Saturday, June 30, 2007

Virtual Whining

It's the night before our youngest four children and their father head to church camp. That means I'm scurrying to find everything they need. It doesn't matter how many times I've done this, I still end up scrambling the night before when I'm too exhausted and frustrated to deal with it all.

I think I just about have them done. Two of the four can pretty much pack themselves by now, but the youngest two with their myriad of issues sure cannot. I had to make a Walmart run at 9:00 p.m., something I don't like to do, to pick up last minute things.

Bart is paying bills, which lately for us, is not a fun adventure, so he will undoubtedly be less than happy when he comes up to bed. I have cramps and a back ache and am not interested in even moving from this chair, much less cleaning off the bed (which of course, served as packing point central). But those two things will have to happen before I can sleep.

Just think -- a couple decades ago if I were this crabby and alone, i'd either have to call someone or invite somone over to listen to me whine.

Now I can come, anytime, alone to my computer and whine all over a couple hundred people who are sitting out there just waiting to see what pathetic ponderings I can prolifically produce.

Ah the joy of virtual whining.

My Husband Makes me Cry

whenever he blogs like this.

And once and a while it feels GREAT

I know I do a lot of whining around here, but sometimes things do happen and I feel very good about our adoption experience.

When I scanned this review of last week's soccer tournament from the newspaper, I could not help but think of the contrast between Ricardo's life as it would be and as it is. Here he is happily scoring goals, enjoying the safe environment of a loving (though sometimes chaotic) home. Many 13 year old boys in Guatemala shine shoes or sell gum on the streets hoping to bring home enough to help their family not go hungry each night.

So sometimes, it feels great.

Sucked in For a While

I started the day at my desk and for a while I got sucked into internet surfing. It's so easy to do.

But I think I'm done.

I'm in one of those moods where I don't have anything I really want to do, but I have so much to do that I have to do something.

We have a clean slate for today... no plans yet.

And nothing interesting to blog.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My First Kiss

On July 2nd of 2004, nearly 3 years ago, one of the cutest kids in Guatemala moved into my home. In September of 2005, he became legally my son.

When we first met him at the orphanage he started his life in our family loving Bart, hanging on him, trusting him from the beginning. Affectionate, loving, attached. But always a little guarded with me. For three years, I've loved him from a bit of a distance. I've teased him, tossled his hair, hugged him even when he didn't hug back, kissed him, etc. Even though I was the only person who he could talk to when arrived speaking nothing but Spanish, he was Daddy's boy.

If he would have been my first adopted child, I would have been very impatient. I would have wanted him to love me faster. I would have been stressed because I didn't understand what was wrong with me. But because he is our 10th adopted child and we have learned a lot about attachment, i was able to stand back and simply let it happen.

Not until this Spring has he started to open up to me and as I've watched him do so, I've fallen in love with him Sure, he's been my son, and I've loved him for 3 years, but this year, watching him blossom as he has played competitive soccer, working hard at homeschooling him this summer so he can learn to read, and feeling my heart swell with pride as he becomes more secure, more attached, and more comfortable with who he is, I've fallen in love.

He has the most amazing face -- stern, Mayan, stoic. But when something makes him laugh -- which happens often because of his quick wit -- his face bursts into the most incredble smile.

Tonight he wanted to watch a movie and stay up late with Kyle -- even though those boys have only lived together for a couple summers (Kyle went away to college 6 weeks after Ricardo moved in) they really like each other. I told Ricardo he could if he'd give me a kiss on the cheek.

And so, 2 years and 360 days after he moved into my home, my 13 year old son gave me my first kiss. It was carefree, it was casual, and it was real. Atttachment came slowly, but it came.

and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Last NIght's Dream

Last night in my dream, Bart and I were in the airport going to go out of state for something. We were in a hurry and we needed to get on the plane.

For some reason, we went into the same bathroom and trying to be helpful, I grabbed his briefcase out of the stall where he was and started carrying it. We got separated in the airport and I tried to call his cell, only to hear it ringing in his briefcase.

I started to panic, realizing we were separated and couldn't find each other.

At the end of the dream, I was on an escalator and accidentally tripped a guy who went summersaulting down the escalator, getting several head injuries along the way. I was worried I had killed him, but wasn't sure that I should take time to find out because I was going to miss my airplane.

I was having terrible concerns about him dying and it being in the paper and everyone wondering if it was me who killed him.

I was glad again to wake up.

Wouldn't Freud have fun with me?

He's Home Again

Kyle, our oldest son is home for the weekend. He isn't living here this summer and in a strange way we have missed him. He's the closest thing we have to an adult son and the closest thing we have to a success story. He's got quite the history before coming to us. Parentified, conduct disorder, angry, mean, but a survivor. And Bart gave him hours of each day ... developing a special relationship with a kid who I could hardly stand to be in the same room with. A manipulator, triangulator -- and I could swear he would have wanted me dead and to be the mother around here.

But we raised him to adulthood. And trust me, it was not easy. There were several days where I thought I couldn't do it anymore. I really wanted to give up and quit.

But we kept going and he finally graduated and he went to a Christian college. He was young when he graduated, so maturity has taken a while. Each time we see him he gets more and more grown up and I keep believing he's going to get it.... he's going to arrive at a place where we're sure he loves us and where he understands what we've done for him. He'll be a senior next year. Still learning, still growing, still driving us nuts sometimes.

But for now he's here and things are good.

And Yet Another County

Well, Mike got mail..... and it's from yet another county. Apparently he was only out of jail a few days before he offended again. And this is the third county he's broken the law in in the last 8 months, taking him to a total of five counties that he has been arrested in.

And we haven't even heard that anyone has seen him for almost 2 weeks now. He hasn't contacted us for almost two weeks. I think he may have disappeared on purpose.

So much for promising his attorney that if he just got him out of jail he'd get a job and take care of everything so that by the time court came up he'd be ready to prove to the judge that he didn't need to be in jail.

I knew the reality of it all was that he would re-offend and that the chances of him showing up for court would be slim. That's why we didn't post bail.

So, Mike, if you're reading this, you need to call us and find out your court date and time. Otherwise, I don't know how you're even going to know.


I just spent a half hour on the phone with the Billing Company that is trying to get us to pay the bill for Mike's Chemical Dependency Treatment.

The bill was so much higher than the courts told us it would be. I had to tell the whole long story. Twice. And I'm feeling quite drained.

I hated reliving the emotions of the year. I hated detailing what most people would conclude is parental failure. I hated admitting that he can no longer live with us. I hated reporting that he was current estranged from the family and homeless.

It makes me sad. It makes me feel empty inside. It makes me emotionally drained.

They agreed to waive most of the bill. That's the good news. But the emotional price I had to pay telling the story is almost as costly as the bill itself.

But on a brighter note, the kids had a great time camping. I'm not sure if Bart had a great time, but the kids did.

Got Over Myself and I'm Fine

After Bart left with the kids-- and a nasty experience that was, getting everyone ready to go -- I took off for the coffee shop. A couple hours to work, a visit and a card game with friends, and I was back on track. Salinda and I had a nice enough time having supper and then the older kids and I watched a movie, too dumb and disgusting to mention.

I slept a good long time then enjoyed a long meeting today at the coffee shop with my coworker who started officially in Mankato today. We reviewed our cases and it was actually fun.

Now everyone is home and we are planning the rest of the day. Bart is going up to get Kyle for the weekend, and kids are off to do various fun things.

Another ride on the emotional roller coaster of my life.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feeling a Little Empty and Alone and Odd

My husband is taking 4 kids camping.

Now, if you know my husband, this will shock you. Just as much as his new found love of soccer.

He is taking them to give me a chance to have a break and get stuff done. Tomorrow is his day off and he wants to spend time with them. They have a cabin rented (which, by the way is cheaper than taking our family to a movie) and the kids are excited.

But I'm feeling a little bit strange. I hate camping, and the thought of a cabin and campfire, and sleeping bags, and discomfort doesn't at all appeal to me. But the thought of being left out of memory making causes me a great deal of empty sadness.

I'm going to try to make up for it. I'm going to go to the coffee shop this afternoon to work and maybe take a break to visit with friends. And I"m going to send Rand and Jimmy out with some $ for supper and Salinda and I are going to go alone. I'm hoping we can have a nice time, but I'm dubious. She's been pretty moody and uncommunicative lately and I find her "I'm bored and there's nothing I can do about it, I'm such a victim" mentality annoying beyond measure.

I have a work related meeting tonight. Maybe afterwards I'll get a nice PG-13 movie that we can all watch together.

But my husband is going off with the younger kids to make memories without me. And that makes me sad.

and i feel a little empty... and alone .... and odd.


Late Night Phone Mystery

I got so tired of the phone ringing after I went to bed, that I have started to unplug the phone in our bedroom. However, in checking the caller ID, it's been ringing at night.

My first guess is Salinda sneaking phone calls. I will solve that tonight by locking up the other phones. She's been very tired lately, but goes to bed early, so I'm pretty sure she is up in the night doing something.

But my second thought is Mike. For the first couple months that we were here, people were seeing him or we were, almost every day or two. This hasn't happened for almost two weeks. We haven't heard anything and I'm starting to wonder.

So already this morning, only minutes after being out of bed, my mind is churning... how am I going to build character in a daughter who really doesn't care about anything but how she looks and what her friends think, disregarding our rules every chance she can in order to get what she wants?

And where is MIke? Is he OK? Has he left town? Where will he show up next?

And I"ll have to shove all those thoughts deep down into my subconscious so I can answer other questions like, "How am I going to get family A to hang on long enough to get the kid home?" or "How can I find anyone interested in any of the 10 teenagers with mental health issues that one worker sent me yesterday?" or "Who will be on my panel for training in 2 weeks since I forgot to ask people -- and will enough families sign up anyway?" ...

not to mention "how can I get the rest of the kids where they need to be doing what they need to do today?"

Ending to a Long Day

I literally fell into bed exhausted last night after such a long day of control battles. I know I shouldn't get into any, but sometimes when my mood is just so, and the stars line up in such a way, and my horoscope predicts (OK, so I don't believe in that...) I just can't help it.

We had several friends show up to cheer for Ricardo at last night's game, and that was fun. His team won and he was excited as they will be heading to the playoffs after that win. The team has improved a lot over the last few months and they are really fun to watch.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why I Love Pay Per Post

If you want to make money from your blog, this is really the way to go. Why? Put ads on blogs through Pay Per Post.

Well, several reasons. You write one post. You put it on your blog. You leave it there for 30 days. You get Paypalled (is that a word?) some money. Maybe $4.00. Or maybe $6. Sometimes $10.00. If you have a lot of readership, even more.

And here is the neat part. It isn't a secret. You can tell people that you're being paid to write. It's not like other places where you can't tell people to click on the ads.

I will make more money writing this than I might make on a pay-per-click ad in 2 weeks. Grant it, I don't have to do any work, but I also only makes cents a day. And that's only if you click, which I can't tell you to do but it doesn't matter if I tell you to or not, because you don't anyway.

So, I take my 10 minutes. I write my entry. You read it or don't. I can have anything else on my blog that i want to. And I make money. I've been a member since September and have written 18 posts. I've made $141.00. And the whole process has been easy, seamless and fun.

But what I like best is the fact that it isn't tricky. It's easy to figure out -- no formulas or anything -- just plain blogging for bucks. You ought to try it. You can see the referral spots on my blog as well.

Torture Chamber

I am telling you the truth... this day has been like a visit to a torture chamber.

It started this morning with Tony, as you read about earlier. I had an hour break before I got a work related call that was quite stressful, at the same time as I was dealing with two intense situations on the instant messenger. I barely recovered from that when I had to go around and around with Jimmy. He was taking stuck on stupid to a whole new level. Defiant about every single thing I asked him to do. Arguing, fighting, calling me names like fatty ("ooooh, fatty. Did it take you a while to come up with that?" -- my favorite line from Happy Feet)

He finally went to work at 11:00 after indicating he was not going, that he was not going to shower, that he was not going to anything I said he had to do. Finally around 11 he left, but by 11:45 Dominyk was back and he was obsessed with the dog. The dog usually puts up with him pretty well, but it drives me nuts to listen to him chase the dog from place to place, the dog racing around, yada yada yada.

By 12:15 all h*** had broken lose because Tony came home with nothing to do. His regular PCA needed the afternoon off, so his only choice was to occupy himself, have Rand work with him, or torture me. Rand, although he is broke, has no job, and is almost to zero in his checking account, refused to earn $11.00 for spending time working as Tony’s PCA.

Ricardo refused to find something constructive to do this afternoon, so he will be doing more reading.

Tony has had a complete meltdown now, cussing, screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing things, etc. for a 90 minutes now.

And, I’m sure this will make you laugh, but I am sitting in my garage in the van with the windows rolled up.

I am not going to be in the house with Tony. I know that his fit ended the second I left the area. I think he thinks I left and went somewhere, but there is too much going on for me to do that.

So, here i sit, in the van. Without internet because I have been trying all day to get the router set up, but because of all the distractions, I can’t figure it out.

OK, Tony has calmed down, I am back in the house, and finally might get something else done.

Blogging Every Day Now

Bart is blogging every day almost these days. I just keep forgetting to tell you.

Sometimes You Just Can't Take It Anymore

Tony swears at me non-stop. Trying to make him stop has proven to be near impossible. I'm not going to ask you for ideas as to how to stop it. We've found that ignoring it most of the time probably works best.

A couple weeks ago, when our new "grandkids" were here, Shaquille heard Tony call me fat a** and his eyes got huge. I said, "Shaquille, where would you be if you called your mama that?"

His response was pretty hilarious for a child who is 12: "Six feed unda da ground."

Then again last night when everyone was here he started cussing again and Kim (the mom) looked and Shaquille and said, "Son, if you did that to me, would you need braces?"

"No, ma'am, cuz I wouldn't have no teef!"

This morning Tony started in on me again. Cussing six or seven times in a minutes time, everything directed at me. I was holding a large glass of ice water and before I could stop myself, the water was flying through the air. He was in an outfit I had already told him he couldn't wear, so it didn't matter to me that he got wet, and boy did it make me feel better. He swore again immediately, but I had some satisfaction.

Now before you start looking up child protection statutes, please note that most of the water didn't even land on him, he suffered no pain, and he was in no way mistreated.... but the whole thing reminds me of a meal at an Arbys a year or two ago.

We were all trying to have a nice meal. I probably had 5 or 6 kids with me alone and everyone else was acting like a decent human being. Except Tony. He was pushing every button that everyone had. He was on the very edge of my absolute last nerve when it was time to go. He said something completely rude to me as I was picking up the glass of water on the table to throw it away.

Knowing he was not wanting to create a scene, I figured I had my chance. Without even glancing around, I dumped the glass of water into his lap and left the restaurant with the other kids. In a few minutes he sheepishly came out to the van. Did his behavior change? Of course not. But again, it made me feel better.

I'm sure there are many (my spouse included) that will shake their heads that I would blog these things, but I guess if Tony gets wet once every two years and I remain sane, maybe it's a good trade off. But sometimes you just can't take it anymore.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cuz I Need More Laundry

Our new "daughter" and her three kids came over for supper and to do laundry. I figured that getting a taxi and spending $20 bucks of quarters on laundry when we had a machine right here was pretty dumb.

However, I didn't figure in the time factor . . . and the fact that each load takes a long time.

So, it's not going to all get done tonight and yes, I'll finish it up for them....

Because I need more laundry to do.

Not That Big of A World I'm Changing...

I was affirming my husband just now, in an email (yes, we communicate via email), and telling him that he was changing the world.

His one line response was, "It's not that big of a world I'm changing, but it's good enough."

I am one of those folks who believes that the world can be completely changed by one life. When I talk to folks about adopting, I tell them that the child they might adopt from foster care has most likely come from a generational history of drug or alcohol abuse, poverty or homelessness, domestic violence, or crime

In adopting the one child, we show them a new way to live. They now can make a choice. And should they, now that they have viewed a healthy family system, choose to live their lives drug free, choose to work for a living and become homeowners, choose to never verbally or physically abuse another human being, and choose to be law abiding citizens, then there is a great chance that their children might choose the better path. And their children. And their children's children. And generations after that.

We may not see the world changing before our eyes. We might see our contribution as minimal. We might feel, as Bart did today, that I'ts not that big of a world we're changing.

But over the next 200 years, how many lives might be impacted possitively because of the adoption of ONE child? How many generations will be influenced?

I may not see all the results of what I'm doing, but whatever change I make in this world, it's good enough.

A Day in the Life

Here's our schedule:

7:45 a.m. T & S leave for bus stop
8:00 a.m. D leaves for bus
9:00 a.m. Mom leaves to pick up D ("grand-daughter") and take J to Work seminar
9:00 a.m. R starts "homeschool summerschool"
11:45 a.m. D returns from summer school
12:00 noon T & S return from summer school
12:45 p.m. R takes T, R, S & T (two "grandkids, 2 kids) to Kids Program
1:00 p.m. R takes S and S to therapy
1:30 p.m. PCA picks up D
3:30 p.m. Mom pickes up D and J from Work seminar, R, S & S return from therapy
5:00 p.m. Mom picks up and T, R, S, & T and takes them to K's (our new "kid") to pick up her laundry and then brings them back from dinner
5:00 p.m. PCA picks up T

And then there is supper, etc.....

It's amazing I never get anything done. Especially when I feel the need to take the time to blog all the things I have to remember

Why I love Photoshop

I spent 10 minutes fixing this image to submit it for the Adoptive Families Photo Contest.

I started with this shot

and this is what I ended up with.

Ten minutes. I love photoshop.

It's the Shoulds that Kill You

I woke up early and planned to get some good work time in this morning. But then Dominyk got up early and decided that he wasn't going to do anything that I said he had to do. Speed ahead one hour and I'm just now sitting down to the computer.

I keep thinking to myself, "at eleven, a kid should be able to get ready for summer school without constant supervision.

But it's the shoulds that kill you. Karen Horney, a psychologist, dubbed the name "The Tyranny of the Should" in regards to regret and looking back thinking "i should have ..."

But as adoptive parents, we can also be controlled by the "tyranny of the should" in respect to either our parenting or our children. It can be in the sense of regret, "I should have done things differently -- maybe then they would have turned out OK" or in the sense of the behavior of our children everyday "They should be able to get this, they should be more mature, they should be more respectful." And of course there are a whole list of the "shouldn'ts."

But it isn't about the way it should be. It has to be about the way it is. And we have to be able to accept things as we have them and find unique and creative ways to live with the way things are.

And we have to come to a point that it is going to be OK if things don't change. It's one thing to say, "I accept this child the way he is right now.... until I figure out how to change him, or until she figures things out, or until I reach them and they get better." But actually getting to the place where we can say, "if this child stays just like this forever, I am going to be OK" should be the goal.

Because only then can we be at peace.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bart's New Love Leaving Me Behind

It's usually my role to do sports and Bart's role to cook. I take a few kids with me, we go through drive through somewhere and have some supper. Then we go to the game -- whether it be tennis, or wrestling, or baseball, or soccer, or football -- and then we come home. And when I get home the other kids are fed and cared for.

But now, Bart has decided he likes soccer. And I'm home and he's off having fast food and I'm here.

Fortunately, Sadie is planning to be the next Rachel Ray, so she found the ingredients we needed and is making us a nice black bean Mexican pizza with leftover beans I threw in the freezer last time I made them.

ANd so I have spent the last 35 minutes having a pre-mid-and-post meltdown conversation with JImmy who, when he is stuck on stupid, makes the worse decisions ever. I tried a new technique and while working, answered his "why" question over 25 times exactly the same way to see if he would stop asking why, but he never did. He has been in my office this whole time over one silly consequence that he doesn't want to have.

I can't move him, he's inches taller than I now, and nobody here is big enough to move him, and I"m attempting to get work done so I can't be the one who moves (until two day sfrom now when my wireless extender comes, then I will go to another part of the house when this happens.

I'm glad my husband has discovered a love for soccer. But now that I see how this evening is going, I'd sure rather be reburning my legs in the son watching Ricardo score than managing this mess.

OK, enough whining.

Moving Season

It's been a year now. This week will be a year since our first Sunday at our new church. This is moving season for United Methodist Clergy across the state, and hearing about their moves is making me remember our experience.

It's a good thing we can't see the future..because if we could have seen what this year was going to be like, I think we would have run screaming in the other direction....

There are plenty of good things that have happened as well, but it has been a hard year for us Fletchers.

You know the stories...

John having to leave our home for good after a violent episode in August,

Mike coming home again and then completely disintegrating leaving him now homeless, in trouble with the law, and chemically addicted,

Salinda having the absolute worst and most challenging year for us as parents with the drama of 8th grade in a new school, several poor choices, and her inability to accept our limits,

and I could go on but I won't.

It's been a year, with most of it blogged, written down in history as it happened moment by moment.

A year later our church is doing great, we've just hired a new youth pastor, and both of my jobs are going well. For many many other people our move has been a very good thing.

And we can see, too, how it has been good for us as well. But it's been a very very hard year.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fed up....

Bart got tired of Dominyk's cussing on our way to the soccer game, so he told him, "Dominyk, I want you to tell me every cuss word you know. But you cannot repeaat any."

It didn't take him very long, but we cracked up when he conjugated the word F***.




Didn't know that was a word, did you?

Soccer Again

Bart's not exaggerating.

Ricardo's a great player.

This summer we are investing a great deal into his soccer future, and in return he is working hard to improve his reading this summer.

They won 10-0 today and won the whole tournament.

Ricardo even played goalie for almost a half.

It wasn't as fun to watch him play goalie but he enjoyed it.

Blogging Up a Storm

While Bart was busy crafting his latest blog entry he suggested that my blog should be called "regurgitation on a page."

He has really been blogging a lot lately...

Sunday Morning Surprise

Salinda had apologized at her own intiation last night for being so ugly to me, so I went to bed fairly relieved and calm. I got up to find Tony completely ready for church. Jimmy and Rand have already left, having volunteeered to serve at a benefit breakfast at church this morning. So this is looking to be a fairly easy pre-church morning.

Looks like Bart and I will both be able to go to Ricardo's soccer game this afternoon, which will be fun. It's a beautiful day outside.

Kari already blogged about last night's drama. We're thinking about buying Durabond directly from a medical supply company in bulk for Dominyk. His hand is going to be fine.

It will be nice to be back into the routine tomorrow -- kids in summer school, me in my office getting things done, everything back on an even keel.

Knock on Wood.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Six Blessed Hours

Bart is becoming quite the soccer Dad. He chose to take Ricardo to his tournament today. He took Jimmy and Tony along, so the rest of us have had a very mellow day.

After sleeping in (after waking up briefly when Bart and the boys left at 6:15) i got up. I started my day with a llovely conversation with my daughter (can you read sarcasm dripping through the keyboard) about her mistake last night which I won't blog too much, but it resulted her lying to me once again.

Then I began to work. And everyone let me. They came and went, but they let me work. I processed email, I worked on my mailing list, I posted available children. I got my inbox from 83 to 9. It was great. Sadie even served me lunch at my desk that she made for me.

So, I worked for six hours on a Saturday, and that's a good thing.

Now Bart is heading home after having to walk several blocks because our street is completely blocked off because of a bike race.

We're planning to have supper with the Karisat the park. MIght be fun.

But it SHOULD be her fault

We are raised in a world where we all belive that everyone is responsible for their own behaviors. We are comfortable with the idea that everyone is doing what they are doing because they a) can control what they are doing; b) make a conscious decision to do what they are doing, c) understand what they are doing; c) know that what they are doing is right or wrong; and e) understand the consequences of what they are doing. Assuming those things are true we can easily say that people "get what they get" and deserve whatever happens to them.

Last night Mike, the one that a belongs to Kari, not the one who belongs to us, took Dominyk with him when he took his kids swimming. It was very nice of him as I came home exhausted from my trip. When he got home he had a big mark across his face and I asked him what happened. His answer was one word:


We had this discussion:

Me: "you know, Dominyk, it's not really her fault.

D: Yeah, I know. She has "alcohol syndrome".

Me: You mean, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

D: Whatever.

Me; So you see, it's not really her fault.

D: Well it SHOULD be her fault.

We as parents of kids with FASD certainly have those thoughts at times. It is so hard to get our head around the fact that sometimes it really isn't their fault. And society simply cannot come to that conclusion.

The only disorder that is 100% preventable. That's the message that HAS to get out there.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sunday's Radio Broadcast

Listen to a live broadcast of "The Adopting Teens & 'Tweens Radio Forum" every Sunday night from 8-9pm (EST) on 1240 on the AM dial or listen to a live-stream of the broadcast by logging on to

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Teen Talk

Anni Keane and Eileen Rosario host a panel of foster teens discussing a series of topics; including the fears that prospective parents bring to adoption and foster care. Also the teen experts offer advice and insight that adoptive and foster families can utilize during difficult times after placement.

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Tidbits from My Day

**Riding the skytram with the cutest 6 month old baby ever, and watching his mother kiss than 50 times in the 12 minute ride and watching his dad make faces at him from across the aisle and thinking, "Wow, this is the start every kid should get. This is what prevents Reactive Attachment Disorder. It always thrills me anymore to see an attached infant or toddler, something I took for granted for years.

**Seeing women much larger than I wearing much less than I and wondering WHY!?!? I keep my body well covered. I see it as a humanitarian act.

**Sitting next to the absolute nicest older (like 30s or 40s) soldier who treated me with respect and dignity, even though I had a middle seat. Never once did he sigh or groan at my size, he took my bag down for me without, me asking, and he commented on how the airplane sure didn't provide any of us with space. I wasn't sure how to express my gratitude adequately, so I didn't say anything.

**Walking several miles through airports, going through security checks, being cramped in very small spots, and feeling the weight of my laptop at my shoulder wondering why in the world I used to think traveling was glamorous.

**Nearly missing the shuttle and the combination of having to wait for me to go to the bathroom and having to listen to me eat a bag of cashews, the only food I had had since 6 a.m., seemed to annoy the shuttle driver.

**Arriving home to a husband who missed me and kids who kinda did and an immeidate 5 request -- can _____ spend the night? Can _______ come over? Can I have your pop?"

**Coming home to 9 phone messages and an inbox that, even after working on it all week while I was go, has 85 messages that need answering.

**Grateful to be home, to be safe, to be loved...

From my layover spot

Still alive.

Nothing eventful has happened yet today.

Or I'd blog it.

Not exactly my idea of fun

Getting up at 4:30 has never appealed to me. And I never sleep well knowing I have to trust some hotel alarm clark to wake me up.

But I am awake and we're leaving in 15 minutes for the airport. I'll be back in our town by mid to late afternoon.

I've enjoyed a chance to excel professionally, but it will be good to be home.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Same Feelings All Over Again

Another great morning of presenting.

Lots of exciting potential.

and good news on the home front never hurts.

Greeting the Day Alone

I'm sitting in my hotel room with a slight headache after nearly 10 hours of sleep. Yesterday was a productive but very exhausting day.

It made my day to read Bart's blog from last night.

Now I'm going to head towards another day of presenting and matching, and I'm thrilled to be doing so, especially knowing that that my family is doing so well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Sign

I'm not ready to disclose what the sign is as of yet, but I got the sign I was looking for.

It would not be best for us to allow Mike back in our home at this time. Of course, we knew that, but we're always tempted to give it one last try. But I asked for a sign, and I got one.

When I get home I am going to start trying to get something set up for him so that the next time he calls we can offer him a list of suggestions.

A Great day of Matching

This was one of the best matching days of my years as a matcher.

Lots of good possibilities. I'm very excited.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Off to Do One of My Favorite Things

I'm heading off to match kids with families, one of my favorite things in the world to do.

Hopefully I'll be able to report much success after days end.

Nine Years of Busted Up Gutter Guards

Kari's analogy of parents of kids with FASD being gutter guards is excellent.

We have spent the last 9 years attempting to be Mike's gutter guards. But he WILL NOT allow us to be. Using the analogy, sometimes he has just thrown the balls so hard that they bounce over the guards. Other times he just refuses to bowl. But most of the time he screams, "I don't need gutter guards! I know how to bowl! And he grabs them and slams them and breaks them and throws a fit that they are there in the first place."

And then when he bowls a zero, he comes back. Can you please put the guards back up? I really want them now. I have learned. I am going to change. And so we put them back up. And then he bowls a frame or two with them. But about frame 2 or 3 or sometimes 4, he starts in all over again. He either throws the ball so hard against them that it goes off the lane or he starts tearing apart the gutter guards again. Or maybe he just sits down for a while and refuses to bowl.

This week we are battling with another round of whether or not we should agree to put up the guards again. I know most of you don't think we should. But it isn't because we think it will work this time. It's just because it's so hard to see him without them because he can't have any success.

Sorry, Kari, to put a downer on your great post. But sometimes this is how it goes as the kids get older. And it is no fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

From Gate D40

I'm between planes.

I slept very little last night. And it wasn't because I had to get up at 5:30.

I wrestled and wrestled with the Mike situation again and again. We didn't adopt him so he could be homeless at 18.

Dare we try it again? He's so desperate.

We don't know anyone we could ask to take him in and we don't see that God is asking anyone to.

But when does a kid "hit bottom"? Is he there?

APparently not since he won't accept any of our suggestions. It's a situation I just don't want our family to be in.

So, i asked God for a sign. By tomorrow night I can tell you what that sign is.

Bet you're curious.

I'm changing planes... will be back in the air in less than an hour.

Monday, June 18, 2007

In the Midst of It All

I'm trying to get ready to leave on a trip.

In the midst of making copies, cleaning off my desk, working on my presentation, taking care of last minute scheduling details, Mike called and talked to Bart.

Hearing Bart talk to me about it made me very sad.

A friend of us told us that St. Jude is the St. of Lost Causes. I don't pray to saints, but if I did, St. Jude might be the one I'd be talking to tonight.

John's doing GREAT

Ricardo and I got to have lunch with John after I had a staffing with him this morning. His case manager says that he is doing much better.

It was fun to see him again. He is in good spirits and feeling great about life. When I see him like this I always want him home, but I realize that we can't manage his meds at home and without them he isn't like this.

He and Ricardo and I had Pizza Hut Buffet. They were stuffed when we left and it was a fun time.

Jam Packed Day

Once again, I have myself scheduled for a jam packed day.

I am starting by getting 5 kids out of bed -- 4 for summer school and one for "homeschool summer school" with me, which will take place in the van.

I have to take two kids to summer school because I received no information about it in the mail. I need to make sure they are signed up, etc. Then Ricardo and I are leaving for a staffing with John in SIoux Falls and I'm doing a post-placement visit on the way back. We should be returning home at around supper time.

This evening I have to pack, finish instructions for Bart, and complete my presentation (which is almost finished). Then tomorrow I leave on the earliest shuttle for my business trip.

I'll be stopping at various places with wireless internet today to check messages... maybe I'll blog from there, who knows.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Old Friends

As my mother always sang to me as a child,

Make new friends but keep the old
one is silver and the other gold.

Today I had a chance to see an old friend. Eleven years ago this weekend at my wedding was the last time I saw her. And out of the blue on Friday she called saying she was in Minnesota.

Since Bart wanted to spend some time with Kyle today we headed to the cities and he dropped us off to see Randi. She is posted above with two of her daughters. Apparently in this picture she laughed so hard her eyes wouldn't stay open for a picture.

We had a great time catching up. We were roomates at boarding school when I was 14... so we've been friends a long time.

The Summons

This is the song we sang in church this morning. It always touches my heart ... I will bold the lyrics that spoke the most to me this morning.

The Summons

1. Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

2. Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

3. Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

4. Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

5. Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Adopting older children with special needs is certainly risking the hostile stare... and our lives do both attract and scare people.

But I have to remember why I'm doing what I do.

Another Father's Day Tribute

Kim, our friend that I just blogged about read this to Bart in church this morning, as a surprise to him:

Happy Fathers Day to All Fathers

A Special Happy Father’s Day to Pastor Bart

I would just like to say, Pastor Bart, that you are a wonderful father and I wish that when I was in foster care I had parents like you and Claudia. You guys have been truly good friends to me and I would like to thank you.

When Claudia took me to the Cities on Thursday to pick up my son we had a nice little take. You know, it’s funny, because I had been wishing that you guys were my foster parents. And Claudia asked me on the trip if she could blog about my family and say that you guys were going to be like my kids grandparents. I said sure, because I already look to you guys as parents, even though you really aren’t that old. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

I wrote this poem for you.

Right from the start we were friends.

Maybe it was the things we have in common or maybe it was the love that I found in you, but whatever it was I’m happy it brought us together. The very first time I met you and your family, right from the start, I felt wanted. Bart and Claudia, I knew you were someone who truly understood and understands me and I feel I have learned a lot about you and your family as well. A friendship like yours makes me appreciate how rare and beautiful true friendship is and what a real family is like. I am so grateful for what we share and I hope that you all will always be apart of me and my family’s life.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you guys.

You can read Bart's account of the tribute here

Just How Many Tributes Can One Guy Get in a Week

Well, Bart has his birthday, our anniversary, and Father's Day all in 8 days.

But everything I've said about what a great person he is and what a great husband he is is nothing compared to what a great father he is.

His patience is amazing. Sometimes when he is home he looks like the Pied Piper ... so many kids are following behind him. They always want to be with him. I am hoping it is because of his greatness, not because of how awful I am, but they always prefer to be with him.

As you know, he is the one in the kitchen, raising a generation of boys who will grow up to be men who can cook. He patiently leads them through things step by step over and over again.

As you know from our blogs, he spends lots of time with them, showing them things, taking them places, providing new experiences. Nightly walks with the dog include several children.

I could go on and on and on, but I'm running out of time. He's a great dad. And he deserves to see better results than we're seeing, but it's my hope and prayer that my faith will lead us to that time when he sees that what he has done HAS made all the difference in the world.

Happy Father's Day to one of the two best dads in the world (the other is my dad, who I probably better blog about later).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Being a Grandma

Kim isn't thirty yet. She has three kids. She walks to our church on Sundays. She gave me permission to share her story.

I don't know the whole story yet... just bits and pieces. But I know that from the time she was two weeks old until she ran away from her Indpendent Living Program in Chicago at 17 with her two children, she never really had parents. She was a child that was truly "raised by the system."

Her story is filled with tales of abusive foster parents, a godparent she viewed as a mother figure who the county would never completely license, psych hospital stays, suicidal thoughts, failed classes, and at least 15 group homes as a teenager where she "slept with her eyes open." It is filled with a sense of emptiness and loss at the childhood she never had.

Her adult life as well has lacked roots. She has moved multiple times. The people she considers family she is not related to. The birthmom who has never really parented still shows up once and a while via phone to make empty promises that she never fulfillls.

She has had many times where she has wanted to give up. There have been times when her oldest two children have lived with their father. But she is proud that she has never had them taken away.

This past year she was given the opportunity to have a subsidized rental apartment in our town. She lives only 2 blocks from our church and decided that church attendance was something she was going to make a priority. So, even though our worship style is quite different and she is the only African American woman in our congregation, she began to come to church. Slowly she convinced her children to go.

This week there was no school and her oldest daughter, who is 14, had the same work program as Jimmy. The plan, since they have no car, was for her to take the city bus to her job meetings. Since I was going anyway, I agreed to come pick her up and since I didn't want the 9 year old to spend the whole day alone, she came here with us.

Two weeks ago her son, who is 12, had finished school in Minneapolis. He had been living with relatives of his dad until the school year was over so he could finish his sports as he is a gifted athlete. Kim kept telling me that he would be here any day. But on Wednesday I found out that the reason he hadn't come yet was because nobody could give him a ride. So on Thursday we headed up to get him.

We spent some time in the hood and people looked at me a little strange. But the family was thrilled to be back together and Shaquille's big smile made the five hour trip worthwhile.

On the trip Kim asked me if I had blogged about her yet. I told her I had not, but that when I did, I wanted to talk about us being grandmother to her kids as we wished we could be the parents she never had. She loved the idea.

So tonight while she worked, the kids, along with Mike and Kari and their kids and Tim, Sue and Sarah, came over for supper. We had 20 people here to eat and it was a lot of fun.

As I was taking the kids home, Tony and Sadie wanted to ride with me. They were trying to figure out how they could be aunts and uncles to kids older than them if I was the kids' grandma.

Our relationship wtih Kim and the kids will last as long as she lets it. This is our way to say to Kim, "we're sorry the system didn't do better for you." This is our way to say to her, "We're proud of you for how you are doing right now and for how polite you're raising your kids to me." This is our way to say to the world, "There is always something you can do."

Salinda said it best the other night at supper when we were talking about this family, "Sometimes I feel like The Campdens. I guess there isn't anything wrong with that.

So, I"m a grandma, and it feels great. And just like all grandparents say, "It sure is great that you get to take them home."

Another Saturday

The house was still quiet at 8 a.m. this morning. THAT was awesome.

In addiiton, I was able to work some this morning, which I truly enjoyed having a chance to do. I am going on a business trip next week and need to prepare for it.

We're hoping some kids will go to the pool this afternoon because the morning has been a non-stop annoy one another marathon. It's unending background noise.

It's a miracle I can get anything done.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Day to Work

As is typical, my day didn't go as planned.

Bart gave me a day, as he is attempting to do, on Fridays to get some hours in for work.

Here's how it went. I got up at 6:40 because I was going to get a good start on the day. I showered and sat at my desk... for about 10 minutes until I was notified that the van Bart was planning to take had a flat. Then we also realized that even though Mike and Kari disrupted their kids sleep cycle for us the air conditioning was not working.

I had to get on the phone and take care of that. AAA did the tire -- took all of five minutes. Mike came over and couldn't find the problem, so we called the plumbing and heating place (had to try three of them) and he is coming over tonight and we will pay him overtime to fix it so we don't have to suffer over the weekend.

I had to try to figure out summer school for Monday because communication has not been good -- might even be my fault -- and that took twenty minutes of phone calls.

By this time, Tony was in my office crying because his throat hurt. This was day three so I scheduled a throat culture. He was begging to go with Bart, but since he had already tried to do active things the last two days and hadn't lasted long, Bart said no. He had a crying, whining, throw my papers from my desk to the floor fit. I resolved that. Took him to the doctor. Picked up Ricardo who was at Kari and Mike's spending the night with Adam, and came home.

Bart left soon after but it was now time for my post-placement visit. I had worked total of 10 minutes at the job I was going to focus on today. I did the visit, came back, and on the way had a mega big argument with grounded Salinda who snuck the phone while I was gone. Then I had to set up PCA for Tony.

Finally made it to the coffee shop (no thanks, not going to work from the home with no air and no oxygen because teenage girl had sucked it out of the air) a little afternoon. Actually did work for 3 hours and then went to buy something at the store and came home. Had several calls to make for things next week before things closed, an argument to finish with Salinda, and a huge meltdown of Jimmy's to observe and participate in. Dominyk went garage sale-ing to buy us anniversary gifts -- a humane society keychain for me, a steak knife for Bart. Can't ever have too many steak knives.

Then I blogged.

So, I put in three hours today.

But tonight our dear friends, Tim, Sue and Sarah have offered to feed our starving children while we go out for dinner and maybe something else. We'll see.

And the air conditioner guy just called and he's on the way. Good thing, too, because it's 88 degrees in here.

And Bart blogged.

We're Still Standin'

Eleven years ago today, I stood in front of God and over 300 people, many of them some of my favorite people in the world, and said these words which I still have memorized:

“I Claudia, take thee Bart to be my wedded husband to have and to hold from this day forward. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death us do part. And thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

and, when I gave him the ring I said,

“I give you this ring as a sign of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

I still mean every word.

This past year has been the hardest of our lives. We have watched our children make poor decisions, hurt themselves and each other, blame us for every mistake they’ve made.

But we’re still standin.

We’ve moved to a new community and everyone has had to start over. New church, new job, new schools for all, new home, new challenges, new friends.

But we’re still standin.

We’ve had a few health challenges, though none severe, we’ve been too court way too many times, and we’ve been alone together less than any other year since our marriage.

But we’re still standin.

We’ve each had nights of personal depression, anxiety, frustration, and crisis. We’ve shared together times when we weren’t sure if we could get up the next day and do it again,

but we’re still standin.

And not only are we standing we are standing together.

We are standing together because of the man I married. A man who has such a deep sense of personal integrity that he can do nothing but stand.

We are standing together because I was blessed with a man who is faithful, courageous, strong and committed.

We are standing together because God has given me someone who gives me the freedom to be myself, with all of the challenges that brings. A man who allows me to work too much some days, to not work enough on others, and to pursue my dreams.

And so, eleven years later, after the hardest year of our lives, we’re still standing.

And I wouldn’t want to be standing with anyone else.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Long Day

I spent the better part of today helping out a friend who, if I ever remember to take a picture of, I will blog about.

I just got home.

And since I wasn't home, Bart blogged about the latest regarding MIke first.

Alone in the Quiet

Tony came into our room sick with a fever this morning and when he is sick he grinds his teeth. So I am up early to let him sleep in there, since he didn't sleep well all night.

So, I'm at the desk preparing for my day.

This afternoon I'm heading to the Twin Cities. When I return I hope to blog about all the extra people in our lives lately.

And now I'm goign to attempt to get something done before everyone wakes up.

Jimmy has an interview today, as does Rand. Salinda may as well.

Things are looking up.... way too much dead time for them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I took a break

I took a break.

For almost two hours. I watched a movie. It was a good conquers evil movie. I liked it.

We have had quite the day around here and tomorrow promises to be quite the day as well. Lots of activity, extra kids, people in and out, transportation, etc.

Hopefully soon it will all calm down and we can go to sleep. Apparently I either need more time to concentrate, more time alone, time free of distraction, more sleep at night or all of the above to write decent blog entries.

As it is now, I'm feeling mighty pathetic.

Gotta Read This

My husband is obviously alone in his office, having much more time to blog decently than I do, here in my home full of many children.

Just Being There

They say that sometimes Just Being There is enough for kids. That they just need parents who are available. They make it sound so easy.

And I am here. Believe me, I am truly and completely 100% here.

But "just being there" isn't as easy as it sounds. This morning I was taxi driver, referee, marine sargeant, chore-checker, laundress, teacher, etc.

I'm sporadically trying to keep up with work. And I'm really glad summer school starts next week.

I hope that people realize that "Just being there" isn't as easy as it sounds.

Job Interviews and Sporadic Desk Time

Jimmy has an interview, as does Deanna, who you don't know, but soon will as I will be blogging about her family within the next couple days. I'm waiting to get a nice picture first though.

So, I'm picking up Deanna and taking her and Jimmy for interviews for summer jobs. We will have reading time.

I will run back and forth everywhere parenting and supervising.

And somewhere in there, I hope I will ahve time for some phone calls and paperwork.

Next week I'm travelling to Texas and I need to prepare for teh trip.

This was boring and dumb.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


We had a good time. Salinda even found a place that is hiring 14 year olds and filled out an application. We stayed within budget, got lots of deals, and they were both borderline happy and verbally grateful.

And it's almost time for bed.

Risking it All

I'm feeling great and figure now is the best time as any to go shopping, for bras, none the less, with my daughters.

Oh how they would be angry if they knew I posted this here.

But I figured now was as good a time as any to go, since I am in a good mood.

And I know I'm risking it all.

At This Very Moment I Feel Good

I got a break today. Well, it was work, but it was a break. I got to be in the car for 3 hours while travelling to a post-placement visit. I enjoyed the visit and the trip. I caught up on some phone calls and listened to a CD I like and had a chance to breathe.

When I returned home everyone was in a sense of somewhat equilibrium. We had dinner with few arguments, no meltdowns, and even some decent conversation.

I sat down to reads Bart's blog entry for today and now I am going to put in a couple hours of work before moving on to some other activities of the night. The kids are occupied in someone safe situations and Bart has Tony with him at the church.

And at this moment, I feel good. So I thought I'd blog it.

Time is Flying and it's NOT because I'm having Fun

This is literally the first moment I have had to sit at the computer with online access today.

I got up and got Tony and Dom ready for 8 and 9 o'clock therapy appointments that I thought Rand would be transporting them to as he will not get another job (got laid off from his last one). However, he is at a District Missions Camp and so I had to do it. We got home and it was time for reading time. Then it was meltdown time for Dominyk.

We're trying to juggle transportation for everyone and everything in addition to both our jobs. The PCAs are a huge help in the afternoon, but mornings are tricky.

I can't say that I'm enjoying summer. I did get an hour and a half in at the therapists office. I'm sure they think I'm an idiot for working there, but when I sit there for 4-6 hours a week it's kind of a must.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day is Almost Done

Well, it was a long day, but it wasn't a bad one.

Started by spending the morning not working. But kids read, they did well, I even read. I helped get lunch ready.

This afternoon I had a home visit and some transporting to do.

So tonight, Bart did the soccer game so I could work here at my desk for 3 extra hours.

Now I'm sitting listening to Dominyk obsess about how he needs plastic surgery to get rid of his fat.

Lucky me. I'm going upstairs.

It's 7:42. So Far, So Good

The two little boys are up and asking for their sticker nearly 3 hours early. (I said everyone needed to be up by 10, ready for the day by 10:30, keeping the teenagers in mind and also hoping to get some hours of work in before they were up). But they were so motivated that they were up, showered, and dressed by 7:30.

Today Jimmy starts job training for his "The Start of Something Big" program this summer. He gets trained today and tomorrow, has interviews on Wednesday adn Thrusday, and by Monday the 18th will begin working until July 26th. He's very excited about it and if he works hard we are hoping for it to be a transition into a regular job for him.

So here we are. Summer has begun.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Re-Introducing Structure

When we lived in our other town we had more structure. It was more work for us, but I think things were a little less chaotic. After moving here I let some of it go because I figured the kids were older and they could handle it.

But I'm not sure that was a good plan.

So, tonight I introduced charts for the summer. We've never done charts on a consistent basis before, and I was surprised at how motivating it was for the younger kids and how excited they are about them. However, as you may have guessed, our oldest daughter is less than thrilled. "I have to READ?" she asked in horror?

I would have considered making a different standard for her IF she didn't use the other kids as a standard of expectation for herself. She doesn't have to do her chore right because the younger kids don't. She doesn't have to eat in the kitchen, because the younger kids don't.

So, if they are her excuse, then she can follow the expectations set there.

So, we have just about survived another day. It's 9 p.m. and I wish I was already asleep.

This has nothing to do with the topic, but Bart preached a sermon this morning and tied yesterday's blog post about his visit to jail into the idea that God always loves us and never gives up on us. It was amazingly powerful and many were in tears.

Another full day. I hope it's another long, restful night.

The Longest Blog Entry Ever

I spent a portion of my afternoon working on a blog post about why kids adopted out of foster care are immatuure.

I ended up getting very involved in it, but I think it has some merit. I explored Ericksons stages of development and adoption. Let me know if you have any feedback.

The Dichotomies

Sometimes I think that one of the most exhausting parts of parenting a moderate number of hurt children (come on, 10 is not a lot compared to 39) is the emotional dichotomy and attempting to integrate everything into a whole.

Parents of one children, I suppose, are the only ones who don't have this challenges, to some extent, in any family. But even in families with 2 or 3 children, the children often evoke the same emotion. For example, we know several familes with 2 or three children who are very proud of their children. They have excelled in what they do, are for the most part respectful, try to obey the rules of the home, and truly love their parents. This feeling, pride, is one that the parents sense most of the time.

However, we on a daily basis, have very strong feelings that are at polar opposites of the emotional spectrum. To have a son calling from jail on what was supposed to be his graduation night evokes a much different emotion that the other son who, beating all the odds, does graduate. The overwhelming sense of pride exists inside at the same time as the crushing disappointment.

Or, with our kids, the same child can often cause completely different emotions. Our oldest, heading towards his senior year in college, provides us with a great deal of pride in his accomplishments. He has managed college very well, working hard, getting good enough grades, and doing most of what we ask. But at the same time he has chosen friends we would not have chosen, is not demonstrating that he has aquired our values, and demonstrates a lack of attachment that make us wonder if we have made much of a difference at all.

And I could list almost every one of our children as having different parts of their troubled psychies that cause us unbridled joy and others that cause frustration, sometimes anger, and at times dispondency.

I am coming to believe that this juggling of dichotomous emotions is what wears us down and keeps our stress level at an unsually high point. It exhausts us. We need a constant diet, as Cindy reminds us, of positive thinking and spending time with positive people. A sense of humor helps as well.

So I will head towards another day where the extreme ends of emotion will undoubtedly pour over me multiple times. And my vow for today is to fully live and experience them. Because though it is a life that not all would choose, it is a life that is full. And I like it full.

Heading to Church Again

I slept well last night and feel ready for the challenges of a new day.

Our new youth pastor will be having lunch with us today as his wife and kids are not yet here. I look forward to that.

Our daughter concluded her day by being rude to me after I plodded through the day exhausted from her ordeal the night before while she slept off and on all day. Yeah, the whole things my fault. . After all, I am fat.

Bart's post last night about Mike (which i went back this morning and linked to my blog from last night) brouught tears to my eyes. I'm thinking of writing Mike a letter which I may even post here since so many of you are following his story.

But for now it's time to get people going so we can all get to the church on time.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bart's Birthday Celebration

We had all our friends here tonight. OK, maybe not all of them, but our two closest Mankato families came over for supper. Bart said he wanted to do the cooking as he wanted to know for sure it would turn out well. And it sure did. Grilled steak and chicken, hash brown casserole, Kari's fruit salad, and two different desserts.

Then Bart went to see MIke in jail. And sat for thirty minutes while Mike blamed us, said we were the problem, pushed every button he had. Which is exactly why it was Bart who had to go. He can just sit and patiently listen while I respond. And it is never good when I do.

So Bart got blamed and mistreated and cussed at and called a hypocrite and told he was controlled by his overbearing wife and on and on and on.

But he'll probably go back and visit again, because as Bart says, someone needs to go and remind him of who he is. But at this point, I know that it can't be me.

Happy Birthday, Dear Bart

There are other men out there that I could have married. Well, at least in theory there would have been someone else willing to put up with me. But I could never find anyone better.

I'm not going to suggest that he's perfect, but those who have read my blog know that I have a husband who willingly and with excellence does the grocery shopping and cooking. Those two things alone, as those of you who have tasted his food can concur, would be enough.

But on top of that he cleans, does laundry, and spends countless hours with our children. He is kind, faithful, loving, trustworthy, and I don't know anyone who doesn't like him. He is also witty, articulate, intelligent, an excellent writer, one of the best preachers I've ever heard (and I have heard more than you'd believe), and hilarious.

He let's me be me, pursue my interests, dream my dreams. He supports me in everything I do.

I'm unworthy.

Happy birthday to the best of the best.

Worrying Myself Sick or My Children are Like Emeril

As I mentioned, the idea of gnashing teeth and having a bad taste in my mouth meant nothing before I was a parent of kids with special needs. Neither did worrying myself sick.

I am not a worrier by nature -- I leave that job to others. But I am also a person who does not sleep well if things are not as they are supposed to be.

So last night, I decided to wait up for one of my daughters and her friend who were not where they were supposed to be. They had mentioned being home from the place where they didn't go by 11, so I started my watch at 11:00. I didn't want to give them any room to say, "we came in at 11:00 but you just didn't see us." So hypervigilantly I sat in my kitchen overlooking the driveway and played Cell Phone Spider, a game that has saved my sanity through many very difficult times. But that's another blog entry.

I kept telling myself, "this is not the first time that a parent has nervously been kept awake by a teenager coming home late." But, as I tell people, my kids are like Emeril -- they always kick up everything a notch or too. So, by 1:30 I decided I just couldn't stay awake another minute and tried to go to bed, which of course, did not happen. At 2:40 the dog was having a barking fit and a light that had been on was off, so I knew they had snuck in. Not only were they out that late, but they didn't even tell me they were home.

I had a big, huge, adrenaline rush hissy fit, yelling and repeating myself -- just like all good parents should when their kids pull a stunt like that. And they I lay awake for an extra hour trying to calm my big old self down.

So, we're heading into the day with me on less than 5 hours of sleep, never a good thing for me. But, to her credit, she is accepting her grounding without an argument. That's unusual behavior lately.

Friday, June 08, 2007

And it Just Keeps Ringing

Every 5 minutes.

I called and left him a message (in our county, inmates have voice mail apparently) asking him to please not call. But it didn't work.

And I'm waiting for a phone call from Salinda telling me where she is and when she will be home. So far it hasn't come.

So I can't turn off the phone.

I finally called the jail back and asked the receptionist personally to tell him to stop calling. She offered to block our number. But it won't happen for about an hour because she has to do a few things first.

Since she said that he has called 10 times.

The Phone Calls

I know the jail number now. It keeps coming up on the caller ID.

He keeps calling. I keep not answering. It bothers me.

And we know he wants a visit, but we also know how the visit will be. I ask myself, knowing the answer, "doesn't he have enough common sense to know that when we talk to him or visit him he should be respectful"?

But he doesn't.

And I hate the hypervigilence I have to have in order to make sure none of the other kids answer the phone and accept the charges.

I remember now why I have been dreading summer. It's because for the girls, especially, their social life becomes very demanding. Very succeptible to peer pressure, I have to be hypervigilant. Or at least I feel like I have to be.

People don't understand why I say that there is a reason we don't have more girls, but this social thing is amazing. They are so caught up in what their friends think that I swear their brains completely turn off.

And it exhausts me.

A full Work Day and Gratitude to Bart

I sat at my computer for almost 12 hours today. And it was amazingly quiet here.

I left only to lunch with Tim and Sue and Sarah (thanks guys). The rest of the day I was here.

And Bart returned grateful to have gone. And the kids returned very excited about things they saw and did today. You can read about it and see a very cute picture here

I didn't get as much done as i had hoped, but certainly got more done than I had figured I would today.

The kids were home less than 5 minutes before one of them started an argument with me. Heavy sigh. They ask a question they know I will say no to, and then when I say no they act shocked, surprised, amazed, bewildered and begin to argue.

Duh. I'm not changing my mind. How many years do I have to say the same things before everyone figures it out?

Sunday's Radio Broadcast

SUNDAY JUNE 10, 2004

This Sunday The Adopting Teens and Tweens radio broadcast will highlight innovative and unique ways that teens get adoptive parents. This is a dynamic show where the studio guest will be Angela Daniels, her son Victor, and their Shadow worker Stephen McCall.

Stephen McCall has been an adoptive parent for 9 years. He currently has three adopted sons, three foster sons, and the newest addition to his family is his 7 month old birth daughter. Stephen is a motivational speaker, and professional in the field of child-welfare.
He will share his many success stories that involve helping teens find homes.

This is one show you will not want to miss!

I Think I'm Alone Now

Amazing. Who would have thought that on the first day of summer I would be utterly, completely, and totally alone? Everyone who is home decided to go with Bart for a trip to the Mystery Cave State Park. They are excited.

I'm feeling almost naughty having this whole day to myself. They should be gone until suppertime or later. Yikes.

A New Series

Check out this introduction to my new series about the characteristics of children who are adopted out of foster care as older children . Please contribute to the list with comments if you will.

Nothing Happened

Last night, nothing happened. Salinda was at a friends, but everyone else was here and at bedtime last night, everyone was fine. Nobody had a meltdown, nobody fought, everyone was cooperative. It was wonderful.

Today Bart is going on a field trip with several of the kids and I am staying home to work. I look forward to it.

I did a visit last night with a family who has had their kids for a couple weeks. The social worker from Texas that was there asked me afterwards if I had ever written down anywhere all of the "wonderful words of wisdom" that I had shared with the family.

So, today I am planning to start work on two blog series for the Everything Adoption blog about the characteristics of older children in care and the first month of placement.

That on top of the other things I need to do today. I think it would be helpful to some people though and I'm motivated to do it, so I better do it when the mood hits...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Parenting Challenges, Phone Calls, and Birthdays

I continue to struggle with the girls and their attitudes and desire to dress like well, I don't need to go on....

And there was a collect call from the jail tonight. I didn't accept the charges.

And we had a great time with the Kari's celebrating birthdays.

And we survived the school year.

And everyone can sleep in tomorrow.

And all is pretty good at this very second.

Oh no, why did I write that?

Beginnings and Endings

Remember the first day of school? Kari and I were celebrating at Dunn Brothers.

Now we are at the same place anti-celebrating the last day of school as we work.

Fortunately for me, not for them, I have 4 kids in summer school and it starts in 10 days. So it's really August that I am dreading.

BUt for today we mourn.

Oboist of the Year

Everyoneceandawhile I have those moments when I realize just how different my life is from everyone else's. Tony's graduation from sixth grade was one of those times.

First of all, we heard nothing about the event until the night before. Apparently, eveyone else's parents had it on their calendars for weeks, but Tony absolutely refuses to bring stuff home from school. No notes make it here, or homework, or discipline slips. His IEP meeting was an eye opener, but I'll just leave that for now.

So, we're sitting in the graduation emotionally recovering from the 15 minutes we had to decide whether or not to let Mike come home so he wouldn't have to sit in jail until trial, and we're watching the same 40 kids from the hundreds of sixth graders get multiple awards.

I found myself wondering what it would be like to sit there politely applauding because my child was the oboist of the year.

And I also wondered what it would be like to have and be able to use a camera that could actually capture the handshake and diploma grab instead of a foggy off-colored shot of the aftermath.

Heavy sigh.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

And Yet More Calls from the Jail

First, the jail called to let us know that Mike went to court this morning and there were three choices. 1) We could bail him out for $10,000. 2) He could move home with us and obey all our rules and go back to jail if he didn't. 3) He could sit in jail until court on June 18th.

Bart and I talked about it. The same old conversation. Do we bring him home and watch the other kids spin out of control so that he can obey our rules for 4-5 days until he broke our rules to go back to jail? Can't do it. Not worth it. We could lie to ourselves and say that this time he will make it. This time he'll obey the rules. But it wouldn't happen.

Can we bail him out? No, we don't have $10,000.

We called the jail and told them he couldn't come home and we weren't bailing him out.

We were at Tony's sixth grade graduation, which will have to go into another blog entry, but while we were there he called here collect 4 times as recorded by the machine. I answered on the fifth time because I was here and accepted another collect call. Against my better judgment.

Famous lines from that call were:

"How much money do I have in my savings account?" (He has no savings account -- there are a few savings bonds but they don't mature for a few more years).

"Sell my snowboard and give me the $250" (He owes us $1000 from stuff borrowed and stuff he stole).

"You're supposed to be my parents."

"I won't even be graduating this Spring" (said as if to accuse me, because it's my fault?)

"I can't believe you believe what everyone is telling you. Everyone is lying. I did everything I was supposed to do and they just set me up."

I finally told him that he needed to face the consequences for what he had done and that I wasn't interested in paying money to listen to him blame me for his current situation. His response,

"That's because you don't care about me."

I simply said goodbye and hung up.

I'm hoping Bart will have it in him to visit him during visiting hours this weekend, because I'm not sure that I do.

Those Eyes

Salinda bought colored contacts with her own money. When she is smiling they make her look mysterious and drop-dead gorgeous.

When she is mad, which I would not DARE take a picture of, they make her look scary and evil.

lately I've been seeing a lot more scary and evil...

Once Again He Says it Better Than I

Bart's report of Mike's incarceration is, as always, articulate, deep, and brought tears to my eyes this morning.

All's Well that Begins Well

The lost child was found last night. After another emotionally exhuasting conversation, we went to bed.

Yesterday I had really had it and I let everyone know. I was tired of wasting my valuable time arguing. When I'm with them, which with two jobs isn't as much as I want to be anyway, I want it to be positive. But several of them have developed a nasty habit of picking a fight or argument with me every time they get a chance. I am tired of being argued with, lied to, maniuplated, cussed at, and diliberately annoyed. So I let them know.

It didn't serve much of a purpose except for it jacked up the emotional level in the house and made me feel miserable. But I told everyone that I'd be find by morning.

And I am. I woke up ready for the battle yet another day. My inbox is still nearly empty and I have caught up on several things. I'm working on some summer plans and I'm caught up on paperwork for one job for the moment. It feels like, at this moment, I'm going to be able to conquer another day.

But I have been remarkably exhausted every night for a couple weeks now. I'm not taking any breaks during the day and it makes for a very tired mama by 10 p.m.

But each morning I wake up, ready to do it all again.... and, as I tell adoptive parents when I speak, that's all it takes ... the willingness to get up every morning and face the challenges once again.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Call I've Been Knowing Would Come

"This is a collect call from the _______ County Jail. Will you accept the charges?"

Yes, I knew that was coming.

And I knew it would be MIke.

ANd I knew the next line before it was spoken as well, "I didn't do anything."

He wants us to visit. I pointed out the fact that he had been in town for two months without bothering to talk to us, that i had gone to see him last week and he had nothing to say, that he called only when he was desperate.

I don't know if we will go or not.

Right now I have a kid missing and I really just want to go to bed.

Need Some Ideas

Does anyone consequence kids who have few if any special needs when they are caught in a deliberate, deceitful lie?

Reflections on a Year Gone By

Today we celebrate one year in our new hometown. A year ago today we were packing the trucks and heading to a new life. We had no idea what was ahead.

Someone asked me today if I had decided I was glad we moved. It probably wasn't a good day to ask me, but I still have to say that my pro and con list is about even. There are so many things we love about our new home and so many things we miss about our old one.

I can't believe it's been a whole year. It really went by fast.

Left me with a Bad Taste in My Mouth

I never knew what this phrase meant until we adopted older kids. I didn't understand what a "bad taste in ones mouth" had to do with anything.

But now I know.

After several unpleasant conversations in the last hour my mouth tastes awful. It's a result of some chemical that the body produces when adrenaline is pumping or cortisol or something as a result of stress.

The thing is, it isn't even tough stuff I'm dealing with. It's just little things, one after another, that build up -- and it most likely has to do with stress about other things as well.

it annoys me.

Always have to celebrate...

for a few seconds while the inbox is empty.

Last Nights Soccer Fun

We had a real good time last night. Bart and I both got to go to Ricardo's soccer game. Jimmy and Dominyk came along and Rand stayed home to take Tony to Boy Scouts for us. The girls stayed home to talk on the phone with no boys around to listen.

We had a really nice trip. Ricardo is a great little player and his team is fun to watch. Everyone was well behaved and had a great time.

Some lines from the night:

"Gizmo is growing his balls back" (I don't think so Dominyk, he's neutered)

"Dad, do you like boys or something" (said every time Bart touched Jimmy's leg)

"Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me" (said by either Bart or I several times)

"All we like sheep" (Sure, Dominyk, go ahead and sing a song from Handel's Messiah)

and Dominyk, enjoying being free for a while from his nemesis, concluded the evening with

"thanks, Mom and Dad. I've had a really great time with everyone tonight. It was a wonderful Tony-free evening."

Another Night of Meandering Through Weirdness

Last night, again in my dreams I was applying for a job at Hospitality House, an organization I was working for for a couple years about 11-13 years ago. I took off my shoes while I was waiting for my interview and then when it was time to go in, all I could see liined up in front of the door were at least 150 pairs of black shoes. I tried to find mind and finally just slipped my feet into which ever pair I could find.

The interview was immediately over (apparently not important enough to make it into the plot of my dream) and I was heading back to the hotel. On the way, I was going to stop by the building where Bart was interviewing for his job but found out that he was being controlled by aliens through mind control and that we were going to have to rescue him. They had gotten into his mind through his cell phone, but we didn't know how to get them to stop controlling his mind. I decided I needed help from the kids.

I went back to the hotel and they were all sitting there watching a PG 13 movie (only kids over 13 can watch them here, so they were disobeying me even in my dreams). It was a gorgeous five star hotel suite, but I had to go to the bathroom and discovered that the hotel toilet was an outhouse hole. I used it, and then returned to get the kids.

We found Bart and realized when we found him that indeed his mind was being controlled. But then it occurred to me -- the lightbulb went on and I knew that it was his sweat! All we needed to do was get some deoderant on him. But the aliens did not want him to have deoderant on. So all of the kids and I were doing our best to get that deoderant on his not so short, not so week, not so small body. And the aliens did not want the deoderant on.

But I woke up before we accomplished the tasks. I haven't talked to him much this morning since I woke up, but fortunately it seems that the aliens are no longer controlling his brain.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Another of My Famous Dreams

The other night I met Eddie Murphy in person while I was sleeping. I dreamed I was starstruck and walked up to him and babbled whatever came out of my mouth.

"Mr. Murphy, I just love your work. It reminds me of . .. Michael Douglas."

And then I spent the next several hours with "friends" who in my dream kept making fun of me. "What a stupid thing to say. Michael Douglas? Are you THAT dumb? Why did you say that . . ." yada yada yada




As Promised

A couple shots from Rand's graduation.

Saying the words "I'm Wrong"

There is a saying, "Perfectionists take great pains... and give them to others."

I have a child who is a perfectionist. It would just about kill her to admit an error. She can find a zillion and one ways to make the issue not her fault. My favorite from todays round, after an act of diliberate disobedience (in a very small matter), "Well you shouldn't have told me not to do it in the first place." LIke that's the issue.

And then there is Mr. Rational. Yesterday he spit in a siblings face, kicked another one, and tried to make the dog bite someone. I asked, "Why did you do that?" His response, "because you're fat." Oh yeah, that's why.

My kids do things because I'm fat, because my rules are stupid, because I'm too strict, or because I let their siblings get away with too much. They act the way they do because am dumb, I am mean, I expect too much. They do it because I was the one who forgot to tell them too, or because I told them to do it too many times. I assign them the wrong chore, buy them shirts that don't hang below their knees, or skirts that don't show their underwear to the world, so they of course, can't dress like I expect.

My biggest problem is that I try to discuss things with them. I do not know why I do. I mean really, they can't help themslves. After all, I am fat.

Might be a First

I didn't blog yesterday. I can't believe it. I started many entries but they never got here.

I came home after church yesterday and literally started a parenting marathon -- the hard, drawn out, difficult stuff that is both annoying and eventually rewarding.

It started out with a long argument with one daughter that lasted nearly three hours, with her stomping off a couple times. Then I moved to a son who had a meltdown that required about an hour, off and on, of my intervention. I concluded the triple header with the other daughter, which basically went from 6 to 10 p.m. back and forth off and on. It was 8 p.m. before I realized that I hadn't even had time to change out of my church clothes, another first for me.

Highlights from the day, however, included:

one of Bart's best sermons this year about suffering producing endurance, endurance, character, and character hope. From Romans chapter five. Excellent;

A couple hours with my friend Sue and her small family in their quiet home;

a break from each daughter as they did thing with friends;

a break from soccer and driving because Bart did that yesterday.

Now I have four days before there is no longer school. Must get a lot done in those four days.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Safe and Sound

Ricardo won his 2nd game 1-0. They played in the rain. I know, I'm a wimp. I watched from the car while I listened to Dominyk make what my mother referred to as "repetitious unnecessary noise" for hours on end.

But we had a good day and I'm hoping it's just about over....