Friday, June 30, 2006


I’ve never been much of a girl. Most of my life I have spent in the company of guys because I usually prefer it. But since married women really can’t spend all their time with the guys, and since I have moved away from most of my guy friends, AND since I have found that only other adoptive moms “get it,” I’ve started to develop some relationships with other women.

I like Kari and we really enjoy their family. Today she has set friendless Salinda up with a “blind date” with a girl here age in her grade. The mom’s are going to Dunn Brothers for lunch, a yuppy coffee place where girls go to talk. It doesn’t sound like something I would normally do, but I’m actually looking forward to it.

I’ll have to let you know how it goes -- heading to a coffee shop with a couple women is like heading to a foreign country for me.


Funny that Cindy should blog about happiness today when Bart and I discussed it this morning. “Not something I’m interested in” was his statement. It’s shallow, meaningless, simple. I want more.

Now I don’t like to blog anything negative about my husband because he is about as good as they come, a real “keeper.” He ironed my shirt this morning. He’s making lunch while I go out. I can invite whoever I want to over here whenever I want to and he will fix and serve a meal. He is a great dad and an awesome listener. He is smart, articulate, and deep.

But he’s a pessimist, or as he would say, a realist, and he’s like a box of chocolates. Moody and hard to predict.

I’m one who thinks happiness is not over-rated and that continuing to be optimistic can make a big difference. Who cares if it’s shallow?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hitting the Wall and FAS Reflections

There is a point in time at night that I just can’t make myself do anything else. After hours at my desk today, I’ve hit the wall. I need a change of scenery.

Last night Mike and Kari and two of their kids came over for dessert. She loaned me the book Damaged Angels and thanks to therapy for 3 kids today, I got through about 100 pages of it.

There was a section that truly hit home for me. It is on page 106 and the section is called, “When in Doubt, Blame the Parents. In talking about her daughter, the author says, ”When I think back to raising Colette, what was hardest was not Colette’s difficult behavior, but the uninformed arrogance and denial of many professionals who shifted the blame to us.“

Later in that section she is quoting parents who had their child in residential treatment. ”The psychiatrist said that ... our family was wrong for this child -- that he actually shouldn’t be in our family ... They wrote into his records that our family as dysfunctional and that I wwas the cause of the child’s problems. The doctor said that our son would be better off without a family. When I asked what kind of placement she’d suggest, she said they had nothing to offer.“

I don’t know why it is comforting to know that someone else has been through what we are going through, but it really is. It almost sounds identical to some of the stuff that has happened to us. In reading the book, I am finding that we have it pretty good compared to what some have been through and it gives me hope to keep plugging away.

But it truly is unfortunate that good people, taking on FASD kids unaware, are put through years of horrible experiences and in attempts to find them help, are considered to be their problem.

I realize this is my soap box lately, but it is a VERY hard thing to go through.

There's Just So Many of Them and it's just So Hard

As you can tell, I’ve been trying to match kids and that involves me reading lost of narratives about children. I read them, and condense them into short paragraphs, trying to describe the child/children without going into too much detail.

I just finished a group that will be staffed next Wednesday: 15 year old Caucasian girl who has an eating disorder and who is diagnosed with schizophrenia; 16 and 14 year old African American siblings with multiple diagnosis, a 12 year old severely delayed AA boy who is functioning at a 1 year old level and has many medical issues, a 4 year old AA boy who has multiple medical issues, 13 and 8 year old boy/girl AA sibs with ODD, PTSD, etc., and 13 and 8 year old brothers. Many of these kids are in residential treatment and needing many services. Ten children and it will be a miracle of they have one home study to be submitted for any of them.

This is ONE week, in ONE city, in ONE state out of 50. Multiply that for many weeks in many cities in every state and that’s one of our nation’s biggest tragedies.

Tony's Behavior Modification Plan

Because of our focus on more troubled older kids, our behavior modification has been less than effective. It has been sporadic and thus his behavior is out of control. This week I have decided to take this project on as a priority.

he has been in time out seven times this morning already, and he’s only been up for 90 minutes. He liked about taking his shower, had ice cream without asking, stole gummy bears, took the lighter for he grill out it’s hiding place, lit it, and then lied about it, and swore multiple times.

And this is all with me trying to get something done.

It’s been a great day already and it’s only 10:10. Fortunately for the sake of my sanity, John is still sleeping and Salinda hasn’t appeared from her room.


This morning Bart was up very early and off to the office. I have been up about 45 minutes and there are just stirrings now.

Yesterday, with John, Jimmy and Salinda gone, I finally got some work at my desk done in a concentrated fashion. I have been keeping up with my visits, etc., but sitting down at the desk and working for more than 10-15 minutes straight has happened. Yesterday I was here for several hours and I realized just how much I need to do. I feel pulled into several different directions.

Guess I should get busy...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Crime

I sent out this email today to everyone I know who knows families that might be willing to adopt. I will probably not get any responses.

I am going to take her name out, but this is the story:

__________ (10/89) is a sixteen year old African American female. She has shown she is somewhat responsible as she has currently completed her tenth grade of high school while maintaining a part-time job at a fast food establishment. She
has expressed a love for school and education however she requires special attention to stay focused and motivated. She attends some special education classes and has expressed a desire for higher education by attending

____________ is a healthy child. She was diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder not Otherwise Specified in March of 2005 but does not require any medications. She receives counseling on a bi-weekly. She does not have any special or medical needs.

____________ came into care when she was about eight months old due to her being abandoned by her mother. She is currently losing hopes of ever being adopted but has expressed on several occasions she wanted to have a  permanent

This is a crime. She has spent almost 16 years in the system. A crime.

SNACC Picnic Rescheduled

Since we had so much rain we had to postpone the first SNACC picnic. It is rescheduled for July 8th at 4:30 p.m. Same location. Email me if you don’t know what it is.

17 year olds

I am getting ready to try to recruit for a 17 year old AA teenage boy. i wish I had a long list of families that would say “We’d love to have him!” But I don’t.

I want every kid in a family before they age out. I want those kids to have somebody -- a resource, a back drop, a committed person in their corner.

Yeah, it would be hard to take a kid that age. Yeah, it would be difficult for the child to attach well. But it sure beats the alternative -- 75% of kids who age out are incarcerated, homeless, or dead in ten years. The other 25% don’t fare very well. Occasionally there is a teen or two that overcomes and makes it but unless they connect with some people of significance in their lives, they are very much alone and on their own.

Why don’t I take him, you might ask?

You better believe I would if we could... and if you’ve followed my blog I am sure you can figure out why we couldn’t.

Just Maybe

Today Jimmy, Salinda and John are heading to Valley Fair with our new church youth group. Tony and Dominyk will both have PCA hours for some of the day. I actually might be able to get stuff done today.

This week has been very difficult for me trying to get things done. I am hoping that it will be better today.

If I could have one thing it would not be millions of dollars, but millions of hours. I would love to have time to blog and process, articulately, some of the things we have been going through. I would love to have time to continue to make improvements on the house (we still have several rooms that have nothing on the walls). I would love to have time to spend planning activities for and with my children to take up all of their free hours instead of just some of them. I would love to have more time to devote to my matching job. I would love to have time to socialize more. I would love to have time to do creative things like scrapbooking, or making movies or collages in photoshop. And the list goes on.

But apparently all I have time to do is complain about not having time...

Number One Priority

When I was thinking about marriage in my 20s, I knew I needed two things: A husband who was smarter than me, and one I couldn’t control. Finding a man like that was no easy task.

This Post should prove the first criteria to be completely true. I am consistently amazed at his intellect, his ability to articulate, and his insight.

And if you could hear our conversations, you would know that there has not been one minute of our marriage that I have been able to control him.

I’m grateful today to be married to someone with those two characteristics. The tasks God has entrusted us with are not easy ones, but each day we manage to get up, face the challenges, and keep going.

I don’t know that anyone else could do what Bart does -- passionately lead a congregation with tact and compassion, patiently deal with my personality 24/7, and parent 10 kids, 5 of whom have been really difficult. But he does it ... day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Though we don’t always see immediate rewards, I trust that one day he’ll look back and see how much his efforts have mattered in the world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's the Day that Never Ends

You know, kind of like the song that never ends.

After supper, I had a brief break and then was treated to a nice conversation with Salinda that didn’t end nicely. She decided to start discussing how Bart and I shouldn’t have internet if she can’t.

Then moved on to yet another round with John. He is using the remainder of his clothing money to pay for the window and still owes us $5.50. He then started in about how we weren’t going to give him enough money for spending money at Valley Fair tomorrow. . . .

And it’s still only 8:55. Oh how I want it to be bedtime.

Bad Timing

These are the first moments of quiet I have had since I got up. I have been trying to work with background noise all day and not gotten much done. Now it is finally quiet and I am so exhausted I’m not sure I can get anything done.

But I guess that’s the way it goes.


As I had hoped we were beyond, but hoping against hope, John’s manipulation continued. He was instructed that he had to spend the money I spent to buy his clothes on church pants, pants and shorts since yesterday he had bought a bunch of shirts. He convinced me that I knew nothing about style and that Kyle needed to shop with him. So I gave Kyle the instructions of what he needed to get, and he came here with no church pants, a shirt, three pairs of shorts, and earrings.

He demanded that I take him to finish shopping immediately. I was in the middle of preparing an important fax, so I told him that I needed some time and space to think. He went ballistic. The scene culminated in me leaving for a while. When I came back he said, “Now can you take me?” I told him no again. This resulted in a broken window.

Immediately he is asking to go back to residential treatment because he can’t control himself. I told him no, what you need to do is to accept responsibility, pay to have the window fixed, and move on.

Fortunately, our friendly electrician stopped by to tell us how we can put yet another couple hundred dollars in his pocket (how I wish he read this, cuz I just LOVE giving him a hard time). That kind of broke John’s momentum, but as soon as he left he was asking me to take him shopping.

My word to him, when he gets home from a pizza party at church and immediately asks me to take him shopping is that when the window is paid for, we’ll talk. This is exactly the way that the therapists, professionals, psych hospital, in home therapists, etc. have told us we have to respond. But I don’t look forward to the fall out.

Fortunately, though, we now have Kari's husband Mike as our fix-it specialist and he came over after work and we put cardboard over the window until it is fixed in a day or two.

Changing Styles

John has expressed interest in changing his style. He has spent the last year collecting “gang-banger” clothes, sagging his pants, wearing “blingage” etc.

But I have been manipulated way too often. I know that if I go and buy the stuff for him, he will wear both.

So I am buying all of his stuff, and then he can buy clothes with the money I give him. I get to do whatever I want with the stuff. I’ll probably sell some of it on ebay. The rest I may just pitch into the garbage. I have hated it for so long.

Shopping with John is never a positive experience, but I will try my hardest to make it a positive one today.

Another Day ... Will I Make a Dollar?

Sometimes during the summer I wake up wondering how I will ever be able to get any work time in. I always manage to, but when I get up raring to go and get interrupted several times, to the point that my motivation is almost non-existent. I’ve been up for 45 minutes and this paragraph is all I have accomplished.

I sent Dominyk to the shower. He was gone about 10 minutes so when he reappeared I was shocked. Unfortunately, he was still fully clothed and hadn’t made it into the shower yet. He was in front of the mirror practicing funny faces and had come out to show me this one... made with the help of the peach pit from his breakfast, complete with drools.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lunch at Paulas

She had 18 home, we added 6 more kids, plus two adults, 26 for lunch and supper.

But she has her kids so well trained. All the older kids chipped in to help cook and clean up and within minutes things were done.

You might think of 24 kids and 2 adults having lunch together in one room as being a chaotic disaster. You would have been shocked and how well they all did together. It was calm, orderly, and everyone was basically very appropriate.

Total Inspiration

Paula cannot tolerate a mess. Salinda can’t either. And visiting her very tidy house made her hate coming back here.

I explained to her that Paula had one part time job, I had two, and that I had less time to spend on housework. I reminded her that because I work so much, we have money for extras that Paula’s family doesn’t have money for -- and that everyone has different priorities. We ended up having a fairly decent conversation about how there are “good” and “bad” things about every family, but that everyone is responsibble for their own choices.

I also articulated a very important difference between our family and theirs. In our family the “healthy” kids, the ones without issues, are not examples of doing the right thing. They are the middle kids and they tend to point up and point down and say, if they don’t have to, I don’t have to. They insist that the others be forced to do what I expect them to do or they won’t do anything.

At Paula's I never heard someone say, "But ______ doesn't have to help." They just chipped in and got it done.

i commented to Salinda yesterday that if the healthier kids would be good role models instead of gravitating to the level of the least mentally healthy, that maybe together we could turn things around.

I am proud of the girls. They have totally risen to the challenge. Even Jimmy, John and Ricardo are catching on. And since I have a few that are not arguing with me constantly, I’m more motivated as well.

I don’t know how long it will last, but for now, it’s nice to have things tidy.

Paula's Jake

I looked for a home for Jake and some of his siblings for a long time. Several matches fell through. Jake was a tough case -- more so even than Paula and Paul thought when they took him.

But I had to take these pictures of him -- so proud I am of him -- because of the progress he has made. From the inner city streets of a big city, doing favors for gang members, to peeling carrots and opening cans for his Mom in rural MN ...

It’s the way we all can truly change the world. One kid at a time.

Finding Fault

I think Jesus said something like, “he who is not with me is against me.” I think when it comes to blog readers there are three kinds.

1) People who are my friends and are “with me.” We have met in person or they know someone who I am friends with and they are on my side. Or maybe they are adoptive parents who understand what we go through.

2) People who are neutral. They pass through with no agenda whatsoever.

3) People who are “against me.” There are those who are looking for something to be critical of, and since I am so brutally honest all the time, there is lots of ammunition.

I recently was reminded again that some of the fault finders had found some ways to point fingers at the blog and I went back to read what they were talking about. I was amazed at how little I had said on the subject and how much they had been able to be critical about by reading it.

So, my conclusion is this: I will continue to blog as much as I can, as candidly as I can, and as innocently as I can. I will not think about repercussions, but I will attempt to be as discreet as I can be.

But no matter what, if you’re looking to find fault, it will be found no matter what.

The Other Side of RAD

While at Paula’s I had the chance to experience RAD from the non-parent side and I really liked it. This little guy, one of Paula’s new ones, is adorable! He of course, loved me immediately. The next morning he ran into the living room when he got up, saw me, rushed over, gave me a big hug and said, “You’re still back! You didn’t left!” Yes, I was charmed.

Then Tony, at the skating party, who wouldn’t let me, his mother, touch him all weekend, allowed THIS to happen with our friend Meg at the skating party.

It is very fun to be around RAD kids when you aren’t their parent. Meg and her husband just LOVE having Tony around and I Paula’s little guy “had me at hello.”

Our Dinner Guests: Fear Factor Consequences

Had company over last night -- pastor and wife from a church that Jimmy pronounces “Hell Top.” We had a great time. The kids were outside playing “Fear Factor” and Tony chose to drink a concoction of very disgusting looking refrigerator ingredients as opposed to having to hug our guest. No where else can a person be a “Fear Factor” prop than at our house.

Dominyk, Jimmy and Tony all had to have episodes, reminding us of why we don’t usually have company, but they were understanding and at least Bart and I had a great time.

This morning John and I saw a psychiatrist who spent a FULL HOUR with us. Unheard of in our history. In the past we have had 7-15 minute visits that have resulted in life-altering recommendations used in court, so it was nice to see someone who was obviously trying hard to get the full story.

Back to work now, at ten -- trying to get things done with multiple parenting interruptions...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Day of New Beginnings

Logistically, things did not go smoothly in church, but overall it was a great beginning.

Lots of very nice people who were very welcoming. Tony and Dominyk were far from appropriate, but we made it through.

We are having company tonight so we are trying to clean and though I have much to blog I don’t have time to do so.

1/2 hour until "Show Time"

OK, well, it isn’t show time and I’m not trying to be offensive. But in a half hour or less we will be walking into our new church building with all eyes on us. This is the first Sunday of our new lives.

And we will be singing this song during worship:

This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that's gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus,
love's mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference,
as faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
step from the past and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back Home

Our trip was really good. The trip up wasn’t great, but our time at Paula’s was awesome. My kid did what she said and enjoyed being with her kids. For part of today we traded five kids for five kids and all had a great time. She gave me two of her most annoying and I gave her two of mine. Hers were perfect for me and mine were perfect for her. I could give you much

I have many thoughts and ideas and reflections about our trip, which includes seven families filling a roller rink at an Adoption Support Group party. However, tonight it is time for us to get ready for the big day tomorrow. Bart’s debut, the season premiere, so to speak of his new pastorate.

Hopefully tomorrow or the next day I’ll have a little more time to blog...

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Day After

I always forget that if I really push hard one day, then I have a lot of work the next day. And today is errand day.

I have a long list of errands that I have to do this morning and a bulging inbox. And at 1:30 I’m heading to do a placement and afterwards going to Paula's with a bunch of kids to spend the night. Tomorrow we will drop Rand off at Camp Friendship where he will spend his summer making money doing something he is good at in a place where he is valued and feels comfortable. This is a direct result of him listening to me for the last five years. When he first went there as a 12 year old he came back having loved it. I told him if he would go there every year as a camper and then volunteer when he was old enough, that some day he might be able to work there for money. This summer our plan is coming to fruition.

After dropping of Rand we are going to spend some time at an Adoption Support Group roller skating party, and then head home late tomorrow night to get ready for Bart’s first Sunday.

And then our lives will officially have moved forward from limbo. We are hoping that having Bart back to work and us going to church will give the kids a chance to meet some people so they have more to do.

And I have an idea brewing about how to keep them busy that will have to wait until next week to start up and to tell you about. I have to stop blogging or all my stuff isn’t going to get done!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On a Role and a Message from Paula

I have actually been given enough quiet and solitude to work in the zone at matching children for most of today.

Paula want’s y’all to know that she doesn’t have internet and that is why she’s not bloggin.

Quick Minute for a Funny Story

Background: John has managed to work 3 hours this morning. It has not been pleasant. In fact, he pushed me to the edge, so I decided to leave for a few minutes and get a break. He had just informed me that both parents have to let all of their children know where they are at all times, so I said, “Since I have to give you a full report, I am heading to Walmart to buy feminine napkins.”

I used that term because I figured the smarter ones would get it and it would leave the less smart ones wondering. Kyle, 19 and through two years of college, but, as my husband reminds me, naive, I had figured would know exactly what I was talking about. But, no.

“Why do you have to buy feminine napkins (as if there were two varieties of the kind you wipe your mouth with?”

“Do you really want to ask me that?”

“Yeah, why do you have to buy feminine napkins.”

“Because when a woman is on her period, Kyle, she needs them.”

(other 5 boys mouths drop open because they’ve all been through 5th grade health).

“That’s not what they are called!”

“Yes, Kyle, that is what they are called.”

I left as he was muttering to himself something about Tampons, or Kotex, or something like that....

Good Parenting is the Hardest Kind

John has a history of doing weird things with his clothes. I’m not sure, as I never am, if it is a can’t or a won’t issue. But he trades clothes with people, loses expensive clothing soon after they are purchased, has strange ideas about what he HAS to have RIGHT NOW but is unwilling to pay for them, wears two shirts at a time, will not let any of his siblings touch his stuff but wears their clothes whenever he wants to, changes between the same pair of pants being WAY to big and WAY to small within the same week, and believes that he is entitled to name brand clothing of his choice. He also literally wears three outfits a day, even when we aren’t going anywhere, and wants them all washed even if they are only on his body for a few minutes. I try to stop him from throwing them in the pile, but they often get thrown in and then covered with wet towels or something.

He decided, after wearing his brothers shirts without asking over the past two weeks and after making an agreement with me several weeks ago that if I bought him certain things they would be his summer clothes for the rest of the summer, that he had to have new shirts yesterday. Because I said no, I was punished for the rest of the day. He even decided to be annoying and rude to me during our Monster Cookie Party.

I woke up this morning and agreed to have him work and I would match it for money for shirts up to $50. I pay $4.00 an hour for chores at home. Unwilling to wait, he’s trying to figure out how he can work 12 hours today and still go shopping when it is over. We talked about delaying gratification, one of those impossible things for him.

So now I have to find things for him to do for as many hours as he will keep working. It is way more work for me than it is for him. If I ask him to do a chore, it is usually done quickly and not well enough. So I have to check it, point out what needs to be changed, etc. And then on to the next thing. It is way more work for him than it is for me.

Could I have just given in and taken him to the store? Sure. Would that have been the easiest thing to do? Definitely. Would he have learned anything about the value of working, earning your way, keeping your commitments? Not a chance. Do I wish, sometimes, that I could just let myself give in and not hold them accountable? You bet your life.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Heroes or not?

i was thinking about this today. Who are big heroes in the child welfare system? Foster parents who will take tough teenagers.

So then why are adoptive parents, who actually are parenting, committed to for life, and attempting to live with those same tough teenagers that nobody else can foster, villainized and seen to be the problem?

Yes, I’m having a hard time getting over this whole CHIPS thing. Can you tell?

The Beginning of Dominyk's Therapuetic Relationship

This morning Dominyk saw his therapist for the first time. I went in with him. On the paperwork I had listed “excessive cursing” and “violent thoughts and ideas” as presenting concerns.

She started out with “Dominyk, we’re first going to talk about confidentiality.”

He responded, “What the F*** is that?” (and yes, he said the word.

A little later she asked, “What do you like to do for fun?”

“Blow things up. Light fires. Burn things.”

Thanks, son. Once again, I was proven to be anything but a liar.

Could I Be Any More Pathetic?

I used to feel like I was really good at a lot of things. I had some professional success and felt I did a pretty good job at maintaining a positive self-image as a single person. I was a bit of a workaholic but felt that I was competent at my various jobs and that for the most part I was doing the right thing.

The longer I parent the less like that I feel. I am not good at housekeeping, I can’t cook, and I make stupid mistakes about things. I just don’t seem to be doing anything right.

Today the repairman came for the washing machine. Apparently, the warrantee doesn’t cover tubs pierced by long nails. Now, I realize that all GOOD mothers check all pockets. I do sometimes, not all the time, and when I’m stressed and busy, I don’t often check them. Now I have to pay for my error -- $500+ in addition to the many loads that will be done at the laundromat between now and NEXT FRIDAY when the thing will be fixed.

I know that at this time of our lives, during his transition, that my husband needs to count on me to be at my best. And lately, I just keep doing things that are making the whole thing worse instead of better. I’m tired of letting my kids down and him down.

Wow, could I be any more pathetic?

Two more Pieces of Therapist Advice

Kari did an excellent followup to my post about therapists and her last paragraph reminded me to include further advice:

1) Realize that YOU could be wrong -- it might actually be that your approach is not working.

Kari says it better:

Families are told that therapists, pediatricians, and other professionals are the ones with the answers. We are told to respect them as experts and to stop talking long enough to listen to them with an open mind. We are reminded that we might not be dealing with situations in the best way and that we might actually be wrong in our approach. I often wish someone would give the professionals the same advice.

2) Be honest with yourself and try not to take advantage of your win-win situation. As Kari quotes a therapist who was also a parent of a kid with FASD:

therapists have had a win-win situation going for a long time. They try something and it works well...bravo, they win. They try something that doesn't go well and the reason is that the family or the individual is non-compliant and unwilling to properly work the program. They never have to be wrong.

Aw, Come On

You guys are no fun. Nobody is even going to take a guess?

Last night we had some people here and a couple of them were people who have not chosen the life we have and who go to our new church. Dominyk’s obsession with swearing became quite embarrassing and last night it was certainly so. And the fact that he, Tony and Ben were all jumping on the trampoline with baby birds in their hands, with Dominyk’s somehow being killed in the process, did not help. Dominyk is very quickly corrupting Ben.

I bet our guest, who is only 8, went home traumatized.

Today he goes to therapy. He just got done explaining to me that he was NOT going to go, no matter what, and then let me hear several choice words. We’ll see how therapy goes. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him stop cussing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Play this little game with me. Leave a comment and guess whose hands these are and why they look like they do. You might win a prize.

Or not.

(and the people who were at my house tonight don't get to play. That would not be fair!"

10 years ago Today, If you Would have Told Us

Ten Years Ago Today we were on our honeymoon. If you would have interrupted our breakfast at Oceanside Meadows Inn in Prospect Harbor, Maine (where the hostess served edible wildflowers with her breakfast) to tell us our future we would have been shocked.

if you would have said “ All ten of your future children have already been born. Ten years ago tonight you will be at a little Italian Bistro in Mankato celebrating your anniversary. Your 19 year old soon to be Bethel University Junior will be taking care of your youngest son, who is already ten, while the other 8 children are in various locations.” we would have thought you were absolutely NUTS. We didn’t even know about older child adoption and would not have been able to imagine how we could acquire ten kids.

And tonight I wonder what where we will be ten years from now. All of the children we now have will have graduated from high school. How many of them will be still living with us? Will any of them be married? Will we be grandparents? How many of them will be in college or have graduated? Will there be some in prison? Will they all still be alive? Will we?

But this is the beauty of life. Because we may have run away from the future had we known it back then. And I’m grateful now that we don’t know the future, as we might be afraid to live it and thus miss out on so much of the good in order to skip the bad.

But as Deborah Hage often sings at the end of her seminars (which is the way the book I wrote ends):

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

Father's Day Sculpture

Dominyk built this for Bart yesterday. Even though we aren’t thrilled that it is nailed to the tree, we thought that for a ten year old with a bunch of old would a few nails and a hammer he didn’t do so bad.


In response to the request from independentsw, I have been contemplating sharing negative experiences with therapists. But instead, I think I’ll just do a quick list of things to remind therapists of things we think should happen (from the perspective of parents with kids with special needs who are manipulative and have multiple diagnosis)

1) Do not assume that the current family system is the issue.

2) Realize that you can be manipulated and that your client may have a goal in mind and will tell untruths to get you to achieve their agenda, even if it isn’t best for them.

3) When you make recommendations, be sure that you understand the implications of those recommendations and that they are truly in the best interest of your client.

4) If you believe that parents need to make some changes in the way they parent, talk to them privately and not in front of the child. Manipulative children use this as an excuse and as ammunition “If you would just do things like the therapist said, I would not act the way I do.”

5) Do not plant ideas in the minds of kids who are lower functioning, i.e., “Do you think that the reason you act the way you do is because you are not getting enough attention at home because there are so many children there?” (One of our sons who is the most proud of his large family and was the most excited about adding each child had this question asked of him multiple times by different professionals).

6) In dealing with children with multiple diagnosis, realize that parents are telling the truth if they report that something is not working ... do not assume that they are not following your instructions or that they are not doing it right and that is the reason it isn’t working.

7) Especially when dealing with adoptive parents, do not victimize them. The task that they have taken on is a very difficult one, and to become the object of blame, the reason for their children’s problems, and the sole responsibility for all issues is devastating.

8) Even if you are the child’s therapist, remember that the parents need compassion as well.

9) Be careful that a signed release doesn’t turn into permission to gossip or share your own personal negative feelings about the client

and finally,

10) Realize that imperfect parenting is better than no parenting. Some of these kids are never going to find a perfect family. The family they have, if that family is committed to them, is the best and only family they are going to get.

I am sure that what I have written could leave me wide open for criticism... but based on what we’ve been through, these are the cautions -- no holes barred -- that I would throw out there.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

I actually went to bed by a little after 10 last night. Because Kyle was in the basement, Rand and John had no problem heading down there when they were supposed to. Dominyk slept in my room and Tony had a room to himself, so they were at least fairly quiet.

But I woke up at 5:30. At 6:00 Tony came in to see what time it was. Because sometimes I’m an idiot, I told him it was 6 thinking he would think, “Oh, good, I can go back to sleep for a while.” See, I’m an idiot.

I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up around 6:30 and lo and behold he was at one TV, the other TV was on, he had been in several rooms he wasn’t supposed to be in. So I told him I was going to let him stay where he was if he promised not to move. Another 20 minutes and I still couldn’t sleep, so I got up to shower and found him at the other TV in the living room surrounded by food he wasn’t supposed to have -- a whole box of clementines, a pop and a bag of M&Ms that Bart was saving to make Monster Cookies. I sent him to his room until it was time to leave for therapy. He probably won’t stay there, but at least he’s there for now. Maybe he’ll go back to sleep.

Today we have our first session with our new therapist. Because of many bad experiences in the past with therapists we trusted, I’m not sure exactly how this is going to go. I’m going to have to be careful with what I say, something I’m not good at at all.

Some days I have trouble finding something to look forward to.

Much Calmer Day than Anticipated

Dominyk got up, took his meds, and then proceeded to watch a movie quiety. Tony didn’t get up until 10 and was actually directable until lunch time. The older boys didn’t get up until almost 11. After lunch I had a meeting, so Dominyk went to the Y and Kyle took John and Tony to the pool.

Talk about a good deal. Family season pass for $40.00! I was pretty happy about that. We just each have to go three times and it will pay for itself. After that it’s free entertainment.

Then Dominyk’s new PCA came to get him and I’ve sent Kyle to the store with Tony to buy some stuff for supper. All is quiet. Ben and Mike may come over tonight. So far the day has been quite calm.

interesting piece of annoying information:

When a kid goes into a DOC placement they are no longer eligible for Medical Assistance. I’m sure there must be an explanation, I just have to find out what it is.

Not Even Sure How to Blog

Every few months or so I have a very bad day emotionally. I get myself very riled up -- this time it was looking forward to two days with 4 of the 5 hardest kids alone without Bart, with my email not working, and with the washer out and us quickly running out of clean towels even though we probably have 50 -- with swimming, etc., they go fast.

When I get like this, for some reason, it is important for my nearly perfect husband to attempt to do some kind of “intervention” and prove that I’m really completely unhappy with my life and that I’m just lying to myself when I say I am happy. I am not even going to comment on that further.

So, last night was not a good night, we went to bed very late, and now he has left with my 4 helpful, usually give back, seldom exhaust me kids and I’m left here with the rest.

However, the one piece of good news is that I do have working email, which makes things much better.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Appropriate Behavior and Mechanical Mutiny

We all sat in the same pew this morning in the back row of what Jimmy calls “Helltop” UMC (because he pronounces his Is weird). The 11 of us completely filled the pew and everyone was actually fairly appropriate -- not perfect, but pretty close.

Then we came home to an awesome brunch that Bart insisted on making himself. We’re off to the theatre this afternoon for movies...

But our lives are in mechanical rebellion. The washing machine doesn’t work. The back end of the car is smashed. The back tire on the van won’t work right. There is a leak in the sink in the kitchen so brown water gets on the floor and comes down into the basement. The fridge freezes things that aren’t supposed to be frozen. And I can’t send email.

And my u

I wonder if all of the defiance, restlessness, and toxic attitudes is effecting mechanical things around here....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

How Can I Even Remember it All?

Yesterday afternoon and evening was one wild ride, very annoying. After being stuck here all day when the kids could have ridden their bikes at any time, the barricades were moved and we could finally drive. So 4 of the kids decided to ride bike to the YMCA. Since one of them was Kyle, and Rand is currently not driving because he decided to joy ride at the land fill on Friday, that meant that one of us had to give John and Ricardo a ride. Since John had been rude to me all day long, I told him that until I had an apology, he wasn’t going to get a ride from me. So he said, “Fine. Sorry for whatever, even though I didn’t do anything.” I agreed that he had followed my instructions to apologize but that I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of taking him when he was still being rude. We finally agreed that Bart would take him.

So, Kyle, Dominyk, Tony and Salinda took off for the YMCA on bike. Bart dropped John and Ricardo off at the Y at 4. I went to the store to discover that none of the new fridges will fit in the space we have allocated for it in the kitchen. I then went to Kohl’s. At 4:15 I found out from Bart that the Y closed at 5. At 4:40, Ricardo called saying they needed to have a ride home. I said, “You haven’t even been there 45 minutes. I’ll be there at 5 when it closes. At 4:45 I got a call from Salinda. They were already on their way back from the Y when Tony’s tire popped. I agreed to come pick up Tony. They insisted they didn’t need my help to get the bike into the van, but after trying for 10 minutes, I finally got it in there. Then we picked up John and Ricardo. I pulled into the driveway and said to Jimmy, run in and drop off the stuff and then come get the bike becuase I’m going to go run the errand I was planning on running at 4:40 when everyone started calling (Blockbuster to rent a movie).

Jimmy went inside but forgot to come back out to get the bike. So I called him out, he got the bike, but before I could leave, my cell rang and it was Salinda. ”Can you come pick me up?“ ”Why?“ I ask, thinking that her bike is messed up. She said, ”Because I don’t know where I am.“ I said, ”Well, I’ll have to know where you are if you want me to pick you up.“ She hung up on me. I called her back. ”Salinda, you have to give me some idea of where you are if you want me to come get you?“ ”I’ll just find my own way home.“ Click.

I texted her to tell her I was out looking for her and could use a hint. She called me. ”Warren Street!“ click. I finally found her and drove her home. 75 minutes after it was scheduled I made it to the video store.

Mike (not our Mike) was here working on our basement bedroom with Ben and Anna and they stayed for supper. Right before supper, Tony had a complete meltdown, so I sent him to his room.

When it was time to eat , we sat down and there was an extra spot at the table -- some of the kids were eating at the table in the porch and I thought that Jimmy had miscounted when setting. It wasn’t until the end of the meal that we realized that Tony was still in his room and had fallen asleep. How we could have not noticed that the most annoying child in the family was missing, I’ll never know.

At the end of the meal, and I will leave out the details because everyone involved is quite embarrassed, the car across the street, belonging to the only people from our church who live on this blog, got dented. They were very gracious, but what are the odds?

To get away for a bit I went over to visit with Kari and had a conversation wtih Anna that went like this:

”Can you come see the jumpies with me? “(dolphins at the zoo)

”No. Sorry, I can’t.“


”Because I have 10 kids.“


”Very good question.“

Dominyk let loose with a Camera

Apparently a couple weeks ago Dominyk took the camera at church and did some creative things with it.

A couple self portraits and then a couple shots that he could probably sell as stock photography....

If you're picturing this...

If you’re trying to picture how all 11 of us locked in on a hot summer day, unable to leave our street, and you’re picturing a serene home, with us all sitting together, arms around each other, enjoying togetherness, you’ve got the WRONG IMAGE in your mind.

Sometimes when the kids have a melt down I get out the camera and it stops them. It made Tony laugh, but Jimmy was unphased.

Hostage Situation

For the last 6 nights John has been doing what he used to do years ago -- pushing all my buttons right before bedtime. It’s horribly annoying --he says lots of hateful things, refuses to do what he is told, and makes a big issue about it. Next morning he wants to act like it is all over and give me a big hug and tell me he loves me and pretend like nothing happened the night before. Last night I warned him before bed that his behavior was unacceptable and that he better apologize.

So this morning, no apology but he certainly has some requests.

Anyway, this morning the baffle came off of our new washer. I spent over an hour trying to find the part (and was even hoping to have a legitimate excuse for driving to the Cities (70 miles) to get one, but it wasn’t in stock. We ordered it. It won’t be in until Tuesday. So, no laundry until Tuesday. Pretty bad deal.

So, my dreams shattered by nobody in the Cities having the part, I finished dealing with Jimmy’s hour long fit -- sobbing, screaming, blubbering, but fortunately no hitting or damaging property -- and then headed out the door to do some shopping ALONE.

I did this only to discover that the bike race that was closing off the only street that lets us into our road had started earlier than they told is they would and we can’t drive off our block until around 3:00.

I returned discouraged and feeling like a hostage. I was home for a whole week without leaving listening to these kids bicker and now that Bart was home I really wanted to get away. But NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I pick the worse nights for picnics. We had one scheduled tonight for SNACC and it poured rain all evening. Flash flood warnings. We had a hard time deciding what to do, but I knew I could not tolerate a night here with nothing to do, so we managed to reach a couple of the families... got to meet Emily and Travis' new kids, had Kari and Mike and Ben and Anna over, and another couple, who probably don’t want to be named and don’t have a blog or kids yet... the rest we didn’t reach... but everyone came over and we had pizza... I guess we had a total of 13 kids and 8 adults here, but it didn’t seem like it most of the time. All in all it was a pretty good time.

It’s funny who demonstrated some of the best social skills of all... I won’t go on to articulate that, but some of the kids who are the worst at home were the most appropriate with company over.

Now it’s 8:25 and with Bart getting home at 2:15 a.m., we’re both just wishing we could go to bed, but alas, we have at least an hour before we can even suggest it.

Check it out

If you haven’t read the quote from Mandela’s Inauguration Speech about fear, you need to check it out here as I quote it in today’s devotional. It’s awesome.

Loving What You Do

I am so privileged to have jobs that I love. I truly love helping kids get into families. When I wake up in the night, I make potential matches in my head. When I am off doing other things, I think about the families I’m serving. There are times, as you’ve read in this blog, where I get very frustrated by the system and the delays it often causes and the sometimes other stupidity of the collective “system” (not the individuals in it).

But I do love my job. I love the reward of knowing that over 150 kids now (9 before I officially began my positions, not including my own, 11 my first year, 36 my second, 96 my third, and 30 so far this year with at least nine more coming home this month) are in permanent homes and that they won’t age out of the foster care system without a family. I am a lover of statistics, but only because they represent people.

So as I “hit the computer” again this morning, I do it with anticipation -- of seeing lives changed and generational cycles of substandard living being switched over to a new track where people like Yolie can meet a guy like chuck and lovingly adore a child like CJ after having such a tough beginning.

Few jobs provide satisfaction like that.

Dreams and Nightmares

I dream every night, but very very seldom do I have a nightmare.

Last night I had one. I dreamed that we got a call from the hospital -- Bart was not in town, and I went there to find that Salinda had been in an accident. After a short while they told me she didn’t make it. I had to break the news to the kids myself. The dream only lasted long enough for me to tell Kyle, Sadie, and John, but it was HORRIBLE beyond description -- the depth of their and my emotion in that dream.

When Salinda wakes up I’m going to give her a big hug -- even if she wakes up crabby and irritable (which happens every other day now that she’s 13).

I’ve never been so happy to wake up and discover I’d been dreaming.

"My Mom Can Help You"

Yesterday at the YMCA my kids met a young girl, 17, African American, self-described as poor, and very talkative. Apparently she spent a very long time talking to Salinda. She was lamenting the fact that she didn’t have a job and didn’t know how to get one. Salinda told her, “You should meet my mom. She could help you.”

I found that to be a high compliment... that my daughter knew that I could help someone and more importantly that I would. She knows that I am busy, but she also knows that I care about people and am willing to do what I can.

It was also fun to see that my daughter, who often claims, when she is angry, that she’d rather be in juvenile detention than living in my house, is in the community offering her mother as one who can help.

We’ll see if anything comes of it. If so, I’ll do my best. But if not, it was nice to know that my kids believe that I am a mom who and will help other people.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Being Good

Last night before going to sleep I had an unusual (as usual) conversation with Dominyk. He was talking about how he wanted to kill people and hurt people and how he was going to be bad in school. Always unsure if this means that he is going just being a boy or if he has traces of antisocial personality disorder like his birthmom, I try to gear him in a better direction.

I said something to the effect that talking like that was going to make people think he wasn’t a good person. “I’m not a good person and I don’t want to be one.”

I decided to show him the value of being good. It was my plan to find out what he wanted to be when he grew up and show how he needed to be a good person in order to do so.

He shut me right down when he answered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with this response:

A bounty hunter -- I want to get paid for hunting people down and killing them.

end of conversation.

Happy Anniversary, Baby, Got You on my Mind

Bart’s trip took him away from me on his birthday and on our 10th wedding anniversary. But absence makes the heart go fonder and we knew this going into the trip. Still kind of sad to have him gone today.

Last year I wrote quite the tribute. This year I may not be able to wax as poetic, but it’s an incredible thought that we’ve been married for ten whole years.

Ten years ago today, on a Saturday morning, I walked down the aisle thinking about all the times I had wondered what it would feel like to walk down the aisle. Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m actually married. I was single until I was 32 and really enjoyed being single. Taking the plunge to be accountable to someone else in everything and even submissive to (which y’all (as Cindy would say) are going to think is a joke, but it really is true) was a scary thought. I wondered if I even had what it took to be married for a “normal” life.

And now we have this ever so not normal life. Ten kids with special needs. County involvement. Stress upon stress. But somehow we’ve been able to make it.

It’s interesting that the song “Broken Road” has resurfaced this year, because I found the old version by the “NItty Gritty Dirt Band” and had one of our good friends sing it at the wedding. Here are the lyrics.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream lead me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I didn’t think they were complete enough, so I wrote a third verse that she sang as well.

Now I give you all I have
I give you all of me
My whole life's no sacrifice
I give it willingly.
Because no one loves me the way you do
You’re making all my dreams come true
And God will bless the road ahead
I know he’ll see us through.

It’s true... he has. Our road has truly been an unusual one, but God has seen us through ten years.

No one could be a better other half to me. I love you, Bart ... you’re the very best there is.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ready for Bed at 6:30

The last week I have just been exhausted by bedtime. I’m not sure if it is all the responsibility of doing what Bart and I both do around here, getting adjusted to being back to work, just being finally moved and the let down that comes after something like that, or the fact that I’m exercising again, but by 6:30 I’m ready to lie down and go to bed. Unfortunately, the children who sleep until 8:30, or ELEVEN (not with my permission, but I can’t make myself do anything but let sleeping dogs lie, to use a metaphor) are not tired at all at 6:30.

Overall the kids have done quite well considering that they have no friends here and have nothing to do...(and they sure aren’t going to do anything helpful with all their free time). The bickering has been minimal and for the most part things have gone fairly OK.

So i don’t know why I’m SO tired...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The First Twenty Minutes of My Day

Even though I got mail yesterday and spent an hour on the phone with IRS concluding that I have to do amended taxes (which makes me very unhappy) and Salinda and John both decided to be mouthy and rude right before bed AND i had disturbing dreams, I always look forward to the first twenty minutes of my day.

This morning I got to be reminded by Audrey not to be too frustrated with caseworkers because there are many who are doing their best. Since Bart isn’t here and I haven’t talked to him last night or this morning, I read about his conference. I got to see a beautiful picture and read about the trip of our would-have been neighbors. And I got to be reminded that things are worse at Cindy's than they are here and be totally motivated by her resolve. Talk about being steadfast (I actually updated by “Scripture as I See It” Blog today).

So twenty minutes into my morning with a few blogs read, a few verses of Scripture, and an unusual breakfast, I’m ready to settle down and work ... just in time for the kids to start waking up and fighting. Oh well, I had my 20 minutes.


Our friend Tammy wrote a blog entry about us that is quite humbling. She is the parish nurse in our old church and does an awesome job of working with the elderly in our congregation. We feel blessed to have known her and her family.

So when she blogs about us I have to blog about her and let everyone know that the feeling is mutual.

(and, by the way, my inbox was down to empty once today... but now it’s back up to 50)

The Ever-So-Boring Email InBox Report & a Piece of Good News

I was at 267 yesterday morning. I’m at 121 right now. I’m slowly catching up.

I just got a call that possibly some of my kids will have bus service. Great news for me as I was anticipating having to give everyone rides...

Blog Reading and Perspective

When Yolie's Post, Cindy's Post and Bart's Post all end positive on the same morning, it’s got to give you perspective. I woke up to find John on the couch after he had been told he could not sleep there. It was a test last night to see if I grab the bait and have a good argument. I simply said no and went to bed. it’s a simple thing, but he proved he could not follow directions.

Considering everything that is going on in our lives right now, all of the kids have been doing fairly well. But it is getting harder by the day. And even though we have a brief reprieve between our former and present counties involvement in our lives, we have that to dread.

But I remain hopeful that someday we will look back and be glad that we’ve done what we’re doing. Some days, when we’re in the trenches, we wonder.

Plenty of work to do today and still much to do around the house. Yesterday I didn’t do any unpacking. Today I will attempt to do some on top of everything else.

At least so far the kids have been pretty good ... not perfect, but nothing involving too much crap.

Monday, June 12, 2006


As I predicted, living in a larger town means me living in the van. It started at 11:50 when I took Salinda and Jimmy to the Junior High for their “Right Start Program.” At 1:30 I took Dominyk to the YMCA, picked up Salinda and JImmy, came home to pick up Sadie, drove to the YMCA where i played racquetball with some of the kids. Then I came home, changed clothes, drove to St. Peter where I dropped Dominyk and Ricardo off at the park and then went to do a home visit. I called to give Jimmy instructions on how to make Mexican Pizza for supper on my way home, came home, helped him finish that, jumped in the van to take Ricardo to practice, and then came back home. That was 15 minutes ago and in 15 more, I will leave with whoever wants to go to watch Ricardo play his game.

Too bad I can’t be working while I’m driving... it’s hard to get anything done when i’m in the van all day.


I have a few kids who just cannot find things to do. Which I get. I know unstructured time is hard. But what I don’t get is why the 23 things I do suggest aren’t OK. I work hard to come up with ideas and none of them are good enough.

The school here called this morning and they might not be able to educate John. If not, that will be a big blow for him as he is counting on playing football. He is my hardest to entertain and has a zillion excuses as to why he can’t do any of the things I suggest.

Gets tiring....

Back to Work

So far the morning has been pretty uneventful. i’ve been able to work for about three hours -- mainly because John has been asleep. Discovered that we have lost another cord to the kids computer, so that’s one less thing for them to do.

Getting back into the swing of things on the job front is fun...

Today Jimmy and Salinda have to go to “Fresh Start” -- a program at the middle school for kids going there the first time next year. They’ll be there for a couple hours every day this week. They are hoping to meet some people.

I have told JImmy today is the day I will beat him in racquetball ... plus Ricardo has a game tonight and I have to squeeze in a home visit this afternoon to do a home study update.

I found out this morning that several kids I have matched will be going home in June, so that’s good news.

At least compared to Cindy my life is pretty good right now...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ending the Day

We are ending the day fairly typically. Kari and her husband and 3 of the kids came for supper. All went pretty well (I thoroughly enjoyed trying to convince Anna that she should name her doll Baby Idiot (long story) and we enjoyed other such nonsense. The evening culminated in Dominyk getting in a fight with Ben and going on to loudly tell me all about how he was many not-so-nice words in front of his parents. I simply looked at Kari and said, “This is why we can’t have normal people over.”

Also in the middle of the evening, John decided to get the dog completely wet to the point that he came upstairs and had a very spastic, high special needs, ADHD fit all over the living room (the dog, not John).

It was a very odd evening, but a very typical one and Mike and Kari seemed very nonplussed by the events.

Now I’m arguing with everyone about how they need to go to bed, something that is very typical here as well. I am pretty consistent with bedtime, because when I am not, I pay.

I am nervous about tomorrow and how I may not be able to work, cook, and parent all at once, but I plan to give it my best shot.

I talked to my mother today and she said that they had such a wonderful time with Bart, Kyle and Tony. It sounds like Bart had a pretty good time as well.

Check out this:

Bart updated his blog and I told about my hour of exercise in my Shrinking Slob blog.

Report of the Morning

Kids got up and did well getting ready and getting off to church. Discovered that our phone is messed up so you hear a dial tone whenever the person is calling on top of their voice. Figured that out when Bat’s Mom called to tell us his grandma had a stroke this morning. I’ve passed the word along -- he’s in Arizona, going to go to church with my folks this morning. It’s two hours earlier there.

This afternoon we will go to the Y for a while and then I will take the kids to a movie while I take Rand to District Missions Camp. Fletchers will come over for supper... A filled day is better than unstructured time.

Tomorrow I have to go back to work. Hopefully I have enough done around the house to be able to spend a good portion of my day at the desk -- though parenting while working isn’t always the easiest thing to do. i’ll figure it out.

Right now I’m finishing a movie up from the other night while I blog -- the kids got to finish it the other night.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Being both parents is hard work, especially when it comes time for the cooking part of things. Everyone in our house LOVES their Dad’s homemade pizza. I decided to try to make homemade pizza and though the kids were kind, it did not measure up. I did make a Thai Chicken Pizza in addition to the pepperoni and cheese and it was the better of the three. More than likely it was only better because the bottle of spicy Thai Peanut Sauce that I bought was awesome. I should have just drank the bottle and saved myself the work of making the pizza.

But cooking AND cleaning up is not fun. When Bart cooks, which is about 93% of the time, I almost always clean up. But doing both is a lot of work.

I told the kids if they helped with dishes I would play cards with the before we watched a movie. Sadie is the only one who really helped -- John washed one pan. Rest of the kids disappeared, except Salinda who is busy hanging pictures for me.

I got my office all unpacked and am finding my new desks thrilling beyond words. Lots of storage and lots of space. I also have all of my cords organized, which is a huge relief. You should have seen the broodlike bunch of snakelike cords tripping me up in my old office.

I’m off to play cards, watch a movie, and fall into bed exhausted. I can’t wait to get back to work where I have an excuse not to do all this housework!

Hallelujah, I Have Found It

We just found the antenna to my computer. What a relief. I don’t know if God cares that much about 35 bucks, but this morning when I was trying to buy a new one, the website I was ordering from had a glitch and I couldn’t purchase it. Now I have it and didn’t have to spend it.

Since last blogging, we have purchased Ricardo some baseball cleats, Rand bought some new shirts for the summer (all his 2XLs are too short), I got stuff to hang up the shower curtain, bought new tennis shoes for me (they were cheap and I haven’t had a new pair for over a year), got nails to hang up pictures, garbage cans for the office and kitchen, served homemade Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad (my own creation) for lunch, cleaned up from that, and am supervising some work. We’re heading to the YMCA again soon.

It’s great to be back online on my G5!

Uh Oh

Most were still asleep at 10:30. Not good. But tonight I will demonstrate why I never let them stay up late.

Every time they stay up late, they sleep late. Then the next night they don’t want to go to bed. Meanwhile, i have been up working for hours (This morning cleaning out the broom closet that everyone decided was the garbage closet) before they get up and by bedtime I’m tired and ready to go to bed.

One of the hardest things about parenting special needs kids is that if you can’t trust them in the house after you go to bed, it’s hard to come up with a fair plan for responsible kids. Right now is that everyone has to be in their rooms at a certain time, but that we don’t tell them what time to go to bed. Many of them think this is entirely unfair -- but of course, the least trustworthy scream the loudest.

Can't or Won't Learn

I’ll leave this child nameless because what I say will incriminate. :-)

When we were packing, Bart pointed to the table where the pile of bolts for the kitchen table were laying. “Put those somewhere really safe where you will know exactly where they are tomorrow when we unpack.”

Of course, tomorrow came and he had no idea where they were. No, we shouldn’t delegate stuff like that, we realize that, but it was a pretty crazy day.

So the day the movers came they asked for them so they could put the table back together. I said to him, “You need to find them or putting the table back together will be your responsibility.” He couldn’t find them.

Yesterday I found them, wrapped up in tin foil -- looking just like a ball of foil that could easily have been thrown away, tossed in the bottom of a box full of kitchen utensils. I called to him and said, “Now you need to go put the table back together.”

This morning, I found the foil pouch on the table, still full of the nuts and bolts, wrapped up so that it looked like trash again.

This child is not young. He is on the B honor roll. But he has passive ODD. His IQ isn’t high, but it isn’t in the MMR range either. So, my question is, “Can’t or Won’t?” In fact, that is my constant question most of the time. Can’t or won’t?

Another Quiet Beginning

We were up until after 10:30 last night (I realize that’s not late for some, but for us it is) as Mike and Kari, Ben and Anna were here. Mike was working on our basement, Ben was playing with Dominyk (teaching him how to pull body parts off of GIJos, I kid you not), and Anna was entertaining Kari and I in our dark living room (we have no lamps there yet.

Before that I had rented a movie after our supper of beans and all in all the day ended fairly well. Today I have the task of balancing work and fun while spending the least amount of money as possible. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but it is challenging.

Tomorrow Rand heads off to a District Missions Event for a few days, leaving me with only 6 kids -- which is a good number because we all fit into the van.

Everyone is still sleeping but I hear some movement, so it won’t be long before my day is filled with arguing and bickering...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Updating the Shrinking Slob Blog and other stuff

Updated this blog just now.

I got back from the Y after going to Penney’s to buy Bart some stuff for his birthday/our anniversary/Father’s Day. They aren’t surprises.

Three of the guys have managed to be at the Y for almost 3 hours, which is phenomenal. I’m thrilled, actually, that I’ve had a break from them for that long.

Dominyk is being relentless. Something he is very good at.

i have had a few parenting moments today that I am not proud of.... but I won’t blog those, of course.

Compelled to Keep Blogging

Now that I know that Julie's dissertation writing and unpacking are dependent upon my continued blogging, I must post an update.

Lunch has been served. Three office boxes have been unpacked. the kitchen has been tidied by sort of willing volunteers. By faith I say that the groceries are put away (I asked the boys to do that).

Some kids are heading to the Y. I will leave some home and hopefully only the girls will accompany me to get a shower curtain and spend some gift certificates. if I have to take a beggar, I’m not sure I’ll have the emotional energy to go.

Julie in her comment told us what her mom said about begging kids. If I warned some of my “impulse control disorder kids” that they couldn’t ask for anything or they wouldn’t get anything, they’d go without for life. Which I guess would be OK. :-)

Just Kidding

I just got back from the grocery store to buy everything we will need for the next week. I never get the groceries. Bart always does.

I brought along 2 kids, one of them a beggar.

I was just kidding about doing it my way and having Bart gone and how that might be easier in some respects. I want him back.

Good news, though, is that while I was gone the girls cleaned and vacuumed most of the house.... nothing like a little voluntary servitude on the part of teen/pre-teen girls to lift the spirits...

Doing it My Way

This is going to sound odd after just completing my tribute to my husband, but I understand why some people think parenting is easier as a single parent.

Now I could never ever ever ever do this without Bart. My kids would die of poor nutrition, I would not emotionally be able to handle things without his support, we’d be in the poor house, and the kids who rely on him for their emotional security would be even more bonkers than he is.

But there is one thing that I think is easier -- no triangulation. Some of our kids, three in particular, use the fact that we are both home to get what they want. They go to Bart after I’ve told them no (I know, typical kid stuff) and they talk to him about how horrible I am constantly. They manipulate like crazy, say he’s given them permission when he hasn’t.

The other thing I like is that I don’t have to make decisions with anyone. I can plan out my day without making sure that Bart thinks it’s a good idea. (I know you’re reading this, honey, but I know you feel the same way when I’m gone). I don’t have to worry about how he is feeling or if the kids are driving him nuts. We are each others emotional caretakers and watch out for each other, so that one of us can step in when the other one is losing it...

So this morning I called each kid in one by one. I asked them to each pick a lunch meal that they liked and a supper meal that they liked. I told them they could either choose to work 2 hours today and 2 hours tomorrow or 1 hour today or one hour tomorrow. I told them what their chores were and explained them to them.

Much to my shock they all responded appropriately. Three of the boys have already worked an hour. There is still much to do, but knowing they have already agreed to help and that I can ask them at any time makes me feel great.

I had lunch planned for today but apparently the buns on the counter were too hard and Bart threw them away so I’m off to the grocery store...

Happy Birthday to Him

My husband just left me on his 42nd birthday. Of course, he is only going to be gone for a week, but he left this morning with Tony and Kyle for a week in Arizona. It is going to be HOT down there. But my parents are thrilled.

I have written many tributes to him on this blog, so you all know he is the most amazing of husbands. Not only is he supportive, a great dad, and an incredible pastor, he cooks, does laundry, irons, and does at least half the cleaning. Since I tend to be a workaholic, it is a good combination for me as he is more than willing to do those things so that I can work many hours doing something I’m passionate about.

He is also patient, kind, and compassionate. He is so good with our kids when I just can’t take it any more. He is hyper-intelligent, witty, quick, and knowledgable about all kinds of things (like how to spell knowledgable, which isn’t like that).

My goal is to make sure we get a lot done while he is gone so that he won’t feel bad about leaving me when he returns. Good luck to me. He’ll read the blog. He’ll know.

Happy Birthday, best of the best!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

70 Times 7

Cindy talks about Edgar and his Push-Pull. That is John 24-7. One minute he’s throwing his 210 lb body across my lap and wanted a big hug. The next minute he’s cursing at me, refusing to comply with any of my directives, and being more rude than I can tolerate.

But Jesus told Peter that we must forgive 70 times 7. Right now we’re in the push stage with him mistreating me, waiting for the loving apology that will require me to forgive him again. I’ve never had to forgive anyone as much as him.

When I blogged about John being a leach, I had a comment which I deleted that said, “It sounds like you’re talking about your worst enemy instead of your very own child.” I didn’t discuss it at the time, but I think that many of us who parent kids with mental health issues, especially when their teens, realize that the terms “worst enemy” and “very own child” are not mutually exclusive. Though it never lasts long, there are many times when my worst enemy for the moment is one of my children.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

I didn’t have to take the Beggars to the store! Very good news. Bart took one, Kyle took the other, and only the girls and I went to Walmart. It was actually a fairly decent time. Then we returned home for an awesome meal of Chicken Alfredo that Bart made, with Garlic Cheese Bread. Very very tasty.

But then the games began, John pushing all my buttons, Kyle and John torturing Tony on the tramp, the whole shebang until I finally came to hide in my new office, secretly wishing they would all go away, but knowing they won’t.

If John is as annoying this next week as he has been the past week, I won’t make it until Bart gets back.


People who have children will relate to this I’m sure. There are kids that I can take to the store and say, “Now we are not here to buy anything for you, so please don’t ask for anything” and they will respect that, look around, help out, and enjoy our time together.

Others of my kids I can take to the store and say, “Now we are not here to buy anything for you, so please don’t ask for anything” and they will ask for everything they see and have their own version of a fit every time they ask and I say no. I wish I was talking about a toddler, but I have two kids like this and they are 11 and 15. And of course the beggars are the ones who always want to go. If the word “store” is mentioned, they are all over it. And the beggars are the ones who are unwilling to earn any money to spend.

Bart and I have been trying to coordinate this day for some time and the day is almost over and almost nothing that I had planned has been accomplished.

We’re under a time constraint because Bart, Kyle and Tony leave tomorrow for a trip to see my parents and then attend a conference in Arizona. This means that whatever doesn’t get done today doesn’t get done unless I do it. And since we have several children who will do anything for Bart but refuse to move a muscle if I ask, it is unlikely I’m going to get much help. In addition, my “vacation” will be over on Monday which means that I need to be working most of the time.

I don’t even think Calgon could take me away...

It's Just a Marathon

Summer, new house, new neighborhood, no friends, nothing to do for kids, everything to do for parents. All of that does not result in a high quality of life.

I just got done filling out a huge stack of paperwork for the boys therapy and for the county. I am waiting for Bart to come back from setting up bank accounts so that I can head down and make sure that our kids insurance is set up. That is always a delightful experience.

i am really enjoying my new office, even though it isn’t close to being “together” yet. At least I have desk space. Right now I have two computers -- the laptop with Internet, and the other one that I’m usijng for everything else.

John had his interview. He’ll find out next week if he got the job. If so, I’ll be one happy camper. He has so few interests and such trouble with unstructured time ... that combined with his insatiable need for stuff means that him having a job would make things much better here.

I still need to make it to Kohls and Walmart this afternoon.

This is quite a boring blog entry if I do say so myself...

It's the Little Things

I have desk drawers that lock. This may seem like a simple thing to most, but to me it is going to up the quality of my life significantly.

We have had the hardest time for a long time keeping things safe. We have many children who steal everything and anything. We’ve had things like jewelry and class rings stolen. Our cash card and $140 before we figured it out. Cash every time it is not in our direct possession. I could go on and on -- bikes, wallets, checkbooks, credit card numbers, etc.

But the thing that makes me craziest on a daily basis is the theft of scissors, staplers and pens. Starting today, I will be able to place these items in the drawer of my pricey new desk and LOCK it. This is beyond exciting.

Right now the telephone guy is putting in a telephone in my office. John as an interview at 10:30 at Taco Johns. I need to buy a cable splitter at Radio Shack and use a certificate at Kohl’s.

John is talking about changing his clothing style ... I’m not sure if it is truly an attempt to get away from the “Gangster” look, or just a ploy to get me to spend more money... we’ve felt like we’ve entered a spending black hole lately.

Red Links

I contemplated the comment from Queen Bee about changing my blog competely to signify my move. I tried some stuff, but it resulted in incomparable ugliness. So I concluded that maybe just changing from pink to red links would do the trick for now... until I have time to do something more creative -- like in 2013 when Dominyk graduates from high school.

Hopes Dashed

I woke up motivated to hook up my computer at my beautiful new desk. I was so excited that I got out of bed earlier than I had to, much earlier.

I got the computer all hooked up and turned on and alas, there is no antenna for my wireless internet. Apparently it got knocked off in transit and now I don’t have internet in my office.

I hope that the day gets better instead of worse...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Wow. Tired doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel.

This afternoon we thought we lost Gizmo. It was a very scary hour. I had always told Bart that I did not want to get a dog because they would require so much emotion -- wasted when they died or got lost. And boy was I right. Everyone freaked out... until one of the kids found the little dork lying on Rand’s bed way in the basement sound asleep. This was after scouring the neighborhood on foot, bike and by car.

Now before all you dog lovers freak out, just relax. I love the dog too. But he is adopted and definitely has ODD, RAD, and possibly even Conduct Disorder and today we didn’t need the drama.

This evening Ricardo had a baseball game. Practice started at 5:30 and the game got over at 8:20. Guess this town takes their little league pretty seriously.

Bart had decided that he wanted to eat as a family, so they waited. He grilled steak and chicken and baked potatoes. But we have NEVER in all of our years of parenting eaten that late and it threw the little kids way off. By the time we finished eating it was bedtime and to say they were reluctant to go is a real understatement. The older kids are in the family room watching a movie and the kids under 13 are supposed to be going to bed. Right.

My office furniture came and I think I’m really going to like it a lot. It’s of very high quality and very functional. I’m looking forward to unpacking boxes and getting settled. Something very refreshing about a clean start.

I’m looking forward to sleeping quite a bit tonight.

Ups and Downs

Well, the girls have broken their strike and started to be helpful. Jimmy, Ricardo and Rand are being periodically helpful. Tony and Dominyk are being themselves. Kyle is being helpful most of the time. John is being John ... but not as horrible as he could be.

This is astounding news. John has an interview tomorrow morning at Taco John’s (I think that’s fairly appropriate). We’re all crossing our fingers as he really needs something to occupy his time. It’s at the mall, which would have to be fun for a teenager -- working at the mall where everyone hangs out.

My desk furniture is not yet here. I got my office ready for it though.

Our living room is done except for hanging pictures, as is the family room. Tony and Dominyk’s room is just about done. Bart did most of our bedroom yesterday and is working on the kitchen all day today.

Feeling Optimistic at this Very Moment

We love our new bedroom and we slept great. I think I slept almost 10 hours. And nobody has tried to made me angry yet this morning and it's nearly 9:00 a.m. Of course, most of them are still asleep, but still, it's a near record.

I'm looking forward to a few things today. One of our good friends from Luverne is bringing over a van load of our electronics that she offered to bring. Ricardo has a baseball game -- our entrance into "society" in Mankato.

And, most importantly, at noon my new office furniture is going to be delivered. For the past 5 years I have spent 10-12 hours a day at a desk that I bought for $179.99 and assembled myself. Because of that, nothing ever worked right on it, so the parts that were supposed to lock didn't, the drawers that were supposed to come out wouldn't, etc. etc.

Bart encouraged me when moving to get stuff I really liked that would last a long time. So I got two desks (i'll sit in the middle). One will face the window/wall the other will face the door. The one facing the door will have an overhang so that kids can sit on the other side of it while I help them with homework. I also bought two chairs for that side of the desk that will match the chair I sit on. It will also have a storage credenza above the desk by the window, so that everything I have doesn't have to be spread out everywhere.

I'm pretty excited. I'm going to try not to spend too much time in there until I am officially back to work on Monday, but I love the idea of having sturdy furniture, locked drawers, filing cabinets in my desks, and a place for the computer that is off the desk.

Maybe by days end there will be photos.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Kyle is so predictable. One of the things I like about him. I can guess nearly every time exactly how he will respond.

Tonight he called to ask if he could hook his computer up to the projector and watch a movie. I said sure. I hung up and said, "Kyle will be calling back in 7 minutes to ask how to hook it up." That was at 7:22. At 7:29 exactly my cell rang and i just laughed. It was SO funny.

And I knew it wasn't the last call either and I was right about that too. He had to call four more times in order to get it hooked up. Bart said, "it's nice having a son that is more technologically challenged than I am."

Technology Moment

Kyle, Bart and I all have Powerbooks. Right now we're online using the wireless network I set up just a few hours after arriving last night.

Ricardo and Jimmy helped me quite a bit in my office after the movers left. Tony and Dominyk spent some time at the YMCA. Rand and Kyle were there a while as well. John has helped some today. The girls are still on strike. Salinda told me she didn't care if I cancelled the furniture order. I just might. But I probably won't. I don't want to be that vindictive and I am hoping they will come around.

We are deciding which restaurant we will spend money in tonight. Hopefully by tomorrow we will have the kitchen unpacked enough to start cooking, because we are dropping cash left in right for every kind of fast food and pizza imaginable. However, the last two meals, I've stayed here and not gone out.

So much work to do... and I'm not feeling full of energy at the moment....