Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Things to Ponder

Why would my blog be considered Spam and me not be able to post for a whole day?

Why can some trips be completely horrid and others be glitch-free? Why can't you just have one bad thing happen on each trip?

Should it make me nervous to have a Somalian taxi drivers in the midst of a blizzard? Where did they get their experience?

Did you know that no matter how many times you put your magnetic key into door number 326, it won't open if it's the key to room 325?

Why can't all airline seatbelts be the same length so that you don't have a adreneline rush thinking you've lost 50 pounds in 4 days when you don't have to ask for an extention?

What does it mean if you can't get in or out of the van taxi without crawling on your knees?

What are the odds of being in seat 39D AND being surrounded by a bunch of guys returning from a truckers convention who are seeing how many beers they can drink on the flight?

Why is it that when you're with your family you feel lik eyou need a break, but when you're away you miss them like crazy?

So Excited to Work that I Can't Sleep

At 6:30 a.m. I was awake and couldn't go back to sleep. I am going to be able to sit and do nothing but work for four uninterrupted hours and that is a real treat for me. Even when I am working at home and the kids are at school, I am still interrupted by the phone multiple times and I get up to change the laundry.

So I'm starting off my day enthusiastic and well rested and ready to make some matches and find homes for kids. Because everyone needs someone to commit to them forever.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I had a great day today of speaking, training, meeting folks, being with people I've known a while -- having good food and talking about how to do things better, how to improve the system, sharing stories. I love it.

But there is one story that just makes me ill ... in addition to being nearly outraged. Two years ago Bart and I inquired about a boy out here who was 15. We submitted our homestudy and were told that we had "too many kids" and that he wouldn't do well here.

You guessed it, they never found anyone else and now he is aging out. He ran away a few months ago and they aren't even looking for him.

Now, grant it, if this kid would have moved in with us two years ago, he would have had a pretty rough couple years with us. Who knows how he would have fared watching all the drama with Mike and John.

BUT, he would have a family today. He might have still run away, but we'd be looking for him and he'd have a place to come home to when he was done running. Instead, who knows what will become of him. I won't go on, but you get my frustration.

I also found out about a sibling group of 2 kids with a very parentified older brother and his younger sibling with Down's Syndrome that they may have to split because nobody will take them both. And that would be so tragic for both of them.

Every state has stories like this and every time I hear them I am compelled to do as much as is humanly possible to get kids out of the system and into homes because I am realizing that kids need parents after they are 18 maybe even MORE than they do before that.

Sometimes Even the Best of Us ...

I slept almost ten hours and am ready and raring to go today.

But apparently after 3 hours of sleep, my co-presented commented that I was less positive about my children than usual. Considering the fact that I could not properly show my presentation because apparently Mike stole our $3,000 projector before he went into treatment, I was feeling a little less than positive. He was right.

But hopefully I can be a little more positive today. It helps me feel a little bit better when even Cindy feels like quitting.. I don't know how to even explain how hard it is sometimes to be positive and upbeat about our lives when we are constantly the target of everyone's wrath. It is dehumanizing, almost, to be blamed for so much of what we did not do.

But we all know that, inspite of what happens, we CAN keep going. We just have to regroup, pray, take a deep breath, blog, garden, play raquetball whatever it is we know we need to clear our heads, and then we get up and do it another day. We know we won't quit, because that's not what we do. Looks like Cindy is already back on her feet, working through things, like we all do.

And that, folks, is the MOST IMPORTANT characteristic a person who parents these kids MUST have -- is that little spark of hope, or that stubborn sense of determination, that keeps us going without quitting forever. That's what I look for when I recruit parents because most everything else can be worked around.

Monday, February 26, 2007

You Don't Know What You've Got Until It's Gone

And I'm talking about clean underwear. Yup, that's what I'm talking about.

I don't know where to start because it's been quite the day.

I guess I'll start where I left you last night -- hovering next to a wall outlet in the Denver airport, tired and full of McDonald's snack wraps sans fries or pop. My flight that was supposed to leave at 7 p.m and didn't actually leave until 11:30 p.m. We pulled into the gate at 1:45 a.m. That's 3:45 a.m. my time.

When we got there, of course all of the rental car places had shut down for the night. I called the hotel shuttle who told me I couldn't call for a ride until I had my luggage. I waited for hundreds of pieces of luggage to come down to discover that mine wasn't there. I stood in a long line to report it missing. When I got to the line, Alaska airlines said, "NOrthwest has it -- down at carousel 8" so I walked several miles (OK, so I exaggerate) to that carousel and FOUND MY SUITCASE! I was so excited -- until I realized that it was locked up and I couldn't get to it until morning.

So, I called the shuttle back, and then waited for at least 20 minutes for it. I didn't pull into the hotel room until about 2:45 this time (4:45 my time) and fell into bed exhausted.

Got up at 6:30 and had a shower, getting dressed in dirty clothes without the underwear. I NEVER go without underwear, but this time I just had to do it. The guy I'm travelling with took me to the airport and dropped me off to get my suitcase and the car.

If there would have been anyone taping me changing in the bathroom it would have been comical. The stall had a sink in it and I set my stuff in it -- makeup bag and sweatshirt -- not realizing that it was an auto turn-on faucet (which, had I been trying to get to turn on wouldn't have) and the water started pouring on it. Then I tripped, dropped some stuff --- it was a comical nightmare. And I had so little time.

I ended up being 30 minutes late to my speak -- they had to start without me, adn I came in exhausted and disoriented and "off" as well as exhausted. I sort of pulled it together by the time I finished, and we had a great lunch with an adoption professional from this area that I really enjoy.

I came back to the hotel around 3 p.m. and crashed til 6 when I woke up just a mess. Groggy, in a fog ... you know the feeling. Had some supper and now it's 8:15 here, and though I have so much I should do, I think I'm going to have to just go to bed and wait until morning. Maybe I'll wake up early and have some energy to do things, because right now I'm just, as my daughter would say, "not feeling it."

Bart reports that everyone is doing very well at home. He took the kids to a movie tonight that everyone liked and they are doing very well. That always makes me feel better about being gone.

And I'm good now. I have lots of clean underwear.

2:52 Pacific Time

That's 4:52 Central Time.

I just got to my hotel room.

I have no luggage.

I have no rental car.

But tomorrow, I WILL have a great blog entry for you, I hope ... but you may have to wait until mid afternoon.

I've been up almost 24 hours. Isn't that grand?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What does New Software Plus Bored Plus Stuck in an Airport Equal?

Click for a larger view.

Still in Denver. Crud.

I used to think it would be glamorous. Travelling, airports, staying in hotels, eating out ... and having people come for miles to hear me speak.

Now I think travel is basically annoying and I hate not having any control. I hate having someone be able to say "We're sticking around here for another 3 hours" and not be able to do a thing about it. My flight that was supposed to leave at 6:55 is now leaving at 11:30. Can I change that? No. Can I do anything but sit here and wait? Nope. Am I gonna be DOG TIRED tomorrow.

I have to be ready to start my day at 7 a.m.

Fortunately there are some hours in the afternoon free so I can rest. I'm sure I'll make it. Several of the people who are supposed to be on my flight are travelling with small children. At least I can be happy that I dn't ahve to deal with THAT tonight.

An Unanticipated Hello from Denver

My flight to Denver was an hour late arriving but fortunately (or unfortunately) the flight to Seattle is also delayed due to mechanical malfunction.

I have a meal voucher than only McDonalds would take ... and hardly any computer power -- not outlets in site.

And to top it all off, I gave up fries and pop for lent, so what is left to eat at the Golden Arches when it isn't breakfast time?

I'm thinking by the time I get to Seattle, I'm going to be pretty tired...

What to do About MIke ... The Next Chapter

Great to be at the airport with my Macintoswh that I love so much ...

The ride here was uneventful. Roads had been plowed... got here quickly and am already checked in. Flight doesn't leave for another couple hours, so I'm having a snack and enjoying wireless internet. Gotta love it.

I have been meaning to blog about our thinking and planning for Mike since our visit with him on Thursday. Both Bart and I are amazed and somewhat annoyed by his sudden interest in us and our family. This is the pattern that he always follows: Get sent to treatment, have an amazing discovery of how valuable family is, beg for visits, letters, calls, snacks, presents, etc. as he professes his love for us and get as much as he can from us until he gets.

Then as soon as he is home he is back to stealing from us, completely disregarding our rules, and avoiding us as much as possible.

As you know from previous posts, I'm not all that excited about another ride on the hope train, but I figured why not connect as much as possible while he is vulnerable and wants our contact? So he can get calls 3 times a day and we're trying to call every time. Bart sent him a letter and I sent him some magazines. We'll take advantage of it.

I also am looking into a Job Corp program for him. If you're not familiar with it, kids get paid to live in dorms and learn a trade, as well as finish high school. If he qualifies it's all free and will be like college with more supervision. The supervision that he would receive there would be annoying to most people, but after a history in residential treatment he would feel quite free, I assume.

Anyway, it's a thought -- because even though I am willing to invest energy and demonstrate my love for him, I'm still pretty sure he won't be able to be successful at home. He's lived with us 9 years and never has been. He made it very clear that our home environment is what makes him need drugs.

So, one day at a time and we'll see what we can do. But we will continue to love him and get as much positive conversation out of him as we can while he's in treatment. Maybe something we say will click . . . or not.

But either way, we'll do our part because he's our son and in spite of it all we love him.

Dug Out

Well, thanks to four of our sons and the neighbors and their snowblower, we're dug out of the driveway, the van is dug out, and the snow plow has arrived. So it looks like I'll get to the shuttle after all. I have already called and it is running and as of this moment, my flight is on time.

If you're still reading my blog, "neighbor lady", THANKS for the help pushing the van!

Three Hour Gift

Since our street wasn't even plowed this morning after a huge storm, church was cancelled. And since I already had everything ready to go immedately following service. I have three free hours.

And this little angel, who helped me pack last night, and gave me a back rub, and has been super sweet to me, wants to play a game. So that's where I'm headed. I'll blog more from the airport this afternoon I'm sure.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thanks Be To God

If you've been following the IRS saga for the last YEAR, we FINALLY got notification today that our account balance with the IRS for our 2005 taxes is at zero.

I'm so glad since I wouldn't have wanted to have wasted those 8 hours I spent listening to the SAME hold music...

Beauty and the Beast

Sadie was in a production of "Beauty and the Beast" last night and this morning. She did an awesome job. She had a speaking part as one of the Madrigals.

Her Dad even bought her a dozen white roses to give her after this morning's performance and took her out for pie this afternoon. She's had a pretty great day.

10 Hours Straight

Today it's been 10 hours of me working on my presentation for the trip. Had I realized that it was this complicated, I would have done things differently, but this isn't a deadline I can postpone.

We have a huge case of Cabin Fever. The 8th day in a row with no school and everyone is bored out of their skulls. The roads are so bad we can't go anywhere and I'm stuck working.

Dominyk had a complete obsessive meltdown for almost 2 hours until he fell asleep wanting Ben to come over. He probably said it 200 times. "I want Ben to come over" complete with sobbing and tears.

I was thrilled that the girls (Salinda's friend is snowed in here as well) gave him a break from it by turning him into Dominique, but then, when they were done, he completed the fit and then the mascara was rolling down his cheeks. A very disturbing site.

I still have another couple hours to go before I'm done and then I have to pack... I do have some more pictures I want to blog, so I will take a break to do that later as a reward to myself.

Cutting Myself some Slack

When looking at other bloggers, maybe it's just me, but I get the impression sometimes that my vulnerability and honesty leads people to respect me less. Sometimes comments left on my blog (both the ones I publish and choose not to publish) portray feelings of disappointment or even "why is someone like THIS even a parent."

I guess I had myself convinced that the feelings I have in my low points are ones shared by all parents. But maybe that just isn't true.

The intention of this post is to explain how I worked through these feelings last night, not to solicit comments about how I'm wonderful or anything like that...

I realized last night that I've been comparing myself, subconsciously, to other bloggers who have been parents for more than 20 years. I am comparing myself to folks who had birth children before they adopted. I am comparing myself to moms who only work part time or who don't work outside of the home at all.

We were married three months before we became parents to a 19 month old. Before our second anniversary we were parenting kids who were 11, 9, 3 and 2. Now that we have been married 10.5 years, we have 10 children ranging from 10-20 years in age.

I know SO MUCH MORE than I did 10 years ago and I'm a much better parent, but I'm still learning. I have not yet mastered any of the things I KNOW I should do, and attempt to every day, but just can't seem to get right.

I don't know that we'll have the energy or desire to adopt again, but sometimes I hope we will. Because we know so much more now.

And I'm going to cut myself some slack when I start the internal comparison between my parenting and the parenting of others. I wish I could be a mom like so and so, or whats her name, or even Jane Doe, but I'll just be the best me I can be. And I'm hoping that each day I'll have more answers and that some day I'll be comparable.

On the Home for the Holidays special, there was a segment that I thought was awesome. An adoptive mom was talking about her new daughter and she said, "We made a list of all the things we WANTED in a daughter and we ended up with the daughter we NEEDED."

I hope that someday my children will find this to be true. That God, in all of his wisdom, may not have given these children the mother who fit the list of the things they wanted, but that I was the mother they needed.

Friday, February 23, 2007

9 Straight Hours

I sat at my desk for nine straight hours tonight, taking a break only to go to the bathroom. My kind husband allowed me to eat at my desk and push straight through while he entertained the children, cooked, and cleaned.

I am still not done getting ready for the trip (I have a powerpoint presentation to make, in addition to having several profiles to print and copy).

But it was great to get done what I did and I was grateful.

A Long Day and a Long Night

Yesterday was a very long, emotionally exhausting day. Behavior battles and lies to uncover and a psychiatrist appointment in the morning, all the kids home, play practice and interviews, Mike's intervention, and then a 3 hour training last night, which, by the way went well.

I came home just dog tired. And then I slept like one. For nearly 11 hours everyone let me sleep. This NEVER happens.

So I am feeling rested and ready to go, which is good, because this morning I'm facing 70 unread emails and the task of preparing my powerpoint for the trip to Washington State.

Even When There Wasn't One in Site, Bart Found the Hope Train

It is very seldom that my husband is more positive than I. But apparently he has found the hope train and hopped on. I'm still debating whether I'm going to join him or let him go on this ride alone.

But just so you know, I will still go through the motions. I will not stop loving MIke, nor will I stop supporting him. It's just the question of whether or not I can dig up the faith and hope I need to believe that it will matter.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hope Train Wasn't Even Around

Mike's "Intervention" wasn't quite like the TV show. We said what we had to say. After hearing the story, even his peers were surprised at how supportive we had been of him.

He had no response. No recognition or acceptance of responsibility. Silence, followed by a mandatory tour. Our conversation later was about how he had to get high because of the way things were in our home (again, shifting responsibility to us) and how he really wanted us to call and bring him stuff.

He wants us to call three times a day. He wants us to bring the rest of his stuff. He wants money. And most of that we'll probably provide. We are not angry and we're not surprised.

But I was surprised that even among the counselors and his peers, there wasn't even a hope train. They basically just pointed out to him that this was his last shot. Nobody offered us hope. I wonder if this is a good or a bad thing.

Go, Rand! Go, Rand!

Rand got a job offer! He starts Monday in the shipping department of a great company. I'm excited for him. He managed to get himself to the interview and then to get his drug test done (we're pretty sure he'll pass his). He is now taking Jimmy for his interview and hopefully we'll have good news from that one as well.

Good news is always nice.

Way Too Smart for Them

I would hate having a mom like me because I'm just too smart. When I ask them to come up with a reason for something they grab whatever pops into their head and it blurts out of their mouth and apparently they hope that I am going to believe them. Some of them are more sophisticated than others.

Today I found Jimmy in the family room in his boxers. The door was carefully shut, so I knew something was up. Usually I ask the kids to be ready for their day, or at least presentable (especially since Salinda has a friend over) before they begin using anything electronic. Jimmy, who hasn't picked up a book in the 5 years he's been here, was standing next to the playstation by the bookshelf. When I ask him what he is doing he says, "I'm getting a book to read."

Oh puleeease. So, Jimmy is sitting in my office, showered, reading a book right now.

Then I notice that Salinda and her friend had left their coats and shoes by the backdoor. They aren't supposed to leave the house without permission after we're in bed, so when I questioned her about it "they were outside about 11:00 taking pictures." But when I asked to see the pictures, the battery was dead, they only took one, then there were seven, then she deleted them all.

Something was up. And I'll never know for sure what is up.

But if they think I'm going to accept a dumb answer without further questioning they must have short and long term memory loss. Because I ALWAYS ask.

Not Sure I'm Interested on Jumping Back on the Hope Train

I realized last night that one of the reasons I'm so dreading the intake at the CD treatment center this afternoon for MIke is that I had given up hope. Nine years with us and he still treats us as nothing more than a checkbook and a free place to live. I do not know that he cares about us at ALL ... any of us ... nor that he has the capacity to. He has stolen from us until we have nothing small enough to steal, let us lie awake countless nights wondering where he was, chosen not to tell us the truth nearly every time we asked him a question. Every chance he has to get interviewed by a professional he paints me out to be abusive. He manipulates everyone in his path.

Do I think that Chemical Dependency Treatment is the answer for Mike? Absolutely not. And that is why I dread this meeting today.

I want the people who work at CD Treatment facilities to believe that they can help the people there. I want them to have hope for their clients. I want them to believe.

Mike was in an excellent Wilderness Program from June until September. We went up to pick him up and participate in the "family circle." We talked. We listened. We had a wonderful time. The staff instilled hope.

You can read in this post about how Mike, in the ceremony, left behind "blaming other" and was taking home "accountability for his actions" and how that lasted about 2 hours. On his way home he talked about how he was never going to break the law again. The first time we let him leave the house unsupervised he overdosed on cough medicine. Within 2 weeks we had gotten him an excellent job but he failed his drug test and never got to start work.
Within 6 weeks he had been arrested for shoplifting. And within two or three weeks of that incident he had stolen a car.

Or we could go back to last Christmas. How much hope did we have when we surprised Mike by taking him out of the RTC on Christmas Day only to have him go have him go downhill to the point that he had to leave our home again on March 7th.

Or back before I was even blogging -- all the places that gave us hope that their treatment facility was going to be the one that would turn him around.

So today, I'm not anxious on hopping back on the hope train. I feel horrible that I'm giving up. But I don't see a miracle. And I hate that -- because I'm a positive person who usually has faith and hope. So I dread the meeting. Because I know, being a person of hope, that even if I don't jump back on, somehow I might get nudged up on the train, and each time it wrecks it's harder.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

One more Dominykism

Dominyk came out of the shower tonight and said, "Wow, do I bruise easily. I'm like a banana."

Raw Emotion

Sometimes the emotions I experience in my journey are so intense and so raw that later I am not sure I should have blogged them. And yet somehow I want to remember them as being as completely overwhelming as they are.

Tonight we had an Ash Wednesday Service. (For those of you who do not share my faith, I will not be offended if you don't finish reading this post.) The service was powerful.

Everyone was appropriate at the service tonight (with the exception of a few annoying things Tony did to try to seek attention) so I actually could focus on the service itself. It was very meaningful to me.

One of the most meaningful pieces was a prayer that we prayed that I thought so clearly represented what I needed to pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, if we have looked or longed for an easier gospel, a lighter cross, a less demanding Savior, then turn our eyes and avert our longing from what we want to choose to the One who has chosen us. Forgive our unfaithfulness, and, for our better living, give us not the remedy we desire tomorrow, but the grace you offer today.

Oh how I needed to pray that prayer tonight. With facing Mike's intake tomorrow, I have so been looking for an easier route than the one we have taken.

And in closing, after ashes were imposed and communion was partaken, we sang this song that I think is so completely fitting for all of us who find ourselves loving, forgiving, and praying for healing for our damaged children. It was written by Michael Perry.

Heal me, hands of Jesus, and search out all my pain;
Restore my hope, remove my fear, and bring me peace again.

Cleanse me, blood of Jesus, take all bitterness away;
Let me forgive as one forgiven, and bring me peace today.

Know me, mind of Jesus, and show me all my sin;
Dispel the memories of guilt, and bring me peace within.

Fill me, joy of Jesus, anxiety shall cease,
and heaven's serenity be mine, for Jesus brings me peace.

It covers it all -- restoring hope, removing fear, taking away biterness, allowing me to forgive, dispelling guilt, ceasing anxiety, filling me with joy, bringing me peace. These are the emotions I have found in parenting kids with attachment disorders. Those are the needs I have. This is me.

So that's my prayer. I need the healing. I need my hope restored. I need that bitterness taken away and I need to forgive again.

And I need to contemplate my mortality and remember that I came from dust and to dust I will return.

Heal me, hands of Jesus.


I know that Kari already announced this on her blog, but Dominyk's PCA that he shares with Kari's Anna, and her boyfriend are now engaged.

Aren't they cute?

Exemplary Student

Not often that I get to go to a conference and hear that one of my students is exemplary, but Rand is doing so well his senior year that everyone is THRILLED at his school.

I guess it was just a quick reminder to me that yeah, maybe it's worth it. If we hadn't already parented some of our more difficult children for a while, we might never have given Rand a chance, and he's been one of the easiest kids we have raised.

Ironically, he has the most horrific history of any of our children and has had to overcome so much. But for him, he was one of those kids that just needed some permanency in his life, and he did the rest. He's worked very hard to move forward.

We just got done filling out an application for him to go to a Tech School in the fall to study Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Cooking. His teachers believe he can do it and the school is right across the street from a place where he has a job interview tomrorow -- a wonderful company that provides great benefits.

So, it just might be that his life is falling into place due to HIS hard work. Sure, it's frustrating being his parent at times -- he has some annoying idiocyncracies and a great deal of silent oppositional behavior, but with him it's been worth it.

I guess I needed a little change of focus -- if our focus is always on the kids who aren't doing well, it's hard to celebrate the ones who are.


Pictures from yesterdays trip.

The LifeLong Question: Does It Really Matter?

Parenting children who have a history of abuse and neglect is definitely a very difficult endeavor. It is challenging and can be very fullfilling and invigorating. But there are moments when a teenager or young adult does or says something that makes you think, "Why did I invest my life in this? Does it really matter?

Cindy's blog has been a life saver for me over the past two years. The proof that her adult children provide that these kids CAN become healthy functioning adults is what I hold on to often, because as a parent whose oldest is 20, I'm just not seeing it.

Children with attachment issues can be very cunning and manipulative. They make us feel as though we have wasted our time and our energy. They suck us dry. They are takers, not givers and, since we are givers, it is easy to get sucked into the cycle to the point that we feel as though we have been severely taken advantage of.

We've held nothing back in giving all we can to our oldest son. We have tried to give him advice, we have supported him in nearly everything that he has wanted to do (expecting him to contribute to teach him responsibility). This year we will send final payment for his third year of college, which we have helped to fund. And my husband has given him, emotionally, his very best.

Yesterday he was angry because I wasn't immediately responding to a request that would allow him to complete his taxes and get his $34.00 back (yes, that's thirty-four, not thirty-four hundred). When I didn't jump to give him exactly what he wanted at the moment he asked for it, like I usually do, he called Bart and let him have it. His main points were: We are ALWAYS trying to trick him and cheat him out of everything. We have NEVER supported him. We NEVER give him anything. We have NEVER been there for him. ANd, by the way, the $1400 college bill is due in a couple weeks. Don't forget to pay it."

The ironic piece of this is that our 12 year old, Tony, was in the back seat of our van while I was talking to Bart about this conversation. I had just finished having the EXACT same conversation with Tony because I told him that I would not buy him anything. He never does his chore, thus not earning an allowance, and he won't do the dishes he is supposed to do every day. In addition, I had just purchased him a few things at the store before that and he had asked for one more thing and when I said no, he said, loud enough for the clerks to hear him, "F*** you." SO... I had just listened to the same words coming out of Tony's mouth. About how we should never have adopted him because we couldn't possibly love him. That we NEVER did anything for him. We NEVER supported him, yada yada yada.

Sorry, this is getting way too long winded.

Anyway, my point is this: One would think that Kyle, now 20, would at least have a different story than Tony after years of us supporting him through years of High School trips around the country, three years of college, and the opportunity to see us provide for him in every way again, and again, and again. But it's the same story, just with more anger, more sophisticated vocabulary, and less tears.

Tomorrow we have an "intake" conference for Mike at Chemical Dependency Treatment. I will blog about this in another post, because this is getting way too long, but Mike's issues are even beyond Kyle's. Add FASD and Narcissistic Personality Disorder to the mix and you have a kid who is not only ungrateful and manipulative, but who steals from you daily, damages your property and makes false allegations every time he can.

Or take John, who in therapy last week, told me he wasn't sure he even loved me . . . after all the years of being victimized by his violent behavior.

I wonder how many parents just stop giving. Does there come a point in time when parents of kids with attachment issues simply say "We're done?" And if so, do they miss out in seeing a good result? If they give up, is there a chance had they hung in their long enough to be mistreated and disrespected and manipulated for several more years, the kid would turn around?

I don't wonder how many parents are TEMPTED to stop giving -- I think it is almost all of us with RAD kids. We tell ourselves that we have to hang on, but there is that nagging question ... "what if we give up too soon?"

I think there are very good people out there who have made both choices. There have been those who have cut their losses and said, "Enough" and moved on with there lives. And there have been those who have kept on giving, because it is the right thing to do, indefinitely. And I'm not sure that either choice guarantees the results.

But for now, our choice is to keep giving. Not always cheerfully, but to keep that door open, to keep proving day after day that we can be trusted and that we are their parents. And whether or not they ever get it, isn't it more about whether or not we give it?

Because I have to ask myself, is the act of loving about the lover or the one being loved? Is the act of giving about the giver or the receiver? Is the act of forgiveness about the one who forgives, or the forgiven one?

And I conclude that, for me, I have to keep loving, to keep giving, to keep forgiving because that is who God has called me to be. And whether or not my love is returned, whether or not my forgiveness is accepted, whether or not my gifts are appreciated, it is my responsibility to keep doing all of the above. Because in this one instance, it is about me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Six hours for 10 Minutes

We were in the car for six hours for a ten minute appointment. But we don't have to go back until August, and we had a pretty good time. We also got a few bargains at JCPenney... and at some store in the mall that had clothes that MIGHT fit on my forearm... I think the biggest size was 9, I never wore a nine. Ever. And I wasn't even fat in high school -- I just had big bones.

Anyway, I digress. I came home to 80 emails and relative peace. Tonight I will try to get some work done and maybe write a real blog entry of some substance. Maybe.

A Day Away

Salinda has an ortho appointment in Sioux Falls today, so we're making the trip. Salinda, Sadie, Tony and I. We're hoping to hit them mall and see if there are any good final clearance sales. It should be fun.

So, I won't be blogging much today. And I won't be working much today, but it will be a good day away.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I finally got some work done this afternoon. Now I'm sitting alone in my bedroom. The girls and Dominyk are the only ones home. It's relatively quiet. I read a magazine (about Macs), making me just want to spend some time with mine. (If you have a PC, you don't understand what it means to have a relationship with your computer. If you have a Mac, you totally understand)

I'm enjoying a few moments to actually relax.

Pretty Exciting Opportunity

If you are interested in making money off your blog in an interesting way, then the Pay Per Post "Review My Post" is definitely something you should check out. As I mentioned earlier today, Pay Per Post has been for me the easiest way to make money blogging. And now they have a great program that will benefit even those people who don't want to veer away from their subject matter in order to blog about things that don't relate to their topic.

The way it works, as far as I understand it, is that you can put a post at the bottom of each of your blog posts that looks like this:

Anybody who is interested, can get paid to review your blog post. in turn, you get paid for referring them to review your entry. And, on top of all that, you get more traffic to your own blog. So everybody wins.

As I mentioned, this is a great opportunity for anyone but it is specifically beneficial for anyone who really isn't interested in other pay-per-post opportunities but just wants to keep blogging. If this is you then you can keep blogging as you always do and put the link at the bottom of each and every post. And then the money will come in as people write about what you wrote.

It's my plan to start with this post and then include it every time that I write something I think is worth reviewing.

All the details can be found here: blog ads

Auditions, Interviews, Weighins and Haircuts

What a morning! Sadie got a part in "Beauty and the Beast" (not a huge part, but a part).

Jimmy went to McDonald's and talked to the manager and he has an interview set up for Thursday.

Tony and Jimmy got haircuts.

Rand has an interview today at 2:15.

Tony is attempting to diet with me this week, so he weighed in.

It's been quite a busy day and I have gotten very little done at my desk. Heavy sigh.

A Million and One Distractions

Having many interests leads to many distractions. That's where I am finding myself this morning.

In addition to my children and my passion for finding homes for children, I love my macintosh and all of the things I can do with video, photography, web design etc. I don't have a lot of basic talent, nor an artistic eye, but I love what software can do and I love knowing how to do it.

This morning I was bombarded, reading through blogs, with lots of different things I want to do RIGHT NOW. But I'm having to control myself and get to work.

But I will say this one thing. If there are any of you out there who would like to make some money with your blog, Pay Per Post has been the easiest way to earn money that I have found so far. You'll now see a link in my sidebar and if you sign up with them, I'll get credit for referring you. But more importantly, it's a way to earn $5 in about 10-15 minutes at any time. Since I select only things that I think my readers are interested in, I don't think that it detracts much from my blog.

So, this morning, when I don't have time to post something, do you?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cycling (and not on a Bicycle)

Things kind of go in cycles here. We have our good moments and we have our bad moments.

Before we left for the movie the little boys were just being horrible ... tormenting everyone and being impossible to redirect. We didn't handle it very well and were not so sure we even wanted to go anymore.

But then we did, and the movies were good, and everyone is calm and happy and mellow for the moment.

So as for now things we're heading to bed feeling pretty good about life.

And that's how it goes, through the cycles, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. We wallow through the hard times, breathe easier in the good times, but we keep pressing forward, knowing that somehow we're going to make it together, regardless of the odds.

I Wish I Could Erase the Past and Start Fresh

I am instant messaging Salinda right now. She has no access to the internet anymore because of her mistake, but I am allowing her to instant message with the knowledge that I will read every conversation. And it's interesting, but sometimes Salinda and I have our best conversations on line, so I was cutting out that form of communication.

She changed her screen name so that it said the title of this post. And I responded that we all feel that way sometimes. Erasing the past would be a great thing.

I am thinking about how much I would like to erase the future right now though. Just a week of it. The coming week where I am trying to get ready for a trip to Washington State, where I am parenting 7 children who are out of school, where I need to participate in a family meeting with Mike at chemical dependency treatment, where I need to make two home visits far from here. Just a lot there to not look forward to.

Sometimes I think that I would love to be able to focus on just one thing: either parenting or being a professional. I'm sure that most working mothers feel that way, because there is guilt on either side. When I feel like I am doing a great job at work, I feel like I'm not parenting well. And when I feel like I'm doing a great job as a parent, work suffers. It's a tough dichotomy.

But for me I know I have to do both. It's not just a financial issue, but it's about self esteem. Parenting is something that doesn't have instant rewards and there aren't a lot of thanks floating around. I need my work so that I can see progress. I need to work so that I can feel like I'm doing a good job at something. I need to finish a presentation and be told that I'm a great speaker. I need to write a homestudy and have my boss tell everyone at work that the study was an example of a great intro to a study. I need to match a kid with a family when I know in my gut that it's right. I need to feel satisfaction.

In parenting, the rewards are sporadic and sometimes not until much after the activity. And the feedback I often get is not positive. Lots of the anger that my kids have boiling inside is taken out on me.

So, I am glad that I have a full life. I'm glad that I have both. Even though it's hard and overwhelming sometimes, I need to do both.

Tonight we're all going to go see a movie. And then we need to come up with some ideas for the week ahead... lots of hours to fill for everyone and mine are full enough as it is.

It's weeks like these when trying to have it all are the trickiest. But as always, we'll get by.

So, after all that, I must say, that I don't want to erase my past. I love my past and all that it has taught me and the way that it has formed me into who I am. I'd do it all again.

And fortunatetly, we can start fresh every day, without erasing the past. And that's what makes it all worthwhile.

Trying Something New and Different THIS week

Last Sunday morning was so horrific that I swore I'd never repeat it. We are going to early service from now on no matter what. Of course, last week when we were going to late service, Tony was up at 7:30 raring to go. This week, when we have to leave at 8:40, he's not up at 8:20. But I'm getting ready to go get him up...

Hopefully he won't have enough time or will be too sleepy to push every button I have...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Little Contagious Anna Joy

Anna and Kari were over tonight for supper, along with our other friends, Tim, Sue and Sarah. It was a wild night with lots of noise and chaos. But we had fun.

Right before they left, Anna threw herself at Bart for a hug and kiss and later, after being insructed, gave me a kiss. As we were leaving she screamed, YOU WATCH MY MOVIE TONIGHT! So I came down after everyone was gone and got a big kick out of Anna's Happy Dance.

A Morning's Worth of Work

I'm still working on the big project of getting the old LAFTER site transferred over to the Everything Adoption Site.

This morning I redid the "Feed Your Family Section."

If you check it out, let me know if any of the links aren't working correctly.

You can find it here.

A Nice Night with Tony

Tony and I had a great time playing cards last night. He acted cooperative and mature, he caught on to the game quickly, and he responded well to positive reinforcement. His typical beligerant, oppositional, nasty-mouthed behavior disappeared and he was nice to have around.

I've been working hard this week to not get into any power struggles and to comment on the absense of negative behavior. Rand, Jimmy and Ricardo's new therapist recommended the book "Transforming the Difficult Child" and I checked out their website. While I can't see myself sitting down at the end of every day with seven behavior charts, I am taking one principle and trying to follow it.

I'm sure that many parents already do this, but I have been trying to say things like,

"Wow! Thanks for being ready on time. It's nice that I don't have to wait" EVERY time that one of the girls is ready when it is time to go (of course, so far I haven't had to say it often). But I've done this and NOT said anything when they were running late.

"Great Job! You did exactly what I said the first time!"

I have pointed out to Tony six or seven times since last night how much fun I had with him last night. I'm going to see if I can continue to do this.

I'm not sure that I have the best personality for dealing with difficult children. I have said many times that while my children have "Oppositional Defiant Disorder", I have Opposition to Defiance Disorder.

But I am always striving to do better and learn more and try differently and rethink things and make progress. And possibly that is all that any of us can do.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Another Round of "Nothing to Do"

Not good timing when your best friend decides not to be your friend any more right before 9 days with no school. Salinda is unhappy, but fortunately not seeing me as the cause of this and spending some talking to me instead of shutting me out. But no matter what idea I had of how to spend her time, it was dumb. I remember similar conversations with my mother.

I'm heading over with Tony tonight to play cards with some friends. He could use some time being "special" and it will give Bart a break.

Besides, the kid has an amazing math mind and is good at cards. I had bought a Sudoku book to use on the plane, and it would take me 30-40 minutes to do an easy puzzle. He picked up the book, left the room, and was back in 5 minutes with a puzzle completed, without any extra notes to himself or anything (I have little marks everywhere on mine). I was shocked and amazed.

So, hopefully he'll rise to the ocassion and we'll have a nice time together. We need it.

On Hold, Yet Again

Now the IRS is threatening to put a levy on our house. I have had no less than 7 very long (over 45 minute) conversations with people there in the last year. I'm not excited about talking to them again.

At 3 today we started 9 days without school in a row. Spring Break, I can understand, but Spring Break when it's 10 below does not sound fun to anyone. I'm not sure what we're going to do to alleviate boredom, but we'll have to come up with something.

Always more to do than there is time to do it....

Professionally Competent

I left our training last night feeling professionally competent. I enjoy training and building relationships with people. Kari and I train well together, and we were able to have 3 families join us for our first session, with 2 more planning to come next week. I still have plenty of prospects to follow up with as well.

We are borrowing a new model from You Gotta Believe and having trainings that run consistently so that people can jump in any time. I think that the model is a good one because families can begin when they are ready. They also have time to process everything they are hearing and learning which when training is done in a 16 hours in two days format, it is hard to do. Information overload can happen quite easily.

I'm looking forward to doing training this way. I think that it will be effective and will allow me to recruit more families. And more families mean that more children will have homes.

And that, if you know me well you know, is what I'm all about.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The 10 Dont's

I was able to find a program that could input the 5662 emails that I had saved from 2000-2004 into my Mail program. When searching for something else, I ran across a post that referred me to a website that still exists (amazingly) called the 10 Dont's for Parents of Attachment Disordered Children. When I went back and read them this was #1 Don't:

Don't take the child's behavior personally. Doing this leads you to lose good interaction and decreases the chance of attachment.

I was amazed that I had read this for the first time in October of 2001 and that I consistently refused to heed this instruction nearly every day for the last 5 years. Especially this past weekend I was taking everything way too personally and it did not go well.

The past two days I have tried to keep my emotions at bay and not to take my children too seriously. It has helped to some degree. I keep reminding myself to ignore most of what they say and surprisingly, it seems to be going better that way.

There were other things on the list that I haven't done either. It's kind of embarrassing. To know that all these years later I'm still making the same mistakes. But there are other things on the list that I have learned and am doing better.

I guess that's just the way it works. We live, we learn, and sometimes we don't learn, but we keep moving and we don't give up.

The Way You Begin to Think After a While

I'm less than 3 hours from when I need to start a training and our projector is missing. I let the kids borrow it to watch movies on during Christmas break, and now I can't find it.

Now, in most families the thought would be, "well, it's got to be in this house somewhere."

But what if it isn't? What if Mike stole that too? And calling and having someone ask him if he stole it won't work because he'd lie. So, do I have everyone look frantically and possibly never find it?

Or do I give up and buy one (not cheap) and then have us find it?

Sometimes it would be nice to have the luxury of living in a house where you could say, "It's gotta be here somewhere."

Estrogen Overload

I just returned from taking Salinda and two of her friends out for lunch (40 minutes after I returned her to school from the dentists office). We have a clothes shopping trip scheduled after school, and by then I will be completely dead from Estrogen exposure.

The giggling, the burping, the farting, the silly jokes, the endless banter, the dancing in the aisles of KFC... all of that 8th grade girl stuff is great fun but also so exhausting to me.

But I do enjoy positive time with Salinda and I don't regret it....

Craving a "Normal Day"

For me, a normal day is sitting in my office all day cranking out my work, getting caught up on paperwork and email, doing laundry non-stop ... maybe, if I'm lucky, having lunch with the best husband in the universe.

I especially like mornings when I am most productive and I'm convinced, that tucked away here in my corner half/way underground office, I can get more done in a half a day than most people in an office setting can accomplish in 2 or 3 full days. Uninterrupted by friendly chat and office gossip, I can focus and CRANK out the work.

But this week I will not have a single "normal" day. This morning it's a dentist appointment and tomrorow, 2 more kids go to therapy. I'm longing for some time to get caught up.

Next week the kids are home from school all week. "Spring Break" may be the title, but when it's 11 below, it sure doesn't feel like Spring.

The following week I head to Seattle and Tacoma, and so I will not have a "normal" day until at least March 1st.

Yesterday was a very calm day here. Everyone was pretty mellow, which seldom happens on the same day. It really needs to warm up outside though, because even with pond hockey and going to the YMCA, it's really turning into a long, lazy winter for the kids. Tony and Ricardo start indoor soccer on the 1st Saturday in March. That will most likely help.

Mike is actually getting into Chemical Dependency Treatment today. We never did visit him in detention. I'm not sure he understands why, but it just didn't work out for us. It seemed rediculous to drive to see a child who was here for several months and never bothered to talk to us here and avoided us as much as he could, only here long enough to steal what he could.

It will be interesting to see what the expectations are for us as part of the CD treatment, which we will participate in, though possibly a bit cynically.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dominyk the Psychic

We were going through the drive through this morning and Tony mentioned that the girl behind the drive through window was dumb.

Dominyk said, "No she isn't. She's got a bright and promising future. I'm a psychic."

"What about your future," I asked him. "Is it bright and promising?"


"What about Rand's?"


"And mine?"

"I can't predict your future because it's already over."

Wow. I'm so comforted to know that it's all over and I have no future at the ripe old age of 43.

Sunday's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday February 18, 2007
You Gotta Believe! The Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast is hosting another great Radio Support Group show.

Sunday we will broadcast our teen support group. If you missed the February 4th Radio Program you have a chance to listen this Sunday. This was an outstanding round table discussion hosted by Angela Egers and AiIleen Rosario. The studio guest were four of the most phenomenal teen and and young adults performing their own poetry. Arelis, Shezia, Shaniqua, and Tiffany. This was an entertaining, informative, and insightful radio broadcast. I am sure you won't want to miss it. We will not be able to take calls for this pre recorded radio broadcast, however you can email us at

Therapy for EVERYONE...

It is obvious that my girls need therapy to resolve their issues with John. They are a wreck when it comes to him. So we agreed with the county that before they can have contact with him. And so does everyone else.

So, I am heading to therapy with 4 kids today... Rand, Ricardo, Tony, Dominyk. We are heading to breakfast first at... you guessed it .... McDonald's. Can't resist. (And it's a VERY good thing we DON'T have a drive through Krispy Kreme store. I mean, could there be anything more full of sugar and fat or anything taste better?)

Then today Kari and I have to prepare for the trainings we'll be doing starting tomorrow night and I"m hoping to sneak away with my husband for a VD lunch. Looks like I'm not spending much time at my desk again today.

At least all is peaceful still in regards to people's relationship with me. It's been a long few days. I enjoy any reprieve I get when all of the kids who are living at home are actually speaking in civil tones to me at the same time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sadie's Valentine for the "Cooker Lady"

Sadie is such a sweetheart and everyone loves her. So it is no surprise that she loves Valentines Day. At this moment, she and Salinda are sitting on my bed in the bedroom and are working on Valentine's.

Sadie made one for each of the cooks in the school lunchroom. I found it priceless and the closing cracks me up every time I think about it.

They say:

Dear _____ (name of lunch lady):

Thank you for feeding me. I really like your food. I like popcorn anything. Your food is better than my grandma's. I'm not lieing. I love your cookies. There SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Your Eater,

Mercedes Fletcher

Figured it Out

All of the sudden today I figured it out. In therapy with John I had an "a-ha" moment.

John has a history of pushing, bullying, demanding, threatening, cajoling, begging, and manipulating to get his way. But consistently when he gets his way, he doesn't care about it any more. Gets on a team and convinces people to get him all the expensive equipment he needs to play, pushing people to their absolute limit (parents, foster parents, social workers, etc.) and then, two weeks later stops going to practice. Gets into a foster care placement and then blows it.

Today, he said something that made it all click for me. I don't remember his exact quote but it went something like this, "When I got the judge to say I could go to foster care in Mankato, it was a great feeling." And when I followed up to ask, "But then after that you didn't care about staying there?" He said, "Nope, it was just fun to get my way."

Wow. That's been it all along. It's never been about the thing he says he wants... it's about getting people to do what he wants. And historically he has made it almost impossible to say no.

It's all making sense to me now. It was the power. It was the control. It was getting his way. It wasn't the prize, it was the fight. I'm not sure what knowing that does for me, but it sure makes a lot of sense as to why he did the things he's done. I'm caling his social worker tomorrow to let him know as John has a new plan for his future that isn't what the county has planned.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

The headache I had when I woke up this morning is still here. Fortunately, it's been a slow couple days in regards to email, so I am not horribly behind. I'm not sure how long I'll even be able to be at the computer with my head hurting like it does.

I had the opportunity to do one of the things I do best the past couple days -- meet with people and tell them the truth, straight up, about what adopting older kids is like. I don't beat around the bush, so to speak, because I am so determined not to have people surprised. I prepare for the absolute worst.

And then, when they understand what they are getting into and still say yes, it's a great feeling.

Straight-shooting is my gift. And sometimes a good response is surprising.

My Legacy

Someday I will tell you why I wrote this on this particular day:

Doris-Mae Tanner knew what she wanted when she was a teenager. She wanted to marry Claude Flye (she knew this at 13 the first time she saw him) and she wanted to go to the Bible School in Wisconsin.

By the time she was at the Bible School of the Metropolitan Church Association in Wisconsin in 1950, she had determined that maybe it was the Lord's will for her to remain single and put herself fully into doing what was asked by her of that church and later the Wesleyan Covenant Church.

The years between 1950 and 1960 took her many places, Chicago, Michigan, Ft. Dodge... either helping in deaconess homes, cooking, sewing and making aprons, or out selling cards, raising money to support missionaries. She was also, as she has always been active in teaching children in Sunday School wherever she went.

While Doris-Mae was busy serving the church in her areas, Claude was all over the country selling cards door to door. After leaving the same Bible School in 1950, he spent the next six years going from city to city, covering houses and even rural areas, selling cards. Denver, Salt Lake City, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Aurora, Illinois, Ft. Dodge, SIoux City, Storm Lake, Ceadr Rapids, and Des Moines, Iowa, Patomac, Illinois, varieous cities in Oklahoma, Detroit, Michigan and Brownsville, Texas, which even included a trip to see mission work in Monterrey and Saltillo, Mexico.

In 1959 there was a fateful train ride in which Claude and Doris-Mae ended up in the same seat and realized that after all those years their feelings had not changed.

In 1961 Claude was sent back to Denver (after a trip to Maine to see his family) where he got a job at Rose Hospital and began helping in that local church. Dori-Mae was then in Ft. Dodge until October of 1962 when they were married.

Claude and Doris-Mae were then sent to Ft. Dodge, where they pastored a store-front church and began to build their family. Claude was employed as a janitor at "Friendship Haven", a nursing home while he pastored. Claudia was born in 1963, and Nathan and Peter followed soon after in 1965 and 1966. By 1969 they had moved to Denver, Colorado where he began pastoring a small inner-city church.

Doris-Mae opened a day care home in 1970 which she maintained until 1977, and then served as a teacher's assistant in the early childhood education program at the local elementary school from 1977 to 1993. Claude was busy working nights as a custodian for the City and County of Denver while pastoring the church, which finally closed its doors around 1976 when the building was sold.

In 1973, the family started attending the Villa Park Wesleyan Church in Denver in addition to pastoring the Wesleyan Covenant Church. And in 1984 they joined the Lowell Chruch of the Nazarene. In both churches they were extremely active members.

By 1993, they had discovered Sun Valley Indian School and within weeks of seeing it for the first time had moved there to begin their time there, fulfilling Doris-Mae's dream of working with the Navajos.

While their service have never made them famous, as their daughter, it is their service that has made them my heroes. Relentlessly and tirelessly they have done what they can for decades to make sure that people, especially children, could hear the good news of Jesus. My childhood is filled with memories of vanloads of children being transported to church, of people less fortunate than us coming for dinner, of my parents serving whoever needed their help.

In addition to their service, my parents have been an excellent example of how to give. They have faithfully tithed and given beyond their tithe even when they didn't know how they would pay the bills. They have supported countless programs and missionaries throughout their lives.

And finally, they are great intercessors. I spent my high school years finding my mother on her knees at 4:30 in the morning when I was on my way to the bathroom or if I needed to get a drink in "the middle of the night." Her prayers, and those of my dad, have seen countless healthy babies born, miraculous healings, and, more important than anything, the continuous heavenly support that is always needed when going through tough times.

Claude and Doris-Mae have dedicated their lives to only one thing: Faithfully serving God whatever that required. They have not sought recognition. They have not drawn attention to themselves. They have simply obeyed, regardless of how big or small the task, moment after moment, day after day, year after year, And while by the world's standards, they may be insignificant, by God's standards they receive the highest distinction possible and I know that his words are already, though their lives are not over, "WELL DONE, Good and Faithful Servants."

A New Day

I slept a long time, but woke up with a headache. It's snowing and I forgot my blazer. So I am shamelessly sitting in the hotel breakfast room in a lavender striped shirt and a bright red jacket. I won't wear it when I go into places where people know me, but it's cold and my shirt is short sleeved.

No word from home, so I asume things went well. I'm not looking forward to therapy with John. So much ground to cover, and he has yet to accept much responsibility.

Wish the headache would go away.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Here Now, Even Though Here Often Changes

I'm in SIoux Falls, SD at a hotel. I had a great meeting this afternoon with a new family who wants to adopt and then drove through to spend the night here. In the morning I'll go out to the ranch to have therapy with John and then meet another new family for lunch and then head home. It's supposed to snow, so I'm hoping I don't hit bad weather.

My hotel room does not have a strong wireless connection, so I am annoyed. I had to come the lobby area to get a high speed connection. I think I'm just going to go to bed early tonight and turn off my phone and not work. I'm very tired and today was a full day -- met with three different families today and drove for over 3 hours.

Maybe if I go to bed early I'll wake up with more blogging enthusiasm.

All the Sudden Life is Hectic.... and it's not even the kids

I ended up not driving by McDonald's, so I survived that temptation, but I'm going to be driving at lunch time, so I may just stop somewhere.

Looks like I have several appointments lined up. I'm heading 12 miles from here at 11, back in our town at 1:30, a town an hour from here. Then counseling with John first thing tomorrow morning, followed by a couple hours in the car, another meeting, and then I head home.

Busy days, but I'll have the laptop!

Spoke Too Soon Again

After blogging about Tony's perfect morning, I went upstairs to find that Tony was STILL HERE. I heard him say goodbye and shut the door.

What I didn't hear was him coming back in the house to go to the bathroom, which, with the stomach ache he had from eating too many brownies last night, took too long and he missed the bus.

So now I am going to have to give him a ride to school, messing up my plans to begin dieting today for sure. (I'm sure there are people out there who believe that a person can drive right by a McDonald's at breakfast time and not have a bacon egg and cheese biscuit, but you're wrong. You've been deluded and THAT is why your life is out of whack.

Anyway, I digress.... so now I'm going out on a cold morning when I was just minutes away from quiet so I could get something done.

But, to his credit, I warned him that he better not start tormenting everyone and ruin his perfect morning and so far he has been successful.

A Perfect Morning

Tony had a perfect morning. Yesterday in church I was at an all time low in regards to my feelings about him. If you are so inclined, you can read about it in my Scripture As I See It Blog which I hadn't updated in a long time.

But this morning he woke up and it was a new day. He did everything he was supposed to do without arguing. I don't know if it is just a coincidence or if my near breakdown yesterday finally got to him, but it was a nice relief from the norm. Yesterday was just so unbelievably hard.

I'm sure, though I hate to admit it, that it also has to do with me not being stressed, tense, or worked up. I set the emotional atmosphere in our home and sometimes I HATE it that I have all that pressure. It makes a difference if Bart is not on top of the game emotionally, but the kids don't seem to respond with quite as much intensity as when I'm having an off day. It's a lot of pressure to be the one who sets the tone.

Yesterday I told Bart: If this isn't PMS, I need to see a shrink. Luckily, it was PMS. Buying some new feminine napkins is sure cheaper than the copay on psychiatric care, in patient treatment, or psychotropic meds.

As predicted by any gynocologist, I'm feeling much better today, thank you.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sadie the Photographer

Some self portraits and pictures of others occupied Sadie tonight. Here are some samples. She told me she thought that the first one made her look like she had a big mouth. I laughed.


I laughed a lot this afternoon and tonight. I laughed at my own stories even. But it was fun to be with adults and tell stories. It was fun to have a break in the routine. It was fun to watch other children not obey their parents. It was even a little fun to see only child and nearly perfect "Miss S." glare at her father.

It was perspective. It was relaxing. It was getting out of my shell. I seem to have gotten into a real rut lately and I needed a change of routine.

Now it's 8:25 and I am ready to go to bed. Of course, nobody else is, as you can imagine. I'm trying to decide how to spend these last ninety minutes before going to bed.

Running Away was a Great Idea

What a great idea that was. I came home to a very clean house, all my kids quietly watching a movie together AND some friends met me at Dunn Brothers for a new card game they taught me (I won the first game!)

I feel much better, the kids seem to feel much better, and Bart got in a nap. He's even decided not to cook, the Kari's are coming over (that's what Dominyk calls them) and we're ordering pizza.

So life is good, and I'm feeling better. Running away was a great idea.

I Ran Away

This morning, after I blogged, was one of the worst mornings ever. Tony, whose behavior is almost always unacceptable, pushed my buttons for a solid hour before I lost it. And my tantrum led to lots of trouble.

After church, I hid in my bedroom for a while, but I had to face the world.

After we went to lunch I explained to the children that I wanted to have Kari and her family over for supper. But the house was horrible and Bart only had enough energy to cook supper, not to clean too. And I explained that after the morning we had, they probably needed a break from me. I explained that they were all over 10 and that the oldest 4 were all 13 or over, and that a group of kids that old shoudl be able to pick up the house, vacuum and mop.

I said I was leaving for a few hours and that when I came back, if the house was clean, I would invite Kari's family over for supper. If not, I would leave again and take their family out to dinner by myself, because I wanted to see them.

Their mouths dropped open as if to say, "you could DO that?" And I just nodded my head.

I explained that the key was for them to each worry about themselves and then work side by side, not for them to attempt to be the boss, and that Bart was not going to help or intervene unless he needed to pull someone out of the scene.

And then I left.

My voice has become like Charlie Brown's teacher to them. And I'm tired of wasting my breath. I have had an emotionally exhausting weekend having long very intense conversations with each girl who resorted to nasty behavior on their part within hours or even minutes of our talk.

I'm at Dunn Brothers. It's not quiet here, in fact it is packed, but I am not being bothered. I'm going to write some more for a couple other blogs, a friend might meet me here, but most of all I'm going to give my children a break from me.

And maybe that's what they really need.

It's Sunday Morning Yet Again and more Dominykisms

We're going to late service this morning because Sadie is going to perform liturgical dance. We also have some friends coming who we are excited to see.

I took a break last night and sat and watched a Lifetime movie with Dominyk. Bart was in the room too, but he read his book or slept a little off and on.

But Dominyk was so sweet. The movie was about a high school kid who died of cancer. And at the end he was crying and Bart said, "Dominyk, are you crying?" and Dominyk said, "DUH!" Poor little guy just tearing up and heading off to bed not able to finish the funeral scene.

Earlier that night I said something about Bart having a heart attack and he screamed, "Heart attack. Heart attack. Hurry -- Mouth to Mouth Precipititation"

And finally, at Target yesterday when we had our snack he said, "Mom, this is so good we should come here for all our needs."

TO which I responded, "Is an Icee really a need?"

"Nope", he chuckled. "It's a want."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

End of My Rope: New Focus

I'm at the end of my rope as far as using all this emotional energy to try to chanel others in the right direction. So, I found a new website that is going to talk about weight loss and you can read about it at my shrinking slob blog.

I hope a few other people will sign up for that program (not getting paid to tell you this) so that we can use it together.

An Emotion Gauge

Sometimes I wish there was an emotion gauge so I can know if I am going nuts. I wish that we could plug into something, or have something we could plug into us, that would give us a rating. You know, on a scale of 1-10 you are at an 8.

Then I could call some of my friends parenting teenage girls and say "the next time you have an argument about ______" plug in the Emotion Gauge. Tell me if you score lower than an 8 or if this situation warrants an 8.

This morning, I told Salinda she didn't have internet back. Within 2 hours she had taken my old laptop without permission and logged on. And then she was either dumb enough or rebellious enough to leave it signed on the internet on her bed.

I locked up the laptop and I think I'm just going to not say a word until she brings up wanting a favor from me or something. I just don't have the emotional energy to go through yet another of her faked "I'm sorry" conversation that results in another lie and disobedience within the hour.

Then Sadie and I had another round of why she couldn't wear the tank top she had on and she told me I couldn't tell her what she could wear. This was after the 90 minute conversation that started with that as the presenting issue last night. I told her she better start taking all of her tank tops to school with her in her backpack because since she wouldn't give them to me, I'd just wait until she left for school and take them all.

I'm afraid that part of her defiance is her seeing that Salinda can defy me. But she is able to make her own choices and she isn't going to get away that easy.

So, if I had a gauge, I'm at about an 8 over this internet thing and these slutty clothes. But it's typical teenage girl stuff, so maybe I should only be registering a 5 or 6.

I have finally gotten to the point where I can keep myself at a five or below on the response scale to all of the boy stuff that has gone on around here for years. But the girl stuff just makes my blood boil.

So, do you think I could invent and patent an emotion gauge?

Sometimes Multitasking Just Doesn't Go All That Well

As many of you know, we attempted to start an organization several years ago called LAFTER which stands for Large Adoptive Families Expanding Resources. We attempted many things with the organization, but basically just concluded that those of us who have more than 3 or 4 kids don't have time to do much else. Our attempts at getting together for Board Meetings, even online, proved futile.

For a while, I attempted to keep up the website, but even that has become outdated. So today I decided I was going to start adding some of the stuff I had started years ago with the LAFTER website, to the Everything Adoption blog. That way all the work I had done in the past would not just go to waste.

So, I started with the "Meet some Families" page. I talked to all of the families who used to be linked from the LAFTER site to get their permission.

I spent today putting together this simple page. But in the midst of getting it done, also did a LOT of parenting.

So, at any rate, check out some of these families who have become my friends over the years, and if you would like to include your families website on this page, just let me know and I'd be happy to add you.

All of Life is a Blog Post Waiting to Happen

All through the day I hear myself thinking, "I should blog this" and I start to form the post in my mind.

Today I had a whole long post about why in the world Valentine's would be way in the back of the store at Target.

And I could have blogged at length about my 1 hour and 40 minute conversation with Sadie that starts with "Your Not My Mom" and requires a lot of tears, discussion, arguing, not talking, and debate to conclude with a hug and a "you are my mom and I love you." She seems to need it about 4 times a year.

Or I could talk about the estrogen fog that Salinda has been living with for the last 18 hours or so since I found out about her not-so-great My Space account, which has been deleted.

But I think I've concluded that I will blog about our trip to the mall.

I let Dominyk spend some money that he got from his birth grandmother for Valentine's Day. And I bought him an Icee while Sadie shopped. And he said, "Thanks Mom. You're the best Mom in the world."

"For right now, anyway." I replied. "Until I do or say something you don't like."

He just chuckled and said, "You're funny mom."

We had a nice conversation where he summized that possibly "brain freeze" was called that because your brain was cold and where he told me that having a brain freeze made him think of great ideas (like using his new foam dart gun to shoot the dog ten times).

"I'm only going to shoot him once, though, Mom" he concluded.

How to Backup a Large Blog (or A Glance Through History)

This morning I was reading the blogs that I always read that had been updated and Darren Rowse had a link about How to Back Up a Blogger Blog so I had to get started right away. I had been wondering for a long time what I would do if something happened to blogger.

So, I followed those instructions and made a web archive of the most recent 1000 posts. That took me back to May, and then I went through and backed up each month from the archives from March of 2005 until now.

And of course I couldn't resist scrolling down. I had some good laughs. I reviewed pictures from our Disney Vacation. I relived heartaches. I was self-controlled as it could have taken me all day to read the whole thing.

It's interesting to see how the blog has evolved as well as to see the ebb and flow of our lives...

Friday, February 09, 2007

In the Past 3 Years I Did at Least One Thing Right

What is ONE thing I KNOW I did right in the past 3 years? I started Cindy blogging. ANd now her blog is such an awesome source of hope for me and so many others.

And now she has another blog.

How cool is this?

An Escape and a Parenting Marathon

Bart and I had a great lunch with some fun friends and then we went to a movie. The movie was a good escape, but I had to come home to all the issues.

I literally had five kids to lecture of the eight that are here (yes, Salinda's friend got lectured too). I reminded myself of Cindy today -- large, in charge, and ranting. I still have several battles that I've got yet to fight today, and I'm not letting up. I'm not backing down and letting my silly kids put themselves in danger.

As you will recall, my greatest concerns in giving internet back to my children were Mike and Salinda. It hasn't even been a month, but Mike sold drugs off his my space and Salinda created one, without permission, that was so much less than appropriate that it has been deleted.

I'm not backing down on this inappropriate crap. I don't care if the "in thing to do" is to see how slutty one can look and be, how close to the edge they can act, etc. It's so far away from my holiness upbringing that it makes me cringe.

But taking out spirituality completely, listing the name of your school next to your picture that is completely inappropriate is simply not safe.

So, my experiment failed. The other kids who haven't messed up yet can still play games and look up sports scores, etc. Sad thing is, I can take away internet at home but it isn't going to stop them from doing what they will other places.

But at least I'm not funding their immorality.

Somehow I KNEW This Was Going to Happen

No sooner had a blogged than Salinda called wanting me to bring her homework she left here. She was not apologetic for last night's unending stream of not so good choices. However, I felt bad for her friend, who I thought was fairly innocent, who did the project with her, and took the homework to school.

I stopped by Sadie's school and had her taken out of class so I could check her outfit. It was much better, but still not as appropriate as I wanted it to be. I told her to get her coat and come home and changed. She refused. I could have made her, but I want to use it as leverage for other things. So, I said, "is that your final decision?" She said nothing and I said, "Interesting choice" and left her there, wondering what will be in store.

I also had a very long talk with Salinda's mom's friend and found out some interesting things that I knew nothing about. So this evening should be interesting.

Not Really Interested, Thanks

Before I get any comments, I need to point out that I realize that a majority of what I will pour out all over everyone this morning is regular parenting of teens junk. I realiize that we made the choice to adopt so many. And all the other disclaimers that I might need to include.

Yesterday, two of my children made it very clear that I was not to be a part of their life when it came to direction, advice, opinions, etc., but only when I was providing financial support or other favors. The problem is, that I'm human, and I'm not really interested in a relationship like that -- the "I'll give, you suck me dry" relationship.

So, it's wake up call time again. The time where I, without emotion, point out that I am not interested in serving until I get an apology (even then, I probably won't be interested for a while, but I can pretend to be).

Then this morning, my youngest daughter dresses for school and does not pass my approval for what is acceptable for a 5th grade girl to wear. Usually I don't have to intervene too much because my daughters make good choices most of the time, but I was the arch enemy today. She told me she wasn't going to change, even though I think she did. I'm debating running down to the elementary school today and popping in on her to check. She would be mortified, but maybe she' think twice next time about telling me that I can't decide what she wears and that she's going to do it anyway.

So, this morning, I'm not really interested in being a parent. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it is universal that some mornings, the parents of any teenagers would just like to escape to an island and drink VIRGIN pina colladas and tan on the beach (and, while I'm stating the highly impossible, I'd like to have a perfect body to tan in).

Instead though, I am going to escape for the afternoon and go out to lunch with friends and to a movie with my husband. It won't be Jamaica, but hopefully it will be refreshing...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Spoke too soon

Everything was fine until I got a call on my cell phone while my daughter was borrowing it. And she was furious.

I'm still trying to see the logic in this. It baffles me.

And now I want to settle down, but they aren't.

But I did have a few peaceful hours.

Posting this dorky picture makes me feel a little better.

Peaceful Night

Bart took Dominyk to the church. Tony's PCA took him sledding. Rand's building a loom at school for his senior project. Jimmy and Ricardo are at the YMCA. The girls are here, along with the famous best friend of Salinda. It's been a very quiet evening.

It will cease being quiet in a few minutes when everyone returns, but it's been nice to have some quiet.


When I read this article today I was scared. I am not going to say which of my children fit it and which don't, but there are at least two who fit almost everything on it and another that is only missing three or four of the characteristics.

In case you don't want to click over, here's the list;

Characteristics of a Psychopath

superficial charm
self-centered & self-important
need for stimulation & prone to boredom
deceptive behavior & lying
conning & manipulative
little remorse or guilt
shallow emotional response
callous with a lack of empathy
living off others or predatory attitude
poor self-control
promiscuous sexual behavior
early behavioral problems
lack of realistic long term goals
impulsive lifestyle
irresponsible behavior
blaming others for their actions
short term relationships
juvenile delinquency
breaking parole or probation
varied criminal activity

How close is that to the characteristics of Reactive Attachment Disorder?

And to what degree does each characteristic have to be before it states that the person is a psychopaths?

Here is another quote:

A psychopath is usually a subtle manipulator. They do this by playing to the emotions of others. They typically have high verbal intelligence, but they lack what is commonly referred to as "emotional intelligence". There is always a shallow quality to the emotional aspect of their stories. In particular they have difficulty describing how they felt, why they felt that way, or how others may feel and why. In many cases you almost have to explain it to them. Close friends and parents will often end up explaining to the psychopath how they feel and how others feel who have been hurt by him or her. They can do this over and over with no significant change in the person's choices and behavior. They don't understand or appreciate the impact that their behavior has on others.

I don't know that I have children who will be full blown psychopaths. I hope I don't. But sometimes there is enough there to make me wonder.

Does anyone know of any research that compares the two disorders (RAD and Psychopathology?) Maybe I'm just frightened after reading "The Unlit Path" and wondering to what lengths our kids will go.

And a Further Update

After one hour and 23 minutes, the IRS told me she had to refer me to someone else who would fix things in 5 days or I could call them back. Heavy sigh.

An Update, More for Me than You

I spent over an hour on the phone with AOL trying to get Bart's computer working. Tech support hung up on me after the first 45 minutes, and the second call, I nearly yelled at the auto response guy. If the record those, they will be playing mine at break time for months for a chuckle. I was very frustrated. And the end result: It still doesn't work and I have to go pick up a CD at Walmart or Best Buy. Lucky me. I'm going to have Bart stop and do that and see if we can make it work later.

I then tackled the IRS. It's been 53 minutes and it still isn't straightened out. I do think that I have finally convinced them that Jimmy is our son. However, now they are making further adjustments to the account. Hopefully it's going to work out now.

I also got several pieces of paper filled out while I have spent most of my morning on the phone. (Very grateful for speaker phone today). I feel good because it was lots of stuff I've been putting off. So, I am making some progress. I'm on a roll... I still have several phone calls to make today that I can't make while I'm on the phone.

Get 'er Done Day

I'm posting this this morning as a little extra motivation for myself to hold myself accountable.

I have called today "Get 'er Done Day.

I have been moaning about my list of things to do and one of them is calling the IRS which last time took me hours and never got me anywhere. I also need to fix a glitch in Bart's computer and clean off my desk. There are 20 things on my list and I haven't even finished making my list.

So, today is Get 'er Done Day. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Science Projects

I had earlier posted this picture of Bart, thoroughly enjoying learning about which stain removers gets rid of grape juice for Tony's Scienc Project.

I remarked that he would make me take it down.

He emailed me tonight that I needed to because Dominyk was nearly naked in the background, WIth so little attention to detail I hadn't noticed.

So I took Dominyk out. Now it's fine, right honey?

Sadie is more indpendent and seems to be enjoying her "which kind of bread molds fastest" project.