Friday, November 30, 2007


Sometimes the conversations we have in this house are unbelievable. I literally had the same conversation over and over again. It went something like this (and I had this SAME conversation FOUR times tonight)

We're going to Taco Bell.

Taco Johns?

No, Taco Bell.

The one by the mall?

We only have one Taco Bell in our town.

Then Mike, after he overhearing at least 3 of the 4 identical conversations, said, "Are we going to Taco Johns?"


Back at the Coffee Shop

Because Bart loves to be alone in the house and because I get so much more done here, I am at the coffee shop this morning. I have a meeting here at 9:30 but decided to spend my morning here and hopefully get more done.

I'll have lunch with Bart and then we'll have just a couple hours left until the weekend. If the weather does not prevent it, Salinda will be coming home for the weekend.

Our morning went well and I don't have a lot to report. And that, as always, is good news.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brute Strength

Leon and Ricardo joined wrestling. They went to practice for the first time on Monday after shcool. They had a meet tonight.

They both have had no skill training before that. Most of the kids they wrestle have been wrestling since they were in kindergarten

So, when they started practice, the coach told them not to rely on strength but on skill. Leon listened. Ricardo did not. Ricardo won. Leon did not.

Ricardo really did win ... twice . . . using brute strength alone. Strength, tenacity, and determination. It wasn't prettty, but he did win.

Since he is such a great athlete, Sometimes I wonder what things would be like had he been able to play since he was 5. But he is one of the high scorers on his soccer team that came in second in the state and he didn't play organized soccer until he moved here at age 10....

Sometimes brute strength and determination, combined with ability, is all you need.

Next time, Leon reports, he will not listen to the coach.

Sleeping (or, more appropriately, not sleeping)

I used to sleep back in the day. And by back in the day I mean last year. I used to sleep 8 or 9 hours when I could fit it in. Sometimes I would sleep in the afternoon.

And now, after 7 or so I wake up, my mind racing with all the things I need to do and I can't go back to sleep. So usually, instead of trying to force myself back to sleep I just get up and get moving.

While MIke's world is completely frustrating to me (as I'm sure it would be to him if he took time to think about it) I must admit here (knocking on every wooden surface in my office) that he is at least trying. He has made it to church the last two weeks, he was in church last night, he is here sleeping most every night, he's at least getting dropped off at school every morning. Grant it, he doesn't have a job and doesn't seem nearly as concerned about that as I am, but for the most part he is being respectful and somewhat decent. I imagine that he is doing his best.

John, after lying to me about the phone calls and then being angry, is now apparently repentant and still wanting to come for Christmas. The plan is to move him back to our town, which we're not sure is the best idea.

Salinda is hoping for weekend visits. We'll find out today if that is going to happen or not.

Rand is doing great at his job and just got his first check. He also seems to be doing well in school.

Everyone else is stumbling along. New boys are still great!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

People Who Get It

This morning I met with a person from our county who gets it. Those of you who have adopted difficult children know the difference between professionals who get it and professionals who don't. This professional is also an adoptive parent and thus she TOTALLY gets it.

We had a good conversation about accessing services for my kids. And then we told stories and laughed.

I have often said that it would be great if we could manufacture a pill that would allow us to be someone else for just a day or a week. For example, it would be great if my kids had to take a pill of one of their siblings who has a disability and be them for a day. Find out how hard they really are trying to hold it together.

Or professionals could take a pill of one of the kids. Or teachers. Or whoever.

And as a parent of a chlid with special needs, I would take the pill. This is not a new idea to me. I have probably blogged about it before. But I really think we underestimate the amount of work it takes from our kids just to appear normal for a short period of time.

But because this pill is an impossibility we have to learn to rely on the people who get it. We have to support each other as adoptive parents and spend time together in places where it is safe for our kids to be themselves. And we have to teach people what it is like, as far as we know, to be our kids. Because our kids can't do it, and somebody has to.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coffee Shop Time

This morning I'm working from the Coffee Shop with a Coworker. We will talk, we will work some, we will goof off a little of course. But I will not blog for a while.

Uh Oh....

Time has gotten away from me this morning and all the sudden I realize that I have not yet blogged. Something nearly unheard of in my world. It's almost noon for Pete's sake (hey, Pete is my brother, I can use that phrase).

So, I'm on an important phone call from work when Mike comes in from some smoke-filled vehicle and says "I owe the school five bucks and I can't eat them until I pay them."

I say, "That must have been money from last year. I didn't even know you were eating at school (in fact, I don't mention this, but I'm not even sure he is GOING to school)."

He says, "Well, I need the $5.00." I said, "Don't eat there. Grab something here." He says, "Well, I still need the five bucks" and I say, "I'll take care of that with the school."

And he meanders his now horribly-like-smoke smelling body back outside the house, stopping to grab an orange t-shirt.

And no, I don't know why he grabbed the orange t-shirt. I hope it was his.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Troubling Conversations

I had to call John at the ranch and confront him about making phone calls while he was home for Thanksgiving. The purpose of his drip (his idea) was to prove that he could handle being home so that he could come for Christmas.

He was home for less than 40 hours. And he couldn't obey our rules. When confronted he lied to me until I forced him to tell the truth. Scolded him for blaming it on Then when I did, he was angry, belligerent, blaming, rude, frustrated. Told me to just say the word and he'd never speak to us again. It was troubling to hear him go on, but having read Cindy's blog for a while it appears that maybe this transition to adulthood might have to require some of this crap.

I finished talking to John and called Salinda who is in tears again because of how long she is staying where she is. Nobody is feeling sorry for her.... And according to her she can't trust anyone. Everyone lies to her. I reminded her again that I have no control over decisions made about her at this time. She is so unhappy with how all this has turned out, and I just try to gently remind her that I tried to warn her for many many months.

Tonight, Mike, smelling strongly of smoke that doesn't exactly smell like cigarette smoke but he swears that it is, came home 5 hours late. I apologized for blaming him for the phone calls. He thanked me. I let him know that i didn't appreciate the fact that he was 5 hours late. He shrugged.


Anyone, Anyone?

In two week Bart and I are going to be going out of town. We are both speaking at the Child Welfare League of America conference in New Orleans. Time sort of got away from us and we are now only 2 weeks away from departure. I'm not going to give exact dates we'll be gone in case one of our readers wants to come rob the house (OK, so maybe that isn't going to happen) but I thought, with all the readers we have, maybe I could see if any of you local readers would like a house guest or two for two days and three nights.

Let me know. I have some cute kids who are very well behaved when they are at OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES!

William Tell Overture

I'm sure most of you have seen this, but if not, it is worth the three minutes. I have plans in the back of my head to do a response video about what my kids say to me.

A Day Here, Alone, At My Desk. Yippeee

I figured something out this weekend. We have a family system that works pretty well, even though it is quite odd. I hate to even confess it here, but you've probably figured it out already.

I live at my desk. And it works for us.

When I designed my small office when me moved into this house I bought two desks. One faces the wall, one faces the door. The one that faces the door has a hangover ledge on the other side. There are two chairs that face my desk. Kids can do homework there when my desk is clean enough.

So I sit here and either work or don't work. Anywhere from 2-5 children are in here most of the time they are home, though sometimes they are all busy doing other things. We have interesting conversations here and I get a lot of one on one (or 2 on 1, 3 on 1, etc.) time with them that way. I run the family from here and do my two jobs. I do things for church here. It works fairly well.

This past weekend when I decided to stay out of my office, things didn't go as well. The kids went nuts... all of the younger kids wanted to be on me and near me at the same time. None of them got much quality time with me. They were hyper and loud and crazy.

SO now that school is starting up, I'm back at my desk. We've found what works. If Bart and I stay in separate places (he usually in the kitchen or bedroom, me in the bedroom or office) we each have lots of conversations with children in small groups.

But us trying to spend time with all of them at once in an organized fashion, it just doesn't go well. That's not to say we don't do it, but it rarely goes well.

Maybe we're completely off base. Maybe the parenting experts would say we aren't doing it right. But it works for us.

And when you have kids as cute as the one above who dressed this way to walk the dog back and forth in front of our house, you want that one on one time with each of them.

So instead of feeling guilty for sitting at my desk seeing them one at a time, I'm going to feel good that I get to and no keep trying to be with them all at once.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Many Moods of FASD

One of the nice things for people with FASD, if there are perks to having the disorder, is that it is easy to live in the moment -- no past no future. So, yesterday, when Mike gets back and has frustrated me to no end all day with his lack of ability to follow rules. If you give him no inches at all, he takes them anyway, but if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.

Anyway, last night after a day of frustrations like that (you can make one phone call, and he calls 8 people, you can borrow 8 dollars, he spends 10, you can be out until 10, he comes in at 11:20) he stops in my office.

Would you like another picture of me for your blog? Where is it, I ask? Take one.

So there you have it.

the ups and downs and the different moods are mind boggling.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Couple Quotes that Fit Me Today

Meredith Grey said:

Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we're thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we're thankful for the things we'll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.

And while i don't agree with all of it, I do agree with most of it.

Reminds me of this song by Monday Morning -- a song I hear on Christian Radio often:

All my hopes and dreams inside
Visions lurk behind my eyes
Something new behind it grows
And You smile as my heart knows
To be another still with You
I'm the one that loved You through
But I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing next to You
What I've seen and where I've been
What’s breaking out and breaking in
Who I love and I despise
Melting into compromise
How I've changed and how I've learned
Becoming less becoming more
And I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing without You

The sickness my mind's battled long
The center of my every song
The beauty of my voice it fades
Into a spiritual cascade
Flowing form Your perfect smile
I've avoided all the while
But I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing next to You
All the future seems unclear
Never moving never near
But You hold me as I scream
Wake me from my wicked dream
Something out there waits for me
Hand in hand we wait for it
But I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing without You

And the wonder of it all is I'm still standing
And the wonder of it all is we're still standing
Never planned it
And I wonder where I'll be next year

Will You stand right next to me
Will You hold me faithfully
Should I question all these things
What makes me so deserving
Of something that I've thrown away
Coming back for me today
When I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing next to You
Hearts are broken just to mend
When will my brokenness end
Lending my mind to dreams it seems
Some things are never meant to be
But faith it lingers as I die
Inside surrendering I cry
I'm still nothing next to You
I'm still nothing without You

And the wonder of it all is I'm still standing
And the wonder of it all is we're still standing
Never planned it
And I wonder where I'll be next year

Time is a broken dream
Time is an endless change
Time is an offering
Time has the endless sting
Time has a world to bring
Time, it's a broken dream
Mended while lovers sing

And the wonder of it all is I'm still standing
And the wonder of it all is we're still standing
Never planned it
And I wonder where I'll be next year

Voted Most Pathetic

I just read my previous post from today and have decided to leave it here and vote it as the most pathetic post of the history of this blog. Over 3000 posts, and that has to be the stupidest most difficult entry to understand ever.

What I was trying to communicate, amidst an array of interruptions from my children, is that when several things are happening at once, none of them super important, I don't tend to blog them. But then it appears as though nothing is happening.

I'm not sure that was any clearer, but anyway...

Argument with Mike this morning where he continues to put blame on everyone else for what happened. Apparently it is our fault he was "locked up" for four years of his childhood and the fact that he is locked up is why he is who he is today. The school he goes to is the reason he started smoking dope. I told him, the fact that YOU put it to your lips is why. Most of the conversation was difficult to connect and annoying. I tried to resolve it as much as possible and I think he is feeling a bit better. But to test his ability to follow directions, I gave in and loaned him money for boxers which he promised to pay off. I gave him a $10 and said "I want every penny of change and a receipt."

He brought back the receipt and no change. Bought an energy drink, but he'd pay me back. I explained that I had made it VERY clear that he could only buy the boxers and that I wanted the change. He just shrugged and said, "It doesn't matter. I'm going to pay it back." See why I love FASD?

We had pizza (I ordered way too much) with the Kari's and some really good brownie/ice cream/fudge dessert thing that was carb and calorie free (in my dreams anyway).

It appears that John made some phone calls when he was home, violating his agreement with us. Not sure what that means in regards to future visits, but I'm fairly annoyed, especially considering that he let Mike take the blame for one of the calls.

I tried to accomplish some things at the computer this morning and got very little done, I'm trying again now with the same results. Getting interrupted so often it's almost not worth it.

I am trying to work on our Christmas letter. I think I'm going to call it the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Sorry so Neglectful

Seems that with everything going on, and none of it actually super important, I don't seem to blog much. To go into detail about all of the little things that happen, so I end up not blogging at all. And then I feel like I should be doing more. But believe me, there are plenty of things I could be writing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What to Share, what to share....

I'm annoyed with Mike. I could go on for a long time about that, in fact, I'm tempting to, but I think I'll save it.

John and Salinda had good visits. They and kyle were returned safely to their respective places this afternoon. Everyone else did fine here.

But Mike and his disability and his lack of effort are really getting to me. What he can do he will not. And that is what bothers me more than anything. I wish I could get through to him, but I think I'm giving up on that.

And if anyone thinks that the legal system is quick to lock people up, think again.

The Ups and the Downs

I must first report that I made it without being at my computer all the way up until the last hour and fifteen minutes. I figured that staying away from it in order to be with kids who were asleep was kind of silly and I wanted to post this picture.

Our meal was good and everyone was appropriate throughout the meal. Of course, it only took a few of them 15 minutes to eat, but they did act appropriately for those 15 minutes. We had a guest, a lady from church, and we sat at two tables, though one of them was in the living room only feet away from the other. This was the first time all 14 of us had been together and for that I was very grateful for most of the day.

After lunch and dishes that I ended up doing more of than planned (I suggested that the kids who didn't usually live here do the dishes... John was exempt because he had already mopped the kitchen floor without being asked, but the other three (mike, kyle Salinda) jumped up and chipped in right away -- until the dishwasher was full -- and then disappeared, leaving me with all the pots and pans. I wasn't going to push it... just seeing how much they would do. I could have insisted, but the stress that would have followed made it so not worth it.

I insisted on a family picture which was a disaster. Dominyk was extremely uncooperative and Mike was so negative. If you look at his face in this picture and have a sudden urge to smack the negativity out of him, you'll know how the rest of us felt during the picture. Then, stupid me, we got almost done with the pictures and realized JOhn wasn't there. Had to take them again. This is the best one of the kids. I'm not even posting the ones with Bart and I in them.

After dishes i played a marathon game of Monopoly with Rand, Jimmy (who quit early), Ricardo, Tony (who also quit early), and Leon, who won. It took hours.

Then we lit a fire and tried to have some family time. By this point, Mike was furtively glancing and pacing, sneaking the phone to talk to his friends. The little kids were hyper beyond belief and Bart by this point was ready to be done and in our bedroom. Dominyk was bouncing off the walls.

And my day ended at 10:15 when I picked up the phone because nobody is supposed to be on after 10:00. I heard, "I gotta get me some f***** weed now!" from one of Mikes friends. I confiscated the phone. So annoying to see his friends are not changing no matter what.

Salinda and John have both done well on their visits, but they couldn't be longer. They want to be out with friends and can't be.

I'm leaving now to take John back to the Ranch. I'm glad we were all together. Thankful for that.

But I'm also glad it doesn't happen very often. There is too much stress, especially when MIke and Kyle are here together.

But we made it.... once again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

What an original blog entry title for today. I'm sure nobody else is using it.

I started writing this blog entry complaining that Mike was not home. However, while I was writing, he actually showed up 3 hours before dinner. Maybe whoever he was staying with reminded him it was Thanksgiving.

Bart is busy cooking. He has a lot done already. Wilson and Sadie are busy preparing deviled eggs. A very nice lady from our church made the pies, but he's got a turkey in the oven, mashed potatoes ready to be cooked, a ham in the roaster, green bean casserole, scalloped corn, sweet pototoes, dough rising for homemade buttermilk roles, and cranberries chilling. Punch will be made.

And I am assembling the remote controlled meat thermometer. Remember, I'm the man!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Only to Blog

I'm taking a break from my computer by my choice. I spend a LOT of time on my computer. More than I should. And so I decided that while all the kids were home (except for Mike, who, as predicted, is missing) I would stay away from my computer. I started at 11:00 this morning and it's 9:19 p.m. I am using Bart's computer, but only to blog. Everything else is off limits.

Everyone's trip went well, we're all here (except Mike) and we'll all fairly content.

Tonight was the ecumenical service for Thanksgiving. Probably close to 500 people were there. He was not as bad as he was in 2005 but he was pretty bad. I should have done what I did last year, but I didn't remember it until after church was over. He was obsessed with getting a pop, he was tapping his foot, pretending to direct the choir, pretending to play the violin, mouthing the words to the special music with exaggerated emphasis, trying to reach what he thought was gum, stuck to the marble pillar 2 feet above his head, jumping up and down, and I am only getting started. He wouldn't face the front and argued with me to the point that I got up in the service and moved away from him.

Of course, lots of people were there and he was embarrassing. The other ten children of our children, however, who were there, were very well behaved. Of course, just like last year, Mike is nowhere to be found.

But it was good to be in church with 11 of my twelve children. It was good to hear my husband give the children's service. And it was great to hear one of my very favorite hymns, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" -- a hymn that has followed me throughout my life.... all I have needed they hand hath provided, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto me."

Tonight is Supposed to be the Night

When we are all back together for the first time under the same roof ever. However, Mike left to go to a friend's last night (he finally got a ride besides one of us) and tonight is his night to do the dishes, so we may not see him. He may not even remember that it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, so who knows?

Keeping track of these kids sometimes is amazing, especially when they forget that they have FASD but I do not. Again, a dry shower floor. Think I'm not going to notice you haven't showered? Oh wait, I'm not supposed to be awake yet, am I? Fooled you!

I woke up at 6 when Bart got up and realized that the proposed staffing date for Salinda is the DAY that Bart and I are both speaking at the Child Welfare League of America in New Orleans. SO I had to think about that until other things came floating into my head and all the sudden I'm up at 6:20 on a day I could sleep in.

Today we head off to pick up those who do not live here and bring them home, what I assume many adoptive parents of teens will be doing this week. And we'll let the chips fall where they may.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marathon Parenting and Holiday Hell

Since school got out it has been marathon parenting for me around here. Sadie wanted to have several arguments with me regarding her loss of privileges over her grades and in school suspension. Then I had a conversation with Salinda that did not go so well. She is probably going to have to stay where she is for a few weeks longer than she thought. I talked to her Probation Officer who is not sympathetic at all about her plight. She was warned so many times and now she has to suffer the consequences of her actions. She is trying hard to manipulate the system and it isn't working for her. The conversation ended with her telling me she wasn't going to do something I suggested she should, and it is apparent that nobody has cured her rebellious streak. Not that I expected it to be cured, but she is slipping back into old habits. She is caught in a corner and she never likes that position.

Then Jimmy came home defiant and crabby. He was expecting Bart to go to his conferences, and when he found out that I was going to be the one taking him, he was not happy. He was quite rude to me and then had to go to the conferences with me anyway. When we got there I got to hear about how he wasn't turning things in, how he was failing a couple subjects, how he has annoying and irritating habits that are deliberately bothering others. He has had assignments to turn in that he has ignored, tests he could have made up but didn't, and homework that he hash refused to do and lied about.

When we got home for supper, we were sitting together in the living room, quietly talking about conferences. Several of the children were sitting nicely until Tony came in and he and Dominyk began to squabble over the couch, resulting in a complete meltdown on Dominyk's part, complete with him calling me an a**wipe several times. I think he used an adjective that started with an F as well.

Supper involved typical bickering, but at the completion of supper, Dominyk determined that he was going to have $2.00. Since he does not have two dollars, that took 20 minutes of him screaming and crying for me to say no and mean it. We finally ended that experience with him sobbing in my arms until we did deep breathing together, which by this point I needed just as much as he did.

As soon as Bart left for the YMCA with the, let's see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 kids that wanted to go, Jimmy started arguing with me about homework. It resulted in a major fit where he was throwing things at me, threatening me and trashing a room. I was debating calling the cops or Bart, but finally handled it myself. The boy is wrong if he thinks he can take me. Who cares if he is almost 6' tall (and no, I did not abuse him, but I did restrain him long enough for him to turn his defiant anger into endless screaming sobs, which, on an almost 16 year old is not pretty. He is still sobbing.

And now Mike is in here attempting to get me to give him a ride somewhere after Bart has already told him no. Desperate for sure, because I NEVER do anything that Bart says no to. In fact, 3 weeks after MIke and Kyle moved in almost 10 years ago, Kyle said to MIke, "DUH, MIke, haven't you figured out that you always ask Dad first?" Well, to think I'm going to say yes after Bart already said no is even more ridiculous than asking me first.

My head has been pounding all day long. Tomorrow everyone is supposed to be here together and the thought of that with all this stress, makes me cringe. I'm sure it will be fine, but we're certainly not starting Thanksgiving vacation on a great foot.

Transitions are tough. Days off of school are tough. Changing the number of people living here is tough. Ugh.


You're heard many Dominykisms in the past, but it looks like we're going to be having some Wilsonisms. He is such a character.

This morning, I woke Dominyk up for medicine but was just going to let Dom go back to sleep and let Wilson keep sleeping because there is no school for them today. As I was leaving the house I hear this little voice say, "MOOOOOM." I responded adn heard, "You forgot something."

i walked all the way back up to their room and asked him, "What did I forget?"

You know! What do you ALWAYS do when you first wake me up?

So I got a big hug.

Later this morning he was telling me how he heard Dominyk "talking to his own self" during his sleep last night. He then got the idea that he should sleep with Bart and sometime. Knowing this would help with attachment, I told him maybe Dad and I would consider that ... once. But he might get squished.

"And then," Wilson said, 'You'd have to make a sign. Wilson Fletcher. Rest in Peace."

A GOOD teacher

My definition of a good teacher is one that believes that there are kids who have mental illnesses and disabilities and that they CAN'T do certain things.

Dominyk's teacher and I had a great conversation. He has done such a wonderful job with Dominyk this year. He is patient, realizes his limitations, likes him for who he is, and has taught the other kids in the class how to help Dominyk maintain his anxiety level.

The big key is that this teacher understands that there are certain things that Dominyk cannot do. He doesn't view it as Dominyk having too many kids in his family. Or not being parented well. Or worse than anything, not wanting to do it. He doesn't see him as beligerant or uncooperative. He sees him as a kid who does the best he can.

And that, makes all the difference.

The Ironies

Before I head to three back to back conferences this morning, i thought I would share the ironies of life in our world.

Sadie did not handle the confrontation about her in school suspension well. In fact, she handled it very poorly. We had a discussion that resulted in Sadie screaming that she would rather live in a place like Salinda was in that to live with me.

Well, I called Salinda and had her talk to Sadie for me, reminding her of how bad things were where she was.

The irony is this. After the girls talked, Sadie remained in tears not wanting to live here while I was on the phone talking to Salinda who was sobbing because she thought she was coming home the last week of this month and she was told something yesterday that makes her believe that it is going to be much longer.

So, one daughter is crying because she has to live here and the other crying because she can't, all at the same time.

The ironies.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Call from the Principal

When the principal calls and doesn't leave a detailed message, it's not good. Ever.

But I was totally caught off guard when the story was about Sadie. Apparently she had asked a friend to beat someone up for her and it split about 25 girls into two sides on the playground. So, the principal questioned her about it and told her it was not OK for her to ask someone to beat someone else up for her.

So, what does she tell the principal who is getting ready to suspend her? "OK, then, I'll beat her up myself."

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Guess who is grounded forever?

Ok, maybe no forever.

What Would YOU do?

If you were planning a date with your husband because all but one of the children had church events that night, and the youngest could stay at home with the first half or the second half of kids alone....

and you hadn't been alone with your husband for a meal for a while....

and THIS face, the face of the youngest that had no special plans for the night said, "I wanna go witch y'all!"

Well, that's what we did too. ANd it was fun. He's such a little conversationalist and the three of us had a good time. I jokingly asked him "What are we going to do about you being so CUTE? It's going to become a problem."

He responded, "I guess y'all could put a box over my head."

Dang I love this kid.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hair Saved for Now

At the last minute, right before the scheduled monhawk head-shaving event, someone matched the pledge for world hunger to save Bart's hair. He was so surprised and relieved.

However, he did say that if they could again match it, he would have the haircut next week. So I guess time will tell.

And MIke, who following his typical pattern of trying hard for 3 days, trying some for a week, and then giving up all together, ditched school Friday afternoon. That was the last time I saw him.

Until he showed up for church this morning.

Makes my head spin.

Big News

Today, in church, as the result of a competition to raise money for world hunger, Bart is getting a red mowhawk. His hair will be cut during the service.

Stay tuned for pictures....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Birthday Parties

Sadie goes to lots of birthday parties. She seems to get invited to every single one there is. And I read the invitation and I see that the kid needs to be dropped off and picked up and I give her a ride there and I pick her up. So this morning, when her birthday party was to end at 10, I assumed that parents would do the same thing.

I told Sadie though, at 9:00, that i needed to leave at 10:00 a.m. for a meeting, so she should make sure that the kids parents were picking them up at 10:00. Of course, at 9:50, al the sudden they both need rides home. I hurry to make it happen. The first girl tells me she is going the second girls house. I ask if her mom knows that and she says no. I tell her that I am going to take her home, not to the other girls house.

So I get to girl number twos house and she says "can you wait? I don't know if my Dad is home." I wait for her, and eventually she does get someone to open the door. I'm glad I didn't drop off the first girl there like she asked.

I won't go on, but my question is this: Why is it that people assume that parents of large families are less responsible than parents of smaller families? I don't think that you can make a generalization either way, but I just think it is odd that sometimes assumptions can be incredibly false.

Sorry for not Checking In

Football game last night was fun. I have a couple bad pictures to post later. We got to see some really good friends so that was fun. Our former hometown team won in overtime and will go to the championship game today, but Bart is out of town so we'll have to watch it on TV.

I have a work related meeting today so I'm going to have to take some kids to the YMCA while i go

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm a Winner

My sister in law, Bart's sister, who lives out east, sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me i should enter a contest to win an IPod Nano. It was with the MacLife Podcast and if you really care to listen, it's the NOv 14th episode and the part about me is about 2:43 into the podcast. He loved my entry and said it was his number one pick.

It went something like this:

My Mac makes me smile because, unlike my husband and 12 children, it does exactly what I tell it to;

My Mac makes me smile because it makes me look like a talented, artistic genius when I am mediocre at best;

My Mac makes me smile because it allows me to do so many things I couldn't do other wise;

and finally, My mac makes me smile because it connects me with the world.

It took me less than 5 minutes to compose this and now I'm the winner of a Nano. I'm not sure what we're going to do with it, so if any of my children are reading this, keep it a secret, OK?

Have a meeting this morning.... am busy now getting kids off to school.

A big thanks to Bart's sister for scouting out this opportunity!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Y'all are Sick People

Hardly anyone ever clicks on my ads. But today, for a while, there was an ad that said Fart Button.

And y'all clicked on that one! SIckos.

I'm Mom to 7 Teenagers

As of 1:03 this morning, i was the proud parent of 7 teenagers. Now the teens in this house outnumber the children. Scary. We also begin birthday season -- we have six between today and Christmas day.

Unlike most birthdays this one was fairly drama free, for which I am grateful. Sometimes birthdays are really awful here.

I would blog more but i'm just plain too tired at this point. Maybe I'll get a second wind later. But did want to share these pictures with you. She's such a sweet girl.

And oh yeah -- banner news. After me cajoling, pushing, fussing, nagging, etc. since June 1st, Rand finally GOT A JOB. He starts at the Orange Julius store in the mall on Saturday. Whew.

Just Finished

This morning at 8 I divided my day by the hour and made goals of what I would accomplish each hour.

It's 2:14 and I just finished the list from 8-9. Maybe I was too ambitious. Or maybe I just didn't anticipate the time each would take. I did do a few things that were not on the list. But I am pretty tired. Hardly slept at all last night and pushed way too hard today to get things done and I'm just exhausted.......

Weirdness, Humor, and a Huge Mistake

As I was relieving myself last night, I saw this sight in our bathroom and realized, "I bet most people do not have a line of 20 oz pop bottles filled with water lining their shower." Now, if this were the first day they had been there, that would be one thing, but the collection has been growing and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. The reason is because they are Dominyk's bottles and Dominyk is obsessive about his collections and nobody is interested in the aftermath of touching one of them, much less emptying them and throwing them away. And they aren't bothering anyone, so why mess with it. I guess though, since this is our "guest bathroom" that people might wonder about us.

This week our local station is doing a 3 part series with about 2 minutes each night about a family who has adopted. The first night I was part of the first segment, so was saying I was staying up to watch part two. When Bart told Wilson I might be on TV again Wilson, knowing that Bart almost always watches the Food Network, pretends to be me on a cooking show. "Hello, today I am going to teach you how to make burnt toast and buttermilk" and goes on to explain how that is done. Bart reported that it was hilarious.

Then this morning we were discussing who wanted to go to the football game and who wanted to stay home where Sadie is having a birthday party. Ricardo was hesitant about making his decision so I mentioned that maybe that was because he was thinking about Sadie's 4 sixth grade friends spending the night. Four sixth grade girls here in your house, or a football game. Hmmmmmm. So Leon pipes up, "Maybe he could jump out of her cake and strip."

Apparently Wilson, who still rides in the cart as pictured above, told me I cut his fingernails too short and he had to have someone ELSE scratch his back at school yesterday.

And finally when the three kids at the elementary hopped out, leaving just Ricardo and Leon, Leon says solemnly and quiety, 'And then there were two."

So, we survive with humor and a little weirdness. And it's a good thing we have it, because sometimes, I just plain screw up. Sadie's friend had called three times before 6:45 this morning and then lied to me about it, so I woke up Sadie telling her all about how frustrated I was and it took until I got back from taking people to school for me to remember that it was her 13th birthday. An UNFORGIVABLE parental offense. So I called her at school and apologized and told her happy birthday and she will forgive me, but the fact that I most likely have PMS or something, has making it very difficult for me to forgive myself....

And so there it is, all mixed up into the mayhem of our lives. I hope that my kids can memorize the song that is now my ringtone, "We live, we love, we forgive, and never give up" (It really helped to have that there when Salinda was in and out of detention and the Probation Office and Police were calling multiple times a day). Because the kids in this family aren't the only ones who screw up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Like a Movie

Apparently while I was taking Leon for a sports physical so he can wrestle (I really like this kid -- he and I have interesting conversations) Tony and Jimmy got into a fight. I wasn't here, but it doesn't sound like it was pretty.

Wilson came in wide eyed to tell me about it. I asked him if he was scared and he said, "Nope, I just watched it like a movie.

After he said that I started to think about how that would be a good idea... for me to be able to emotionally distance myself from the things around me and "watch it like a movie." I also thought that maybe that is why these little guys did so well in living through their early years. Maybe it was a defense mechanism to just watch their lives "like a movie."

Next time we're having a stressful time here I think I'm going to remind myself to "watch it like a movie."

Random Thoughts

» I clipped fingernails this morning. It's been a long time since I've done that. Wilsons were getting long and he still needs help. I could just hear his teacher saying, "Poor child. Has so many siblings his parents don't have time to clip his fingernails." So I clipped his and realized that I hadn't clipped any in a long time. The other kids do their own (or bite them) and I don't clip mine. I trim them with my teeth. I'm sure there are those of you who think that is disgusting and can't imagine me putting my hands in my mouth, how unsanitary. But you don't regularly wipe feces off walls either, do you?

» Riding to school with Leon and Ricardo, both NOT morning people, is such a quiet ride. Our neighbor is my new best friend as she is taking Tony and Jimmy to school now (she works at their school) making my morning rides so much more pleasant. The two of them thrive on annoying others and bickering.

» I'm at the coffee shop for the first time in a while meeting with a coworker. I'm getting quite a bit done, but we met right at 8 which is why I didn't get to blogging ealier;

» Salinda is really wanting to come home. We're hoping she will be at the end of her 30 days. She still isn't quite getting everything, but she knows she needs to stay away from most of her old friends. She is hoping to come home for Thanksgiving. I need to try to get over to see her this weekend.

» Mike looked for jobs for a couple days. Now he is content to do nothing. He frustrates me and I frustrate him so I'm trying to stay away with him.

» Rand still doesn't have a job but I am pushing him through now -- really pushing. Setting up interviews for him and taking him to them. At least he does what I say. I set up interviews for Mike and he chooses not to go.

» Life is relatively stable at this point, which is nice. But we always wonder if it is the calm before the storm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When More is Less

Nobody believed us when we told them that 7 kids was easier than 4. But back in 1999, it just was. Kind of hard to explain, but it was true. In fact, you can read the unproofread version of that chapter in our lives in my book blog.

And now 12 is easier than 10. Why? Because these new boys are calm. They are just really calm kids. And they are fun. And they have laughs that are infectious.

Last night they were teaching the other kids some dance or something. They taught it to me too. Of course, not being able to resist a good laugh, I exaggerated my own clumsiness, pulled the waist of my pants up to below my chest, and put on quite a show. Their favorite part was when I was supposed to be touching my heal and I had to lean over and put one hand on the kitchen counter to balance myself in order to touch my heal.

This morning, Tony was telling jokes. He was telling "Yo momma" jokes and I told him that he could NOT talk about my mother that way, but if he wanted to say "my momma" I could take it. So he told a bunch of "My Momma jokes."

I had to share the one that was so funny that I had to work hard not to crack up and remember to scold him for using a bad word. All the rest were pretty tame until all the sudden he says, "My momma is so fat that when she hauls a** it takes two trips."

At any rate, the other kids are entertained and calmed by Leon and Wilson. I am in a better mood when I get consistent hugs from Wilson morning and night. The other kids who haven't hugged me a while, like big old Jimmy who is pushing six feet, are seeing how happy it makes me and are starting to offer me hugs.

So we add kids and stress is lessened. Figure that one out...

Main Problem: They have FASD and I Don't

The two "adults" we have living here have FASD. One is diagnosed but has a high IQ, one is not diagnosed and has a lower IQ, but both of them have obvious issues when it is time for them to figuratively "put two and two together."

This morning we have late start (once a month in our school district) so the "adults" were the only ones up. I head to the shower and find the floor of the shower dry. Since Bart was in the shower upstairs before that, it is obvious that adult #1 had not showered, which is a huge issue. Really huge issue.

But it takes me a good five minutes to get him to admit that he didn't. He just can't understand how I KNOW he didn't shower. Ugh.

And then, adult number two cannot stay away from long distance calls and therefore does not have phone privileges. Every time he moves in and out there are calls made and he never pays for them. So this morning, I tell him he does not have phone privileges and so he tells me, with enthusiasm and apparently believing he'll be allowed to stay on the phone, "It's Barbie!!! (name changed).

So, in defending himself from using the phone he admits to making a long distance call, something I hoped he wasn't doing, and the very reason for his lack of phone privileges.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be more fun to live a life where it didn't even matter what 2 plus 2 was, but I can't fathom it. My brain always over connects so living with people whose brains don't sometimes makes my head spin.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bart Does it Again

He eloquently details life in our large family.

I've been enjoying it myself lately. I'm doing this affection thing with the boys. Really aggressively affectionate. They act as though they hate it, but I can see their response and it's fun to watch them squirm.

Watching the Wheels Spin

Very fun helping Wilson with his math. He's in 2nd grade, but he had no trouble with stuff that some of my 6th and 7th graders struggle with.

The picture above was the one I promised last week from our trip to see John.

The collage is pictures of Wilson that Sadie took that same day.

Dinnertime Conversation

Always fascinating, always annoying, always surprising. I'm trying to even remember snippets from tonight's conversation.

I was sharing how i got pulled over (but not ticketed) for going a little fast near the school by the liaison officer. Rand asked, 'Is his lame L-i-a-s something?" Had to explain that he was spelling Liaison.

I asked Leon if my foot bothered him if I put it on the bottom of his chair. He politely responded no. Then Tony stepped in, being his usual annoying self, asked if other things bothered him to which he politely responded no. Finally Leon said in a very calm voice, 'You bother me."

Tony mentioned that Sadie stuck her nose in everyone elses business, to which I responded, "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black." Bart suggested I was making a racist comment, but according to this website:

The term “the pot calling the kettle black” is usually used in the sense of accusing someone of hypocrisy. The origins of the phrase date back to at least the 1600s, when several writers published books or plays which included wordplays on the theme of the pot calling the kettle black. Despite suggestions that the phrase is racist or nonsensical, the meaning is actually quite obvious when one considers the conditions of a medieval kitchen.

Jimmy mentioned that Rand had lied and suggested that I punish Jimmy for lying and within 20 seconds had told a lie of his own.

Sadie announced that she did not like her food, which I corrected.

Wilson ate quietly until Dominyk (who he calls Dominique in a very cute way) said something he just couldn't help but correct.

Ricardo, I believe, said absolutely nothing at all.

And MIke, of course, forgot it was dinner time and never showed up at all.

When fairly normal meets very not normal

Tell me this isn't the CUTEST 8 year old in the galaxy? Every time I look at him it makes me smile inside... shocked at the blessing of being his mom.

This morning he was telling Dominyk that there was a bug on the ceiling in their room. Dominyk has a fear of bugs so he was trying to get as much information about this alleged bug as possible. He asked if it was a bug or a spider. He asked what color. He then asked how many legs it had.

Wilson was so exasperated by this point. He said, "It was on the ceiling. I could not count the legs! And I already said it wasn't a spider."

He's so tiny that it is easy to forget he is 8 and he has very sophisticated conversations. But sometimes Dominyk's obsessions and perceived weirdness are just too much for him.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dominyk Unleashed (or at least unmedicated)

Things were a little chaotic here this morning. We have been accustomed to having 6 kids here most of the time for the last few weeks, we had a lot of kids spend the night last night. In fact, I think I need to count. Eleven. We had eleven kids here last night.

This morning was confirmation Sunday. We didn't have anyone in our family who was getting confirmed, but we did have 3 people singing in first service and after a huge discussion last night, Rand threw his keys at me and said he never wanted to drive again.

So, that left me with 11 kids to get to church because Bart had to go very early. In the midst of getting them all ready and transported, I forgot to give Dominyk his meds.

And of course, the service is especially long. And Dominyk has plenty of interesting things to do and say.

º He got the hiccups and they were loud and he couldn't remember to try and stifle them;

º During the prayer he was making weird motions and when I asked him what he was doing he said, "I"m practicing dog paddling with one hand." I reminded him he shouldn't do that while we were praying;

º He chanted a disgusting rap song he's never supposed to sing;

º He out of blue began to describe an Austin Power's scene (when he knows he isn't supposed to watch the movie) that involves bras and panties;

º He mentioned getting a vault after church at least 15 times;

º He clapped louder and longer than anyone else every time we clapped;

º He kept trying to steal my keys;

º He "accidentally" uttered a curse word or two; and, finally

º He started laughing during each rendition of "Holy Spirit Come to Us." When I corrected him he innocently said, "I'm not laughing at Jesus, Mommy. I'm laughing cuz I keep messing up the song."

Note to self: If the service is going to be especially serious and especially long, please don't forget the meds.

A Disclaimer

Blogs are a weird thing. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Why I choose to write has a lot to do with what I write. And, in times of stress, I tend to write more as a release for myself.

The problem with this is that people do not get a balanced view of me or my parenting. I too often forget to blog about the happy times -- the times when I'm joking with the kids, or we're snuggling, or we're doing something we all enjoy.

So if you are coming to conclusions about anyone's parenting based on their blog, it may not be a good plan. I try to remember that a blog is a snippet of someone's life, not the whole thing....

It's Different When We Have the Power

This morning, yes, the morning after the lambasting Bart had to give MIke where he told him to leave everyone and their stuff alone, I find little Wilson heading upstairs to get his new Nintendo DS that his birthsister bought him as a going away present. Why? Because Mike wanted to play it.

SO, when Mike overhears me correcting Wilson, he gets snotty and rude. But there is a difference now. Now we have the power.

When he was under 18 he had the power. And he used it, too. Used it to manipulate the system into nearly terminating our rights, into going from facility to facility because he didn't like one so well, used it to achieve his ultimate goal -- foster care -- which he achieved (though it lasted 8 days). During the process, it was "the best interest of the child" that motivated the professionals in his life. When we pointed out his issues, we were making excuses for him. When we suggested a different plan, we were being uncooperative. When we explained how our family was being victimized, we were ignoring his needs.

But a strange thing happened when, a few weeks after turning 18, he walked away from the Halfway House that his juvenile probation officer set up for him. When he left, she closed the case. Boom. Done. Over. He was 18 and all of the sudden, we were the only people that cared about him in the world. When he mentioned to others his horrible childhood with us, instead of immediately jumping in to help him, they told him it was time to get over that. When he asked for foster care, but insisted he had no mental illness or developmental delays, they nearly laughed.

And so now, at 18 and a half and one offense away from 2 years in prison, he is sleeping on our couch. He has made the choice to live here and because he cannot set up boundaries for himself (part of his disability) we have to set them for him. And they are going to be harsh and strict and tight. And when he steps outside by even a millimeter, he is going to be corrected.

And so, this morning when he started to get rude, I explained to him that he was NOT going to victimize anyone in our house again. And that he had just heard the lecture last night, so obviously he wasn't going to get it. And that i didn't expect him to get it, but that when I did have to correct him, he was NOT going to be rude to me. And I reminded him that he didn't have to stay with us.

Hopefully his reminder of the last few months of couch surfing and wondering where he was going to sleep and what he was going to eat are a strong enough reason to keep him here. And hopefully the jail cells he's been in will stay fresh enough for him to get his life together.

But there is no more compromise now. We are not legally responsible for him. And the other children will not be victimized. So the choice is his. And it feels a lot differently when we have the power.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tonight Will Forever go Down in History ...

not as the night we saw Martian Child, the long-awaited adoption themed movie, but the night that we were reminded, once again, by the frustrations of parenting Mike, why women should not drink when pregnant.

Bart rushed home, scooping me, but since he had to be the one to talk to them, he gets to be the one to tell you about it.

A New Technique

For some reason everyone wants to argue with me. I learned a technique a while back about slowly and calmly repeating instructions over and over again when a child is "stuck on stupid."

So, I got tired of repeating today and used my Garage Band application to make a small 10 second recording of myself saying what needed to be said.

And now Jimmy is arguing with the computer.

Which some how is much more comical to me than him arguing with me.

The picture above is right before he said, "You're stupid."

Friday, November 09, 2007

I Think Wilson Said it Best

Wilson, Leon, Sadie and Jimmy went with me to spend some time with John. It was a good day, but a long one. John is doing well and I even have pictures to post tomorrow.

After we had been gone for 9 and a half hours and Wilson pipes up from the back seat.... "We've been driving FOREVER!"

ANd that is exactly how I felt. Very tired. In fact, for a while I thought I needed to go to bed at 7:30 but I had a slight second wind.

But we had a good day. The kids were exceptionally well behaved and patient and it was fun to see John. He seems to be doing quite well.

All is OK here in our world. We're tired, but good. I want everyone to go to bed so I can. ;-)

Why It's Not Really That Hard After All

I was writing the previous blog entry and the absolute cutest kid under 10 in the universe literally comes RUNNING into my office to give me a hug. He shared some halloween candy with me and let me kiss him more than once.

And then I realized that it isn't really very hard after all.

Why It's So Hard For ME, Part Two

I was gone last night and it's a good thing. Because apparently things changed slightly after Bart blogged about Mike being respectful, appropriate and pleasant. Bart reported to me that he has spent the evening participating one of his most annoying habits -- making rude comments about his siblings and giving unsolicited advice.

So last night Bart had to listen to MIke tell him that we really should get rid of our dog (truly Bart's best friend and companion). He had to listen to what a slut Salinda was (and I use a nicer term). And he, and the rest of the family, including Dominyk, had to listen to how fat Dominyk is.

I think it is ever so ironic that the rest of the kids in our home have been able to keep their mouths shut since Mike has been staying here. They have not mentioned any of the myriad of things he has done in the past four years to damage our family system. They have not brought up his chemical addiction, his criminal history, his attempt to have our parental rights terminated, his years in detention facilities and jail. They simply and graciously have welcomed him back into their lives without reminders of how many times and in how many ways he has screwed up.

And yet he can offer all these critical comments to them.

But the comment that has kept me awake and driven me crazy since 5 am. was this, "I"m morally opposed to giving kids ADHD drugs."

Now this is a man, by legal definition, who is one chance away from two years in prison. He has a criminal record as an adult two pages long and he's only been an adult for 8 months. He has stolen vehicles, sold drugs, received stolen property.... I won't even bother to go into detail.

And yet he is MORALLY opposed to us giving ADHD meds to his brothers.

My brain works fine and I cannot wrap my head around such a comment. Should he even be allowed to use the word "morally"?

And yet I remind myself that he has a disability that keeps him from making connections.

BUT I DON'T!!! And keeping my mouth shut and not making those connections for him is ever so difficult.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another View from My Desk

I was away a lot today -- and that kept me from getting things done at my desk. Tonight I'm working on a video for one of the churches in town so after finishing an evening meeting I'm sitting down in my office. It's fun cuz even though I'm working I get lots of visitors.

We are going to have a lot of people in and out of our home in the next week or two. Tomorrow night Rand has a friend coming over. The next night a friend from our former town will be here for the night. We plan to have old friends here for supper on Sunday night. Next weekend Sadie will celebrate her 13th birthday with friends over -- and who knows who all will be coming and going between now and then.

I enjoy people and so having people in our home is fun for me. It's especially fun when I don't have to do any of the cooking. ;-)

Tomorrow I'm taking up to six kids with me to see John. Haven't decided exactly who yet, but at least Leon and Wilson will be coming along!

Sadie's Essay

(I'll correct the grammar to make it easier to understand -- her assignment was to pick a controversial topic, write the pros and cons, and then write an essay supporting one side or the other). (the picture above was about 5 years ago...)

Adopting -- I'm all for it. Because my family is all adopted. I think that adopting is great because kids get a nice place to live and they know that someone will love them and they will be taken care of and it is where they belong. There is nothing wrong with being adopted. I like being adopted. In fact, we just got two more new kids just this past week.

What I think? I think that at least every family should adopt at least one child per family. It's not that hard to adopt. If my mom and dad can adopt 12 kids, I think taht it wouldn't be hard to adopt one child per family.

Preach it Sadie! You go girl!

It's Thursday

yes, it's thursday. and i really don't have a lot to say. our lives, with the exception of mike's unpredictability, are pretty good. we are busy and one day sort of flows into the next. i am hoping to take some of the kids with me and go see john tomorrow. we then hope to see Martian Child over the weekend.

i am in one of those whiny moods when i'm not very excited about much of anything and feel drained and tired. so on these days, maybe it's best i shut my loud mouthed blog. ;-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Three Stooges

I'm sure that there are some who might conclude that it is wrong for me to say negative things about my children, but sometimes I feel as though I'm living in the middle of a slapstick comedy. Here are some snippets:

Mike disappeared again. No word since he was dropped off for school this morning. He missed his Sentence to Serve appointment. He missed a job interview. We had no idea where he is. He showed up at 5:50 and apologized, explaining where he had been but he smelled so badly of smoke I'm sure he left out a few places he had been.

I took Rand to a job interview today. I brought JImmy along because he was being rude and disrespectful and Bart thought he'd be better off coming with me. Several things happened that made me shake my head.

First I took Rand to find the place where he had an interview last night. He drove around for a half hour last week trying to find it. This was a second interview at the same place. When we got near the place he said, "Hey, I wonder if it is in that one building where I had my first interview with them?" Ya THINK?

Then we got to Taco Johns and I went in with both of them to talk to the manager. He gave them applications. Rand filled his out and was going to turn it in. I asked him if I could check it. There were several lines left blank and a couple grammatical errors. I pointed out that this may be why he couldn't get a job.

Then on the way home, Jimmy had a couple of very brilliant things to say. First, he asked if Mike was home. When I said no he responded, "He must be somewhere else."

And finally, as we headed home, we turned up our street. Our house is on a cul-de-sac with no exit point. And still Jimmy asks, "where are we going now?"

Why It's So Hard for Me

Our neighbors across the street offered a ride to the kids I usually take to school today and so I get to start my day at the desk early.

We let Mike spend the night again tomorrow night, notifying the worker for the boys to make sure she didn't have a problem with it. Gratefully, she is wise enough to understand that while he can be a negative influence on our other kids, that us modeling a lifetime commitment is more important. We have to talk to our agency today and see what they think.

We are making no commitments to MIke as to this being long term. He is sleeping on the couch and not allowed in other's rooms. It's just cold and he has nowhere to go.

The reason this is hard for me is that my very organized very black-and-white brain is made crazy by his impulsivity and lack of boundaries. I know that it is part of his disability and it was easier when it was younger. But now, when he is 18 and still as impulsive and disorganized and likely to "steal" as he was 10 years ago, it's so troubling.

Last night, for example, I had to go give someone a ride at 9:00. I left the house and Mike was in the middle of a TV program. I get back at 9:10 and pass him on the street as he races downhill at top speed on his skateboard, off to who knows where. I got home to find that he had told Bart he just wanted to skate a while.... but it's so disarming. One second he's involved in a TV program and then BOOM he's off down the street.

This morning, even after being told to stay out of others rooms, he comes out of Jimmy's room with his jeans on. Jimmy said he could have them, Mike reports, and they are too small for him. I explain to MIke that just because they don't fit JImmy doesn't mean that they might not fit someone else in the house who needs jeans.

These are small things I understand, and not really worth blogging about, except that they demonstrate a pattern. And the pattern is being predictably unpredictable. But the hard part is not knowing what will happen next. Last fall it was always something new that we never expected. Could we predict that last fall he was going to use our computers to deal drugs? Could we predict that he would try to sell drugs at church? Could we predict any of the crazy things he does when acting impulsively?

I distinctly remember a time when Mike was about 10 that perfectly sums up the whole unpredictability issue. He and John were just little guys -- physically as well as age-wise -- and they were messing around in the garage with the garage door shut. Somehow they had found some matches (not on our property) and were lighting them.

When they heard the door open, they threw the lit matches UNDER the van in order to hide them from me. I, of course, gently reminded them (NOT) that that was way too dangerous. And Mike looked at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, "Well you never told us NOT to do that."

I have often thought over the years just how impossible it would be to think of everything he might possibly do and warn him not to. And it is this not knowing what he will do next that makes me nervous.

I stumbled upon this blog entry last night. i was too tired to get angry, but I simply thought, "If you were responsible for a child with FASD for ONE day your opinions about this would no longer be open for debate."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The View from My Desk

I had company tonight as I tried to play catch up at my desk...

Wilson was here, charming me... He's bright, funny, and oh so cute. He has come in to report things to me as I work -- and telling me stories of what is going on in the house.

Leon went shopping with me today and he was the perfect shopping partner -- helpful, good conversationalist, didn't beg, offered suggestions.

It's fun being in love again. I know it's a honeymoon, but these guys are terrific. I keep saying to myself "I can't believe I'm this kids mom (in reference to either one of them). I'm SO lucky!"

And as I've said before, it makes me remember falling in love with all the others and love them all the more.

Lots of New Readers

Our lives have been so swamped that I haven't taken any time to welcome the new readers who have joined us. it's always fun to look at the statistics and see how people in towns I've never heard of have become addicted to the drama in our lives.

Last night we let Mike sleep on the couch. Today he has a meeting with his P.O. and hopefully they'll be able to figure something out so that he can have a place to live. With the new kids here and no background check done he cannot live here.

He is desperate to stay out of trouble and, if he'll listen to us, he will. But, as you know if you've followed our story for long, with his FASD he either can't or won't listen to us for more than a week or two.

We're trying to juggle 11 people getting ready for the day....... juggling showers when we add new kids is tricky and this is the first day that Leon has had to get up. We have a meeting today to enroll him.

Everyone is fighting and screaming now.

Why don't you new readers introduce yourselves in the comment section? It's fun building community this way.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Survived that, now what's next?

We survived church directory pictures. Bart blogged about his visit with Salinda. Now we're trying to decide what to do about Mike, who has suddenly reappeared in our life, more desperate than ever, and homeless and cold.

I hate this decision. We've had to make it so many times.

Church Directory Photo Medlum

Last time we had pictures taken it was pure hell. I figured it would be better now that they are older. That they would be more mature and able to take it better. But they are not handling it well. Arguing and fussing like I was asking them to climb the eiffel tower....

or the empire state building

or something taller...

Why we don't do foster care any more...

We have some good friends who recently had a child removed from their home. They are foster parents and have had him for 8 years, I believe, or at least six. They are very committed to him. He has FASD and is a mess now that he's a teenager, but they have educated themselves and hung in there with him through thick and thin. Recently he threatened them both and injured her and told his social worker that he wanted them dead. They knew that he was having a meltdown and didn't mean it and were trying to set up services so he could remain in their home. But then, BOOM, he's gone. No input from them as to what was best. They just moved him into a new foster home because they decided they should.

This family is a family who remains committed to kids after they age out of their home. They are a permanent family to the kids they foster and they've been doing it for years, decades. And now that this kid is approaching that age, he has been sent to a home where he will unlikely get the same amount of supervision nor the same amount of love. And he certainly won't get the same amount of commitment.

And then there is FosterAbba and FosterEmma's story which defies reason.

When we were to the point where we only had 6 kids under 18 in our home, we had a decision to make. Would we foster children (with the intent to foster children who were not legally free and adopt them in our hearts so they would have permanency) or would we adopt again?

Our conclusion, obviously, was to adopt again. Because apparently it doesn't matter if children who are in foster care have a permanent commitment made to them by an adult...those people making that commitment do not get to make decisions. And those kids can be removed very quickly regardless of the protests the foster parents make.

We have seen it happen with Mike and John and now are concerned about what will happen with Salinda. Once the county steps in to provide services, our decision making power is taken away.

So for us it is a no-brainer. Our best chance in providing permanency for a child is an adoptive placement -- even if later on there are challenges and the county is involved. At least we have the chance of building a relationship that is forever and will be returned to after 18 if we have an adoptive placement.

This certainly may not be everyone's opinion. And I realize that you can maintain a commitment to a child even if they don't live with you. But our life's mission and passion is providing permanence, as much as we possibly can. And we've heard and read too many stories like the ones above to believe that just because foster parents are committed to a child doesn't mean they will be allowed to provide them permanency.

And All, for some reason, Seems Right with the World

This morning things are starting to clear up for me and everything looks brighter. I'm in a great mood and I am finding myself seeing things a little brighter in every way.

For example, Bart gave MIke a ride this morning and he has agreed to be in our family picture. John, Salinda and Kyle will be missing from it, unfortunately, but Mike wants to be in it, and i think that is important for him. I'm slowly opening my mind to ways in which we can be a family to him and still keep the others from being affected.

John would like to come home for Thanksgiving. I am going to let his caseworker know that he can come for a couple days trial, allowing no contact with friends, only with family. If that goes well, we can think about Christmas for a few days.

Salinda had a great conversation with Bart and has desire and intention to return home and do what she is supposed to do.

Adopt America is looking for homes for 17 year olds today. These kids need parents so badly after 18....but who will adopt a 17 year old?????

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bart Will Tell You About it

if you click here, but you might want a kleenex

Yes, and How Many Kids....

Well, this weekend we have had contact with all twelve of our children. Eight live here, we had lunch with Kyle yesterday, I stopped and saw Salinda yesterday and Bart saw her today...

Then tonight Mike came over. He didn't ask permission, just called and said he was. I was not happy about this, but fortunately Bart had just gotten home and he was able to talk to him. I haven't heard how it went.

John called tonight full of plans and ideas of how things are going to work so well for him if he is allowed to return to our town and go back into foster care. He could tell I wasn't convinced.

However, I am just about to the point where I'm ready to throw my hands up and let them do what they will do with these kids. Every time I try to give an opinion it seems they go against what I think anyway. John is 17 and a half and I think he and Mike and Salinda, all precarious with their choices of friends, will lead each other to a certain demise if all in this town together. But it may be that there isn't anything I can do about it and I should shift my focus into loving them where they are at and letting the chips fall where they may. As long as they are not disturbing their siblings, maybe I should just sit back and pray for them that they make good choices, and try to stop preventing them.

Bart is with Mike now. He had a good conversation with Salinda today. Maybe he'll blog about both those things. If he doesn't, I will.

if I ever get to talk to him (we literally have had less than waking hours together the past two or three weeks I think).

Church Today

Was comforting. For some reason it just felt good to be sitting with my kids (sad to be not with m husband) but they were well behaved and it was fun to connect with people I like. I am home now -- with a couple extra kids here visiting -- awaiting the arrival of the people who are not here..... so we can all be together again.

An Odd Morning

A troubling conversation right before bed last night, coupled with caffeine too late in the day, made me have a lot of trouble falling asleep, so it's a good thing we have this extra hour.

I'm ready for everyone to get back home and into school and for things to be "normal" around here. They haven't been for a long time.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Seemingly Endless Crying

We had a good day. A really good one. We took a seven hour trip and everyone was really well behaved. We took kyle out to lunch and he was especially enjoyable. Talkative and appropriate and fun to be with. And then we drove over to take some stuff to Salinda and the kids were so good during our visit.

I was going to take pictures and forgot and now I'm mad at myself...

The "new boys" are doing quite well. Leon enjoys teasing me about how fat I am which would have bothered me a decade ago. now I just tell his skinny tiny little self, "yup, and I can take you -- and I have the weight advantage, so bring it, buddy." And he laughs.

We're back now and so is Rand. Jimmy, Tony and Bart still missing....

Dominyk had a crying spell that I thought would never end -- just beside himself. I'm not sure how it started, but he just cried and cried and cried. He doesn't feel well, the dog chewed his toy, and he ate too much halloween candy ... but something set him off and I didn't think he would ever stop.

But right now everyone is occupied and I'm enjoying a few moments of computer time -- hoping to get some stuff caught up.

It's nice to have a fun, uncomplicated day.

He Called Me Mom

Leon needed to report to me that the dog had pooped in the downstairs shower. This highly grossed him out.... I don't know that he has ever lived with a pet before. I'm not thrilled that the dog did that either, but I figure it's nice of him to do it right there in the shower where I can scoop it up an flush it than on carpet or in the kitchen or someplace more disgusting than the bathroom.

Anyway, he came up to tell me and he started the sentence with Mom. I'm sure of it. So, i don't know if it was because it came natural or he couldn't remember my first name, or what, but I always love it the first time I hear those words. With Kyle, who moved in at 11, it took 8-9 months I think. With Leon, who is 12, it's only been 4 days.

Speaking of Kyle, we're going to go have lunch with him today. I enjoy him so much now in comparison to when he was younger. We actually have had civil conversations since he was about 15, but it's only been the past year or so where I can actually say I look forward to seeing him without all the post-traumatic-stress of the way he used to treat me.

There was nobody angrier than Kyle at 11 -- and now he's almost 21 and doing great. So for those of you out there wondering .... things can change.

I'm just glad we're not starting with an angry 12 year old who hates me this time around.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Quiet but Dumb Night

Bart is gone, as you know. As are Kyle, Mike, and John (as always) and Salinda (as of recently). Rand is gone. Tony is gone. That leaves me here with 5 kids. We rented movies and they are quietly watching them.

But that was after the stupidity of the movie rental/Toilet plunger event.

One of the people who left, who in attempts not to be cruel and embarrassing, plugged up the toilet, broke the toilet plunger, and then left without telling me.

So, after we ate out at a fast food place, we went to rent movies, which turned into a fiasco, lasting 40 minutes, and then went to buy the plunger. When we got home I could not get it unstuck for a long time and was very frustrated.

But now, all is well. Toilet is plunged, kids are quiet, and I'm back to being happy.

But it shouldn't take two hours to have supper, rent movies, and buy a plunger, should it? Only in my world.

Our New Comedian

Last night when the Kari's were here for dinner we had 10 at the table. And it is a full table when the kids are this big.

So little Wilson, down at one end, waves at Sadie, down at my end, and with a voice about 10 times his normal volume, yells, "How's the weather down there?"

The kid cracks me up.

Another Round

Its another day. And here we are. I'm at my desk and Bart's getting ready to leave on another weekend trip to be trained for something I got rejected for. Long story that I'll leave alone.

MIke called yesterday. Weird call. He said, "So, what do you want me to do?" That was how the conversation started. I then asked him what he meant. And he said, 'Well, do you guys want to have contact with me or what?" I said, "mike, that's up to you." "Well, of course I do." I suggested that we would have to figure out how and that I was disturbed by the things he had done and might do again. He mentioned he was done committing crimes. I suggested he'd been saying that for years.

I mentioned that his Probation OFficer had stopped by. He asked if we had her number. I said yes and he dialed it into the phone and hung up on me and I've heard nothing since.

We had the Karis over for supper last night and wow, was Anna out of control. For Bart and I it was fun to watch, but I can't imagine having to see it all the time.

This picture shows you that she was moving so fast that I couldn't snap a picture.

Did get a good one of Dominyk, hot and sweaty, after running around with Ben for a long time...

Thursday, November 01, 2007


We spent the morning getting ready for (cleaning up a bit) and hosting social workers to do placement. It's done. The paperwork is completed. They are "ours" or at least we are sharing them with the state of Texas in legal terms for a few months before finalization.

They are enjoying a break from school and having a lot of electronic stimulation today. They need down time because when the rest of the kids are here they are so excited it's kind of overwhelming.

This morning Ricardo initiated a hug for the first time ever. In June I blogged about my first kiss from him, but that was initiated by me. Today he stuck his arm out to hug me. It was awesome.

We got a call today that they want to move him to the Jr. High. He is almost 14 and in sixth grade but still so far behind with his reading that we've been hesitant. Now i'm thinking maybe we'd like to have he and Leon start there on the same day if the school is really going to move him.... Lots of things to consider.

But it was a great hug.