Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day is Done, Gone the Sun...

Mike arrived home at 9:15 -- hadn't seen him since 7:30 this morning. No phone calls, no messages from him.

Salinda is busy arranging her first departure from home in 2 weeks. I decided to let her try doing one very well supervised and planned with my help activity. She and some friends are going to meet and go to a movie.

Dominyk has been in bed since 7:45... Bart lit a fire and I worked from the couch and then spent time online in the living room with Tony looking for Christmas presents... kind of like cuddling up with a Christmas catalog like I used to do as a kid . . . but different.

Tony hasn't gone to bed yet. After our couch cuddling nice time of Christmas dreaming, he got up and when I told him it was his bedtime, he ended his night by calling me a fat b****. right on the first account all the time, right on the second account at least half the time.

goodnight, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you
here's a wish and a prayer that all your dreams come true
and now til we meet again...

you finish it, if you can.... (warning, it will age you)

My Husband is Home

And I can sigh with relief.

He even came home earlier than anticipated and will be here for dinner, which I am cooking -- Mexican Black Bean Pizza. Not his favorite, but he says he’ll eat it.

Mike has never come home from school, Salinda is at gymnastics practice, and everyone else is pretty mellow. Bart’s pretty unhappy about the piercings so those boys and their little sister to knew about it but said nothing are pretty morose.

Dominyk’s new medication is really helping so he’s cooperative and mellow as well. We have what could be a pretty decent night ahead.

Oh quick, knock on wood for me. The wood here doesn’t work for the knocking thing...

It's That Time Again

I’m getting ready for the Matching Bash at Adopt America next week again. Every time I am perplexed. For example, I am posting a group of three kids who are 17, 15, and 13. They have been in foster care for a few years. They have issues, but none of them something we couldn’t parent. The state they are in is hard to work with. We don’t have room right now, but even if we did, do we have the emotional capacity to parent more children. Probably not. Would we pass a background check if we have a child in foster care ourselves? Why do I keep thinking about this?

The bottom line is this. I know that even with all of the crazy things going on at our house, that kids would even be better of here than they would be being separated from siblings or aging out of the system. But I don’t know anymore if I can convince any one of this truth and I don’t know that I have the energy to try. Maybe at some point, but I hate the thought of the uphill battle we will have in trying to prove that we might be good enough to take kids that nobody else will take.

And I will recruit -- I will always be recruiting families. But the bottom line is that no matter how hard I tried to recruit, it would be nearly impossible for me to find someone willing to take these three. Just because of their ages and a few of their special needs.

And so I look at this situation and I can’t help but get discouraged -- because there are SO many out there. This is a crisis that will have a major effect on the future of our country. About 20,000 kids a YEAR age out of foster care without a family. 75% of them will end up dead, incarcerated or homeless in 10 years. The other 25% seldom have a very high quality of life. There are 118,000 children available for adoption. This year, I will probably have had a part in getting only 80 of them home. It isn’t enough.

I just wish I knew what to do.

They're Off -- and HOPE

The kids are all gone to school leaving me alone with my inbox.

The verses in the short devotional that I wrote this morning are just so applicable to adoptive parents. Even if you aren’t one who considers the Bible an authority, the verses make sense:

suffering produces perseverance
perseverance produces character
and from character comes hope.

And HOPE doesn’t disappoint us...

Just a Few More Hours

Made it through another night. It was getting very cold last night so I was worried about Mike. But he showed up about 10:30 (didn’t tell me he was home, I just saw him on one of my trips to the bathroom) so I didn’t have to worry about that. Everyone else went to bed well and now I’m up, getting ready for another day.

Unless something unexexpected happens, I get to spend the day at my desk. This is the first time this week that I have been able to do so and since tomorrow and Saturday will involve a conference where I have to set up tables and man them, it is the only time this week I’ll be all day.

I never have a shortage of things to do when I have time to sit here. I’m hoping I can find the energy to really crank today.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Tonight we discovered that Mike had pierced both Tony and Ricardo's ears without our permission. A few weeks ago he tattood Salinda. He has disappeared again. I have no idea where he is.

It is against the law to tattoo minors without their parent's permission. Kids at school are getting lots of tattoes. Some of the kids are 12 or 13. Their parents are not happy. Mike has done all the tatooing.

I want something done to stop him because we can't and I feel horrible about it, but since he stole a car on November 4th and still hasn't gone to trial, I doubt pressing charges for the tattoes would do anything.

Ah the dilemma...

This Has Been Making Me Laugh All Day Long

All day long in the car I kept chuckling to myself about this.

If you know me in person, you know that the last thing in the world I’m worried about is my appearance. With the exception of underwear, socks, and a pair of tennis shoes, I have spent a total of $18.00 on clothes this year. I know that because I vowed not to buy clothes until I lost 50 pounds after my surgery. I only violated this once, about 3 weeks ago, when I needed a new outfit to speak in. That outfit cost me $18.00.

Today I had a perm scheduled because I am tired of trying to find a comb in the morning to comb my hair, which I have to do if it is straight. Now I can use my fingers. I wear makeup when I speak and on Christmas Eve, but never mascara anymore, too much of a hassle. Basically I’m not attractive and I don’t care.

So, Mike got really mad at me this morning and blurted out the only insult that came to his mind.

“All you do all day is sit around trying to look pretty.”

if you know me in person, or even from the blog, you might have a small glimmer of just how hilarious that statement is.

And it Was Evening, and it was Morning, the Third Day

Today is the third of four full days without Bart. Tonight is the last night I’ll have to do it alone. The thing is, it really hasn’t been bad at all. It’s just an underlying sense of extra anxiety that is always there when he is gone.

Mike was home by 10 last night and was very rude to me, but it got over quickly. Salinda was quiet, but not rude. When those two are calm or gone, the rest of the kids seem to do well. Tony has been unusually good the last two days -- he has started a new medication, so I’m hoping that is the reason and that it continues. Jimmy has had long periods of being stuck on stupid the past couple days, but for some reason his fits make me chuckle instead of angry. He chooses the oddest things to say to me. Last night, for example, I decided to pursue the topic of me being queer when he called me that. I don’t even know that he understands what it means. If I can get myself into a different frame of mind with him it usually works.

Today I am going to travel back near our old home town to go over paperwork with one of my families, so I won’t be blogging until tonight. I have to sandwich it in between when the kids leave for school and when they come home, so it will be a quick trip as it is two hours each way.

Tonight we have a few church activities, while some are cancelled because of Bart’s absense. It will be a long day. I’m already a bit tired thinking about it. STOP WHINING!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Someone Slap Me

I sent our oldest son, a junior in college, an instant message about Americorps tonight. It's a program where you work your first year out of college in a job that serves humanity. You get your living expenses paid, student loans deferred, valuable experience, job connections, and after a year, an almost $5K education award to pay back student loans.

First of all, he was not bright enough to see that this would put him way ahead at the end of one year than he would be otherwise. There is no way that his first year on his own he is going to be able to find a job where he can pay all his living expenses and SAVE $5K. Instead he will spend it all and have to start paying off his loans right away.

But the reason I need to be slapped is to think that for one minute that he would be able to see outside of himself for a moment and think about serving anyone else. He has lived with us for 9 years, but we have no way been able to infuse in him the concept of doing something good for someone else. His questions were about how much recreation money and time he would have.

I was raised by the kind of parents who don't sleep in their own master bedroom and married a guy who pays to get a stranger's tire fixed. I am always seeking ways to make a difference in the world, to contribute, to serve.

But never in nine years have we been able to impart any of that servanthood mentality into our son. He is always looking out for number one.

Once and a while, when I'm thinking like me, I see a great opportunity for him and tell him about it. And he always finds it so dumb. He can't even fathom why it would make any sense to contribute to society for a's like I'm talking to him in another language.

And when I do that I need someone to slap me and remind me not to bother ... want to be the one?

Still More Dominykisms

Last Sunday Dominyk was sick with the flu and I was holding him on my lap. I was reminiscing about how cute he used to be when he would sit in my lap when he was a baby. I was looking down into his big brown eyes, and he looked up at me and said, "You REALLY need to shave." Talk abour ruining the moment.

Tonight as he was getting ready for bed he lamented, "I just don't have any upper body strength."

And finally, before drifting off to sleep, he said, "My classmate told me we're going to dissect owl poop."

Ah to be a ten year old boy with the weight of the world on my shoulders...

Cleaning Frenzy and Suspension

Just a mid day update. We’re having company for supper, so I’m cleaning and cooking.

And John got suspended from school today. He probably won’t last much longer in foster care. As his Probation Officer said, “He just doesn’t get it.”

I'm Sure She Doesn't Know

but even though the drive through lady at McDonald’s says, “See you again soon” what I hear is “You undisciplined lazy slob, I know you will not be able to resist the urge to have a bacon and egg biscuit again in a couple days, even though it is bad for you. Fat pig.”

As if My Life Isn't Confusing Enough and the Risks of Blogging Authentically

Now I’m posting things out of order. That is going to really mess folks up.

My motivational/emotional cycle is out of wack as well. Last night, by the time I went to bed I was feeling pretty good and actually a little hyper -- wishing it was morning and all fired up to get work done. I laid there for an hour unable to fall asleep. Now this morning I’m groggy and wishing I could stay in bed and not at all wanting to do what I’m supposed to do.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the kind of blogging I do. It’s such a brain dump -- literally -- I just sit at the computer and whatever is in my head comes out. I probably tell way to much and tell it way too honestly. I know there are many people who read only what I write in times of desperation and get a very different picture of life at my home than what reality is. I seldom remember to write the little fun things that go on (like all the cutting up we did while we were putting away clothes last night) or the times when Sadie or Dominyk give me an unsolicited hug or even when Tony grabs my hand when we’re walking through a busy place. I forget to report the moments of joy that I always seem to find because blogging for me is so therapuetic and such a release that I often find myself going straight to the computer to report life when things are not good.

I realize that many of my regular readers probably don’t have a very good opinion of me sometimes, especially if they have not met me in person, but I don’t think that there are any who would say that I’m being manipulative or faking anything. I am reporting the facts and the way I feel about them.

Because ten years ago when we started this journey, we had no idea the challenges we would face. The past 2 1/2 years have been the hardest of my life and I wish that I would have been blogging for all 10 because then there would be a different perspective. But we are in the MIddle Years and I am hoping they are the least fun of the journey. When we started we had several little kids who made life more fun with their antics. We were challenged, but we had kids who fit on our laps, who were affectionate and who got pleasure in the little things of life. I look ahead ten years and I hope that we will see some of the rewards of our years of effort. I hope that we have some children who will be making us proud. I hope we even have a grandkid by then (did I just SAY THAT? I’m WAY too young). But right now, when are kids are between the ages of 10 and 20 it’s just a LOT of hard work, with not a lot of rewards.

So I’m hanging on to the memories of the past, looking forward with hope to the future, and trying to find a moment of joy each day. So if I appear negative sometimes, I’m sorry. I’m just being real. And there are many times when I do need an attitude adjustment, I don’t think I always do everything right... but I’m doing it. I have to believe that I’m getting up each day and doing it again and that someday, just Being There, as Cindy pointed out will have made a difference.

Yesterdays Post a Day Late: Hit by an Emotional Mack Truck

Sometimes I feel like I’ve just been emotionally smacked with a truck. And it isn’t even that bad of a day. I’m not sure why I am feeling that way, but here’s the events.

I went to court to help one of my families finalize. They didn’t have all the paperwork in (my fault, not there’s) so the judge grilled me. Right before court court I found out that Salinda had walked right past Rand who was waiting to give her a ride home and gotten into a vehicle with some friend of Mike’s unkown to me. They then proceeded to come into the house when I was not here. Salinda did not do her chore, broke a couple other trivial rules, and then, when I questioned her, did not tell me the truth (this is a girl who is supposed to be earning back trust). Mike then disappeared and I haven’t seen him since he left for school. This, is, of course, his night for dishes, so I just finished having Jimmy help me do him (as a result of the fact that while Rand was trying to keep Tony busy this afternoon while I was at court, Jimmy was being horrible). Ricardo has a friend over and was torturing Dominyk. I have to pick up Salinda who had gymnastics tonight, giving us a couple hours of oxygen. Her attitude is awful tonight.

So, it’s 7:30 and I’m ready for bed, which I’m not going to get to go to for some time. And I really hate trying to go to sleep when Mike is missing, so I’m hoping he’ll at least show up so I can rest. I was actually almost convinced yesterday that he was ready to buckle down and at least put forth an effort to do what was expected of him. He managed to do so from noon until he went to bed yesterday, which was encouraging. He helped put up the tree, watched movies with his siblings, went to bed fairly early... i was excited.

But then there’s today. I’m sure that once the day is over and I have been able to sleep once again that I will be ready to take on another day. At least tomorrow I don’t have to go to other meetings outside the house... distracting me from other things.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh How Things Change

I wrote a really whiny post about 3 or 4 hours ago. Funny thing is, I came back to the blog to report that things are much better and discovered that the other one didn't even publish.

We've had our struggles this evening. Especially between when school got out and about 8, but after 8 Mike (who had disappeared again) reappeared again, Salinda (who had been unwise and disobedient and nasty) apologized, Jimmy (who had had a super bad meltdown) paid his consequences and helped me around the house. I made, served, and cleaned up after supper and put away all the laundry I had done over the past 24 hours (5 baskets full of just the clothes that come upstairs).
Dominyk went to bed on his own, Tony showered without being asked, and overall tonight is better than last night by far. But had you read my post a few hours ago you wouldn't even know it was the same person writing.

it's a roller coaster, baby...

Spinning My Wheels and No Answers to the Why Questions

Sometimes when I attempt to match kids I feel like I am just spinning my wheels.

I spent my entire morning going through emails and I still have over 60 to go. And some of them are “why” questions.

Why can’t I get social workers to return my calls?
Why is it taking so long for them to schedule a staffing?
Why can’t I get the case record sent to me?
Why are the kids still waiting when they rejected me?
Why won’t they match my family?
Why can’t you DO SOMETHING to help me????

And today is a day when I don’t feel like I have any answers to those questions, just questions of my own. I can talk about high caseloads and make excuses for people in the system. I can try to explain how the system works, but the more I work in it the less I feel that I know. I can try to make sense of it all, but some days I’m just not sure myself.

But I’m trying to get some answers.... really I am....

Too Many Days Off School

I am having the hardest time getting everybody going this morning. Nobody, it appears, is ready to go back to school. I never sleep well with Bart gone and last night was no exception, though it was good that Mike was here and the phone didn’t ring after 10, which is a miracle lately.

So, I’m up and fighting battles before 7 a.m., for the most part just normal parenting battles but battles that at any moment could jump to a new level of aggression. Sometimes that is a little nerve racking. Last night, Tony, who is only 11, punched me hard in the store -- he was mad that I wouldn’t buy him something. Sometimes where he is headed scares me -- and the psychiatrist says it can’t be medicated and so we have a long road ahead. Since he came at 19 months I think we told ourselves the same lie everyone tells themselves -- if you get them young enough they will be fine.

Well, genetics and those early months have a lot more influence than most people think. In fact, it is amazing how much influence they have.

Today I am going to call the county. John tried to call here for Mike last week. I made my plea to the judge that John not be put in foster care in Mankato because he would have contact with us regardless of what he was told. The judge ignored me and followed the social worker’s recommendation (after I argued with him for days about it) and put him in foster care in a house exactly half way between the two houses where Salinda was hanging out until she got grounded. Salinda already ran into him once, and now he is calling the house. Over and over again the social worker promised me that if he wouldn’t let it go on -- that if John violated the restrictions about contacting his siblings, that he would move him. So today we’re going to observe how the social worker gets out of doing what the promised. John has had contact with his siblings, but I will faint if the social worker keeps his word.

On a lighter note, yesterday in church Bart was talking about the Alpha and Omega and asked what alphabet they came from. Dominyk, who was making paper airplanes and I thought was in his own little world, calmly looked up at me and said, “Greek!”. I told him he was right. We then went on to have an argument because he was convinced that Omega couldn’t be the last letter of the Greek alphabet -- it had to be Zeta. I didn’t even know he knew there was a Zeta.

He never ceases to amaze me.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


When Bart leaves town it’s like the beginning of a Marathon. This time he will be gone until Thursday night. That leaves me with having to do everything I always do PLUS cooking and half the cleaning, which he always does. In addition, there are a couple of kids who think that if their dad isn’t home they can treat me however they wish and nothing is going to happen. They respond much better to him than they do to me.

And the kids decided we were going to put up the Christmas tree today, which is always just a bicker fest. The older kids have no patience for the younger ones and the younger ones always feel like they are getting yelled at. I don’t enjoy it at all. The perfectionist never approves of anyone or what they do and we all get tired of being grouched at just for living.

Tony and Dominyk are all wound up tonight for some reason, and I had promised Sadie we could watch 7th Heaven, but they will probably make it impossible for us to do so.

I always approach Bart’s absence with all of the patience I can muster, but it’s already gone and he hasn’t been gone for 2 hours yet. Wish me luck.

Tony and Dominyk's Debut

And Sunday Morning Rolls Around Again

It seems at our new church that there is always something going on so there is never a set routine for Sunday mornings. This morning, Tony and Dominyk have their debut as bell ringers in the new kids bell choir. So, Jimmy went with Bart at 8, Rand is taking Tony and Dominyk at 8:20, and I’ll leave with the other five at 8:45. Lately if I don’t get there by 8:50 or so it’s hard to find a seat -- which is great news, but a little hard to get used to. It’s hard to find a place to park even.

Kyle needs a ride back to college (not what we had expected) and Bart was heading to St. Cloud tomorrow, so instead now he is leaving a day early. So I’m going to do it alone for a week. I don’t mind doing it alone most of the time, but with Mike being in and out and not accounted for at least half the time, it’s a little disconcerting. As Dominyk puts it, “I don’t like it when Mike and his friends come in and out at night all the time. It creeps me out.” We’re just hoping they’ll have court soon and so something with him instead of letting him run wild, but they probably won’t.

On Saturday I get to present the opening and closing talks at a conference entitled, “Positive Parenting in the Face of Challenge.” I’m not sure exactly how to prepare for it or what I’ll say, but I think my theme is going to be that we may not be able to fix these kids, but there are things we can learn along the way that will help us to have some joy in the journey, even if the result isn’t the way we had hoped.

I have been particularly whiny lately on the blog, but most days I am still able to see the humor and find a moment of joy each day. Here was yesterdays:

Dominyk was lying down on my bed last night when the phone rang. He had just heard me tell Sadie, moments before, that if it was for Salinda or MIke she was to say that they did not have phone privileges. So Dominyk answered the phone and I heard him say, “I’m sorry. Mike does not have phone privileges . . . pause . . . Ok. Bye.”

I asked what they had said and he said that MIke was supposed to call her back. But I explained that we didn’t take messages for people without phone privileges. “He’ll just call her back anyway,” Dominyk retorted.

I said, “no he won’t. Look at the nightstand.” He looked there, surprised to see the phone from the kitchen unplugged and in my bedroom. When he realized time implications of this (it’s the only phone not locked up any more) he said, “You’re really smart Mommy. That’s why I love you so much!”

And after a day that didn’t have a lot of positives I went to bed smiling.

Office Hangout

I have a tiny office. But when I am doing fun stuff at my computer (like doing photo slideshows or making the calendars) I get a lot of company. Last night it was time to hangout with Mom. Sometimes as many as five or six kids cram in this tiny space. Last night it was just three.

We had popcorn and laughed and looked at pictures. This isn’t a very good picture, but you can tell that we’re trying to use every available place to sit.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Quick Update

My camera has been found, everyone is where they are supposed to be at this moment, and I'm going to bed feeling better than I have for most of the day.

Take a MInute to Take My Poll

Check out the poll on the side and take a minute to let me know what you think about the links I've added at the top -- they match the ones on the side. The poll gives you the options of what i might do with them.

Wasted Day

I certainly have wasted this day. My camera is still missing and it is really bothering me -- that and a lot of other stuff.

I don’t have a lot of energy and my stupid project still isn’t working correctly...

I just want bedtime to come. I’m such a whiner.

A Flickr Slideshow

I Detest Failing and Never Want to Give Up

I am feeling quite defeated. I spent the morning on a graphic to enhance the blog and to teach myself a new technique in web design. I followed the directions completely and the result is NOTHING. I can’t get it to look the same in the web browser as it does in the program. I don’t want to give up but I can’t justify spending any more time on it and now I’m mad at myself for even starting to work on it in the first place.

in addition, I let Salinda borrow my new camera. This is the first time I haven’t completely supervised the thing since I bought it and now she can’t find it. Mike was here last night for a while but disappeared and if he took it, I’ll never see it again.

So all that, not enough sleep lately, and the underlying stress of living with Mike who comes and goes as he pleases, not following a single rule, are wearing on me right now. I am going to go lie down and hopefully either i“ll figure out my web issue OR my camera will be found. Either of these would make things a little brighter...

I Slept until 8:45!

Pretty miraculous. Of course, the phone was still ringing at 1:30, so it isn’t like I had an extra amount of sleep. But Bart got up and dealt with the little kids so I could sleep longer, which I really appreciated.

We have absolutely nothing planned for today. I would love to think that it could be a nice quiet day where I could get some fun stuff done on the computer (like finish printing our Christmas letter or work on the calndar project) but more than likely I will spend it refereeing.

I bought a couple board games (they usually last about a week) the other day, but I figured that it was cheaper than taking everyone to a movie which only lasts 2 hours. I’m going to try to sit down and play a few games with the kids who are interested today.

I did finish my proposal yesterday. I debated posting it, but am not quite ready for any criticism that might ensue.

This blog entry is boring so I am going to stop.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Never Try To Recreate a Situation

I had a friend back in my 20s who used to caution people against attempting to recreate a situation. His theory was that when something was really good, we shouldn’t attempt to make it happen again because it would never measure up.

This was definitely true today when we tried to recreate last week's football championship experience. Tonight, though, things were much different. First of all, Kyle decided to join us, which meant that as soon as we walked in the door everyone followed him. He soon ditched them all, so the first half of the game I had no idea where they were. We also lost, I mean REALLY lost -- it was 27 to 0 only 4 minutes into the game and we lost 70 to 21. It was not a fun game to see.

The only bright spot of the night was that our friend, Kevin, who is a single adoptive parent and an old friend from college days, came to watch the game with me and we enjoyed lots of conversation. However, he is a near daily reader of the blog (hi Kevin) so I had very little to tell him that he didn’t already know. I did catch up on things with him though.

The ride there and the ride home were uneventful but the few hours preceding the trip were not good ones. Everyone was pretty would up and many were being defiant and argumentative, even Kyle. Salinda was all stressed out about having friends over...

Now I’ve come home to Mike leaving three of his friends in our family room with Salinda’s friends... and I need to take them all home.


Dominyk and Tony had a psychiatrist appointment this morning. Dominyk is doing much better, but Tony is just not doing well at all. His behavior is deteriorating at school and at home and the psychiatrist says medication isn’t going to help. Always nice to hear that. It is to the point that nobody can stand to be around him because he insists on being so annoying.

I agreed to let Salinda ask Bart if she could invite a few friends over tonight. He told her yes, but now she is stressing about how filthy the house is and wanting it immediately cleaned. She isn’t going to let anyone come over until we are gone and Tony is no longer in the house.

I’m setting up a gallery of Salinda’s photos on my Flickr page. She really is quite a good photographer and after I mess with the pictures, they could rival some professionals.

We’re heading to the state championship football game tonight. And I didn’t set foot in a single store today and don’t plan to. We can stress about Christmas shopping in December...

Dreams and Reality

The night before last, Kevin Costner was hitting on me. He was a single dad adopting and was certainly, in my dream, the Kevin Costner from Field of Dreams or BodyGuard -- you know, years ago, and not the nearly 52 year old guy he is today. But he was really wanting me bad and even in my dreams I wouldn't let him have me, but it felt great to have such a mesmerizing effect on him and I woke up smiling.

Then last night I had a dream about Heather and Jon Armstrong. Heather is a famous blogger whose blog I read daily. I don’t read very many blogs of people that I don’t know in person, and the ones I do usually have lots in common with me (adoptive parents, mostly) but I enjoy Heather’s sense of humor. Last night in my dream I was in their home and the details of the dream are many, but the bottom line is, after several misunderstandings and embarrassing situations, the conclusion was that she was going to let me blog about my visit to her home and, just maybe, might blog about me, linking me suddently to thousands of readers. Again, I woke up smiling.

But then it was back to reality. I was awakened before 7, but attempted to go back to sleep. I began to obsess about an idea I had that I need to put in writing (why recruiting more families to adopt when homestudy families are not getting matched) and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up to get it on paper, but haven’t gotten there yet. Tony was making Dominyk scream, the whole kitchen was sticky (Sadie, who tends to be an exaggerating drama queen, told me their had been an explosion, but I assumed it was a small thing. Bart let me know later that an entire two leader of pop had indeed exploded because it had been frozen and exploded everywhere). The shower was hard to turn on and here I was, back in my own version of reality.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Last Year and Again This Year

Working on the calendar project like I did last year. This is one of the pages, but again I won’t print them all as not to ruin anyone’s Christmas.

Preparation time: 6 hours; Ingestation time: 20 minutes

Poor Bart. It took him almost six hours to make the best Thanksgiving dinner, and it only took us 20 minutes to eat it. And this year, it only took about 45 minutes for Salinda and I to clean up. It was her day to do dishes and so I helped her and she didn’t complain or whine or anything.

We had quite the feast: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade buttermilk rolls, scalloped corn, green bean casserole, a relish tray, cranberries, deviled eggs, yams, and yet to come ... pumpkin and pecan pie. He’s so awesome. And he even apologized for leaving me with the dishes. I was happy to do them as I hate cooking so much.

I’ve spent the morning working on our Christmas letter. We needed a new printer desperately, so I got one as my Christmas present a little early -- it’s a color laser printer and the quality is amazing... it looks like we are taking things to the printers. I’m thrilled to have it and hope to spend some time working on some other projects today as well.

Self Control

What I wanted to say to Mike this morning: Well, Mike, nice to see you could manage to drag yourself home sometime in the middle of the night after disappearing for over twelve hours straight. DId you even know that your father spoke to over 500 people last night and it wouldn’t have hurt you to be there for it? But NO, that would have required you to have ONE OUNCE of selflessness, which you OBVIOUSLY don’t seem to possess.

What I did say: Happy Thanksgiving, Mike.

That’s all I said. Proud of me?

Isn't She Lovely

I told her that this picture alone might increase my blog traffic...

It Worked

I don’t know if it was the bribery or if it was the new medications or just the fact that he is a year older, but Dominyk did awesome last night. He was so well behaved it was shocking.

The service was wonderful too. Bart was the preacher and he did great -- the music was awesome, and it was great to gather with nearly 500 people to thank God together.

Today Bart is trying to cook and Tony is driving him bonkers, so I’m heading to the store to buy napkins with little flowers on them and some other things we need for today and taking him with me.

Hopefully I’ll have time to blog more lately, but keeping the kids from pushing Bart over the edge while he attempts to prepare our feast will be extra time consuming.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Have Resorted to Bribery

After last year's Thanksgiving service I have this year resorted to bribery. Since Dominyk has no plans to join us on Friday night for the football game and those tickets are $7 a piece (and then there’s that $8.00 meal) I figured I was justified in promising Dominyk a big surprise on Friday if he was good tonight at church.

Cross your fingers with me and hope that he will control what he can...

If You Knew How These Two Get Along Usually You'd Faint RIght Now

The First Smile in our Home Since the Braces Came Off

Yup, I think this is the first time that she has genuinely smiled in our home since the braces came off on November 5th, and she was alone to do it. I let her take pictures of the birthday party girls and she snuck away to do some self portraits. She's actually got a great eye for photography and came up with some neat ideas.

This isn't the best picture, but the best shot of her smile. When you see these you know just why it is so hard to see her with that evil "I hate the world" look on her face almost all the time.

Helpful Hint: Don't Put Toothpicks in your Back Pocket

This morning I woke up to a nightmare. Not a terrifying one, but certainly an annoying one. It’s a school holiday. Sadie’s birthday party sleepover girls were up late and they were in the family room directly below our bedroom. They stayed up late.

By 6:30 this morning, Dominyk and Tony were literally bouncing off the walls, and one of their walls is just on the other side of my HEAD. I got up to redirect them and then (I know, silly me) thought I’d try to go back to sleep. Between 6:40 and 6:50, Ricardo and Jimmy had both knocked on our door looking for Bart, who was already in the shower.

Now, if this had been a school day, I would be dragging all four of them out of bed after seven with them grumbling and complaining that they needed to sleep longer.

Yesterday Dominyk came to me and said, “Mom, can you help me? I have a bunch of toothpicks in my back pocket and I can’t get them out.” So, insisting on a picture first, which he knew I would blog, I helped him dig the toothpicks out of the pocket that had had holes punctured in it several times as he tried to untangle them.

At supper, I was telling Bart and Bart asked, “Did they poke you in the butt?”

Dominyk responded, “Dad. Don’t you think that is a little inappropriate for the dinner table?”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Hate Blogger Sometimes

I don’t know why it is messing me up. The last time I posted something that was supposed to go to the Adoption Think Tank and it posted here instead. Now I can’t even open things to change them.

Busy day preparing for Sadie’s birthday and getting kids to and fro. Salinda has gymnastics so that is a few extra hours of oxygen in the house.

Tonight MIke is supposed to start training for his new job. We’ll see if he comes home and stays here long enough to get there.

And it goes on and on and on...

Back At It Again

Last night Salinda and I had a LONG talk. I thought we were making so much progress. She was apparently honest, remorseful, appropriate. Until the end of the conversation when the person who is grounded for 6 weeks (although I told her that I would give her options on how to lesson that time, after seeing her do what she was supposed to with a decent attitude for a few days) asked if she could have a friend spend the night. When I told her no she had a FIT! Treated me like crap for the rest of the night. But by 7:40 this morning she’s on the phone asking me for a favor from school. I pointed out that her behavior last night was not appropriate (our bathroom door doesn’t lock right, and her new thing to do when she is mad at me is to push the door wide open when I’m on the toilet. Other than making me jump because she smacks the door hard, I guess I don’t care a whole lot about it -- I figure the people who see me are the ones who would be traumatized, not me). I suggested that she might want to be a little nicer and that I would THINK about getting her what she wanted. Of course, I’ll do it, but I think she needs to make connections in regards to how her nastiness effects people.

This morning I have three conferences. Then I will be doing lots of cleaning because Sadie is having a birthday party tonight. This afternoon she and I will shop for what she feels she needs to make it successful. Tomorrow morning Bart will drive up and get Kyle and I will take Dom to the doctor...

busy days ahead.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bad Taste in My Mouth and Gnashing of Teeth

Before I started parenting teenagers I really didn’t get these phrases. “That left a bad taste in my mouth” and “gnashing of teeth.” Now I totally get it.

The gnashing of teeth thing happened about 4 years ago when Mike was about 13. He was being so out of control and so mouthy that I got so angry that I literally grated my teeth together so hard that I broke my tooth.

And the Bad Taste in My Mouth thing... it’s crazy but I have a huge need to brush my teeth continually lately -- after long tedious conversations with Salinda or quick annoying conversations with Mike where my adreneline is pumping and I feel like I’m going nuts all the sudden I have this horrible taste in my mouth that I can’t get rid of.

Tonight Salinda and I had a long conversation. Apparently she had a goal in mind and I thought we were making some progress. But at the end when I said no, I really got attitude... the very same attitude that she’s being consequenced for.

Wow, I’m tired.

How Many of Me Are There?
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Continuing to Report

And then I:

Fielded a phone call about the Background Check for the PCA
Formed a to-do list
Imd my office here in MN about a case file
Added 10 new social workers to my address book
Fielded another call about the PCA which proved I am a total idiot, but it’s too long of a story to blog
Fielded a call from the phone company letting me know that I won that big fight and they are crediting my web hosting fee
and answered an email from a teacher indicating that Jimmy’s behavior is getting worse by the day at school.

Now I’m heading out to get some lunch and to bring my checkbook in so I can do expense reports from my trip plus find the paperwork to request Salinda’s transfer to a new school.

This Sunday's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday November 26, 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

Angela Egers and Aileen Rosario will be co-hosting this weeks radio program with Chester Jackson. It is the last Sunday of the month and as always it is our teen support group. Angela and Aileen will interview a young lady who was preapared to be a part of a family when the mother of the family decided against adoption. This young lady will discuss her feelings about the disruption of this placement, and she will express what her expectations are for a new family.

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!

On a Roll

Called the psychiatrists office and scheduled appointments for Tony and Dominyk. Called Sioux Valley Hospital systems to check on a bill. Called the cell phone insurance place to deal with a phone that they lost. Sent emails so that both Tony and Dominyk’s teachers could do online asssessments for them before the appointment. Called Avera McKennan -- insurance is denying the psych hospitalizations for Mike and John last year. I asked them to investigate the denial because it should have been paid. Ordered school pictures for Jimmy and Salinda because I messed it up at the beginning of the year. Called the clinic billing office here in town to discover that the balance was now at zero.
Called PCA agency about a new employee. Did fax cover sheet and sent his background check. Called the school nurse in Luverne to have MIke’s immunizations sent to his school. Asked about Dominyk’s tetanus shot. Called the clinic here to set up a shot time for Dominyk. Called the Luverne school back to ask her to send his records there so he could get the shot. Called the clinic to set up a lab appointment for dominyk to get his “levels checked” for the psychiatrist. Emailed some nasty stupid gross nearly porn magazine (because there are no phone numbers for sucky places like that) to tell them that IF mike paid for a subscription he probably did it with our credit card and that no issue from them better EVER show up in our mailbox. Called the computer place attempting to take care of a should-be-covered warantee issue with Bart’s laptop.

All of that took 90 minutes. But I’m done with the stack. And it felt good to type it, even if it bored you to tears and you didn’t even read it. Now I have to go through my desk and create a new stack.

Phone Call Report #2

I think that by reporting this, regardless of how boring it is to the reader, you will see why I hate doing these phone calls.

I called the internet company who had charged me $175 extra for extra web storage wtihout letting me know I had exceeded the capacity. He told me I needed to get it down to 5 MB and he would see if he could get the charge taken off.

Phone call: 10 minutes; getting it down to 5 MB: 25 minutes. Total 35 minutes. The phone calls are sucking up my day, but I have kids home the rest of the week, and it is really hard to make calls when they are home.

First Phone Call Report

Got an email this morning saying that John had spent his weekend in detention and that there would be a court hearing today. So my first phone call, which wasn’t on the list, was to his P.O. We had recently found out that John’s foster home is exactly halfway between the two houses were Salinda and Mike have been hanging out (and those houses are only 2 blocks apart) so I will not be surprised at all to find out that they have had contact with him, though I won’t learn it from them.

Anyway, missing his curfew at his foster home and being gone all night is what landed him in detention, but he will be going right back there. We’re not going to go to court as it had nothing to do with us, is only a formality, and since there has still not been therapy set up for him.

But anyway, the phone call to the PO and the phone call to Bart to tell him what she said have taken 45 minutes.

Guess I’m not going to get much done today at this rate.

Change in Plans

Dominyk woke up feeling GREAT -- very wound up, so I let him go to school. He certainly is not sick any more, but he is SO hyper. I’m not sure why.

Hopefully I’ll be reporting success back to all you blog readers as to the number of phone calls I get made today. I’m just shooting for one an hour. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Altered Morning Routine

My morning routine is altered significantly when Dominyk is not going to school. He requires so much prodding to get ready in the morning because his medication has not kicked in. But since hasn’t been able to hold down any food since Saturday evening, I’m going to keep him here.

I am sitting on a different chair until mine can be fixed. It is about 3 inches too short and the angle is weird.

But basically, there is nothing new to report this morning. The night hours were uneventful -- no calls and nobody puked.

My day will be spent making annoying phone calls that I vowed to get made on November 3rd.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

But of Course That Wasn't Really the End

Sadie had to go into her room in order to go too sleep. And she shares it her sister who cannot treat her decently for the life of her lately. Of course, the only person she treats decently is Mike, who uses her, misuses her, talks bad about her, blames her and her friends whenever he gets in trouble, and takes advantage of her. It's pretty difficult to understand.

So, Sadie got mistreated at the end of her very nice day and Salinda is marching around talking about how bad it smells everywhere in the house. I had to bite my tongue not to suggest that it might be her attitude that is stinking up the house. She is still refusing to discuss her grounding with me and I let her know it wouldn't start until after we talked. But she's being pretty stubborn and her attitude is still quite nasty. At least she finally got bored with her bedroom where she was for 12 hours yesterday and 4 this afternoon and now is out talking to a couple of her brothers who she has deemed worthy of her conversation.

Mike has returned after a 30 hour unexcused and unexplained absense. It's just a matter of time before he will end up doing something that will stop him. We thought Grand Theft Auto was, but the courts are so backed up it will probably be 4-6 weeks before the initial hearing.

I'm ready for everyone to head to school tomorrow. When I vowed not to work nights or weekends I didn't realize it would be quite this hard. I think I was using work as a chance to focus on something else which is why it was more of a relief than anything else. Now I'm spending more time with the kids but still find myself wanting to be with those who are nicer to me.

Poor Dominyk was still feeling pretty sick tonight, so he may stay home tomorrow. He hasn't eaten anything all day. Sadie started to feel better when she woke up and her recovery was quick, so maybe he'll feel better too.

The schedule this week includes 4 days off for the elementary kids, and 3 days off for the older kids. Fortunately for me, around the holidays hardly anyone is working in the field I am in, so it's easier for me not to work as much.

Alls Well That Ends Well

For the first time ever, Bart took it upon him to do all the shopping for Sadie's birthday. She is totally into monkeys and he was able to find her pajamas, a back pack, a sleeping bag, AND socks. She was thrilled! And this cool slideshow was created painlessly on the internet. I learned about the program that does it from Scott Kelby's blog and I'm not even getting paid to refer it to you!

The Best Laid Plans

We really wanted to do Sadie’s birthday right this year. Both last year and this I had to be out of town on her birthday, and this year she was pretty sad.

So on Friday Bart and I surprised her by “kidnapping her” from school and take her to lunch at TGIFs, her choice. We then explained the ring we give on the 12th birthday for our girls and went to have her finger sized. She was so cute and so appropriate.

We then planned a big family shindig for last night -- her favorite meal (baked potatoes with all the toppings) followed by a Nunsense play at the local community theatre. WE were insisting that everyone go. She loves theatre, music, dance. Then Tuesday night she’ll have a sleepover with 3 friends.

On Friday night she went to another sleepover for another friend who had a birthday this week, and by noon yesterday she had a full blown case of the stomach flu. She slept all afternoon, agreed to wait a while to celebrate her birthday, but said she thought she could go to the play. We got there and got settled and then all the sudden she was puking in the aisle. Now, knowing that she probably would be feeling better after the puke, I was tempted to her stay and try to watch it, but before I could discreetly clean it up, Dominyk, trying to be helpful, rushed to the usher and announced, “My sister just puked all over the floor.”

So, while the rest of the family watched the play, I sat at home with poor little sick Sadie. We had told MIke he was expected to come and he said he really wanted to, but then at the last minute he bailed. We had forced Salinda to come, and she had to sit through it even though Sadie wasn’t there and Sadie didn’t get to see it even though she really wanted to. Again, what’s fair about that?

At halftime Bart, who had already seen that particular show before, brought restless tired Dominyk home and I switched places with him to only catch the last 15 minutes of fhe play.

it seems like every time we try to be normal it backfires tremendously. I just came home sighing heavily.

Salinda is still not speaking to me, apologizing, or changing her attitude. She basically is hiding in her room.

And last night about 11:30 Dominyk started his puking, which is still sort of going on. He really feels lousy.

So Bart took the rest of the family to eat, while Sadie tried toast and I am waiting for them to bring me something back. Dominyk is still trying to keep Sprite down.

Pretty soon, someone else will begin to puke...hopefully someone who is old enough to recognize the signs and get to the toilet before it goes all over the carpet. I’m a little weary of blotting puke out of carpets in the middle of the night.

Happy Birthday Sadie. You can’t say we didn’t try.

Puke, Broken Desk Chairs, and Frustration

I will blog more later today about attempts to give Sadie a decent birthday.

But right now, I am sitting at a very weird angle as Dominyk decided to mess with my chair and make the levers work while I was sitting in it (and no, I'm not sure WHY he was under my chair). I guess the chair wasn't made to have almost 300 pounds drop suddenly. One more thing I have to get fixed, and probably one of the more important things in the house.

And Sadie have both been puking ... Sadie yesterday afternoon, and DOminyk three times this morning. But since we have to meet, great, acolyte, usher, count, etc. this morning, I am going to leave the two of them here for a little while and then come back.

But I just remembered something I have to do before leaving in 7 minutes..

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Things that make you shake your head back and forth slowly

Today has been a not so good day. It hasn't been absolutely horrible, but definitely not one of our best. Salinda basically spent the day in bed and told me to shut up every time I walked in the room. I finally threatened to ground her until May if she tried to skip our play plans tonight.

In the midst of all this Mike got home and within hours was frantic to leave. Wanted a ride to the mall. Since I was going near there, I decided to give him one and he told me he wanted me to come to the mall and pick him up before supper. I only agreed because we had purchased a ticket for him to go to the play with us tonight at his insistance. I wanted a chance to find someone to take his place before the last minute.

So, I went to pick him up. He was actually where he was supposed to be. He walked over to me and opened the door and said, "I know this is going to sound kind of weird, but can you buy me a coat?"

I said, "Of course not. You were really lucky to even get a ride based on your recent behavior (he had been missing for 11 hours yesterday, for example, and we think he might be stealing our van). Get in the car."

He said, "no thanks, I already have a ride" and walked away. I opened the door and called out to him, "So, you're not going to the play?" He said, "Nope." And as a good parent I had to say, just for my own conscience, "You better not be late."

Can you buy me a coat? This is the kid who has the nicest coat in the whole family. This is a kid who does NOTHING he is supposed to. This is a kid who owes us money for the door he bashed in. Can you buy me a coat?

And the head shakes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Slowly.

Sunday's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday November 19, 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 week's show will feature Kim Felder one of the Wendy's Wonderful Kids Recruiters. Kim is also in the process of adopting a child that she has worked with. She will be on air live to share her story, and give information about Wendy's Wonderful Kids. 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!

And Then There's Salinda

So, after the huge high of last nights game and the fun I had with the boys, I came home to discover that Salinda was not where she said she would be. The rest of the night was a labyrinth of lies and deceit. This morning, when she snuck her boyfriend into her bedroom and I found them lying in her room with the door shut, it all became crystal clear. (Note: He had only been here less than 1/2 hour and they were fully clothed).

I took that boy home and insisted on coming in and meeting his mom. Fortunately she and I are on the same page and I got a whole lot of truth out of the kid. I think he’s downright scared of me. The nice thing is that he’s a good kid and I like him. I think he likes our family as well. So there may be some leverage here.

But right now she’s holed up in her room with the radio cranked. So I’m in my office with Christian music cranked louder than hers. She is really busted this time and she knows it.

She is our 6th teenager. As a woman I travelled recently with said on our trip, “I used to have the cutest bunch of puppies at my house and it was WONDERFUL. But now they’re all Dawugs (she’s from the south, so that’s a two syllable word) and it’s not fun at ALL!”

As I have learned, she, as all teenagers do, will have two choices. She can either admit she was wrong, accept her consequences, stop blaming us, and turn around and head in the right direction or she can rebel even further. But our parenting won’t changed. As we’ve learned, the choice is hers. We’ll do our best, pray our hardest, even cross our fingers and toes if it helps, but ultimately it’s her life.

And that’s the hardest of being parents to teens ... if they are bound and determined to screw up their lives there is only so much we can do.

Football Semi-Final Report

Rand at the Semi Finals last night

Chris at church a couple years ago

The four boys and I had a GREAT time last night. Every one of them, even Tony, was appropriate, grateful, kind, obedient, and obviously having a fun time. So, in this case, $100 bought me a very fun night and some super happy kids.

I must spend some time bragging about Rand. I did so last year, in my blog entry on the day after he turned 17, but I definitely need to do so again today. I told you about his history with sports in this entry last football season, but there is a “rest of the story.”

Rand played football last year and he was a great team player. He didn’t spend a lot of time on the football field -- most of it was standing on the sidelines, but it was enough for him. He knew everyone, he felt part of the team, and he was a cheerleader in every sense of the word. His best friend since 5th grade was playing as well, and the whole team was very good to him. He was looking forward to his senior year.

And then his dad got reappointed to a new church. He was going to have to move his senior year. He wasn’t comfortable going to a big school and playing on a new team, so his football career ended after 11th grade. And last night, that team was in the semi finals.

Many of our other children, and I’d venture to say most kids his age, would have been sulking last night. But there he was, in the bleachers, watching his team win the semi finals for the first time in the history of the school. But was he crabby? Was he bitter? Was he angry at the turn of events that messed up everything for him? Not at all. He was in a great mood, he cheered, was thrilled for the team, and even sat with his old tired fat mom. He thanked me over and over again for taking them. He was a delight.

It was obvious when we had to move that Rand was disappointed, but he has never complained. A very spiritually centered young man (sometimes at night I can hear him in his bedroom singing through a hymnal, very off key), he recognized the need for us to follow God, and the bishop’s leading. He has made the best of things, is doing very well in his new school, and is a huge help as our third driver most of the time. I’m so very proud of him.

The other bittersweet piece of the evening was the palpable sense of regret that Chris was not playing with the team that night. You may recall Bart's blog entry about the funeral of an amazing kid, so amazing that the Minneapolis Star Tribune has had two articles about him in the last week, one of them you can access here and the second about last night's victory here In both games, they scored 33 points, the number Chris wore.

Chris and Rand had a few things in common. Chris was biracial, so is Rand. Chris was adopted. So was Rand. They were both United Methodist. They both went to the same school. They both genuinely cared about people and tried hard to please others.

But they were different in many ways as well. Chris was incredibly bright while Rand struggles and works very hard to make Bs with Special Ed services. Chris had amazing athletic ability, Rand was content to play a few minutes a season, but spent most of his time on the sidelines. Chris was adopted as an infant. Rand struggled through years of neglect in his birth home, abuse in his foster care placements and an adoption disruption before being placed into our wild family as our eighth child.

Chris was confident and self-assured, full of personality. He was given every opportunity and had the complete devotion of both of his parents from the early months of his life on. Rand was completely traumatized by his early years and had to overcome multiple diagnosis including Panic Disorder, ODD, PDD, and prenatal exposure to at least drugs, most probably alcohol.

Next week we’ll go to the championship game. It will be fun to be around a lot of people who very much made up our lives for the last 7 years. It will be great to see the team play well. But the game will be clouded with the sense that Chris should be on the field and that Rand should be on the sidelines. But I will be sitting there surrounded by Rand and several other sons, maybe even a daughter or two, while Chris’ parents will be grieving the loss of their only child. There is no way to make this seem, in anyone’s mind, fair. And as Bart pointed out at Chris’ funeral, there is no answer to the question, “Why.” All we have to know is that we have a God who walks through life with us even, or especially, when it does not make sense.

Many times I forget to be grateful as our lives are challenging and difficult. But this blog entry, intended to be a tribute to Chris and his awesome parents, as well as to Rand for all he’s becoming, makes me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. A huge thank you to Chris’ parents for raising a terrific young man who will always be remembered as an inspiration to everyone his life ever touched. My heart still goes out to you, all these months later.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Unique Turn of Events

Our former town is going to the state football playoffs at the Metrodome in Minneapolis tonight. Bart was going to take some of our sons who really want to go, but he hates football, he has to drive up there twice next week, and was dreading going.

So all the sudden I’m going to a football game tonight.

So I’m walking away from the inbox and heading to rest. It’s down to 252.

We just got back from surprising Sadie and taking her to lunch for her birthday. Just she and Bart and I and she was delightful.

Hopefully I’ll remember to take pictures.

Info about the Training I'm speaking at on December 2nd

As you can see by clicking on this, Bart and I are going to speak. Hope many of you can be here!

Back to Reality

Last night was relatively uneventful. Though Salinda was as crabby as I had dreaded she’d be, everyone else was pretty calm. I didn’t even come down to my office at all when I got home... I just stayed in the living room and visited with the kids from 7:30 until bedtime. Mike even asked me to scratch his back, which was a shock.

This morning though, it has all come crashing back in. I came to my office before the kids got up to find almost 400 emails. Apparently my preferences are set wrong, and the email all came to this box and nowhere else. So I have all that to do. Two of my emails were disturbing -- one from the PCA who stayed there letting us know Mike was in late both nights that Bart and I were gone. One was from John’s social worker. He wants his stuff. Tony slept on the couch, which he is not allowed to do, and then peed all over it. Dominyk, though he has been pretty cooperative all week long, is refusing to get out of bed.

So reality smacks me right in the face and I have so much work to catch up on. I was wondering why there were such a small numbmer of emails, but now I know ... and my diligent attempts to keep caught up that I was so proud of really were not worth the effort because all the email didn’t come in.

Plus I have LOTS of family issues to deal with as well from a week of being gone (psychiatrist needs to check on Dominyk’s meds, need to find out the result of John’s hearing that was scheduled during a funeral Bart was doing while I was gone, need to talk to the teacher about Tony getting punched, need to plan a couple things for Sadie’s birthday which happened while I was gone).. and the list goes and and on to the point that I feel buried. But I will plug at it one thing at a time until ... until .... well, I guess until I die, go senile, or end up drooling and in depends in a nursing home.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Completely Made It

I have arrived home and can report a completely uneventful trip. If you travel a lot, you know that this is something to be grateful for. Made every connection, flights were on time, even had Wolfgang Puck pizza as one of my meals. The whole travel experience was without a hitch, including all of the driving, etc.

I'm very grateful. I'm also quite tired and ready for everyone to settle down and head to bed.

Made It

I'm not going to report that I made it through the whole trip without a glitch, because I haven't yet.

But, I didn't get lost ONE SINGLE TIME in houston this week, which is so much different than last time I can't even believe it.

I'm in Houston at the airport. Boarding in 15 minutes. Trying to get as much work done as I can before I have to get on the plane.

More from Chicago, if I have a minute.

Making it All Worthwhile

On Thursday, February 17, 2005, I took a trip to Houston and I spoke about large families and "the Myths of Matching." I told caseworkers every opinion I had about getting kids out of the system. I even told them that if they had a family they were having trouble matching, who was driving them crazy, to refer that family to me. I looked back at my emails this morning, and by March 9th I was working hard to match a single Dad wannabe named Tim. Until last night I didn't know the rest of the story.

Apparently, Tim had found it very difficult to get matched, even though he was financially very stable, had clear background checks, had a homestudy. He really wanted to be a Dad, but he was single, had no parenting experience and could not find anyone willing to give him a chance. He was making a huge nuisance of himself to his worker to no avail, so she referred him to me.

By March 31st my old emails show me that he had a match... a 14 year old kid named Scott who lived on the other side of the state. By July, Tim was a dad.

I have received updates and pictures over the last year and then last month, Tim emailed me that he was hoping to adopt again. However, he had been working since May to get someone to update his homestudy. He had moved into a new county and called two private agencies, his former county and his new county, and couldn't get anyone to come out and update his study.

Then I went to another region of Texas to speak in October. I was handed a stack of profiles and I looked at the picture and said to myself, THIS is Tim's next son. Then everything happened so fast that it made all of our heads spin. It turned out that the kid was living in the same group home where Scott had lived before moving in with Tim. They were planning to go that weekend to visit Scott's sisters. I was emailing the worker, the worker was emailing Tim, Tim was emailing me and fast and furiously and before we knew it, Tim and Scott were going to get to go visit this boy, not letting anyone know it was a possibility... simply guised as Scott going back to visit the guys in his old cottage.

To make a long story short, the worker up there decided she was going to put some pressure on the county to get the home study and they are coming out next week.

When I realized I would be back in Houston, I asked Tim if we could get together and I could meet him and Scott. We had a wonderful supper together, along with my Dawn, who I was travelling with. Scott has come such a long way and Tim is a GREAT dad. Scott is 16 now, taking half the medications he used to take, getting all As and Bs instead of Ds and Fs. He has gained weight and become much less opposiitonal. They have moved into a more rural setting into a bigger house and Scott now has the dog he has always wanted. The whole story screams successful placement. And this was a guy nobody wanted to give a chance.

And the nice thing is that while I view Tim as my hero, he thinks I'm an angel. It is tough to determine which of the two is happier -- Scott to have a Dad, or Tim to have a son. But it's awesome to see a person completely THRILLED to parent a teenager.

Tim told Dawn and I last night that he recently had asked Scott what he wanted for Christmas this year and Scott responded, "I don't want anything. I've already got everything I've ever wanted."

I sent Tim an email last night and thanked him for a wonderful meal and such a meaningful experience. He sent back several pictures, a couple that I've shared with you in this post with his permission, (don't they look alike???) and he wrote back saying this:

The only person needing to say THANKS here is me!

My life is truly one of happiness .. I catch myself humming sometimes and have to stop and laugh at me!

To be able to sit across the table and see the sole, the adoption angel, the courageous force .. who commits herself to bring life into a child that is stuck in the system, to a family who is stuck in not be able to provide their heart, their home, their lives ...

To be able to sit across the table and see this wonderful person who takes away from her own family to give so much to others ...

Oh no .. the thanks is all mine .. A MILLION TIMES THANK YOU ...

And that one night and this one email will keep me going for another year. And if this story doesn't warm your heart, you definitely need to have it checked out by a physician.

Frustrated Beyond Measure

Now you may be asking yourself, "What's Claudia got to whine about now? I mean really, she's alone in a hotel room miles away from the stress of her family and yet she's COMPLAINING?"

Well, about 5:30 this morning every member of my family climbed into bed with me and would not let me go back to sleep. All of the issues with each of them poured into my head and I tossed and turned and strategized and planned and argued with myself and made up speeches to give, and basically just drove myself insane. I kept reminding myself that if I didn't go back to sleep, the rest of the day was not going to go well. I have to get myself to the rental car return, then to the airport and check in. Then 5 1/2 hours on planes and in airports before arriving, getting baggage, and spending 1 1/2 hours on the shuttle to travel back to Mankato, where I will find my children in who knows what state because their Dad is gone and in 2 very stressful meetings. He will come home from them needing support. And, if I haven't slept and I'm tired I will NOT deal with it all very well.

So, after all that whirled through my head, I finallly, one hour and forty five minutes later gave up and got up because I couldn't lie there any longer.

Now the internet strength is so pathetic in this hotel room, that I can't even get things to publish without several tries. So the day is certainly not starting well.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Heights from Which I Have Fallen

Came home from an awesome meal out with the single dad and his son. I plan to blog about them when I get home and hopefully he'll let me post a picture of them.

The whole meal was wonderful: delicious food, wonderful conversation, and the best feeling ever to see how much these two love each other and the way they have changed each others lives.

Came home to read an email from Bart that Mike was missing again and that Salinda came back from her friends with a filthy mouth and what appears to be the remains of a hickey.

It was a long way to drop... from the bliss of my huge success as a creator of families through adoption to the depressing reality of my failure as a parent.

But as the song says, "I get knocked down, but I get up again....." and I'll be up again tomorrow.

Another Good Day

Spending the day with Debbie, another adoption specialist, and Dawn, my friend and coworker from Adopt America, was fun. We were helping train Debbie a little more. She's a great matcher, but needed some help setting things up on her computer. We had a really good lunch at a great restaurant, and then I came back to the hotel for me to get caught up on the kids I needed to get word out about. I just finished that.

We're leaving in less than an hour for supper, and then we'll go to bed early. I don't have to get up that early but Dawn does.

It appears everyone is surviving at home, but it sounds like Bart will be glad when I get back.

I have put in so many hours that for the rest of the year, I will only be doing bare-minimum at my one job since almost all of it will be volunteer, so I'm hoping to have lots of positive time with the kids.

That always seems like such a possibility when I am a thousand miles away form them....

Packing Up to Move On

Last night was the last night in this hotel. Today I am meeting a different coworker and heading to train someone. Then tonight I will have dinner with a single Dad and his son that I matched last year. I'm looking forward to that. Then tomorrow, I'm heading back home.

I used to have a really hard time when I travelled because I would worry about things at home to the point that I didn't enjoy myself. Now I work really hard to make myself focus on what I'm doing, enjoy myself, and have fun with the people with me. I truly love presenting to social workers and I enjoyed travelling with everyone that was with me.

I also enjoy eating out, though I can't eat like I used to, and having someone else pay for it, and going to bed knowing that nobody will wake me up.

Bart is safe back at home and apparently everything went fairly well. I don't get home until tomorrow night so I'm going to continue to enjoy my time away and be glad to be with the kids once again when the time comes.

When I was a teenager, I had a Ziggy poster (remember him) that said, "You have to enjoy here while you're here, because there is no here there."

that's the way I strive to live.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And not much longer tonight

I'm TIRED, but happy. Good day. 8 hours of me driving and 3 hours presenting to over 50 social workers from three regions. It was great.

It's fun to feel like you're making progress and it is awesome for me to put names with faces that I get emails from every day.

A very good day, and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Literally 2 Minues to Blog

I slept great... 9 hours and wanted more.

Now I'm headed to spend 9 hours in a vehicle and present for 4. Long day. Hope it's a good one for me and for all of you!

Monday, November 13, 2006

I am Going to because i CAN

I'm going to go to bed at 9:00. Usually I am tired by then and at home I never can go to bed early.

it just shows you that I am OLD and TIRED. I suppose there are folks who, when they are out of town, go out and paint the town red.

I came back to the hotel to check my email, talk to Bart via instant message, and blog. And I'm going to go to bed. Tomorrow will be a very long day and I am going to be ready for it.

This afternoon's presentation was great. It was great to see the folks that I email all the time and meet some of them for the first time. I thought the presentation went well, the videos were good, and I am hoping we'll get some kids home because of the trip.

Speaking always energizes me and I love making connections...

Best Buy Saves the Day

i have the cords. Everything should work fine.

June is one of the most hilarious people I have ever met in my entire entire life. Her personality just makes me laugh continuously -- and the southern accent doesn't hurt. She's one of those "larger than life" people who fears nothing, does everything she wants to do, talks incessantly, and keeps me in stitches.

It's going to be an interesting week.

Good Morning to Nobody

I'm alone having breakfast. I was told some of my coworkers would be down here at 8, but it's 8:20 and no one is anywhere to be found yet.

I need to leave in about 20 minutes and go hunting for cords for the projector. I'm having a few eggs, a piece of sausage and some breakfast potatoes. The breakfast area is VERY comfortable and relaxing. By now all of the children are safely at school. I checked in with Bart this morning and he is fine.

So I'm off to Google the closest CompUSA, Best Buy, and Radio Shack. Fortunately, I am the one driving the rental, so I won't have to inconvenience anyone for my cord search.

Well, June from Adoption Advocacy just came down. We'll chat together a few minutes and then I'll take off and hopefully find my cord...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blogged Too Soon

Well, apparently one of my brilliant children, who will remain nameless because it wasn't intentional, was helping me pack and packed the projector without it's power cord or the cord that connects it to the computer.

Thus I will spend my morning frantically searching around Houston for a store that might sell the cords I need.

Nothing will ever go smoothly for me. It's just a given.

Much Different Houston Arrival Experience

I drove straight to the hotel. Arrived in Houston a little after 10, to the hotel room, complete with a rental car and all checked in by 11:15.

One of the people I am representing, who happened to be the one booking the room, has an elite membership to this hotel. You should see my suite. I feel almost guilty staying here.

I'm going to make sure things are ready to go for tomorrow, and then I'm headed to bed. Last I heard all was well at home with my children, all is well with our son at college (he emails us every Sunday afternoon with a weekly report), and all is well with my husband in Nashville.

And I can sleep until I wake up, almost guaranteed that the phone will not ring in the middle of the night with some loser, who has no mother like I had to teach him/her that it is not OK to make calls after 9:30, saying "Is Mike there?" or "Is Salinda there?" (really, i could go on about this. Why isn't anyone parenting these days? Do parents not teach their kids not to use the phone late at night? Just in the past week alone it has rung at 10:30, 11:30, 12:15, and even 1:45.

of course, how do I know they aren't just calling my kids right back? Or that they are sneaking around their parents to use their phones without permission...

or maybe everyone just assumes all numbers are kids cells.

At any rate, I'm going to have a nice time knowing nobody will call here for anyone tonight.

Live from Dallas

Changing planes in Dallas. Uneventful flight. Entertaining enough book I bought on clearance when I was shopping the other day, but it will be over tonight and I'll have to buy another one for the return trip.

Bart, knowing how much we'd be travelling over the next month, got a subscription to Boingo so airports are places I can get immediately online.

Battery is almost gone on the laptop and no plugins... flight boarding in 10 minutes.

That nice hotel bed is going to be a welcome site.

It's a Strange, Strange World

When I arrived at the airport, I wanted to know how my husband was. So I checked his new blog for an update. It's funny how technology has changed our lives. I'm sure that before I have a chance to check in with him via instant messages (we don't have a national cell phone plan or extra money, so we don't talk while we're out of the midwest range) that he will check my blog as well.

So I'll use this to say, "Hi, Bart. I love and miss you! Thanks for all the sacrifices you make for me to be able to dedicate my time to my passion of finding homes for kids."

And Bart and the rest of you, things are fine at home. I was glad to be able to lave for a few days, and I'll be boarding at 3:45 p.m.

If you remember my last trip to Houston you'll know that it's GOTTA be better this time around than last.

Scott Kelby is My Idol

I arrived about 30 minutes ago at the MSP airport after having read from cover to cover my Layers magazine. There are so many blog topics cursing through my mind. I created a complete entry in my head about Scott Kelby during my shuttle ride up.. He is one of my idols, but not necessariliy for the reasons one might think. I don't know how interested anyone is in this, but it is a part of who I am. I debated not even doing this, but if you're bored, skip it.

Scott Kelby has nothing to do with anything related to adoption. Instead he is a guru of digital photography, and Photoshop, by far one of the deepest, coolest software programs ever. It has allowed me, a person with very little artistic ability, to create things like this painting, capture a sunset this way, or put together collages like this one.

But the reasons that I admire Scott Kelby is that he has found his niche, is very good at what he does, has a hilarious sense of humor, and in every book he gives thanks and credit to God for all that he does. He is a great example to me of how a Christian can live out his faith without being a blinding, annoying light...

Anyway, I read the magazine and again longed for more time to mess with cool software and make cool stuff, but am content to know that my niche is getting kids home and that hopefully, though I'll never make anywhere near the amount of money Scott does, that some day I will be as good at what I do as he is at what he does if I keep pounding in a narrow wedge and don't let myself get distracted.

So, I look at Scott as a model of how to live. Give it all you've got, do your best at what you're best at, and give God the glory. And if you choose digital photography as your life's niche, you can make money, but if you choose adoption, you can make families. And as those kids who don't have one will tell you, there is nothing worth more than someone who loves you forever.

Just a few minutes to Blog

Sorry I didn’t blog this morning. It was pretty chaotic here. NOt only am I husbandless right now, but that makes the church pastorless. And, ironically, this is the day that our family was assigned to greet, usher, count, and acolyte. We have to next week as well because confimation students acolyte and their family are assigned to greet and usher.

But we survived. Six of the kids are home with me and Rand and Jimmy are staying to go to a youth leadership council meeting. In a half our Tony and Dominyk’s PCAs will arrive and I will give them the instructions I have typed so that they can deal with the kids for about 54 hours until another family comes to take over on Tuesday night. Then Bart is going to be home Tuesday night.

I will be gone until Thursday. I really love what I do, so the meetings I have on Monday and Tuesday afternoon and the training I do on Wednesday will be really fun. The people will be fun. But I will not have fun on the shuttle, in the Mpls airport, on the plane, in the Dallas airport, or renting the car. I used to think the whole travelling and speaking scene sounded glamorous. For any of you who think it sounds like it is, it is far from glamorous, especially if you work for non-profits and have to ride coach and you weigh a LOT of pounds.

But by the time I get home there may be some more families who have been matched with children, and THAT is what it is all about for me.

And my kids will enjoy a break from me and I from them.

And the nicest thing about leaving is that before I leave I make myself get very organized so that I come home to a clean desk and an organized office and a list of things to do that help me get a jump start. The only issue right now is my swollen inbox that I didn’t have time to take care of before i left. It’s at 207 right now. I don’t know how many will be there when I get back.

I have decided that I’m not going to worry about something bad happening while I am gone. I’m going to plan on it and approach it differently. I am going to be grateful that I can put off dealing with it for a few days and let the chips fall where they may. I’m trying to let go of the things I can’t control.

I’ll either blog from the airport or from the hotel tonight or tomorrow... who knows what will transpire between now and then... And if I have time maybe I’ll remember to tell you about what happened last night.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don't Use the Word Why in the Same Sentence...

with the names of some of my children... like MIke, or Dominyk. Because there are never any answers.

Having run wild the entire week, sleeping everywhere, all of the sudden this weekend Mike hasn’t left home at all and is inviting friends here, doing his chore, and only being nasty tempered about 20% of the time. And he is having a couple friends come over for dinner. Just weird.

I have almost everything I HAVE to do done. I have decided not to do a few things and we’re having Kari and the fam over for dinner. I figured that trying to make it til bedtime without having anything fun to do wasn’t a good idea. And I sent Rand to a movie with the three youngest boys to give me a break.

I still need to pack myself, which never takes me long, get clothes ready for the younger kids for the week, which takes longer, but otherwise we’re nearly good to go. It was certainly a marathon of a day though and for some reason Tony has been MOST horrible. Incredibly defiant, several meltdowns, throwing things at me, spitting all over, breaking things. Gotta love it, huh?

If the First Half Hour is Any Indication

I have a marathon day. Bart is already gone and I have to get ready for a speaking trip, leaving tomorrow immediately after church. We have the kids covered until Bart gets home Tuesday night, but I am not even close to being ready.

And since we are awaiting a change in routine, the youngest kids are bonkers and so is Jimmy. So when I need cooperation and help, I’m going to get nothing like that.

I may end up dealing with behaviors all day long and have to wait until after they are all asleep to get anything done.

Sometimes I envy those who get to focus only on parenting... but then, if I did, I would miss all of the satisfaction that comes from helping people find kids and getting kids into homes.

But on days like today, it’s a little much.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Odd Yet Peaceful Night

It's 8:00 p.m. on a Friday night and everyone is home. Bart just lit a fire. I'm sitting in the living room with my laptop.

I have finished everything I need for my trip. It's all on my hard drive on my awesome G-5, and I am going to use our wireless network in our home to set up my laptop for the trip.

Dominyk is snugggled next to me saying, "Yup that fire's burning like there is no tomorrow." Tony is laying at the other end of the couch.

Jimmy is sitting in the easy chair across from me, Bart is next to me in the other chair reading his email on his laptop. The dog is at his feet. Ricardo and Sadie are playing cards at the dining room table. Rand is on the other couch. Bart is thinking about reading outloud to us.

And here is the odd part. Both Mike and Salinda are here and have been asleep since 6:30 p.m. I'm sure Mike is gearing up for a huge night on the town, but Salinda I think is just emotionally exhausted. She has to be home by 11, so I doubt she'll be going anywhere.

So it's pretty peaceful here. Bart is heading to Nashville tomorrow and we have a lot to do to get ready for both of us to be gone, but for now, all is peaceful and all is well.

Hold on to the moment, folks, because it won't last long.