheduled for June 1st when Bart is supposed to be out of town. We are representing ourselves without an attorney. I am about to throw up thinking of going alone without Bart or an attorney when it is quite possible they are going to suggest terminating our parental rights.

Bart is probably going to have to ask to be excused from his meeting and go late, though he doesn’t want to.

See, I told you something was going to happen to upset me.

Clicking them off, one by one

Made a to-do list today and I’m clicking things off, one by one. But as Kari says, I must have PTSD. I have not yet developed the twitch, but my anxiety level is so high just waiting for something to happen as I sit here that I have trouble focusing. Fortunately I can delve into the world of work and forget ... for a few moments at a time... that any minute something bad is going to happen.

That Pumping Adrenaline

We have a new washer and dryer and so Bart asked that nobody use them. Before there were several doing their own laundry, but Bart offered to do it for them so as not to chance having something happen to the machines.

At 4:00 this morning the dryer was on. When I went downstairs, Rand and John had done 3 loads of laundry after 9:30, meaning they didn’t sleep much nor did they respect Bart’s wishes. By the time I go down two flights, get mad, and climb back up two flights my adrenaline is really flowing.

Now as I sit here and read blogs and email, Tony and Dominyk are both stretching this morning out, seeing how long they can take to get ready. Tony is following Dominyk from room to room and turning off the lights wherever he is to make him scream.

Bart does not feel well. I am not feeling that great either. Have a lot to do to get work stuff cleared up before we leave for another painting weekend. I also have psychiatrist appointments with three kids today. One of them is with John and this particular psychiatrist doesn’t necessarily agree with the bi-polar diagnosis, but we only have one more appointment before we move so I’m going to try to get him to work with me.

When I have Adrenaline mornings, it always takes me a while to calm myself and focus on my work. It’s one of those mornings.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Awesome Wonder

John just borrowed the camera to take this picture from our back yard. Ten Minutes of Photoshop and here we go.


A few minutes ago I called picked up the phone and hit the button by Michele’s name. Or so I thought. A guy answered the phone and it sort of sounded like Rick (Michele’s husband). I said, “Is Michele there?”

“No, Michele is not here.”

All the sudden I realize that I am talking to my husband, not Michele’s. He’s upstairs in our bedroom.

I just called my husband and asked him if one of my best friends was with him up in our bedroom.

I think I need more sleep.

Wow, what an hour

Made it all the way until 6 p.m. tonight with things going pretty smoothly. Tony came home around 5 pretty happy and then went to watch tennis. He came home about the same time John did at 6:10 and the next 45 minutes were so wild. Tony was so incredibly loud and that just agitates John to no end. Makes everyone tense. And Dominyk was giving his consistent perpetual obsessive litany about how he is not going to be sharing a room with Tony in the new house. All that combined with Bart not feeling well equalled quite the hour.

Fortunately several have left the house to do things outside, which is a blessed relief, but I don’t look forward to bedtime...

A New Way to Swear WIthout Swearing

Dominyk’s obsession with swearing seems to have lessened, at least now he has begun to shorten his swear words to the first letter.

“OH, F” he’ll say. Or “You’re such a B.”

I figure if people can say frickin, and friggin, dang, heck, etc., then GD, F, B, and H would be more appropriate than those, right?

Made it Through the Morning

On good days I lie in wait of something bad happening. I have gotten to the point that I expect another bad thing to come my way.

But this morning it’s been all good. In fact, we even have more people (including a professional painter) who are coming on Friday to help. Kyle is coming home for Easter and has a ride. Bart and Tony have had a nice time in Mankato. I got a home study done today. Life is looking fairly livable.

But I still sit here in fear that something is going to happen. I gotta get over this!

Actually Updated

My pathetic weight loss blog.

Can you tell I’m excited?

A Good Night and the Start of a Good Day

Last night went about as well as it could. There were bumps, but overall it was a good night. I got to watch 7th Heaven and Everwood, shows that I used to watch every single time I could, but lately it’s been a rare treat. Everyone did what they were supposed to do. John took his pill without a battle and at least stayed downstairs.

Bart called and his meetings went well and he said that the committee did a lot of laughing together. That’s always a good sign.

Now this morning everything seems to be progressing quite nicely too. John woke up in the same level mood (I’m thinking weekends must really throw him off). Three are leaving as I type, three more are close, I got my photo printer to work for the first time in weeks (Salinda needed a picture for her scrapbooking class), and Dominyk is already out of the shower which typically takes at least 15 more minutes.

Best of all though, I read Cindy, Kari and Mary's blogs and not only did they not have bad news, there was good news for a change. Gives me hope that the tide is turning and that we are all headed for brighter days. For a while there all of the adoptive parents I knew were really struggling, so hearing good news is SO nice.

I have a busy day of work ahead of me, but it is always easier for me to get going when I don’t start my day with horrible battles.

Monday, April 10, 2006

2 Diagnosis Free Hours

For just two hours I got a glimpse of what life is like for “normal” families. I only had three kids home -- my three kids who don’t have any diagnosis. They went about their business -- they did their chores, homework, Salinda practiced her trumpet, the girls worked on cleaning their room since we were at the new house on Saturday which is “room cleaning day.” Ricardo was doing the glue thing where he has to be with me, so he quietly helped me clean the kitchen.

There were no arguments, no fights, no meltdowns. Everyone just quietly did what they were supposed to do. It was nice but it actually seemed boring. Really boring.

John came home today as happy and even keeled as he could be. Came in straight up from the baseball field to give me a huge hug -- a huge sweaty, smelly, heavy hug. (It never ceases to amaze me that he even sags his sweatpants. I just hate the sagging thing so much, and I’m not even sure why -- but anyway, I digress). Very different from the invisible charged up “mania boy” he was Thursday through Saturday and very different from the “I don’t even want to live” kid from our conversation last night. Sometimes just keeping up with the moods makes my head spin. It would be nice though if this particular one could last all night.

I took this picture very candidly. It was not staged. This is exactly how he was lying on my office floor while I blogged the above.

6 and a Half Hours Later

Starting at 7:30 this morning I worked on my email. I took a 1/2 hour for “coffee” (even though I ate nothing and drank nothing) and 10 minutes to eat lunch with Bart but the rest of the time I worked on my inbox.

I finished it just now. 2:00 p.m. Wow.

Now, after a brief rest, I will tackle my desk.

I realized that I’ve been blogging for a year. I started at the end of March last year and then skipped April and began to blog seriously in May. From then on I’ve blogged nearly every day.

I love blogging for so many reasons, but I did find a downside this past weekend. I had NO new stories to tell. Everyone who was with me this past weekend reads my blog every day and so there were no funny details to recount that they had not already heard. Hmmmm.

Coffee with "the girls" and other stuff from the morning

I was late this morning, but my company had been requested to have coffee with “the girls” this morning and I realized it late and ran there.. These are women I mentioned here .

It is always fun to be with them because they are hilarious. It was a great 35 minute break.

Bart is preparing to take Tony over to our new house today. He has a meeting tonight and Tony gets to go over to Kari's and meet Adam who is his age, in the same grade, and will be in the same school next year. Tony is excited.

Then tomorrow Tony gets to tour the new school and then come on back to Luverne. He’s excited.

We’re gearing up for another great weekend of painting and just hanging out together. Paula’s bringing 8 or 10 kids, I’m bringing 5 or 6. Still waiting to hear who else is coming. You (yes YOU) are welcome as well if you’re interested, whoever you are. It’s a great time and the more the merrier is always my philosophy.

I’m just laughing at the thought of how confused our neighbors are going to be. This past weekend they saw 21 different kids in and out of our house. The kids were of 4 different races and from 4 different families, but they don’t know which ones are ours. And this weekend different ones will show up. And some of the ones that were there last weekend won’t be there.

So if there are neighbors peaking out their windows counting kids and trying to figure out how many we actually have, they are going to have eyes bursting out of their sockets.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Better Pictures of the Weekend

Paula's Blog has some better pictures of the kids from the weekend....

For the First time in Too Long

I actually updated Scripture as I see It this morning.

Two Hours and a Headache and a Half

After we got home last night I blogged, tried to get started on my email, and then went in to talk to Bart in the Dining Room. Within a few minutes, John came in, very agitated. It took me two hours to talk him down. Two long, weird hours, where he was all over the place in his thoughts and words, contradicting himself, illogical, very emotional... from tears to anger to accusations to talking about not wanting to live.

I put up with it because of examples I have seen in Cindy and Paula and learning from their experiences. I normally don’t have the patience it takes. My goal was to get him to take his evening medications. I do not believe that they are working -- he’s definitely been way off track lately -- but I can’t prove that they aren’t if he doesn’t take them because then the psychiatrist (and logically so) will say that they are the right meds, but he’s just not getting enough of them. So Bart and I have made sure for the past two weeks that he is getting every pill and it seems that he is getting worse not better. (Before that we think he may have been hiding them or something).

The result of the conversation was that John actually took his pill and spent the night here. Another result is that I have a huge headache, got to bed late, and woke up feeling dizzy. Today I am going to try to reach the psychiatrist...

This morning was particularly hard to get everyone out the door and I feel physically quite unequipped to face my day...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pictures from this Past Weekend

OK. So I finally got my pictures loaded off the camera and onto the computer.

This is a picture of our 10 helpers this weekend: 3 of Michele and Ricks', 4 of Paula and Paul's, and three of ours. They worked so hard and did a great job.

The next two pictures are of the girl's room. It's almost done and turned out even better than HGTV, imho (in my humble opinion).

and finally, how could I not post this cute picture?

Oh and I forgot something

Ricardo, who I never blog about, had himself quite a weekend. Not only did he join Dominyk in breaking into the girls room, but he also spent some time looking up porn on the internet (yes, I know, I know, we need to get a filter). He snuck on to the kitchen computer that is supposed to be for recipes and such and typed in things like Vagine and Penes. Well, if you can’t speak English, it’s a little tough to spell those words, but that’s how we knew he did it. (Our other bad spellers weren’t home at the time).

So, he is spending glue time with me for a few days, which means that Dominyk is also in the same room with me. At least it is keeping them out of trouble.

moral of the story: If you’re gonna google dirty words, you better know how to spell them.

Home again, home again, AAGH

So, as you know, from the post about what happened while I was gone. NOw you get to hear the facts about what has happened since I returned. Oh joy oh Joy.

Well, let’s see. I got home and of course, John wasn’t here. He had told Bart he was going to hang out with a friend and would be back at 6:00. It was 7:15 and he wasn’t home yet. Bart decided to take the dog for a walk at around 8 and I got an earful from Salinda (who was perfect the whole time we were with everyone else in Mankato, but came home ready to pounce) about all the things she perceives that I am doing wrong and how all of John and Mike’s behaviors were because of our poor parenting (yes, she has been very manipulated, especially by Mike).

We went upstairs for bed to discover that someone had put a hot iron on the recliner, leaving a mark on both the recliner and the iron. We suspected Dominyk. I called him in and said, “you could at least apologize to Dad for what you did with the iron.”

“YOu know, the iron and the chair”

“I’m confused I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

So I explained like 4 or 5 times and he kept saying “I don’t get it” (and I actually started to believe that maybe it wasn’t him.) Finally he just said, very sweetly, “OK, Dad. Whatever it is, I’m sorry.”

We then went to bed and I did not sleep well because John was still not home. At 4:30 the dog was barking and I could tell that the oven was on. I went downstairs and felt that the oven was hot. I went down to John’s room and saw that he had let someone die his hair again, but that he was in bed.

This morning I woke up and asked Bart if he could wake up John because I had to be at church early to play bells. He came up when I was out of the shower to report that someone else was in John’s bed with him. i went down and got John and “Fluffy” up (that’s the only name we can get out of either of them -- a non-descript kid who looks pretty innocent. I explained to John that he needed to be in the shower. I told Fluffy he was welcome at our house any time, but only if we knew he was there. He left. John said he was not going to go to church.

I left without John, leaving Salinda here to coax him into getting ready. Bart went back to get them during bell practice and John did come, but then refused to participate in the church service. He slept through the first service, and during second service he was awake but refused to stand when everyone stand. Then he proceeded to fall asleep and refused to come to the van.

He came home and I got a barrage of very weird accusations and angry words. He told me he had already taken the car before. He said he should be able to drive it even though he hasn’t had driver’s education and doesn’t have a permit or license. He said that we weren’t buying him a car for his 16th birthday because we had too many kids (yeah, right. I told him if we had one birth kid and a million dollars we wouldn’t be buying him a car -- we don’t think kids should have their parents buy them a car -- just the way we have chosen to parent).

Anyway, I finally said something that snapped his mood and he improved over lunch. Then we had to get out of here as we could tell that Dominyk, Tony, and John were going to lose it if we stayed here all day. We went to see movies at the cheap theatre in two separate cars and it looks like we have survived the day. I told John he was grounded for a week, and that he will be doing dishes with me for a week for making dinner in the middle of the night.

The number one question that Bart and I have with JOhn is how much of what he does is volitional and how much is based on his mental illness. It is very hard to tell.

Now it is 7:10 on Sunday night and I have not answered work email since Thursday morning. That’s the longest I’ve gone in years I think...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

During the weekend I received several phone calls from Bart. On Friday morning he called to let me know that he discovered that John had been smoking in our car the night before. Bart wasn’t sure if he had been there alone or with someone, if they had taken the car or not, or what exactly had happen, but the car reeked of smoke and there were ashes on the floor.

In addition, John turned in the cash card that we had stolen over 2 months ago, claiming he found it in Rand’s wallet. Bart reported this and said we’d deal with it when we got home.

By Friday night, Bart had confronted John who said he had been outside with a friend. John went out to clean out the car himself and did a thorough job, so again, we were going to wait to deal with it.

This morning, Bart called to say (making a long story short) that Rand had found John out in the car last night at 10:00 with the car started, his coat, air freshener and Bart’s cologne with him. When Rand went outside, John ran behind the house, so Rand took the keys and gave them to Bart. At 11:30 when Bart let the dog out, he found the door unlocked and locked it. At 7:00 a.m., Bart found John asleep in the living room, having obviously climbed through the window. Bart let John know this morning that he knew he had been gone all night. John asked for permission to go hang out with a friend this afternoon, promising to be back for supper at 6. It’s 8:05 and he hasn’t shown up. Bart discovered a key ring of John’s in his room this afternoon that includes a stolen car key, a stolen van key, and stolen house keys -- all of which he has taken out of our bedroom or off our key rings when we weren’t paying attention.

We’re not sure how to respond. If we give him consequences when he is in this “mood” he just pays us back worse. We can’t ground him -- he’ll just sneak out and run. We have to tell the county when he is gone all night, so what will be their response? Another offer for a TPR? John is still under “protective supervision” for another 30 days.

But our real questions are things like “Is this part of John’s mental illness (he’s bipolar)? We have an appointment with the psychiatrist to talk about medications on Wednesday. Do his meds need adjusting? Or is he trying to leave our home again? Does he want to follow Mike’s path? Is this a cry for help? How do we know what to do?

We ask ourselves, ”What would we do if he were our child by birth?“ We wonder how things would go if we truly believed that the county believed we were good people and our kids’ issues were not caused by us?

Should we wait and just try to get through the next two months hoping that in our new town he’ll make better friends, better choices? Will we hope to find a mental health worker or something who can advocate us? Or will we be right in the same position with that county?

We don’t know. We don’t have answers. And as people who have spent years as competent professionals with a pretty good idea of what to do, we are at a loss.


I am determined to blog my positive weekend experience before blogging what was happening here while I was gone or what happened immediately upon our return.

So, I believe in my last entry I asked the question, “What could possibly go wrong?” I wrote it, tongue in cheek, because I knew something would. Fortunately for us, though, we actually did as planned ... it’s just everybody else that didn’t quite get to.

Paula and her kids didn’t get to come on Thursday night after all. Paula was working on a report and didn’t get it done. So, she told us she’d be there around 10 in the morning.

Blogless Meg got sick and couldn’t come at all, making us very sad.

Nearly blogless Michele had originally said she was coming on Thursday night, but because of conferences, was planning to arrive around 10 the next morning.

So, here’s way more details than what you probably want to hear. Jimmy, the girls and I left at 11:40. We had drive through Arbys and arrived in Mankato at 2:00. We stopped by the house to unload everything and then headed for the furniture store to pick up fabric samples so we could shop for paint. We then went to Sherwin Williams where we ordered a LOT of paint and picked out supplies and then headed back to the house to meet with the VERY NICE electrician guy. After that we headed back to Sherwin Williams and picked up the paint. We then went to Walmart and got the rest of the groceries that we didn’t bring with and a few other things we needed.

I heated up some leftovers we had brought with us from this home and had a late supper. Then we did prep work on a couple rooms -- scraped, spackled, and taped. We went to bed around 10:00 p.m.

On Friday morning I met with one of my families for my job, and then took Jimmy and Salinda over to their new school. They had a tour by some giant 7th grades (they were both really tall -- we thought they were high schoolers) and I met with the guidance counselor. Then we headed back to the house expecting Michele and Paula’s families to arrive any time. We began working on the ceiling in the girls room. Kari stopped by with Anna, fruit and donuts and told us she’d be back around 1 after her PCA arrived. Around 11:30 or so, Michele and Paula both drove in at the exact same moment. Everyone unloaded and we began a blur of working, eating, playing (kids not parents) and visiting that lasted about 28 hours.

i can’t find what I need to post pictures right now, but we got the living room, girls room, family room, and our bedroom done. They all look great. The 10 kids (4 of Paula’s, 3 of Michele’s and my 3) had a wonderful time together. They all worked very hard.

In the midst of things we got to meet everyone in Kari’s family except Kjirsten and got to see her Mom as well (her parents currently live across the street). The pastor of the church where we are going even showed up for a few minutes.

I left feeling very unworthy to have such sacrificial and wonderful friends who would help me so much. I spent most of my 28 hours driving around, writing checks, serving food, and bringing the women Lattes while they cleaned, sewed, painted, vacuumed, built backrests and parented my children.

Crazy thing is, we’re planning it again for next weekend and most are willing to come back. I am amazed, humbled, and very very grateful.

Thanks guys, you’re the best!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Remember that old song?

It was very hard for me to sleep last night and I’m not sure exactly why -- probably for many reasons. But it doesn’t give me a very good start to a weekend with a bunch of intense women on a mission. I’m sure their enthusiasm will buoy me.

We’ve got the van packed with everything but the food. I’ve got my days planned out step by step to include as much work and fun as possible. Usually not one for details, I had Bart (the detail king) help me think through everything so I feel like we’re in pretty good shape. The kids are fairly excited and I’m totally looking forward to it.

Today we will leave at 11:30. We’ll grab lunch on the way. We’ll hit Mankato, make a deposit at the new bank, get swatches from the furniture store, go to the paint store for supplies and paint, head to the house to unload boxes, go the the other furniture to pick up dining room chairs Bart ordered, and head back to the house for supper and to greet guests. The evening we’ll spend spackling priming and taping. We may even get ambitious and do ceilings.

Tomorrow will play itself out I’m sure beginning with a visit to the MIddle School at nine for Jimmy and Salinda. We plan to return on Saturday and be here by 7 or 7:30.

I have rented DVDs and have things packed for a theatre -- laptop, projector, and speakers (even a table to put them on). When we gab, the kids can watch movies.

Bart has made good food for me to take with... what can possibly go wrong? I know, I know, I shouldn't ask that.

And you’ll find out what all went wrong when I get back (or, if I have a chance to stop by some wireless place during the weekend).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I would like to report that...

My day was as sucky as predicted. But it is over. And tomorrow will be better.

"I can't do this any longer"

How many adoptive parents have said this to themselves? How many times? I say it about once a week.

Tonight in church when I had two boys who would not stop whispering to me (Tony and Dom) and JOhn disappearing ten minutes into the service, I was thinking those words.

Amazingly though, I can. I can keep doing it. NO matter how many times the words are spoken.

I am hoping that when I return from this weekend I will have happier things to blog.

What We're Going to Attempt

This is a picture of what we are going to attempt to do for the girls’ bedroom. We’re hoping to make it look very close to this. How they did it on HGTV can be seen here.

I Love Ya, Tomorrow

Tony is in the middle of a 65, going on 70 minute meltdown over $2.00 and the fact that after listening to him cry and having Tony refuse to do anything with him, I finally let his PCA go home. He is also upset he is not going with us this weekend so that is adding to the torture. The rest of the night doesn’t look much more promising. We have our final lenten service at the Presbyterian church, which historically has not gone well.

BUT, tomorrow at 11:25 a.m. I am leaving my house, picking up Sadie at the Elementary School and Salinda and JImmy at the MIddle School and we’re heading to Mankato. Sometime that night, my friend Paula and three of her kids are going to arrive. Later, my friend Meg, who is at this time blogless, will be arriving with one of her daughters. And then on Friday Michele and three or four of her kids will be joining us. Kari is going to join us off and on for the days we are there. We’re going to fill holes and spackle and paint and make pillows and bedspreads and do all kinds of stuff. We’re also going to have some time to fellowship and support one another as several of us are going through some pretty yucky stuff with our kids.

I will get to spend this time with fun people doing something productive. Our kids will enjoy being together. It will be an exhausting but fun time and hopefully by the time we head back on Saturday I will be feeling better about stuff.

And I’ll be praying the whole time that nothing yucky happens here while Bart is home with the others. I feel really guilty for scheduling so much fun time when I won’t be able to be with him to have it.

But in spite of that guilt, I’m really looking forward to being with these wonderful women and getting stuff done on the house.

Some Good News

Rand has a summer job that we think he will really do well at. He is going to be a counselor at camp friendship, a place where he used to be a camper. It is an excellent program and he has been a volunteer counselor for them the last two summers. Now he is going to get to be a paid counselor and will be gone June 25 to August 18.

He loves it there and he is loved there and it is a great job for him. It’s about 3 hours from where we’ll be living and we were worried that if he got the job he would have to go right when school got out. Instead, he will be able to move with us and get settled and then he’ll start work the same day Bart starts at the new church.