Saturday, September 30, 2006

The FAS Fog

We’re living in the land of uncertainly and I’m sure Mike is living in a fog. We just have to hope that he pulls himself together. Historically he forgets to call home and then he figures he’s in trouble so he just avoids home as long as he can possibly hold out, digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole. He sabotages success every time it rears it’s head.

So far today, I’ve heard from a couple of his friends that he is with D, that he might be with C. And B called and said he told her he would hang out with her here in town today, and another girl called and said that he had promised here he would be in a town an hour from here to visit him today with another guy. Of course, we don’t know what if any of this is true, and we’re just putting out the message that he isn’t in trouble, but he needs to let us know where he is.

Meanwhile we sit here and wonder how long he’ll be gone. He’s only been home two weeks and it’s like reliving the same nightmare. Except that this time he’s 17 1/2 and he is throwing away his future, not his ability to live in our home for the next five months. We’re not going to tell anyone he can’t live here... but he is throwing away many of the things he wants in the future as we are not going to be able to have him live without rules.

He has a senior picture appointment this week and the awesome job we got him starts in 9 days. The whole situation bothers me on every level and I’m trying hard not to think about it, but it seems to pervade every thought.

Now you know why I have this post bookmarked and why I get nervous about every return home... because he either can’t or won’t make it successfully, regardless of what we set up for him.

Here we Go Again (or Maybe Not)

We let Mike out of our site again. He told me M was picking him up and he and D (who came for dinner and ate a LOT of Bart’s great cooking) and that he was going to spend the night at Zs house. He said he would have Zs parents call to let me know it was OK (family policy).

Well, at 10 p.m., still no phone call. I called M. M hadn’t seen MIke for a long time, but might be “hooking up with him later.” I told him to have him call.

We never heard anything all night long. Then this morning, as I was writing this, I checked the machine and he left a message from some weird number at 12:27 a.m., but the phone in our room was turned off at midnight. I called that number back this morning and there was no answer.

It’s hard for me to sleep in these situations, so I hate it when it happens. More for selfish reasons than anything. But I also really want this kid to make something of his life.

And Salinda had a weird plan that resulted in her calling for a ride at 7:30 this morning, the first time I actually have been in bed that late in weeks. And she hasn’t been able to pay her cell phone bill this month, so I had to confiscate her phone. And next month the bill is 6 times higher because she talked so much.

She thought her tennis match was cancelled, but it turns out it was still on and she was late. She also had less than 4 hours of sleep last night.

I tried to explain to her that I was saying “yes” to some of her requests and letting her suffer the consequences even when I could stop her from them by saying “no” ahead of time. I don’t know if she got it or not.

I wish “we live and we learn” always applied in every situation.

And today is another busy one.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Grand Central Station

This has been a wild kinda day. These teenagers and all their agendas and plans. Whew. The 3 boys at the charter school (Mike, Tony, and Rand) had an early release day today. They got home at 11:15 and Bart and I took them to lunch (it’s Bart’s day off). Immediately after lunch, Mike took off to skateboard. I took Tony to get a typing program so he can put in more hours for school and he played that for a while. At 2:45, the elementary school kids came home and both the PCA and her boyfriend came to take Dominyk to the parade. Adam came over to see Tony and Sadie brought two friends home from school. Salinda has a tennis meet, but Rand took Tony and Adam with him to pick up Jimmy. Then they went to get a movie to watch, also for school credit. Mike brought a friend over to eat after skateboarding. Tony is convinced Adam is having him over to spend the night, so he is frantically trying to find all of his football stuff for his game tomorrow. Jimmy is trying to earn money so he and Rand can go to a high school football game tonight and Salinda is heading from tennis straight to the school for a dance and then spending the night at a friends in order to get up and go to another tennis match in the morning. I have one of the busiest weeks of my life, historically, coming up, and many projects to finish so I am at the computer while I am directing the mayhem. Bart is cooking, of all things, Rand’s birthday dinner because we haven’t been together to celebrate it effectively, and now it looks like everyone might have a friend over for dinner except Rand. Fortunately he is very good natured. And yes, I wrote this entry without paragraph breaks because we don’t get any paragraph breaks here.

A Compliment from Mike

WIth as fast as you think and how much you work with your mind all day, I bet your brain has less than 5% body fat.


MOOOOM. Kari called me silly!

On Wednesday night, and again last night, for some reason I was feeling pretty hyper and not in full control of my mouth. This used to happen to me on a daily basis when I was in my 20s, but the last decade of parenting I guess has refined me.

It all started on Wednesday night at choir practice. We were practicing a song for choir for Stewardship Month.

Now let me take a break here and say that I have pretty strong feelings about God’s plan for stewardship. It’s pretty fair, and it’s pretty plain and simple. Everybody gives tithe -- that’s 10% of their income -- back to God, who gives us everything we have anyway. I try not to talk to much about it in our context, because there aren’t a lot of people in my current denomination who tithe much, and I have no idea who does in any of our churches, although I do know that we as a family do, that we require our kids to (in exchange for us helping them get jobs and giving them rides and such), and that often our family are some of the biggest givers in our churches. And I can guarantee that we are not some of the biggest earners. So that makes me deduce that other people don’t tithe.

WHich is between them and God. I really don’t want to know who does and who doesn’t. But talking to people about money is taboo in society, so talking about tithing has somehow become taboo in our churches. Sure, we can walk around quoting the Bible about everything else it says, but let’s not mention God’s 10% of our income deal. Let’s blast everyone else who is sinning about other things while we spend our money on Hostess Ding Dongs.

See, I told you, I’m in one of those moods.

Anyway, we were practicing a song for stewardship month and I can’t tell you the name of it or how it goes, but it’s a nice song. However, it doesn’t mention money and since it was for stewardship, I figured it should. In fact, I figured what a better time to talk about tithing than stewardship month?

So, the person next to me, who by the time we finished the song, might never sit next to me again, got to hear me add a reference to tithing to every line of the song, sung quietly and on the same note as the last phrase, as to not draw much attention yo myself.

For example, “when we walk with God, He holds our hand (if we tithe)”
“when the road gets hard, we’re not alone (if we tithe)”
“We know he loves us (when we tithe)”
and he’ll never let us go (as long as we tithe).

Those aren’t the words, but you’re getting the idea.

Well, once I did it three or four times, I was compelled beyond reason and sanity, to finish out the song. The person next to me, who does not know me well yet, was I think getting a little frustrated and afraid we were going to get into trouble. She was trying not to laugh, which made me even more out of control. I did it throughout the whole song, until the great finish ... big crescendo ... last note


I know it was immature. I know it was childish. I know it was un-preacher’s wifely, and I know it was unprofessional. Nobody else in the choir knew why we were laughing and i’m sure they think I’m a flake.

But I haven’t laughed that hard for a while and it was great.

Psychiatrist Visit

We like our psychiatrist. She is thorough, professional, and has a calming presence. I took Tony and Dominyk into see her simultaneously yesterday. During the entire time Tony was calmly sitting in the chair next to her, almost falling asleep, Dominyk was playing legos on the floor nearly under the small table, quite hyper.

So, Tony’s got less meds to help him sleep at night (since now that school started he’s falling sleep there too) and Dominyk has a new med to work on keeping him calmer.

As she interviewed Tony, Tony had very little to say, but the conversation was hilarious. The Psychiatrist would say, “so, Anthony, do you like school.”

(from under the table) “ANthony. (big guffaw). His name is TONY.

Turning to Tony, ingoring Dominyk, ”Do you go by Tony?“

Shy nod.

”Tony, do you ever get in trouble at school for talking back to the teacher.“

Slow shaking of the head from the boy in the chair and ”I do!“ from under the table.

”Tony, do you think you may have to go to detention because you don’t listen in school?“

Slow shaking of the head from the boy in the chair and a loud ”They might make me go“ from under the table.

And then, the standard questions she asks at every visit, ”Tony, do you ever feeling like hurting anyone.“

Tony says a quiet no, and the boy under the table literally jumps up and shouts, ”That would be ME!“

So then it was Dominyk’s turn to sit in the chair. it has been a long time when something in that setting has made me burst out laughing, but what happened next caused me to do so.

He had a pen and was writing on his hand. She is asking him a few questions, and he is doing OK, but she’s starting to lose him. Then she asks, ”Dominyk do you ever have trouble paying attention to what the teacher is saying in school?“

He is drawing on his hand and there is a Looooooong Pause as he is drawing contentedly all over his palm. After probably a good minute, while she is sitting patiently, he realizes that a long time ago, somewhere, somebody said something to him and he looks up at her and says, ”Huh?“


Thursday, September 28, 2006

He Got It!

Well, he got it. And it is a GREAT, great, great opportunity. He will be working from 4-9 five nights a week, M-F in the Pre-press room. He starts at $7 an hour, which is not bad for his first job. He will have the opportunity to apply within the company for something else after he has been there a while.

Here is the FASD twist. In order to get the job he had to take a UA at the local clinic. I took him there. I helped him figure out the paperwork. They called him in, but from then on he was on his own.

They explained all of the instructions to him in detail. He peed in the cup. He forgot he wasn’t supposed to flush (or never heard them say he wasn’t). So he sat in the waiting room, reading magazines, and drinking lots of water so that he could pee again. If he left before peeing, it would be considered a failed UA. So he had to stay an hour and then I went to get him.

And for the last three hours he's done a LOT of extra bladder emptying.

Stress and Relaxation

I’m always up for using any kind of technology to do anything. I just came across this website and book and the website has a stress relieving free video you can watch. I was a little too busy to go through the whole video... hmmm....maybe THAT’s the problem. Too busy for a stress reducing video.

Best Self Help Book

Explanation as to Why I Hope Against Hope and Reason

Read Kari's Post from This Morning if you want to know more about FASD, the diagnosis Mike has. And if you don’t have time to read it all, just read these statistics and after doing so you’ll see it’s scary to have hope in regards to the odds.

Hoping Against Hope and Reason

I took this picture the day after Mike came home when we were at a picnic. He doesn’t know I took it. Salinda chose not to come to the picnic, so Sadie had to take over her roll as his shadow. I think that most of their actions came from compassion, but whenever he returns to our home, they treat him as one would treat a war hero.

So this particular day his interractions with the rest of the people at the picnic the way this picture depicts,. He really was demonstrating that he wanted nothing else to do with the other people who were there. As the night wore on, he got a little better, but for the most part we (a group of families with special needs kids) were too “normal” for his liking.

Mike has always been drawn to people who look and act “counter-culture.” I’m not sure if it has been due to necessity because others would not accept him, or just what he believes is his “style.” He’s already given himself many tattoes without our blessing or approval, and the only thing that is keeping him from piercing every body part imaginable is our “nothing but your ears until you move out of the house” rule.

Today Mike has a second interview at Carlson Craft, one of the most reputable companies in the business. Bart had to rely on some connections in order for them to give MIke a chance, and they are treating him very well. Since he is a very talented artist, and computer graphics is what he says is the field he wants to pursue, he could not have a better opportunity than this.

First we’re hoping that he will get the job, but that is the easy part. The person we know at the company is committed to kids like Mike and giving them a chance. So, we’re hoping he gets it, but we’re also hoping, against hope, that he can keep it.

The first position he holds there might very well be cutting up boxes. He heard that in his first interview and was relieved because he knows he can do a job like that. And hopefully, if he consistently does a good job over the next five months or so, he may be able to move into something more challenging and higher paying when he turns 18.

The company offers full benefits and much opportunity for advancement.

But my fear comes not only from Mike’s track record of failure upon failure in nearly everything he has attempted, but that this job may be too “normal” for him. For someone who has dreams of being a tatoo artist, doing computer graphics for a reputable company doesn’t seem like something he’ll be that interested in.

So those are all the thoughts that I“m dealing with today as we anticipate Mike’s second interview and look at his future. To me, this is a perfect opportunity, a no-brainer that he should put forth as much energy as possible into turning into his own personal success story.

But as I am learning the hard way, Mike is not me, and I am not him, and no matter how hard we try to steer him into a direction that seems logical, right, even perfect to ME, it may not be who he wants to be. But part of me, again, hoping against hope, that maybe who he really is, deep down inside, is a successful computer graphics professional encased in a tattoo artist wannabees body, waiting to break free.

Sound a little ridiculous doesn’t it?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

See Why We Let Them Come Over All the Time?

Their kids are just SO Cute!

Googling Myself

Sounds kinda nasty, doesn't it?

ANyway, every once and a while I put my name in that good old search engine, and found that this is still online. If you haven't seen the video of when a bunch of families came here to help us paint the house last Spring, you should check it out.

Art Therapy

Today I took a few minutes to do something completely different. I needed a break and so I headed over to my Podcast list, something I hardly ever do, and listened to a 2 Minute Photoshop Tip.

This "painting" is literally completely my own artwork. I took the picture (well, maybe Bart did, we were both using the camera, but at least it was most likely me) and then used photoshop to turn it into a painting. Then I framed it.

Considering I have very little artistic ability, I think it turned out pretty well (it didn't help that the sky was very cloudy the day I took the picture, so I had to add blue sky.

Anyway, I feel much better. Five of the kids are done with school early, so I am going to take some of them shopping.

Emotional Night

Last night was an emotional one for me. I was tired after two days with the videographer... she was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but a change in schedule wires up the kids and the conversations we had were thought provoking and intense, and after those kinds of conversations I’m a little drained. I also had a staffing by phone that was very confusing to me. It was a match I really wanted to see happen and I couldn’t read the way things went.

After dropping the videographer off at the airport, I met my friend, Tia, who I hadn’t seen for 7 or eight years. Her husband, Marcial, passed away two months ago. She and her daughter and I went out to lunch and we had a great time, but the whole thing is just so sad. Tia had had a hard day, and so had her daughter. Grieving is tough stuff.

I then had a Spanish Orientation meeting for my job and returned home late at night. This morning I have two IEP meetings starting at 7:30. I’m feeling more and more exhausted each day, but have so much to do that I can’t stop.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I wanted to clarify something in a spare moment I have today. The email I referred to in this post was not one where I felt like I was being attacked. The writer actually did it privately and was candid and honest. She did not make me feel accused or like she did not support me.

I appreciate everyone’s encouraging comments, and I believe that those of you who posted that way are people who have been in this position and are having to try the anti-instinctive parenting approach of natural consequences. However, 5 years ago if you had suggested to me what I did last night would work, I would have laughed out loud in your face.

One more thing on the issue that is quite interesting is that I did mention to MIke this morning that I found it odd that he would make the choice to hang out with the same kid he had made such a bad choice with the night before. He insisted that that particular kid wasn’t there, but Bart knows it was the same kid. I am wondering if he is even remembering that the kid was there as he didn’t have the look on his face that he usually does when he isn’t telling the truth.

So anyway, just wanted to defend the emailer as one who I feel is on my side, though able to disagree with me, and thank everyone for their responses.

Last Night

Kari & fam came over last night. We wanted them to meet Liz and have her see "post-adoption support" live. I think that connecting with other families who get it is the best kind of post-adoption support out there and Mike and Kari are a big part of our "post-adoption support." We actually invited them over intending for Mike to do nothing but visit, but right before he came the drain in the basement got plugged up so soon after his arrival he was off to borrow something to purge something while Bart cleaned up the water in the basement and Kari and I, characteristic of most of our visits, parented and sat.

Here's a shot of some of the kids watching the video that Liz took of them jumping on the tramp last night.

Sunday Night

Save the Date
Sunday October 1, 2006
You Gotta Believe!
Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast.  The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time).  People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Westrn Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial.  If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto .
This week's radio broadcast will feature Joyce Maguiere Pavao, founder of the Adoption Resource Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Ms. Pavao is also the CEO of the Center for Family Connections in Cambridge and New York.  She is a lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and has lectured at Smith, Wellesley, UCLA, USC, and Antioch, among other Universities.  Dr. Pavao states that more than her degrees and honors , her most valuable credential is that she has experieced life as an adopted person, and she has love and great respect for both her birth and adoptive families.
Joyc Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, has over 30 years  experience in the adoption field, a renowned speaker and training facilitator.  Her book, The Family of Adoption has received high acclaim.  Ms. Pavao will be sharing her experiences on air as well as talking about the Life Cycle of Adoption.
You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

In Case You're Thinking the Same Thing

I got an email this morning and decided that I would blog the gist of the email and then my response, in case there are those of you out there sharing the concerns of the person who emailed me.

She is concerned that we are not handling the situation with Mike in the right manner, and I understand her concern and appreciate her willingness to let me know. She says that she would completely ground him, take away all privileges, etc. in order to keep him safe. He can’t handle making adult decisions, so he shouldn’t be treated like he can. Her email makes complete sense, and oh how I wish we could do that. But....

Anyway, here’s my response.

Thanks for your opinion.  I totally agree with you.  EXCEPT that we've parented him this way and it does not work.  At all.

If we restrict him, instead of letting him make his own decisions, he runs.  When he was 13, 14, 15, even 16 we did it anyway, because we didn't want to send the message to our other kids that you can get away with breaking the rules.  But with him, when we take away his privileges he starts to feel super desperate.  If we say, "Those aren't good friends to hang out with" that is the ONLY people he spends time with.

Yesterday, we reacted with a "wow, those were a lot of pretty serious consequences for a stupid choice."  I told him we would need to talk about his decisions at some point, but that he was 17.  Last night he was with the kid for an hour or so, and then he came home.  He spent the rest of the night at home with the family.

Historically, i would have done exactly what you told me I should do.  I would have grounded him, taken away the phone, etc.  He would have sulked a little, but because he is so defiant and so impulsive, he would formulate a plan to get what he wanted.  He would have snuck out of the house to find this dumb kid and hang out with him.  Then he would have realized at some point that night, that he was going to be in more trouble if he came home.  So he wouldn't come home.  For a day, or two, or a week.  

When he finally came home, we would talk to him, remind him he was grounded, even give him more consequences, and then within hours (sometimes minutes) he'd be gone again.

We've made it clear that this time he is forfeiting his future if he starts up with this crap.  We aren't going to pay for college courses, or a driver's license, or any of that junk if he is going to head down the wrong path.  But if he wants to do it, we know we can't stop him... we've tried that for yeas and it's never worked.

Grant it, I would love to be able to do what you are suggesting.  But it has NEVER ever worked with him... it always begins a downward spiral.  This time, he still may end up starting his spiral, but it will be with him making his own choices, not with us making them for him.

I wish that I could make this make sense to anyone, but the combination of diagnosis make it nearly impossible for him to be parented in any kind of manner that we're accustomed to. In his sake, he is really safer if we allow him to make the wrong decisions than to try to force him to make the right ones, because when we do that, he proves to us by making the worst possible decisions, that he is his own person.

Thanks being concerned about him and offering your suggestions.    I hope this explanation helps you understand a little better where we are and where we have been.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Where I've Been All Day

At 1 I left to go to the Cities to pick up a videographer from The Drifters Project who is coming here to get some video footage of Bart and I for a post-adoption video. I had a very interesting experience in a gas station bathroom that I’m still debating blogging.

Got home to a while household with everything happening at once, but we were able to have an awesome meal together.

Mike was discharged by 1 p.m. from the hospital and by 4 was already spending time with the same guy who dared him to take the pills last night. Bart says he’s 17 and I need to let it go, but sometimes stupidity just really bothers me.

Now I feel guilty for being at the computer when i should be watching the videographer video my children.

So the bathroom story might have to wait. However, you never did get the cheeto up the nose story, did you?

You Don't Really Want to Know

On his way out the door Bart said, “Did you hear that Dominyk burned the bathroom at church last night and wrote cuss words on his banana?”

Idea for Christmas Gifts

I came across this site today and thought of all of the possibilities for Christmas gifts. In the past I have made calendars for everyone for Christmas and they have loved them. They take a lot of work, but for some reason grandparents especially always want gifts that has a picture on it. There only so many ideas out there, though, so seeing something new is pretty exciting.

One of the things that I was hoping to do this year is to get the kids involved in the project. Last year they helped with punching holes in the calendars and had a great time. But I think that kids would have a blast doing some other things with our pictures as well. Now that I have a new camera that has high resolution this will give us even better pictures to work with.

Looking around for some ideas, I came across Pixifun Photo Kits. This website has cheap kits that you can buy to create cool and fun stuff with your digital photos. I think that the good shots I take of the kids (you know, the one in 200 shots that actually turn out good) would make great gifts for relatives.

With this particular kit you can make Photo Key Rings, Photo DVD and CD Labels, Magnets, ID Stickers, etc. Kits are as cheap as $4.99 and shipping is free.

An example of what a great buy this is, you can make 6 key rings with one kit. If the kit is about $5, that’s less than a dollar a piece. There are very few places where you can get a personalized gift for less than a dollar.

I’m trying to figure out how to budget enough time to actually get some of these done by Christmas time. I figure if I ordered them today I might just be able to get it done. But, if I don’t get to it, and you do and try it, let me know if they work well.

The Morning After

Mike is still in the hospital. They kept him overnight for observation but everyone is pretty sure he will be fine. Bart got home a little before 2 this morning, and had to sit down and right this amazing blog post before he could go to bed. I didn’t read it until now (6:40 a.m.) but now I understand why it was so important for him to get it out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Aptly Named Blog

I am blogging from our bedroom way past my bedtime. Bart is still in the E.R. with Mike. Apparently the very first time we let him out of our site, his friends decide to see how many Cloricidin they can take in order to get a buzz. Fortunately, for Mike's sake, he told us what he took and we looked it up on the internet. He couldn't tell us how many he took, so we decided to err on the side of caution. Bart took him in and they immediately put him on an IV as he had irregular breathing and his pupils were dialated. He's pretty out of it, but when Bart called he said he was very apologetic.

The impulsivity of FAS is so scary and the temptation is to never let the kids out of our site. But when they are 17 you have to give them some freedom or they can't stand it. So I guess we just take this step and hope he learns from it, though learning from mistakes isn't his specialty.

At any rate, Never a Dull Moment is indeed a perfect name for this blog...

All in An Instant

We had a great night here tonight with our Meet and Greet and it had been a fairly great day. Things weren’t perfect, but they were survivable. We were feeling pretty good about things and even had a great job lead for Mike. But then Mike called for a ride home. Mike had permission to go skateboarding with Salinda and they somehow mysteriously got separated. He called to be picked up and when Bart picked him up the other kids he had been with had obviously been partaking of something not so good for them. We aren’t sure if Mike was too or not.

So I literally went from feeling great about everything to feeling not so great about anything within a few minutes.

It call all change in an instant. Thats for sure.

Sunday Afternoon

Sunday afternoons, as you can imagine, are times for Bart to rest. By the time he finishes two services and all the meeting and greeting he is pretty wiped out. And at around 4:00 we have to get started doing our weekly cleaning of the house in order to welcome company.

So, for some reason, Sunday afternoons have been parenting marathons for me. The kids clamor for my attention and I try to get them to control themselves enough so that I can talk to them one at a time.

Had a pretty good conversation with Mike about the week he just completed. It was actually fairly positive. I supervised Tony so he could earn money to rent a game. I supervised Salinda in the lawn mowing project so she could earn money for her cell phone payment that is due. (Our philosophy that our kids have to earn money in order to buy things is CERTAINLY more time consuming than just giving it to them). I spent a good hour with Sadie helping her draw up a business plan to start her own fudge making business. We determined how much start-up capitol she would need, estimated her time commitment and how much money she could make and what she would have to do -- marketing, shopping, sales, making the fudge AND cleaning up. She is deciding if she really wants to have business or not. And I gently reminded Rand about the hours of homework he’s NOT doing for school.

All of the sudden Sadie has a math assignment and she KNOWS I hate it when kids put off their homework until Sunday.

It’s almost time for the cleaning frenzy. Oh how I love Sundays!

Dominyk in Church

Here are a couple of excerpts from Dominyk’s comments in church the last two Sundays.

Last week he was lying on the pew and bolted upright and leaned over and said, “Do you think I’m ever going to get a girlfriend?” Guess his mind wasn’t on the sermon.

Then this morning while I was singing he plugged his ears and said, “Do you have to be so LOUD?”

Hey, that’s MY line!

Anybody notice

Anything weird about this post from yesterday?

Why Can't I?

I used to be the queen of sleeping in. When I was in high school and college, I pushed myself hard all week long, stayed up late on Fridays and then was lucky to make it up for lunch.

Even as a singe person in my 20s, I slept in. And after marriage and kids, when Bart would let me, I would be able to at least make it until 9 on a Saturday.

But lately I wake up between 6 and 7 and can’t go back to sleep. So today, when I was planning to go to the late service and allowing myself to sleep in as late as 9 I was up at 6:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep.

I do OK if I can stop the thoughts from coming in, but sometime today I need to have a conversation with Mike. He’s going to say that he is “getting yelled at” but there are several things that I want to address with him about the past week in regards to what he said was going to be his focus. I am going to need to be as calm and as patient as possible, but historically it has never gone well. So I have to lie and obsess about that until I finally give up and get up.

So, in about 30 minutes I’ll wake up all the kids and we’ll go to early service after all. Tony is already up and 4 of the kids were planning to go to early service anyway... Then afterwards I can come home with all of them and sit here without Bart. At that point I will be able to decide which one was harder -- sitting here before church without him, or sitting here after church without him.

Weekends are so hard during the school year. The very expected routine of school all the sudden disappears and nobody does well.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Still Need to Make Some Progress

Apparently, i still have a long way to go.

When I speak I talk about self-differentiation a lot. I talk about how important it is to remove yourself from other peoples issues and disengage from arguments.

But it’s pretty obvious that I don’t take my own advice. I get all worked up about silly things. Part of the problem is that I have been running all day and I’m tired. It’s been a long week -- beginning with the arrival of Mike, going through the emotional impact of Bart’s grandma’s death, his preparing for her funeral, my trip to Toledo, and then another trip he took with Mike to see Kyle and attend a meeting this weekend all has added up. Today has been a day of running here and there getting everyone where they need to be as well as doing laundry and some cleaning all day.

This will prove to you that I am irritable when I tell you how everyone is annoying me:

Kyle is refusing to accept responsibility for something stupid he did a few weeks ago and is being unreasonable, unChristian, unrepentant and just plain dumb;

I found a notebook of Rand’s with lyrics to a rap song apparently he and John were writing. Full of nasty language and overall stupidity. I’m irritated with both of them. And, when I get irritated with John it just takes me down that long, ugly road of remembering the last two years.

Mike, who declared that his focus was going to be on his family, getting a job, school, and his future is already complaining and unhappy that we aren’t driving him to places far from here to see the myriad of friends that he met in various detention centers around the state. His only focus is himself and his friends. He hasn’t done a bit of homework, hasn’t made any efforts to get a job, and spends almost all of his time either on his phone or attempting to get together with whoever he can. He and Salinda have a “cover each others’ butts” philosophy when together, but when apart Mike bad mouths her.

Salinda is so involved in the 8th grade social life that she is oblivious to the fact that anything else exists. I am expected to be omnipresent to meet her and her friends needs. Tonight she had a friend here for dinner and I worked hard to make sure we ate in time for them to join us before getting a ride to a movie. When she suggested they weren’t going to eat after they came home and made a frozen pizza without permission at 3, I said “no, you will be eating the meal I just orchestrated.”

Tony is demanding incessant attention all the time. He gets an idea in his head and then he is determined that it is going to happen. A person who does not comply with his every wish is subject to endless screaming and begging.

And Dominyk is socially inappropraite nearly all the time. Just because we’re around other people or have company doesn’t mean he is going to make any effort to be good.

Jimmy does everything that he can to provoke whoever he can into a frenzy by repeating things he hears, tattling when he can, and bossing people around. He did let Salinda’s friend know, however, that he was pretty sure nobody at school knew that he and Salinda were sisters, which cracked me up and gave me one of the few laughs of the day.

Ricardo disappeared for an hour with Dominyk today and didn’t do his chore.

Sadie can’t keep her eyes or hands off anything on either of my desks even though she knows that it is my pet peeve.

So, as you can see, 10 of my 10 children are each responsible for a portion of my irritation at this time. But nothing is major. But when I’m irritable, I get irritated and it appears that the kids are irritating.

But it’s probably all me.

Ricardo the Athlete

Unfortunately, a great deal of the my blogging energy gets spent fixating on the kids who aren't doing so well. But Ricardo almost always does what he is supposed to.

He is our first quiet kid and he is very serious. He's a perfectionist and always takes care of his stuff. He has one of those faces that looks like he is almost mad all of the time and then in a second can burst forth into the most incredible eye sparking smile.

I have watched a lot of mediocre athletes perform in various sports over the past near 9 years of parenting older kids. But of all the boys, Ricardo has the most potential. He is an excellent athlete, as is Mike, but in combination with the right body, Ricardo is VERY focused. It is so fun to see him strategizing on the field in order to dive tackle the guy with the ball 3 out of 4 times.

I spent the game obsessing about getting the right photo today... didn't get it. But fortunately for me, the pictures came in and I scanned them.

And Tony's game was a win by forfeit as the other team didn't show up.

Time Only to Do This

Right now I only have time to tell you not to miss Bart's blog entry this morning. I’m off to an 8:00 football game, followed by a 10:15 football game...

Friday, September 22, 2006

One of the Things I Would Do If I Had More Time

Online gaming and the like is something I could get lost in if I had time and got myself started. Fascinating stuff and I know very addictive.

There was a time when I was playing the Sims a lot and found it very comforting. You know, it is great when you and program a little person to do something that you want it to do. I work hard to get my kids to do things, but they never listen. Playing an online game let me click on a person and tell it to go somewhere or do something and it OBEYED.

Take Dominyk, for example. Telling him to go take a shower can be a very time consuming and annyoing experience. Since he showers in the morning before he takes his medicine, he really isn't clued into things. So, I may have to ask him in several ways, several different tones of voice, and with gentle prodding.

However, if I am playing the Sims, I can click on the guy, click on the shower, and immediately I get compliance. So it is tempting for me to want to delve into online gaming and watch little people OBEY.

Just came across this today. It’s a place where you can create your own personalized avatar. I played with it a little bit tonight and it’s pretty cool. You can dress your little guy or gal with all kinds of different accessories. And unlike Dominyk, if you click, the avatar gets dressed.

The title is a little weird, “Dress Up Games for Girls” but it is really just a place to make an image to use when chatting or playing online games.

Dress Up Games for girls

I Dare You

A friend of mine told me about this video. It brought tears to my eyes. I dare you to watch it without feeling compelled to action when you’re done.

Ah the Mood Swings

I have to blog this because I feel like a ping pong ball bouncing between my daughters mood.

I write this because I just got two hugs and an “I love you, Mom” with a big smile.

Last night I had 5 minutes worth of glares with flame-throwing eyes that pierced by soul with hatred.

The good moods are great, but they can never be thoroughly enjoyed because the bad ones are on the way....

Worth $100 an hour

Yesterday afternoon we got to the gate in Toledo and the airline person said, “We are overbooked and looking for people to take a later flight in exchange for a $150.00 travel voucher.” I said, “I better let my husband make the decision.”

I was excited that I would be able to report to him that I could sit around and do nothing and make $100 an hour (I would have been home 90 minutes later). But when I called, he said, “I think I’d rather have you home than have the $150.00).

Wow. That felt good. So I came home and even though the drive was crappy, I made it safely and was able to see all the kids before I went to bed.

This morning, Mike was redirectable. I’ve found that this is a KEY element. All of our kids have their issues, and if they can be redirected it makes all the difference. He had done his chores half way yesterday and I told him how to do it better next time. A few minutes later I found him redoing them! I thought I’d faint.

But we’ve made it a week. There are still many more weeks to go in his life with or without us, but I’m glad the first one has been uneventful. Bart shared his feelings in his blog while I was gone.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I am Home

I did make it home. I am tired, the drive home was dark, rainy and fulll of road construction, and I'm tired.

But I made it home.

leaving Toledo and Something I forgot to Blog

I'll be leaving for the airport in about 20 minutes.

While I was here I forgot about another Dominykism I haven't blogged.

At night when we are getting desperate to get Dominyk to leave our bedroom and go to bed, we say, "Dominyk you need to go to bed so we can shut the door and get busy doing what we need to do."

Of course, we are referring to sleep, but of course, he makes an assumption and screams "DISGUSTING" and runs to bed.

We realized, though, after a visit to Bart's mom's, that possibly we should not have used that approach. He said something to her like,

"Grandma Mary, you wouldn't believe what is going on at our house every night. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!"

What NOT to Blog

I'm sure that there is someone out there that has a list of things not to blog. One of the top ten is got to be:

7) Do NOT write about how well you slept. Not only is this incomparably boring, but NOBODY CARES.

Well, let me ask you this question. If a person blogs right before going to bed, and then feels a compulsion to blog immediately upon getting up, and you don't dream anything, exactly WHAT do you blog?

Here in Toledo. Slept pretty well. Enjoying my time. Looking forward to going home.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sunday night Radio Program

Save the Date

Sunday September 24, 2006

You Gotta Believe!

Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast. The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time). People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Western Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial. If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto .

This weeks radio broadcast is our monthly Teen support group. We have Angela Egers and Chester Jackson as the Co-Host. This radio show will feature teens in care as they discuss the support received by their parents. They will talk about what they believe their parents did right, and they will also discuss areas of improvement. They will give suggestions to the listening audience.

If you have questions or concerns or you just need HELP! Please call us during this live broadcast at (631)888-8811

You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

Lots of Progress

Our strategic planning meeting went well today. I think that some of the decisions we made today are going to move us forward into a new level of matching capacity. They are all just structural and logistical, but I love systems and making them better, so this was fun.

I've had a good day. Felt like my ideas were heard and that I wasn't a horrible listener. I think we're going to move forward in a better direction because of it.

Pretty Mad

I just took 10 of the 30 minutes I have available to me this morning to write a beautiful tribute to my husband for knowing how important it is to me to be able to be involved in something bigger than myself and how wonderful it is to be able to get away and focus on work because I know he is so competent with the kids.

I suggested that you read his blog entry from last night and said all kinds of nice stuff about him.

But it disappeared. And I don't have it in me to redo it.

But I'm very grateful for him today....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Made it to Toledo

Came straight from the airport to the hotel and straight out to dinner and now back at the hotel room after 10.

I'm exhausted and going to go to bed very soon.

I answered to Onamia today. The guy at the counter called for Onamia Fletcher. I figured it had to be me. But how he got Onamia out of Claudia I'll never know.

Hopefully I'll be up bright and early with energy to blog.

And I'm Off...

Got my inbox down to 39, both my desks cleaned off, a letter written to Bart about all the details over the next 48 hours. Now I’m going to pack up my laptop case, brush my teeth, empty my TTB, grab my suitcase, and drive to the airport. My plane leaves at 2.

I’ll blog from my hotel tonight. We’re having a strategic planning meeting over the next two days, so I hope that I can clear my head of everything here and focus on everything there.

When it Comes to Teenage Girls, You Can't Win

I was trying to make it until my departure this morning with everyone on an even keel. Last night I was self-differentiated and was able to disengage. I was calm, had a good night’s sleep, and woke up refreshed. I had almost made it until Salinda came down five minutes before she was supposed to leave to see that she only had $1.70 on “the chart”. ( Since we have so many thieves in our home, money is never handed out. People have money on the chart and whenever they need it they can get cash from us).

Last night, Salinda asked me if she could go to the mall tonight after tennis and I told her that she could. But this morning all the sudden she put two and two together and realized that she wanted to have MONEY to go to the mall.

Now, you seasoned parents of teenage girls all know this, but I didn’t realize until that moment that it would be MY fault that she didn’t have the money and MY responsibility to bail her out. I tried the love and logic approach “Wow, I’m sorry that your friends decided to go to the mall when you don’t have any money. I guess you could still go.” Didn’t go well.

So, for the 10 minutes before she left (she left five minutes late) I had to hear about how I always let other people borrow (VERY, VERY seldom does this happen). She stomped around and sighed, and snorted, and I think even shed some tears.

I’ve said many times in the last year that I’d rather parent 100 boys than another girl. She just has a way about her that communicates such sheer disgust with me that I internally crumble (but I don’t give in outwardly). I’d much rather be cussed out and have a chair thrown at me. It’s over quicker.

But I’m learning, and someday maybe I’ll get used to it.

Wow, Once Again

I woke up about 30 minutes ahead of everyone else this morning after getting a good night’s sleep.

I decided to read blogs before blogging, and Bart had updated his. He is such a gifted writer. And the point he makes in his post last night about adoption is a powerful one.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Adios, Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen

As Lawrence Welk’s Singers used to say.

The song has been going through my head ever since 3:30 when Bart reported to me that the judge unexpectedly closed the CHIPS case for Mike today and we are no longer going to have our former county in our lives. I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I am sure they were doing their best most of the time, but it always seemed as though they were trying to find a reason why we were the reason for our teenagers behavior. It is so good to know that they will no longer be the ones determining whether what our children need.

I then had court for John, which won’t go into detail about. The worker told me I could talk to him. I hugged him for a long time. I didn’t initiate much conversation. I tried to practice “love and logic” and “tough love” parenting, empathizing with him regarding the consequences of his actions. He seems pretty dismal, but I KNOW that this time I’ve done all I could do for him and he simply could or would not do his part.

He pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor damage to property charges in exchange for the county dropping the assault charges. This was pre-trial so we still will have a hearing coming up.

The worker is not suggesting at all that he return home. He believes that we have done all that we can and that there is no way we can keep the other children safe. It’s nice to hear that at least.

So, I am going to bed exhausted but completely relieved that I can say “Goodnight and Goodbye” to our former county child protection system forever.


We have tried to have a good time together for several months eating out, but it really never seems to happen. Our schedules are so crazy that we eat out often, with neither Bart nor I having time to cook at all.

Everyone hates going out with Tony and Dominyk because they are so obnoxious. They really are. Since I’m their mother and I love them, I can overlook their faults, but their siblings can’t. So often the easier kids would rather stay home and make a frozen pizza than subject themselves to an embarrassing meal out with the little boys.

So, tonight I thought we had a prime opportunity to enjoy a dinner together. These are the “good and easy” kids that stayed home with me. They hardly ever act out. But, since the kids who normally do act out were gone, they HAD to. First, Sadie had a total meltdown over nothing (it started with an argument about math facts where she was INSISTING that 7 x 7 was not 49). It resulted in her choosing not to go out with us.

When we got there, Salinda complained about the menu. Mind you, it was the Green Mill, where there are about 120 choices. She said there was NOTHING she liked. Then she wanted to discuss, at that moment, why, exactly, she couldn’t start dating at 13. Ricardo was kicking her under the table.

I was the queen of self-differentiation tonight, so I was able to ignore most of it, but I concluded that no matter how many children are gone, it appears that it is impossible for us to have a nice meal out.

Unnamed Technophobe Shares Quote

A person I know, who cannot figure out how to comment on Blogger, shared this via email when I was blogging about being criticized. I thought it was very insightful. It’s a quote by Wayne Dyer.

“Those who can push our buttons and send us into a rage at the slightest provocation are our real teachers.
The person who is most capable of disturbing your state of peace is a person who is reminding you that you are not truly in the state of peace. At that moment, this person is your greatest teacher. This is the person whom you want to treasure and thank God for sending into your life! When you can transcend the rage, anger, and upset which that person appears to provoke, and instead say, “Thank you for being my teacher,” you have acknowledged a soulmate relationship.
Everyone in your life who can still push your buttons and send you into that frenzied state is a master teacher disguised as a manipulative, inconsiderate, frustrating, non-understanding being. These master teachers remind you that you still have some work to do on yourself.
Give thanks for those great spiritual masters who have arrived in your life in the form of your children, current or former spouses, irritating neighbors, co-workers, obnoxious strangers and the like, for they help you stay in an enlightened, peaceful state. They let you know each day how much more work you truly have to do and in what ways you have not mastered yourself.”

Wayne Dyer
Manifest Your Destiny

Another Great Use of Blogs

I am alone and it feels weird. I’m being plagued by guilt and my efforts to surpress, repress, and ignore, oh yeah aren’t going so well and I can’t talk to Bart about any of this because his life is way worse than mine.

Due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that I need to work because we need the money, Bart is driving to his grandmother’s funeral with the 4 most-in-need-of-supervision of the 8 kids we currently have living at home. Mike, Tony, Dominyk and Jimmy are heading up to Emily with Bart because they won’t be home before I have to leave for Toledo. If Bart can’t make it home tomorrow night, the four who remain could make it alone for a night if necessary.

I have to go to court alone for John’s pre-trial for his assault and damage to property charges. I hate court (I think it is a mild form of PTSD I have about it) and Bart is always very calming and soothing in that setting. His Guardian ad Litem work as a single man helped him to get over the trauma of court before we even started all our own court stuff. I still get sick thinking about it.

But I am certainly not going to whine about that one little half hour to him when all I have to do after the hearing is come home, take the four most responsible kids out for supper and help them with their homework and then sleep, get them off to school and leave town alone for three days where I will not be directly responsible for anyone but myself.

The biggest problem, though, is that I feel awful about adding all this to Bart’s life. I feel bad not being with him and him having to deal with four kids who are tough to supervise and obnoxious and selfish. And I feel bad for leaving town Mike’s first week back at home.

So this is a great use of a blog. I can whine to cyber space that typically doesn’t whine back. And i don’t have to feel guilty about whining to Bart though he will probably skim this at some point.

Now I better get back to work. If I hyper-focus I forget that in 5 hours I’ll be sitting in that dumb court room...

Dreams as a Form of Perspective

I have a very active dream life that I inherited from my father. In fact, my dreaming and my driving (and possibly my nose) would be your only clues that he is my dad. He is a gentle, calm, quiet guy (you get the idea).

Anyway, I have lots of dreams every night and they are seldom scary and always interesting. I was telling Dominyk yesterday that the night before I had a dream than men of several ethnicities were kissing me and he said, “Oh yeah, Dad’s gonna hear about THAT!”

Last night after I went to bed, I found Salinda in Mike and Rands room. Everything they were doing was pretty innocent, but I had made it clear to her that if they were going to stay up it wasn’t going to be in one of their bedrooms. Needless to say she wasn’t very happy that she had been caught and I’m not very happy that she can’t be trusted.

It took me a long time afterwards to go to sleep. When I finally did, I was back in the same scene again. I had gone downstairs thinking Salinda might be in the boys room and she was, with a third guy who was not her brother who was almost completely disrobed. He was in the process of atempting to make me a grandmother way too soon and I interrupted them. The dream continued as I had to track down this other eighth grader, talk to his parents, etc.

When I woke up to relieve my TTB, I was planning how to adequately consequence Salinda for having a boy in her room ready to do unspeakable things and then it hit me “She didn’t do that! All she did was go down and visit her brothers!”

Each time I woke up during the night my mind went through the same process as I would forget what had been a dream and what was reality.

So, I have a bit better perspective this morning. I’m still not thrilled that she chose to disregard what I said, but she could have being doing something much worse.

I’m glad I dream.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Meet and Greet Report

Another great night of Meet and Greet. Sometimes I forget to blog about them because other things crowd in, but we have a great time on Wednesday nights when people come over and share their stories and lives with us.

I sang in the choir this morning and it made me so grateful for the life I have been able to live. Singing in choir always takes me back and makes me nostalgic.

Humor me for a moment.

I sang in a youth choir in jr. high and high school. That church was foundational for me as a child, and even though it had a not-so-terrific ending when my pastor committed suicide the week of my graduation, those years were fundamental in my faith.

I sang in the choir at Brookings Wesleyan with some of the nicest people in the world, Del Johnson and his wife, Judy. Very important people in my life and keys to my survival of my years in that town.

I sang in a choir at First Wesleyan in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and enjoyed mocking the “screeching demon” sopranos in the alto section with Donna Skelly and some other great folks. I loved goofing off for David Gormong, shown on this page because he is a perfectionist and an excellent musician. It’s no fun to goof off for a choir director who doesn’t mind it when you goof off. He and his wife are great people!

And then I sang on a worship team in Mexico with college students and I sang on another worship team at La Puerta Abierta in St. Paul with a phenomenal guy, Marcial Vasquez who just passed away in late July.

And finally, I sang and later directed the choir at the Luverne UMC with some awesome people. I have been trying not to miss them too much, but sometimes I just do.

All that to say this. I love how God has enriched my life with awesome people. Every time I have moved from one place to the next I have experienced a significant loss in having to have said goodbye to such incredible people. But everywhere I go there are more great people who add their colors to the tapestry of my life.

So tonight I go to bed not only grateful for the new people that God has brought into our lives, but for all those I have known through the years.

It all is summed up in a song my mom taught me when I was in preschool: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

Sadie's Turn

Of course, Sadie, the resident drama queen, made the most of her 16 shots.

A Couple Hours of SNACC time

See what a couple hours of a SNACC picnic can do for a person? Anna arrived so sad and left so happy.

No Times 16

This is a feature of my new camera. This is Tony at the picnic, telling Kari and I no for a period of about 10 seconds. AFter a while you can see it got quite funny. If you click on the picture you can see a bigger image.

I chose my favorite of the 16 photos to highlight as well. It's a neat camera feature. I like it.

Nobody's Out There

Since apparently most of my blog readers are church-goers, there are few reading my blog at the moment. Usually there are between 12 and 20 people reading it at any given time. Right now there has been one visiter in the last hour.

This morning our Sunday Morning Routine has changed a little bit. I have to sing in the choir this morning, so I am taking the four youngest children with me. We will do first service and then go out to lunch. Then the older kids will have church and go to lunch with Bart.

Then today we are going to do what we always do on Sundays -- clean house and get ready for the meet and greet.

Dominyk is taking forever in the shower! I’ve reminded him oh so many times and he’s not moving.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Guess what this is.

Except those of you who were at the SNACC picnic can't guess cuz you already know. Paula, you need a couple of these as well.

Much Better than I

Bart, as usual, explained our day with Mike yesterday much better than I did.

We had the SNACC picnic today. I will hopefully post pictures tomorrow. Five families, lots of kids, lots of fun. Just our five families had 27 kids. I think I counted right, anyway.

Tonight I'm trying to get everyone to settle down so that I can go to sleep. Salinda is spending the night at a friends ... that will help me rest easier. Hard to explain, but the Mike/Salinda thing is weird.

I'm rambling so I'll shut up.

The Haircut -- Before and AFter

As Promised

Taken on the trip up north. The camera can't quite capture the beauty -- even a great camera. The colors were awe inspiring.

That's My Boy

Ricardo is such a great athlete. He is really impressive. He singlehandedly made four tackles in a row.

However, his mother isn't THAT great of a photographer. I had to take 79 pictures to get a good one. But my great camera made it possible for me to get this shot.

Maybe Sports Illustrated is ready to hire me.

Where Do I Begin?

The last 24 hours have seemed like two weeks. I have 15 minutes to blog about them.

Mike's graduation was impressive. 7 young men, all who had already committed crimes, some as young as 13, reading speeches and talking about the changes they had made. We left feeling hopeful as Mike seemed so confident and changed. He said he was leaving "blaming others" behind and taking on "accountability for his actions" as he left.

We had a great first 2 hours of the trip. But by the time we started talking about what he wanted and how we could help make it happen for him, things already started to go downhill. A lot swearing, a lot of the same things as always -- he can't possibly live in family like ours because WE are too strict, WE don't relate well to him, WE have too many rules, WE don't buy him things, WE don't act like normal parents. I made him talk it out after letting him shut down for about a half hour. I figured we had a 7 hour trip, we might as well talk. What he was hoping for was the past completely erased because he had been in detention. Life doesn't work that way, son.

When we got home, everyone was really excited and wound up. I was greeted when I walked in by a call from the Rock COunty Sheriff's office saying someone had been making prank calls from that number. We had left Dominyk's PCA in charge at house, instructing her to supervise Dominyk because the other kids could take care of themselves. But apparently, Sadie was being a relentless attention seeking drama queen and completely captivating the PCAs attention, while Dominyk and RIcardo sat in the basement and cussed out some unknowing innocent person in our former hometown. Dominyk, unfamiliar with the concept of Caller ID, is still scratching his head trying to figure out how they knew that the calls came from our home.

The older kids stayed up very late and based on some experiences of other adoptive parents, it made me very apprehensive having Mike back home. Thus I woke up almost every hour all night long. I woke up to take Tony to football, and found that his jersey was missing. The electricity was off, so we had no light to look for it. His pants and pads were at Kari's, his shoulder pads and helmet supposedly in the old van... I finally gave up. WE drove up to see if there was a game to know if Ricardo's was cancelled at 10, even though Tony still didn't have his jersey. As we got there, everyone was leaving because of the rain.

I then went home and told Bart I would come to the church (since almost everyone else in our city has electricity but our neighborhood) and work on the announcements for church tomorrow. But, by the time I got here, the sun was out. So now, I'm sure Ricardo's game is back on, so my fifteen minutes of blogging are now up and I have to head back home to take him to his game.

I'm glad the sun is out though, because I didn't want to have to cancel the SNACC picnic.

So, those are the facts. See why the last 24 hours seem like 2 weeks?

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Good Night Sleep and Moody Girls

So, yesterday was my birthday and it turned out to be not so bad. I got lots of quality time with my husband, who considering the circumstances, was in pretty good spirits. We enjoyed several significant conversations, bantered quite a bit (his quick wit is awesome fun -- he's SO bright) and strategized about things like how to best help Mike, how to grow our church, and what I could do to work more effectively in my jobs. In addition, we saw incredible fall colors (we hope to take pictures today and blog them tomorrow).

I also ate lots of things I really like that I shouldn't eat. I had Krispy Kreme donuts. I had Sour Cream and Onion Tato Skins. I had a McDonalds Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit which is about the worst thing you can have in ANY diet out there. I love them. I figured "It's my birthday and I'll eat what I want to, eat what I want to, you would eat too if it happened to you."

And as I reported, the conversation with Mike was phenomenal, providing us with hope. He is so proud of himself for completing a difficult program, getting good grades, being the best kid in his graduating class, (there are 8 who started, 7 who will "graduate"). Our only option at this point is to encourage him, be proud of him, and even though we expressed doubts in our honest family circle meeting, we need to now cheer him on and pray hard.

Before I went to bed last night, Salinda called about a paper for school. Her attitude and mood were completely different than they had been thirty minutes earlier. She mentioned nothing about hanging up on me earlier, and said, "Goodnight, Mom. Love you." Wow, how the moods do change.

Then last night I went to bed around 9:15. I was exhausted and there was nothing to keep me up and, after all, it was my birthday. I slept until 7 and woke up refreshed. This morning I am going to write a home study addendum, and then Mike's graduation is at 1 and we head home.

There will be challenging days ahead, but for right now I feel hopeful and full of faith that God is going to carry us through. And, as has happened in the past, i will look back to this blog post in the future to remind myself of this feeling.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Note to Self: Blog Before Calling Home

Our "family circle" was actually the best conversation we have ever had with Mike. He seemingly has come to all of the conclusions mentally that we've ever hoped he would. He has realized that we are the only people who truly love him and that he can trust us. He realizes that when he makes his own decisions without us that things don't go well. He says he has learned that running away from his problems and not accepting responsibility don't get him anywhere.

I left the meeting feeling reservedly hopeful. He is genuinely proud of himself and has obviously made good progress. It's a great setting and appears to be an effective program. So we're praying and hoping that he can do what he needs to do.

Bart and I then celebrated my birthday at a great restaurant. We loved the ambiance. But the restaurant was crowded and it took a long time for us to get our food. The virgin daquiri I ordered wasn't virgin, so I had the first sip of alcohol that I've had on my lips in over 20 years. (The last time it was only a sip as well. I've never had even half a drink in my life). Then I had her return it. Then my "shaved" steak sandwich included a whole steak instead, so i had to really chew in order to digest it (after my failed expensive surgery).

Came home feeling quite good about my day until my daughters called each with plans for tomorrow night that they had already made. Unfortunately, we won't be home and Dominyk's PCA is already putting up with 6 other kids besides Dominyk for no extra pay. I wasn't going to add a few more into the mix.

Result: Salinda hung up on me and Sadie said, "FINE, BYE!"

Happy Birthday to you too, girls!


Well, we've made it as far as Grand Rapids. We stopped and had lunch with Bart's mom, sister, and aunt. Now we've stopped to check email. The guy at Thistledew just called and said we could arrive early if we wanted to, so we're going to leave in a few minutes to get the "family circle" meeting over with.

Seeing the silver lining of the cloud, Bart and I had lots of quality time to talk in the car. We have been on the road for about 6 hours. We also have gotten to see beautiful fall colors as the trees up here are red, yellow, orange and green. Amazing.

I'm not looking forward to the family meeting, probably due to the fact that almost every one we've ever had implicates me, more than anything as being responsible for the boys behavior. But let me tell you this. I've never been pregnant, and I've never had a drink, so why I'm the one to blame for Mike's FASD is beyond me.

Will report back later.

Gone today

Remember, faithful readers, that I will be gone today. Driving up north (7 hours) to have a meeting about Mike.

We also just heard word that Bart’s grandma passed away in the night. She didn’t linger, which we are grateful for. Bart was able to see her twice this summer, and he is glad he took the time. We haven’t told the kids yet, because we are leaving for a couple days and don’t want them having to deal with it without us.

Tough days ahead for the Fletchers -- impending funeral, two court hearings, Mike’s transition home. Prayers would be OK. We know others having a harder time than we are, but things are a little tough here.

And, I wasn’t going to tell anyone, but it’s my 43rd birthday today. We were never planning to celebrate, but I wasn’t counting on the antithesis either.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Criticism, the Onslaught, and Many Emotions

This afternoon I received some criticism about a couple of different things that got on my nerves. I don’t know why, but I don’t like it when people don’t like what I do. If I am proud of something, I want praise and when I don’t get it, I get frustrated. And the person, who will remain nameless, that criticized my work hardly EVER can find anything good about what I do. My theory has something to do with envy, but I suppose that sounds egotistical.

Then the kids came home in a huge rush of energy -- again, all having agenda’s. Ricardo had homework, that we have now finished. There were arguments about snack and all kinds of other lovely interchanges. Rand has disappeared, most likely not to do homework. Dominyk is hiding, I’m sure, to keep him from having to do his homework.

And now Bart just received word that his grandmother is dying. We’re going to stop and see her on the way up to pick up Mike, but I am scheduled to head to Toledo for a strategic planning meeting next week, so the timing is not good. He’s not really ready for her to die and I don’t know how to be very supportive in these situations.

Maybe I’ll just repress, supress and ignore. That’s going to be my new theme song. Repress, supress, ignore, oh yeah (like Lion’s, TIgers, and Bears, Oh My)

On a different note, I just read Eden's Secret Journal from cover to cover and liked it. Took about 1/2 hour. WEll worth the read. I’m going to have some of my kids read it if they will.

Repressing, Surpressing and Ignoring

I’m so good at this. I haven’t blogged about anything too serious this past week or so because if I do, then I have to think about it.

Tomorrow we are going to leave to go up north and have a “Family Circle meeting” with Mike. We have to be prepared to answer the following questions:

1. List 5 topics that you would like to discuss during the circle, we may not get to all of them so list them in priority:
2. What would you like to change about your relationship with your son/daughter?
3. How can you contribute to that change?
4. How can your son/daughter contribute to that change?
5. What could you say/do that might make it easier for them to change?
6. On a scale of 1-10 how easy is it for you to communicate with your son/daughter? Why?
7. What changes would you like to see from your son/daughter when he/she leaves our program?
8. How will you know if this is happening?
9. What will happen if your son/daughter does not follow through with his/her commitments to change?

I am not sure exactly how we will respond to all these questions yet, but we will have a seven hour trip tomorrow to discuss them.

I am repressing Mike’s return, really, because I am scared. I am afraid of the impact he will have on the other children, on my stress level, on our freedom to live like fairly normal people. I am torn between just deciding to let the chips fall where they may and doing my best to make sure that he makes good choices. After the summer with John, where I diligently worked hard to keep him home and everyone safe to no avail, I’m not feeling much like investing anything.

The biggest challenge for me is that MIke always comes home acting as if all of the consequences of the past should be erased and he should have a completely fresh start. WIth his FASD mind, that works great for him, but it isn’t real life and I can’t seem to forget that he robs us blind, takes advantage of us whenever he can, sneaks out at night, and negatively impacts his siblings. Even if the program he is in thinks that he has been miraculously cured, I have m y doubts.

So there you have it. I haven’t been blogging about this stuff because I’ve been trying not to think about it. And now, I am going to dive back into my ocean of emails, reports, and other such work and repress, surpress, and ignore it some more.

Having an Intelligent Husband Isn't Always a Good Thing

I do a lot of what I call “heavy sighing.” My husband calls it “huffing and puffing.”

Here is a direct quote from him this morning,

“Well, you walk around here huffing and puffing like an elephant with rhinoplasty.”

What, exactly does that MEAN?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Everyone Has an Agenda

As my kids are getting older, everybody has an agenda and a plan. They each come home with their own plan for the evening, and somehow each of them have thoughts as to how I will make it happen for them. Part of the trick of a large family is getting people to work together to make everything happen. Our challenge has been that as our little kids have gotten bigger, our big kids have not been available to help make things happen -- Kyle is at college, where he is supposed to be, but the fact that John and Mike aren’t even close to being trustworthy enough to have a license, not to mention the fact that they are both in detention, means that all the other kids are relying on me, with the help of Rand, and Bart when he is hear and feeling well, to meet their needs.

Lately, it’s been a little overwhelming and we aren’t even at the maximum peak time of year left. Right now we only have two kids in football, one in tennis, three in choir, one in dance, one planning to be in bells, and two in confirmation. And we only have to deal with three schools.

I can only be in one place at a time, unfortunately, And tonight I’ve felt like I needed to be three people in at least three different places at once.

Inbox is down to 40

Inbox is down to 40 but not after having spent the whole day just processing email. One desk is still sort of cleaned off. Other one is a disaster. Children are starting to come home... BUT Bart ended up coming home early from his trip so at least he is here to help out.

So much more I wish I could be getting done, but I can only work so fast! :-)

another BORING Blog Post

I’m dedicating my day to cleaning out my inbox and cleaning off my desks. It’s 10:39 and I have 78 messages left to answer (in addition to whatever comes in during the rest of the day). I have one desk cleaned off, the other one is COVERED.

See, Boring.

Pictures of the Wet Tramp as Promised

Too Comfortable

As you can tell by reading our blog, we spend a lot of time with kari and her family. I hope it is as great of a deal for them as it is for us. Ben and Dominyk have a very unique love/hate relationship, but Ben is definitely the best friend Dominyk has ever had. Adam and Tony get along fabulously. Jimmy and Rand enjoy Mike, Kari’s husband, a LOT (too much sometimes) and the girls love to help with Anna. I think our Mike is going to enjoy Aaron, too, although Aaron doesn’t show up much at our house. Better things to do when you’re 17.

Sometimes I laugh because the kids basically just want the whole family to move in with us. Even if we are together 4 or 5 nights a week it’s not enough for the kids. And they never want them to leave at the end of the night.

These pictures show that we’re getting pretty comfortable with one another. They are from Saturday night. Anna is showing me her supper -- yup, cucumbers and a golf ball. And Sadie is using all the manners she can muster to eat her steak. (And Kari's gonna kill me for not cropping her out).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Long Evening

Supper was fine. Turns out the lasagna was really a spaghetti pie, but it was still an OK meal. Then Tony and Adam came up with a plan to put soap and water on the tramp. (I’ll post pictures tomorrow). Everyone got pretty hyper though, resulting in the dog being out of sorts and nipping at people. Anna cried, Ben was snapping people with his wet underwear, and when they left Tony and Dominyk were just relentlessly annoying.

But we’re an hour a way from bedtime, the kitchen is cleaned, and everyone is thinking they might settle down at some point. I’m in the process of burning CDs for people with Christian music on them so that they can go to bed listening to them instead of rap. Gag, I really don’t like rap.

I’m doing some research on how to make money on the internet, and it turns out that I’m not supposed to ask anyone to click on ads for me. Also turns out that you really have to have a lot of volume on your website and write about something very specific yet popular in order to get people to keep coming back -- things like digital photography or technical stuff, or, even a blog about how to make money blogging.

But a blog like this that the same people read all the time isn’t a get rich quick scheme. I guess I should have figured that out before.

I guess if someone wants to make money, every entry has to be profound and make people unable to not read it. I would say one of every 100 posts on this blog is actually worth the cyber space it’s printed on.

But it keeps me going. And reading my friend’s blogs keeps my life in perspective.

This Week's Radio Program Announced

Save the Date

Sunday September 17, 2006

You Gotta Believe!

Is hosting a great weekly live call in parent support group broadcast. The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio show can be heard this Sunday from 8:00pm until 9:00pm (Eastern time). People who live in Nassau County most of Queens, Western Suffolk& Parts of Brooklyn can tune into WGBB 1240 on your am dial. If you reside outside of these areas you may listen on line to a live stream by logging onto .

This weeks radio broadcast is our monthly Parent support group. We have Pat Dudley, Director of You Gotta Believe's Long Island Office she will be co- hosting for Pat O'Brien who will not be present for this radio broadcast. Pat Dudley will have an adoptive parent with her as her studio guest.

Mrs. Dudley is a seasoned Adoptive parent of two as well as a professional in the field of child welfare. She will outline clever and humorous ways to make it through the challenging experiences of parenting. Mrs. Dudley and her studio guest will also be available to provide support, answer questions, or give suggestions. If you have any concerns or you just need HELP! Please call us during the live broadcast at (631)888-8811

You don't want to miss this weeks Adopting Teens and Tweens radio support group!

So Much Potential

Last night we had another great meet and greet at church. In the morning, my Sunday School class had about 15 people there -- I don’t think anyone expected that. We are coming across so many people who have been on the “fringes“ of the church for a long time and it is amazing how easy it would be for the church to grow if we can find a way to get everyone plugged back in.

We have very busy days coming up and so many exciting things in our lives we can be grateful for and be investing our time in. It’s great to wake up knowing that no matter what I focus on or how I spend my day, I will like it.

Here are some of those things:

1) Our kids. The seven who are home right now are doing fairly well. Spending time with them is different than it was when they were little and sometimes we miss the days of tying shoes, combing hair, and playing imaginative games. But the conversations we have as they are in their teens can be fun (though challenging) as well.

2) Our church. Talk about potential! So many people to meet and so many ways to build relationships with them and encourage them to connect with one another.

3) My jobs. Now that social workers are back to work and done vacationing, they are ready to match, increasing my Adopt America Network activity by leaps and bounds. I LOVE matching so I can’t get enough of this and have to control myself so I don’t work too much. My second job is exciting as well, with families interested in adopting popping up everywhere and we haven’t even started advertising.

4) My blogs. I am excited about the potential of the Adoption Think Tank and Adoption Blog Central. The Think Tank needs reorganizing, but I’m pleased with the progress I made yesterday.

5) Things from the past that I have started and are still moving along. We have the SNACC picnic coming up which lots of people have already said they are coming to and then there is always LAFTER.

So see, no matter where I turn there are exciting things to do. I’m so glad I’m not bored.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Sunday Morning Routine

Our routine has changed as of this morning. We now have two services and Sunday School starting today. In our last church, the two services were very different from one another, and there was some controversy when we started the second service, so as a family we attended both. Here at our new church, the services are identical, so while Bart will be at both, the rest of us will only attend Sunday School and then the late service.

This give us a little more time in the morning and give everyone a chance to sleep in. But, since Murphy’s Law is the only thing we’re familiar with here, it didn’t go as planned. Since the day we moved in I have had to drag unwilling kids out of bed at 8:00 on Sunday mornings in order for us all to be ready to leave by 8:45. Today when we didn’t have to leave until 9:45, I was planning to get them up around 9.

Tony was up at 6:30. Jimmy and Rand were up by 7:00. And Dominyk, who LOVES to sleep in was very much awake at 7:15. The only person I had to wake up was Salinda at 8:45 -- I figured I’d give her a little extra time since Dominyk was already out of the shower.

So I’ve been awake since 6:30. We have a big day ahead. I’m responsible for lunch (can you say FAST FOOD) because Bart has a meeting and then we have the “Meet and Greet today.”

I also get to teach my first day of Adult Sunday School in a class I’m calling, “So, What?” We’re going to ask each other “so what?” as we read through Jesus’ words in the sermon on the mount. I’m looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Don't You Just Wanna Kiss Him?

On Wednesday I had lunch with some friends who are also adoptive parents. This is one of the little boys who was there. I just want to kiss him he's SO CUTE!

Working on My Hobby

I spent a couple hours this afternoon on my new hobby. Made some changes to the Adoption Think Tank. I think it is now easier to read. I made a link to a page where I’ve begun to list in one place the members of the professional panel. I’ve also brought together all of the books that were recommended and put their links on one page.

Now I want to do a parent’s panel page as well as a links page. I’d like to also start to sort topics and put them together so that the blog is easier to follow -- i.e., each question will have a link to all of the responses posted in one place and a place to go back and comment. Right now the site is pretty tricky to follow because people are busy and don’t respond all at the same time.

I invite you to go there again and check it out, click around for a while, and let me know what you think.

Sadie's Letter

A friend of mine who is an Adoption Prep Supervisor in TX, asked me to have Sadie write a letter about the differences between foster care and adoption.

It turned out pretty cute. If you can't read this, click on it to see a bigger version

FASD Awareness Day

Here's a couple pictures I put together to show how much fun Kari's kids, Ben and Anna, were having at FASD Awareness Day. It went well. Kari did a great job putting together the event.