Monday, July 31, 2006

Not a Bad Day

Funny how I am surprised when we don’t have one. But really, today hasn’t been bad.

First thing this morning John was coming in from outside. Apparently, he and Kyle decided to spend the night outside on the tramp without telling us. So I started confronting John about that and decided to go through the whole thing and surprisingly he was too dazed to get angry or oppositional.

He had his orientation for his job today and he is scheduled for 8 hours this week. I’m crossing my fingers hoping he can do what needs to be done and have even more hours next week. We have to go out and buy black shoes soon.

Salinda was helpful all day and tonight is at the mall with friends.

So other than being a taxi driver, I got some things done, spent some time at the Y, had a delicious supper, and now have been working for a while. Heading to get black shoes with John.

But so far, I have not allowed anyone to anger me today. I will be glad when it is bedtime though.

Hitting the Big Time

This coming Sunday night I’m going to be a guest speaker on Pat O’Brien’s Live Call-in Radio show. It’s on every Sunday night You can read about the show on the You Gotta Believe website and on Sunday night at 8 eastern time you can listen live on the internet if you go to this website and click on Listen Live.

Here is what Pat wrote about the show. I hope everyone will be able to listen to it, and I’m glad that it’s going to be live and that I will never listen to it...That would be too intimidating.

    "Our topic of this evening will be the discussion of a unique post-adoption service.  Our guest speaker will be Claudia Fletcher who will be speaking about how to utilize a blog to support adoptive parents who are parenting challenging children.   Pat O'Brien met Mrs. Fletcher at the recent NACAC conference in Long Beach when he attended a workshop she did on Humor and Parenting.  During that workshop Ms. Fletcher talked about how important it was to talk to other supportive adoptive parents during the hard times.   She shared during her workshop that when one has a blog it is very therapeutic in that not only is one writing things down like in a journal or a diary, but one has the opportunity to communicate with a whole bunch of supportive people who will read it and even share their comments and perspectives if they so desire.  It was a fabulous and creative way for adoptive parents to support each other and we will be speaking with Claudia on Sunday night about her unique blog and her unique life experiences. 
    Claudia Fletcher is the wife of a clergyperson.  She is also an adoption professional. She is both an Adoption Worker for the Permanent Family Resource Center of Fergus Falls in Minnesota and an Adoption Matching Specialist with The Adopt America Network.   Oh, and by the way, she and her husband happen to be the adoptive parents of 10 children who moved into their home over the course of eight years who are now ages 19, 17, 17, 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 11, and 10.   Yes the Rev. and Mrs. Fletcher are currently raising 10 teens and 'tweens.  Talk about having an expert guest on our radio program.   This is an hour long discussion you do not want to miss.
    If you'd like to see what Mrs. Fletcher's blog looks like feel free to log on to  "     

How My Children are Treated at My Friend's Houses

Tony went to my friend Meg’s house while we were gone. She and her husband are parents of a lot of kids, just like us. Their older boys love Tony, and they teach him all kinds of interesting things when he is there.

He woke up one morning looking like this:

A follow up to my earlier post

Even though the SS card thing was a God thing, sometimes we can manipulate God’s intervention, which is clearly shown here.

After starting a new diet, I altered my drive to work to avoid passing my
favorite bakery.

But, this morning, I accidentally drove by the bakery and as I approached,
there in the window were a host of goodies.

I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, "Lord, it's up to you, if you want
me to have any of those delicious goodies, please create a parking place for
me directly in front of the bakery."

And sure enough, on the eighth time around the block, there it was!

God is good!

I got this from Mikey’s Funnies.

God Speaks, Yeah, to Me

and I’m not nuts. It doesn’t happen very often and there are many who would dismiss it as me talking to myself.

I have spent a month looking for social security cards -- they were in an envelope when we moved in a file. Then they weren’t in the file anymore. Salinda and I even spent an afternoon going through every single file in every drawer (3 four drawer cabinets) looking for them to no avail.

The night before we left for NACAC I was really desperate. I prayed, “Lord, I REALLY need you to tell me where the cards are. On the 31st John has to have it to start working.” Immediately the words, “They are underneath all the files, still in the same drawer, laying flat in an envelope.”

The next day we left for California and were gone a whole week. But every time I thought about the cards and how we were going to have to get new ones, I remembered -- they’re lying flat in the filing cabinet. By the time we got home it was almost as though I was believing it as fact.

It wasn’t until 9:30 last night that I had time to check. Now how faithless am I? So faithless that I was AMAZED that they were exactly where God said they were.

So, skeptics, believe what you will, but I asked God one time, I got an answer, and they were exactly where God said they were.

THANKS be to God.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Blur

I have been home for a total of about 1 waking hour today -- got up and got everyone ready, then went to church, came home for 15 and left for a 6 hour drive, got home and got some stuff ready for tonight. In 20 minutes a new group of "meet and greeters" will arrive.

Everyone is home now except John and Jimmy and since John did not do what he was supposed to do while we are gone, I am dreading the confrontation. He will say that he didn't do anything that we know he did, yada yada yada. But I still have 3 hours before he comes home and it is my goal, since I am way too sleep deprived for a confrontation, to wait a day to deal with everything. But I'm not always that good at keeping my mouth shut, so we'll see how that goes.

It's been a long time since I've been this tired.

Dominyk Again

Being outside of MN it is great to be around people who actually give you feedback when you speak. African American folk, in particular, and I generalize, are great audiences because they are not afraid to talk out loud.

Today on the way to church I was telling Dominyk about how his Dad overheard some people behind him talking about him when I was sharing “Dominykisms.” They were saying, “I gotta meet that boy. I like that boy!” throughout my speaking time.

Dominyk responded:

“Cool. Fans!”

Last Mention of Pat O'Brien for awhile

He now has my blog address. I don’t know if he’ll look it up, but if he does he will probably freak out and think that I’m going to start stalking him. Cindy mentioned him and quoted him this morning.

It was really cool to have him hear me speak...I was a little taken back, since for years he has done the “Laughter” session at NACAC and I was doing something similar, but he said nice things about it afterwards.

We left feeling this had been the best NACAC conference so far. The location was awesome -- better than any in years previously as far as accessibility to places to eat and a great location to walk around. We felt more comfortable, knew more people, and found some of the sessions to be more relevant than ever. We got lots of good feedback about our presentations. I came back with a brain full of ideas of new things I can do in both of my job and as a parent. It was a great week.

Everything went perfectly with our travel (though we got to the gate of our transferring flight 6 minutes before they were closing the doors) until we got into Minneapolis. Our luggage did not arrive with us when we arrived at 11:20 p.m. We filed a claim and then had to wait for the shuttle. Bart’s C-Pap was packed so he had a hard time sleeping after we arrived home at 2:15. It will be a tiring day.

Off to church and then it will be time to go pick up Tony and then the girls. I think I’m going to have to change my plan as my friend Meg, who has Tony, has no air conditioning and it’s supposed to be 104 today. She was supposed to meet me half way, but I think I’m going to go farther.

I hope I’ll have energy to help get ready for the Meet and Greet tonight...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Went Well

The presentation went well. In fact, and you're not going to believe this, my idol invited us to come speak for him in NYC and stay AT HIS HOUSE. And he'll pay expenses if we speak to his staff and prospective parents. In my frame of reference this would be similar to having a famous movie star invite us over.

I'm pretending to be a groopie fan and I'm not really like that, but this guy has been speaking at NACAC for 19 years and has been the start of many progressive things in adoption in many ways. So actually having him think we're good is quite a compliment.

We're heading to the airport and by tomorrow night we'll all be back together again. heavy sigh. I'm sure there will be issues to deal with when we get home, but it's been nice to not have to deal with them for a while.

Reliving the Year

In an hour i will be giving my presentation on "Parenting with Humor." I'm amazed that I still have a sense of humor after all the stupid stuff that has happened during the past three months, not to mention the last two years.

I never did go back to sleep this morning, so I'll be up for about 20 hours straight, which for me is not a good thing.

But, I did just spend the last hour going through my blog looking for funny stories to tell during my session. It was fun to relive the good moments and even to be glad the bad ones are over.

After my seminar we will come back to the room and change, and then head to the airport for our flight out tonight. Hopefully I'll have a chance to blog about the session before I leave.

Dreaming at the Conference

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. after the most real dream I have ever had. The details were so clear that I was convinced it was true.

I dreamed that I was in touch with a social worker in South Dakota (of all places -- very seldom happens) and I told her that we were possibly interested in adopting again. She told me about a couple sib groups, but then threw in that there was a teenager named Robert on her case load who was older. I agreed to see the information on him and she faxed it to me. He was the oldest of 10 children who had all been split up and desperately wanted a family.

Next scene of the dream I am in the mall in Sioux Falls where we used to shop often when we lived farther SW in MN and I saw Robert with his foster family. They were a wonderful “perfect” couple with three other children that I assumed were birth children. I interrupted their conversation and then asked if I could talk to them privately about Robert. They told me that he was 18 (even had a birthdate in the dream -- 3/23/88) but that he still wanted to be adopted. I gave them Pat O’Brien’s “commitment test” (What can he do to get kicked out and where will he live when he no longer receives services from the county) and they said they really just wanted him to live there until he had a family and that they had been praying someone would adopt them.

During this time I am doing things the right way and asking Robert to let me talk to them privately (amidst the JC Penney clothes racks). However, they invite me to their home and all the sudden the secret is out. Robert discovers that we might adopt him and asks a zillion question. The more he talks, the more I fall in love with the kid.

As we visit in the foster home, which by the way, was much nicer than ours, they explain that he only goes to the foster home on weekends and that he is in residential treatment. The foster mom tells me that she is sometimes afraid of him because he is so verbally threatening but that he has never hurt her. I am becoming more convinced that we can parent the kid and he is getting overwhelmed with excitement. He said, “My social worker is coming over late this afternoon to talk to me about my ”independent living plan“ -- maybe it can be YOU.”

I ask the foster parents what paperwork they have and I start to review some pictures. The family is surrounding me as I look at the pictures and right next to Robert in the picture is Melissa, a girl that I had assumed was the foster parent’s birthdaughter. I look at her and she quiet and shy, says “Yes, I’m Robert’s sister. I just turned 16. Do you think you would adopt me too?”

My heart sinks. We have absolutely no where to put a girl in our new house. The girls room is already quite small. How can I tell the kids no? I get up to leave, knowing I have to discuss it with Bart, and knowing I’ve gotten myself into a real mess. Both kids give me long hard desperate hugs as I leave the home and I know I have to figure this out. As I leave the beautiful spacious home of the very good foster parents I am shocked that the kids even want to move in with a preacher and 10 other children, but know that permanency and a lifetime commitment is worth more to them than the pool table in the garage, the upper class neighborhood, etc.

But we have NO money for remodeling. We have no agency that will work with us without South Dakota paying Purchase of Service and I’m not sure they will. We have not room for another girl. But the kids are so desperate, so excited about the possibility of being with us that I have to figure out how to make it work. All these thoughts were pounding through my head at 5:30 a.m. and I could not go back to sleep, but I am seldom this relieved when waking up that I was only dreaming. I lay there for 40 minutes and finally decided maybe I could go back to sleep if I wrote this down (I need to sleep longer as we won’t get home until nearly 1:30 a.m. tomorrow morning and it would be a VERY long day if I stayed up from 5:30 a.m.).

I’ve already looked up Robert and Melissa on adopt us kids to make sure they don’t exist.

But the thing is that they do exist -- with different names maybe, or in other states, with varying situations, but they are out there. Not only them, but tens of thousands more just like them. How can we NOT do something? How can you NOT do something? They are everywhere -- 20,000 of them aging out every year.

We may not be adding Robert and Melissa to our family. In fact, we may not be adding anyone to our family in the next year or two. But I am pretty convinced we’re not done. Because knowing that they are there and choosing to let them leave foster care without an adult committed to them when we have space in our home would seem almost criminal to me.

I think I wrote it best last September with the poem They Sit. And now that I’ve spoken my peace, maybe I can go back to sleep.

Friday, July 28, 2006

How's NACAC? (Year Two)

Last year I responded to this question from the perspective of a parent. This year I would like to respond to the question from my role as an adoption professional.

NACAC is being surrounded by people who have not lost their passion for spreading the word that a family is the only place for children;

NACAC is meeting people who, regardless of how difficult their jobs are, have not given into cynicism, which was described this week as the scar tissue of pain and sorrow;

NACAC is listening to people who firmly believe that there is an infinite number of families for every child who waits;

NACAC is hearing new ideas about how we can recruit families, match them with children, and provide them with the support they need;

NACAC is an introduction to innovation, progressive thinking, and forward-moving by people who are always looking for ways to do what we do better, faster, smarter;

NACAC is a family of folks, drawn together by the belief that each of us can make a difference, who stands together, united by one cause, singleminded in purpose;

NACAC is a beacon of hope, a statement of steadfast faith, and a promise of unconditional love for children of all kinds, regardless of how damaged they have been by their life’s beginning;

and finally, NACAC is a force drawing us together to keep moving forward until every child has at least one adult completely committed to them for life.

To that end we who are members of NACAC, whether parents or professionals, dedicate ourselves, knowing that we make a difference in the world for one child at a time and by doing so impact future generations for centuries to come.

We Made It Into the Palm Pilot of the Guru

I felt like Kari did in this post when Pat O'Brien came to Bart’s seminar and waited to talk to him. I got to meet him and was so thrilled because for years I have heard him speak at NACAC and been inspired by his work with You Gotta Believe in New York City.

His reason for talking with us was to suggest that we submit a proposal about how to use blogs as a post-adoption support venue because Bart had mentioned it in his seminar (which, by the way, I did end up attending and was glad I did).

Afterwards he put us in his palm pilot indicating he might want to interview Bart for their weekly radio program.

I was not shy in declaring my worship of him, making it clear to him that I think he is awesome because he agrees with me.

I also attending a seminar today which showed the film Las Hijas which you cannot buy yet, but which I recommend purchasing for anyone who has adopted daughters transracially when it becomes available.

My final seminar of the day was about using technology in recruitment and I heard about The Drifter's Project which is awesome. I could do something like this and hope that some day I can.

Tomorrow morning I present and then the week will be over already. As usual, it’s been energizing.

Relaxing Evening

After the sessions yesterday, Bart and I had supper with Paula and her son Romnick (who said 12 words the whole meal, but that's OK, between Paula and I, there wasn't much airspace). We ate at a Chinese Bistro across from the hotel. Afterwards we took a long walk down a pier and looked in shops and had a little snack.

This morning it's time for more seminars, including Bart's. I'm having a hard time making a decision as to whether or not I should go hear him speak, though I've heard him before, or if I should hear someone else. He says he's ambiguous about it, so he's not helping me decide...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Day of Seminars

Finished a full day of attending seminars, some OK, some great. Got to hear THE guru of older child adoption, Pat O'Brien who is just awesome. I think the reason I like him so much is that I agree with everything he says. He is awesome. Something is wrong with my keyboard, so I can't make a link, but if you go to you can read all about his program in NYC that is doing such a great job of making the impossible happen.

Waiting for Bart to get back so that we can go eat.

I also saw this posted on a list and thought it worth posting -- great advice for adoptive parents of tough kids.

1. Ask questions instead of telling
2. Do lots of active ignoring for low-level control attempts
3. No warnings, arguing, lectures, threats, explanations, reminders (don't dance w/ WALTER!)
4. Catch your child doing something right at least twice a day
5. Walk away from many behaviors i.e. trying to argue or question
6. Read "Building the Bonds of Attachment" by Dan Hughes
7. Keep a calm, quiet, even-toned voice
8. Listen to at least one Love and Logic tape per month
9. Give your child several hugs or kisses each day for no reason
10. Maintain high yet age-appropriate expectations
11. Keep sarcasm out of your voice
12. Keep angriness out of your voice
13. Show sadness instead of frustration, annoyance, or anger
14. Change up the types of consequences you give or use a consequence jar
15. Use phrases like "oh dear, how sad, what will you do? bummer"
16. Only give consequences when your child is calmed down
17. Use time-ins instead of time-outs
18. Do things that make your child giggle or laugh
19. Let consequences talk instead of you lecturing/explaining
20. Have your child strong sit (a max. of 1 min. per yr.) 1x per day even on good days
21. Have back-up plans for those times your child may loose it
22. Let your child overhear you sharing about something they did right
23. Expect non compliance and have an appropriate response/plan/back up
24. Expand your child's world (choices, privileges) when they're having good days
25. Reduce your child's world (choices, privileges) when they're having bad days
26. Let them solve their own problems
27. Use expressions like "what should you be doing? what would be the right thing to do?"
28. Look at consequences as building back trust rather than as punishment
29. Think of your child as younger than their chronological age
30. Regularly practice appropriate behaviors and words when they aren't needed
31. Ask your child to notice and explain their feelings
32. Let your child hear you using emotion words, i.e. I feel sad, I'm so happy, I was annoyed...
33. Use cross talk to provide subtle reminders or to wonder out loud

July 25, 2006, Copyright, Heritage Communications

Quote from this Morning's Key Note Address at NACAC

"If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

When Vacation Isn't Vacation

People think I'm on vacation, but I'm not. I'm just getting more done than ever.

I was at the computer today a little after six and stayed at it until almost 1:00 when we checked out of the hotel and had some very authentic Mexican food -- so authentic, that the ketchup tasted gross and there was used toilet paper in the bathroom trash (I always hated ketchup in Mexico and Mexican's don't flush their toilet paper -- long story). Anyway, I digress. We drove around and saw more of Long Beach.

We checked into the conference hotel by 3 and I was at it again. I rested a little while and worked some more. Now it's almost five and I'm going down to get us registered.

One of the things about conference hotels is that nothing is cheap or easy -- so we'll have to decide how far we want to walk, or if we want to drive and pay extra parking to get meals, etc.

I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to today, but I got a lot done. I'm hoping to have energy to work more tonight, but Bart may persuade me to do something more fun than sitting here processing email and filling out court paperwork for one of my families.

Not At All Surprised

We took all of 9 pictures before the camera stopped working yesterday.

This is Bart by the sign for the best picture in 1939, Gone with the Wind. There are spaces that are prepared to go to 2066. I'll be 103. I doubt I"ll see that movie.

This is me, obviously, in all my glory, on the red carpet that stars walk when headed for the Award Ceremonies.

And this is the last picture we took -- it's a view from Hollywood Hills.

I took a couple of pictures on my cell phone, but, shockingly enough, the service which allows me to email them to myself isn't working either.

Bart woke up not feeling well. I've been working since a little after 6 LA time... couldn't sleep any longer.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seeing Both Sides

Today was our day of vacation and we decided to see Hollywood. It is so far removed from everything we do on a daily basis that we thought it would be a nice break. And we decided to ride the Metro -- the Public Transit system/subway in L.A. Only $3.00 a piece for the whole day -- much cheaper than driving and then parking.

So we got to see both extremes. On the ride to Hollywood from Long Beach, we saw several areas with very small houses where it was obvious many people were living. The areas were very urban and typical of people living near poverty. Many of the people on the Metro were obviously heading to low-paying jobs. They would spend an hour or more on the metro to arrive at a job most of us in middle class wouldn't even consider only to turn around and ride another hour to get home. As Caucasians, we were definitely in the minority on the metro today. And we were definitely on the "wealthy" side of things compared to many we road with.

We then arrived in Hollywood and went up and outside to a totally different world. Wealth everywhere. We ended up having lunch and then watching a movie in the famous Chinese Theatre, which was really cool. Then we took a bus tour to see the homes of movie stars. I was feeling guilty for spending the money for the tour and here we were driving by homes of people with so much money they didn't know what to do with it. For example, Marciano, the founder of Guess, has two homes, and each of the homes has between 7 and 10 cars in the driveway -- like Farrari kind of cars, not minivans. He hires guarsd to guard them. We saw the house where Tom Cruise is living and it was surrounded by paparazzi trying to get a picture of the baby.

It was all very fascinating -- here people come to try and make it big and then, when they do, they spend the rest of their lives hiding from people.

I was struck with the thought today that I am not sure that the people living in Beverly Hills are any happier than those living in Watts or Downtown LA. In fact, some of the people we saw on the metro seemed happier than the ones we saw on Rodeo drive.

And my final conclusion is that I would rather have my life than any of the ones I saw. It's not always easy, but it is interesting, full of meaning, challenging, rewarding, has it's moments of joy, and I'm blessed by God's presence. I'd rather have those things than $10,000,000, a home in Beverly Hills, or 9 Jaguar's in my driveway.

We ended our evening with a late seafood dinner where I had a light appetizer of fish tacos that was just perfect for my current stomach and Bart had some awesome scallops.

We will go to bed content. Tomorrow he will sitesee and I will work from the hotels....

We have still heard nothing from home.

No News Good News

At least we hope that is true. We haven't heard anything from home, so we're hoping that means things are fine.

It's only 8:30 here -- I've been up since 7:15 trying to clean up some email before we head out for our one day of fun. We will be seeing the sites, even riding the metro through LA, possibly as far as Hollywood.

As a person who seldom truly takes a day off but is married to one who LOVES to see new things, this will be a fun day. I"m not much of a tourist, but watching my husband enjoy himself so much makes it worth it.

Tonight and tomorrow I"ll be working in the hotel, and the conference starts Thursday.

Monday, July 24, 2006


What a long day! But it was smooth. Everything went as planned and we dropped off the girls, then Tony. Then we got to the airport on time, had some lunch, got to Vegas (long flight), had some supper and then flew to LAX. Got the rental car and drove to Long Beach. We're right on the bay, nice hotel. Relaxing. It's only 10 here, but midnight in Minnesota.

Even though it was an exhausting day, it's great when everything goes so smoothly.

I used to think that travelling would be a glamorous life. It is so NOT glamorous. But I'm grateful to be here and safe and have all our kids safely not with us so that we aren't responsible for them.

Going to bed. Tired.

One Good thing About Las Vegas

We have a two hour layover in Las Vegas -- one good thing about it is that it has free wireless in the airport. How nice is that???

Trip thus far was uneventful. Long flight, but no issues. I read a novel and a half and so I'm kind of in that weird land where I am here but not here, lost somewhere between fiction and reality.

Bart and I are trying to do LA on 40 a day -- between us. That's our goal. So far so good for today, but we aren't in LA yet! :-)

I've been enjoying watching people and having to be responsible for only myself (and kind of for Bart, but not really. ;-)

En Route

MSP airport and I guiltily spent $6.95 to get online. But it was a good thing I did because it resulted in me finding out that there were hotel rooms someone wanted us to have, saving us some money.

We dropped off the girls and Tony and made it to the airport in plenty of time. We're getting ready to board.

Last night I told Bart that God would supply our needs. So far it looks like we have found out about $441.00 of unexpected $ coming our way just after today.

God's good, all the time!

You Should Want to Be Me

Today is a day that you should want to be me. I’m going on “vacation” even though I’ll be working the whole time. We’re heading to Long Beach for the conference, plus one day of R & R. I am looking forward to getting away.

But we leave in less than an hour to drop off the girls and Tony and then we have a plane to catch and I haven’t started packing.

Hopefully internet will work OK at the hotel and I“ll blog tonight...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

15 Minutes and Counting

Yesterday did end, rather peacefully as far as the kids were concerned, and now we’re up doing the “before church thing.” We leave in 15 minutes. Everyone so far is being cooperative.

I am trying to find a way to blog something I want to blog and being discreet enough not to offend anyone, but I’m giving up. I started the paragraph 5 times, and I can’t make it work.

So, I guess I’ll just go get everyone out the door.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Can't Win Them All (or even 2 of them)

well, this morning’s victory appears to be the only one of the season for the Dodgers. I was at the ball park for almost 7 hours today total, and almost 3 last night. That’s a lot of baseball.

Several issues today that would take way to much energy to write about have pushed me to an exhausted days end.

Every single day there are questions as to whether or not we as parents are doing the right thing. I know this is not just an adoptive parent thing, but a “normal thing” for parents of all children -- especially as they enter their teens. What is the balance between between being too involved and not involved enough? between providing direction and letting them make their own decisions and mistakes? between providing for them and making them learn the value of money and how to be responsible? between legislating morality and giving too much freedom?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know that any of us do. I am sure that there are people out there (my parents were some of them) who get one easy kid. I was pretty easy. And I know that there are other parents out there who luck out and get kids who want to please their parents, have goals and work towards them, know who they are, etc. and those parents can and should be proud and they can even take credit for the kids success if they want to. But my parents raised my brothers and I the same way and they turned out much different than I.

I write all that because sometimes I wonder how much of what we as parents do really makes or breaks a kid. And because I’m never completely sure that we’re making the right decisions.

I think that is what is the hardest about parenting. In the past, in all of my professional endeavors, I was nearly always very sure I was doing the right thing. Things were clear to me. But as a parent, it’s all very muddled.

Tonight I will eventually, if all goes well, fall asleep -- but not without that nagging sense that maybe I’m not parenting the very best way. And that is what makes me like all good parents -- that uncertainty, that always striving to do better, that internal (or external with ones spouse) churning of ideas trying to determine the right course to take... and never being completely sure we’ve chosen the right one.

Better Late Than Never...

From Monday night when John celebrated his 16th birthday and we had no internet.

They WON!

Ricardo’s team won their first game of the season today in the playoffs. He was up to bat three times -- walked once, and hit two doubles. He did really well and the whole team was very proud of how far he had come this season. He opted not to go to the team picnic. We’re heading to his final game of the season in about 45 minutes.

Meltdown Vortex

There are several things that jack up the emotional atmosphere around here. The kids used to have full blown meltdowns when they were younger. Now they have meltdowns but they are different. They consist of verbal abuse, defiance, debating, much argumentation, discussion, and a long list of “failure to comply” violations.

Here are a few things that crank up the barometer:

A change in schedule;
A visit from my inlaws;
Kyle having an agenda that doesn’t jive with the family plans;
Preparing for a vacation.

All of these things came together into a whirling vortex today. Fortunately, and not-so-typically, I was fairly mellow through the whole thing. At one point, when Sadie was telling me I would have no contact with my grandchildren, no visits at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and that I would not be invited to her wedding I found the whole thing hilarious. I told Sadie to please try to come up with something mean to say that I had not heard. She couldn’t.

I finally asked her to sign a piece of paper saying “I, Sadie Fletcher, will not need financial assistance from either of my parents, Bart or Claudia Fletcher, to pay for my wedding as I do not plan to invite them.” She, to her credit, would not sign.

It’s been a long interesting day so far...

One Day at a Time

We survived yesterday and today is here.

After endless annoying arguments and threats of disobedience, John actually did what was expected. He went to the park, but took a sibling with him. He stayed there the whole time. He did not go anywhere he wasn’t supposed to and they were home early. But the amount of effort it took to go through all of the defiance, anger, etc. from him for the half hour before is exhausting. I’m not going to let up though. EIther he does things the way his parents say he will or he does not do them.

After a great supper of homemade pizza we went to Ricardo’s playoff baseball game. They hadn’t won a single game all season, but it appeared they had a chance at winning last night all the way to the end, so it was fun to watch. Tony, JImmy, Bart, and his mom and sister all went to cheer him on. He didn’t do so well -- struck out to end the game, even, ( I hate it when I have a kid in that position -- 2 outs, last inning, my kid up to bat!). But we were there to cheer him on.

He has another game at 9 this morning and then an end of the season party. She said it was a family picnic, but when I told her there were 12 people, she thought maybe the whole family shouldn’t come.

So, today for me includes baseball, a picnic, and getting kids ready to be dispersed to their various places over the next two days, as well as packing myself and getting my presentation ready for the NACAC conference.

I used to go to these national conferences and dream of being a presenter -- earning the big bucks, I thought. Turns out the only perk is a waived registration fee -- all expenses are paid by the presenters. It’s still a great experience, but it sure isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. But I wrote from there last year about NACAC and why I love it. I look forward to being there again.

But between now and then I have two baseball games, a picnic, a trip to the post office, a presentation to get ready, 5 kids to pack, a trip to Luverne to drop two off, prescriptions to fill, Sunday morning to get everyone ready for, church, a meet and greet, and packing myself -- not to mention anything I forgot -- all in 48 short hours.

Friday, July 21, 2006

How dumb, really, do they think I am

John is really driving me nuts tonight, not because of his persistent declarations of disobedience, but because he thinks I’m stupid.

He is asking to go to the park. He has to be there at 5:30. He says he is not going to leave the park. So I say, “If you aren’t leaving the park, then why do you have to be there at 5:30?

J: ”Because that is when they go there.”

M: “Well, I’m sure you can stay and have supper with your grandma and aunt and then go to the park. They will still be there.”

J: “no they won’t, because they will leave.”

M: “So, you can’t go with them anyway, so why go down there if they are going to leave?”

J: “Give me some of my money.”

M: “You don’t need any money. They don’t sell anything at the park.”

J: “I’m going to walk to McDonalds after I go to the park.”

M: “You don’t have permission to go to McDonalds. If you decide you need to go there, come on home and we’ll take you to McDonalds.”

J: “No.”

M: OK, then, you don’t need money to go to the park.“

J: Why can’t I just do what I want to do?”

M: Because I don’t trust you.

J: Why?

M: Because last night you went to the park and left the park in someone else’s vehicle and were 1/2 hour late coming home.

“J: Shut the h*** up.”

The whole thing is annoying, but what is most annoying is that he thinks I’m not smart enough to figure out that he has no plans to stay at the park. He thinks he is going to go there and then he is going to catch a ride with the people who hang out there and go somewhere he doesn’t have permission to be.

But I’m on to him.... and he knows I am. So he’s not happy.

A casual reader of the blog, who has not been reading for the whole last year, might wonder why we have so many rules for John, but the bottom line is once he hooks up with people, he is a complete follower. He will allow things to deteriorate rapidly and get himself in the worst kind of trouble.

He wants us to believe that he has completely changed his behavior, but last night he showed us that it was not a change of behavior, but a lack of opportunity, that has got him to this point of the summer.

Parenting teens is hard work -- but parenting teens who are oppositional and think I’m stupid is somedays nearly impossible.

Claudia Needs...

Stilling an idea from Kari, I googled “Claudia Needs ...”

None of them were all that hilarious, and some of them were very very true.

Claudia needs to take vitamins of the B complex...

Claudia needs to put on a few pounds . . . would look much better

Claudia needs a Sponsor (this particular Claudia is a “renegade ferrett.

Claudia needs an apartment.

Claudia needs all the healing vibes she can get!.

Claudia needs lots more votes.

Claudia needs more sex.

Claudia needs your friendship

Claudia needs ideas for senators t-shirts

Claudia needs too be the Zamboni driver

Claudia needs to stay in Napa and stay with her dead dad in the drawer

Claudia needs to go or change her style

Claudia needs no distractions

Claudia needs auto insurance for her 1993 Chrysler Sebring

Claudia needs to put her problem in writing and get an attorney

Claudia needs to not cop attitude she can't back up

Claudia needs love and more love

All Claudia needs to pull her out of her sea of depression is a bit of tough love

Claudia needs to buy 2 flavors of ice cream for her class party

Claudia needs ta stop talkin in da 3rd person

Claudia needs to stand up to Bernice

Claudia needs to relax as much as possible

Claudia needs to gain a second job to pay off personal and family debts

Claudia needs wisdom in her decision about the finances

Claudia needs to stop wearing full makeup to bed

Claudia needs to see that it doesn't really matter who wins and who loses. It matters how hard you try

Claudia needs to rest

Claudia needs 2300 watts of solar panel on the roof to cover her current electrical needs.

Claudia needs a liver transplant

Claudia needs the Lord's help

Claudia needs to see someone to talk to about what she's afraid of

Claudia - Needs to lose 160 pounds

Claudia needs to channel all this energy somehow. I'm thinking about signing her up for martial arts or fencing lessons.

Claudia needs to embody the same sophisticated flair that she can bestow upon a room

Claudia needs more HUGS!

Claudia needs a thread of compliments

Claudia needs your name before October 20th.

Claudia needs to eat a sandwich

Claudia needs to quit

Claudia needs an unlisted number because she is in the mental health field

Claudia needs another job first

Claudia needs a good home (in this case, she is a 1 year old pit bull)

Claudia needs to learn about Chinese - Australian society

Claudia needs to make a list of her priorities

Claudia needs to get some therapy

Claudia needs help to commit to a new health regimen and weight loss program.

Alliances, Annoyances and other A words

I won’t go into great detail, but I discovered a few things today that were frustrating to me. It appears that some of the children that I usually feel I can trust have been covering for those I can’t, conspiring together to sneak around and disobey rules and disregard family expectations. While I know that this is typical among children, I am disappointed.

Bart’s mom and sister came to visit because his sister is here visiting from New York. Having them come here is always interesting and instead of elaborating I think I’ll just leave it at that.

Ricardo has his playoffs for baseball this weekend. Tonight is the first game.

It will be nice to be back into a routine after school starts. My blog is scattered and disorganized because I don’t have time to focus very long.

Where Does All the Time Go?

There are many things I could blog this morning, but there is little time to do so as John has a psychiatrist appointment in a half hour.

Yesterday I referred to John’s meltdown right after getting his job. It was in regards to where he is staying while we are gone next week. It isn’t totally resolved yet, but his response was really pathetic. Angry, mean, defiant, resentful. I was especially annoyed with the statement, “You never do anything for me” after a week where I had done more for him than I had in a long time. Anyway, the fact that I had been without internet for 9 days, was behind at work, and had an unnamed daughter not speaking to me for two days did not help my state of mind or my mood, so I responded in a less than ideal fashion and it escalated. Fortunately he didn’t get violent, but finally after he followed me into my office and refused to give me space I said, “OK, here’s the deal. I’m going to turn around and work. You may sit there and verbally abuse me for the rest of the day if you’d like but I’m not going to respond. Have at it. You have my permission to stay right there and talk as much as you want as long as you want to. You can continue to swear, be disrespectful, and annoy me as long as you can.” He left.

Yesterday JImmy and the girls and Tony opted to go with me to translate for the same birthmom that had a baby last August. She is pregnant with twins. However, this time the father is in the picture and she’s keeping the babies, but I needed to go with the director to make sure. Our trip was OK, except for horrendous service at the McDonald’s we stopped at (I’m liking those snack wraps, no lettuce). That experience alone would be worthy of a blog entry if I had time but the highlight was a slow, male voice saying “I know what no lettuce means.” It literally took us over 20 minutes to get our drive through and that was after standing in line for 15 minutes inside. Then they forgot two things and we had to go back. Crazy.

So we got home to find that John had gone to the park but was not at the park and came home late. He was apologetic and appropriate but his story was not very believable. I just thought it was an ironic way to end the day when the morning was spent with his “I can’t believe you guys don’t trust me. No matter how good I am doing you always think that I’m going to do something I’m not supposed to do.” Duh, honey! Experience is a great teacher.

One tip though, for parents of tough kids: If you can ask them questions right when they first wake up sometimes you can get the truth.

Off to the psychiatrist...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What Happened, Jimmy?

This is Jimmy’s explanation of how this happened.

I was being dumb and I didn’t dived into the water but I dived into the side of the pool. And I didn’t know it, but it bleeded and bleeded.

Gotta love that English acquisition phase that is completing it’s 5th year.

2nd SNACC Picnic Scheduled for August 12th

Just created this logo. Not sure if I am satisfied with it yet, but it's a start. For some reason it isn't printing right, but it looks pretty good in JPG format.

Our next SNACC picnic will be in the same place at the same time -- 4:30 -- on August 12. We are excited about this program and the amount of people that are looking for something just like this. We are hoping it isn’t quite as hot and that even more folks will show up on the 12th. Please RSVP if you can come. Anyone is welcome.


We switched internet companies and this one seems to be working fine. It’s nice to have joined the land of the living. It has been surreal not being in touch with everyone. There are so many reasons why I am online every day and I felt like I had lost a limb. I know it’s dumb, but oh well. And now I have 324 messages to deal with in my in box. I will be able to delete many of them, but I have a lot left to do.

We have had quite a morning. John got a job!!!!! which should have been major celebration time but he had to spend the ride home and the hour following being defiant, mean spirited and awful. I should have predicted this, since Cindy's Joey just got a job too and acted about like John did. Anyway, he starts the 31st and that will be a huge relief for me that he has something to do.

I have been pulled in every single direction lately by all the children ... everyone wants me to do something for them at this VERY moment and if I am not serving them, but happen to be serving someone else, I get so much criticism. Even when I try very hard to meet needs, I can’t meet them all.

That and the fact that I am so far behind with work because of email being down, and I have more than enough stress in my life.

But I am grateful that everything in the house is working at this moment. I will not be knocking on wood as that didn’t help at all last time.

So far my new internet service provider has made me VERY VERY happy -- tech support has live people and they help me immediately. The other company, which if they treat me poorly when I cancel them (as soon as I get the new email completely set up) I will broadcast their name everywhere, was not at all helpful. Sometimes a 30 minute wait to talk to automated voices....

I now must get to work - I need to dive into that email as soon as I can get things set up.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why I Work "outside the home"

We just finished a meeting today where I heard that people were requesting me to speak at a conference. That, and the fun I had at the meeting, though I probably annoyed some people, is why I work outside the home.

Being a stay-at-home mom is very hard because there is no affirmation and there is not a lot of adult conversation. My kids don't tell me that I'm a good mom very often (maybe because I'm not a good mom very often). I don't hear them tell me that I'm good at what I'm doing. In fact, lately I've heard a lot of the opposite.

So, it's great to have something outside of the house, to keep me believing that I have basic human worth.

To all those of you who stay home with kids and don't have outside work to give you affirmation and adult conversation, I applaud you, I am amazed by you, heck, I practically worship you. I wish I could do it, but I just can't.

So I have the best and the worst of both worlds -- i work from home. And, for some strange reason, it seems to work for me most of the time.

So today I'm feeling a little gratitude and a little hope -- because tomorrow we might have internet.

leaving the church now ...

Weirder things have happened

So, I'm reading my email at the church and lo and behold there's a message from our new next door neighbor with cable advice. Now, that's a shocker. It's not a bad thing and I'm kind of excited because we've emailed back and forth today. But it is a big wake up call that you gotta be careful what you blog.

What if I had said something about them online? Now I don't have anything bad to say about them -- they seem like nice people. But I would have never thought they'd know about my blog.

So here's a shout out to our next door neighbors who, because of the blog, I've gotten to know more in one day via email than I did the whole last 6 weeks.

We live in a weird, weird world.

From Bart's Office at the Church

I ran over here for a little while to check and see if there were any emails that I had to attend to. I am working through them.
I have to work from my powerbook instead of my G-5, so all my stuff isn't here. It's crazy.

By the time I went to bed last night I was exhausted. I'm hoping that today will be a better day, though it is raining which means everyone will probably be inside.

Sorry my blog is boring, picture-less, and annoying lately. I suppose if you want anything more exciting you can browse the archives (yeah, right).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

PMS is Lethal

Not mine, so don't ask. But the one who wishes to remain un-named on this blog is torturing all of us and it's driving me crazy.

I drove over to Kari's to use her wireless and give her some of the most incredible "Cuban Black Bean Soup" that Bart made for supper. He started making it last night and it smelled so good I was dying to have some. It was as good as I thought it was going to be.

However, supper conversation wasn't that great. We discovered today that $70 of porn was ordered in the middle of the night on cable before we blocked that possibility. And of course, nobody admitted to ordering it. I wonder why we have trust issues.

Not having internet access at home makes me feel like I've fallen off the face of the earth. It makes me feel disjointed and confused. The next estimate is Thursday afternoon.

Hopefully I'll make it until then.

But for now I'm at Kari's viewing interesting things...

Always Interrupted

I had a home visit, then snuck and met Bart for 20 minutes for lunch en route, and then had a second visit. In the middle of my second visit I got a call from home where apparently Salinda and Kyle had a big blow up. Salinda came home from Paula's last night as nasty as she could be. Venemous, judgmental, critical, angry -- and we had done nothing but exist, which is a major offense for her, I guess. And she blamed her attitude on us.

She woke up this morning, after I had left the house, ready for another round with her siblings. So I am at my home visit getting them both calling me at the same time to give me their side of the story. This was after Kyle had called during my first visit to discuss Tony's shirt. I asked that he please not call me unless it was important.

I feel torn in every direction and physically tired and not having internet is taking it's toll. I am very frustrated because I can't send email. If it is something very important, I have to respond by phone. I am so far behind on one of my jobs, I'm not sure if I can catch up.

But I have only 7 minutes before I have to leave again. At least I don't have to buy a $1.50 worth of iced tea to check my email at the church.

Three Minutes to Blog and 500 things to Say

I am no longer at Dunn Brothers. Instead I am at Bart Husbands office where he now has wireless internet. however, my plan to be here from 7:30 to 9:30 and then run home and check on everyone before leaving for my day of meeetings came to a screeching halt when Tony and Dominyk both got up before I got out of the house. Now I'm leaving everyone at home with PCA support and we'll see how it goes.

We still do not have internet and when they said Monday was the earliest, I called a different company. If the first company refuses to refund us anything after what they have put us through then I am going to blog to all of the world the name of the company and maybe, if I'm fired up enough, the whole long detailed story of their incompetence. I think I'll threaten that when I ask for the refund.

I haven't been this mad a service provider for years (but the washing machine situation did come close).

Off to my home visits...

Monday, July 17, 2006

On a Brighter Note

Before leaving, I must report that even though we are living through a phase of technological and mechanical nightmares we are excited about living in our new town. The more people we meet the more excited we are about our lives here. People I have met through work as well as all of the people we have met from the church are just wonderful. We had another great "meet and greet" at the house last night and we continue to look forward to all the great things God is going to do in and through us in the years to come.

Now I'm heading home for Dinner....

Feeling a Bit Out of Touch and Geting Discouraged

Back at Dunn Brothers. Not even liking it here any more. I can't send email from here. The guy was at our house for 4 hours this morning and is now saying that we may have to have the house completely rewired in order to get cable. I'm thinking it's a little late for that -- we've paid all the fees for installation and everything and never heard a word about needing new wiring. Our internet worked fine until Thursday night and then all of the sudden we need the whole cable rewired?

This morning I was up bright and early to do an errand for Bart. I then stayed home to answer the Cable Guys questions for a couple hours and then went to meet Paula to pick up Salinda. On the way, Jimmy, John, Sadie and I had lunch. Came home and took people to shop for John's birthday, which is today. (not motivated to take pictuers, when I can't post them, but I digress). Tonight Bart is making Shish-ka-bobs at John's request and I'm trying to catch up on a day worth of emails when I can't send email unless I go to web mail, which is a huge hassle. Fortunately there were only two or three that really required my response.

There is some good news -- John may have a job. We're waiting to find out but things are looking good. That would definitely, as Cindy would say, give us more oxygen at home. He's been doing OK lately, but it would still ease a lot of stress for him and us if he was working many hours a week.

Tomorrow I have three home visits so I won't be home much -- but at least I won't be home without internet, which is the ultimate in frustrating. Having jobs where I work from home is wonderful, but without the internet, I simply cannot get work done. I'm going to call the company from here and see how far I can get with them.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday afternoon

Dunn Brothers again, but for the sake of the Alaskan RV travellers, I will not whine. It's actually a nice excuse to get out of the house. Today I managed to limit my spending to $1.50 for a decaf Iced tea and I feel pretty good about resisting the deserts, though Bart is preparing for tonight's "Meet and Greet" at our house, and I'm sure whatever he makes will be better anyway.

Thoroughly enjoyed church again this morning. So fun to meet strangers who are becoming friends. So much potential in both the church and community for growth and reaching others ... very exciting.

I had an hour alone yesterday and began to dream up another big plan, but fortunately, it's long term -- and includes components of everything I enjoy doing. That's all the details you'll get here, unless you email me privately, then maybe I'll share. But I'm dangerous when I get some time alone.

Such a busy few weeks ahead that I may not be able to think much. Hopefully the internet will be fixed tomorrow or I'm going to be VERY frustrated.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

15 Minutes, $2.50, several calories, and 40 pieces of junk email later

Back at Dunn Brothers again. I feel guilty just sitting in here without buying anything, but to tell you the truth, the food at my house, made by Bart, is far superior to anything here. And i shouldn't be eating. But it's all in the display case, looking yummy when I walk in...

I really came to download some label templates for a project I'm working on in my office, and it's a good thing that I came for that because otherwise I'd be ticked. Only a couple of my blogging friends have updated their blogs, and all my email was junk. But Saturdays are usually like that.

i have a packed week coming up. Company for dinner tonight, "meet and greet" tomorrow night, trip to the Cities to pick up Salinda from Paula's after John's Sport's Physical on Monday, Three home visits in 3 different towns on Tuesday, a meeting with local adoption/foster care folks to plan a conference on Wednesday, a trip to Worthington to translate for a birthmom on Thursday, Bart's mother, sister, and aunt coming to visit for a few days either Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday, a psychiatrist appointment Friday, and then packing everyone to get ready to go where they go while we go to NACAC.

Just thinking about it makes my head spin. And hopefully somewhere in there, a technician who can fix the internet at the house so that Dunn Brothers can stop getting rich....

Friday, July 14, 2006

And Again

Since I had no internet today, i spent the afternoon organizing files in my office. I got about 1/2 way done and now everything is a huge mess. But Bart was willing to be responsible for the kids (except Sadie who is with me) and I came to check email and catch up on blog reading/writing.

John had a promising job interview last night so we have our fingers crossed.

Bart's computer isn't really broke after all.

I'm caught up on laundry.

I didn't miss too much this week not having internet. There wasn't a lot of activity.

A little good news at least.

I should just live here at Dunn Brothers. I could sleep on the couches and definitely would have enough food to help me make it through the hours.

Having a very tasty decaf iced tea at the moment, and Sadie and I shared a raspberry croisant. Definitely on the diet plan.

Back in the Coffee Shop Again

It's cool, comfortable, cozy even. Well decorated and classy. Iced Tea costs $1.50 and it's one of the cheapest drinks and it is what I ordered.

I'm here to work, but I am so out of sync I'm not sure I can.

yesterday I only sent a couple of emails and they sounded like I was drunk. Didn't make any sense at all. I don't know that I will be able to stay here long.

Last night we were invited somewhere for dinner! It was a lot of fun, the kids were somewhat appropriate, and our host and hostess were gracious. Food was awesome. Everyone had a good time. We got home later than usual and it took a long time for everyone to settle down, but it was worth it.

i spent this morning on the phone scheduling next week. Lots of appointments in various places. Very busy.

I feel so out of touch with the world when I only blog once a day!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm Sorry, I Could Not Understand that Response

After a morning of attempting to parent and do laundry and get the internet working again, I have given up and now that my children are being cared for by their PCAs I am at the coffee shop having a nice lunch and typing away.

This morning I was on the phone with the automated tech support person and the conversation went something like this:

TS"P" (Tech support "Person") Please disconnect your power source from your computer. When you are done please say continue."


Tony: "I already f***** turned it down."

TSP: I'm sorry, I could not understand that response. Please repeat your response.

Me: You did NOT turn it down. now you have to turn it off.


TSP: I'm sorry, I could not understand that response. Please disconnect your power source from your computer. When you are done please say continue."

Me: OK, That's It. You've got a time out.

Tony: More loud screaming.

TSP: I'm sorry, I could not understand that response.

Me: Click.

I'm so glad that for customer service purposes all conversations are recorded. That one I'm sure will result in the file being marked "CRABBY WITCH" and nobody ever wanting to serve me again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So, Who Guessed It?

Well, our bad luck was not over. The next thing to go was the internet. It is still not working after talking to the company by phone until 10:30 last night and again from 7:30 to 8:30 this morning AND having a guy come out tonight to no avail.

I took Salinda to Luverne for an ortho appointment, got my haircut and then took her up to Willmar to go to Sunshine with Paula's teenagers. I'm now going to go through my emails and see if there is anything that needs immediate attention and then head back home to fall in bed (or work on this internet issue, whichever I can manage).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Don't Budge in Line at the Psychiatrists Office

We were taking care of getting a new appointment at one of the little windows when I heard this voice say to the person next to her, “it’s MY turn. I was here FIRST!” It was spoken almost almost like one of those voices from the movies when someone is deranged or possessed. It was a scary voice.

Reminder to self: The Psychiatrist’s office is not a place to budge in line.

A relatively quiet morning

Bart took Tony and Kyle took Ricardo and JImmy with him when he took Dominyk to the river so I had a few quiet hours. Got some things done, but none of the things I blogged earlier I was going to do.

Now I’m off to the psychiatrist with Tony. He needs something as his summer is not going well at all. He is so volatile and disrespectful that I’m afraid someone is going to hurt him, and I wouldn’t really blame them. His only hobby is irritating as many people as he can.

The WASHER IS WORKING! That’s a huge relief. It’s been fixed for 3 hours and the third load is in. It will be great to be able to stay caught up.

The DISHWASHER is working too, as is BART’S COMPUTER. The REFRIGERATOR is working as well, and the new RANGE is working fine too. Yesterday at Sears I placed my hand on their new garbage disposals and said, “Reserve this for us. It’s the only working appliance in our home that hasn’t been replaced besides the dryer, so it should go out tomorrow” but so far it is still hanging in there.

Think the bad stretch is coming to an end? KNOCKING ON WOOD!

Unable to Sleep

I woke up at 6:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. After trying to for 20 minutes, I decided I should just get up and enjoy the quiet to get things done.

It looks like my project is almost finished. I wanted to have it done by 8 this morning and I still have an hour left.... Well, actually by 5 last night would have been better.

Today I have to get those taxes done, get court paperwork done for a family finalizing, and make several appointments. Bart is taking the day off, as he didn’t get one last week, so it is my hope that that will help matters around here...

Monday, July 10, 2006

And before I get any comments

I don’t always work 11 hour days. But I have a deadline to meet and haven’t had time to work as much as I need to over the last week or two so I have to get it finished.

I don’t need any comments tonight about how I work too much and my kids need attention. The fact that they’ve been getting plenty of attention over the last week is why I’m stuck putting in a 14 hour day today...

Interesting Quote

“All you do is sit on your lazy ass and work. You don’t do anything for the family.”

As I am in my 11th hour of working today so that we can have money for the things the kids need.

But I should have just let the quote stand as is.

“All you do is sit on your lazy ass and work.”

And It Just Doesn't End

Well, the dishwasher is hooked up and theoretically it works. The washing machine, however, is a different story. After waiting for 3 weeks for the part to come in, when they get the old tub out they realize that the shell of the tub also has a whole in it and by the time we replaced that we might as well get a whole new machine.

And, as I’m sure you’ll recall, the washing machine incident is totally and completely my fault.

So they will refund us the money for the part, but we have had to pay $60 and wait three weeks (to the tune of $30 a week of quarters at least) to find out that we should have just bought a new washer three weeks ago.

It doesn’t help that the repair guy is an exact replica of the neighbor who sexually molested me as a pre-teen and when he starts his sentences with a smirk and the words, “I hate to be the one to tell you” I so feel like punching him. I know it’s transference, I’ve studied Freud, but I still am incredibly angry at him. Of course, it isn’t his fault he looks like him.

So, I’m off to Sears to order a new washer. They’re going to really love us there.

A Major Liability -- That's Me

Another careless mistake, another couple hundred bucks.

First, I forgot to mention to blogland that the dishwasher we bought -- brand new last week, got installed wrong so there is no water coming into it. That means I had to call a repair person. They were supposed to come between 8 and 5 so I was up bright and early. They aren’t here yet. It’s almost 3:00 p.m. And the washer guy is scheduled for today too, and he’s not there.

Today, Tony had a major meltdown and kicked the box with the new washer tub in it several times. If he damaged that $500 I might lose it. Now, what I would do if I lose it, I have no idea, but it will not look nice, whatever it is.

At any rate, I’m supposed to speak at NACAC and somehow gave Bart the OK to purchase tickets to fly out two hours before my presentation started.

Something’s gotta give. I’m a major liability in this house. All my mistakes are costing more than I can make. I absolutely cannot focus on anything with all of the chaos going on around me. Other summers the kids had things to do. This summer they are constantly bickering and in and out of the office ever 2-7 minutes.

And it’s not like I can decide now to take a leave of absence from my jobs, can I? Now that I’ve driven us into deep debt with my carelessness.


Awesome Decision

I didn’t realize it as much at the time, but when I decided Bart was the man for me, I made an awesome decision. Many men can assemble a bike, make a treehouse, or fix a toilet, but my man made the best peach, nectarine blueberry cobbler in the universe last night. To die for. I just had some more for lunch. (And no, it’s not on my post-surgery food list, so don’t ask).

I have friends who will fix things (in fact, Mike, of Kari and Mike is awesome), but I would feel a little uncomfortable asking a man to come over and cook dinner.

Having a husband who will prepare all of our meals, do his own ironing and even clean and do laundry is a tremendous blessing. I wish I could email you some of this crisp. it’s phenomenal.

Meet and Greet Round Two

Yesterday was a relatively mild day in comparison to some, but it was quite busy. After church, we came home and had lunch. Then we started getting ready for our Sunday Night “Meet and Greet” where people from the congregation come over and get to know us. I also started providing rides to people who wanted them, and that took up much of my afternoon, running people various places so they would have something to do.

The final preparations were a little stressful as several of the children were literally sitting watching us work or watching TV and complaining we were in their way. When asked to do something, they refused and there was no time for the meltdowns required to make them do something. However, we got it done and the night was great fun.

I really enjoy hearing other peoples “stories.” Listening to how people got to where they are in life always seems to help make sense of them. My brothers used to sing this song: I have never even seen the lyrics until just now when I googled them:

People are strange, when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
People seem wicked, when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven, when you're down

When you're strange- faces come out of the rain (rain, rain)
When you're strange- no one remembers your name
When you're strange, when you're strange, when you're str-ange

I’ve always thought it was a profound song, in all of it’s stupidity, because the message is that when you don’t know someone they can appear strange -- but once you understand their story and know who they are, they are no longer as strange (well, there are exceptions to this, like Cindy (just kidding girlfriend!)

At any rate, hearing people’s stories turns them from strangers to friends and telling our story also helps people to understand us a bit better. In fact, John choosing to tell his version of his own story caused some other folks to open up a lot more during “snack time” and it was great.

I got early this morning hoping to get a start on things before everyone wakes up, but John wasn’t sleeping in his bed, so when I woke him up to go to his bed he decided to get up instead. So much for a head start....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Just for Me

Sometimes my husband preaches a sermon that is just what I need. Since he plans his sermons two or three weeks in advance, it can’t really be that he is addressing my particular emotional place, but sometimes it really seems like it.

This morning he used this Scripture from 2 Corinthians 12:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Bart asked, reflecting on yesterdays funeral and other difficult situations in our lives, “Is it Enough?” Is God’s grace enough to get us through?

After last nights verbal onslought from John, these words were so appropriate: That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Maybe it is in my own weakness, which is never so apparent than in parenting, that Christ can be strong. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, not in my strength.

It was a good one.

Anger Issues

Last night, Bart came home utterly exhausted from the funeral. I was trying to do everything that I could to make things peaceful. John did what he does best when he can sense stress in the house -- he attacks me verbally with all he’s got. He knows it is a prime time to get a reaction, and he prods and pokes at me emotionally, trying to get me to bite.

At first I tried just repeating the phrase over and over “I am not buying you any more clothes this summer.” Sometimes this works and I don’t get sucked in. But last night he was more hard core.

For 35 minutes he badgered me while I tried to reason with him. He used literally every swear word in the book over and over again. He brought up everything he could think of. Finally, after 35 minutes, i just stopped talking. I knew better than to try to walk away, because he would follow me. So I sat and listened and did not respond as he threatened to steal all our money, sell drugs, disobey our rules in many ways, not go to bed. He managed to throw a curse word into every sentence. I sat and did not respond.

After 20 full minutes of trying everything, he decided to try this one, “You know, Mom, I think you are the one with the anger issues.”

It took all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. I remained straight faced but thought to myself, “kid, anyone with anger issues would not have been able to sit through this calmly.”

I slept anxiously reliving the conversation in my mind, wondering what to do. Reasoning doesn’t work. Consequencing doesn’t work. And I don’t think I have it in me to be verbally abused for an hour a day without responding.

He marches out at the end saying, “SORRY! Now I’ve apologized to you so you can’t bring this up again.”

Heavy SIgh.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Friends Over Again and A New Morning

Everyone was settled down by 10:30 last night after I picked up the 3 from camp. Mike and Kari were over again for dinner -- I had a couple “toolman manly-man” things that needed to be done and Mike obliges when we feed him, so they came over with THREE kids (whoa, Aaron, we were all SHOCKED!). Aaron was very helpful in giving a parenting tip to his mother.

Here is a conversation we overheard from another room between Dominyk and Ben after they led Anna astray into the “grove” and she and Baby Idiot got muddy:

Dominyk: I’m sorry Anna. Now Ben, You’re turn.

Ben: Sorry.

Long Pause.

Dominyk: Ben, you get back here! Say it like you mean it!

I could not sleep past 6:30 this morning, so I’m getting an early start at heading for the laundromat. So much to do today, but I won’t articulate it all here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Perspective or "But at Least I'm Not Bart"

John is trying to escalate things with me again tonight. He is calling me by my first name, telling me he’s going to punch me, yada yada yada. I’m surprisingly handling it pretty well, probably because I know that in a few minutes we’ll have people over and he’s usually able to hold it together while they are here. Maybe in a few hours he’ll forget he’s mad at me and we won’t have to go through the whole bedtime deal.

Sometimes Bart and I have a “whose life is worse” argument, but tonight he wins hands down. Visitation for a teenager’s funeral is not an easy thing to do and I don’t envy him. He will be able to provide calm, soothing, comfort and be a messenger of God’s peace and my mind and heart are there with him. But my weekend of picking up kids from camp, going to the laundromat, speaking on an adoption orientation panel, and hosting a SNACC picnic is busy but not nearly as emotionally exhausting as his weekend will be.

So no matter how much of a jerk John is to me tonight, i will try to be grateful that my kids are healthy, that they are alive, that they still have a future and a hope. I need to remind myself of the task my husband has today and tomorrow and not to feel bad about mine. I need perspective. Hopefully it will change my thinking and help me to move forward without too much whining.

Pit Gitting Deaper

Today was just a dumb day. I’m pretty tired of most of my blog being whiny, but I’m feeling a little whiny.

This morning I was determined to get some stuff done at my desk. I was able to sit here from about 9 until about 10:15, but then it all ceased to go well. Unnamed one came in for our conversation and asked if I would take her to get a new phone charger. I made plans to do that, but then .... and I’m not going to go through all the boring details but let’s just say John had to have a long, non-sensical argument with me. I then went to get groceries because we had very little for lunches and found the perfect gift for Bart for Father’s Day/Birthday/Anniversary -- something I had never bothered to do because they all happened in June right after the move. This particular item caused much stress for the woman at Walmart and we ended up being there for over an hour... I got back just in time to run out of the door with Dominyk for his psychiatrist appointment.

The psychiatrist was thorough, which I appreciate, but it ended up taking 2 hours with travel time. I sat down to work for a little over an hour before they called to say Bart’s computer had been repaired -- at a whopping charge. So I went to get back, returned to have John screaming in my face once again because I dared correct his behavior and ask for some help.

John has himself buried into a deep hole right now because of his choices. Instead of accepting responsibility for any of them, he blames the rest of the world. Classic example: I have told him that the amount I am willing to spend on football gear for the fall will be determined by how much time he spends getting exercise and working out this summer (an attempt to motivate him to do SOMETHING). Today he lost his YMCA card and it costs $5.00 to get it replaced. I offered to let him work for money, even though he is in debt, to pay for a new card. He is refusing to work but now saying that he has no way to get to the YMCA so he will not have any money for football gear.

I am a survivor and all of this fatalistic, it’s not my fault, I can’t do it thinking has me so frustrated. He expects me to bail him out of every mess, and the more I try to teach acceptance of responsibility and maturity the more he fights it.

Now he is in a deep pit and getting deeper with his choices, and I am with my work load, and when both of us are at pit’s bottom, it’s not a good time.

But tonight we get to have people over for dinner, so I need to at least make sure the dishwasher-repair-guy-dirty-footprint-mess is mopped up before they get here.

Reunited and it Feels So Good

One of the nicest things about relationships between parents and kids is that eventually, they are going to want something and they have to make up. I knew that as soon as the unnamed child had something she wanted from me she would show up and apologize.

The planets are lined up again for her and all is well.

A Last

So, miraculously, I got all the kids settled down by 9:30 and then went and to lie down in bed for 2 hours unable to fall asleep. See, I told you Murphy had moved in.

But it is now 9;00 a.m., I’ve been up for an hour and nobody has done anything annoying. Maybe that’s a record.

Very little to blog at the moment and I have a lot to do.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A First

I took a nap at 7:30 in the evening. Never before have I laid down so late in the day to try to sleep.

Emotionally exhausted, but not quite as much as Bart is today, I came up with a plan to give us the psychic space we needed to make it through a more than trying week. We sent the boys to the Fun Days Carnival (their sister, un-named and still not speaking to me) chose to remain home. We then went out for a wonderful meal... although I could only eat a bowl of soup and a half an appetizer before I was full (I had a virgin mango daqueri though, and it was GOOD).

We came back home and it was my intention to work some more but I was just so exhausted I decided to nap. So from 7:30 to 8:30 at night, that is exactly what I did for the first time in my life.

Bart has blogged about it so well I can’t imagine adding anything profound to it, but the children and I will not be returning to our former community for the funeral and that is difficult. We have prior commitments that day and some of our kids would not handle the event well, so we will be staying here. It is so hard knowing that our friends are reeling in pain and we, at a distance, can do so little. I have complete confidence that Bart is God’s man for this particular task, but it ways heavy on me to not be able to be at his side.

In times like these, life is placed into perspective and it becomes clearly obvious that God’s strength is all that any of us can use to get us through.

Murphy has Moved In

Bart’s laptop is costing a lot to have fixed and it isn’t covered by warranty. The washing machine part is still back ordered and now they are saying it might be in on the 14th. Bart has already been to the laundromat several times. We just went to buy a new dishwasher. The brand new refrigerator has parts broken on it.

I’m finally left in peace to work, but again most of the morning is gone. I need more hours in the day, and, as we all do, a lot more money. :-)

And I Got Up Again

Bart got home at midnight. Apparently my child who wants to remain anonymous was hiding under the desk in the family room and both her brothers new where she was but JImmy didn’t tell me until almost 12:30. Then I had to hear a long list of my faults. I always find it interesting that when one of the kids does something they shouldn’t and I dare to parent them, I am forced to listen to all kinds of criticisms about my parenting and personhood. Last night it was my blogging, my inability to tell the truth (don’t know where THAT came from, since lying is not something I ever do) and how fat and lazy I am (which is a fact and not something new).

Bart and I had to process the day together as it was a difficult one for both of us and weren’t asleep much earlier than 2 a.m. I am now up ready for an IEP meeting by phone with Mike’s school and then a day of work.

So last night’s situation is far from resolved, but of course the kids who were involved are still asleep...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Old Late Night Blogging to Relieve Stress Routine

I'm sitting on the steps in the dark, blogging out my stress.

Bart is on his way home because of an unexpected funeral that I may or may not further blog about. I will say this much: Being married to a pastor, funerals become part of ones life and they usually don't upset me. But this death has.

Anyway, it's 11:15, long after my usual bedtime. About 2 hours and 15 minutes ago Salinda decided to slap Dominyk hard enough that I heard the slap around the front of the house. I sent her to her room for the night. She decided to be a typical 13 year old girl and get very snotty about it.

However, after about 1/2 hour of nasty attitude vapors pouring out the crack in the door, I decided to go into her room to ask her to turn down her radio. Her attitude was so bad that I called her on it and told her that she needed to shape up. When I asked her if she understood what I was saying, she refused to speak, so I sat on her bed to show her that if we needed to talk we could. She left the room, and, according to John, the house. I am sitting waiting for her to come in.

Now I could do several things right now, and I realize it. Sitting in the dark on the hallway steps doesn't have to be my choice of responses. But I have ruled out a few other possibilities.

1) I could hunt her down. I am doubtful that she has gone very far. She is somewhere in the house or the yard or the garage, lurking around. She learned this from a couple of her older brothers. The game becomes much more fun if I chase because then they hide and run. I've done it before and I'm done with that game. If she was my first to do this, she would be having a much better time because I would be calling for her (much like a lost pet), walking all over the house and yard, and she would be slinking off to make sure she wasn't found. Not interested. BTDT, no thanks.

2) I could go to bed. Now, that is a tempting thought. However, when I initially made the decision not to go to bed, I thought Bart would be home by now, and I fully intend to go to bed when he gets home. But he made a wrong turn and was not home at 11:00 as I had anticipated, but will probably be closer to twelve. Now there is no point in me going in and trying to sleep for 1/2 hour to forty minutes because I won't fall asleep anyway.

3) I could be sitting somewhere with the lights on in the house in a more comfortable chair. Now, this is a good idea. Actually, this is a really good idea. I'm not hiding from her. OK. Give me a second......I'm glad I blogged that. Now I'm in a more comfortable spot.

4) I could go to my room and ignore her and pretend this didn't happen. But I don't want her to think it is OK to clearly disregard my instructions, nor do I want her to think she can leave the house without permission at night and be out in the dark.

5) I could get very angry. I could fret and stew and dream up all kinds of ways to punish her and make her pay. But again, BTDT, not helpful. Not going to bother to get angry tonight.

So, instead, I am waiting up for Bart and most likely, once he gets home, we will go to bed. I get up to go to the bathroom 3-4 times every night and my guess is that she'll sneak into her room as soon as she thinks we're in bed. I will check her room to see if she is there and her consequences will be based on what time she gets in.

I'm not really sure what the best way to handle this is. I could come down on her REALLY hard and have her learn for good that this is not OK, hoping she'd only have to learn it once. That's how we parented Kyle and it worked very well. She is a lot like him. However, the boys between Kyle and Salinda either have organic brain damage or lower IQs, so behavior modification didn't work so well for them, thus we've had to change our parenting style for them. But with her, maybe we need to just make it known that leaving the house without permission for a few hours after dark is not OK and find something that will help her to learn.

But, and I realize I'm rambling and some of you have already given up and decided to skim this post, if anything, it's hard to know the right thing to do with some teenagers. Salinda can be nasty mean when disciplined, and it's a high price to pay. The fact that she may be upset about the funeral as well also muddies the waters.

As I was sitting on the steps playing Spider Solitaire on my cell phone for an hour, I was thinking about how tricky parenting teenagers is. Salinda is one of the most "normal" children we have and yet figuring out what the right thing to do with her is very hard. Maintaining a decent relationship with a teenage girl is like walking on a very thin tightrope.

I still don't know for sure what to do, but I do know that not chasing her down like a wandering dog is a good choice. I know that not getting very angry is a good choice. I wish that I could choose not to worry just a little bit on top of it, but I'm not sure I can control that. I'm sure she's safe, but I hate it that she is putting me in a position where I have to wonder.

Tomorrow morning I have to be up early to greet the guys who are going to take the old stove away and then I have an IEP meeting by phone with Mike's new school at 9. Tonight will be the third night in a row that I'm not going to get the amount of sleep that I need.

Anybody out there still up?

Working Myself Silly

After the crazy morning we had I was tired already. Then after lunch everyone was leaving me alone for a while, so I started pounding away at the in box.

I even had 90 minutes where the boys were at the Y and Salinda was babysitting (she’s still there). Everyone is being quiet again but I really need a break as I push myself so hard when I’m alone that I wear myself out.

Since the kitchen is still kind of in shambles (they couldn’t take out the old range because the electrician had to disconnect) I think I’ll take the three boys who are here out to eat, though it might not be very fun.

Then tonight I think I’m going to work on my laptop in a recliner just for a chance of scenery. Then maybe I won’t feel so tired.

Wild 30 Minutes

This morning at 7:55 the plumber arrived. I let him in, showed him the leak in the basement and where we wanted the hose for the new fridge.

By 8:20 the deliverers were here, 45 minutes or so early, with the fridge and stove. They informed me that they would have to come back and get the stove because an electrician had to disconnect the stove. Fortunately, one was scheduled for today anyway. They moved the new stove right into the middle of the kitchen. They told me, however, that they had to take the old fridge immediately so I needed to clean it out. They even started grabbing at salad dressing bottles... I told them I would take care of it.

I got it cleaned out in time by putting everything all over the kitchen. The guys taking the old fridge out said, “I think this is leaking and dripping a lot” as they proceeded to wheel it all over our new entry way rug. It appears that a piece of the old fridge fell off and is now in the yard.

During the time that the plumber is trying to run the dishwasher to see where the leak and the basement is. He is slipping on the water that the plumbers dripped.

As this is all going on the phone rang 5 times in 15 minutes. One was a wrong number. One took a minute -- answering a question about insurance. But then the next three calls were interesting. Some background:

I had called the cable company last week to request another remote, thinking they were unique and wanting to use one on another TV. We had been cut off so I figured nothing would happen. But at 8:40 I got a call from the “cable guy.” “Hi, this is your cable company. I’m coming over to bring that remote you ordered. Just wanted you to know.”
The second call, five minutes later, was a woman. “Hi, this is your cable company. You would be better off going to Walmart to get another remote and not paying us to deliver one. The ones you can buy yourself will work just as well.” I told them OK, and told her that the guy had already called. She told me she would cancel. Three minutes later another woman called. “Good morning. This is your cable company. We have an order here for a technician to come out and service you this morning.” Needless to say, I explained the whole thing and finally the phone stopped ringing.

By this time I was exhausted and my day had just begun. The plumber came down with the “good news” that there’s nothing wrong with the pipes, but we need a new dishwasher. It was leaking through the floor. I thanked him for allowing us to pay him for an hour of his time to tell us we needed to buy a new dishwasher.

I decided to run errands since I hadn’t gotten anything done yet -- got gas, bought milk, went to the PO, dropped off the gang-banger clothes I bought from John at the Salvation Army and then rented 5 movies for a week for $6.00 so Dominyk would have something to do on his PCA-less days.

Kari stopped by with Anna to visit for a few minutes and now I’m finally at my desk at 11:30. Looks I’ll be working late tonight!

A Million Avoidance Techniques

This morning it is quiet here. We didn’t get to bed until after midnight and I had to get up to greet the plumber by 8. He, the delivery person for our new Range and Refrigerator, and the electrician will all be here today.

Everyone is asleep and I told myself I was going to be doing our revised taxes this morning. I got them out and then it started to get a little complicated. I then realized, “Hey, Bart has to sign these. I can’t mail them until Saturday anyway!” and they are now put away.

I’ve got a zillion errands to run today, including the grocery store since I have to cook for the next three days. Since this is our year for mechanical nightmares, Bart dropped his powerbook and now the screen isn’t working. I need to take some stuff to the land fill so that I can drive the old van (I let Kyle and Bart take the good vehicles on their trips.

Oh My I think the fridge is already here!!! I need to go clean out the old one and everyone is still asleep and nobody could help. They werent supposed to be here until 9!