Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Punched in the Gut

I know that regardless of how I blog this, there will be those who misinterpret and are critical. And it’s just those corners that we get ourselves placed in that I really dislike.

No-Win situations drive me crazy. I’m an optimist by nature who always believes that there is a way out . . . a better way, or at least some way that something positive can occur. I am also an honest person who believes that the truth can be known and if everyone is honest, then it will all work out in the end.

Our journey through the court system with our two sons is proving to be a no-win situation and one in which being honest really doesn’t pay off.

In our state there is no distinction between a child who needs services because they have mental health issues or behavioral problems and a child who needs services because they need protection from abusive or neglectful parents. Therefore, in order for us to receive services, a Child in Need of Protective Services Petition had to be filed.

Our last two years of emotional roller coaster riding have led me to the conclusion that this is a no win situation. When the goal of the players is to convince everyone that the parents and the family system of the child is at fault, then what response is appropriate. We’ve tried both.

First, you can follow the recommendations of all of the professionals (even when the professionals change their minds or disagree amongst themselves) and not disagree with their insinuations that your parenting is the problem, but that feels very wrong to me.

Or, you can disagree which results in you looking defensive and requiring further investigation or in more efforts being made to prove that you are the problem.

So, either way it doesn’t work out well. This blog is a result of the reports I received which have been given to the judge regarding our case tomorrow -- 2 CHIPS cases for 2 different sons. Bart and I have talked and talked and we are unsure of exactly which direction to go this time.

Do we agree and admit to being the cause of our sons issues or do we disagree only to have them work harder to prove we are? Or do we simply say nothing?

I’m not asking for a response, just presenting a dilemma. But every time I read the information being presented, which almost consistently incriminates us, I feel like I’m being punched in the gut.

We really didn’t go into this expecting to be heroes or to have people think we were wonderful. But we didn’t realized we would be villanized either. And with all of the other things in our lives going on right now, it’s all a little more stress than I was planning on.

Stunt Man

I seldom ever knowingly let my kids do anything that isn’t completely appropriate, but since Kyle offered to take several kids with him and I figured he was a “responsible adult” and could take the heat, I let them go to this unnamed place knowing what they would be doing but not asking any questions.

They had quite a great time and took several pictures.

This is our eldest son who has been home for four days and not done or said anything inappropriate, selfish, or annoying. If you would have known him at 11, or 13, or 15, or even 17, you would find this to be nothing short of miraculous. I don’t blog about him often as to not embarrass him, but due to Bart’s patience with him and belief in him, he is turning out to be a remarkable young man. He had nothing but anger and hatred in his eyes when he arrived at 11 and now he has finished 2 years of college at a private Christian University and plans to be a teacher.

It’s hard to get used to thoroughly enjoying his presence, but I might be able to get used to it.

Last Trip to the Ranch

I took John to have lunch with two of his friends at the Ranch today. One of them had a social worker who got confused and didn’t bring him back to the ranch after vacation on the right day, so we didn’t get to see him. The other, who I referred to as Jack in this post was there and we spent a great hour and half eating tacos and catching up. He has decided that he will most likely be there until he graduates --he came at 13. Three of the five members of his family (both parents and a sister) are in prison.

He is as intelligent, articulate and fun as he was when we first met him. Cynical, yet, but personable and way bright. Fortunately for him, a former employee at the ranch is getting licensed for foster care and he is hoping to move in with him. He is one who is in “long term foster care” and who is not legally free for adoption, but fortunately for him, he has made connections with one or more adults who truly care about him and he will most likely make it.

Of course, spending time with him reminded me once again of how many kids like him they are in group homes, boys ranches, and residential treatment who really aren’t the scary tough “bad kids” you associate with these types of places. Families to mentor, foster, and adopt these young men are so desperately needed. But it is SUCH hard work... as Cindy blogged today ... that it is tough to recruit people to do it.

But if you could meet “Jack” you’d be tempted . . .

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Who would have known when I started blogging over a year ago what kind of year we would have? I began the blog as a place to post funny stories, which you will find sporadically -- more when things are easier, less when things get tough. I also used it to post pictures of the kids, which again you will find more of when I’m not stressed and take time to post them. I have used it to “preach” about things I feel passionate about. Occasionally, but not often, I get philosophical, and then I turn to my blog as well, but this doesn’t occur nearly as often as others do. I am not a poor writer, but I am not gifted like Bart or Kari. Bart’s entry about us leaving Luverne and Kari’s entry about her parents moving brought tears to my eyes this morning not only, but in part, due to the fact that they were so well written.

However, my mind has been less than able to wax philosophical lately. It’s everywhere with all of the tasks that need to be accomplished for the move. This morning I sent a note to school that said, “Please excuse Ricardo at 2:15 today. She has a dentist appointment. I will pick her up at the office at that time.” That’s just a small example of how scattered I’ve been, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting better.

I am NOT an INFP like my husband and a frequent commenter of my blog so I’m not all that introspective. In fact, I am an ESTJ, which is the exact opposite.) You can read about Myers Briggs here for more information. I don’t tend to debate philosophical issues nor be very deep. Most of what you see with me is what you get, so experiencing deep emotions and spending time thinking about them really isn’t me.

But when something life changing comes, I can’t help but feel. And it is really a shame though that at this time when I do experience deep emotion, I don’t have time to really feel it, nor do I have time to write about it. But one of these days I am going to have time to feel and eventually, time to write about those feelings. It just won’t be today.

I should NEVER take off work

Since I blogged this morning that I am going to take off work there have been four situations come to my attention where I really need to deal with something THIS WEEK.

This happens every time I try to take a few days off.

One of the things that I am learning on this oh so difficult journey is that this “business” of adoption is very messy. Nothing every goes as planned.

And only the most persistent, doggedly determined, half crazy ones who can do it day after day after day FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN, and for that reason only, can survive.

Everyone else quits.

Actually Going to Take Off Work

Today is my last day of work until June 12th. I have paid leave so I took the time off to move. It will be really weird to actually not work for all those days. But if we’re going to get packed and out of here and my kids are going to get the attention they need, I’ll have to do it.

While we got everything done we needed to in the new house, Bart and some of the boys here made a lot of progress on packing up the old one. We’re down to six days and counting and there is so much to do.

But today I have to focus on those last minute “have to do before I take vacation” things for work, plus a few meetings.“ Bart is leaving for a couple days -- our church has annual conference this week.


Monday, May 29, 2006

How Many Hours Does it Take

8 of my hours and several more kids hours. That's how long.

But I finally can have my kids where I want them.... enclosed in something and happy!


Last night at 5:30 I started building the "cage" net for the trampoline with Dominyk. By 7:30 the other kids had offered to help. By 9:15 it was finished. While we were working on it I muttered to myself, "Safety, Schmaftey... had I known it would be this hard I never would have gotten one." But I had paid for it and we were going to put the dumb thing up. Besides, I want this to be a place where other kids will play and I want their parents to know that they are safe.

I let the older kids stay up afterwards to watch a movie while I entertained Dominyk with stories. He finally felt asleep about 10:30, but did I? No. Why? Because I'm an idiot.

I do this to myself every 4-6 weeks, apparently because I have a poor memory. It will be after 2 p.m. and I will purchase a caffeinated drink. I will tell myself, "You shouldn't have caffeine right now or you won't sleep tonight?" but then argue back, "But you didn't sleep all that well last night and you're going to get a lot of physical exercize today, so you'll be very tired tonight. Surely you'll fall asleep." And I drink the Diet Coke or Diet Mountain Dew, in yesterday's case.

And that night I will lie awake for hours asking myself how I could possibly be that stupid and why I don't listen to common sense and how next time I'm NOT going to do it and I toss and turn and fret about what an idiot I am.

And 4-6 weeks later I do it again.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

I Can Change

For the last several months I have, truthfully, (as if you can't tell by reading my pathetic blog) been fairly discouraged. I have always been an overconfident person with the belief that "the higher the mountain, the better the climb." Nothing could get me down and I was consistently upbeat, positive and convinced I could do anything.

However, parenting all these hurting kids has thrown me (and my husband) for a loop. I realize that my personality is not tuned into being disengaged and not responding to their ODD circus. Nearly every therapy session has to point out how I am the problem. I get sucked in way too often.

Today we went to the mall and then to the YMCA. Since we had a guest along, I had to go in. (I had been planning to come home and take a nap). Since there was nothing else to do, I exercized and while doing so read a Woman's Day from cover to cover. Every article was filled with little tips on to how to be a better person, do things differently, make small changes.

And today, for these few minutes, I believe that I can change. I believe that I can make exercizing my way of life. I believe I can change my parenting. I believe I can do a better job as a wife, a mother, a housecleaner.

And it's nice to have that feeling every once and a while.....

Dominykisms Abound

Just from today alone:

Conversation at church:

Dominyk: Does Ben go to church here?

Mom: Nope.

Does he go to our new church?

Nope he doesn't go there either.

Where does he go?

His family goes to a Lutheran church.

Oh. Do they believe in Jesus?

Yes, Dominyk, Lutherans believe in Jesus.

Then on the way to get stuff for a picnic tomorow he tells me: I don't know why we need to buy cocaine. I think the grill will work OK without it. Of course I responded, "I think you mean propane."

And on finding out someone was drunk and in the hospital with heat stroke, "Yup she gets what she deserves!" (I didn't bother to try to explain the whole thing. I just left that one untouched."


I woke up a little after six this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Fairly unusual for me. I tried lying there for a while thinking I'd go back to sleep, but it didn't happen, so I got up and showered. I just spent the last 20 minutes trying to change the picture on Cindy's blog to no avail (I don't have the right software on my computer.

In about 15 minutes I will wake up my little darlings and we will be heading off to church (not the one Bart currently pastors nor the one he will pastor starting the end of June, but another church). Dominyk has already stated under no uncertain terms that he will not be going, but he will be. Rand is excited because he knows some people here and the others range from indifferent to not at all happy about it. Oh well.

Today we will be spending some time at the mall and at the YMCA and hopefully getting some work done. There are still some projects that need doing and I think I'd be better of getting them to work today before we have fun than having all the fun today and working all day tomorrow.

Many disturbing dreams last night about court, which we found out will be one hearing for both Mike and John on Thursday. That's my last thing to truly dread for a while.

Ten more minutes of silence...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Day Without Internet is Like...


i have been here, with internet access available, since 12:30 and haven't looked at it once. I'm trying my hardest to keep my commitment to spending time with my children just doing nothing but interacting with them, during this transition. It's not as easy as it sounds. Just interraction not with a goal, but just being, is not something I'm very good at.

We got to town about 12:45, having lunch on the way. (It is very difficult to order seven meals in a fast food restaurant when your youngest child is adding things on, i.e., "I'll have a diet coke (and some PISS)" and a hamburger (with an A**hole or two)." Tony was insisting this morning the didn't want to come, and Dominyk was begging to, so I switched them. Dominyk's only had a few meltdowns today but one of them was during my ordering. I found it not at all comical then, but certainly blog worthy now that it is over.

Anyway, I digress. We got here at 12:45 and immediately Salinda and her friend got busy prepping, taping and painting the bathroom. John started mowing the lawn, and Rand started helping Kari's husband and her brother with Rand and John's basement bedroom. Sadie and Dominyk and I well, I parented them while they did little. Sadie did wash windows in the porch.

We then went to Sam's Club to buy some groceries and to get the trampoline I've been promising the kids for weeks. We then spent several hours putting it together. The girls and John insisted they could do it, and so I let them, but then had to spend quite some time undoing what they did and redoing it. Towards the end it was taking John, Rand and I all of our weight and strength to finish up the last few springs. My muscles are sore. I try hard not to EVER use my muscles for that very reason.

We then had supper and I went to Home Depot to pick up insulation for the basement bedroom and then went to watch the kids jump on the tramp. It was hot out this afternoon, but tonight our gorgeous newly mowed huge back yard was cool and comfortable, with a light breeze and a lot of happily jumping children.

I even went to pick up Ben because Dominyk just loves playing with him. They are having a blast.

Tomorrow we have the YMCA and the mall on our schedule. A few more chores and we need to put a second coat on that bathroom and contact paper on the shelf bottoms in the kitchen. A few pieces of furniture need to be moved and some boxes moved around.

This is the beginning of the home stretch... and there is so much to do. I know that a few weeks from now we still won't be completely done and we will be exhausted.

But it's been fun watching my children enjoy life...

Newsworthy items

Newsworthy item #1: Rand is driving. He got his license this week! He is VERY willing to run errands, which is great.

Newsworthy item #2: Kyle will be here in 15 minutes. Bart picked him up yesterday and they saw a movie, had a nice dinner, and spent the night in our new home. They will be arriving this morning.

Newsworthy item #3: In about 30-45 minutes, John, Rand, Tony, the girls and one of Salinda’s friends and I are heading back over to our new home to finish up last minute stuff until Monday. We are also including a little fun in the deal.

Dance Recital

Last night I sat for 3.5 hours at a dance recital. I am not going to give all of my observations. It was actually pretty well done ... just so long. They had divided it up this year into two sections, but I had a daughter in each session, so I got to be there the whole time.

My daughters are great dancers. They are beautiful, graceful, and look like they are having fun when they dance. They are a joy to watch.

My bloggable conclusion for the evening though, is that if I want to take good pictures, I have to spend more than a few hundred dollars on a camera. Especially in gyms and auditoriums, I can’t get good shots.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Psychotic Machinery

I have had the most frustrating day with the printer. It is suffering from some undiagnosed mental illness. Sometimes it won’t print at all. Sometimes it pretends like it is printing, but then the page comes out blank. And other times it prints just find and I don’t do ANYTHING different

.As the other printer, the most reliable one I’ve ever had, just stopped working last week.

As if I needed extra stress.

What if I Can't Find Her?

Yesterday Sadie got into trouble at school. This hardly ever happens, but the teacher called and told me that she had really developed an attitude over the past month. I told the teacher it was probably stress from the move.

However, I had a long talk with Sadie. I told her that she was a very likable, sweet, girl who all year had been her own person until the last few weeks. I mentioned that lately she had tried to be what she thought her friends wanted her to be and it hadn’t gone well. She had developed quite an attitude. We talked about being real, and being true to yourself, and being the sweet, kind girl she was inside.

With big silent tears falling down her face she said, “What if I can’t find that nice little girl any more?

I was surprised to see this quote from Mary's blog this morning: The 10-year-old works so hard all day long trying to fit in with the "popular" girls at school. She likes what they like, says what they say, etc. She has lost (or never found) her own sense of self.

Sadie’s statement was such a reflection of life for all of us that it astounded me. I have a presentation I give called ”My journey from perfectly normal to raging lunatic and back.“ I talk about how as adoptive parents we all start out as fairly normal balanced people and are kids take us to a place we never dreamed we’d go. Then we have to retrace our steps and go back to being the person we used to be.

But sometimes, like Sadie, when trying to go back to being my former self, I ask myself, ”What if I can’t find her?“

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reading This Makes me say AAAARGH!

I have been trying to match these boys for almost 2 years to no avail.

Read about them here.

Sad thing is, that for this case, there are many, many others just like them.

Days like today I wonder if maybe we’re not done ... but nobody under 14.... and not for a few years.

Daily is Boring

I have realized something about myself. I like new things. I like to create. I like ideas. I like to dream big dreams and have visions. I can plan programs down to the penny of a budget. I can raise money. I can do all sorts of stuff at the front end.

But I hate maintaining anything. Anything that requires maintenance is boring to me. I have started a couple of fairly decent non-profits in my day. I have initiated several cool websites. But I just simply HATE maintaining anything. The daily operation of things bores me to no end.

Here’s a perfect example. I’m supposed to be cleaning off my desk and packing, and all I want to do is create a new family website, since our internet server is changing and we’ll have to move it anyway. But I have to discipline myself to stop thinking about a new website and make myself pack boxes, clean off my desk, do expense reports and post-placement reports for work, etc.

Big Huge Yawn.

One day I hope to do something big... but before I do something big, I need to surround myself with people who can maintain.

Wouldn’t it be a great world if we could be cosmically matched into teams where each of our gifts are fully used?

The Rest of the Story

On Saturday, Sadie was trying to earn money to pay me back for a loan for gift bags for her party. It’s a long story as it took several weeks for the scenario to evolve, but the bottom line was she needed to work most of Saturday. She turned the whole thing into an endless control battle. I went ahead and did the party for her, but expressed to her my disappointment.

Last night she put this note on my desk, which I didn’t read until this morning. (Spelling is as she wrote it).

Dear mom,Thank you for letting me have a paraty. You are the best mom in the world. I am sorry for Saturday. I don’t know what was up my butt. I hope you fregive me for all those houser you put up with me. I love you very munch. Love, Sadie Fletcher.

The note was ALMOST worth putting up with the day of opposition.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Would You Do It Again?

We got a letter from MIke this week. When I had seen him in court last week I had told him that he could write if he wanted to. The letter was brief.

It basically said, “ would have written sooner, but didn’t know I could. Sorry for everything that happened but it doesn’t matter now because I am being sent away.”I found it odd that he was appearing to be the victim in the drama -- someone is sending him away. No responsibility accepted for violating probation or breaking the law. Typical.

Having things be what they are now, people ask me if we would do it again. When I saw this picture tonight while I was helping Salinda with a scrapbooking project, I realized that the answer is definitely yes.

I remember the day he brought this picture home. He knew it was hilarious and had already been told he qualified for a retake. But his sheepish grin, the laughs we had together... those are the kind of memories that make me say that no matter what happens in the future with this trouble, multi-diagnosed, not able to live in a family setting kid, I’d still do it again.

Each moment of joy makes it worth it. I encourage you as I encourage me -- find the joy, hang on to it, remember it, don’t let it go. It’s what gets you through.

Missions Accomplished

Got that Y membership taken care of. Ordered furniture for my new (very small) office. Went to Kohl’s and bought some cheap clearance clothes and even a couple of pictures for living room walls. And then I drove home. Now I’m awaiting the arrival of my children.


I NEVER give myself permission to be lazy. I almost always am doing something with a purpose, 24-7-365. Of course most people would say that I am physically lazy -- most of what I do requires very little physical energy. But with my time I am always trying to be productive.

But last night I just couldn't make myself do anything. After meeting with our contractor for the basement bedroom (how do you like that title, Mike) i spent almost 90 minutes in the lumber/sheetrock section of Home Depot ... NOT my idea of fun. I then went to the mall and found a few places hiring and picked up applications for John there. The lead I had turned out to be a hilarious disappointment, but I won't blog it right now. Maybe later. Or maybe I'll actually have one story I can tell my blog-reading friends when I see them in person.

I didn't get back to the house until around 7:45 and I just sat here until 10 -- couldn't even make myself blog. We have no TV here, so I just played a tetris-like computer game and headed off to bed. I was tempted to feel a little guilty, but reminded myself that I probably won't have a chance to be lazy like that again for months, so I decided to let go of the guilt.

I'm excited about the SNACC picnic. Even have a family in Wisconsin considering making a weekend of it just to be with other folks who have kids with special needs. Isn't that awesome? Who else is coming? Email me?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SO Quiet

I've arrived at our new home. It is SO quiet here... almost spooky. When I sneezed it echoed.

Got a busy day ahead with many errands to run. It is my goal to get John a job today and I have a good lead. I'm hoping that in a couple hours I'll be able to post that he has the potential of being employed. He won't turn 16 until July but he's motivated to work and I'm counting on my persuasive powers to convince someone to let him work for them. Crossing my fingers and toes an praying a LOT as he does not do well with unstructured time.

Once again I'm feeling some hope that the dark tunnel we've been meandering through over the last year or two has a light at the end of it.... But I felt that way last last Friday and ended up having a pretty lousy evening. So I guess you just never know.

I'm excited to hear back that some people may be able to join us for the SNACC picnic on the 16th! Everyone is welcome -- even if you have to drive hours to get here...

Last Time

Lots of lasts lately.

Today will be the last time that I head to our new home alone. I have a meeting there and will have lunch with Kari and her husband... and then spend the day and night running lots of errands.

Over the weekend I will go again with several children.

A week later we will go there for good.

Time is running out.

A Brief Reprieve

After a tense hour of home based therapy (where I was again reminded that my reactionary personality is adding to the problem and that Bart is perfect) with John we had an unexpectedly good night. Dinner was fairly uneventful and then I helped Salinda with her scrapbook for a class at school until we watched Everwood together at 8:00. It’s the only show I watch... and last night the kids actually let me watch it fairly uninterruptedly (word?)

Dominyk politely called to me, “Mom, when there’s a commercial can you come see what I did?”

And this is what I found. You gotta love his creativity.

Monday, May 22, 2006

First SNACC Picnic announced

If you don’t know what SNACC is you can check here. It stands for Special Needs and Christian Caregiving and is for bio, foster, adoptive parents of kids with special needs (and the kids too!). This summer we’re going to be getting to know one another through family picnics.

The first one is going to be held on Friday, June 16th near Mankato, MN. If you want to know where, you can email me for more information (not a good plan to announce on a public blog where potentially dozens of vulnerable kids will all be in one spot).

Everyone needs to bring their own tablewear, meat to grill (and buns if necessary), their own drinks and a dish to pass. We’ll take care of the charcoal, matches, etc.

Please help us get the word out to anyone you know who might be interested.Email me privately to find out where and what time. We would LOVE to see many people join us...

Is it OK if I put you on hold?

I hate the phone, but that is what I did all morning -- called a lot of people -- three of the five schools my kids will be attending, the district office, the phone company, the state adoption office, several hospitals about insurance issues, etc. etc. etc. etc.I listened to a lot of hold music. Now I’m going through a stack on my desk, continuing to repress the fact that we’re moving even though our house is turning into an obstacle course of boxes.

This Time of Year

These last two weeks of school are always the same -- nobody wants to go to bed at night, nobody wants to get up in the morning. It takes forever to get everyone out of school and nobody is cooperative. Makes for short nights of sleep and the hour before school seems endless...But they’re gone now and I have a day at my desk, which was really needed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

One More Weekend Almost Gone

In less than an hour all of our kids will at least be in their rooms and we will be starting another school week ... the last full school week before summer vacation begins, and any hours I have alone will be nothing but a vague memory.

Sadie’s party was a success. She and her 8 friends had a lot of fun and I didn’t do a half bad job of grilling hotdogs and organizing party games. Sadie was the star of her “High School Musical” Party and was truly in her element. She even scored a few gifts at her self-hosted "going away party" becuase even though she told me that she had told people not to bring any gifts, she did get a few birthday cards (birthday is in November).

Rand decided to leave the baseball game with a friend without he or his friend having permission to do so. We wouldn’t have found out that he had done so had his friend not ROLLED HIS TRUCK while Rand was in it. They were both unharmed, but Rand’s friend’s Mom called to let us know that his friend didn’t have permission to be anywhere but the game either.I guess the moral of that story is ... if you’re going to be somewhere you’re not supposed to be, don’t roll the truck.

Opposition to Defiance Disorder

As I often say, while several off my children have ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) I also have ODD (Opposition TO Defiance Disorder). It doesn’t work well.We have pretty structured rules in our home in regards to behavior in church. The kids think it is because their father is the pastor, but it would be this way anyway.I have to sit in the sound booth for the second service and I usually sit in the back with Dominyk during first service. This morning only a few of my children were doing what they were supposed to and Tony was just as ODD as they come... one thing after another he was doing to make me crazy. And who knows for what reason, Salinda has had a scowl on her face most of the morning.Some weeks I handle it well, but the grief of our departure and possibly my emotional cycle prevented me from patiently responding to the repetitious defiance. When we got home I let everyone get out of the van and I just sat in the quiet garage and waited for several minutes before entering the house.This afternoon will be spent getting things ready and hosting a party for Sadie ... which will be require me to be very forgiving considering how much she defied and annoyed me yesterday (resulting in the Target entry).

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Our going away picnic was overwhelming...plenty of folks there, lots of good food, and generous thoughts, words, and gifts came our way, both during the picnic and afterwards as we opened the “money box” they gave us -- full of notes, checks and cash. The checks and cash are wonderful, as we have lots of expenses right now, but the significant part of it were the words shared with us about how Bart’s ministry had meant so much to people. We were so thrilled to see how many people, especially the older members, were able to express that our children and watching them grow up had brought them joy.

One of our friends had asked, in a round about way, if these people were our friends. Yes. Friends we will never forget. Parishioners aren’t supposed to be people that you fall in love with as a pastor, but some people make it impossible not to.

So, for those of you from our current church who read this blog, thanks for a great 7 years. You have made our lives deeper, richer, and more fulfilling by sharing your lives with us. We will miss you, we love you dearly, and you will never be forgotten.

The Target

Today we are having our going away picnic from the church. Several kids are upset about leaving town and their anxiety is high. I’m trying to get things done, which is nearly impossible with all of the high stress in the atmosphere. I think that the hardest thing about being an adoptive Mom is that I am always the target of everyone’s anger. Regardless of what they are angry about, they take it out on me. Regardless of what happens, it is always my fault.

Makes me tired.

He is SO Good!

Ricardo is really quite a soccer player. It's fun to see him out there because he is such a smart, quick, team player. He just quietly does his job and does it so well!

This Post tells more from last year's season, and he's better now.

Not Sucked In But Certainly Shut Out

Last night when John was grounded he asked to go to the dance of the school where they won’t let him attend. I of course said no. In refusing to get sucked into an argument, I simply kept repeating myself. Since he had suggested in therapy that I drive away when he got like that, I tried to. Of course, he was in my office and wouldn’t leave, so I had to get Bart to come down and supervise him so he didn’t do anything to my computer.

On the way out, he stabbed a hole in the door with a knife, and then pounded on the van window so hard I thought for sure he would break it. When I returned thirty minutes later he was back in my face, ready to go again, calling me “Claudia”, being at Bart’s suggestion I simply went upstairs and shut the door, wasting my night trying not to get sucked in.

The whole thing is so exhausting sometimes. By 9:20 he was apologizing in a sick sort of way -- by wondering outloud how much better his life would be with a different mother, and suggesting that (as the therapist often say) most of this was my fault because of the way I respond. This time I responded exactly as I was instructed by every psychiatrist, therapist and social worker we have worked with and he was still saying my response was why he has to do what he did. I'm not sure what I can do different, but I hate being intimidated.

Now we’re ready for another day -- soccer game this morning, and our church “going away” picnic this afternoon, which will require me to stop repressing the fact we’re leaving...

Friday, May 19, 2006

On a Brighter Note

My husband just got a scholarship to attend this conference. I think it will be very informative in dealing with the Mike situation. In addition, he is only four hours from my parents and when I called to tell my mother that he was driving up to see them before the conference you’d think I had just told her that she had won the lottery. I tell her I’m coming and she’s happy. She hears Bart’s coming and she nearly shouts with joy.

She says it is because I call her every day and he doesn’t talk on the phone.

I know it is because she likes him more than she likes me. But that’s OK. I like him more than I like me too.


After the rainforest program, I was walking through the playground. A bunch of the third graders were off playing and having a great time. This is where I found my son.

I’m sure he wasn’t that sad. He’s used to not fitting in and he was having fun looking for arrowheads. But it is so unfair that what happened to him before the age of 9 months and whatever disorders he inherited, have given him disorders that prevent other kids from seeing what an incredible kid he really is.

Finding him here made me profoundly sad.

Rainforest Round 2

I did make it in time for Ricardo’s play, even though he was almost embarrassed to see me there. He was the STAR of the play. The play was about a man who was simply called “Señor.” It was a non-speaking part, which was perfect for him, and here in the middle of Little Scandenavia, they were lucky to have a kid who could play “Señor” and make it look halfway authentic.

He did a great job, and fortunately, didn’t have to carry the animal that he without limited help from me (unlike the rest of the class whose parents did a LOT of their project for them).

Screwed Up

I got the time wrong for the Rainforest Presentation and missed most of Sadies. Got there in time to take pictures. I felt awful and it ISN“T because I have so many kids. I was sitting right here -- just misunderstood the time. But I’m sure everyone who knows about us thinks it is because we have too many kids.

I hate it when I do this!

In Print

Page 8 of this Family Voices newsletter has an article that Bart and I wrote...

Home again

Had a great ride home. Happy, nobody to bother me, filled with ideas and optimism about how life is going to be once we’re settled, feeling like I’ve reached a conclusion about the best way to deal with John, happy about how things went last night, etc...Came home to find out how much it’s going to cost just to have the windows redone in the parsonage, something we must pay (and aren’t arguing about) because the kids have broken so many and ruined so many screens. Trying not to let that ruin my mood...

From a Casino in SW MN

Last night I spoke on a "Panel" about adoption at a Casino Conference Center and then afterwards got to spend a night alone in a quiet hotel room. I thought the presentation went well and I slept good. Right before going to sleep I saw a news program on online groups and the dangers for teens, confirming our "no internet" decision is a good one.

I'm heading back home and this afternoon have two "Rain Forest Presentations" for the fourth graders to attend...

I'm leaving now to head home...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Got a Lot Done

My friend Lori, whose parking I won’t mention, helped me in the laundry room today. We got 4 huge boxes of clothes packed, 3 bags ready to give away, and three bags of old clothes throne away. Laundry is caught up, and all is good.....I’m going to rest a while before heading to Granite Falls to speak...

Don't Cry 'Cause It's Over, Smile 'Cause It Happened

I have been doing a very excellent job of repressing the fact that we’re moving and that the people that I have grown to love in this community will no longer be central figures in our lives.

This does not mean that we aren’t excited to go someplace new. I would hope that the place where were going would want us to be the kind of people who are sad to leave our friends. If we weren’t, what kind of people would we be?

But I saw this quote today, and of course it made me cry. But the thought is such a good one. It sums it all up....

Today one of the people we will miss is coming over to help me pack. The house is a total wreck, so I need to spend some time getting ready for her to arrive.

We move in 19 days. It’s been a great seven years and I want to leave smiling cuz it happened, even though I will cry cuz it’s over.

Leech Boy

I figured if Cindy can have a "VIper Girl" then I can have Leech Boy. The night before last he sucked me into a nobody will win everyone will lose argument that lasted an hour and left me completely drained of energy. When I tried to walk away, he followed me. When I tried to change subjects, he wouldn’t let me until I finally decided to discuss certain issues with him, and then he said he wasn’t going talk about that particular thing (that he had just brought up). I felt cornered and trapped and frustrated. And by the time it was over I was spent.

About 80% of the time he is a pretty charming and neat kid. Loving, grateful, and demonstrative of affection. But the other 20% it’s like having a leech around sucking out all of my time, energy, and emotional strength. And I know that it’s my responsibility for letting him get to me. The real kicker is that yesterday, after the fact, when we’re in therapy, he admits that he didn’t mean anything he said. Even though he’s a leech, I’m a sucker as well as a suckee...

Another problem is that when he is the 20% he sucks the energy out of everyone. He walks from room to room, child to child, starting arguments, causing problems, making them scream and cry.

But it’s only 20%. SO I guess I should be happy about that.

And I slept last night, which Kari didn’t get to, so I’m waking up grateful for that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Had Some Fun

Believe it? It was girls night out. Sadie and Salinda and I went clothes shopping, got stuff for Sadie’s party on Sunday, and then ate out at my favorite Mexican restaurant. Had a long talk in Spanish with the guy there, which I always enjoy.

The girls had a good time and were very grateful. It was fun to be with them. My 4 hours of sleep last night is catching up with me and I really want it to be bed time.

Completely Sucked In

I got told to be tougher this morning, which is unusual. Usually people are saying I’m too hard on my kids.

I realized this morning that I got completely “sucked in” last night as Cindy often blogs about. ANd I hate it when that happens. I got sucked in three or four times last night by John or Tony and it it makes me angry at myself. I’m getting better at ignoring them, but last night I got hooked in and caught. Sometimes when Bart is gone and there is lots of stress I just forget...

Today is a new day. I actually think John is relieved to be grounded because it takes away a lot of temptation and pressure.

But we’re back on the hope train again today. Therapist gave us some good ideas.

I really shouldn’t blog when I’m stressed. Just makes people think I’m nuts and probably lose respect for me. Being real isn’t always what it is cracked up to be.

Only 5 minutes to Blog

Won’t have time to report much, but I am seriously wondering why I bother to blog when I’ve got myself in a dither like I did last night.Woke up this morning to a huge ordeal with Tony over signing a piece of paper he forgot to bring home regarding a special field trip for being in school patrol. When we finally got out the door and I gave him a ride to school, he skipped patrol to play on the playground while I wandered all over the school to find a person who had the form I needed to sign (his classroom teacher was out today). Took a half hour to do something that should have taken a minute for a kid who didn’t even do what he was supposed to do and spent his morning venting his rage at me.

Now we have a day with no school with John.

But reading Cindy's blog always reminds me of why they are the way they are -- even though most of the time I blame it on myself instead of remembering that I wasn’t the one who caused the most significant damage to these kids.

We’re off to therapy with John...

Sometimes You Just Can't Win For Losing

Whatever that means.

I was trying to blog surf and not disturb Bart too much. But i landed on some porno site with LOUD music that literally made him jump off the bed and I couldn't find the mute button on the keyboard to turn it off. Felt horrible.

And then I lost every single game of gin.

And the battery is almost dead.

I have to get up and face telling John that he is grounded and then spending the day with him as he has therapy and we have a meeting with the county, so he isn't going to school.

Based on our conversation tonight, that won't go well.

Guess I'll try to sleep now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I can't sleep. It's almost midnight and Bart is snoring away in our bedroom. I'm in the recliner using his laptop in the dark.

I keep rehashing my poor parenting today and how I have to fix it tomorrow and it makes me crazy. I get pretty frustrated.

I'm sure that when the battery gets low, I'll try to go to sleep again, but for now, maybe Yahoo Gin will pacify me. I know. pathetic.

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

I don't' even know how I can explain tonight adequately to convey the frustration, the stupidity, the annoyance.

I started typing the whole story, but just don't have the emotional energy to do so. It has to do with following the instructions of our in-home therapist and John using the whole thing as a huge game to manipulate and control. The in-home therapist is only going to have 3 sesions with us anyway, but we have agreed to do what she says.

Tony had a huge screaming melt down tonight... it lasted a very long time. He was throwing things, cussing, scratching the van on purpose (luckily it was the one that was already scratched to oblivion), throwing the van seats, etc. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, and believe me, he can scream.

When I finally got him calmed down, I took him to Ricardo's soccer game. Dominyk's PCA dropped him off at the game. Dominyk was playing with some kids and got into an argument and, according to Tony, was cussing at them loud enough for most of the parents at the game to hear (I was sitting away from most of the parents). Dominyk's story was that they had thrown a dead bird on him.

"I've got half a mind to sue them" he told me. The one thing that made me laugh tonight. I don't know where he gets this stuff.

Then we came home and Tony had another meltdown.

Then came the hour with John which I decided not to report to you.

And then I went in to work on cleaning the kitchen, which I hadn't had time to do because I was doing the "hour of talking in circles" with John. I then proceeded to drop a glass glass, one of the only one we had left. It went into the dishwasher and went everywhere. Took forever to clean it out and now Salinda has cut her foot even though I thought I had cleaned it up well.

And we're out of bandaids.

One of Those Hours

Sometimes, after several meltdowns and false accusations, screaming and fits of anger, I simply conclude that I never had any business thinking I could do this and wondering why in the world I ever thought I could.I don’t have the right personality for this.... that’s for sure!

Having a Nice Day

Now that everything I’ve been dreading is over and I have a free day, I ‘ve allowed myself a chance to do what I love the most -- try to match kids.

Now don’t think that I’ve taken a break from it. I’ve been doing it non-stop between other things. But I haven’t allowed myself to focus on it in any kind of concentrated fashion for a while.

But today, that’s all I’m doing and I’m remembering why I loved it. Tomorrow I will worry about packing, and my messy office, and all the appointments I need to set up before we go.

But today, in the solitary silence, I will match. Aaaah.


I actually updated this blog with good news this morning. I’m still in shock.

A Day Without Appointments

For the first time in a long time, I have a day without meetings. If I don’t forget, I’m going to weigh in at the church (our Parish Nurse provides an awesome “weigh and pray” program). Otherwise I got nothing on the calendar. Nothing but sitting at the desk and getting done the many things on my to ever growing to-do-list.Bart is at a “moving schedule” hearing about when the truck is coming and getting boxes. He’ll be home later tonight.

Last night Mr. Object Permanence had the television on at 11:15. He and John are supposed to be downstairs by 9:30, and are allowed to talk and listen to music quietly. But no TV. I heard it on, went downstairs, but by the time I got down the first step it miraculously shut off the second my foot hit the top stair. He looked straight at me and told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. I’m trying to think of a creative way to consequence him this time. I just went to talk to him about it, and the conversation was as amusing as it was annoying.

Meanwhile, as I write this, Tony is in the bathroom and after losing a few dollars to me for cussing, is chanting “fat girl, fat girl, fat girl.” But I’ve been through so many older kids already that I’m unphased.

RIght as I’m ready to hit “publish post” the corner food and gas center called to let me know that Tony was over there trying to use a cash card. I appreciate the call.

Today if consequences were chocolate, I’d be Milton S. Hershey.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Still Alive

I survived. It was a LONG day but nothing was as bad as I anticipated it would be. Tomorrow I will give you many more details about today, if I have the strength, energy and time.

Almost Zero Time to Blog But...

Meeting wtih the boss was painless. Thought it would be worse. Mike’s court hearing was painful ... for him. Judge is getting so frustrated with him. He told the judge he wants to come home and yet told the county he wants our rights terminated. The judge doesn’t get FAS and is trying to figure him out. The judge is getting nowhere but frustrated.

Have to clean the kitchen, cook, finish cleaning the house, and supervise several not-so-small children, including Sadie and a friend building an adobe house.

Wish it was Adobe as in Adobe Photoshop, not adobe as in dirt. Then maybe I could provide some decent help.

Results of the Meeting

The meeting was uneventful. Mike will be going to a detention program in northern MN. Late Friday night he gave up his run and came back to the shelter where he was staying, so we get to add both a delinquency and a CHIPS hearing to our list of things to dread today.

In regards to John, someone has to check in with us from the county twice a week until we move. We have so much extra time that this will be very convenient. ("I'm being SARCASTIC, do you know what THAT means" as Dominyk would say).

They might forward the case to our new county. What a swell way to begin our new lives. (Sarcasm is such a sophisticated form of humor).

My boss is running late, complicating my date further.

So Far so Good

But it’s only 7:25 and all the things I’m dreading have yet to begin. But I have 3 of 8 out the door and the others are close.

Slept fairly well considering how many things I had to worry about. I think I was just glad to finally be at today and knowing that by the end of today I will have very little left to dread.

My desk is such a mess -- I started going through things and they ended up on the desk... and now I need to go back through it all and file, etc. Boring blog entry, I know.

Mother's Day Final Report

After good services at church, another family (single Mom and 3 kids) joined us for movies and dinner out at Boston Gourmet Pizza, one of my favorite places to go. Kids meals were only $1.99 so it was fairly reasonable compared to what it could have been.

The other mom and I and Salinda, Rand and Jimmy saw Take the Lead, one of those feel good, one person can make a huge difference kind of movies. I enjoyed it and the point that it made though as all those “based on a true story” movies, it wasn’t all that accurate compared to the real deal. The other saw Pink Panther. Bart was a real trouper -- he had 8 kids (7 of them the youngest 7) ages 4-12 (plus Rand) for an extra 45 minutes after the movie because ours got out later.

We then had supper. I took several pictures. I’m posting one of the group where they obviously don’t want their pictures taken and nobody is smiling. And a picture with the only decent smile, but red-eyes that won’t be removed.


Forgot to Blog This

This year I submitted four or five proposals to be considered at the annual NACAC conference. Bart submitted one. His was selected, none of mine were. So I was contemplating not going (because it will be tricky to find folks to care for our kids when we have just arrived in a new community) or going just to hear Bart speak and carry his bags.

But last week I got a phone call asking me to do a workshop on humor at the conference. So I guess I’m going... and as I reported last year NACAC is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Another Day Planned to Suck

Looks like back on April 5th I blogged about A Day Planned to Suck.

Tomorrow I have another one. We have a meeting with the county about Mike and John (remember, the last one didn’t go so well. Then my supervisor, who isn’t thrilled with me lately, is coming down for a conversation. That is followed by a court hearing, if they find Mike by then, and then another hearing that could go well or not so well for one of my families. In the evening we have home-based therapy, which I don’t even want to comment on. We’re having it for 3 weeks before we move, which seems like it will be counter productive, but I’ve got no fight left in me about this particular issue.

Plus I’m cooking supper in the midst of that because Bart will be gone Monday afternoon and Tuesday.

I’ll be reeeeeally glad when tomorrow is over.

Godly mothers

Last night Sadie and I saw a Billboard that said, “Nobody is poor who has a godly mother.”

This was our conversation:

Me: Well Sadie, I don’t know if you have a godly mother, but I sure do.

Sadie: Which of your mothers is godly?

I only have one mom, remember? Grandma Flye.

oh yeah.

Do you know what godly means?


Being like God, or trying very hard to be like God.

Then you DEFINITELY have a godly mother.

And I say, “AMEN to that.”

Parenting 101

Is exhausting. Did round 2 with “why can’t I talk to the guy I met online” with Salinda. I pointed out to her that parenting wasn’t a popularity contest, that I had the backing of everyone I knew on this one, and that I wasn’t going to change my mind.

This led to her explaining the horrific and repressive childhood she’s had living here and how she never has been able to do anything she wanted to do. She came up with 2 examples. She can’t wear a bikini and she can’t spend the night at a friend’s house on Saturdays (because there is church the next day). That is the extent of what she hasn’t been able to do that she wants to. Because of these very restrictive rules she would be running away but she doesn’t want to leave Sadie alone in this awful family.

Then she has to point out that church means nothing to her. I cautioned her about making choices about spiritual issues just to upset her parents. I pointed out that God was a whole lot bigger than her parents that she wasn’t happy with at the moment.

Bottom line is that it sucks to be 13. Thinking you know everything and hating it that you can’t go live on your own. But it sucks to parent a teenager as well. It would be so much easier to just give in on some of these issues to make sure there was peace. After all, she is a great kid who does most of what she is supposed to do most of the time.

But I guess if she can only come up with 3 things that she’s wanted to do that she can’t (talk to guys she meets on line, wear a bikini, and stay at friends on a Saturday) we’re not being too horribly restrictive. And who knows, maybe the Saturday night thing might change if she meets some kids who go to our church. But she’s going to have to work with me, not against me.

It's Not About Me

This year I am not mentioning that it is Mother’s Day. As you may know, Mother’s Day is not a time to feel good about your mom and how much you love her when you are adopted as an older child. It is a time to think about the fact that you weren’t worth enough for the woman who gave you birth to care enough to do what it took to get you back when the county took you away.

Few adopted teens can compute that their mothers had the problem, not them. They were LITTLE KIDS. It wasn’t their fault. Having a birthmom who couldn’t care for you doesn’t compute as such and it’s a primal wound.

So we have downplayed mother’s day. We don’t have kids that are healthy enough to celebrate “birth mothers” day, so we just try to make family plans and not mention mother’s day. Kids who have made something for me quietly give it to me when we can be alone.

On Friday John brought me a plant from school and a card that said, "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, My Feet Stink, but I love you." He repeated that he loved me many times on the card. It was sweet.

Friday night Rand brought me a glass butterfly that was marked 25 cents from the dollar store he works at. It was broken though, so he got it for free. But it's the thought that counts, right?

Last night Sadie gave me this card (the topics suggested by the teacher for each page I’m sure):

My favorite food you make is black beans. Because they are so juicy. And the salsa you make is so hot and good.

My favorite memory is: when you got me from New Mexico. And the hand with the chip in the bag when I was sleeping.

My favorite thing we do together is: When we talk just alone. And watch our favorite T.V. shows on Monday.

I love you because: You take good care of me. You chose me to be your daughter. YOu give me food, water, and a family. Thank you for helping me with my animal. Thank you for everything you have done.

When I speak, I tell people that parenting hurt kids is HARD and that there are few rewards. I tell them that more than likely most kids aren’t going to be grateful. I tell them that there are going to be hard days. I tell them that sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s worth it.

But I also tell them that every once and a while there is a moment of joy. And if you can hold on to those moments, they will get you through.

Getting that card was one of those moments for me. She’s such a sweetheart. And she really does love me. And she makes me happy to be a mom. And to his credit, John loves me too. I know that he does.

And I may just hear nice words from some of the others today, but I may not. And that's OK.

And that’s enough to get me through all the rest. (And the fact that John got himself up for church this morning doesn’t hurt either).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Almost completing a Saturday

This morning was tricky -- a soccer game, complete with confusion caused by people pretending to be parents who weren’t. I managed to pack one box of stuff from my office between being interrupted every 3-4 minutes. John was trying his hardest to find stuff to do, but he literally interrupted me 15 times in one hour.

The movie and dinner were fairly uneventful. Tony opted to stay in town and spend time with his PCA and Salinda’s friend joined us so we had 10 of us as usual.

Now I“m trying to get invitations printed for Sadie’s party (She is getting friends together for a party next weekend and I’m teasing her for hosting her own going away party).

I’m also going to put together a movie for church tomorrow, but as my brothers used to say when we were kids, ”i’m ruunnnninnnnng ouuuuut oooof eeeeeeeennnnnnnnnneeeeeeerrrrrgggyyyyyyyy...“

Facing a Saturday

Saturdays are the hardest days of the week and knowing that we have only 3 weeks left to pack isn’t making it easier.

last night I had a not-so-pleasant conversation with John where he was quoting some of the “professionals” who have “helped” him over the last two years. He was stating that in “normal” families, both parents sit down with each child and ask them one on one, with no interruptions from anyone else, how they are feeling, what they are thinking, etc.

First of all, I am doubtful that this occurs very often. My parents had only 3 children and were awesome parents, but I don’t remember any times where both of them sat down in a room alone with me just to ask me how I was feeling and what I was thinking. I spent time one on one with my mom or dad a couple times a week for a few minutes, but the only time any of us got both parents to ourselves for any period of time was when we were in deep doo-doo.

John has no clue how to use unstructured time, and so we as parents know that if we are going to make it through the day we have to structure all of his time. He demands complete attention at all times. Obviously, he can’t have it, but he gets most of one of our attention almost every waking moment. Fortunately, the other kids are good at asking for time when they need it and they do pretty well.

I digress -- anyway, apparently most of one of us isn’t enough and he is demanding all of both of us, which just isn’t going to happen. We’re having an in-home therapist come on Monday (requirement of the county) and we’ll ask her how to best handle it, I guess. I’ll be interested in seeing what she thinks.

So, in order to make today survivable, we have to schedule activities. It’s not just for John, as our other kids have trouble with unstructured time, too, but it is going to cut way back on our packing time.

Our plan is to pack and clean until around 1:30 or 2 and then head to watch a cheap movie and have supper out.

The thing that amazes me is that John was able to keep himself busy at the Ranch by watching movies and TV, playing cards, etc. And he did very well in a cottage with 14 other kids, but says he is living in a house with too many children and there are only half as many.

I don’t know why I wrote all of this. Probably to open myself up to criticism. Or maybe just in an attempt to sort through my thoughts...

Friday, May 12, 2006

We May not be going to Court

Because by the time the deputy got to Mike’s shelter place to pick up Mike to take him to detention, he had run away....

The Inevitable???

Social worker just called to tell us that Mike had finally taken things a step too far and violated his probation. It looks like he is heading for a juvenile detention program until a hearing can be set and then most likely be put in sometime of correctional facility for a longer period of time.

The social worker, after several minutes, concluded, “It looks like Mike might have the opportunity to learn his lesson the hard way.”

I didn’t bother to correct her. And I’m not even wasting energy getting angry with the system any more. But she doesn’t understand FAS. In fact, she has told us more than once that we need to stop giving Mike allowances and using FAS as an “excuse.”

Problem is, he’s not going to get it. Being in detention for a few weeks or months does not work with people who don’t get consequences and who are impulsive.

In my research, I have seen that it is reported that anywhere from 16-25% of the inmate population in our country has FAS.

Other not so great statistics:

Among children with FAE/FAS:
• 95% will have mental health problems
• 68% will have “disrupted school experience”
• 68% will experience trouble with the law
• 55% will be confined in prison, drug or alcohol treatment centres or mental institutions
• 52% will exhibit “inappropriate sexual behaviour”
• 50% of males and 70% of females will have alcohol and drug problems
• 82% will not be able to live independently
• 70% will have problems with employment.

(Children with full FAS—lower IQs and a distinctive appearance—actually tend to do better in life because they receive earlier diagnoses and can be better protected by their parents and society.) 

—Psychologist Ann Streithguss, University of Washington medical school

And just so you know, Mike is not a child with full FAS -- his IQ is too high, making his disability completely hidden from most people.

We came to the conclusion in March after over 8 years of parenting Mike, that there was nothing more we could do for him. Today the social worker said that she honestly could do nothing more for him. I simply told her that we understood that feeling.

We don’t know what will happen to Mike. But it will be a little ironic after not even knowing where he is for over two months and having him refuse contact with us for us to be required to be present in court. But if we are, we’ll go. We gave him exactly what he wanted -- freedom from us -- hoping that maybe it would make him be able to prove his thesis: That we were his problem. Apparently that didn’t go so well.

I wish I knew how I was supposed to be feeling right now. I guess I’m just sort of numb.

After a Month Away

I decided I better update my devotional site

Makes a Head Spin

For the first four months that John was here he refused to get up. Said he was too tired -- that his medicine made him feel way too sleepy to get up. Every morning was a battle, especially Sundays.

I already reported that on this past Sunday, when he couldn’t go to church, he was up at 7. And again on Monday and Tuesday when he had no school he was up before 7. Yesterday and today he has been up at 6:15. So, in trying to “figure out why” (which is a huge mistake for someone dealing with children like mine) my mind races. Was he faking not being able to get up before and it is all intentional? Would doubling the meds that make him too tired to wake up make him all the sudden more able to wake up? What is his current incentive? Is it the weather change?

All in all he is doing very well, but there is no rhyme or reason to it. And it’s confusing. But I’d rather be confused as to why he’s doing well than why he’s not I guess. :-)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

As Promised

Pictures of the Living room furniture.

Marathon "Single Parenting"

I hate being both parents. I get really spoiled when Bart is here. I never have to cook, don’t have to do much laundry, and have someone to help with the behavior modification, discipline, and supervision.

But when he is gone, I have to do all of that alone plus my two jobs. Tonight it was one thing after another. After school I cleaned the kitchen and worked on dinner -- beans, rice, and homemade salsa. After dinner it was time to finish cleaning the kitchen, helped Sailnda study for a science spelling test, and gave ideas and suggestions for the paper mache rain forest animals.

I must digress for a moment and complain about parents who do their kids school projects for them. I make my kids do their own and they will not look as nice as the ones whose parents are doing them for them. But at least my kids will know that they have done them all on their own.Don’t get me wrong -- I found how to make them online and printed it out. I helped them write a list of what we needed to buy. I took them to the store to buy it. I helped them read the directions one step at a time.

But I didn’t do the work. Truth is, I couldn’t do it anyway. I have absolutely zero artistic ability away from the computer. So, they may not look as good as everyone else’s does, but at least they know they did it on their own.

Anyway, after the paper mache supervision I finished the kitchen (three days of pots and pans) and then sat down to talk with Bart on MSN. He is at our new house for the night.. Now I’m going to start bedtime -- 1/2 hour later than usual and hopefully be able to go to sleep within an hour. Really doubtful, but I’ll try.

But regardless of the condition of the animals, these are some of the cutest kids the 4th grade in this town has ever or will ever see.

Announcing SNACC Time!

Kari and I got together yesterday and brainstormed, and this is the conclusion.

SNACC (Special Needs and Christian Caregiving) is going to be a support group/prayer group/Bible study for people who allign themselves with the Christian faith. We’re going to start by having summer picnics and invite birth, adoptive and foster parents of special needs kids (and their kids) to attend. We’d even include people who provide services to kids with special needs.

Then in the fall we are going to begin to meet either weekly or twice a month to read through the Sermon on the Mount (probably quite slowly) and process together how it applies to our lives. I’ll lead the discussion and we will also pray for one another as well as share our lives together.In a year or so I hope to do some other things, but I have learned through lafter not to start too big because I tend to suck at follow through. (Can one use the word suck in the same blog entry they announce a new Christian group? Hmmmm.)

Anyway, Kari and I are excited about this. In the past I have run support groups, but not been able to, because I was being paid by the state, talk about my faith. Leaving out that part of me seemed so weird. I think it will be awesome to process with others how God and what Scripture says fits into what we are doing and I look forward to it.

As soon as we have details about the first picnic (most likely to be held in mid-June) I’ll post them on the blog.

I Yam what I Yam or To Be Me or Not To Be Me

When I started blogging I knew it was a risk. After all, dooce was fired for what she wrote in her blog. I decided that I would be discreet about information that involved other people, but let it all hang out otherwise. As those of you know know me personally are aware, I am about as unpretentious as they come. I am authentic, open, and honest, and am always and completely me.

I started blogging for adoptive families and those planning to adopt to let them know what it was really like. But it has become my journal for all things. And the address “gets around” and now there are many others reading the blog for other reasons . . . people I don’t know. Letting it all hang out for the world to see may not be wise. My friends and other adoptive parents get me and “get it.” They understand the ups and downs and the emotions of this, and yet because they know me personally understand how my personality fits in with it all or understand what it feels like to b me. Or, if they don’t know me, they know the journey and it makes sense.

But whenever I get negative feedback about the contents of my blog, especially when I feel like I am being attacked, it makes me feel bad. In addition, taking the past year of my life and trying to define our family by it, without meeting us, would be a very unfair picture -- as this has been, by far, the hardest year of our lives. It’s not really accurate to judge the essense of who people are by one year of their lives.

I’ve always had a “take me or leave me” approach to life, but as the wife of a minister this doesn’t always work so well. In person, people usually find my honesty refreshing, but it doesn’t always happen when people read what I’ve written.

SO, all that vague stuff to say this.

Does finding out that there are people reading my blog who are liking me less and less based on what I write or who are using what I write for ammunition to make negative statements about my family mean that I should be less authentic? I don’t think so.

Does the good that my blog has done for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents outweigh the negative repercussions that my honesty may bring to us? I certainly hope so.

Can I honestly state that I have been as discreet and positive as I can be when it involves other people and that my heart has been pure and my intentions nothing but noble? Without a doubt.

Can I trust God to work out the misunderstandings that my sometimes careless words might cause? I believe that I can.

WIll I continue to believe that most people are generally good and that being trusting and simple in my approach to the world will ultimately pay off? Most certainly!

Am I begging for comments that will encourage me to keep blogging? Of course not, but I certainly won’t delete them.

Under 100!

I’m down to 96. Been working steadily all morning. Am trying to look only at my screen and not on my desk so I don’t lose focus. I’m living in a MESS right now.


I got home at 9:45 last night, tired but in fairly good spirits. Came to find out that everything was fine here as well, which is a good thing. Woke up to inform Rand, almost 18, that he could not leave for school until yesterday’s chores were done. I had told him a few days ago that this is the way we were going to do it. I have been playing the “chore game” with him since he was 11.

So, as I am supervising him cleaning the laundry room, I send him upstairs with a basket of clothes which somehow got “lost” on the way to our bedroom. They had Bart’s jeans that he was going to pack to take on his mini trip over to Mankato (leaving at 7:30 this morning). So Bart was not happy.

Other typical things happened too (John making his ride sit in the drive way for 7 minutes, Dominyk wearing dirty jeans, Salinda late to dance, yada yada yada....

I now actually have two days where I can focus on my desk, my paperwork, my in box (250 messages) and laundry without having to go to any meetings.

Later, when I have the energy, I will go upstairs and get the camera and post a couple pictures of our new furniture.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Online in Our New Home

The Cable Guy came. I harrassed him. It was fun. My friend Kari came for lunch. She stayed a long time. We didn't work. We just talked. It was fun.

Now a potential PCA for Dominyk is coming by and I'm waiting for the furniture to arrive.

So I am in our new family room, sitting at what will be the kids desk with my laptop plugged into 3 mb cable internet. It seems to be working OK.

It's very weird being alone in an empty big house. I'm know, I'm not waxing poetic like Bart. But I'm not him. Not even close.

Dunn Brothers Again

Sitting in Dunn Brothers after sleeping VERY well -- although I was a little nervous all alone in that big house. I had a home visit last night where even though the situation hasn't always been pleasant, the bottom line is still true. I KNEW these people had what it took to parent tough kids and they are doing an awesome job with them. So at least I can feel good about that piece of it.

I have been catching up on email and having a low fat muffin and water. In a half hour I am going back to the house to wait for the cable guy to come put in internet and cable and then I get to have lunch with Kari. (link over to side, too lazy to type it in). Then this afternoon our living room furniture is being delivered which is great.

I was quite nostalgic last night listening to worship music and started to get very sad about leaving our church. We have an awesome worship team -- great voices, awesome selection of music, they blend together wonderfully. I love singing with them, pretending to be as good as them.

I promised myself I wouldn't get attached to these people.... dang.

More later...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

John's Day at Home

John has been mostly cooperative and I have been perfunctory and non-negotiable with my guidelines. It's working for today.

Tomorrow he will go to school and be gone from about 7 a.m. until around 5 p.m. attending the school that Mike did for a while -- and a place where John has been before. It's 45 minutes from here so he'll be in vehicles a lot over the next 3 weeks.

Today he tried to make cookies by reading and following the recipe. He told me he thought he must not have followed the recipe right. Ya Think?

Nobody's Got it Better

My husband is the best. I just IMd him with my lunch order. He will bring it home. Tonight I will leave for 2 meetings out of town and he will cook supper, serve it to 8 kids, and clean up. He will then care for them and put them to bed alone. He will take care of everything tomorrow, fix supper again, do bedtime alone again and be waiting for me when I get home at 9:30 tomorrow night. He will do laundry and clean as well.

Nobody’s Got it Better ... makes me feel sad for the rest. Nobody’s Got it Half as Good as me, cuz my husband’s the best.

And besides, he’s “crazy good looking” -- just ask Cindy and her kids.

A Good Night

Last night was a good one. We needed one. Bart took John with him to get a new lawnmower and Bart said his behavior was perfect. I helped with the Paper Machet animals for a bit and then Sadie sat down with me to watch the last 7th Heaven ever and an episode of Everwood. These are the only two shows I follow now.

Ricardo and JImmy were at the pool, Tony’s PCA came over to take Tony to the Park and Salinda went with. Dominyk was pretty harmless and Rand was too. It took a while for everyone to settle down because we started “bedtime (a 90 minute process) about an hour later than usual. But my ”not taking my kids so seriously“ approach worked pretty well yesterday.

Today I have to fit several days of work into one and my office is closing in on me. In our packing process this is the last stop for everything that we don’t know what to do with, so you can imagine that there is less free space every single day. It’s only 7:18 but I’ve already been at my desk 15 minutes... I better get busy!

Monday, May 08, 2006

School and Not Taking Things So Seriously

Well, the school couldn’t figure out anything. Apparently most programs aren’t accepting new students 4 weeks from the end of the year. So John gets to stay home with me again tomorrow. He’s still being cooperative but he’s being a little bit antsy. Bart took him lawnmower shopping tonight. He’ll be done being contagious tomorrow morning, so I figure if he wants to contaminate the rest of the world tonight he can go do that.

Tonight I have started trying to pretend like I don’t take my kids and their behaviors as seriously as I do. This is helping for the moment. I even pretended to do a little Kung Fu with Jimmy when he was “stuck on stupid” and crying about something dumb and it worked. I guess me doing Kung Fu makes him laugh. Of course, me doing Kung Fu would bring a giggle to the most stoic of folks.

One of the things that the psychiatrist at the psych hospital said is that we allow John to suck all the positive energy out of our family when we take him so seriously. He encouraged us to have more fun with our other kids and if John wasn’t going to be appropriate, we didn’t need to include him. John’s assessment of our family that he completed was very positive, which is encouraging. His only complaint was that we weren’t very happy. The sad thing is that we are much more happy (or at least have more fun) when he is not here. Now I just have to figure out how to have fun and enjoy life when he is here. At this moment, I feel like we can do it.

Other advice at the psych hospital was that we needed to be even more strict with our rules and expectations. We used to run the house that way until a couple years ago when the county insinuated that our parenting was making our kids rebel. Funny how that comes full circle, huh?

Now I’m heading upstairs to watch the final episode of 7th Heaven. 7 years ago in February their family went to 7 children the same week we did and I’ve been following them for longer than the 7 years. It is amazing that they aren’t going to be on any more, but I’m going to watch the finale tonight -- either alone or joined by some of my children.

This is Why

Look at her. This is why I don't want any male of any age getting anywhere near her. Understanding testosterone in a limited way (Bart says I have a LOT of it, but that's not the reason -- I have 8 sons!) I don't want to take any chances. And a stranger from another state who nobody has ever met is pretty scary, even if he is a teenager (which we don't know for sure that he is).

Bottom Line

Because I have way too much to do and not a lot of time to do it, plus I’m exhausted, I“ll just give you the bottom line for now. Meeting went fine. Actually some good suggestions made and some insightful test results indicating that he is not bipolar. He is staying home but not returning to public school (public school people were at the meeting). I have another meeting where we will decide where he is going to school -- probably this afternoon.I continue to dread the three other things I’m dreading.

Today is "The Day"

Our meeting about John is at 10:00. He has been perfect all weekend -- helpful, pleasant, mostly cooperative. He has said and done all the right things to convince him that he is a changed man. We are printing up a reminder sheet of our expectations, taking away his MSN indefinitely (he was using pick up lines like, Hey b****, I want to f*** the h*** out of you -- don’t know WHY they all said no), and making sure he understands that his sleeping arrangements after we move will not be as planned.

When we left for Georgia we were pretty sure we couldn’t go through the come home, try it again, screw up, go back for another assessment route again. But it appears that now that he IS home we will go through it again anyway, even if it is just a few days. His change in behavior warrants him another chance.

However, we realize that this may now be out of our hands and the county may tell us that he has to go into a placement. If this is the case, we will in some ways be relieved but very sad for him.

In the next 8 days I have 3 or 4 things that I am dreading so much that it makes me almost physically ill. By noon today one of those things will be over.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Guess I'm Due

Had to add this: Salinda has been a breeze to raise to this point, so I guess I“m due. She’s been with us since she was six and is usually the most delightful, sweet and helpful daughter anyone could imagine happening. So I guess those one or two conversations a week that are torturous are justly due. Thing is, I can remember having arguments with my mom very similar to these, but my parents were so much more strict than we are. I do remember getting very snotty with her though. But I didn’t really mean anything that I said in anger as a general rule. I’ll hold on to that and hope that it is true in this case as well.


Just had a conversation that I am assuming is typical, but still has me frustrated.A week or so ago I made it very clear that our kids were not to give out personal information on the internet. I made it abundantly clear. As you know I have a beautiful 13 year old daughter and all of the information about internet predators has me paranoid.

So today I discover that she has spent most of the day on the phone with a guy she met in an online game chat room. Now, grant it, he probably is 14 or 15 and harmless, but the fact is that she went behind my back to call him and is now being absolutely impossible. After I told her she could not talk to him with my permission until I heard how they met and that there was a personal connection with someone we know LIVE, she started calling me by my first name (like that’s never happened -- duh -- the old “you’re not my mom, you’re Claudia routine -- BTDT).

Rivalling Viper Girl Vanessa from Cindy’s family, Salinda is being mean spirited and awful about my confrontation. She is declaring that she will disobey me and keep having contact with this no-named person in TX who I am supposed to call to confirm who he is but whose name I can’t know.

I am amazed that she can’t understand (or won’t probably) that if she doesn’t know anyone face-to-face that knows him face-to-face she can’t be sure he is who he says he is. She has all kinds of threats of what she is going to do. The sad thing is that this is just simple, safe parenting and she is refusing to accept responsibility for going completely against my warnings and wishes. I’m sure this is not even adoption 101, but parenting 101. BUt the impending doom of tomorrow’s meeting, the fact that I slept less than 6 hours last night, and all the stress in my work life make me less than ready to face it.

I’m not being as unreasonable as she thinks I am ... if I could even have a name and a parent’s name -- validate an address that went with a name and phone number -- and talked to a parent, I’d be satisfied.Until she communicates with me further about her wishes, she is training the opportunity to sneak around and call a kid in TX for phone and internet privileges at home.

Am I mean?


Well, I made some progress today. Packed most of what was left of videos, books, pictures, etc. in our basement. Also went through some of the mess in the office and got one box of books packed. Cleaned the kitchen a little.I’m really tired and want to go to bed right now. However, it’s only 4:15. Not quite bedtime.

Up at 4:30 and Not Happy About IT

I was so thankful to have fallen asleep quickly last night. I was not so happy when I woke up at 4:30 and could never go back to sleep.

I was also not happy at all when John, who has had to be nearly forced out of bed every morning at 8 for the past 4 months for church on Sunday was up at 7 raring to go when he couldn't go to church because he was still contagious.

And I'm not happy that the kids who whined loudest about us not having anything planned for the day are the ones choosing not to go with their father to Sioux Falls for lunch and time at the park.

Sometimes you just can't win for losing.

I am going to try to make some progress on getting things ready for packing around here. Jimmy owes me time for being disrespectful and noncompliant for his Sunday School teacher and then lying to me about it, and John is so sick of being in his room that he will probably work for the whole day.

But what I really want to be doing is napping, which won't happen because I have to supervise the ones who didn't go.

Saturday, May 06, 2006




MacJournal is making me crazy.Seriously. $15.00 for an update and it isn’t working.

Other friends

Even though our visits with our other friends were dampened by a few very unpleasant pieces of news and dilemmas waiting to be solved (work related as well as the John issue) it was great to see our friends in SC.

B & J have been our friends for over 20 years when he was our favorite college professor. He also performed our wedding ceremony. I have visited them several times alone, Bart has gone with me, and our whole family was even there three years ago.

D & K and P & K were some of my very best friends when I worked at OWU when it was BWC. We had some of the best times ever during those years.

Even though I had reached some new level of depressed that day, it was still great to see them. These are some of the very best friends I have and some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Seeing them reminded me of who I used to be, who I still am, and that life will get better.