Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Indeed a Happy Halloween

It's been a fun day! The boys have seemed to do fairly well. We had a fun dinner. Everyone is trying to be "normal" so that is nice.

Sadie and Wilson went trick-or-treating and got lots of candy very quickly. Rand is at a party with some friends from college, Tony, Jimmy and Leon at confirmation with Bart, Ricardo and I here. I talked to Salinda and she has many complaints about where she is and I have had the opportunity to remind her that there are worse places than home.

It has been a fun day.

Highlights from Lunch OUt

Bart and I decided to bring the boys to meet our friend Sue and have lunch. Afterwards we told them we were going to take them to drive by their schools and see them from the outside, but that they would not go inside until tomorrow when they register. Little Wilson pipes up, "So, we're gonna do a drive by?"

Later, Leon points out that every time he turns around he sees nothing but white people. So I told him we should count the people of color we saw. Unfortunately, there weren't many out. In fact, since he wouldn't let me count a scare crow that was obviously not white -- very orange face -- there was only one. I reminded him that when he went to school he would see many kids of color as the school was quite diverse.

Bart and I have been joking around about Leon's comment that I was the man and he was the woman and it makes the boys lap. Every time Bart said, "Yo da man" to me they just cracked up.

They have returned to electronic stimulation -- enjoying their psychic space. In an hour or so we will unpack and get more settled. But for now all is good.

The boys are fun. Quiet, but smart. Good sense of humor and always right there mentally when Bart and I joke around, never missing a beat.

Failing Motherhood 101

If thse were my first two kids I'd be in tears right now. In my mad rush to get everyone working together to clean, I forgot to even check about groceries. Bart is the grocery shopper in the family and while I did get a few things last week, I hadn't even checked recently.

So, we get up and it's time for breakfast. The boys ask for toast. I burn it. They ask for milk. I grab the only pitcher in the fridge and pour Leon a glass. He politely asks if it might be spoiled, and I realize that I've served him buttermilk. The yogurt I gave Wilson looked too gross for him to eat. And so they ate very little.

Had they been my first kids I would have felt compelled to run to the store and make bacon and eggs, but instead I laughed and so did they. I explained that dad does the shopping and Leon mentioned that "it's like you're the man and dad is the woman."

Thing is, they don't care much about food anyway. And we'll buy milk and juice and next time breakfast will be better.

The boys are thrilled with a day to play video games and hang out here. They have finished their first quarter in Texas and the new quarter here starts Monday, so I'm waiting to put them in school then.

I'm playing little attachment games with them, trying to focus on that aspect of things. I give permission to do things with the payment being a hug. I make a lot of eye contact, etc. These boys seem to have the capacity to attach easily and don't argue about hugs, or stiffen when touched, so those are good signs.

So, even though I wasn't a perfect mom this morning, we'll all OK. And I think that is a big key. In a new placement, something I wished I would have known years ago during our first placement, the kids pick up on the anxiety of the new parents. If the parents are anxious, the kids behaviors go sky hi.

So, it's buttermilk and burnt toast boys, and we can laugh. And you can relax. And so can I.

A Very Mellow Morning

This morning has been a very mellow one so far. Everyone is trying to be quiet to le the new boys sleep. It's pretty cute.

Their homecoming was great, but they were quiet and a little nervous. I was surprised that Wilson was more talkative than Leon. Leon was just taking it all in -- you could tell was nervous -- but he's evaluating, analyzing, thinking about what he's gotten himself into... or what everyone else got him into.

Today we'll unpack them and start enrolling them in school. I may take them to get their Y membership taken care of as well. And this is in the midst of all I need to do as well.

I completed the brocure above yesterday in the middle of everything else. I'm wondering if I should add it to the blog and promote my speaking career here or if that would be inappropriate. You can give me your opinions in the simple poll in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And They Are Here

A little overwhelmed with the unbridled enthusiasm of their new siblings, but they are here. I called the boys' birthsister and they talked to her a while. We had cake and ice cream with the social worker. They are now both in bed, trying to settle down, with their over-talkative roommates (tony with leon, dom with wilson). And soon my husband will be in bed thinking the same thing -- that he is trying to settle down with his over-talkative roommate.

I'm glad they are here. Let the adventure begin!

They Have Landed

I'm officially in labor, so to speak. The boys have landed. Bart called about a half hour ago. So that means in about 90 minutes they will be here. We are finishing up last minute cleaning and are excited.... way too excited....everyone is hyper! Bouncing off the walls. Some of the kids are using their energy to help -- others to distract. I've offered rewards and assigned tasks and tried my best to manage things.

We're heading for the countdown...... Sadie is practicing the script for her tour of the house.

I'm warning her it might be chaotic.

Neighbors across the street have brought over chocolate cake and ice cream we're saving for their arrival.

We're just about ready...

(And for those of you who are confused, this is how it went:

Bart and I flew to Dallas on Sunday the 21st. We saw the boys for two days. Then Bart had to fly to Nashvile for a conference. I flew back to MN on Friday, he flew back to Dallas on Friday. On Sunday he spent time with the boys and then attended another conference, which ended today at noon. He got on hte same flight as the social worker and the boys. They left Dallas this afternoon and arrived at 6 and called from the airport.

Nothing is ever easy in our world)

Beginning the Day Overwhelmed

My desk is still a mess. My inbox is still full. And there is still plenty of cleaning left to do. I am still lacking in motivation.

I am glad the boys will be here tonight. Everyone is so excited. They are being very helpful in getting ready. it is fun to see them so cooperative and enthusiastic.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ending the Day Sad

On top of the accusatory call from Mike, I had a conversation with one of Salinda's friends who is mad at me because I won't tell her where Salinda is. We aren't even telling her siblings because we want her to have the best chance of making it there as she can. Her friends find her and they might help her run.

But the conversation's message was that I do not care about her and that I shouldn't even adopt kids if I am not going to care about them. The reason for her conclusion? We did not try to find her when she ran away. Well, we've been down that road and we know it only makes the run more fun -- if there is a big chase. But of course, at 14, she's just not getting this.

So, I am going to bed sad. Sad that my parenting efforts have resulted in some of my kids and their friends not believing that I care about them. Sad.

And It Felt Like I Was Talking to My Son

Mike called tonight. i am not going to explain the whole conversation. Because no matter how I try to explain it, it will probably make me sound like a scmuck.

But he really just doesn't get it. I couldn't explain anything to him in a way he could understand.

It's just so weird the way he calls out of the blue with his weird ideas and accusations. Makes me feel guilty, sad, frustrated. I want so much for him to understand, but I've been trying to explain things to him for 10 years.

But if he won't stay clean, won't work, won't obey the law, he can't live here. Period.

And he won't.


It Felt Like I was Talking to My Daughter

I called Salinda this afternoon after talking to her P.O. this morning who said she thought I should call. I started the conversation with the words "I miss you" and she said she missed me too. I told her about our trip to meet the new boys and how she was really going to like them.

SHe says she hates it there -- that she doesn't belong there -- that the other girls there are even more messed up than her brothers here.

She said she was miserable and had spent a long time crying. The first night she was there she said she cried for about five hours. I told her I was glad she didn't like it because I didn't want her to want to decide she wanted to stay there.

She said she wanted me to call and that I could visit. Said she might need more clothes and that her Probation Officer had said she would bring the stuff.

It was as good of a conversation as could be expected and it was almost like I was talking to the daughter I've known for years. We're praying this will be what it takes to transition her to a new way of life...

Would you feel motivated?

If this was your desk?

I'm having a hard time getting started.....

And this is my desk... I don't even want to discsus my inbox.

I Got an F

IN the midst of directing the massive effort called "getting out the door in the morning," I'm mentally going over my day. Sadie has to ahve something removed from her lip today at the clinic. I have a meeting with Salinda's P.O. to do a social history this afernoon followed by a post-placemnt visit. Tonight is Boy Scouts for Tony. And in the midst of it all we have more cleaning to do and I have to prepare something that looks like a meal.

In addition, I have several work related things I need to do at my desk, where I won't be much. My life is like an endless to-do list and always has been. I am definitely a do-er and not a be-er.

Tomorrow night the new boys arrive with their new Dad. I can't wait to see them. Not sure who I'm looking forward to seeing more. It's been a long week without Bart.

This past weekend I certainly received an F when it comes to having patience with the kids, Tony especially. He is often our family's stress barometer, and with the transition he is just bonkers. Everyone is a litle on edge -- excited and a bit worried -- so their behaviors escalate. We were both gone for four days, throwing them off, and now they are awaiting the arrival of new kids. And Tony's shrill screaming over everything set me on edge all weekend.

I'm hoping that getting into the routine of school and me being home things will be better the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Anna's Prayer

I hate to cook, but when I do, it certainly is not going to be for just us. So we invited the Kari's over for supper. Mike helped get a few things done, as did Kari, and we had beans.

But Anna was classic. We all sat at the table together and got ready to say grace. Anna volunteered. Her prayer was awesome.

"Dear God, Take Care of Claudia and Me. Love ya! Amen."

Early Settlers and Gulps

Conversations with Dominyk yesterday included these:

Speaking of Rand, our biracial (AA/Caucasian) son, he said, "Well, at least my birthparents weren't pilgrims." I questioned him. "Pilgrims?" Yes, you know, "early settlers." I explained that there was no way that Rand's birthparents were pilgrims.

He then wanted a drink of my pop. I said he could have a sip, not a gulp or a guzzle. He grabbed the pop and took a long drink. That's a slurp, he said. Bigger than a sip but not as big a a gulp.

He's such a creative thing. Makes me smile often.

We're off to church this morning.... then doing some cleaning today.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bart will Tell You Al about his Day Today

If you click here.

Headaches, Hope, and a Miracle

Thrift stores for Haloween costumes and dresser shopping has given me quite the headache. I took Tony, Dom and Sadie and Tony and Dominyk are so loud. They scream at each other and bicker and argue. It's exhausting.

Sadie had her heart set on an orange "cinderella dress" as she plans to be Cinderella and her new favorite color is orange. I discouraged her, saying she had her heart set on something that did not exist and she was just going to be disappointed. But she would not give up hope.

At the third and final thrift store she found what she was looking for. My mouth dropped open as I really thought there was no hope she would find it. She's thrilled... the party is tonight and she's very ready to go.

This afternoon it's groceries, hangers, soccer tryouts for Ricardo, and cleaning. The dressers are purchased and just need to be picked up.

Getting ready for new kids to move in is always emotionally challenging and physically exhausting, but I know it will be worth it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jog

I'm here. Safe and sound. Trip was uneventful. Lots to do this weekend, but i"m taking it easy tonight. I've been up since 5:15 and I'm tired. Everyone did fairly well while we were gone. The house is not clean, but it isn't horrible either. It needs to be a lot cleaner before the new boys arrive Tuesday and before we are inundated with social workers for a few days.

But for tonight, I'm taking it easy...

Made it to the Airport

with fifteen minutes to spare. I love the DFW airport. I think it is one of the easiest and most convenient to navigate and has very few extremely annoying long walks.

I'm at the gate waiting to board. Right now I have an aisle seet with no middle person next to me. If it stays that way, it will be a very comfortable flight in comparison to the trip down where I had a middle seat.

I'll be back to Minneapolis by 10 a.m. if all goes well, but I'll probably miss the first shuttle and end up in the airport until 1:15.

Heading to the Airport

It's 5:38 a.m. and I've been up for almost a half hour. My stuff is packed and I'm heading out the door. It's going to be a very long day.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I did a terible, horrible, awful very good thing

I spoke today. It went well. Six hours total of driving, but it was worth it. Good connections.

But that's not the terrible, horrible, awful very good thing.

This is,.

Tonight I met the boys olders sister and picked her up to take the four kids to dinner together. She was so angry and upset. She had no idea anyone was even considering adopting the boys, and had just found out that they would be leaving on Tuesday. There were no plans for her to get together with them before they left and she was so unhappy that they waited so long to tell them.

We had a very interesting 90 minute ride (huge accident on the interstate turned 40 miles into 90 minutes). I explained to her how we felt about splitting siblings. She told me that her brothers were her life and that she had raised them. Told me a lot about their lives growing up. I thanked her, as tears rolled down her cheeks, for taking such good care of them and being so nurturing. Explained to her a little about attachment and how she had helped them escape some serious issues by being such a good big sister to them.

She told me about school, her life, her dreams, her jobs. I assured her she could remain in the boys lives and that she was always welcome in our home. SHe's quite an impressive young lady with a real history. She's very straight forward and an excellent communicator.

We picked up the boys and we had a good dinner together. It was fun to see the boys again. They are just so charming and fun. We had a good dinner, but the goodbye at the end was heartbreaking.

We sat in silence on the ride home while she cried. She sniffled for a good 20 minutes. i said a few things, but for the most part I just let her cry. What could I say? I was getting ready to take away her family -- take them far away. Boys that she has considered her primary responsibiliity all of their lives. Boys she was cooking for when she was six. Boys whose diapers she changed, whose needs she has been meeting all this time.

I explained to her that I knew that nothing I said would make her feel better but that I hoped she knew that we would take care of the boys and that she would always be someone they loved.

She had a horrible headache by the time I dropped her off. She said very little. I thanked her for spending time with me. She thanked me for supper. She asked if we'd call when the boys got to MN. I assured her we would.

I drove home sad. I'm so glad I provided this chance for her to say goodbye, but I'm so sorry she has to. Sometimes life just is not what I want it to be.

I'm emotionally exhausted. My flight leaves at 7:30 so I ahve to get up at 5:15. More in the morning.

And again, What is there to report?

Two and a half hour drive ahead. Then an opportunity to speak in a city I've never spoken in before. I'll then take my speaking partner back to the airport and the boys and their sibs out to supper and it's then time to head home tomorrow and clean and get ready for the arrival of the boys.

Thinking of y'all. (Can you tell I'm in Texas?)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heading to Bed

Mike did show up at the house tonight, but he grabbed a bag of his clothes, apparently, and left. Hopefully that is all he grabbed.

I have to leave early in the morning, so I'm going to bed. But I am feeling much more settled now that I know MIke is not being a problem for the other kids and that Salinda is heading to place that will hopefully help her.

So I can rest....

I'm such an idiot...

I lived through all this stupidity. Now I have to type it all. But to leave you out of the loop would simply be unfair and unjust and downright inconsiderate.

I worked at my desk this morning and then took off for the presentation about 10:45 with my presenting partner. We made it there in time to meet a good friend for lunch. Right as we were heading out the door for lunch I got a voice mail from Salinda's probation officer. After tons of stress, the judge did order her into a 30 day evaluation program, which was what we were all hoping for. It was a big relief.

I then did the presentation which went well, though I was a little distracted. I think some good matches will come of the trip and that's the point.

After the presentation I was packing up my stuff and my cell rang. It was Rand telling me that MIke ahd left a note at the house saying he had been there and cleaned up for us and that he'd be back tonight. Said he had tried to call Bart. He doesn't know we're out of town, so he was probably thinking we'd come home. He knows he isn't supposed to be there.

I was immediately disturbed and distracted. The kids who are staying there with the PCA don't need him showing up. We left the for the hotel and decided we'd both rather return to our rooms and work than go out to dinner. So I settled in at 4:30 in my room ready to get things done. I realized that I did not have my computer cord and had left it in the car. I decided to work until I didn't have any power left and then get the cord. Around 5 I headed down to the car, taking my ice bin and leaving it by the ice machine knowing I'd surely remember to get it and bring it back.

But I panicked when I got to the car and realized I didn't have the charger and must ahve left it in the conference room when I was packing up and got the call about Mike. So I quick called the folks at the building but they had all left. I jumped in the car and drove back in rush hour traffic. Fortunately I was able to get in the building and the cord was there. I then drove back, stopping to get gas and a milkshake in a drive through where nobody served me until I drove up to the final window and glared.

I finally made it back at 6:30 -- 90 minutes of my time completely wasted, but I did remember this time to get the ice. But got upstairs and realized I had no Iphone and since I still need to figure out what to tell Rand to do if Mike shows up, I had to go back one more time to the car and get the phone.

I've been talking to Bart online now and blogging this... now maybe I can start working like I was supposed to do 3 hours ago. But I have very energy left to do anything.

Sometimes I'm such an idiot.

Not a Lot To Say

I went to bed. I got up. I will finish working on my presentation and then go have lunch with a unit of Texas social workers before our presentation.

I slept not so well -- stiff neck this morning. I have some ideas of things I'd like to blog about today, but will wait and make sure my presentation is done first.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Really Good Boys

I'm convinced these boys are going to be OK. They were both willing to give me big hugs goodbye until Thursday.

Someone asked in a comment if we would adopt the older children if they were to become legally free. The fact is, they will not ever be legally free.... they are in permanent foster care. However, the reason I am taking them out to supper is so that I can get to know them and explain that we want them included in the lives of the boys and in the life of our family. I don't know what this might mean, if anything, but we will offer. Their older sister is 17 and their brother is almost 16. He has been in the same foster home with them so we met him the other night.

I had a good conversation with the foster mom and have a lot of respect for her. She and her husband are doing a good job with the boys in their home -- it is very structured and organized.

Tonight I'm feeling quite melancholy and vulnerable, which is unlike me. It appears Mike is no longer in jail according to the jail website and that makes me nervous. Salinda's hearing tomorrrow makes me nervous. I miss my kids at home, my new kids here, and my husband. It's a good thing I'm hardly ever alone. I suck at it.

A Blip in Paradise

Still having fun with the boys. We took Bart to the airport and dropped him off and I am already missing him.

I got an email from the probation officer. It looks like maybe Salinda will be heading to foster care. I'm asking why. We are willing to have her home, they have determined that she does not need inpatient for psychological evaluation, and that her assessments can be done locally.

I think that those involved are unwilling to recommend that she return home because she will not stay home -- she has shown that by her actions and she will has probably told them that she will run away.

Court is tomorrow. The whole thing is disturbing to say the least. They are having a hard time finding a foster home that will accommodate her and yet they are reluctant to send her to a correctional facility this early in her involvement in the system.

I am just trying to remain calm, enjoy the new boys and relax... there is so little I can do at this point anyway.

A break in our day

After a full morning of laser tag, go carts, and the arcade we had lunch at Joes Crab Shack and then returned to the hotel. Soon Bart will pack up his stuff and we'll take him to the airport.

More pictures for you...

And Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

We have heard nothing from home and that's the way we like it. When we started leaving town together several years ago, we started this practice and it seems to work fairly well. Nobody calls unless it is an emergency and we don't call unless there is one. It works well because they aren't anxious about when we'll call and we aren't either. We also would have a hardtime making sure that everyone was called an equal number of times as it would become a competition and they are staying in several different places.

SO, all is well.

Today there is a planning meeting to determine what will happen with Salinda. I have given more than enough input, so I just have to sit back now and trust the professionals, which historically has not been easy. I think I'm finally figuring out that there is little I can do except wait and find out. Sure, I'll continue to express opinions, but I realize that within the confines of the system both financially and with rules and regulations, what I think is best may not always be possible.

So, we're off for a day of fun. I may Twitter a little during the day from my phone...

An Hour of Nintendo, Ten Hours of Sleep

After an hour of hotel Ninetendo, the boys willingly went to bed about ten. I don't think they realized how tired they are -- it is emotionally exhuasting to meet people who you are going to live with for the rest of your lives. It is scary and overwhelming and exciting and fun all at the same time. They are still asleep and are just as adorable asleep as awake, if not more so (but aren't all kids?)

I think we have passed the initial test with Leon and therefore we are fine with Wilson. Wilson follows Leon's lead and now that Leon has decided we're OK, Wilson is happy too. Leon is a very bright insightful young man, not overbearing or loud, but certainly talkative, curious and paying attention to everything. He has asked a lot of questions and seems to think that things are going to be OK. Wilson is very quiet but just adorable and ocassionally will ask a question that shows he hasn't missed a beat in the conversation.

The weather has cleared up -- it is still chilly for Texas (50s) but the high is supposed to be 65 and the sun is shining. So the boys will get their SpeedZone dream...

Bart flies out at 5:30 this afternoon, so I'll take him to the airport and then the boys and I will have an early supper. The boys will return to their foster home tonight in time for me to finish up my presentation that I give tomorrow and Thurdsay. Thursday night I will take the boys and their two older siblings who are not legally free for adoption out for supper. Friday I fly home to clean house and get rooms ready for the arrival of everyone on the 30th.

If all of life was as good as the honeymoon, nobody would ever stop adopting. We're pretty grounded in reality, but we still aren't depriving ourselves of all of the joy that comes with these first few days just because we know things won't always be this perfect. This is just too fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If Blog Updates are not enough for you...

I just joined Twitter. This is going to allow me to update from my Iphone or from my IM client. Minute by minute ticker tape of my life. How can you resist that (and no, I'm not getting paid to tell you about it).

You can access my Twitter Page here.

And Bart updates once again.

Dinner and a Movie, but Not in That Order

We saw The Game Plan, a movie about a dad falling in love with the daughter he never knew he had. It was a great demonstration of how you can fall in love with a child very quickly. We then had dinner out and now the boys are happily playing video games in the hotel room while Bart and I catch up on some online stuff we need to do.

Tomorrow we're hoping it doesn't rain. The boys are hoping for go-carts, mini golf, and Joe's Crab Shack...

Here are some shots of us tonight.

The boys at the movie

Wilson with his new Dad (this kind of shows just how tiny he is (Wilson, not Bart)

Leon with the other new Dad (yes the haircut is still bothering me)

I'm In Love

These boys are GREAT. I know it is the honeymoon, but they are just super sweet, very bright, each has a good sense of humor, and they are just fun to be around. We played monopoly and then hung out in the room this afternoon...

We've had a lot of fun telling Leon and Wilson about their soon to be siblings. Talking about them and remembering our first meetings with each of them reminds me of just how much I'm in love with all my kids. And sometimes, in the midst of all the busyness of home, it's easy to forget that.

I'm in love -- for the very first time with two new boys, and all over again with my wonderful husband and 10 great kids who, though they don't always make the best choices, are my delightful, unique, and sometimes even endearing, children.

No Time To Post -- But Bart Did Earlier

We just played a long game of monopoly and... I won. And that is good. Pictures of that later.

We're heading to see a movie and have dinner. Boys still remain calm... were able to be patient through a 3 hour monopoly game -- not sure many of our older kids at home could do that.

Bart blogged about the difference between these boys and the ones we met who were roughly the same age about 10 years ago..

Midday Report

Wow. We are at the hotel room right now with the boys. They are just so calm. No anxiety, neither of them talk much, they care for each other and don't bicker. They are happily watching TV and Wilson is playing with his Ninja costume he picked out for Halloween this morning. We agreed to get it now so we wouldn't have to worry about it next week.

We went to Walmart to pick out snacks and board games to play since it is cold and rainy. We'll go to lunch soon. I just can't believe how mild mannered and calm these boys are. They can quietly entertain themselves and there is no anxiety at all in this room.

I am overwhelmed at how cute Wilson is in his Ninja costume. Can you believe it?

Smooth but Lengthy

Our trip went smoothly. Flight was fine and we got in only about 20 minutes late and the boys and the social worker were waiting for us at baggage claim. We shook their hands and they appeared to be very quiet.

The boys are even cuter than the picture. Wilson is so tiny -- it's been a very long time since we had a kid that small at home and it is going to be fun. Leon reminds me of Ricardo the way he carries himself and the way he dresses.

We missed the first shuttle so we had to wait for a while ... the boys were so shy I didn't take any direct pictures last night but here they are waiting for the shuttle. The rental car line was long and the boys were so well behaved as they waited. Leon is very protective of Wilson and you can tell that Leon feels responsible to take care of him. They seem to get along well and are very well mannered.

The ride from the airport was long and the boys were quiet, but we did learn some things about them. Leon's favorite food is fried chicken and Wilson likes fish. They aren't big pizza fans (I know, a little weird) but Leon said when he does have pizza he likes lots of stuff on top. They hope we can go ride go carts but agreed that I could just watch and didn't have to ride one.

We had some fun conversations. They are really sweet boys. We know that the first night is not enough to determine exactly how they will be and that no kids are perfect, but these guys are a rare find. No meds, no diagnosis, no behavior problems at school or home. We also know that in a new family setting they may be different. But still, if they can hold it together this well when they are nervous and excited then it's a good sign.

We ended up at their foster home at 10 p.m., met their foster parents, who happen to be African American, and saw their beautiful home (the kids are actually going to be moving down in regards to luxury). We met their birth brother , even more quiet than they are (but not legally free). We want to spend some time with him so that we can have a relationship with him as time goes by. He is obviously delayed and I'm not sure how much he understands what is happening.

We pulled into a restaurant for supper at 11:20 absolutely exhausted.... but went straight to bed after an IHOP breakfast, and now we're heading out.

It's raining today, so we may not be doing the go carts today. We have some shopping to do and I plan to buy a couple games we can play. Maybe this afternoon we'll go to a movie...... It should be a fun day.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wow, What a Ride

Our shuttle ride to the hotel was awful. i don't know if it was the fact that we waited to eat, or the driving, or the conditions of the shuttle, or what, but both Bart and I were carsick the whole way. I haven't come that close to hurling in a vehicle in a long time.

But we're safe at the airport, checked in, and have plenty of time to eat and hang out before we get on the plane two hours from now.

however, my lack of sleep and this nausea are not making me excited about the hours that are ahead.

But Bart is back from his drug buying venture and we're waiting for our food to come, so I'm going to enjoy our time alone. Will update you later...

Oh, What a Night (and no, it's not late December back in 63)

I wrote that it was 10 and all was good. And Bart and I talked a little and then I tried to go to sleep. But I forgot a couple of key issues:

1) I took a midol mid afternoon. Apparently they are designed to pick up the mood... and to keep you from sleeping ... ever again.

2) Ric, Sadie and Dom had been to a lock in on Friday night adn stayed up until 4 a.m. Thus, they slept a lot of the day.

So, I came to bed and couldn't sleep. I find Sadie in her room roaming around at 11:00. I remind her she needs to go to bed.

I went downstairs and wrote an email to the P.O. for Salinda. Didn't send it until Bart checks it.

Came back to bed about 11:30. Fell asleep around midnight. At 12:30 Dominyk wakes me up. I can't sleep. I suggest that he reads a book. He says maybe he'll take a bath. I agree he can do that.

At 1:30 he wakes me up. Mom, it's 1:30 A.M. It's morning so I got dressed for church. I remind him that we still ahve 8 hours before it is time for church.

At 2:30 he wakes me up again. Mom, there is something brown in my belly button. You need to look. I sleepily tell him to get a Q-Tip.

At 4:00 Tony wakes me up. He can't sleep. He is excited about going to spend the week with friends of ours. Can he take a bath? Sure, take a bath I say.

At 5:00 I swear I smell eggs cooking. Tony will not confess to cooking anything. Dominyk has finally fallen asleep.

At 6:00 I awaken. TTB is kicking in (Teeny-Tiny Bladder) and I need to take care of that.

At 7:00 Bart wakes up and spends a full hour b-bopping around the room, watching TV while he irons and packs.

At 8:00 I give up and get out of bed. I shower. And now, I blog.

In an hour we leave for church. Then we leave for thh shuttle to the airport. I'm sleepy and I have a headache. I better find another one of those Midol!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ten P.M. and All is Well

Well, I got 90% of what I wanted to get done done today, which is great. The 10% wasn't completely required.

Now I'm heading to bed.... all packed and ready to go.

We talked to the new boys tonight. They sound so cute. They are a little apprehensive, but that's OK. We get it. They should be apprehensive to move across the country.

We should have some pretty good times. And it's supposed to be warm, so that's good.

I'll try to blog in the morning before we leave...

My Husband is Now Officially Married to a Man

I just had the most miserable haircutting experience. First of all, I hate getting my hair cut period. But when we lived in our former town, the same person, who also became my good friend, was the only person who cut, permed, even touched my hair. For a year after we moved, I arranged my schedule to be back in our old town about every 5-6 weeks to get a haircut. But in May the day before my last scheduled haircut with her, her son was injured in Iraq, and she has spent her time helping him heal.

Thus, my hair has looked like crap for seven months. But you see, I don't care a whole lot about my hair, so it hasn't really bothered me much. Until today.

She combed my ears. Hard. I told her to take an inch off the top and she must have thought I said leave an inch.

My new sons are going to meet Bart and I tomorrow and say, "You didn't tell us we were getting a same sex male couple for parents, Mrs. Social Worker."

And no, you can't see a picture. Don't even ask.

The Day Before

The day before I leave on a trip is always a long one, filled with many things that must be done. And a day when both of us are planning to leave, with arrangements for the kids all needing to be made is especially busy.

In the midst of all of the drama with Salinda, we haven't posted much about our new kids, but we are thrilled about being their parents and meeting them tomorrow night. They sound like great boys and we think they will fit in well here. We get to talk to them on the phone today...

The day ahead is long... I may pop in to report things I've forgotten to write, but it depends on how chaotic everything is -- the kids are very excited which often means the level of energy here is quite overwhelming.

Yesterday the worker for the boys saw the scrapbooks for the first time as he was heading out to give them to the boys. He saw the front page that had this picture on it and said, "Wow, they have a kid that looks like Leon."

Duh, Mr. B, it IS Leon!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Finally Home

12 hours on the road. But it was worth it. I saw a boy who has been in his new adoptive home for 7 months let his new mom hug him for the first time. I think it was a break through and I"m thrilled.

I also got to see a girl who has been in her new home for a week go from angry and mad and avoiding everyone to sparkly and happy and bouncing around.

Unfortunately, I also had to talk to a 14 year old girl, my own, to ask if she'd like a visit. (I was going to be within 20 minutes of her). She said she didn't want me to stop, that she preferred to talk on the phone. But then when she had a chance she wouldn't say a word. I finally reminded her that we love her and told her I'd see her when we got back.

She has spent a few days having the full attention of three indivduals who are interviewing her asking her about what she needs, why she is being the way she's been, what will help her. I have seen kids in this position before. She has decided she'll get a better deal from somenoe else so she's done playing me for a while.

It makes me sad. I feel used. But I know it will all come back around at some point -- when she figures the better deal is here. I just hope people won't be too maniuplated. But for now it's out of my hands and I am trying so hard to just let it go for a while.

In reading blogs of families like ours there are so often times when kids are empowered by the system to report us, make falso allegations, and see what they can get. With attachment disorders, they are like a toddler in a candy store.... and the professionals eat it all up.

But this time I'm going to relax and let things go where they go and try not to control anything.

Until tomorrow when I am sending a long email to her P.O.

Oh wait, maybe not.

Or maybe...


I've driven 2 hours, attended a finalization, driven two more hours, had a 40 minute conversation with Salinda's therapist, driven 20 miles, had a 30 minute conversation with Salinda's mental health worker, said goodbye to Kyle and Bart, talked to the foster mom of a friend of Tony 's so he could come over, made arrangements for Ricardo to go over to Kari's to play with Adam, gotten Jimmy and Rand started on some chores, checked my email, and logged Dominyk into the computer and it's only 1 p.m. I'm running on pure adrenaline at the moment.

Apparently Salinda has changed her tune and now is sobbing that she doesn't want to live at home. Well, I guess it's good that she now doesn't want to do what she can't do anyway -- you break the law a certain number of times and eventually it will catch up with you.

I have an endless list of things to accomplish before we go and not an endless supply of energy or time, but I'm confident what has to get done will get done. It always does....

First to Blog This Morning

Of the blogs I read, I'm the first to blog this morning which is unusual.

I'm heading to a finalization tday. Always a celebration to see a kid and a family make it to that point.

Had some disturbing dreams about Salinda last night so apparently she's still invading my psychy.... ;-)

Bart has a wedding in the metro area tonight, so he's spending some time with Kyle first. They'll leave around noon, right before or right after I get back.

If I had been blogging 9 years ago, you'd be amazed that Kyle and I can now enjoy banter and fun. He moved in at 11 and I don't think we had a decent conversation until he was 15. Long years of conflict with him attempting to triangulate Bart and I and mess up our marriage...he hated me so intensely those first few years.

Last night, after spending a whole 45 minutes with him on his trip home (and most of that at the table for supper) I jokingly said, "Well, it's been great spending all this time with you Kyle, thanks for coming home. See you next time." And he laughed and said, "yeah, mom, it's been great. Love you, goodnight."

He's almost 21, a college senior, on track to graduate, employed, and basically doing everything he's supposed to do. Guess there's hope for all of the rest of them too.... though for some there is more possibility than others, I guess you just never know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day is Kinda Done

I'm sitting down at my comptuer to work on the powerpoint for the speaking engagements I have in Texas after we meet the boys. As is typical of late, I must whine that I'm pretty tired tonight.

Salinda had court and they put her back in detention. She is supposed to meet with her new mental health worker (which we are happy about -- it's either mental health or child protection, so Im glad they are heading int he mental health direction) and her therapist tomorrow to try to determine the best placement.

Then Tuesday they are having a meeting, without us because we'll be out of town, to make further recommendations.

It makes me a little nervous to be kept out of the loop in regards to this stuff, cuz I am a self-proclaimed control freak, but in some ways it is a relief. The P.O. has said she is recommending a longer-than-thirty-day stay somewhere. She has told us that she will not send her home as she is not getting the seriousness of her choices and she has been given too many chances. We'll be supportive, but what we think at this point isn't all that relevant. She's made her choices and now it is out of our hands.

So for now I just have to wait and see what happens. I was in the middle of a "crisis" work situation call when the detention center called and asked if I wanted to talk to her. I told them I couldn't right then. And I don't think I'm going to call again tonight. I just really need some space from her cocky unrepentant attitude and my other kids deserve to receive some of my emotional energy.

One of the things I think is most sad in families like ours is when one child forces parents to give them the majority of their emotional energy and the kids who are doing well get ignored. When Kyle came home tonight I said, "Wow, it's great to see one of our children who is both employed and not participating in illegal activities." He's doing quite well and it is fun to see him.

OK, So I didn't Miss Court, but I'm Going To

Court got rescheduled. But it is at teh exact same time as Sadie's doctor's appointment and I am not going to cancel that. Sadie is waiting for me to pick her up. So I'm going to choose to take Sadie to the doctor. Bart will be out of town picking up Kyle and I will just have to miss court.

She will be returning to detention. We don't know for how long. I will know ore after court.

But now I'm off to my business luncheon.

I Just Have to Say Something Cuz I Can't Not Say Something

I would never, ever, ever in this blog write anything that was judgmental or critical about a person based on what they said in their blog had I not met them in person. Actually, I would not do so if I met them personally.

Now sure, I might talk about the clerk at the grocery store who I do not know and leave them unnamed, but it would most likely be because of something funny. I might refer to someone I had met that was affecting my life personally.

But I would never write offensive and hurtful words about someone I did not know in my blog. It is always my policy to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Which is why I am not mentioning the person or people who are recently blogging about others they don't know in a critical and judgmental fashion, especially when those people are having especially hard times right now.

How's that for unbelievably vague?

I Missed the Court Hearing

But it wasn't on purpose. I got done with the IEP meeting and the psychiatrist appointment and I called my machine at 10:37 to find out that court had been at 10:00. I didn't get the results yet, but I was glad to not be responsible for missing it as I was having a hard time facing the judge who looked at me like I was an idiot last week for giving her another chance.

I haven't heard the results of court, but the P.O. was suggesting detention until we have a collaborative meeting to decide what will happen to her. If we don't get it done today or tomorrow, I've already let her know it will have to wait until after I get back from Texas next Friday....

Kari and I are working at Dunn Brothers, but I'm about out of battery power so I'm hoping someone will move away from the booth by the outlet before too long.

I still have miles to go before I can even slow down, much less sleep.

Finally Slept and It's A Good Thing

It took me over an hour to wind down last night after I ran on adreneline for most of the day yesterday. I finally settled down and slept well and now I have a marathon day -- IEP meeting followed by psych appointment, a business lunch, and a doctor's appointment. Then tonight I'm single mom for a while as Bart is heading to get Kyle and take him to Blue Man Group tonight.

The next two days are full as well and there is no school (if you're a Minnesotan you know all about "MEA Weekend." The weekend will be filled with packing and cleaning and organizing and then we'll go to Texas Sunday to meet the new boys.

I'm thankful that my blog readership is at an all time high but I guess if I'd have to choose between no drama and fewer readers I might choose that instead.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why You Shouldn't Hide out in a Small Town

We got several calls/emails this afternoon letting us know that Salinda was seen in our former hometown. Within a couple hours the sherriff had picked her up.

I talked to her twice. She's really not getting this whole thing. The first conversation she was sobbing and begging to come home. I told her there was nothing I could do. I was not exactly nurturing trying to help her understand that she was in big trouble.

They transported her to detention from teh sheriff's office. Detention in that part of the state anyway. SO she gets a second phone call. Her attitude is much different now that she knows that she can't come home no matter what and she is hardened and challenging. She can't make herself admit she made a mistake. And doesn't even deny that she's been playing me.

Sadie has a doctor's appointment for a sore on her mouth that she's been waiting a week to get attention and if court is at the same time, I don't think I'm going to go to court. There is nothing more to be done but put her back in detention anyway. With her attitude -- no remorse, cocky, sure she's getting away with stuff, I just can't make myself put her ahead of Sadie tomorrow. If the hearing is at a different time and I can make it without cancelling, I will go.

Fortunately for him, Salinda did not reach her destination -- which was to be near John. If she had, I'm sure he would have ran away for her and messed up the progress he's made.

So she'll be in detention until we can set up a meeting to discuss her future. If it doesn't get set up before we leave for Texas it will wait until we get back.

But she's taken this so far down the line -- she denies taking the money and says she planned to never get caught. Had a plan that she wouldn't share with me of how she was going to live and support herself. She is so short sighted I almost laughed at her.

I wish I could report that she had a soft heart and at least felt bad. She doesn't act like she does. She's laughing about how easy it will be to pass her classes if she takes them in detention....

And us? How are we? We're relieved she's safe. We're sorry she's making bad choices. We're exhausted. But we are glad we know where she is and that we don't have to anticipate visits from officers, phone calls from her friends or aquaintances, or from her friends parents or anything else for that matter. We can just sleep.

Which we desperately need to do.

Excitement Meeting Exhaustion

In my professional life there are many exciting things going on, as well as some not-so-exciting-but-urgent things.

And those things combined with my exhausting personal life have left me with little energy.

It's tough to manage both extreme "wow this is so cool I can't believe it" feelings with "wow, I'm so drained I can barely function feelings"

Results of my Poll on Arrested Kids

77% of those of us with kids over 10 have had at least one child arrested. That's a pretty high number...

I also was reminded that I did not have the option of None and I do have teenagers at home, so some of you might have voted that way had I given you the option.

I wonder how this compares with the birth-kids only population.

I am going to do another variation of the poll to clear this up now.

As I was Lying So Snug in My Bed

at around 9:45 last night, the kids came running up. "It's the police, and we're not kidding this time."

(Last week Dominyk thought it would be funny to get me bolting out of bed with that announcement,)

So, I threw on my pants and headed down to talk to the officer. Turns out my daughter and her friend were caught in the middle of the day by a third girl's dad sleeping in her bedroom. The dad let them leave (they explained they had had a fight with their parents and needed to get away).

He later came to the police station and said he was kicking himself for not investigating further because now they had $300 missing.

I gave him some leads, explained a little more about the situation, thanked him for his efforts, and headed to bed, now completely awake and spend most of the night tossing, turning, etc. And I'm trying to shake yet another cold and really needed the sleep.

I was exhausted before a night with no sleep.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Nothing More Exhausting

In my experience as an adoptive parent, there is nothing more exhausting as the stress of having a child missing. Having an adult missing you can get used to because you aren't responsible and if they are found they aren't going to call you.

But having a kid missing is quite disconcerting. Any minute and the phone could ring -- it could be law enforcement, the Probation Officer, Mental health worker -- and in this case, the parents of the friend who is also missing. It just makes me so tired dealing with it all.

Fortunately, we had a fairly lighthearted supper together. Tony was gone with his PCA and the rest of the kids were chatty and there was minimal argument. Dominyk crocheted (is that how you spell it) between bites, and the rest of us had interesting conversations.

Jimmy, who still has a few mixups with English cracked me up tonight. He asked Bart, "Did my lip go away?" (talking about the cold sore on it).

He then said, "It bleeded cuz I picked on it."

And Another Dominykism that I forgot to include

Last night he grabbed a bottle of Tums.

"How many of these would it take for me to get drunk?"

We had a long conversation about constipation...

It's time to Lighten Up

Well, this blog has been way too stressed way too heavy ... so it's time for some DOMINYKisms!!!!

Dominyk is a unique human being who says some of the weirdest things.... here are some things he has said in the past few days that are worth repeating.

"I bruise like a banana" (he says this often).

"Dad, if God is both a woman and a man, does he have both a vagina and a penis?"

"Is Dad on the Crop Walk or the Crap Walk? Hey, a crap walk, that would be great! You'd stop and take a crap every five minutes."

Looks Like We're Headed for Round Three

I have been holding out hope against all reason that Salinda would not be following the path of Mike and John. But last night she snuck in only long enough to pack her stuff and walk right back out while I was calilng to report that the missing person had returned. I then had to tell them while I still had them on the phone that she had left again.

This morning I'll call the P.O. and the police once again asking if they'd like a list of all of her phone numbers that I copied off her cell phone. I don't know how much effort they are going to put into finding her....

And in the meantime I'll try to concentrate on work. Combined with my head cold and the lack of sleep thing, I'm pretty exhausted and distracted....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

still not here

and I am too emotionally exhausted to do much ... My computer is downstairs and I'm not so I'm blogging from my iPhone. I know she knows she's going somewhere else now so I'm sure she will stay away as long as she can find people to help her hide.

OK, So Maybe I'm Tired of Looking LIke a Fool

Salinda and friend stayed here all day yesterday and did things that teenage girls do. They did each other's hair. They watched movies. They laid low. I went to bed at ten feeling good about her choices but quite sick from this cold and craving a good night's sleep.

At 5:30 this morning her alarm went off because she forgot to shut it off from school days (yes, she has to have two hours to straightern her hair on school days... AAAH).

I discovered it at 6:30 and found an empty room. Both girls gone. I'm waiting until after 8 to call the other girls mother and the police.

I don't know if the other girl has a letter saying she needs to be detained if she is breaking rules or not. But Salinda does. I'm not sure that they will do anything, but I need to report it. The other girls parents won't be back until tonight and Bart and I have busy days ahead. Activities almost all day.

So, I don't know who is more stupid: Salinda for continuing to not take this seriously, or me for making it easier for her...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

And So We Napped, or tried to anyway

Perfect afternoon for a nap. Chilly outside, warm inside. Dominyk decided to lie down, as did Salinda and her guest. Jimmy was at the Y, Tony gone to camp, Rand busy filling out applications for jobs (because I'm forcing him to), Ricardo parked in front of a new playstation game he bought, Sadie busy learning to crochet as Dominyk has picked up the hobbie....

And I couldn't sleep. First the dog was restless, then I couldn't get comfortable -- but I think it is the non-drowsy cold medicine I took. I didn't know that PREVENTED sleep....

Back to Equilibrium for the Moment

Tony is at Boy Scout Camp for the weekend, bringing the emotional level in the house way down. He is very intense and has an incredibly loud voice and loves to get in other people's faces to bother them with no provocation. So when he is gone it is a different place.

Salinda got a court order saying she needs to stay home unless accompanied by an adult which she argued about a long time. We finally agreed to let her friend spend the weekend here since she couldn't go anywhere.

When I blog I always envision a gallery of lurking critics thinking "Why would you let her spend time with someone she has gotten in trouble with?" So I need to respond to what I guess my critics might be thinking...

First, the more parents try to keep their kids away from certain people, the more they are drawn to them. And, when they get to a certain age, they will do what they are going to do.

Second, I am obeying the court order. I am keeping Salinda home. The girl is in legal trouble too, so if they screw up they get locked up. If they are here I can keep an eye on them, and if they leave the consequences are theres, but no judge is going to question me as to why I let her out of my house.

Third, both girls have apologized and made it clear they want to make better choices. Sure, this could be a line, but it also could be an effort that should be validated by someone. It could be that the two of them together might actually use their predicament to make good choices.

and finally, if I have to choose between not looking like a fool and being merciful and gracious, I will choose the latter always. I'm not stupid. I know I have been fooled and played many many times by my kids and their friends. BUT I will always say the words "I forgive you" when the words "I'm sorry" are uttered. My God is a God of not just second chances, but multiple chances, so I can do nothing less than extend that grace even when I know others will see me as a fool.

So, we have a guest for the weekend and so far it has gone quite well...We had a peaceful night and the morning is beginning that way.

The only hitch is that I have a horrible cold and I feel lousy....

Friday, October 12, 2007


Sadie started another argument session with me this evening. An endless nonsensical thing that only could be perpetuated if I responded. Theoretically.

But she kept talking and kept talking until I did this and started to hum. For a good three minutes. When I stopped she had left my office....

Of course this was after a whole long argument about how Salinda should be allowed to leave for the weekend with the same friend she stole the car with. Not gonna happen.

Arguments via Text Message

I am currently being interrupted by my daughter who, on her lunch our from school, using someone else's cell phone, is attempting to argue via text message. She's ready to jump right back into her social life with one of the people who was with her when she stole our car....

I'm amazed at her tenacity and stubborness with me which is such a contrast to her inability to say no to her friends. If only it were the other way around -- isn't hat every parents dream?

The Countdown

This morning we have a conference call to learn more about our new boys who we will be meeting in just nine days. This month is just flying by.

yes, it was SEARS that has been messing up our washer repair for over 2 months now. I wasn't going to say the name UNTIL yesterday. When the woman called and said I had missed my chance, I told her that she needed to call the repair guy back and get him here NOW. I noiced on the answering machine that he had called earlier that day and left me his cell number.

When I called, it was not a Sears repairman but one of the small private repair servicesthey contract with. He was very nice and came right over. However, he said that Sears had never let him know i was home.

He was here for 45 minutes and discovered that our pump was clogged. The Sears guy who was here the first time never even checked the pump and immediately assumed it was a computer issue and ordered the new part that was no backorder for six weeks. Then the second Sears repairman came out and installed the new part, not checking the pump. The guy who came yesterday said that if he had come in August he would have been able to unclog the pump and saved us two months worth of annoyance. And, he should have charged me to clean the pump, but he's retiring today and decided he'd let it go.

So, the washer is working, and we have concluded that Sears .... well, you can fill in that sentence.

But while I'm cleaning up poor customer service issues, I must report the results of this issue with Dominoes pizza. They did send us certificates for three free large pizzas.

Today I'm going to be dealing with another customer service issue where yesterday I threatened to take our family of fourteen elsewhere if they didn't give me what I wanted..... but maybe they will, and if they do, I won't blog about it. But if they don't, look out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Super Duper Celebration

On the same day that I blogged that I had gotten 100 kids home this year one of my favorite units to work with was celebrating having placed 500 kids since they had started working together. Super cool. I went back and counted and 56 of the 500 were ones I helped with....

One of the keys of this units success is that they have not had much turnover. They have a great supervisor who is involved in providing compassionate guidance to her workers and they have built a great team. I love working with them because you can sense that they respect one another and are driven by the same mission.

Relationships that are built over time in the child protection/social worker business are ones that can lead to big successes like this one!

An A For Effort and an F for Patheticness

On her own, without prompting or being forced, Salinda apologized for being rude to me. This is a huge step for her. It shows that she is really trying. She hasn't apologized for much of anything in the past six months.

So, I see glimmers of hope for her.

The washer repair person though, I do not have anything good to say about. I'm not to the point yet where I'm ready to say the name of the company, but I'm getting there.

Mid-August we started having trouble with the washing machine. It would need to be restarted during the spin cycle. It was a nuisance, but not impossible. A guy came out and took a look at it and told us he'd order the part. The part, on back order, didn't show up until the end of September.

Two weeks ago the guy came to put in the new part. After he left, the washer would not complete a cycle no matter how many times you restarted it, so, in essence, the machine was working worse than before. Now it would get to the drain and spin cycle and stop, so we had to wring the clothes out by hand and put them in the dryer. We called immediately and they said they would put us on for the following Monday (three days ago). We rearranged schedules and they never showed.

We called again and they said they would be here between 8 and 12 on Thursday. So, this morning I made sure I was back here by 7:55. At 8:10 a rude person from this unnamed but soon to be named place if it is not fixed today called and accused me of not being home when the guy came. He rang the bell, she said, and left a note. I said, "If you tell me that the person will be here between 8 and 12 and I make sure that I am here by 7:55, there is no reason he should have left. I explained to her why, by this point, I was a tad bit frustrated.

So she said, "Well, I'm not sure what will happen, but I'll let him know you're home.


A Day Primarily Here

For the first time in a while, I get to sit here all day. I may have lunch with a frined, but otherwise, I am going to be catching up. I am starting to see, after 3.5 straight hours in my inbox yesterday, some light at the end of that tunnel. I am caught up on reports from visits, which means only that visits will start for me again in a week. I have finished the scrapbooks and subsidy negotiation paperwork for our new boys and have made arrangements for the other kids while we are gone. It may just be that by the end of today I can say that, while I'm never caught up, I am at least not feeling completely hopeless.

My desk, which was cleaned on Sunday, is back to being quite cluttered....

Salinda, not at all happy about the 3 zillion guidelines I've set up for her to go to the football game today, is showing glimpses of teenage girldom, something that she has been able to avoid several days, putting on her perfect face. Fortunately for her, I don't expect her to be perfect and void of teenage girl attitude. I'm sure she feels she's made it through yet another crisis, but in truth this whole thing is far from over. She still needs to comply with a social history and reappear in court in a few weeks for the disposition.

But for now I just need to get the kids to their respective schools, get some gas, and get back home.... and then I can hit the inbox.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Still Have It

Went to court today. Salinda's public defender is an interesting, unique, and enjoyable person. I enjoy the intensity, the opinionated nature, and the idiocyncracies. But today I had to chuckle. He was expressing his opinion about another person in the court room and began to form the word b**** until I gave him the "mom" look. It was hilarious how I was able to change his speech pattern with just one look. I still have it!

Salinda has some pretty serious charges pending and she needs to really keep her nose clean. I'm going to help her by saying no more often than yes and hopefully she'll be fairly compliant. She still is maintaining a good attitude and being appropriate and we're all hoping she'll hold it together. Today it was suggested that if she did not stay out of trouble she would have the opportunity to get a license revoked until she turns 18. I think this is going to help deter her...

It's An Appointment Extravaganza

Two therapy, one dentist, one court appearance, and then our typical Wednesday night lengthy marathon of events to include supper together at church and then several confirmation classes and choir practice.

SO let the games begin....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Marathon NIghts of Homework

Salinda, to her credit, is very motivated to catch up with all the school she has missed. Tonight it involved 3 hours of my time. Then I "helped" Sadie on an assignment that, if she would have been cooperative, would have taken 3 minutes. But instead, took over an hour. I don't know what the deal is with that lately....

So, tonight has been a marathon night of homework. And I'm tired. But I've enjoyed my time with a very cooperative Salinda. And hopefully this pattern will continue.

Bart has been gone all evening at the laundromat dealing with the never ending saga of the washing machine.... and his day was spent with more insurance claims (they are considering the car Mike stole "totalled") and fraud claims (the used credit card).

Tomorrow we have so many appointments that we're both going to be tied up.

But I'd rather be very busy and not having the stress of last week than bored with it...

Never at My Desk

I like to live at my desk. It's my favorite place. I know you think I'm a sicko, but it's me. I love my computer and all it does and I love my small 8 x 10 space. I often share it with several always growing-ever-so-larger children/preteens/teens and we do stuff in here. We laugh, we do homework, we joke around, we take silly pictures, we argue, we fight (well, they fight with each other), we look at stuff online together, and I work.

But lately it seems I'm never here. Today there was a late school start and after that I had a meeting to do endless paperwork with an AWESOME worker at the county who is an adoptive parent. We worked and then (shhh don't tell anyone) visited for a while, taking time neither of us could afford. It was a great time.

But now there are only 2 hours before school is out again and we start the homework routine. Yesterday I literally spent 3.5 hours doing homework with various individuals. Fortunately, Salinda offered to help one of the younger kids or it would have been longer.

Speaking of Salinda, it was great to have her home last night. She was acting like the person I remember from over a year ago .. helpful, pleasant, engaged with her siblings, and active family member. Hopefully it's genuine, but even if it isn't it is fun to see that she is able to fake that kind of behavior.

Well, I must get to work. I'm finally at my desk and have loads to do.

Monday, October 08, 2007

An Encouraging Sound

The judge released Salinda to my custody. He shook his head and looked at me as if I were nuts to give her another chance, but she needs one. I could end up regretting it, but at this moment I'm not.

Coming from her room is music from a CD that I burned for either her or Sadie a couple years ago -- with songs that I actually have on my computer. in comparison to music she's been listening to for the past several months (right on the line of what we'll allow here) this is great to hear.

What is Your Opinion: How Many Kids are Enough?

Well, the results are in. 64% of you say you "there is no such thing as enough kids." Many of you emailed to say you wished there was another category -- that enough kids was how many God gave you, or how many God thought you could handle.

I like that response as well. I think each of us might have answered differently several years ago, but now that we are parenting, we know that the right amount of kids is the amount that we feel called to have.

Your Last Chance

Just got off the phone with the Probation Officer. They are going to let Salinda come home. She's not going to have an ankle bracelet, but the P.O. told her this was her last chance. If she doesn't obey our rules and treat her siblings well, she will be in a lock down facility for at least 30 days.

The P.O. agrees that she could be at the point where she is ready to turn her life around. I certainly hope this was the wake up call she needed. I am relieved that she does get this chance, but I'm also afraid of where it could all head once again. But having a supportive and firm Probation Officer makes all the difference.

I have changed the poll. Knowing that several of you have had kids that you have had to visit in either Juvenile Detention or jail or who have been charged with an offense and you've had to go to court, I thought I'd see just how many of this that involves.

Since most of us are adoptive parents, I am wondering if that somehow increases the odds that they will be arrested? Is there any research on this that anyone knows of?

Busy Day Ahead

meeting about john at 9
washer repair guy comes again between 8 and noon
court for Salinda around 1
therapy for Sadie at 2
boy scouts for Tony tonight

and somewhere in the midst of it all I have several phone calls to make and I need to work. Inbox is bulging....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

And as her Heart softens, God Softens Mine

On the way to visit Salinda, I heard this song on the radio by Jon McLaughlin called Beautiful Disaster. God used it to soften my heart (though it was already on the way to being softened) and help me understand my daughter a little bit....and helped me realize that maybe she does need us to take her home. And the song also reminded me of several 17 year old girls who are going to age out of foster care this year, many of whom I have been trying to find families for, so maybe this song/post will soften your heart and a girl like this could become your daughter as well.

Beautiful Disaster

She loves her mama's lemonade,
Hates the sound that goodbyes make.
She prays one day she'll find someone to need her.
She swears that there's no difference,
Between the lies and compliments.
It's all the same if everybody leaves her.

And every magazine tells her she's not good enough,
The pictures that she sees make her cry.

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in between, a beautiful disaster,
And she just needs someone to take her home.

She's giving boys what they want, tries to act so nonchalant,
Afraid they'll see that she's lost her direction.
She never stays the same for long,
Assuming that she'll get it wrong.
Perfect only in her imperfection.

She's not a drama queen,
She doesn't want to feel this way, only seventeen but tired

She would change everything for happy ever after.
Caught in the in between, a beautiful disaster,
But she just needs someone to take her home.

Cuz she's just the way she is, but no ones told her that's ok.

And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
Caught in the in between of beautiful disaster,

And she would change everything for happy ever after.
Caught in the in between of beautiful disaster,

But she just needs someone to take her home
And she just needs someone to take her home.

A Little Good News

Well, my visit to JDC couldn't have been much better. Salinda was repentant, apologetic, accepted responsibility, gave me a long warm hug, let me kiss her, told me she loved me.

Now we all just have to convince the powers that be that she can handle being home and we can handle her here. WIth the help of probation, she just may be on the right track.

I'm trying not to let the past experience of her brothers affect me and I'm gladly jumping back on the hope train. I know it isn't going to be easy, as she has dug herself quite a hole, but I think she can do it.

At least at this point she is saying what she needs to say. Whether or not she means it, I can't determine, but even a willingness to say the things is a step in the right direction.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers.

And In Case You Haven't Seen This Yet...

I was too tired to blog the latest about Mike last night so I asked Bart to.

Uncommon Morning

This morning is a bit different.... most Sundays at 8;22 a.m. I am scurrying from place to place directing, speeding up (well, trying to) and reminding so that we can be out the door at 8:40 for first service.

But this morning Sadie, our latest evangelist, has two of her friends coming to church with her. These girls came on Wednesday night and are very excited about joining our ROCKS choir (4th 5th and 6th grade) and going to church with us. Neither of them attend church and I met the parents of one of the girls yesterday who I really enjoyed talking with. The family is Hispanic and the mom is bilingual but she heard that I spoke Spanish and tricked me into speaking my faulty Spanish with her for about 10 minutes before she burst into perfect English when talking with my daughter. I jokingly scolded her for putting me through the hassle when obviously her English was much better than my Spanish.

I'm learning, based on experience, that the friends one heads into Jr. High with can certainly determine how they live their lives. Kyle, Rand and Jimmy have either made excellent choices in this area or have simply chosen to have their siblings be their friends. However, Mike, John, Salinda and now Ricardo are gravitating towards kids who will either lead them into trouble or be led by them into trouble.

Sadie has apparently made some great choices and so I am sacrficing my need to attend two services (I hate missing either service now that they are different) in order to be a taxi driver to pick up these girls and bring them to Sunday School and Church.

I feel as though I am carrying out a legacy as my mother was a constant "bringer" when it came to kids and Sunday School. My Junior year of High School I spent driving one church van while my mother drove the other so that we could bring between 30 and 40 Laotian children to Kids Club. It was quite a hassle as we had only one vehicle. My Mom or I would drive my Dad to work in the station wagon to work at 4:30 (he worked nights). At about 5:45 we would drive the car to the church and park it. Then we would each take a church van and drive back down to our inner city neighborhood and fill them up. If there were other kids waiting we would make a second trip. I'll never forget those cute brown faces, in ragged clothing, speaking a language I did not understand, smelling of foods I had never tried.

It seems like we've come full circle now. It's almost 30 years later and two weeks from today we will be flying to Texas to bring home two sons whose parents most likely immigrated to this country at the same time as the families of the children we picked up for Wednesday night kids club. This next generation is much different -- though their faces are still brown, their clothes are not raged, they do not speak the language of their parents, and if they smell, it is most likely of hamburgers or pizza.

I must conclude my paying tribute to my parents who instilled in me a strong sense of social justice, a clear love for people of all nations, and a passion for caring for those less fortunate. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary on Thursday. I blogged their story a couple years ago if you haven't read it. They are aging, but remain committed to one another and remain my greatest inspiration, my primary role models, my consistent prayer support, and my heroes.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturdays the Way We Like Them

We are probably weird people. OK, you're saying, "you have twelve kids. You're definitely weird people."

But an ideal Saturday for Bart, as he blogs here involves grocery shopping and cooking for the family. An ideal Saturday for me involves time at my computer doing things I don't have time for during the week when I'm sitting at my computer working.

Today I am putting together the new worship multimedia for tomorrow and hoping to finish up the scrapbooks for our new kids so they can be mailed on Monday.

I enjoy doing creative things -- messing with photos in photoshop, improving my blog, doing video projects for church -- so while what I am doing is always going to be beneficial to someone out there, it is also kind of like a hobbie for me.

Our children (except Salinda) are all home and relatively happy. Sadie still has friends over (you know, the studio audience) and the rest of the kids at this moment are actually occupying themselves happily, often checking in with Bart or I to either help or hinder us in our projects.

I suppose other families do other things on Saturdays, but this is the way we like them. I may run errands this afternoon as well, taking a child or two with me, as I have a couple other projects to finish.

But we're all here, we're all safe and feeling good, and this is the way we like it.

Conversation Two from the JDC

I started by letting Salinda know that I was considering coming for a visit today if it looked like she was going to be able to be communicative.

By the end of the conversation it was apparent that she has no intention, today, of being remorseful. She's sitting there plotting how she can play this. It's all about her getting what she wants. And she doesn't really know how to play.

I let her know that she had a decision to make as to how she was going to do this. Either she could say she wanted to come home and change and I would be there to help guide her and give her advise as to how to do that. Or she could choose to attempt to blame her parents and get out of our home, but I reminded her that she might be going somewhere she wouldn't like. I told her that after you are charged with a felany is not the time to start trying to convince people that your parents are the problem.

Right as it was time for her to be done I mentioned RIcardo and how he was beginning to make poor choices. Her response, "It is because YOU are taking away his only friends."

I responded, "You really aren't getting this. I'll be out there tomorrow to see you but I can't take the time to come out today. I just can't afford the time and I don't think that you really understand that kids have choices and responsibility for their actions."

So, tomorrow I will head out to visit her and see if she is ready to say she is sorry and ask to come home. If she isn't, then she gets what she gets.

I am just amazed that after having yet another day to sit there and think, she's still simply plotting her next move to see if she can get a better deal. Maybe her heart is harder than even I thought it was.

100 Flowers for 100 Kids

What a nice surprise! A bouquet arrived this morning with a card that said "100 Flowers for 100 kids... You are Awesome. Love, AAN (Adopt America Network). Bart insisted I had to be in the picture.

All I could think of when I saw it was "That's a LOT OF FLOWERS" but what a great reminder to me of all the lives I have been blessed to touch so far this year with the help of so many others. I sure needed some encouraging today and this was great.

And, just so you know, Adopt America Network would have to be my favorite charity. Even though I do work for them, their mission is my passion -- finding families for kids in foster care.

Made Myself Chuckle Inwardly This Morning

After coming home from the YMCA this morning I saw Ricardo lying on the couch. Now I know you don't hear much about him as he kind of blends into the background, but last weekend he really messed up. Let me explain.

Salinda and a couple of her friends spent Friday night unsupervised. The woman who owned the trailer they were in thought it would be fine -- she trusted her daughter to make good choices. This was the same daughter who, the next night, was arrested as a 14 year old for speeding in our vehicle....but we were all hopeful. All three of the girls gave us a major guilt trip and used the "we really want a chance to prove we can be trusted." OK, so I'm an idiot and let her.

Apparently that night there was some wild party and that night they made a plan with Ricardo and his two 12 year old friends. That night the boys were spending the night with a friend and they told him the following morning that Sadie was at a friends house where parents were there and asked the dad to drive the three of them to Sadie's friend's house. The dad stopped by the house and told Ricardo to come in and let me know what was going on. He came in and said not a word to me. In fact, I didn't even know he had stopped by.

So, the dad, in good faith, dropped the boys off where they spent at least 3 hours unsupervised with the girls. I don't think much happened, but both Salinda and Ricardo reported that they were only there for 5 minutes until Salinda told them they had to leave. Later I found the truth -- which was reported as 2-3 hours. My guess is it was more like 5 or 6, but I'll go with three. That night the two friends were in the stolen car. Fortunately, Ricardo was here.

I told Ricardo he was grounded because he had lied to be and been somewhere without adult supervision for several hours. Last night was homecoming, however, and he is genuinely well behaved 99% of the time, so I told him he could go to the game. I asked who he was spending time with and he told me it would be a nice kid that I know of at school. I told him I didn't want him with the two boys he was with last weekend.

Of course, that's who he spent the whole game with... the ones he was supposed to stay away from. SO.... I was reminding him this morning that he was grounded. Sadie and her two friends were standing in the living room and as I began to lecture Ricardo they froze in motion (it was really quite funny). I looked up and saw three sixth grade girls, bagels poised half way between their plates and their mouths, standing still watching the event.

When I finished explaining to Ricardo that he would not be going to the college football game tonight because he chose to disobey last night, the first thing he said was, "Why can't I go to the game?"

Instantly the words flew into my mind. I looked up at the girls and said, "Is there anyone in our studio audience who does not understand why Ricardo is grounded?"

I've been chuckling about it ever since. I don't know that anyone else even got it, but I really cracked myself up today.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Conversation from the Juvenile Detention Center

I called Salinda at the Detention Center. She was mad. I figured she would be and I think she probably had a right to be because it all came out of the blue. She had a good night last night and all the sudden the officer shows up at school to take her to detention.

I explained to her about the fear of the other kids. I explained to her about threatening to hurt her being a violation of her conditions of release. I explained to her about how we have been unable to help her. I explained that last week must not have been much of a wake up call if she came back home and was rude, disrespectful, and mouthy. I explained how I had done everything I could think of to help her and yet yesterday she was still uncooperative with her therapist, unrepentant, unremorseful. I told her we needed help to help her because I wasn't getting anywhere.

She had others to blame, but she really doesn't want to be where she is. She mentioned that she had made some mistakes (first she's admitted that). Said she was planning to write me a letter to say how she felt. But she also blamed me for much of this and said if we never would have moved here it never would have happened.

I mentioned to her that we all moved here, but the other kids were not in legal trouble. She had choices to make, and she made them. And now she has to face the consequences of those choices.

I said I'd come see her on Sunday. She said she wanted me to come tomorrow. I told her I would call her tomorrow and come Sunday. Told her she needed more time to think.

I feel so torn about what to do. I hate to not give her a chance when this might be the turning point, but I hate to give her chance it if isn't going to be anything more but another time around the circle.

But for right this minute our home is blissfully calm.

Thanks to all of you have emailed and commented with support and prayers this week. They have helped.

I didn't realize how much this was all getting to me until I went to the doctor today and for the first time in my life my blood pressure was elevated. We could really use a break in the stress...

Decision Made

The Probation Officer called and Salinda is going to be taken back to detention today. Her Probation Officer is a tough one. She told me this was a black and white thing -- that I could not present Salinda with any grey areas. She either violated her release or she didn't. She either needed to be detained or she doesn't.

Fortunately, this is not heading towards the CHIPS road at this point. This is about her conditions of release and her choices. I'm just sad that she is going to be totally surprised today because she had a good night last night.

My plan today is to call her in detention and explain to her why she is there and tell her I will come to see her on Sunday. Hopefully she will have plenty of time to think. She obviously didn't have enough time last weekend.

The hardest part of this is that I have (as you who have been following the blog know) invested so much emotional energy in her over the past 18 months and she is not responding. Either she can't get it together (because of mental illness) or she won't (because of a choice to embrace this lifestyle).

But if we can get her some help because of the choices she's made and avoid a CHIPS petition, false accusations, and an emotional beating by the professionals we'll consider ourselves lucky.

Bart wonders if the judges think to themselves, "I wonder how many more Fletcher's I'll be seein gin the years to come?" And I told him I wonder the same thing.

It's all so discouraging because we really did think that the years with us were going to help them make better choices.