Saturday, March 31, 2007

Nobody Loves Me, Everybody Hates Me, Think I Must be a Parent

Well, the number of kids loving me today is dwindling by the second. Rand is furious because I warned him that he needed to work all the hours he could every week if he didn't want to lose driving priveleges and his cell phone. He owes us money for cell phone and insurance and apparently he doesn't sense the need for money because he still can drive and has his phone. So today I took away the phone and his driving privileges. He's banging around like he does, huffing and puffing and muttering under his breath.

Even though I told Salinda she was grounded for her "not that big of a deal" lie last night, she still asked me to do something and did her rendition of a fit -- heavy sighs, glaring, and accussing me of breaking my promises.

Tony wanted to be signed in to the computer but after doing several little annoying defiant things, I told him he would have to wait. His version of a meltdown? THrowing papers all over my office and screaming and pounding his fist on my desk with the phone.

Mike of course, is not happy because i'm not calling, but at least I don't have to hear it because he asked me not to call. I know, it doesn't really make sense that he's unhappy that I didn't call when he told me not too, but it usually doesn't make sense.

And I even have one on deck. Ricardo lied to me yesterday and he will be unhappy with me next as his friend will be leaving soon and I will be talling him the consequences for his actions that are heading his way.

I tried to call John though, because he's not mad at me. I figured making a connection with a child who loves me, even if he isn't living here, might be a positive note, but he left for a while on a "snack run" so I can't talk to him right now. However, he is in the Sioux Falls paper today in a neat article with a picture and a quote from him. You can check that out at on this page.

Top Five Success Secrets

My Top Five Success Secrets

Motivated by a challenge from Today is That Day I thought I would join the challenge and discover what I do every day that helps me be successful.

1. I remind myself that I love what I do.. The mission of the organizations I work with matches my life’s mission, and so there is no job I would rather do. Even when the specifics are annoying and the task seems overwhelming, I remind myself that I was made for this work and that I love it.

2. I blog. Blogging has been a way for me to process my thoughts and emotions for two years now. I started my first blog 2 years ago today and have never regretted it. Previously I had never been able to keep a decent journal, but I attribute the fact that I have survived two very difficult years to the fact that I began to blog daily.

3. I end my day with a processing, praying, and reconciling time with my husband. He is an excellent listener and offers insight from a different perspective than I. Every night we discuss our day, pray together, and make sure there is nothing between us. We’ve been married almost 11 years and have never gone to sleep angry with one another. We used to stay up VERY late some nights, but we have yet to go to sleep mad.

4. I don’t get caught up in things that detract from my mission. I work with a lot of women, and if I wanted too, I could get caught up in their daily drama. I also work in a very imperfect child welfare system that has millions of flaws. But I force myself to live above them – sometimes even visualizing myself skimming across the top of all the conflict in order to keep my eye on the goal.

5. I have contact with a friend who “gets it”. Because our lives are unusual, there aren’t a lot of people who either understand what we’re doing or who are willing to take the time to do so. Every day I make sure I connect with an adult that is not my spouse and talk about my life as well as listening to theirs. It keeps me going.

I encourage you to write a post about your top five or ten success secrets and link back to me and to the origination of this writing project. We can learn so much from each other.

Pap Smear and Training Dreams, "little mistakes" Panera bagels and the day ahead

No, I'm not going into detail about the pap smear dreams. This is a G (OK, maybe PG) rated blog. I had another dream that my next cycle of adopting training was standing room only. Now THAT is a dream I didn't want to wake up to. Can you imagine that many people lined up to adopt a waiting child? That would be awesome.

Salinda and her friend made a "it's not that big of a deal" mistake last night, losing trust again. It's like a daily cycle... we live, we love, we forgive and never give up. Too bad "they learn" doesn't fit in there anywhere.

And JImmy just delivered me an Asiago Cheese bagel at my desk, with garden veggie cream cheese spread. That's something even skinny vegetarian Cindy could love. Not often that I eat something she would like.

Today we're going on a "poster trip". This is where I take a couple kids with me and we drop off posters in small towns within driving distance of Mankato, trying to attract more people to adoption. The kids actually don't mind and I can make it fun. We will have a destination today -- everyone needs shorts cuz they all changed sizes this past year and yes, it's been warm enough for them to wear them lately in Minnesota (my boys want them on when it hits 40).

On the road we play games like the one Dominyk and I were playing last night. I made up questions for him to answer.

"What's the top five things you want in a wife?" I asked.

"Skinny, sexy, hot, cute, and pretty."


"So, if you could find a girl that was skinny, hot, cute, sexy and pretty, but was REALLY mean and VERY stupid, you'd marry her?"

He thought long and hard and said, "Maybe."

Drug Rehab Option

Since we finished Family Week at the Chemical Dependency Treatment program for our son this past week, I have been fascinated with the whole concept of CD treatment and it’s theory and the various methods used by various facilities.

This drug treatment program in Michigan has beautiful facilities and an apparently great program. What I appreciate about their website is that not only do they show you the facility but they provide lots of excellent information about drug addiction. The site also has a great explanation of how to choose a facility.

It’s a state of the art facility and even includes “sauna detox” as part of the program. The program is definitely worth checking out.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Perfectly Normal Boy Noises and an Estrogen Reprieve

Both girls are gone tonight. Dominyk is walking the dog with Bart and the other boys are playing playstation. Ricardo has a friend over.

I'm hearing normal boy noises -- some laughter, some giggles, some guffawing, some chatter, but not constant. It's nice.

We had dinner out and it was uneventful and fun. I'm working because everyone is happy and I am swamped.

It's nice to get a break from the drama of girls and to hear contented noises coming from the boys.

That's NOT the Kind of Support I Want

I called to confront Mike today. I mentioned that his My Space activity was dangerous. I mentioned that the money we had given him was for emergencies, not for a DVD that he purchased immediately. And I told him that I was concerned about his choice to hook up with folks who were a bad influence.

He said that he didn't need my kind of support. I told him that I was attempting to determine whether or not it was possible for him to have what he wanted. I told him that if he couldn't stay away from using friends online, he couldn't have a home pass. I told him that he needed to save his money for necessities.

He told me that I wasn't supporting him at all. He told me that I got him in trouble because I told the halway house he was on My Space. Apparently it got him and some others in trouble and everyone was mad at him.

He told me that it was pathetic that I was checking on my "18 year old adult son." Funny how it isn't pathetic that my "18 year old adult son" wants our money, our visits, our phone calls.

The bottom line is that he doesn't want "tough love" support that we learned how to give in CD treatment. I won't be an enabler. I will confront.

He told me that I didn't have to do anything for him if I didn't want to. He said, "Fine then, don't "support me." And his last line was, "Why do you have to handle things? Why don't you let Dad do it?"

So, I said, "OK, if that's what you'd like, we can do that. Have a good night." And I hung up.

The problem is that his dad, my husband, doesn't like to talk on the phone. He isn't fond of putting himself in a situation where he gets blamed all the time for everything. And he calls the kids in treatment a lot less than I do. He's much more healthily self-differentiated. And he's less likely to throw cash away.

So, we'll see how that goes for a while. My guess is that by Sunday, he'll be calling here willing to talk to me, especially if he needs something.

But my ride on the hope train was short lived. He seemed so sincere on Tuesday and Wednesday, like he was really ready to accept our guidance. 48 hours later he's not interested in it at all.

It's so easy to get caught up in a cycle of blame where I'm the target. I'm trying to let it go.

Mike's Progress

Mike has signed out of the halfway house to go "job hunting." RIght now he is at the library on his My Space. It appears that he is hooking up with a bunch of his using friends from his past already.

I'm disappointed but not surprised. As soon as he was that I was paying attention to his activity, he set his My Space to private.
I am attempting to get a response from him, but it isn't working so well.

He wants a home pass but I'm not sure we'll be able to agree to that. If within 24 hours of his discharge from CD treatment he is already sending messages to his MySpace friends who use, how can he possibly come home and stay clean?

The Administrative Assistant at the Halfway House said, "At a halfway house, we have to give them just enough rope so they can hang themselves if they want to."

It appears that may be his desire. I hope that he proves me very wrong.

Without him, I could do nothing

Today is Friday. It's my husband's day off. He was up early, vacuuming. He plans to spend his day off cleaning and cooking. I will spend the day parenting, (I have never seen a school district with more days off) working, and transporting children.

I have heard stories of men who let their wives do everything. They go off to work and make money, but other than that everything else is the mom's job. She cleans, she cooks, she grocery shops, she handles the bulk of the parenting and he sits and watches this program -- oh wait, no, that program -- oh, just a second, no that one -- during the evening. On weekends he plays golf or bowls or hangs out with his guy friends (or, if he's under 40, plays playstation or an online game).

But it's not like that here. My husband does all of the grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking. He handles our family finances. He and the kids do 90% of the cleaning. And he works more than full time.

So, you ask yourself, what does SHE do? Well, I work two jobs, both from home. I do extra public speaking on the side. I blog. I am also responsible for the school piece -- I do all of the IEP meetings, school conferences, emails and phone calls with teachers and principles. I also do the therapy and psychiatrist peice, and most of the medical and dental stuff. I handle medical insurance, PCA assessments, securing services, and I plan our social life. I take care of talking to kids' friends' parents, getting them where they need to be, getting their friends here and home when they come over, and planning the ocassional get together with adult friends. I keep the family calendar.

SO maybe we're not "Traditional". I don't think either of us is a slacker. But this family would certainly suffer a lot more if he were to disappear than if I would. I know how to cook ONE good meal and you can only have black beans so many times a week. He's the one who keeps us comfortable. He's the nurturer. He's the one they all want to be with.

He's really the best there is. So today when I'm sitting at my desk working, I realize how much we all need him and how grateful we are to have him. And I know I couldn't do any of this without him.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Love, Logic, and Natural Consequences

Having read and agreed with the Love and Logic series, we have used it with our kids who understand logic. It has worked well for them.

Today I had conferences for a child that has not been doing homework. He doesn't bring it home, or he loses it, or he lies about it. I just found out he has 5 weeks of summer school coming and after school required homework time for the rest of the school year.

Not only will those be natural consequences, but he's a difficult child and not having him occupied somewhere else for several more hours each week is not going to be too painful for me.

And 8-12 a.m. for 5 weeks this summer is a God send.

I love it when everything works out great for everyone.

Most of the Day at My Desk

I have so much to do, so I'm excited that I get to spend most of the day at my desk. This afternoon and evening are packed with activities -- a school conference, a tennis meeting, and training for about 3 hours, but today I'll be here, catching up, hopefully blogging a few things that have been bouncing around my head...

I also have a long list of phone calls to make, appointments to set up, etc. I'll be doing that as well. It seems like the last month has been such a blur and I haven't been able to organize or focus much as I have been gone a lot and not able to regroup when I come back before I have to be gone again. However, I have nothing scheduled for a few days, so I'm grateful for that, although by the end of today I should have several more things on my calendar.

Anything but boredom -- that's always been my motto.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Support from Afar

I just got off the phone with Mike. He seems settled and calm. He was out skateboarding, which is his first love and something he hasn't been able to do when he has been in other treatment settings. He said he was doing well.

I tried to call John. He's at work. I will try him again tomorrow.

The other kids home tonight are unusually calm. It's nice to have times when we all co-exist without conflict. It's not a regular occurrence, but it does happen once and a while.

Tomorrow I need to get back at it... My inbox is bulging and I haven't been in my office much for days.

I Learned Some Things This Week

I'm attempting to remember some of the things I learned during our little foray into the world of Chemical Dependency Theory and Treatment. The first is my reflection on The Serenity Prayer and Adoptive Parents. There will be more to come.

He's Settled, We're Home, and I'm TIRED

Mike has transitioned to his halfway house. It seems like a pretty good deal for him. He is in an apartment with up to 5 other guys, but I think there are only 2 or 3 there now. They have a living room, a full kitchen, and two bedrooms. The building also has a lounge and there is a rec building. He has to sign out when he leaves the building, but has quite a bit of freedom. It looks like he will be able to graduate from High School from an Alternative Learning Center that is part of a fairly prestigious suburban high school. If he takes advantage of this, it can really work to his advantage.

The program seems good for him and I even got the administrative assistant to sign up for adoption training while I was waiting for Bart to take Mike shopping for his birthday present.

So at this time, all is well. The whole transition has been emotionally exhausting for us, but it seems like it will go well for him if he allows it to.

Feeling Fortunate

After yesterdays meeting, I was explaining to Bart that I feel fortunate. We have two sons who cannot live at home for different reasons, but they really can't be here. One is too aggressive and the other steals high priced items. At this point in their lives, and probably for some time, they are too much of a negative influence (and a danger) to the younger kids.

The reason I feel fortunate is because they are both going to be in places where their needs are met, they have a chance to build their lives, we can still have contact with them, and we are not financially responsible. At this time they are both in good places and we can still be their parents from afar.

Having read through what others have gone through, both financially and personally, makes our story seem like a fairy tale in comparison.

So even though it is far from ideal, I'm feeling fortunate this morning. I'm really hoping that today is a positive and hopeful day with Mike as we transport him...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This, FosterAbba, is Why

FosterAbba asked me why we were going today. She commented that maybe we had been tortured enough. Well, we went to make a statement: We're still here for you. We love you. We forgive you. And we went, hoping to hear something that might help.

And the whole thing was SO much better than I had anticipated. We only really spent about an hour talking to MIke. The first half of the day we listened to a very knowledgable counselor with lots of interesting stories explain addiction. Then we watched a 90 minute movie about Tough Love, which I don't think we are lacking in.

The hour we spent with Mike was so good for him. He had uninterrupted time to confess to us all he had done, explain his feelings about each of us, tell us what he was grateful for, etc. He had spent days preparing several written lists and the conversation went well.

I don't know what the future holds, but this is the first time that Mike has accepted accountability for his actions. It's the first time he has taken time to try to understand himself. He has journalled until he had writers cramp. And it has all paid off.

We got to say some things we needed to say. We got to remind him that we were proud of him. We got to show him that he still has parents. And we got to explain to him that maybe returning to our home wont' ever be his best option, but that we can be his parents from afar.

When we left, we all felt better than we had in years. And, even if things don't stay good, we had a positive day today.

We hoped this might happen and that is why we went. And this time, we were not disappointed.

So not Looking Forward to Today

As I mentioned, a day of "family counseling surrounding MIke's addiction" is not something I am looking forward to. He says he is going to tell us things that will shock us and make us mad. I don't think that he realizes how much we know about what he has done, so I don't think we'll be as shocked as he thinks we'll be.

Physically I'm still not feeling well, especially not well enough for a marathon day of counseling. But I realize that I"m just whining and that I will be fine. And, as all things I dread, when today is over, it will be over.

It's time now to awaken the slumbering children, buck up and head into the day.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dreading and Repressing

I'm dreading tomorrow. Sitting at "family week" in a chemical dependency program for 8 hours to work through something with a child I"m not sure is an addict is going to be quite trying. I have a very hard time keeping my mouth shut, and so family sessions where a child of mine is supposed to talk uninterrupted and the majority of what they say is not true are annoying and taxing for me.

So, tonight I've been working on this adoption poster and I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out. It still has some imperfections, which I'm sure you'd be happy to point out to me. :-) I also took off the logo to protect my employer from any connection between them and me if you don't happen to like me, think I'm unprofessional, or just a big dork.

I'm excited about transitioning in my job into a new position where I do recruiting, training and matching and don't do as much case management. I think this is a better fit for me, so I want to do a good job at it.

I have many unanswered emails that need to be dealt with and the next two days I will be spending the daytimes dealing with Mike, so my nightimes will have to be spent working.

Fortunately it has been nice out and the kids have been able to be outside. That is a big help and it also makes me feel a little better about life when I can see the sun shining.

Lots of Details Wrapped Up

The psychiatrist has been seen. The staffing has been held. THe husband and I have been fed, together, in a nice enough restaurant. The tooth has been pulled.

Good news is that John is doing very very well. He is doing well in school, working 25-30 hours a week, saving some money, buying his own clothes, and at the highest level possible at the ranch. I think he is realizing he needs to be content to stay there in a structured environment. If he will, he can graduate a semester early and have a whole lot of money saved. We talked of a plan for him for the future and he seems very positive.

Dominyk is now obsessed with the whole where his tooth used to be, but hopefully we'll be able to get beyond that.

I'm going to rest, as I still don't feel all that well.

Short but significant story

I got this in an email from friends of ours from our former church who read our blogs. Thanks, D!

I was reading a Reader's Digest at the eye doctor's office last week, and found a short item about a mother who was having trouble with her child. The girl locked herself in her room and would not communicate. In the morning she opened the door and found a wrapped rock by it with a note: "this rock is 300 million years old. I will love you and forgive you that long."

Wake Up Time

This is pretty much how everyone is feeling about getting up after the weekend.

We're off to another start of a week. The morning has started with Dominyk completely obsessed with a not very loose tooth. The only way to get him to stop is to get him into the dentist and get it pulled. But there is already a psychiatrist appt for Tony and a staffing for John scheduled today. So I am going to be running all morning.

I have a long list of work related things to do as well as the parenting duties and I'm still feeling like I'd rather be in bed.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Not Even Tempted

In the past, if someone mentioned to us that they thought a child would fit into our home, we seriously considered it. We don't usually go looking for new kids -- we haven't since we had seven -- but sometimes when someone approaches us, we think about it. And obviously, 3 times we said yes.

But yesterday I was told that the orphanage director from where we got Ricardo and Jimmy was suggesting she had another child for us. For a few minutes, when I knew nothing about the situaiton, I was thinking "Oh no, here we go again."

Then she told me it was a girl. Who is seven. And has FASD.

I laughed out loud. I told her that Bart would do the same. Ironically, had it been a boy who was 12 or 13 we might have thought about it, but not a seven year old. Not a girl. Not another child with FASD.

But now I need to find her a home. She is in the same situation as Jimmy was back when we got him -- no family identified and soon to be moved to a government institution if no family agreed to parent her. And then, after the government orphanage, the streets.

Maybe you are the one to parent this little Guatemalan orphan. If you will check out this post you'll see the words to the song that helped us decide that we should adopt Jimmy. Maybe these words will help you decide that this unnamed girl is your daughter.

Another A-Ha Moment

I spent most of the afternoon on this blog entry about the teen attachment cycle. It is making so much sense to me as I sit back and watch for it. And I think it is so true.

So check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ready to be Done with Today

We saw a movie and had dinner with friends, arriving home around 9 p.m. Everyone is very tired and a lot of us don't feel well at all. I handed out a few more Nyquil tonight and we're heading to bed.

Again, I have several things I could blog, but I'm just too tired and sick to drum up the energy to do so.

Hopefully I'll have more energy and feel better tomorrow.

A surprisingly Good Time

The kids did surprisingly well today. I suggested that we clean the van -- we washed the outside. Then we vacuumed the inside. Then we bought windex and all purpose cleaner and cleaned the inside. We all worked together and it looked a lot better. Then we headed to the panel where we were supposed to speak.

I told the kids before we went in, "Every day we come in and you embarrass me and I try to stop you from doing so to no avail. So, today you can be as bad as you want and I will just explain at the end that this is how you are and they will get a realistic picture of how much you have matured over the last year."

They were really good. I was very surprised. We had an uneventful ride home. Now we're heading to some cheap movie with friends and then pizza out.

Several of us are feeling a little foggy with a head cold, but for the most part the day was much better than I planned for it to be. It's nice to be surprised that way.

A good Nights' Sleep

We actually slept well and long. Tony and Dominyk aren't exactly being directable, but we've made it through breakfast. We have an hour to kill before leaving for our speaking engagement. I think we're going to go get the filthy van washed and cleaned out.

I still feel awful. Full blown head cold with sniffles.

I have two burning blog topics sitting in my head.

1) A question someone asked me recently, "Do you Still Believe in Adoption;"

2) The attachment cycle part two.

Friday, March 23, 2007

As long as there are snacks and Nyquil

We are at the hotel. The pool is not working -- it is closed for painting. Wouldn't you know it? I wish they would have let me know that when I called. But, the nice thing is that I think we're some of the only people here so I don't have to worry too much about us bothering the neighbors.

But we have a TV and... we have snacks. We have Little Debbies and chips, to include Pringles and , two of the most important food groups there are. And we have Nyquil, which several of us need.

Other than an occassional scuffle, we are doing OK. As long as there is a mutually agreed upon channel, everyone is OK.

ANd we have snacks.

And soon we will take Nyquil.

All is well.

Those Few Minutes of Stress

I cut things too short. It hapens sometimes. Transitions are hard for the kids anyway, and this time there was no time for any opposition. And I found it in the most unlikely place.

Sadie decided she wasn't coming. It was too late, she had to come. There was no way I was letting her make that decision and yet she refused to move. I hate to drag her, or pick her up and carry her, so it took me a whole 10 extra minutes. Meanwhile Tony and Dominyk were fighting and screaming, Jimmy was having a quiet oppositional moment about not getting the front seat. Tony was cussing and screaming (he picks up on any stress there is) and Dominyk's PCA was just standing there, so happy she wasn't me. It was an absolute horrible 12 minutes.

The funny thing was, the second we pulled out of the driveway everything was OK. I knew it would be. The trip was great. The kids are now at the pool. I did a placement (kid is VERY cute, and such a nice kid) and now I am sitting outside borrowing the wireless signal again. I need to reserve a hotel room and so I need to find the number to call... then I'm going to head to the pool and watch the kids swim a while and then we'll head to the hotel.

Salinda and Rand are home -- I won't even begin to explain her mood. Rand's is fine.

I'm still feeling conjected and lousy. I'm not planning on sleeping much tonight because everyone will be coughing, but maybe if we lie there long enough.

Hanging in There

I took some dayquil. I'm waiting for it to kick in.

I've gotten everyone almost packed. I wrote a letter to this morning's offender to explain my position. I took Rand to lunch and we figured out his checking account. We rented movies for the trip. WE got snacks and swimming trunks. Now I am making a hotel reservation and packing my computer. Then I will head to the meetings with my supervisor and return to get the kids for the trip.

From 3:00 to 3:30 will be tough going, but once we get on the road it should go OK. Knock on wood.

Just 20 Short Minutes

When I blogged this morning, I was heading back to bed. I was going to sleep off this cold as much as I possibly could. But it was still 15 minutes before it was time for everyone to leave for school.

With only 1 minute to spare, one of my children came up with a plan. And when we said no to the plan, this child called Bart by his first name and told him to do unspeakable stuff to himself. If I explained the whole long dramatic saga to you, you would understand how this all had happened, but to summarize it, it was a clear case of a plan that was not reasonable and there was no way to make it happen in the 2 minutes before everyone had to leave for school. Had it been discussed in details days ago, it would have been a possibility.

So of course, he was upset as was I and now we're trying to figure out the best approach to deal with the behavior and where to go from here. He went for a walk. I laid in bed trying to go back to sleep. It didn't work.

So, sleeping off my cold isn't going to happen. My day is packed and I am exhausted. And the dilemma certainly isn't resolved.

So, 20 minutes is all it takes. Just 20 short minutes.

Great Timing (not)

Well, it looks my my aches and pains are the start of a nasty head cold.

Tonight I am taking 5 (possibly 6) kids with me to the SW part of the state to do a placement, spend the night, and then speak on an adoption orientation panel tomorrow.

Two of the kids have horrible coughs which will keep us awake. Several need swimming trunks because they went from Boys to Men's (or is that Boyz 2 Mens) sizes this summer.

I have planned to have lunch with Rand and then I meet my boss at 1:15.

I can't face any of this at this time, so I am going back to bed for a while.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Look of Utter Shock

As you know, Salinda has a best friend. What I never told you was that during their off-again time, Salinda got suspended for fighting with her at school.

So tonight, they're friends again and she is here. Dominyk hadn't been paying any attention to the latest developments, and so when he came home tonight and found her here his mouth dropped open, he gasped, and he said, "I thought she beat you UP!"

I love it when that kid says exactly what we're all thinking!

Still Aching

I'm still aching. I did walk out to the van and make it to lunch. After lunch I tried to rest, but never did sleep. I don't know if I'm coming down with something or if I have a bigger problem than that. (Think Kindergarten Cop and Arnold S. -- It's Not a Tumah!")

Busy day today. Salinda has a friend over (the one she liked/didn't like/liked/didn't like, you know the routine). Both Tony and Dom have PCAs tonight. I talked to Mike on the phone. He's plotting the things he needs purchased for himself on the trip up to the halfway house.

I've been attempting to clean off my desk. Financial aid forms need my attention. I have training at 6:30...

Busy busy day.

Whiney, Whiny, Whinny

My shoulders hurt. My neck hurts. My elbows hurt. My head hurts. I'm not sure why. I am going out to lunch. If I can walk.

Devotional This Morning

My topic this morning is not profound, and possibly not even well written, but the thought is a good one. Check out Running to God When We Feel Like Running Away on my Scripture As I See It blog.

13 Minutes and Counting

In 13 minutes we begin the "get ready for school" routine for everyone but Tony, who gets on the bus at 7 and Rand, who gets himself up at 6:45. In 13 minutes, I will do the rounds. I will attempt to cheerily, but not to cheerily, as cheery annoys some in the morning, awaken the slumbering children who will spend the next hour either showering or, if they did so last night, primping. They have breakfast at school, so it reallly only does take about 1/2 hour.

Our morning routine has changed considerably as the children have gotten older. When the kids were younger, it was mayhem, especially when they had to have on boots, snowpants, etc.

Now very little direction is needed and they are pretty focused, thus staying out of one anothers way. Most of the time it is a fairly calm experience, very unlike it used to be.

While it was a lot of work, sometimes I miss their need for me to button and zip and tie. I miss helping them bundle up and pack up their backpacks. I miss their childhood. Maybe, like Mike yesterday, I'm feeling like it all went by way too fast and I'm not ready to have a house full of teens and preteens who look for me only when they need the keys or my checkbook.

But now in 7 minutes, I'll awaken some groggy big bodies that will get themselves ready for school. Unlike when they are little, only a few will initiate affection or kind words. But I'll remind them that I love them as they walk out the door, I'll encourage them to make good choices, and I might sneak in a kiss or two if I can catch them off guard.

Ten years ago it was snowpants and noses that needed to be wiped. Today it's questions about homework assignments and sports gear. And ten years from now I'll wake up with nobody to wake up but myself. And then I'll KNOW it all went by too fast.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The staffing today did not go well.

It started as all of them do, with MIke reporting his great progress and how THIS TIME he was ready to do what he was supposed to do, even though he knew that we didn't believe him.

And then when we stated that we tended to agree that a halfway house was a good plan, he started to get very frustrated. And, as always, by the end of the conversation, we were to blame. Everything in his life was our responsibility and we (the people who moments before he HAD to come home and live with) were his biggest problem. We were the ones who did everything wrong.

Attempting to point out the inconsisties was pretty futile.

Then he changed tactics and started trying to get us to buy him stuff, accusing us of not being financially supportive. He was very frustrated at my response which indicated that the $3500 worth of merchandise he had taken from us and the $500 we had loaned him had pretty much put us in a place where there wouldn't be much money coming his way. We offered emotional support.

Apparently that wasn't what he wanted to happen. He ended up in tears and left cussing us out and saying he didn't want to talk to us.

The gist of the conversation was that he isn't ready to be 18. Twelve to eighteen just went by too fast and why were we all the sudden pushing him to grow up. Now certainly, many 18 year olds feel this way, but I had to point out to him that I was not personally responsible for making time go by so fast over the last several years. I don't control the clock.

While I feel bad for him, I do realize that he has made the decisions he has made. He has gotten himself legally into a corner where he can't choose. His probation officer says he has to go to a halfway house, and that is where he has to go.

So, next week we will participate in Family Week and we will take him to his halfway house. His counselor thinks he feels unloved and yet to him how much we spend equals love, so it's hard to know how to communicate it. But we will attempt to connect with him as much as we can.

The regular rules that apply to live don't work so well with kids with FASD and RAD and yet, apparently, when they turn 18, nobody cares about diagnosis any more. You just have to do the right thing or you get locked up.

But the bottom line is that "we live, we love, we forgive and we never give up." And we hope and pray that that is enough.

Paula's Blog Title

There's a song I have recently grown to love and it just hit me the other day that it is the title of Paula's blog title.

It's by SuperChick, and the chorus, especially, must be the FOUNDATION of an adoptive family's foundation.

"We Live"

There's a cross on the side of the road
Where a mother lost her son
How could she know that the morning he left
Would be the last time she'd trade with him for a little more time
(so she could say she loved him one last time)
And hold him tight
But with life we never know when we're coming up to the end of the road
So what do we do then
With tragedy around the bend

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

There's a man who waits for the tests to
See if the cancer had spread yet
And now he asks why did I wait to live 'til it was time to die
If I could have the time back, how I'd live
Life is such a gift
So how does the story end?
Well, this is your story and it all depends
So don't let it become true
Get out and do what we were meant to do

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

Waking up to another dark morning
People are mourning
The weather in life outside is storming
But what would it take for the clouds to break
For us to realize each day
Is a gift somehow, someway
And get our heads up out of this darkness
And spark this new mindset and start on with life cuz it ain't gone yet
And tragedy's a reminder to take off the blinders and wake up
(to live the life)
We're supposed to take up
(moving forward)
With all our heads up
Cuz life is worth living

We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love
We live, we love, we forgive and never give up
Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above
And today we remember to live and to love

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Yet another "Staffing"

This morning we have a staffing for Mike. We are going to talk about the Halfway House option. Then next week we have "Family Week"

Our goals? To offer him support, encourage him to choose an option that doesn't involve living at home, and hope that he'll see the reasons behind our thinking it's a a good idea for him not to be here.

Now that he is 18, he moves into a different realm of life, whether he is ready for it or not. And we can't continue to have things stolen from us (a total of over $3500 worth of stuff is still missing, though he says "I can get it back for you") and live wondering where he is all the time. The effect he has on his siblings is far less than positive, causing them to do many things they would not do without him.

If he can just go somewhere where he can graduate from High School and get a job at least there is hope. He is interested in proving to us that he can do it, so I want to see him do so ... but with us not having to take the risk.

I guess we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Which is pretty much what we've concluded many times now.

Argument With Myself

Ever have one of those mornings when you have to have a long discussion with yourself to get out of bed?

I bargained and reasoned and came up with a new morning routine and everything . . . but eventually I lost to myself and here I am, up and showered.

Neck hurts, back hurts, head hurts, and I'm groggy, but I'm up.

So I guess I won.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Drooling and in Depends

That's where I'm going to be by the time these girls graduate from High School. That, I know for sure. The drama, the ups and downs, the I love her/I hate her/I love her back and forth moodiness is just mind boggling. I wasn't like that, which makes it more difficult for me to understand it. I kept the same two best friends through all of 7th and 8th grade. They were my only friends, but we never "broke up."

We're back to I love her... which is good I guess. But it's taxing trying to keep up.

Since I have 2 daughters (and yes, I'm glad there are only two) I figure that I will be in a mental institution by the time they are both out of high school . . . having lost conscious control of both my saliva and my bladder...

It's amazing that anything as beautiful as these two could push me to that end, but I'm feeling it coming now.

Reverent Submission

For those who share my faith, I have posted today's devotional here.

I Know I Talk About Them A Lot . . .

. . . but they pay me to! Isn't that great! Pay Per Post pays me to talk about them. They also get paid to pay me to talk about other products on the internet.

When I first heard about Pay Per Post, I thought it was too good to be true. I sit down for 10 minutes to write a couple hundred words about a product and a month later I get paid, through PayPal, $3.00, or $5.00, or as much as $15.00 even without a famous blog. I was skeptical, but I signed up and started slow.

The only thing that is limiting my income with Pay Per Post is the amount of time I have to write. You can post as many as three times a day on a variety of topics. The higher Google Rank you have on your site, the more opportunities you qualify and the more you can get paid.

It's blog marketing at it's best and I'm making money. So far I have been paid $77.75 for my blog posts and another $25.00 will be coming soon.

In June the new IPhone comes out. As you know, it's a pricy item. But it is my plan to use my blog income to purchase an IPhone, which is going to greatly change my life.

So, for those of you who are holding out, try it just once. Once you see how easy it is, you be glad you did.

Things are Beginning to Stir a Little

IN a few minutes I will wake everyone up. Some of them, who get up on their own, are beginning to stir.

I am hoping to have some time today to blog something substantial. Last night I did not sleep well -- was feeling really good and energetic at 11:30. Not feeling as good or energetic this morning.

A quick Dominykism for you.

On Sunday, our friend Sue was the narrator for a choir number about the prodigal son. When she read, "Kill the fatted calf" Dominyk asked me, "Why would they want to kill a fat cat?"

Monday, March 19, 2007

Not a Bad Day All Around

We had a pretty good night. Bedtime has been a little rocky, but the day was good. Four kids have new shoes. The girls have new clothes. Everyone got along OK. There were no major crisis. I got work done this morning. It's nice to have a day like this.

Now tomorrow, we're back to routine again.... finally.

How do Others Deal with This?

We have kids who steal, and kids who don't.

We have a policy, therefore, in our house, that kids don't keep money in their rooms. They are supposed to let us handle all the money. If we get stolen from, then it is our responsibility.

But sometimes the kids forget to give it to us and then it gets stolen. And then they expect us to hunt down the money or stolen objects and determine who took it. I used to do this, but then I found myself trying to repossess stolen items from the known theives, only to discover that they were misplaced by those reporting them stolen and I had wasted lots of my time and energy for nothing.

So now I remind them that they should have given the money to us to hold on to and that hopefully this will help them learn. I explain that if I leave my wallet somewhere and there is money taken and I report that to the police, that the police don't reimburse my money, but they still want me to give them the money.

Am I missing something here? How do others handle it when siblings (supposedly) steal from siblings?

Sunday Night's Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday March 25, 2007
You Gotta Believe! The Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast is hosting another great Radio Support Group show.

Peter Alsop will be You Gotta Believe's guest speaker for staff day and for the adoptive parent support group on Friday March 30th. It is rare that an educational psychologist of his stature from the West Coast will be in town and we were able to take advantage of his being in New York City.

Peter Alsop strongly believes that by helping professionals and parents they become far better servers of their clients and children. He believes that it is important for professionals and parents to achieve a level of clarity about themselves and how their own backgrounds sometimes create obstacles in that ability to serve. Peter does extremely inspiring presentations with both humor and song to help professionals and parents learn a great deal about themselves and, in turn their ability to serve others.

For anyone who will not get a chance to see Peter when he is in Brooklyn, we invite you to listen to our radio broadcast Sunday night.

What a Weekend!

Yesterday was a nonstop parenting marathon. We got to first service and saw that we were supposed to be ushers and greeters in second service, so we had to go to church twice in a row. Everyone but one person did remarkably well with the change in routine.

Then we had the bell concert which was very lengthy. Dominyk was obsessed with the idea that he sucked and couldn't play the piece they were going to play. It took me lots of energy to redirect him and get him to go and though he was obviously lost, he didn't embarrass himself by ruining the piece or having a meltdown. It was a concert involving the whole community and 18 different long bell numbers, so it was certainly a lengthy test of Tony and Dom's endurance. I was proud of them.

They couldn't hold it together, though for their evening event at church where they, along with Ricardo, proceeded to do all kind of really dumb things at the event (using words they shouldn't, making male genetalia out of clay, etc, which resulted in a very distressed pastor/father and kids getting sent to bed early).

Then we heard from our oldest in college giving us information about choices he is making that distress us.

John called yesterday as well -- he is doing better. Seems to be in good spirits. Says he's working a lot and doing what he is supposed to do. They changed the time he takes his meds, which is helping his sleep schedule.

I tried again and again to get ahold of Mike, but the line was always busy. The plan for him is to go to a halfway house and he does not want to do so. It is going to be interesting to see how this all pans out.

Today there is no school. I'm trying to touch base with my families right now as the kids are all occupied. I have 6 families (here in the state whose placements I directly supervise) who will be getting 18 children in the next two months. The first starts coming home this Friday. As you can imagine, they have lots of questions right now. I had already talked to four of them by 9:30 this morning.

We are going clothes and shoe shopping today, something I don't always enjoy. Shoes are SO expensive and apparently so important to boys.

At this moment, all is well. Thingsm ay change momentarily, but for now, it's all good.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


The seminar that I attended yesterday was about inducement. It made SO MUCH SENSE. The idea is that children who are abandoned feel many emotions -- anger, grief, loneliness, out of control, crazy. When they are finally in a place where they feel safe, they attempt to communicate those emotions but it is too difficult. So instead, they attempt to create those emotions in the person with whom they are beginning to build a relationship.

Unfortunately, as newly adoptive parents, many of us see those attempts to help us understand how they feel as behaviors that must be stopped. We begin to feel all the things they feel-- anger, grief, loneliness, out of control, crazy. So we decide that we cannot handle them and get them away from us, instead of allowing ourselves to relate to them and with them becaue we now understand how they feel.

There is a complete explanation of the seminar here. I'm not sure I'm explaining it well, but it made so much sense to me.

Before I was an adoptive parent I did not experience those emotions. After we started parenting, I did and still do have those emotions a lot. I totally get how it's the kids are trying to get me to feel their feelings and realize it's been happening for years.

Let me know what you think after you read the article.

Finally, Pictures from My Trip to Visit my Folks

A friend of mine asked before I left for AZ if I could borrow a wireless signal from one of my parents neighbors, so I took this picture to demonstrate why that might not be possible.
This is my mother and I practicing to sing the "definitely-in-no-need-of-a-microphone" duet. We both have incredibly loud voices.
My parents receiving their major award.

Blogging Slacker

The half-conference I went to yesterday was great. The session that I attended was so insightful that I intend to blog about it (if when I have time!) My sessinon that I presented, was, in my opinion, a little above mediocre, but nothing as good as I've done sometimes. I think pepole got something out of it, sure hope they did.

When I got home, my husband had orchestrated a St. Patrick's Day Feast, complete with Corn Beef and Asparagus, Irish Brown Bread (homemade) carrots, new potatoes... it was lovely. We had both Kari and her family and these friends over at the same time and it was great fun. We played games and laughed and they got me oh so wound up.

Today will be a full day again. Church, Sunday School, and the two youngest boys have a bell concert this afternoon. There is no school tomorrow, so we have shoe shopping on the schedule (not fun).

I also have to have a lovely conversation with one of my children about choices the past few days that will not be enjoyable.

And at somepoint I really do need to do some serious blogging.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Off to the Conference

If you read Kari and Paula's blogs then you'll know they are at a conference. I"m heading up there too today to speak in a seminar.

I have little time this morning to get ready, so I"ll keep this short. I have much to blog later though, including the plan for Mike that he doesn't like...

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Complaint Free World

I updated my Scripture As I See It blog this morning talking about a Bible verse that addresses grumbling and erring in spirit and how it applies to our teenagers as well as us. Also included a link to A Complaint Free World, a program I've decided our family should try.

Unlimited Internet without buying a $2.00 lemonade and the BEST husband in the world

I am at my desk. I don't have to buy a lemonade or an ice tea or a $7.00 appetizer to have all the inernet access I want.

I came home to a clean house, all the laundry caught up, content kids and the best man ever! He even made me hot breakfast this morning.

We had a great morning. I'm ready to get back to work. Hopefully, once that stuff is caught up, I'll be able to post a few thoughts and pictures from my trip.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Free Internet

Albuquerque provides free internet at the airport. Nice. But the restaurant has provided me the most disgusting quesadilla of my life. Not so nice.

Twenty six more minutes of battery power. I board in 35 minutes, so timing is good.

Lots of time to think and dream on the way to the airpor.t

Most pathetic of all

I'm sitting in Denny's not even being seated or ordering (parking lot wouldn't get signal). They've been good to me at this Denny's.

I cried all the way here from my parents house. They are such great people and I always wonder if this is the last time I'll see my dad here on earth.

I've been quite emotional this week. Things aren't great at home, but I need to be there, even if they aren't.

Isn't my husband AWESOME to let me do this?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Taking a Day Off on My Vacation

The homestudy is written and emailed. I had a meeting with the PR person from the school that my mom and dad work at and I helped her set up the blog.

I'm going to take my mom shopping today for some stuff that I think they need that they would never buy for themselves.

I rested well and have lots of ideas of ways my life can be better upon my return. I guess that's what vacations are supposed to be like.

Denny's has ben good to me. Yesterday they gave me my snack for free...

Well, I'm off.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Enough for Today

I'm heading back to my parents, via the library to pick up a book for my mom. I'm heading back to finish "It's a Wonderful Life" with my Dad and help my mom with a book sorting project she's ot planned for me.

Such a slow way of life could become tempting after a while.

Back to Denny's

I'm back at Denny's processing email. Finished the homestudy (or as much as I could do) that I needed to do. I spent the morning doing that and watching part of "It's a Wonderful LIfe" with my dad. What a great movie. My mom would have nothing to do with it "CHRISTMAS in MARCH!!!!" she said disgustedly. But it's a great movie anytime.

I'm in the process of re-evaluating my life and trying to make some decisions about doing things differently. There are so many ways I am unhappy with how things are and I want to do things differently. I'm hoping to take small steps, but this always happens when I am away.

I took a few minutes to write to John and Mike this morning -- reminding them that i love them.

Lots of random thoughts float through my head when I have time to think. Might be dangerous.

Even More Pathetic

This morning I'm not even entering Denny's -- I'm in the parking lot and that is very pathetic.

We had a low key night -- I didn't sleep well -- too much afternoon caffinated tea at Denny's.

But now I have what I need to finish my project (had to get some emails) and I'm heading back to my folks to finish it. Then this afternoon I'll be back and Denny's to check email again. That time though, I'll go in.

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's Amazing.

Blogging has sure changed things for lots of people. I can’t imagine my life without blogging… reading them, writing them, checking them, working to improve and expand them. And now, the opportunity to make money on them. Whether or not you agree with making money from blogging as a principle, you can’t disagree with the fact that having the opportunity is pretty cool. You and me, just average people from anywhere, can get paid to write.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s amazing how easy it is to make money with Pay Per Post. You may be getting tired of me explaining to you how easy it is to make money with them, but I have tried several other ways, and this is by far the easiest.

Now, if you have a high profile blog, you can make up to $1,000 for a single post! Maybe you think that blog marketing sounds too good to be true – that nobody would pay you to write a few paragraphs on a blog, but it’s the real thing. Lately, more and more advertisers are realizing just how valuable advertising that is written by bloggers can be to their companies.

The interface on the website is easy, it’s easy to join … the whole thing is a good deal all the way around. If you want to email me privately I can explain it to you. I’d love to see you join and start making money.

Feeling More Than Pathetic

I am back at Denny's because I forgot paperwork and to fax it costs a dollar a page. So I'm having it emailed and need to be here to receive and consollodate it piece by piece.

My parents are exhausted. It's hard to be around me I think. I am trying to be as patient as I can, but their lifestyle is so much different than mine.

We went to the clinic for my dad's blood work and stopped by the library to drop off books. We sat at Denny's for one hour and they were just worn out. We did get to have a really fun video chat with my youngest brother that my dad enjoyed. They talked baseball and Denver politics.

Now I'm here to work for a few hours -- giving them a break from me, and hopefully getting things done. The people at Denny's are really going to wonder about me...

Sunday Night's YGB Radio Program

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

This Sunday will be the Teen Support Group. The show will be hosted by Angela Keane and Aileen Rosario. The two young ladies were recently adopted by their mother Mary Keane. We the staff at You Gotta Believe! would like to send out a special congratulations.

Angela and Aileen will host the show and their studio guest will be Jonathan an adolescent in care. During the interview he will discuss his journey from Independent Living into a family, and what that has meant for him, why he rejected a family initially and ventured into the Independent Living program. Jonathan will follow up with what he has learned from that experience and why he believes a family to be important.

This is a live broadcast and you are welcome to call in during the show at (631) 888-8811 if you need support or help.

Umbilical Cord has been Severed

Wow, how out of touch am I? 48 hours without internet and I feel like I'm slowly disappearing. It's been amazingly strange to not be in touch with everyone, and to not blog.

I arrived safely to Albequerque and then had an uneventful four hour drive to my parents. When I called Bart I felt terrible because he had had such a horrible day with the kids. It was nothing major, but transition day is always hard.

Then yesterday my parents were surprised to receive a Distinguished Service award from their church, which is why I wrote this post a month ago. I had to read it in church, which I wasn't expecting. This was after I had played the piano and sang a duet with my mother (who is the only person in the world who could convince me to do such a thing). The 20 people there enjoyed it, they said.

Yesterday afternoon by the time we ate, chatted, and did dishes it was almost 4. Quick nap and then time for evening church. We went to bed before 9.

Changing paces this drastically is hard on the system. I have way too much time to think, and way too little time online to keep up with everyone.

When I think, I conclude that I just have to do better than I've been doing. I lay awake and worry about (and dream about) my kids and how we can best help them. Life is a blur at home. It's anything but one here. The clock moves so slowly.

But my parents are awesome, they won't be around forever, and this is a great opportunity to be with them. Right now we're sitting at Denny's, the only place in town that has wireless internet. My parents are reading, and I am checking email and blogging.

The whole community is in slow motion. If I was here long, I might become that way too. But it will only be for 4 days.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Good Thing I Can't Type Much

What a rediculous idea. Today is Saturday, next week is Spring Break, and this airport is FULL. Everyone in MN is heading somewhere warmer, it appears, and I am stuck in long lines, cramped seats, places with no outlets. I left the house crabby and annoyed (not because of anything anyone did). I am crabbier and annoyeder now. And yes, I know that isn't a word.

I am not exactly annoyed that I have to leave -- I want to see my parents, but this is the least convenient week for many reasons. I feel bad for leaving Bart with the kids when there is so much going on and all the PCAs are gone on Spring Break.

I guess this is why I'm now a member of the "sandwich generation." MY parents need me at least this week and they are too elderly to travel. My children need me too. And my "families" (I hate the word clients) need me as well.

Stretched too thin yet too fat to type with this on my lap, I'm a mess. But, as I always do, I'll bounce back...

Leaving Again

In a few minutes I'm heading to the airport again. When I set up two trips so close together, I didn't know the week between was going to be quite as stressful as it has been. I'm not feeling ready yet I know Bart is very capable of providing for everything and everyone. It's just hard not being here.

My parents are wonderful people and they need this time with me. They are convinced I need a few days break as well. I have packed some books as I know I will have time to read. I am only planning on checking my email a couple times a day and I have two homestudies to write, but otherwise, I'm not planning to work as much as I usually do.

I am bringing along some books about parenting kids with issues. Maybe I'll review them here for you. I will try to blog more from the airport this morning, but now I have to pack up the computer.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Headaches, both Real and Metaphorical

My head is pounding.

I have another child in the principal's office.

When it rains it pours.

I'm going to go lie down.

Sunday's YGB Radio Program

Save the Date
Sunday March 11, 2007
You Gotta Believe! The Adopting Teens and Tweens Radio broadcast is hosting another great Radio Support Group show.

The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio broadcast will feature Mr. Nelson from the Berean Community and Family Life Center (BCFLC). BCFLC is a faith-based organization that focuses on health and wellness for adults and children and is the first of its kind in New York City.

As health statistics became more available and evident, and the increased number of community residents, congregants, family members and friends dying from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity became more noticeable, BCFLC decided to do something about it.

"Weigh to go kids" is an 8-week program that is designed for children and adolescents, and offers youth the tools for lifelong success in managing their weight. The program also features meal planning, exercise sessions, pediatric physicians on site accessibility, and one-on-one nutritional counseling. This program is one of the many programs that the BCFLC offers.

To hear more from Mr. Nelson about the many programs and ways to support yourself and children in living a more healthful life style, tune into the Adopting Teens and Tweens radio broadcast this Sunday evening from 8:00 until 9:00pm. You can also call in with questions if you need support or help during the broadcast at (631) 888-8811

Giving In for the Greater Good

I have a child who wants to change schools. This is the 3rd person this year who has had this plan. We let one person change schools when we realized that it just wasn't going to work. We said no to the second who managed to get himself into treatment and win. The third time I really don't agree with the decision, but I believe the child has potential and I don't want force misbehavior in an attempt to get their way.

So, I spent the morning on the phone with the therapist and my husband and I made a list of twenty questions that have to be answered. I made a list of guidelines -- your changing schools cannot cost us more time or money, it will require additional maturity on your part, etc.

And now the questions must be answered and a well thought out plan presented. The saddest piece is that I truly believe that wherever we go there we are.

I read a story a long time ago that has really stuck with me. It was a little boy who was afraid of a monster that kept chasing him everywhere. No matter where he went the monster followed him. Finally, he decided to hide in a closet and when he got in there he realized he'd locked himself in the closet with the monster.

You see, we are our own monsters. Happiness does not come from what is going on around us. And when we run away, we take ourselves with us.

10 Days in the Life

Here's a matching game for you. You have to email your answers privately, because I am motivated to somewhat protect the repuations of my children.

We've had quite a ten days.

Some of the answers you should know. Some you don't. Each item is matched with one of my children and all of these things have happened this past week.

Which if my children:

1) Has commented that it is impossible to live in our home drug free because of how WE are as parents;

2) Got suspended from school for getting into a fist fight;

3) Called 911 at an important church meeting less than 48 hours after a shoplifting incident;

4) Experimented with tobacco;

5) Spent an hour exploring gay porn sites on the internet;

6) Spent money for hair highlights and now wants them to grow out;

7) Has woken up at these times in the last week: 4:30 a.m., 3:30, a.m., 5:00 a.m., 5:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday.

8) Is responsible for their own laundry but refused to do it, wearing the same pants multiple times before I intervened;

9) Is declaring "It's all my fault"

10) Did nothing of note all ten days.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wow, What a Day

I thought our lives were complicated last night. But the plot thickens.

I don't even have time to blog about it. I arrived home safely and now I'm heading out the door for training, so you'll have to wait to hear the latest.

We've had quite the week.

A bunch of unrelated things

Just to let some of you who are concerned know, the person searching the name of one of my kids was local, so it was more than likely someone at least they know and not a birth family member.

These are pictures of Mike on his 18th birthday. He had shaved his head before he ran away last time.

To give you a glimpse of how his mind thinks, we were reminding him that he needed to register for the draft now that he is 18. He said, "I think you can only have 3 tattoos if you want to get in." He looked down at the 12 or so on his arm and said, "I guess I could just turn this into one big one."

And finally, someone found this blog by googling "study on flaming hot cheetos marijuana." Hmmm.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The End of a Long Emotionally Exhausting Day

I am not sure how much to blog because one of my biggest concerns tonight is how much I should be blogging. Someone did a search tonight for one of my kids names and found the blog and spent a half hour here. I could easily just be a friend of ours, but now I'm realizing why some people never use their real names.

And one of my children, who will remain nameless, will probably be 18 before they go on the internet again. I don't understand when I REMIND them that I will be watching everything they do, how they can still do things they know will get them in trouble.

I am at a point of exhaustion where I am wondering how I am going to be able to get through all I need to do before my trip and really, in all honesty, am not in a mood where I should be writing down anything. I should be avoiding writing how I feel now like the plague.

I feel somewhat strangely a little better having blogged about how I shouldn't be blogging. Ok, so I'm a bit weird.

Uneventful Birthday Visit

Spent an hour with MIke today for his birthday. Took him some gifts.. Bart took some pictures (i'll post one later) while Mike and I played pool and foosball. We didn't talk about much of anything.

We did talk to his counselor who isn't recommending his discharge for 3 more weeks -- and then she is recommending a halfway house. We told her we were letting MIke make up his own plan and we were not going to tell him what to do now that he was 18. She isn't thinking he'll succeed here. We aren't either.

So I was somewhat relieved by all this . . . just the idea of him making a plan to come here seals his fate, I'm afraid. His P.O. is planning to give him a curfew if he returns home, and he hasn't been able to follow a curfew in years.

So, in 3 weeks we will have "family week" with him and he will make amends, one of the twelve steps. I know that being a support to him while he is not living in our home has always worked better. Maybe they'll find a place that can help him.

But for now, we have 3 more weeks...

Too Much Pressure = Silly Mistakes

I got myself out of my funk enough to run to Shopko to pick up some things Mike wanted us to bring him -- things like shampoo, acne medication, mechanical pencils, new socks, etc.

When we got there we were told it needed to be inventoried by a staff member. One of the women had us carry his laundry baskets of clothes and the stuff we bought into her office for inventory.

A half our later she came out and sat down with us. She said to me, "Is there any chance you did any shopping for yourself and left some thing in the bags?"

"Sure," I replied. "Sorry I forgot to take out the watch. That was for me."

"and there was something else . . ."

I racked my brain feeling somewhat clueless and then all of the sudden I began to feel slightly sheepish. "Oh yes", I said quietly. "Could you maybe put my stuff into a separate bag."

Yup, it's those feminine napkins again.


Sometimes I feel a little like I've been hit by a truck. A big emotional semi that floors me to the point that I am incapacitated emotionally for a while.

It doesn't have to be a big thing, necessarily. It can be a series of small things. Or it can be a couple of tough things in a row. Or, depending on the day, it can just be my mood when stuff happens.

This morning I arranged to give Salinda a special ride back to the school so she wouldn't have to make up swimming in P.E. Once we got to the school, she refused to get out because she was refusing to go to school since I won't let her transfer. I spent 25 minutes trying to persuade her in every way I could think of to get out of the van. Then, I drove 15 minutes to pick Tony back up (Salinda had already missed swimming by then) only to have him barrrage me with hatred the whole way home.

So why do I feel immobile at the moment? Is it the added stress of the fact that we're heading to visit Mike in an hour? Is it my biorythms? Menstrual cycle? A culmination of stress (which, I read today in O Magazine, is causing me to not be able to lose weight? Or is it that we can only take stuff for so long before it blindsides us and we stand with our mouths gaping open unable to move forward?

Of course, I have now had 20 minutes of solitude to recoop. I am now moving again. My brain is functioning, my heart rate back to normal. In 20 more minutes I will head to the store to buy Mike the things he asked for. When Bart is done with the funeral he has, we will head there for some more misdirected anger.

But at the very minimum, at least there is someone else who feels the same way today and that is strangely comforting.

Very Little Time at the Computer The Next Two Days

Today is another Marathon Day. At 7:30 I will leave with two kids for therapy. I will then head to the store to purchase some items that MIke has requested for his birthday visit, which will last for one hour. Then we will come home and I will have about 2 hours to get as much done as I can done before all of our activities this evening at church.

Tomorrow I will be leaving at 8:30 and not return home from travelling and doing a home visit until about 5:30 -- and then I have training from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Friday I will pack, do another home visit and then Saturday I'm on my way to Arizona to visit my folks.

Just thinking about the next week makes me tired and our washing machine is on the blink adding to my stress. Whine, Whine, Whine.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Looks Like We Made It

Well, I set up this counter on September 16th counting down the days until MIke's legal childhood would be over. I did not do it in spite, I did it because I was sure hoping we would survive it without any false allegations or another "Child in Need of Protective Services" case. And survive it we did.

And tomorrow morning we will head to his Chemical Dependency Treatment Program, taking him a few things he has requested and celebrating his birthday.

I was so reminded, after talking with him again today, about how closely he still resembles Anna but in a more mature sort of way. As Kari pointed out last night, kids with FASD can talk the talk, but they can't get themselves to walk the walk. It's impossible.

Mike is now safe and can't leave a building. He is in an environment where every minute of his day is structured for him and he has a lot of time to think. While he is there, he has it all figure out. He understands what he needs to do in order to make it. And he is completely convinced that he can. Like Anna, he can tell you what he is supposed to do. And like Anna, I'm afraid, once he is back in our home he will be doing an 18 year old rendition of climbing on the chairs, spinning around, yelling too loudly, and screaming "That's Me" throughout the slide show. But tomorrow, when we meet with him on his 18th birthday, he will be able to clearly articulate to us his well-thought out plan of how things will be when he returns home. He will explain to us everything that he needs to do and exactly how it should be done. And he will be exactly right.

And there will be no way that we can get him to understand how it might not work out as he has it planned because to him, the past doesn't effect the future.

It's been over nine years since that little boy walked into our lives. We never dreamed what he would drag us through in his journey to legal adulthood.

Getting to this milestone is a time when we might ask ourselves if we'd do it again. I know that for me there is no question. There has been enough joy in the midst of the pain to make it worth it. Mike's a likeable kid -- he has a shy smile that will melt your heart, especially when he is suprised by mercy or undeserved kindness. He has a great sense of humor. He has a quick wit and can be charming. Even if the pain has outweighed the joy, there has been enough joy to make me say I'd do it again.

So, I wanted to write on the eve of this 18th birthday, since I may not have time tomorrow, a word of thanks to God for the blessing of Mike. Without him, life might have been easier, but it wouldn't have been better. He has and will continue to make us pull our hair out at times, but he will also continue to warm our hearts and make us smile. Happy Birthday, Son. Looks like we made it.

Please Give Me A Wall So I Can Bang My Head Against It Again & Again

Trying to teach someone something that they didn't learn naturally is plain hard work. And attachment is almost impossible to teach. I am trying today, with a couple of our attachment disordered kids, just to explain a simple concept -- recipricol relationships. It's something that most of us just know about because we were blessed by caregivers at birth who taught us about them.

It's the idea of give and take. It's not simply the "I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine" philosophy. It's more like the "I will scratch your back because I love you. I do not expect you to scratch mine back" philosophy that BOTH individuals have in a relationship.

In my lifetime of healthy relationships (all of which took place outside of the realm of parenting attachment disordered kids, though a few of our kids have healthy relationships with me) there is that understood idea. I love you, and therefore I give. But in healthy relationships, both people do some giving.

My little Sadie is a perfect example of someone who knows how to have a decent relationship with someone. She is 12 and at night she asks if I need a back massage. She offers to make me popcorn. If I need a favor and I don't want to have to argue for an hour, I ask Sadie.

So, when Sadie wants something, it is much easier for me to want to say yes. Can I be in the honors choir? Sure, honey, get my checkbook. Can I be in the next play? You bet.

That's not to say that I don't do these things for the other kids, but it isn't with the same feeling of joy that I have in giving to someone who gives back. Unprovoked she just started singing "I love you mom" as she was doing her chore.

But you can't teach that. You can't make someone understand that who just doesn't get it. You do it by example, year after year, and once and while you get that strange yet stupid feeling that maybe you can explain it and be understood. And so you try.

And then you realize, after the 5th hard head bang that maybe the only way to teach it is to live it and to pray hard and one day, when you least expect it, they might get it. or not. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep trying.

Playing Hookey

Is that how you spell it? Or is it Hookie? it's not Hokey? I could look it up, but where would the fun be in that? Hooky? H√ľuky?


A friend of mine has the afternoon off, so I am running away for 2.5 hours. However, I am running away with my laptop to a place with wireless so I don't feel guilty for not answering emails while we visit.

I spent the morning catching up on email and working on tax stuff. Not all that stimulating.

What Would Shock You?

Last night I finally got through to MIke. I warned him that he was not going to act like he did with Bart or I would hang up, and he knows, from previous history, that that is true. Part way through the conversation he said, "I'm going to have to tell you some things that will make you angry." I said, "I don't think there is anything you could do that would make me more angry than things you have already done. He said, "Well, it's not really anger anyway. Anger is a secondary emotion -- you know that. (Thank you, years of treatment centers).

So I responded, "OK, I don't think you could hurt me much more than you already have." And he retorted, "Could I shock you?"

I said, "I doubt it" and he wanted to know what would shock me. I said, "Well, I can tell you what wouldn't shock me. It wouldn't shock me to know that you had 5 girls pregnant at the same time. It wouldn't shock me to know that you had stolen all our credit cards and charged them to the limit. It wouldn't shock me to know you had tried to burn down our house, stolen all our vehicles, or let your friends have one of them." I was on a roll.

He stopped me though and said, "Would it shock you if I came home and did everything I was supposed to do and followed all the rules."

I was dead silent. And then I started laughing out loud. "Yes, Mike. You got me on that one! That would shock me."

I went on to explain how he always thought he could do it when he was in treatment, but that he never could do it once he was out. This time, he says, he is going to prove me wrong.

Maybe that is the secret? Maybe in his conduct disordered, narcissistic personality disordered, FAS, RAD mind the only way for him to succeed is if I completely convince him that I don't think he can. Because the last times I have tried to pump him up with positive encouragement and it has never gone anywhere.

So, could it be that my complete lack of support is exactly what he's needed? Could it be that all of my efforts to be an encourager were counter productive.

I'm still doubtful. It's not going to require me to be Oscar material to act the part of someone who doesn't believe he can make it in our home.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Getting Across a POsitive Message

My daughter and I talk on MSN. I know that seems weird, but she usually will tell me more if we are both online than she ever will if we are in person.

She is determined that life is never going to get any better for her. She has had trouble finding her niche in her new school all year and her only conslusion is that she has to transfer. I have been trying to get her to see that deciding that there is no hope means that there is no hope. That "if you think you can and you think you can't, you're right."

But I'm not sure with my temperment that I will ever be able to understand her persistent negativity. Not only is she by nature less than optimistic and dismal, but she's 14. An age nobody ever wants to be again once they pass it.

Her conclusion is that because I won't let her transfer to a school almost 20 miles from here with no bus service that I don't care about her predicament. I try to explain that just because I won't let her make this change 3 months before school is out, doesn't mean I don't feel for her.

So, I keep plugging away, letting the drama unfold before me, hoping that she'll build character through adversity and hoping that I can be patient as she tells me all about it, day after day.


For some reason tonight I am anxious. I can't pinpoint for sure why. Part of it I know is that I need to call Mike and we are visiting him for his birthday. This gives me some flashbacks of unpleasant birthdays with him in the past and all of the wrath that is unleashed on us.

I also have a daughter in the throws of teenage girl drama which I shouldn't let get to me, but sometimes does.

And I have a full week ahead -- though I'm taking a few hours tomorrow to have fun with my friend Sue because she has the afternoon off. Otherwise, I have several meetings.

I also have been gone so much that I can't get settled. Or the fact that I had a lot of troubling dreams last night and didn't sleep well

Or maybe it is all of the above.

But as a person who isn't by nature anxious, when I feel that way it bothers me.

A Tribute to a Child and a Social Worker

I am rarely moved to tears. I'm just not much of a crier. But right now my heart feels pretty fragile and the tears keep coming.

A couple years ago a social worker sent me the first of many messages about a waiting child. It said, "I also have this little guy. Do you have any families for him? He is the sweetest little guy." And she sent a picture and I went to work. I posted the message, "10 year old African American Boy in Texas".

His worker was so motivated to find him a family. I would send out a message to all the workers and she would send me back a response "do you think they would consider Teddy? (name has been changed).

If my message said, "New York Family seeking boy, any race, up to age 5" she would respond, "Do you think they will take Teddy? He's 12 now, but he looks five" (he had a medical condition).

Every time our office sent out a packet of profiles she would send me back a list of families that said they would take a kid his age and ask me to check with all of them to see if they might take him.

We had him matched a couple of times in the past, but the families always declined after reading the case file. But the worker NEVER gave up.

A few weeks ago the worker told me that she was leaving the agency because her husband had a new job in a different state. Today was to be her last day.

Last week she sent me an email with the subject line "Last Chance." Again a list of families. Again the plea, "Can you see if any of this families would be interested in Teddy?"

This morning I called her to check on something else and wish her well. She said, "I've had the worst morning ever. Teddy died this morning."

It all seems so unjust. She was one of the best workers I've ever dealt with -- so determined, so persistent, so thorough. She did EVERYTHING within her power to convince a family to adopt this little boy. And then, on her very last day, he's gone.

I talk to workers about urgency all the time. I remind them that we can't wait to match these kids. But this is a worker who understood and she got it. She did all she could.

I'm going to print out his picture. I'm going to put it on my wall in front of my desk. He will be my reminder that there are workers out there who do all that they can. He will be my reminder that we do have to do all within our power to find families for children before it's too late. He will be my motivation not to ever give up when trying to match. Teddy is a kid I will never forget, and his worker one whose memory will live on as well.

To the worker: Rest assured, you did all you could. I have never seen anyone more persistent.

and to Teddy: I'm sorry we couldn't find an earthly family to welcome you home. I trust that your new Heavenly Father has welcomed you with open arms and that you will find the sense of belonging you dreamed of as you live with Him forever.

Finished That Profile

I didn't get any takers, so I made up a family. You can see the profile on this post.

I enjoy doing this kind of thing so much that sometimes I think I wonder if I could actually make more money doing something like this -- it would be less stressful that's for sure.

But then I remember my purpose, my passion, and I'm back to matching.

Pulling Out All The Stops

I don't know HOW long it has been since Bart and I have social plans three days in a row. Saturday night we had our friends over for supper, last night the movie, and today we have lunch with another pastor in town and his wife who really enjoy.

This morning Rand had to meet people from school at 6 for a field trip so I'm driving the other six kids to school. Also on my docket for the morning is a call to Mike's Treatment Center and to John's Boys Ranch to check on their status and talk to counselors about what we should be doing. You'll see by clicking here that we down to less than 150,000 seconds until Mike turns 18. At that point, we are no longer legally responsible for him and, based on our wonderful history with him and Child Protection, we are glad for that day to come.

It's been 17 days since I've had a day at my desk without kids home, between my travel and all of their snow days and holidays (they've had school 3 of the past 10 school days). I'm looking forward to getting some things done.

Nobody came forward to ask for a profile, so I made on of the "Doe Family" that I'm trying to get into a decent size so I can post it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Night Out on the Town

Mike and Kari called mid afternoon to see if we could go out to dinner and a movie with JUST US ADULTS.

We quick figured out child care and all the sudden we were on a DOUBLE DATE.

It was so fun and when we came home everything was fine and all was calm. Gotta love nights like this.

Forgot to mention

Yes, the projects are 99% done. One wet rag waiting to dry for Tony's, Sadie's is done.

Here is a picture of Tony working on it yesterday.

We're up attempting to get ready for church today. i think our kids think that if Bart wasn't a pastor, that we wouldn't be as faithful at church attendance. Funny thing is, if Bart wasn't a pastor in this denomination, we might be members of denomination that had church on Sunday nights and be going there as well.

I can't explain why we go to church any better than Cindy did in this post this morning.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Great People

I had quite the invitation to offer our friends -- come over and help me help Tony do our science project and I'll make you supper.

They came and Tim, the dad, even took care of some kids while Sue and Sarah went with me to give Salinda a ride to meet friends.

After supper, which was good, if I do say so myself, we played cards (which Bart does not enjoy) so he was playing connect 4 with the kids. Somehow he started tossing pieces of fruit into the kids mouths and it became quite a game -- the kids reminded us of seals.

A great time was had by most of us (Dominyk slipped away to go to bed very early and Salinda still isn't home) but it was fun for the rest of us to be together.

Right now, though, I'm ready for a good night's sleep

Doesn't Even Phase Us Anymore

An event like what happened to Bart this morning used to send us into all kinds of emotional directions...

He is at a meeting of THE most important leaders in the Annual Conference of our denomination today and he took Jimmy with him. The Bishop is there, the district superintendents, and the leadership of all of the significant committees.

I talked to him at lunch time and he told me that they had only been at the meeting for an hour when the police showed up. Apparently someone in the church had called 911. Well, since the ONLY persno at the church who was not at the meeting was our 15 year old son, we think he did it, even though he vehemently denied us. And this is one of our best behaved kids -- who also shoplifted some gum and had to return it to the store yesterday...

All the thoughts of "what are people going to think" that we had 10 years ago when we started this journey don't even come into play anymore. We just shrug our shoulders, sometimes even chuckle a little, and move on. Becuase after what we've been through in court, etc., a 911 call is nothing.

But it would be nice to go a week without something happening that is potentially humiliating might be nice.

It's 12:30 and we're all still alive

I have found some friends willing to come over and hang out here while we do Tony's science project. He is determined not to let the rest of the world know how he is at home, so if some of the rest of the world comes here, he will be a completely different kid.

We're heading out to by some things for supper...

Jumping Back in with No Transition Time

Bart had an all day meeting today. He left at 6:30 a.m. and it's 9:30 and I am already at wits end with Tony. I don't blog about him often because he is such difficult child I can't even put it into words. I think I will leave it at that.

He has a science fair project due on Monday and I can't even get him to brush his teeth. I'm trying to think of creative ways to make this happen, but it's not going to work if it is just me helping him. I can guarantee you.

I'm hoping to get some family paperwork done this morning and then I'll need to go to the grocery store. I'm actually going to cook tonight so that Bart doesn't have to after a long day away. Beans and rice. It's what I make when I cook. My #1 comfort food because of my years in Mexico.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Home, Sweet, Home

Yup, I actually did make it here. Got on the 1:15 shuttle and was safe in my own home by 3:30. I was bombarded by kids needing things, but they also mentioned missing me and wishing I would have been home sooner. OK, well some of them were that way ... a couple were typically rude and crabby -- but it didn't have much to do wth me and everything to do with either their issues or the way their lives are going at this moment.

We had a quick supper and then at the spurt of the moment decided we were going to a movie. It costs a LOT not to go to a matinee, but Bart was pretty tired of being cooped up in the house and Salinda was the only one with plans, so we took all our kids minus her plus two of Sadies friends. It was nice to get away and Bart and I actually got to be alone an see our own movie.

It's now 9:40 and I am very excited about the opportunity to sleep in my own bed I was going to say in my own bed with my own husband, but that just didn't sound quite right.

It really is good to be home.