Friday, March 31, 2006

Just like I said

So, I get home from the noon time threats to not come home. I calm myself down. I take a nap. I plan for a complicated evening. I have a doctor’s appointment with Dominyk at 4:15, inflatable gym night at 5, Salinda and John (if he is coming home) need a ride to the movie theatre for a 7:00 movie. The PCA taking the 4 to the gym night can only stay until 6:15 and I have to take over for him.

So I come home and I get it all figured out. Salinda has a friend whose mom will let her and John come over for a while and then give them a ride if I can pick them up. Jimmy says he is going to the pool. Rand is going bowling. The other 4 will be with me from 6:15 until 8:00.

John comes home after practice completely forgetting about his threats at lunch time. He is jovial and happy -- the polar opposite of the last time I saw him. Duh, girl, he’s bi-polar! He reports he is not going to go to the movie after all but is going to stay home. All of the sudden Jimmy wants to stay home too. I was totally against the idea, but John was begging for an opportunity to earn trust back. So, I let them stay home alone warning each of them they better be good.

While at inflatable gym night I discover that Sadie has been secretly calling a boy every afternoon when his disapproving mother (a friend of mine) is still at work. When she came out of the gym and saw the two of us at the same table her eyes nearly popped out of her head and her face turned bright red. I wanted to laugh. Anyway, we came home and I told her that I was going to talk to her, but as soon as I got in the door Jimmy reported to me that John had a girl in his room. He snuck her out of the window before I got down there, and to his credit he apologized immediately. I needed to deal with Sadie and didn’t want to escalate things with John into something uncontrollable when Bart wasn’t here, so I simply said, “This is what you do when you’re given a chance to earn trust?” For a while he pretended like he didn’t know he had broken any rules, but I decided not to even argue with him. I’m not as dumb as people think I am I guess.

Now I have another 15 minutes before I have to pick up Salinda and her friend and I am hoping that I can just get everyone in bed. I need to sleep if I“m going to clean for most of the day and parent everyone alone.

Bart wrote a great blog about our house tonight. Check it out.

And When We Get Over This...

This morning went fine until the last 5 minutes. John asked me a question and didn’t get the answer he wanted and so, after several exchanges of words, he went off to school saying he wasn’t going to come home tonight. I called Bart frustrated, feeling like I was going to throw up ... again... and discouraged.

Bart explained to me, very clearly (and he’s right) how we can’t control his behavior and that I needed to get over this. And I said, “And the second I get over THIS something else is going to put me right back into this same mode.” And he replied, “we better get used to it.”

Lately I feel like every time I get knocked down and get back up again I am not up more than a few seconds before it starts all over again. I don’t know if I have the emotional energy to withstand this kind of repetitious attack for many more weeks.

I did a post-placement visit with a family on Wednesday who reminded me of what happened while I was visiting them the last time (a call from Bart with a crisis). I nearly fainted when I realized that it had only been a month since that happened. The month of March seems like it lasted a year.

Only remembering the chorus of this song, I was going to quote it:

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You're never going to keep me down

Until I read about pissing the night away, whisky, vodka, lager, cider........ guess it really doesn’t apply.

But thinking of myself as a Big Bop Buddy does at least make me smile. This is exactly how I've felt for the past week or so and I can't even eat very much to comfort me...

Very Few Hours to Work

Today is one of those days where family issues come first and my work will sit. And then tomorrow it’s a total family responsibility day.

On Monday, a group of people from church is coming to tour the parsonage. We understand that it needs to be done -- they have to determine what needs to be fixed (like EVERYTHING!) But Bart is gone from this morning until tomorrow night, and a LOT of heavy duty cleaning needs to be done -- as well as decluttering, some packing, lots of organizing. Between tonight and tomorrow we should get a lot of it done, but that will keep me from getting any work done.

In addition, this morning I have to make a trip over to the school, go to the pharmacy and the bank, and take John to therapy and the dentist. Tonight is “inflatable gym night” for the little kids, but I’m having a PCA go for the first portion so that I don’t leave John who could blow up at any second here with any kids smaller than him.

I had weird disturbing dreams and didn’t sleep well, but regardless of whatever happens during the night, I always feel better in the morning...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Exhaustion Doubled

I just spent an hour helping John with his homework, and I am now twice as exhausted as I was when I last posted. Letting him go back to public school was something that we had to try, but living in institutions or hoping between schools in foster care has not helped him to learn to deal with homework. Tomorrow he has a spelling test and I was helping him study. He is very frustrated because he has a serious learning disability and he is doing 2nd grade words. He rushed to get the worksheet done and in the process missed about 20 out of 30 of them. I mean crazy stuff -- like “The Ketchup of Maine is rocky and bumpy, but gives a lovely view of the ocean.”

So, as I am helping him try to learn the words that he knows are way below his grade level, he is getting more and more frustrated. I am using every bit of self control and patience as I can while he gets more and more agitated. Finally, the word jury caused him to punch a small hole in the office wall, one of the few walls that hasn’t had a door or wall punched in in our house. Heavy sigh.

There’s no magic key to spelling -- just repetition and learning and relearning. I don’t know for sure how to help him. And after an hour of the anger, tension and frustration I am ready for bed. Just have to survive a few more hours and I can go to bed.


Running Wild

In addition to the big burdens of unpleasant, gut wrenching professional situations, I personally don’t feel well and someone has named my house, “Meltdown City.”

I did so much running tonight and that on top of behaviors and the continued sense of loss regarding work situations has me exhausted. I know I’m being vague, but it’s confidential and I can’t risk blogging about it, but I’m sure you can tell it is really, really bothering me.

It was pouring rain when school got out, so I had Tony’s PCA get the 4 elementary kids while I picked up Rand, took him to work, and then tried to find Salinda and Jimmy, who were already home. I came home, calmly observed Jimmy’s meltdown, and then took Jimmy and Ricardo to get their hair cuts. I came home to a troubling email regarding a situation with Mike, and then took Dominyk (who did NOT want a haircut) to get his haircut. He had a huge meltdown in the house, in the van, and when I dropped him off at the salon to park he apparently had another one. Waited for Tony to be brought back for his haircut, brought them home, went and got pizza, came home for 12 minutes, and then went and got John. Now Bart is off to take Rand back to work to return the box cutter he accidentally brought home.

On John’s fourth day back to public school he told his special ed teacher that he would not be bringing his assignment notebook or his spelling words home. He says he was kidding. I don’t think she thought it was funny.

And now tonight I’m supervising Jimmy who is supposed to be working to pay us back for money he has stolen and I’m too tired to even think.

Dang I wish I could wake up and everything could be resolved.

Pictures of the House

Since it is now ours I can post these. I'm not posting the outside simply for confidentiality. Never know what wacko might see my blog. Not that I view any of my regular readers as being any more wacko than me.

The office

The living room

The family room

Master Bedroom

Another bedroom

And again I ask myself the question

Why can’t I write like this?

More Dominyk

The other night Bart’s hair was sticking up and I said to Dominyk, “Doesn’t Dad look like a rooster?”

Dominyk looks up from what he is doing quickly, looks at Bart, looks back down and what he is working on and says two words: “nope, Cockatoo”

Then last night he was swearing before the Lenten service on the way to church so I had everyone else get out of the van so I could talk to him. I said, “Dominyk, what am I going to do with you?

”Love me? Nurture Me?“ he asks.

New Mercies Every Morning

Every day is a new morning and Scripture tells us that while weeping may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. It also says that God’s mercies are new each morning and that God’s faithfulness is great. I find this to be so true in my own life.

Right now I’ve made it to 7:50 without anything throwing me off, but I’m starting to live in fear that the second I get comfortable something else will be thrown at me. Last night it was a phone call from one of my families having a REALLY hard time in addition to finding out that Kyle’s financial aid is going to be a lot less next year. More money stress.

It’s getting so that I’m starting to fear email, instant messages, phone calls and mail because they seem to bring stressful news. But for now, all is well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Job Hunting

Today I actually looked a a few job possibilities outside of the adoption arena. I am having a very hard time remaining committed to working in the system when I see how many good people get hurt, mistreated, frustrated, manipulated, and damaged by the system. The kids are hard enough, but it is the system itself that is killing them/us.

And, my job as a professional makes me have to see it every single day, and my job as a parent makes me feel it and experience it as well. Sometimes I get overloaded.

I’ll feel better at some point, I’m sure, but this is the first time I have seriously considered walking away from it all and just parenting my kids and getting a job that ends at 5 p.m.

Why Can't I Blog Like This?

Well, I guess being married to someone who can is the next best thing:

Bart's Blog

Playing little games with Myself

In order to keep my mind off my issues and focused on work, I play little games with myself. Like today I sat down to 167 emails. A few had been answered and some were simple, but many of them required several steps to be able to have them defined as “cleared” by me. But I challenged myself to get down to 100 in 43 minutes. I made it, but just barely and I ended up cheating and not going in order so that I could do it so now my next bash is going to require much more effort.

But who cares? Sometimes when I’m blogging I ask myself that question. Who cares?

A P.S.

And, by the way, we had an awesome time with Mike and Kari and you can read about that here.

Kari tells it much better than I.

Every time we see our house we like it more.

I wish that our only job over the next two months was getting that house ready and getting this house packed. Instead, we still have the same number of other responsibilities here and have to fit those two huge projects in around the edges.


Yes, we closed on the house and now we own a home. it was a pretty good day, in most regards, with Bart feeling good and the weather sunny and warm. We were able to accomplish everything we set out to do in the 12 1/2 hours we were gone. Came home and Salinda finally apologized -- she is deciding her own consequences for the way she handled the situation.

The only bad point in the day yesterday was a phone call that was a kick in the gut emotionally and personally though it was a professional situation. I don’t know how much I could/should blog, but it certainly made me realize why most social workers stay distant and as professional as possible. I used to think that the fact that I truly cared and gave my job my all was a positive, but I’m starting to wonder now.

I purposefully did not check my email last night because I wanted to go to bed feeling good and it’s a good thing -- I had a couple of troubling emails in my in box.

Trying to take just one day at a time because when I think of all the stressors in my life at once I can hardly move...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What's up with Blogger?

Spent a long time last night trying to upload the picture of Dominyk’s hands and I can’t do it today either.

Well, so far so good. We’re heading to Mankato to do a final walk through on the house, look at furniture, get our bank account set up, I am going to visit two of my families, and we are going to (hopefully) close on the house AND have dinner with kari and her husband Mike.

All but one of my kids is out the door and we had a melt down free morning, so that’s a good start to the day. I am going to try to lay aside much of my stress and just enjoy my day .... need to celebrate even though circumstances don’t warrant that.

By the way, we received a call from the Guardian Ad Litem that Dominyk’s birthgrandma left the message about. It has nothing to do with Dominyk OR his birth siblings so that is a HUGE relief. I also told the GAL to have Dominyk’s grandma call me again...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Borrowing from Yesterday's Intervention from God

The ups and the downs are killer. As you could tell by my last post from the Wi-Fi Burger King, I was doing pretty well. I was feeling pretty good until I got a phone call from Bart while going to the bathroom at the Burger King that Mike had appeared on MSN. I figured that someone else was using his name and password, but thought I would call the facility where he was supposedly locked up and find out. Found out from them that he had been discharged this morning at 6:45 to go to foster care. By 11:30 he was online somewhere. By 11:45 he was sending emails to our children. We still have not heard from the county that he was moved.

This did not make me happy for so many reasons that to write them down would simply make me angrier and bore you.

So, I was dealing with the emotional aftermath of that situation and since my hands and feet were very cold (always happens when I get upset) I thought a nap would settle my nerves. So I tried to lie down and rest ... often if I can fall asleep when I wake up i don’t feel as ill and my hands and feet warm up.

But I couldn’t fall asleep. So I came downstairs and there was an email from our mortgage banker indicating that they still needed about 5 things before they could approve us to close tomorrow. It involved reaching 6 or 7 people in their offices and I had a window of opportunity of about 30 minutes to get it all done. Would you believe that I reached all of them? God proved in a big way that He is still watching out for us. I reached people in 2 state adoption offices, three employers, and the insurance company all within about 23 minutes. I caught EVERYONE and they were ALL very happy to get things done very quickly. It looks like we’re going to be able close tomorrow -- there is one more thing that needs to be done, but it’s being worked on.

Then I was running out the door for a postplacement visit when I got a very disturbing email about one of my families. I was trying to call the mortgage banker and my boss about the email while I was heading to my visit. As I walked up to the house, Dominyk’s PCA called to say that he had cut himself and needed to go to the ER. I called Bart on the cell (who was at the grocery store) who agreed to go to the ER, however, all of the phones in town were messed up and he couldn’t call the hospital.

After the visit I relieved Bart in the ER so that he could come home and make dinner. While sitting in the ER where the use of cell phones is strictly prohibited, I got a voice mail that one of the placements that was supposed to happen with an AAN family on Wednesday might not happen and a call from the mortgage banker, but I was trying to be good and didn’t answer them.

In the ER, the good Dr. C, our friend and the physician who was on call, asked me “was the item that he cut himself with clean?” I said, “Not if his other hand touched it (see picture above)

When I finally got home I realized that sometimes we have to hold on to yesterday’s words of assurance, because things can change VERY rapidly...

Burger King Wi Fi and Two Things I Saw that Cracked me UP

I'm at Burger King. I charged an orange juice since I just had my Lap Band Filled can't eat, and I didn't have any cash. Probably should carry cash anyway based on yesterday. It's a little embarrassing killing 1 1/2 hours in a burger king when I only charge .99 worth of food.

Anyway, I'm waiitng for my dietician appointment and trying to get some work done. It's an odd setting being here surrounded by food an unable to eat.

This morning I saw a woman carrying her urine into the doctor in a clear diet coke bottle. I mean this is MN, after all, not Georgia. You'd expect a higher level of sophistication.

Then I was driving to Burger King and saw a man walking down the street. What I noticed first was that his dog had what appeared to be a muzzle around his mouth. What I noticed secondly was that the man had a huge white bandage around his right hand.

I'm sure that the two facts are unrelated, but it sure looked hilarious. Wish it wouldn't have been so obvious or I would have snapped a picture.

Anything for a smile.

Simple Faith

Sometimes when I get really down and can’t see hope, I pray a specific prayer. Outloud, when Bart and I are praying together just before bed (as we have every night we’ve been together at bedtime since our wedding almost ten years ago), I say to God, “OK, God, we need a response here. We need some definite signs that You are still there, still in charge, and still involved in our lives in a personal way. Please give us a sign.”

I prayed that prayer on Saturday night. And yesterday there were three or four significant things that happened, the last of which was an email from our oldest son expressing gratitude for our role in his life. If you know anything about Kyle, this is not typical. I think it is probably the most honest heartfelt expression of gratitude we have ever received from him.

So that, on top of great worship services, encouraging words Bart received from people attending his workshop, a relatively pain free day for him, good behavior from the 6 kids with me, and a nice honorarium check, there were enough signs. People in our current church have been very supportive and kind to us, which makes going to church very uplifting.

Join me in asking God for a day tomorrow that can be fun, pain free for Bart, and productive. We’re closing on the house and having dinner with Kari and her husband Mike with no kids. We haven’t done anything like that in years.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

But there is always evidence that God's there

I talked to Bart after his speaking engagement tonight and confessed about losing the $60.00. I felt awful.

But five minutes later he called back and said, “I just opened the honorarium check -- guess how much it was for.” Thinking that God might have a unique sense of humor, I said, “$60?”

When he said the amount my mouth dropped open. Much more than we were expecting and certainly more than $60.

God is good... all time time.

All the time, God is good.

Can't win for losing

Whatever that phrase means.

This afternoon Bart was going to do an evangelism training (to which Tony responded, “Vandalism training? You’re doing VANDALISM training). He took Rand and Jimmy with him so I had only six kids at home, and we could all fit in the van.

I figured out this morning why Bart isn’t as positive as I am -- he doesn’t get to hear his own sermons. The hymns and songs he chooses as well as his sermons for worship ALWAYS have me leaving with a sense of hope, faith, and a renewed spirit.

Anyway, after church we left. I couldn’t stand a repeat of yesterday. We went to see Nanny McPhee, which i thought was worth seeing. A quote for her reminded me of our presence in kids lives. She said, ”As long as you need me, but don’t want me, I have to stay. When you want me, but don’t need me, I’ll have to go.“

Here’s the can’t win for losing deal. I was walking through the theatre so proud of myself. We had done lunch for $24. 7 of us eating for $24 is pretty cheap. Movie plus snacks at the cheap theatre was less than $40. That’s a pretty cheap afternoon for our family. Until I realized that at some point in the afternoon $60 fell out of my pocket and is now gone.

So when we’re low on money, I have to lose some. Stupid, stupid me.

But even for $100, I’d pay that not to have a repeat of yesterday and it looks like that my plan is working...

Something Lighthearted for Once

I am posting between services at church. Is there a biblical admonition about not blogging from the sound booth in the sanctuary? I haven't seen one.

Anyway, during first worship service Dominyk was looking at the map in his Bible. Tony wanted me to point out where Guatemala was and would not accept my explanation that Guatemala was not on biblical land maps.

At that point Dominyk found Germany. He said, "Hey, I'm half German, right?" I said, "yes, you are." He responded by drawing a line down his body from the middle of his forhead down to his abdomen. "Does that mean that this half (pointing to the left) is German and the other half is human?"

Here We Go Again

After another “Can we really get up and do this again” night, we’re up doing it again. Trying to scrounge up some hope and feel positive about the months to come.

The situation in the church we are going to has us very stressed out. There was a misunderstanding, a simple one, that I believe has given people in the church the wrong impression of us. This puts tons of pressure on us, especially Bart, and is dampening our enthusiasm. This, on top of a day like yesterday when we literally feel the mental illness and tension in the air, requires a lot of digging on my part to bring out the optimism and hope.

But it is there. I believe that God can turn this around. God has a plan and sometimes living out that plan is difficult and downright hard. But one step at a time we will get there.

Blogging has done two significant things for me. First, it has given me a place to find perspective in my own life by processing and reporting our happenings, good and bad, to people who I know and people who I don’t know. But more importantly, reading blogs of people facing challenges like ours, has helped me to see that we are not alone. On any given day there are folks who have it worse. If you read blogs of adoptive parents who are willing to be gut-level honest, like Mary, Kari, Paula, Cindy and even Michele (who posts about once a month, as opposed to the rest of us who post daily), you will see what I’m talking about.

And the fact that those women (and their husbands if they have them) can get up every day and keep going means I can too.

Now I’m off to give the 10 minute warning that we’re leaving for church.... The next ten minutes are always some of the ugliest of my week.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Nice title, huh?

Well, John called about ninety minutes ago and we had a weird conversation. It went back and forth between him telling me that he wanted my permission to stay out longer and him telling me he that he was hungry and cold.

I offered to pick him up even though he was only a mile away. I suggested that he needed to be home and have his medicine and get settled down.

He finally told me where he was and I went to get him -- more for my sake than his -- so that I wouldn’t have to worry about where he was.

When I picked him up and nicely stated that I was ready to talk to him whenever he was ready. The conversation that we had from then on would make anyone’s head spin. I wish I would have had the foresight to record it because a therapist would have had a very interesting time interpreting the whole thing, if they could have. It was a long hour of back and forth weirdness -- things like “aren’t you going to talk to me?” followed by “stop talking to me.” Or “take me to the psych hospital” followed by “they don’t know anything at the psych hospital.” I was blamed for being a bad parent, told that he was sure someday we would give up on him, told he needed to be in a “normal family.” It was a lengthy up and down back and forth conversation.

When it looked like he finally had calmed down, I came home and found Salinda to be on the computer which she knows she isn’t supposed to do when there is an unresolved conflict. She has the tendency to walk away from issues and pretend that eventually they will go away without dealing with them. So I have to force her to apologize and resolve issues. Often when she finalize does, I will apologize as well, even if I have nothing to apologize for. But when she is being rude to me, acting as if I don’t exist, starting huge issues in this house like John’s blow up and then pretending like she doesn’t have to deal with it, she is not going to be taking advantage of the privileges that our family offers her -- which include electronic stimulation. Unfortunately unless I do this she will never resolve the issue and learn that you can avoid people when there is conflict and hide from them and hope it goes away.

I’m really wishing it was bedtime. There are some days when it just doesn’t work to try to hold to a standard and teach kids things. I wonder how sane it is to try to reason and make sense of things to these kids. It seems futile most of the time. Someday I certainly hope that someone gets something I’m trying to teach them.

And By The Way.... This is the Answer

The answer to my question this morning of why more people don’t do this is because NOBODY wants to live like this. Nobody.

But we will, and we’ll get through it... it’s just that this transition is sucking way more than I thought it might and if we can actually get moved before we’re crazy it will be a miracle.

Blogging because nothing else seems to make sense for me to do at the moment.

How much of the gory details do you want to hear? Probably not many so I’ll make it brief.

I had to wake John up at noon. I hate it when he sleeps that long but I don’t like to wake him up because he reeks havoc on weekends. I wanted to get some work done and knew that if I woke him up it wouldn’t happen.

Bad choice.

I also knew this wasn’t going to be a good weekend because he would be stressed about returning to public school, so I should have been more prepared to entertain him. I was making some plans, but hadn’t got there yet, when all hell broke lose.

Apparently he thought the girls had something of his and started yelling at them. Since Salinda still isn’t speaking to her Dad or me, she refused to get me involved, handling it herself, which did not go well. The result was Tony and Dominyk and I taking the brunt of his anger and him leaving the house saying we should call the police because he is not coming back.

Since he is still under “protective supervision” if he is gone overnight, we could be at risk of having him removed again, though sometimes I just feel like saying “he gets what he gets.” I have to keep reminding myself of the good moments ... and reminding myself that he is mentally ill... and that we need to remain committed to him.

But the aftermath of his anger really stinks.

Now of course, Salinda still isn’t speaking to me, John is gone, and Dominyk completely flipped out, blaming me for the whole situation because I didn’t go up there when it started.

Maybe I should never have started a blog. It’s hardly ever fun or light hearted any more. Maybe because my life isn’t.

Waaaa Waaaa Waaaa

Where are the Answers?

I am doing follow up on the kids that social workers have told me about that need homes to see if they are matched yet. I have only finished the follow up for kids under 10 without medical issues and I am getting so bummed. MANY of these kids are ones I have been recruiting for for over a year. ANd they aren’t old yet.

Part of the problem is that they are tough kids with many issues and diagnosis. But I just finished reading On Their Own and I can’t help but see the destiny of these kids -- some of them as young as seven or eight. I wonder if I keep doing matching for the next 10 years if some of these kids will be on my 15-17 charts. And the thought of that just makes me NUTSO.

Bart and I were speculating about the mysterious phone call last night from Dominyk’s birthgrandma. What if the guardian was wanting us to raise Dominyk’s younger sister? My immediate response is “I don’t want to!” She is Dominyk all over again WITHOUT any stability as she has been with their birthmom for the last 7 years since her birth. And if even people like us don’t want to do kids this hard, who will?

What is the answer for these kids? It certainly can’t be leaving them in the system to be raised in foster and group homes until they age out. The ONLY answer is families. But how can we possibly convince people to put aside their lives to save another?

Even families like ours who know how to parent these tough kids don’t want to take in one more tough kid.

And a new family with one of these really tough kids may not make it.

Answers anyone?

What to Do, What to Do

I SHOULD spend my day packing, sorting, decluttering, organizing, but I have so much to do for my jobs that I feel like I should be doing that instead. Because of the timing of the placements of the kids who have come to “my” families over the last year, the end of the month always has me scrambling to get post-placement visits done. It’s also preparation time for the “match bash” which always takes place the first Wed and Thurs of the month.

I thought that maybe, if the kids can entertain themselves for at least part of the day, I could get a head start on all that stuff and not be so stressed next week (especially when a full day is going to be spent gone to close on the house and Bart is going to be gone for 3 days).

It always works this way: when one major task is complete (taxes and financial aid) there is another one waiting for me. Life I guess.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Glad this day is about over

After my last post I went to the fitness center, had supper, and then took Jimmy and John to buy spring sports stuff. ALso found gloves marked down from $20 to $6 so tomorrow they’ll be packed for next winter.

Another range of emotions evening as Dominyk’s birth grandma called, who used to have custody of him, and left a message on the machine. “Wanted to talk to Dominyk and also let you know that a guardian ad litem is going to be calling you. Please call me back at” and the machine cut her off. I REALLY want to know what is going on -- I’ve been trying to figure it out all night plus I’ve been wanting her number since before CHristmas and now I STILL don’t have it. PLus, she’ll wait a few days or weeks before she calls again. AAHH. I’m hoping it has something to do with his birth siblings, not with our situation (we have physical and legal custody but have never been able to adopt).

The beginning of the sports shopping trip started off BAD with a huge argument with John.

There just seems to be so much happening with everyone I know in adoptive parent land that it makes me wonder what is UP!?!

The Very LAST Time

I just did our taxes for the last time until we are old and grey and in nursing homes and have nothing but social security income.

I’m in over my head and it takes me way too long. I thought I had it all done when I was in AZ, but it took most of my day to get it finished today. I got Kyle’s tax checks written and ready to mail, got our federal and state done, copies made, checks written, etc. and just finished. Started at 7:30 a.m. and it’s almost 4... The only break I took was to run annoying errands for an hour.

Heading into a busy but not fun weekend because Bart is the one who is busy and I am the one who will be here with only one vehicle and too many kids to fit into it. He has a memorial service tomorrow afternoon and then after church Sunday he has to drive two hours to Mankato, ironically, to do an evangelism seminar at one of the other churches there that has been scheduled for a long time.

Wish there was something to look forward to in the midst of it all... but right now it’s one battle after another to hope for. Salinda is going to avoid both of us as long as she can (probably until she needs something) and then be nasty before she’s nice. John is going to be living in high-anxiety land over his transition back to public school, so he will be a bear to deal with all weekend. And then there’s the rest of the stuff.

But at least I’m beyond the full-blown embarrassing rages in Walmart stage, right Mrs. A?

Although they will keep trying to get you to take them seriously

This morning Salinda REALLY had a huge fight with Bart over the same exact issue as yesterday --rIdes to school. I NEVER give rides to school unless it is below zero. We live a block and a half from the school, and even though it is a long block and a half, it’s certainly not too far to walk even when it is cold. And every time I give a ride for just that block and a half I’m sorry I did.

Anyway, Salinda got into the vehicle with her siblings this time but then Bart didn’t do things exactly the way she wanted him to, so all hell broke lose. It escalated to the point where she was cussing (which she hardly ever does) and screaming so Bart drove her alone outside of town a little ways to discuss it without the screams bothering people in our small town, and Salinda got out of the car without Bart’s telling her to or wanting her to. She wouldn’t get back in, so Bart just left, knowing it was a walkable distance to school. She called me to tell me she wasn’t going to school because she had been left in some field. I didn’t understand her at first -- well, at first, I didn’t even know who it was. The Caller ID didn’t show up and I figured it was one of the little 7 year old girls I have in placement calling me as their caseworker.

When I finally figured out it was her, I told her that she could go to school or not, but that it wouldn’t be an absence excused by me and she would get Fs for the day. I then called Bart to get his side.

Bart. of course, was angry at all of the verbal abuse (she’s very good at it -- has a long history of watching her older brothers do it, plus she is smart and articulate) but he was not unwilling to get her but she wasn’t where he had dropped her off. I called her so I could be verbally abused as well trying to figure out where she was. Finally she told me where she was (after three times of calling and being hung up on) and Bart got her into the van and got her to school on time.

PMS maybe, and definitely 13-year-old-girl issues, but it sucks the life out of a person to be lied about, cussed at, and overall mistreated at the start of the day... especially when the motives were pure and the intention was to be nice.

So now we’re both out of sorts and not very motivated to complete the tasks at hand today.

Why You Can't Take them Seriously

Yesterday morning Salinda was as mean and ugly as she can get. Screaming at people, accusing Bart of having a favorite because that child got a ride, and then ignoring him and refusing to get in the car, stomping off to school while he was offering her a ride.

Last night she wrote this essay for school. After reading it you’ll realize why kids just can’t be taken seriously!

        There have been many important people in my life like my mom, my family, teachers, friends and so on, but a REALLY important person would me my dad. My dad is a very interesting character. He has a great personality, for example he loves to sing while cooking in the kitchen to try to make us kids laugh. Sometimes it works, but most of the time we think he’s gone completely insane.
        I guess the real reason behind my father being a really important person would be because he’s probably one of the smartest men I’ll ever meet. He has chosen to adopt ten children (along with my mom). He’s a wonderful pastor too, whenever he preaches the words flow out of his mouth and turn into a beautiful song. He always seems to put excitement into his preaches and has a great time doing it. Even though his job requires us to move in June.
        One of the things my dad enjoys doing is going to the Blue Mound State Park to take walks with our dog Gizmo. He loves nature and likes to see the leaves on the trees change during the fall. During the winter he’ll take walks during the day so that he can walk on the frozen, solid ice. And at night he’ll go to see the moon.
        My father is a very trustful and honest guy. He enjoys life and the stuff it provides for him. He is a humorous man, he may not know how to get down and boogie like us young ones but he knows how to have fun. My father loves to watch tv, he and my mom say that the tv is my brothers girlfriend because he watches it a lot.
        Overall I think that my dad had earned and A+ for being a spectacular father. You could say that he’s one of the best fathers in the world. Even though he can be a weird person he can be a great person.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Love This Quote

I heard this many years ago and just love it. It expresses my plan for my faith. and the part about not letting up or shutting up applies so well to my commitment to finding homes for children.

My Commitment as a Christian:
"My Commitment as a Christian" was written by a young African pastor and tacked on the wall of his house. It was found after his martyrdom.
        I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me... my banner will be clear

Look quick before things change

My Inbox is EMPTY!

Some Good News

We’re closing on the house at 2:00 on Tuesday, March 28th. YEAH!

We looked at furniture and think we have some color scheme ideas. That’s excited as well.

So, there is some interesting stuff that has some joy mixed in with the fact that...

EVERYONE has decided around here that there are no rules. It’s like anarchy with the little things. The big things are pretty much OK, but the little things are out of hand.

Time to crack down!

Back on the Lap Band Wagon

I updated my Shrinking Slob Blog .

Another Dominykism

This picture was not taken in the same setting, but the gleam in his eye is the same.

Last night we were in church at the Presbyterian church, which Dominyk for some reason HATES. His behavior was pretty bad -- not as bad as sometimes, but bad.

He said something though, that made me laugh so hard I jiggled the pew.

The pastor was talking about how he didn’t know if the Methodists did things a certain way, but the Presbyterians did. Dominyk asks me, “now what are we again?”

“United Methodists”

“And what are they?”


“We should NOT be here with them. They are NOT our kind!”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Thoughts that have raced through my mind in the last few hours

I worked at my desk, rested a while with my not-feeling-good husband, and then hit the bank, post office, grocery store, fitness center and library. I then came home to face supper.

Dominyk was a basket case at supper time. He did not want to be there, did not want to eat, did not want to cooperate. That would be find if it didn’t mean that John had to be a super jerk in response, escalating the situation to the point that I had to leave the room and go into the kitchen with Dominyk. Then he said what always gives me a pang of pain in my heart to hear, “You don’t know what it is like to be me!”

That’s for sure. I can’t imagine being caged inside a mind and body tormented by severe ADHD and OCD. I don’t know what it would be like not to be able to organize my thoughts or to not be able to stop pulling the hairs out of my head. I don’t know what it would be like to have the kids at school make fun of me all day long whenever the teacher wasn’t looking.

After finishing supper, we did dishes and Sadie asked me to sing the songs my mother used to teach me. So I sang the songs she learned from her Grandmother like “Daisy, Daisy” and

Oh I went to the bakery for something to eat
for I was hungry from my head to my feet
I picked up a donut and I licked off the grease
and I handed the waitress a five cent piece.

She looked at the nickel and she looked at me
she said kind sir can’t you plainly see
there’s a whole in the nickel and it’s through and through
said I there’s a whole in the donut too.

Then I came into my office to hear the noises of John outside breaking mops by throwing them in trees. It’s annoying when almost 16 year olds are out leading 10 and 12 year olds in stupid ventures.

Then a friend of Mike’s comes by to get some of his stuff, which of course, is nowhere. I tried to apologize that that was the way Mike was ... but he is always able to manipulate folks who don’t know him well until finally they figure it out and then it’s too late.

So, my emotions are all over the place -- up down mad sad happy nostalgic frustrated annoyed ... all in an hour.

What a life!

Staying Positive

I’ve spent the morning trying to stay as positive as possible about all that needs to be done over the next 2 1/2 months and all of the things we will be facing in the next year. Fortunately for me, it isn’t that hard to stay positive. I had lunch with a very nice person. Very nice people make me feel good.

I’m down to 97 emails in my inbox. Worked steadily at it for about 5 hours. Still long ways to go. Nice to be able to sit in one place and not have to go too many places though.

I Get to Stay Home Today!

And I’m excited. I am not planning to leave our town again until Saturday if at all possible.

After traveling 30 miles and back to have family therapy alone with John and his therapist because Bart didn’t feel well, I then picked him up and we headed to Mankato. We had lunch, looked at furniture, and then I had a post-placement visit and a homestudy visit. I then sat in the van with him and had supper while he continued to suffer. Following that we met with a committee at our new church. I won’t say details about that, but it is amazing how this quote from yesterday’s s very appropriate at this time. “When God wants to do something great He starts with a problem. When He wants to do something spectacular, he starts with an impossibility.”

Anyway, I say all that to say this. We saw our District Superintendent (who recently discovered my blog, sending me into minor panic because who knows what I’ve written. Fortunately he doesn’t have time in the day to go through the history and read everythin.) Anyway, he was indicating to me that in the last two days he had gone here, there, and everywhere in MN (he named the places) and by the time he had arrived he could have driven to Chicago.

Well, I added up my hours in vehicles over the last 9 days and I could have driven to San Antonio and back. I have spent over 35 hours in vehicles, usually driving, some riding, as we did our trip to AZ, while we were in AZ, and this week with all of my work related trips.

Today I am just going to sit right at my desk. Bart is still enjoying the new washer and dryer so much that I don’t have to do laundry. I am going to tackle the 161 emails in my in box, clean off my desk, and hopefully have time to finish our taxes. I am going to have to calm myself a little as I slip back into the working at my desk zone.

It’s good to be home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lovely Introduction to the Day

Bart was the only parent home all last week and even when I am home he gets the earliest risers up before he goes to work. This morning though, he isn’t feeling very well (thinks it might be another kidney stone -- but not quite as severe) and so I got them up. Every time I was chastised that I was doing it wrong. Dad puts the pills there. Dad doesn’t turn on the light. Dad only wakes up me and not the person next to me. Dad does it right, you do it wrong. Exactly the words I wanted to hear at 6:15.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Long Day

Home again and it’s 6:47. Just walked in the door a few minutes ago. The meeting was not as difficult as expected, but we are in a difficult situation and it may not get better. However, I went in with the desire to keep the focus on the best interest of the children and it seemed to work well.

I then had a post placement visit and on the way home spent a long while listening to a seven year old tell me that her adoptive family only brought her home to “torture her.” She’s quite the drama queen, and one of the loudest children I have ever had the “privilege” of meeting, but I had to laugh out loud with the line of her being tortured. I wanted to say, “No, my dear. They didn’t bring you home to torture you, but because they themselves wanted to be tortured” but I didn’t.

Because none of us want to be tortured, but sometimes it sure feels that way.

Join me today in praying that adoptive parents everywhere will have the strength to deal with their children every day, remain committed to them, and be able to receive the services they need.

Packing It All Up Again

I just packed up Mike’s stuff again. I’m not sure what is more sad... packing him or the things I find when I pack him. Lots of proof that his life was just falling apart -- notes from girls he had lied to and manipulated, lots of phone numbers and email addresses, plottings and plans, girls underwear, etc.

I was planning on this being a much nicer day. Oh well, it will get better!

Easier Than it Sounds

When I wrote this entry about Rosa Parks it was a day when i was theorizing about my life. Today is a day when i have to do it.

My supervisor is asking me to go visit a person who is against large families, believes in splitting siblings, and who does not like me or our agency. I have not yet met her, but she has stated again and again that she is not impressed with our agency.

So, it’s easy to talk about the importance of taking a stand, but when it comes right down to it and I have to do it, I dread it, I feel like I’m going to puke, and I wish with every ounce of my being that I could quit my job today before I have to have this meeting.

I much prefer “making a difference” in the manner in which I did on Saturday -- standing up in front of a large wonderful, supportive audience and inspiring them to keep on parenting their tough kids.

“Making a difference” by purposefully meeting with a hostile person one on one and taking the verbal abuse is not the manner in which I prefer. But I will do it and I will survive.

I am sure I will not have the impact, in this one short meeting, of a Rosa Parks, but if all of us will take on the tough stuff, one person at a time, over the long haul, the system WILL change.

Back in the Saddle Again and Again

Once again I’m thrown back into the midst of it all.... so much to do, so little time, and not enough energy.

I left for our trip with a clean desk and came home to one stacked with things to sort, read, etc. I also have to do a post-placement visit today 2 hours from here, so I will be gone most of the day. Bart is not happy about eating dinner without me again, but I can’t get home in time for it -- I will try to get home for at least part of the meal.

this is a BORING blog entry. Boring, Boring, Boring. Guess I’ll better get to work.

If you need some encouragement, the verses in my Scripture as I see It entry for today are the BOMB (as some of my kids would say).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I figured it Out

Finally got to watch What about Bob? again tonight. And I figured it out. If you haven’t seen it, do it.

Here is what the point of the movie was for me, seeing it now after having adopted kids with special needs. The reason that Dr. Marvin goes insane is because he tried his hardest to change a mentally ill person. He can’t change him and therefore he goes nuts himself.

That is the crux of the matter, if you ask me, for us as adoptive parents. If we have an agenda that includes changing the very core of these kids and we get fixated, bound and determined, to do so, we will go insane. In the movie, Dr. Marvin’s family loves Bob exactly the way he is and, in doing so, they provide the acceptance and love that helps him to change.

I know that it’s just a comedy intended to make people laugh, but to me it had a very significant message. If we work our hardest to CHANGE hurt and damaged children who have mental illnesses, we will end up the crazy ones. That drive to make sure that we do all we can to fix them will undoubtedly lead us to our own mental illness. However, if we can meet them where they are and walk with them, providing them with love, support, correction and acceptance, there is no telling the beautiful things that can happen.

All that from a 1991 Bill Murray film. Amazing.

Thanks a LOT, Paula

Don’t we look great?

A Vacation Memory

My parents are such awesome people and Rand and John really were about as well behaved as possible. They all look pretty happy, don't they?

Sunday morning

I was able to rest without thinking about the stressors in my life last night. I repeat myself -- the conference was very energizing and comforting. There is no substitute from being with people who “get it.”

Today I have plans to return to the fitness center and begin getting back into the exercise routine that I somehow got out of when things started to get very very stressful.

Bart did an amazing job of cleaning, organizing and starting to pack while I was gone. He also has gone bonkers with laundry as he did buy front loading washer and dryer that he absolutely loves.

Today after church I have so many things I want/need to do that it will be hard to pack. At least at this point, though, they all sound like they could be minimally enjoyable. It’s amazing what attitude can do.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What a Day

We had a great day. The sessions we attended were good, but it was being with everyone that made it most awesome. We got to see Kari and her husband, Mike. We got to see Paula and her husband Paul. We got to see Meg, who has been my friend since before our homestudies were done and we were beginning this journey together. We got to see all of my former coworkers from Minnesota ASAP and we got to meet new people as well.

Bart’s session on the Spiritual Aspects of Adoptive Parenting was awesome, and my closing keynote to the whole crowd was, if I have to say so, pretty dang good. i consider my speaking good when I feel like I have truly connected with my audience, and today I did just that. 90% of them, at least, were with me through every chuckle, guffaw, and tear.

I mentioned this summer while attending NACAC about how great it is to be with other adoptive parents who get it and I must say it again.

On the way home I heard this song for the first time and it went well with my feelings after my day at the conference. I have found my way to change the world, and I’m going to do it... one step at a time, every day, for a long, long time.

Sometimes, I get that overwhelming feeling,
So sad the
Faces on TV,
If i try to make a difference would it help anyway,
Then i stop and to myself i say

So you wanna change the world,
What are you waiting for,
Say your gunna start right now,
What are you waiting for,
It only takes one voice,
So come on now and shout it out,
Give a little more,
What are you waiting for,

Sometimes, I feel a little helpless,
Seems like (well) I can't do a thing,
But anything is possible,
Just you want and see,
Good things happen,
If you Just believe,

[Chorus 1x]

Someday, somehow, I'm gunna take that step,
Cause time is tickin away,
Right here,
Right now,
Before it's to late,
Gunna face tomorrow today,
(Don't wait,
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

As Predicted

On our big night together we had a great dinner and then came back to the room. We were asleep by 9. But I feel pretty good.

I waited until today to decide what I'm going to say this afternoon. I know, Prior Proper Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance, but I wanted a vacation.

Hopefully I'll pull it off. I usually do.

Off to the conference...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Safe in Minneapolis

By the time I had dropped off Rand and John at UMYs in St. Cloud at 2 this afternoon, I was ready to do a major happy dance that I was done with my part of the trip with them. I was as patient as I could be, but some of their behaviors, their low IQs and their immaturity were really getting to me. Overall, though, did their very best to be good and were very kind to my parents, so I shouldn't be complaining.

As anticipated, Bart and I are having our one night alone together and I'm so tired I can hardly see straight. It isn't just the fact that I had to get up at 3:45 a.m. -- it's the fact that John had a little one of his weird fits last night at bedtime and by the time it was over I was so riled up (without showing it outwardly) that I never did really sleep at all. I slept in 15-20 minute spurts from 11 until 3:30.

But for now, I'm going to do my best to enjoy time with my husband and forget about everything else that is troubling me...

And then...

it wouldn't even publish last night. Annoying.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ever paid $4.99 to be furious?

Tonight I decided it was worth the $4.99 to be able to be online before going to bed early. I haven't been able to use my computer since Monday and was hoping to get some work done, as I feel guilty for neglecting it.

However, I signed on to see a message that Mike is going into a foster home. This is after his therapist stated he was a danger to self and others and when he proved that he couldn't make it our home. The letter the therapist wrote said he should not be in foster care. He has stolen from us and been gone all night several times. Foster care is just giving him exactly what he wants -- another family to lie to, steal from, and manipulate.

In addition he is demanding two pairs of shoes: one of which John is wearing because Mike stole and lost his IPod and the other we have no idea where Mike got them. Mike is also asking for the opportunity to come to our house to pack his own belongings. Right. After he has stolen so much from us in the past few weeks, I don't think so.

This combined with the fact that for the first time I actually corrected John this week. He's been pretty good, but I've tried to let a few things go. But when I told him he and Rand could go to the vending machine and buy themselves each a pop and since there wasn't enough for 2 pops John decided to buy himself a pack of pop tarts and get nothing for Rand, I decided to correct that. This resulted in John going OFF about how he never does the right thing and how he I NEVER appreciate him and how he should never have come on the trip and how I should have left him home.

I know that all sounds stupid and it's hard to understand why John could frustrate me with something so simple, but I kept trying to drop it and meanwhile all his yelling is hapening while I'm trying Instant Message Bart about how to respond to the social worker about Mike's requests. On top of that I'm exhausted after driving almost 5 hours and I have to look forward to getting up at 4 a.m. to fly and then drive several hours to take the boys to UMYs. Then finally, worn and spent, I'll be able to spend the first night I've had alone with my husband since August.

A very nice entrance back into my world. And just think, had I skipped paying the $4.99 I might have been able to go until tomorrow afternoon without having to know that the county was going to head down a road completely different than what we thought would/should happen. The difference is, this time we're not going to fight them. We are pretty sure we know what will happen, but I'm sure they are following their "least restrictive environment" policy and that sooner or later he'll end up where he should be. John did, but it took 11 months and we tried the whole way through, to no avail, to convince them. If it takes 11 months for Mike, he'll be almost 18.

Bottom line? I'm more sad than furious. We gave all we had for 8 years and it doesn't appear to have made one bit of difference.

Galloping Wild Horses and No News Good News?

After hearing from Bart several times yesterday as he regailed the wonderful features of our new front loading washer and dryer, all the sudden communication stopped. I'm hoping it is because he is busy with Lent services, etc., and not because he is keeping something from me as to not ruin my vacation.

I woke up several times last night and all the thoughts, problems, and issues I will face as I return home came rushing into my head like a herd of galloping wild horses. So many issues to think about, they keep me awake. The move, my jobs, the kids issues, taxes, financial aid, the practical stuff like dentist appointments and haircuts...wild thoughts. All of these thoughts are just a reminder of the future weeks of stress and frantic activity until we are settled in our new home and town.

We leave my parents around 4 today to head to Phoenix to spend the night and then fly out VERY early in the morning. I may not post again until tomorrow -- although I may end up online again later today. The library has become quite a second home to me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sight Seeing

I'm not much of a sight see-er. In fact, I'm a lousy tourist. I figure the only point in going anywhere is to see people. However, John and Rand were getting a little antsy with nothing to do, so I decided we'd do the tourist thing.

We waited for my mom to get off work and then the four of us went to see the Petrified Forest and the Painted Dessert. A LONG drive, but some beautiful scenery. However, the end of the trip was quite annoying as Rand and John acted like 4 year olds for a good 40 minutes.

We had some supper at the school, and now I'm checking my email one last time for today at the library and then I will probably check out a book to get me through the times when I can't be working over the next 24 hours before we leave.

It's kind of fun when life is on hold.... but it is also quite unusual for me.

A barrage of thoughts

I'm back in the library for another half hour. Am enjoying less stress and some time to relax as well as accomplishing some things. Finished writing a home study yesterday before going to supper with my mom and the boys.

Last night I went to "prayer meeting" with my parents. It was really pretty neat to attend the staff prayer meeting at the school and meet the people who had already prayed so much for our family. They actually have a meeting where they pray. The leader greets everyone, they sing one chorus, and then there is a sheet or prayer and praise requests. People pray, outloud, one at a time, many of them, and then it is over. This is something I was a part of many times years ago, but recently had forgotten how powerful it can be. My mother certainly has the gift of intercession, and prays hours a day, and she and my dad were thrilled I was willing to attend with them.

Afterwards I finished the book I was reading (I read a whole novel yesterday, and two during flights on Sunday... I hardly ever get to read for pleasure). Then I was in bed by 9 and it felt great.

This morning I finished my parents taxes, did a load of laundry, and helped my Dad call Social Security to deterine if they qualified for the new prescription drug plan (they don't -- which means you must have to be VERY poor to qualify) and then took my dad to run errands. Rand and John came with -- we went to Dollar General, the hardware store, the post office, the bank, the grocery store, and then came back in time for lunch with my mom and her ADORABLE group of four 4 and 5 year olds that she teaches.

I then dropped off my dad and the boys at the house and came to the library.

As you can see, it isn't an exciting trip, but it is fun to help my parents and actually relax a little. The only things left that I haven't accomplished is the final copy of our taxes and Kyle's financial aid application. I believe I will get it all done.

Tomorrow we spend the day here and then head to PHoenix to fly out on Friday morning. Then it's back to the wild life.

I am so grateful for my parents and the way they raised me and for their simple way of life. It is refreshing to be with them again and be reminded of this way of living. I hope to return to my real world refreshed and ready to go.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fixing those blog errors

If you checked my blog earlier today, you could see that I published the same thing 5 times. That was not due to my error -- of course -- it was due to the slow internet and not being able to tell it had been published. Then, when I tried to fix it it was just taking too long.

I'm now in the Holbrook, AZ library using my parents card to get my 30 minutes of actual up-to-speed internet. I've upgraded now to a Gateway, still running Windows, but my companions to either side of me are interesting characters.

John and Rand are "walking around" seeing what they can see. When I finish, we'll head back to my parents and I'll tackle those taxes.

I had something I needed to research here first.

Bart is holding down the fort well. Seems that the washer and dryer are both going out, so he's off to purchase new ones -- no interest, no money down. Gotta love it.
We've run those machines into the ground for 11 years, hard use, so it's time to upgrade.

Perspective and Sleep

By the time we arrived at my parents yesterday afternoon, I was shot. We visited, had some supper and then Rand toured the campus (we are hoping he can come down here to work when he gradutes). By 7 p.m. I was wondering if I could stay awake long enough to go to bed. My parents were tired as well and so my mom headed to bed and the boys and grandpa watched a little TV. I started to read a novel I had brought with me, but by 7:30 I was ASLEEP. I slept twelve hours and it felt great.

I woke up ready to conquer the day. Showered, had some yogurt, and then finished up my parent's taxes. I drove into town to use their computers, but the library didn't open until 10 and I was there at 9. I opted, instead, to use the comptuer in the mail room at Sun Valley Indian School where my parentes work.

Realized that I am VERY spoiled. My super fast G-5 and my cable wireless internet are things that I take for granted. I am now sitting in front of an old Optiquest Q51 using Windows and Internet Explorer and a VERY slow internet connection. It literally takes a minute between clicks or more for a page to load.

So, I'm feeling much better than I have for a while. I am well rested, I am grateful for the little things in life, and I received a call this morning from Bart that court went fine. It had been scheduled for yesterday, but cancelled because of snow. At any rate, they are calling Mike "abandoned", but the language they use doesn't bother us any more. This time through we are not having to have an attorney and are representing ourselves. They aren't pointing fingers -- Mike's history over the last 2 years shows that it isn't our fault as he has already proven that he can't hold it together regardless of where he is.

So, even though we have an open CHIPS case, we are much more relaxed since the last time we went through this. Our contact with Mike will be limited by us, since we don't want it to affect the rest of the children. We know we are doing the right thing, and it is sad and very hard, but we are at least not feeling that there are those blaming us.

I think I've found a better online connection for the next time I'm online. One of the younger guys on staff has wireless installed in the dorm where he is a dorm parent and offered to let me go over there.

But first, back to my parent's house to get the vegging boy/men who are watching TV and showering... and we'll have lunch with my mom. Then it's time to finish our taxes.

The pace of life is certainly slower than I'm used to -- about as slow as the internet.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Travelling with Boys in Men's Bodies

Well, our trip was long, starting with our first 2 hours taking three driving through the beginnings of a blizzard, but I didn't get lost and our luggage arrived at the same place we did and we didn't miss any flights.

However, travelling with these guys now is different than it was a few years ago. The three of us (with John in a 210 pound short body, broad shoulders, not thin and Rand at 320+ and 6'6" and I really filled up a row on that plane. We could hardly move.

But even though their bodies are huge, their common sense is so lacking. I was tired and lazy so I let them order their own food. I asked them to get me some water and to order their suppers. They have been listening to us for weeks talk about how we're going to be short on money, and they know that I can only have a few sips of water because of my surgery, but putting two and two together isn't their strong suit. They came back from Burger King with King Size meals (which we NEVER order -- always mediums) and a $4.00 bottle of water -- the biggest one there. heavy sigh. My fault for being too lazy to go and order. I had the other half of my Arby's wrap that I had ordered for lunch.

Then on the plane I didn't ask for an extension, which I almost always do. I figured I couldn't move, so why did I need a seatbelt. But the stewardess caught me half way through the flight and gave me a little "talking to." When we were leaving the plane I purposefully looked the other direction which provoked her into saying loudly, "Did you leave your EXTENSION in the seat?" AAAH!

We ended up arriving in Phoenix late and didn't get to the hotel until 1:30 a.m. Wouldn't you know it? Very nice Radisson that priceline gave Bart for $20 cheaper than the Extended Stay America one we're staying at on Thursday where we'll get in earlier. Oh well.

I ended up letting John sleep with me because it was a King size bed and I felt too selfish. However, he took up at least 4/5 of the bed and didn't like to stay on his side. However, snoring was minimal so I slept OK. Woke up at 8:30 thought, and couldn't go back to sleep.

Today we drive to Sun Valley to see my folks -- will take about 4 hours. Not sure how much I'll be able to get online while I'm there -- it defines "the Boonies."

Glad I'm here though with Phoenix weather. I hear the blizzard we left was quite a doozie.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Record

It’s noon and nobody has made me mad yet today. Gotta be some kind of a record.

As soon as Rand arrives home with Bart from church, we will be getting in the car and driving through a storm to the airport 4 hours from here. It’s a mild spring storm, so hopefully the roads will be just slush and it won’t get cold enough to freeze.

At least we’re taking off in good spirits... Will try to blog from the hotel in the morning (if there is wireless internet).

Light at the End of the Tunnel

This morning, for this brief moment, I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone got up like they were supposed to without too much argument. After church I am leaving until Friday when I then get to spend several hours alone with my husband and a night in a hotel. I get to share my story with people who get it at an adoption conference where nobody thinks you’re THAT weird.

And this week I get to see my awesome parents who, if you haven’t read about them, you should check out this post or this one or this one. Being with them does so much for me -- it reminds me of who I am, shows me who I want to be, gives me hope, and builds my faith. I can’t go wrong.

And besides, no matter what, there is no way this trip can be as bad as Houston.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Shout-Out

I want to give a shout-out to my absolutely awesome husband. He is such an incredibly patient person. When I am at my wits end on days like today trying to accomplish multiple things, he is quietly in the background, calmly dealing with our children, doing dishes, cooking, doing laundry, helping out however he can.

It has taken me the entire day to catch up on family and work related paperwork and to pack my briefcase. The whole time he has been supporting me behind the scenes with his actions. And never once has he complained about how crabby I am.

I’m glad he’s my husband because if he were someone else’s and I didn’t have him, I would be jealous.

Did that make any sense at all?

Fall Out

John was so agitated today he nearly drove me crazy. My first mistake was forgetting his meds because he slept so late. Then having nothing planned all day (except me getting ready for my trip and Bart doing laundry and cleaning) was a second mistake, giving him way too much unstructured time. He decided to use it getting the little kids all worked up and driving me nuts.

He was picking up all of the MIke language and arguing about everything. He insists that saying, “I’m going to a friend’s house -- I’ll be home at 9” is enough information. It’s not. Not in this house. Where you are, who you’ll be with, if parents will be home are not, etc. are all questions that must be answered. He responded with, “If I don’t come home are you going to kick me out too?”

Our discussion was less than productive. It is absolutely nuts the way he ALWAYS makes me regret doing anything special with or for him. Here we’re spending $500 to make it possible for him to spend a week with me at my parents, and the day before he can’t follow a simple request of mine no matter what. Each simple directive was met with 10-15 minutes of arguing.

Cindy would be saying “duh” about now, but I haven’t done as many older teens as she has.

I think my insanity that is based on my children’s mental illness is directly related to this fact: I keep expecting things to get better. I told myself, “Things will be better after court.” Then “Things will be better after his meeting saying he can go back to public school.” Then “Things will be better once he sees Mankato and the house, church, and school.” and “Things will be better if Mike isn’t here.”

But they aren’t. Nothing seems to resolve it.

Again, a resounding DUH. He has a mental illness. Situations aren’t going to change that fact. Get over it already, Claudia!


I’m making progress -- checking things off my list as I clean out my email and clean off my desk. It’s a whirlwind when I get ready to leave for any trip.

This morning the kids were REALLY hyper, but things seem to have calmed down at this point.

I don’t know how much I’ll blog from Arizona, but I“ll try my best to at least post every couple days. Bart has court alone on Monday, which I am feeling bad about. The sheriff came to serve the CHIPS petition paperwork for MIke today.

Trying to wrap up lose ends, give Bart all the instructions he will need to complete the week.

Hope to see some of you on Saturday at the Minnesota Adoption Conference. I will be giving the closing speech called, ”What were we thinking?“ It’s sort of a stand up routine. Bart will be presenting earlier in the day ”The Spiritual Aspects of Adoptive Parenting.“

Right now I’m trying to pack up all our tax stuff to get that done at my parents.... Sound like a fun vacation?

How Did It Go?

How did it go yesterday? you ask?

WEll, let me say this. If I ever plan a trip for all of us at the same time and suggest to you in any fashion that it might be fun for me, knock me in the head with your knuckles and say, “HOW DUMB ARE YOU?”

Actually, we survived, but the kids haven’t been this hyper in YEARS. I had rented movies for the van DVD player for the little kids riding with me, so other than Tony doing his best to annoy everyone in the van most of the time, the ride to and from were not horrible.

However, I had a meeting while Bart took the kids to see the mall, where John had to cuss and swear because he had no money. He has no money because he “lost” his wallet. I think Mike took it, but have no proof, which would be interesting since John has been Mike’s loyal trustworthy friend over the past three weeks. Mike also took John’s IPod... great friend he was.

Then Tony got lost in the mall, and it took Bart 20 minutes to find him while I waited with the vehicles and 6 kids who REALLY wanted to see the new house. When we got there they just RAN through it, getting mud on the carpet and talking way too loud, going everywhere. It was mayhem. The good thing is that everyone loves the house and the neighborhood.

We then drove by the outside of schools. We will tour the insides only a couple at a time over the next weeks as I can’t do it with everyone.

We then toured the church -- which was hosting the annual rummage sale -- and so it had lots of people there. When we walked in they thought we were customers. We let them figure out it was us without saying anything. People were very friendly, but the kids were hitting each other, and Dominyk of course has to tell Tony to F*** himself quite loudly. They couldn’t keep their hands of ANYTHING and had all kinds of very odd questions to ask the secretary who was giving us the tour.

We then went to a park to kill some time and watched them do the exact opposite of what we instructed. They walked through the mud, with Jimmy falling on his butt of course. They were playing with a dead squirrel. Rand had to use the outhouse, so John took as long as he possibly could in there while everyone else threw snowballs at the roof and the door trying to hurry him up. We finally left in frustration.

I dropped a few off (the ones that weren’t covered in mud) at the YMCA and used our guest pass from the welcome packet. I had a meeting and when I finished, we met for dinner. Finally everyone was calm enough to be human, and we had a great authentic Mexican dinner. The ride home was calm. When we got home it wasn’t.

I’m just glad the day is over. Now I am in “pre-trip” mode -- trying to get everything done before I leave tomorrow (including packing up everything I didn’t get done to take with me).

Friday, March 10, 2006

Debating Not Blogging

I’m kind of in a rush this morning so I debated not blogging, but with all the drama, how could I leave you hanging?

We are taking the kids to Mankato today to see the house and church. As you can imagine, they are flying high. And someone took a $10 bill I had saved for Salinda (who has opted to spend time with a friend tonight instead of going with us.

I did not handle the missing $10 well. John was asleep and MIke is not here. Therefore it means one of the other kids took it and nobody would confess. I did not de-escalate the situation, let me tell you.

So, in the next 1 hour and 20 minutes I need to:

finish this blog entry
print some maps of the places we’re going today so we don’t get lost.
go to the post office
go to the bank
go to the video store and rent something to play on the van DVD player today so that I don’t completely lose it
change the laundry
find myself some socks
collect the information that I have for 2 work related meetings today and get that ready.
Call the YMCA to see if the boys can hang out there while I’m in a meeting.

So I guess I should get going ...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's Over

The long awaited meeting for John to find out if he can go back to public school is over. They are going to let him back in. Now it is up to him to get in there and do what he is supposed to do. Can he? We don’t know. But we think he deserves a shot at it.

I didn’t get the taxes done. Thus I couldn’t start on the financial aid. Apparently I’m going to be taking tax stuff with me to Arizona. But there will be lots of time there to get it done while my mom is at work and my Dad is doing crosswords and watching Andy Griffith.

A Hodge Podge of Thoughts

For some reason, the absolute insanity of some of my children has caused me to chuckle as opposed to get stressed out lately. I’m still laughing about John’s indignation that his UA was NOT clean. I laugh every time I think about it.

John loves to stir up trouble, and last night Bart and I sat in our bedroom upstairs and listened to John yell out into the night air, “MIke, come over to the other side of the house.” We had not gotten around to telling the kids where Mike was, so Bart and I knew he was safe at Kid’s Peace 30 miles away. Bart didn’t find this all that humorous, but I thought it was hilarious that John was out there “talking” to Mike who couldn’t possibly have been there. See, I am warped.

This morning I heard Dominyk chanting to himself in the bathroom, “Waste not, want not” which is the absolute antithesis of his philosophy of life. Again, I’m laughing.

On to more serious stuff: My friend Kari is an incredible writer and her blog entry today is a perfect example. The last paragraph is an incredible statement of our faith. In that entry she gives this quote One mental health professional on the diagnostic team said this about the behaviors of a patient with FAS that they were in the process of evaluating, "full throttle acceleration with no steering and no brakes.”

That completely and totally describes Mike’s behavior the last 3 weeks. Stopping him is impossible when he won’t listen to anyone. It’s mind boggling.

I slept last night and the haze is slowly lifting from my life. We have a tough meeting for John at school today, and hopefully after that his behaviors will settle down. I think if we can go to Mankato tomorrow and show the kids the house, their behaviors will settle even further.

I have about 4 hours “free” today that I am hoping to use to complete our taxes and Kyle’s financial aid. I think the only way I will get it done is if I turn off MSN and my email program... and probably Safari too so I don’t get distracted by my RSS feed telling me my friends blogs are updated.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress because i KNOW you are so interested. ;-)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Calm Between Storms

We found the file!!! That was a HUGE relief and made me feel much better. Now I’m a step closer to getting taxes done.

We haven’t told the kids where Mike is yet. Hoping to buy some time until court where we know where he’ll be going for sure. Right now he is in a “72 hour hold.” The social worker said that when they transported him to Kid’s Peace (where he spent almost a year of his life) he didn’t act surprised. She wondered if he even acted relieved. He was definitely speeding down hill at an incredible speed and I think if I were him I’d be happy someone was stopping me as well.

Bart still isn’t feeling the greatest, so someone else is preaching for him at the Lenten service tonight. I’m going and everyone but the youngest two kids are going. That makes the older kids mad, but to tell you the truth, I just want to be able to go to church and worship and focus without having to fight with anyone. Last time I took Dominyk to the Presbyterian Church we did NOT have a good time.

Anyway, between the storm of supper (everyone was bickering like CRAZY tonight) and the storm of getting everyone in the van I have 30 minutes.

Can anyone answer this question that appears to be off topic but isn’t?

Why do adolescents have to argue with EVERY SINGLE THING their parents say?

Many Many Thanks

Emails including words of encouragement, support, and concern as well as prayers headed our way have sustained me all day long. Thanks SO MUCH to all of you who are praying for us. We know that this will all work out for good... It’s going to take some time to get there, but we will.

Again, THANKS!

The Conclusion of the Matter at Hand

Mike is not going to be returning to our home. It has been one horrible day and the next few days only promise to be worse. In order for this to happen, we have to begin a year of court involvement in our lives. So, we managed to have a 2 day break from being under a “CHIPS” (Child in Need of Protection or Services) Petition. It was so nice to have that burden lifted, and now we had to bring it back on ourselves.

Our only other choice is to voluntary terminate our own parental rights. We have sworn we would never do that and have told our kids over and over and over again that they will always be our kids, even if they can’t live with us. We don’t want to send the message that we would “disown” or “Give up on” a kid, no matter how how bad their behavior gets. Even if they can’t live with us, we still want to keep our promise.

So we are in a dilemma. With many financial issues pressing on us right now, most of which I can’t discuss publicly, we don’t want to have to hire an attorney and travel back for court every 90 days or more for the next year. We don’t want to sit in the hearings where MIke tries to make us take the blame for every mistake he makes.

But within 72 hours we have to be in court. If it happens on Monday, Bart will have to go alone, which nobody would want to do. I’ll be in Arizona visiting my parents -- and I’d rather be in court alone than be somewhere else when he has to go alone. I will feel awful for him if he does. Or, it could take place on Friday, requiring us to change many plans we are trying to make to get the kids over to Mankato to see where we are going to live.

Stress of another kind

I can’t post about Mike until we have more answers.

But, I am having quite the stressful day. I’m trying to get our taxes done and am running into a zillion roadblocks. I’m trying to communicate with Bart via MSN and it keeps messing up. We have thrown away things or lost things we should have kept. I am getting more annoyed by the minute.

I’ve ignored everything else to focus on taxes today and I’m not making much progress.

Not Sure How to Blog

Not sure what to blog, how much to blog, or whether to make it a never ending rant or a vague short paragraph that tells nothing. Either way I’m not sure it will make me feel any better.

Mike and John’s therapist spent some time yesterday trying to convince me of how damaging it is to the other children to have Mike in the home (or not in the home, at least most of the time, but you know what I mean). That conversation, in addition to his questioning the probation officer about ways to violate parole, made us start to wonder. But when I found out that he had snuck in the house at 3 a.m. yesterday morning and gone into his sleeping sister’s room to show her his newly pierced lip, it became more and more evident that this is not working.

Last night around 9:30 the boys were having an argument as to whether or not Mike was home. Some had sworn they saw him. Others said no. Apparently he had come home around 7 (after his birthday dinner), run in the house to grab something (probably something of ours) and ran right back out yelling to his friends in the waiting vehicle, “I got it!” Apparently he was home around 9:30 because when he saw that we had gone around and locked and shut all the windows he had opened to sneak back in, he managed to come home.

There are at least 3 children in our family who have bought into MIke’s theory of life -- that the only way to survive in our home is to disregard every rule. Kids are starting to say things like, “I don’t have to have your permission to leave this house,” and “I don’t have to follow your rules.” This is a totally new development.

And the constant stress of knowing that he will break in and out of the house at any time of day or night, that he will steal from us and destroy our property, and the inability to predict anything is really what stresses everyone out. Last night little kids were still awake at 10:30. They just can’t settle down.

I laid awake last night and started to go over the things that have happened in the last 3 weeks. It seems like 3 years. He has been able to reek havok in so many ways in such a short period of time.

This morning he started a conversation with “Did you have fun celebrating my birthday without me?” which I explained that we didn’t. He of course, tried to make us feel bad about it. One of the classic comments was, “I’m not even your real son, so get over it already.”

We think he going to push it until he self-destructs. The only question is, do we admit we were wrong, try to get him in a facility regardless of how the county decides to handle it, or do we just watch him hit bottom while our kids and us suffer daily ... as it will take him a long time.

I’m not a quitter, but I suppose at some point you just have to say, “We can’t do it” and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe we’ll just have to take his advice and “get over it already.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Death and Perspective

Since Saturday, I have heard of 7 deaths, 2 of which are famous people, the other 5 aren’t. They are people associated with blogs I read or related to people I go to church with. It just seems odd that so many people have died in such a short period of time.

During the few hours yesterday when we didn’t know what was wrong with Bart, things got put into perspective a little bit. The deaths I’ve heard about make life seem less problematic than I’ve been whining that it is.

Sure, I’ve got some stress, but nobody is dying or dead in my immediate circle. I have stress, I’m exhausted, my children are disappointing me and making me nuts, but we are healthy and whole.

Prayers to God and thoughts to those of you who have lost someone this week. I’m sorry if my whining has annoyed you. I realize that I have things pretty good compared to many.

You Can't Always Get what you Want

I have a strong desire to watch “What About Bob?” I haven’t seen it for a long time, and none of the video stores in town have it. My desire to see it probably has to do with the lunacy surrounding me and the thesis of the movie: Crazy people can drive very sane people insane.

And I HATE it when I can’t have what I set my mind on. I mean how often do I decide to give myself a break to do something meaningless and then I can’t even do it.


For those of you sitting on the edge of your seats

he didn’t show up for his own birthday dinner. Bart made his favorites. His siblings had presents for him (as did we). He never came home from school.

And we just shake our heads and wonder...

And even weirder

We’re all sitting around wondering if Mike is going to show up for his own birthday dinner. I’ll answer my own question. Yes, my world is weird.

Blog Etiquite

if a person puts your blog address in their blog can’t you, in turn, put their blog address in your blog.

or not.


Probation Officer

Mike’s probation officer talked to me twice today and Mike once. Mike’s UA was also clean, but Mike knew his was. Says he and John haven’t touched anything when they have been together and doesn’t know why John would tell people they had smoked anything “unless he just wants people to think he’s bad.”

Mike says he isn’t sure he wants to move (are any of us???) and that he doesn’t know what he thinks about moving (do any of us?) He is having a hard time living here and just feels like he needs to get away (don’t we all?)

Sorry, don’t mean to minimize.

Anyway, he asked his probation officer, “What do I have to do to break my probation?” “Where would you send me if I did?” What town? What would it be like?“

So in two days I have a son lying to a judge about taking drugs and arguing that his clean UA is rigged and another son asking his probation officer how he can violate his probation.

is it just me, or is my world WEIRD!!!??