Friday, February 29, 2008

Late Breaking News

Bart scooped me on it -- so you'll have to read about it here.

Not at 100% but Certainly Above 50% for the first time in a long time

Last night it was as though a huge cloud had been lifted from our home. Salinda initiated conversations at supper, spent time in my office chatting with me, wrestled around with her brothers, laid in my bedroom to talk on the phone -- it was like having a human back in the house. Maybe this extreme cycle has to be completed for her in order to get back on track. I'm hoping we can find a better way next time.... but for now I'm grateful all is well. I even spoke to her already this morning and didn't get my head bitten off!

And last night since Salinda was happy everyone else was at ease. They came in and out of my office to chat and later in and out of our bedroom. It was a relaxed evening and such a contrast from the weeks before.

Physically I'm starting to feel better as well. The cough is still hanging on, stomach still doesn't feel quite right, but I'm feeling better. My work situation isn't resolved, but is at a less scary point, and other things in my life are going well.

Today we have a post-placement visit for the boys, Dominyk sees the psychiatrist, and Salinda has a meeting with her mental health worker. I have a horribly long to do list, as always and those things all happen during the work day. Bart and I are going to try to watch a video this afternoon as a "date" -- so I guess I'll be spending the other hours at my desk with the never-ending battle to catch up.

Tomorrow is it's own long day. But I better not get ahead of myself.

And one final thing -- Wilson said "I love you too" for the first time last night before bed. I suppose it had something to do with the fact that he wanted a drink of my pop, but then he said it to Bart as well. What a great kid. He's simply delightful.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Night after the Afternoon After the Night Before

She's back. The girl we know and love. Perfectly fun at supper -- interacting with the family. pleasant. The tide has turned yet again.

I meant to blog this last night but forgot -- we were talking, and Bart told Jimmy that he needed to turn in his application to a lady named "Belinda."

He said he would never remember that. I said, "just think Salinda but change it to a B"


The Afternoon after the Day after the NIght Before

We went to court. Bart explains some of it here.. It's never a pleasant situation to be in juvenile court ... it's always stressful. The conversation that we had before, as Bart mentioned, was difficult.

We came home and she had disobeyed me within an hour of returning here. But we have had a conversation and now things are at some kind of even place for the moment. Basically I'm held responsible for all kinds of information that she doesn't tell me, 75% of every word that comes out of my mouth is negative, and I mistreat her, at least 50% of all of our difficulty is my fault. That of course, is her take on it.

She is non-communicative in personality and I am, well, let's just say, I am over-communicative. Not a good combination. Our conversations usually result in me talking more than I should. She did OK today, but it wasn't great.

I hope we're at a turning point of sorts at least for now. I hate that it had to get to the point where it got in order for there to be a change. Maybe there won't be a change. But this time, I am not the one who did wrong. Only in her brain, but not in any one else's.

She'll either figure this out or she won't. But hopefully in the meantime I can maintain my cool, be patient, and not let myself lose focus....

The Day After the Night Before

Last night as I was walking in from church, the detention center called wanting medical consent to treat minor things that came up and insurance information (standard procedure). They said Salinda wanted to talk to me. She got on the phone and was very qiuet. I said, "they said you wanted to talk to me." "I only wanted to see how Sadie was."

Well, I forgot to mention last night that she made a huge scene of running through the house and sobbing in her birthsisters arms last night, getting Sadie all upset, but not bothering to say goodbye to anyone else in the house. Just one more way she's going to show us who she loves and who she doesn't.

Sadie was fine after she and I talked for a few minutes and by the time Salinda called she was skipping happily off to church. I told Salinda as much.

I tried to get her to talk to me, but basically she was feeling despondent and hopeless, unable to see any future, not believing in herself. I told her that whatever had been going on, that ostracizing God, her Dad and I was probably not her best bet, because we were the only ones who could really help her. She gets herself into a mess of some sort and then she hatefully treats us. I mentioned that it might not be in her best interest to continue to do that.

I am plagued by a little bit of guilt, even though I tell myself that it is not logical. She is very controlling of moods in our home, very manipulative. I feel bad for her -- because I think it is her emotional issues that cause this -- and I want her to live up to her potential. So I am going through some rethinking and regretting....

Call just came in from the Probation Officer. She is going to have a hearing at 1:30 and if she says she wants to come home, we will let her do so. We were enjoying the break in tension last night, that's for sure. Bart blogged about it. Not sure how much we want to let it all come back in, but we will do what we have to do.

I do not look forward to her return home nor what will follow. But we will take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trouble was Brewing and I Knew It

Salinda was pushing things. I knew she was going to keep pushing too. Refusing to speak to me, breaking rules, pushing everything to a confrontation. I was avoiding her as I knew that it wasn't going to go well. On the way home from school she stared at me disdainfully and refused to speak. I gave her a note listing consequences for her last violation.

Then I was attempting to work here and heard just one too many rap songs blaring through the house. I asked her to turn it down, she did, but then turned it back up. I tried to confiscate the radio. There was a struggle. She hit me. No that hard, but she definitely punched me in the arm.

Not going to happen. I'm not going to live like I did when John was here where people were going to punch me and not call law enforcement. Not going to set a precident where that is allowed to happen in this house. I called 911, officers came. She told her version of the story, including little barbs like "I should be able to hit people, if parents here can hit people." The officers, to their credit, said, "Parents, by law are allowed to use some physical force in order to get their children to comply."

I hope that I don't have to add here that we don't beat our children, but we don't. In fact, we seldom even touch them (except lovingly) unless we need to nudge them in the right direction. But she wanted to start talking about us bruising them, etc. The officers ignored her.

The officer asked me if I thought she needed to be taken in. I said that she didn't have to be if she could reasonably attempt to resolve things. She continued to argue. I told them to call her Probation Officer. The P.O. told them to take her to detention. She wasn't going to turn it around.

Then all the sudden she was ready to talk. Then she was ready to sob, and ask for forgiveness and beg not to go. But it was too late. She was saying, "Mom, you don't even know what is going on!" I pointed out that there was no way for me to know if she didn't tell me.

It's a difficult position to be in. I hate to watch my daughter racked with emotional pain not wanting to go back to a bad place. I hate to be the one, in her opinion, that "sent her there." But she refuses to allow us to help her. She can't stand being told no and not getting what she wants.

I have mixed feelings. I love my daughter. She has so much potential. But she starts to spiral when she is faced with a difficult situation and she refuses to let anyone help her until she goes way down a nasty road. And unfortunately, we don't know where this road will head right now.

Ahhh the joys.


I preach it. I teach it. I lecture on it. I tell parents I know to do it. But I can't always make it happen.

Salinda has not spoken a pleasant word to me since Friday night. It was all-out war for the weekend, now it is just avoidance and nasty glares. When I feel up to it emotionally and physically, I confront her and force her to talk to me and eventually we resolve it somehow. But right now I can't make myself do it. I keep telling myself I'm going to feel better, but it isn't happening enough. I finally resorted to writing her a letter which I will give her when I pick her up from school.

I wish that I could not let her get to me. I wish that I could just realize these are her "lacking-in-sense-of-self" hormone driven teenage girl episodes and not let them mess up my nerves, but there are days when her attitude just seems to seep into my soul and get inside my defense system, and messes me up.

I have her set up to meet with her team of professionals tomorrow -- without me -- as I will be dealing with a work matter. I hope that they can figure something out and that eventually I feel emotionally and physically strong enough to hit this head on again.

Small Family Experience

Last night stuff happened as it did so that we ended up with only four kids heading out for pizza with both parents. An unusual event and fortunately the kids were able to hold it together because the meal lasted almost 2 hours.

Wilson, Tony, Sadie and Jimmy chose to come with us to a pizza joint for pizza. We had some interesting conversations and even a few laughs.

A couple highlights included me asking Wilson to stop being cute, with the results in these pictures, and the "banana split saga."

The kids were tempted by these huge ice cream deserts, and so we did something unusual and ordered them whatever they wanted. JImmy ordered a banana split.

Everyone else got their ice-cream (I didn't order any) and were happily eating it. Jimmy wondered outloud why his wasn't coming sooner and Bart said, 'They had to go buy the bananas first". The kids made fun of him and laughed at his silly thought.

Until the manager came to the table and said, "Sorry about the banana split. We ran out of bananas and I had to send someone out to get some more. He'll be back soon."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Contrast and Momentary Envy

I don't know about other parents of kids with special needs, but sometimes the contrast is so great that I begin to feel envy, or maybe just wistfulness about how life would have been if we would have chosen a different path.

Last night, Tony's Boy Scout troop had their Code of Honor meeting where everyone gets their awards. I was sitting next to a wonderful person whose son is the ultimate super over-achiever. He's gone beyond Eagle Scout and is still earning award after award. Tony, on the other hand, was lucky to show up with his uniform ironed and on his body. AND he was furious that I was coming. He didn't want me there. But Bart had a conference call and so I needed to represent the family as it was the "right thing to do." He mistreated me whenever I was close enough to whisper to... called me names. Nearly had to make a scene in order to get him to pose for a the picture, even though everyone else's parents were taking pictures...

I know people who have one or two "perfect" children and who invest all of their time and energy into these kids. The kids have their genes and are super achievers. They do what they are supposed to do 95% of the time, and when they don't its never anything HUGE.

We live in a world full of huge -- even our kids who are doing borderline well for them are still far below average.

The life that we have chosen is not an easy one. In fact, it is a much harder journey than I ever dreamed we were embarking upon at the beginning. Most of the time, I am satisfied. But every once and a while I get caught in a few moments of "what might have been" and wonder...

But I don't stay there long because there is no point in it. This is what we have been called to do, this is the life we live. And so I will find joy here, and there is a lot of it every time I stop to look.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Twice in One Day

Bart blogged twice today. It Takes a Village to Raise a Parent and Why Adoptive Parents are Often Misunderstood.

False Alarm on the Feeling Much Better

Woke up this morning after a long sleep feeling groggy, tired, and still out of sorts. I am hoping it has something to do with the medicine I took last night. I'm still coughing and my stomach is still upset.

Salinda's mood has still not broken and I worry how far she will take this.

Everyone else went to bed fine. I may have to head back there later, but I'm determined to get this one last work project done before I do.

Soon I will begin getting everyone ready for school. I am looking forward to them being there -- at least there they are not bored.

back to work...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Might Just Survive This Day After All

I guess I'm feeling a little better physically, because I have shown great stamina for the past 4 hours as I have pounded away on this work project that i've been doing. I have been at the computer almost nonstop after resting for an hour after lunch.

Salinda did make it to church, but refused to dress appropriately and then when she was there refused to attend services. Sat in the foyer with a frown on her faces, evil and mean. I certainly wasn't going to get into a control battle with her and attempt to drag in a 15 year old. So I just reminded her of consequences later on.

She came home and refused to eat with us again, fixing her own meal later, which is against the rules. She hasn't done her chore either. I have let her know that I will be calling her Probation Officer and social worker and therapist tomorrow.

Other than a pathetic screaming cussing fit where she blamed God, Bart and I for all of the horrible mistakes she's made over the past couple years, she's been avoiding me. It's a good thing too, because the way I responded was less than wholesome and nurturing. When she is being self-destructive and hateful, trying to reason with her just doesn't work.

I am ready to be done with my fog. I am ready to feel strong again -- as though I can handle my life.

The good news of the day is that our congregation was very supportive when Bart let them know about the break in in the church. I knew they would be, but it's always nice to see that people are what I expect them to be.

I am really hoping that my illness is about over. This has been horrible and I have been forced to keep functioning, with incredible work stress. Feeling better would certainly help me handle things better -- whatever things are coming our way.

The Mid Chaotic Morning Update

The plan this morning was that Salinda would call me with the address of where she was staying so that I could pick her up for church. She hasn't done so. And they aren't answering the phone. For a long time I did not allow Saturday night sleepovers because of this risk, but she convinced me she could handle it. Apparently not. Now I have to look forward to that conflict, regardless of whether or not she comes through in the next 40 minutes.

And I had to escort the Offering Theif into church this morning as Bart promised that he would no longer be unsupervised in church and he can't do it. Of course, when it is time to go I look down and the entire lap of his pants is covered in some kind of white stuff. It is literally layered on. He says "I got these off the dryer. It's a stain." I had to send him back down to change. It took him so long to change that when we got there, we walked in late and I had to escort him to the front of the church to sit with people who can be trusted to babysit him. So, in front of the whole congregation I had to march him down there and I know that everyone could tell I was madder than a hornet. My body language isn't exactly discreet.

And now I am home to find Tony dressed in boy scout pants while his perfectly good church pants were simply shoved to the floor from the dresser, still folded. Of course, he couldn't look there. So now I'm trying to get him to change. Taking a break from the mayhem to blog somehow calms me.

Once we get everyone to church things should get better...

The Beginning of Another Day

Today isn't a day we're looking forward to. Today is the day that Bart has to share with the rest of the congregation who already don't know, that it was our son who did thousands of dollars worth of damage to the church property by breaking in to steal the safe. As you can imagine, he's not looking forward to the whole experience.

We also have to provide extra supervision to the "offering thief" this morning, which is causing some additional stress to an already hectic Sunday morning schedule.

Salinda is threatening to "not participate" if we force her to go to church. She is now saying she is an athiest. She is responding to God the same way she responds to us -- if you don't give me exactly what I want, then I can't possibly trust you or love you. It's pretty immature thinking on our part, but i"m not sure it isn't much different to how we approach God sometimes.

I have a huge, nearly insurmountable work project that I need to do today. Tony is going tubing with the boy scouts, and I was supposed to go, but I'm still just too sick to do so. I'm going to work, sleep, work, sleep this afternoon and try to knock out the project.

The combination of added stress and my physical problems have really got me into a weird state lately. I'm an emotional wreck even about the most stable things in my life... I feel week and pathetic. So not like me. But I keep writing that things will get better, and eventually, I know, that as has been proven over and over again, this too shall pass.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

At Least Some Psychic Space

It has been a long day. I have not felt well at all. I slept again this morning and then worked until we went to see a cheap movie. Then I came back and worked some more. It's now 8 pm and I'm not sure I can do much more. I have not felt well at all. I think I'd be better off just going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I can get an early start.

But at least I had some space today from the extreme stressors -- Tony and Salinda were both gone all day and they are the ones who were causing me the most stress yesterday.

I still have to process the hateful letter Salinda wrote with her tomorrow, but at least tonight I don't have to deal with her as she is gone until tomorrow morning before church.

I think I am going to try and rest.... at some point I keep telling myself I'm going to feel better and then maybe I won't be in this fog.... and my blog won't be a pathetic whine-fest.

Running on Empty

OK, so I'm starting to sound really pathetic. I apologize. I'm usually a bit more on top of things than I have been lately.

Physically I still can't shake my cold/flu and emotionally I'm dragging. Salinda finally left the house to spend the night at a friends freeing us from living in a house where she had purposefully sucked out all of the oxygen so that we could not breathe. She will be back sometime today though, ready to punish me some more. Her perspective is so warped though -- it's hard for me to make her understand. She feels entitled to the impossible and when she doesn't get what she wants she is horribly mean -- even if her initial request is unreasonable. I understand that girls her age tend to believe that the world revolves around her -- I guess the key is that we need to figure out a way to live peacefully when she is trying her hardest to keep us from doing so.

I have a huge project for work that I must finish this weekend. My wheezing is keeping me from sleeping, so I figured I'd get up and get started, but I might not last long and might end up back in bed.

Guess I should stop avoiding it and get moving.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Multiple Layers of Stress

Something job related and very stressful is in the works. It is possible that the beginnings of the issue could be related to this blog, so i must be incredibly careful to post nothing further about it here.

In addition, Salinda is frustrated that she can't do what she wants to this weekend and instead of handling it well, she is stomping around punishing everyone, especially me.

And Tony is a magnet for stressful situations. If he hears an argument brewing or a conflict in the home, he races to the scene -- not just to watch, but to add to the stress verbally and with his attitude. It is incredibly annoying.

I still don't feel well and am having a hard time controlling my urge to vomit -- I'm not sure if it is a physical or an emotional deal, but ick, do I feel yucky.


I hate to feel this way, but Mike is back in jail again and I'm so relieved. It means that we are safe, it means that our kids are safe from him contacting them, it means that they don't have to worry at all about him calling or contacting them.

And it means that he is not cold, he is not hungry, he has a place to sleep, and he isn't able to break any more laws.

Very very sad to feel this way about it, but it is my primary emotion. And that is hard to reconcile.

Dreams and Reality: Not so Far Apart

Last night I dreamed that Jimmy had a paper route. Actually, that would be a nightmare. Before I started blogging he and Salinda shared one and it was a nightmare. Kyle had one and did perfectly well with it, but then we began a series of horrible experiences with Rand, John, MIke, Tony, and especially Jimmy taking turns at one route. Salinda to her credit was able to do exactly as she was supposed to and I believe she was only about 11.

Jimmy and Rand, on the other hand, were a nightmare. Since they don't really believe that anyone will catch them unless they see them (missed Object Permanence somehow) a paper route alone on a bike in the dark of the morning was NOT a good plan. Every time it rained or snowed Jimmy's papers were wet -- not because they were not wrapped but because he threw them in snow banks or in puddles. And Rand managed to ride his bike through the newly planted sod, on a rainy morning, of the one neighbor who probably hated us more than anyone. So, paper route was awful for him.

Anyway, last nights dream I was checking up on Jimmy and went to the last house of his route to see if he was doing OK with the route -- and no, he wasn't doing ok. He had apparently run out of the right papers and so he had delivered a 5 year old Detroit paper (no, I have no idea why Detroit). Sad thing is, this is not an unrealistic scenario for us.

And this is our reality. Last night I confronted Rand about why the car he drives smells like cigarette smoke. Here was the story he gave. He reports that at lunch time he and a friend have been going out to the car to listen to music. It has been about 5 below zero all week. But his story is that the guy stands outside the car, in fact they both do. In five below weather. But they open the car window. Why? Because it smells bad inside the car and they are trying to air it out. That is how the smoke got inside the car. And he is completely frustrated that I don't believe his story.

I just shake my head. What more can I do?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Parenting Through the Fog = Not Going Well

I'm not handling parenting sick very well. Tony and Dominyk have been jumping up and down on my last nerve and stressing out everyone else. Rand has been lying. Jimmy was "stuck on stupid" for over an hour. Dinner (pizza I ordered) was chaotic, Tony and Dominyk both just being so hyper and uncontrollable.

When I am my most patient, this is difficult. When i am sick and my threshold is lower, it's even more impossible.

Heavy sigh.

Attempting to Parent through the Blur of Illness

I am more sick than I can remember being in a long time. Again last night it took a long time for my fever to break, as I lie there shivering. And again this morning I do not feel well. I feel like I'm in a fog... my head pounds, regardless of medication taken. And my husband won't be home for supper. Looks like we're ordering pizza. I can barely make myself cook on a good day -- I'm certainly not entering the kitchen today.

This is not a great time for me to be sick because I need to be in top form. Mike is in Luverne, apparently, missing his court appearance yesterday. There is a warrant out for his arrest. He's hiding from the law, but his my space tells everyone where he is. And, ironically, the mood he has chosen is "peaceful." Only someone with FASD could feel "peaceful" when running from law enforcement departments in at least 2 counties.

Salinda is starting to push the envelope in small ways again. Her choosing to protect Mike for 24 hours (finally got it out of her yesterday, long after we, and law enforcement, knew) was a big mistake on her part.

John is still stuck in residential treatment, making no progress. It's been about a month now -- we were told 1-2 weeks. As of Monday night I believe, he was still at level one after a month. Doesn't look like he is choosing to "work the program." They should never have brought him back to our town. That's a fact. He was doing well where he was. Now he's in a more restrictive setting than before.

I am so behind in my work -- and with this sickness it is hard for me to even think about delving into some of the projects i have to do today.

I know, whine, whine, whine. But it is true that when I feel like this, everything seems a little more daunting. I'm sure I'll just do what I can, one hour at a time. Sigh....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ups, Downs, and Driving Around

I spent the day dreading picking up Salinda. She had not been very nice to me last night and I had to confront her on a couple things. On top of it all, she was asking for a favor, which I always find interesting. Bart and I discussed it and determined that maybe it has something to do with the Teen Attachment Cycle. Whenever our kids know that they have screwed up, they seem to ask for a favor immediately. It's an odd predicament.

Anyway, it somehow occurred to me that I should maybe exchange a favor for a favor. I told Salinda that I didn't mind providing her with transportation to get a friend and then go get a haircut, but that in exchange I would like to have a conversation with her. The conversation did not go perfectly, but we hashed out what she needed to, she got her haircut, and all is well.

I also spent 3 hours under 5 blankets trying to break my fever, which finally happened. Bart is out of town, so I really needed to start feeling better in order to deal with the mayhem which goes along with Wednesday nights.

I think I'm up to the task, now, and may actually make it until bedtime.

Bart's On A Role

Funny how you have to read your spouses blog to find out about last nights dream.

I'm Shocking Even Myself

I updated my Scripture as I see it blog for the third day in a row!

A New Way to Lose Sleep

OK, now my head cold/flu is full blown. My head is pounding, I'm coughing, my nose is running. I feel lousy -- but as most of you who are women know, Mom's can't be sick. It just isn't going to be allowed.

I managed to sleep until 6 this morning, highly unusual for me, but the problem is that I was awake for about 90 minutes in the night freezing with chills. SO I still managed to cut down my sleep time. I have a couple kids who have therapy today right away, but I may just have to rest a while after that. I never take sick days, but this may be an exception. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bart Shares Some of His Pain

While I am troubled by the whole situation with Mike and our other son who has been stealing from the offering (apparently without a conspirator) my experience is not that of Bart's. I am not the pastor of the church. I am not the spiritual leader. I am not the one whose credibility is in question. And while it is my habit to think only the best of people, we can't help but fear the reaction of others. Bart was speculating the headlines if the newspaper got ahold of the story...

He shares some of his response to the events here.

Knocking on Wood Does Not Work

Well, remember the other day? When I said things were going well? I should never have blogged that.

Last Thursday night someone broke into the church. We immediately assumed Mike because it had him written all over it. Broke into the church office, stole the safe, used the wheelchair to get the heavy safe out of the building, never did get it open, and dumped it out behind one of the schools in town. Today we find that there is a warrant out for his arrest.

And when I mentioned it to Salinda, she let it slip that he had called her to tell her where he was living. This violates the harassment order. I let her know that she needed to tell us or she was breaking the law. She's not saying a word. We will give her the option of letting us know so we can tell law enforcement, or we will simply call them and tell them to interview her if they want to. He has to go to court tomorrow, so we may just wait and see if he shows up then. I am not angry at Salinda -- this is a burden she should NOT have to carry, which is why we got the restraining order.

Meanwhile, money has been missing from the offering plate at church and of course, a couple of our children living at home are the main suspects. I got a confession out of on kid for some of it, which usually means he's taken much more. I'm going to be interviewing his suspected partner in crime soon.

And in the midst of all this stress, Rand is MIA after school. He's supposed to come straight home and help give rides, but he decided he needed to drive into the park and check the ice. He's stuck in a snowbank. i brought him JImmy and a shovel -- the park is only 2 blocks from here, but I did that much. I figure after all of the rules those guys are breaking lately, the two of them can figure out how to get the car out and if they can't they can walk home. I'm not feeling too sympathetic. He keeps calling and asking for my help, but I keep telling him that he can figure this one out.

This is a situation that affects us in many ways and makes us ask lots of questions. Will the church continue to be forgiving and not blame Bart? We think so. Will they realize that our children were damaged before we adopted them, and that possibly there is not a direct correlation between his spiritual leadership and their behavior? We believe that in this congregation they will understand. Will we be allowed to finalize the adoption of our new children when we have so many children involved in criminal behavior? We certainly hope so. But it puts us in such a bind.

And the cough and cold that has been going around our family since June of 07 is back on me again apparently. My head is pounding and I am seeing stars. I'm coughing and coughing. And, I can't exactly say that I've been eating healthily to ward off infection. But then, I never do that. My hands and feet are freezing, my brain is mush, my head is pounding, and i feel like I just might throw up.

The sad part is that I was actually having a really good day until about 3 p.m. One of my best in a while. But of course, that's kind of the way it always goes for me. When things are really going well, then they are likely to not go so well later. But I'm going to try to remember what I blogged this morning.

Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!


I confess, I'm not much of a giver in some ways. My natural tendency is to be selfish, oblivious to the needs around me. And I often do not take time to pay attention to other people, much less serve them.

Mike and Kari are givers. They are the kind of people who consistently pay attention to what other people need and go out of their way to help others.

Our washer is messed up again. The kids have started helping with laundry and neither I, nor they, are very careful about checking pockets. This always leads to disaster and having a repair man from Sears come and make me feel like a complete idiot. I get a speech about foreign items, and pocket checking, and all the other stuff I already KNOW.

So in the midst of their hectic day, i called Kari to see if Mike could come over. Nearly at the end of his last nerve, he brought four kids over and they roamed around my house while he fixed the washer. He jokingly lectured, "You know, if you would check the pockets of your kids clothing, ma'am, this wouldn't happen."

For a while it looked like he hadn't fixed it and that I was going to have to call the dreaded repair guy. BUt I ran it after he left and it was working great.

Sometimes I'm tempted to work towards being a better giver, but in the meantime, I want to remember to be grateful for those who are. There just aren't many better men out there than Mike who gives and gives and gives, not just to us but to others, without expecting anything in return.

We are so fortunate to have Mike and Kari in our lives. Thanks, guys!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Channel Changers

Our society has programmed us to go through life as "channel changers." We watch life like we do our TVs. If i'm sitting there, watching TV, and a troubling show comes on that makes me feel uncomfortable, I just grab the remote. I don't have to watch that... let me find something I like better.

Until we started doing foster care, I thought I had a pretty balanced picture of the world. I knew there were some people out there who were less than wholesome, but I thought I had a good understanding of the way that life worked. I felt like I was a socially just person who cared about the needs of other people.

But then I was brought into this under-current of society by force, and my remote was taken away. All the sudden I was looking at lots of things that made me uncomfortable and, unlike most people, I could not choose to turn my face and walk away. I was hearing horror stories about the children who were now sitting on MY lap. I was wiping away the tears of kids who had, at young ages, faced incredible pain. I was kissing cigarette burns on the faces of MY son.

And as these past 11 years have gone by, my life has been without a remote. Day in and day out I have to face the realities of adults who neglect and abuse children. I have to face a system that is imperfect and watch how sometimes it makes kids lives worse instead of better. And there was no going back.

As with any social issue, we change the channel because we know that if we really understand the issue, we might have to do something about it. My TV is stuck on this one channel now. But there are many other channels I have avoided in the past -- the Aids crisis in Africa, homelessness, world hunger, you name it. As long as I could NOT think about it, I didn't have to do anything.

Is your life stuck on a channel that makes you uncomfortable? I certainly hope so. Because if it is, then that means you are doing something. If you are still flipping through and only watching shows that make you feel good, I challenge you to find a channel and stay there, even if it makes you feel scared and strange, until you decide if it is something you need to change.

Because changing the world requires people who will stop changing channels.

Please Don't Faint

I actually updated my devotional blog today. Figured maybe I should use these early morning hours to do a little reflection. The title of today's thoughts is "I Will Go with You"

The Value of Early Mornings

I just simply cannot sleep in the mornings any more. I wake up sometime between 4:30 and 5:30 and just can't make myself go back to sleep. Some mornings I just immediately get up, but most I lie there at least 45 minutes to an hour and try to force myself to get more sleep. I end up quite exhausted by mid-day if I don't, but I can't seem to make myself. I'm trying to put my time to good use.

Things here continue to remain "normal" for us. Salinda and I had another round of blow-ups this weekend, but I am handling her differently and this makes things a little easier. I had told her no about something unreasonable that she had wanted to do, so she purposefully made us late to church and wore jeans, which she's not allowed to do. I headed into church yesterday mad as a hornet and late. My Sunday School class, however, is wonderful, and puts up with my post-Sunday morning stress lovingly and with humor.

Tony spent the weekend at boy scout camp, leaving us to have a quiet weekend. I got a perm, did some shopping, gave lots of rides, and spent less time at the computer than usual.

Ahhh. No school today. And now I have several hours to myself. Many ways to spend them -- just need to get busy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Creative Kids

Leon, Wilson and Dominyk started to make an entire snow family yesterday. They only ended up making three, but I was very impressed with their creativity -- especially the dog. Very impressive, don't you think.

And by the way, neither the kids NOR I have any idea who they were dressed up with. As Sadie said, "we started this thing with the makeup and then it kind of got out of hand."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I have This One Scrub ...

Because he is so tiny, so funny, and so smart, Wilson is a great "toy" for the other kids. He is fun to play with.

Sadie and her friends when they come over find him very entertaining. Last night of our 12 kids there were only four of them home. And this is how they occupied themselves.

After they finished playing dress up, Wilson tried to get the makeup off his face. He couldn't do it. Sadie said to him, "Let me help you. I have this one scrub."

Of course, Sadie was talking meant to say that she had this particular scrub that would get it off, but Wilson focused on the word one. With ONE scrub his face would be clean.

So he muttered over and over, "She said ONE scrub. It took about 40,000 scrubs, not one scrub. Why did she say ONE scrub?"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Haircuts and Roommates

Tony decided to give himself a haircut which resulted in him shaving his head with a razor. Not with our permission, but we have told him in the past that when he was 13 he could decide how to wear his hair. We figure that hair grows back -- it's not permanent like a tattoo or piercings, which of course, all the kids want as well, so at 13 we let the kids make their own decisions.

This was Tony's decision but he found himself ill-equipped to deal with the consequences of his choices. He had therapy yesterday at noon, so Bart and I had decided to take him to therapy and have lunch at the bar across the street to celebrate Valentine's day, as he was leaving soon after to go out of town. (I know, I know, don't be too shocked at the romance of it all -- they do have a sign advertising the world's best hamburgers, we needed to determine if it was true. It wasn't. Anyway I digress)

So Bart picked up Tony, and then me, and Tony was sobbing uncontrollably. He did not want to go back to school because he was afraid of a kid who had stated calling him a skinhead. He was afraid he was going to get beat up if other kids thought he was a skinhead. Bart was very patient with him, and I tried to be and did pretty well for me, but we both almost lost it when he said, "and the kid who was making fun of me had hair shorter than mine." You can see from the picture that his statement could not possibly have been true.

Since yesterday was Valentine's Day and Bart was out of town, I decided to take the kids out for dinner and a movie. So we headed to the mall where we had supper at the food court and Wilson and Leon got haircuts. I am still so in love with these boys. They are fun, pleasant, cooperative and easy going. I have not had to consequence either of them for anything major since their arrival.

Whenever Bart is gone there is always an argument about who gets to sleep in our bedroom with me. There is a recliner in there, so the kids beg for that spot, and then there is the spot next to me. Before Leon and Wilson showed up, it was usually either Sadie, Dominyk or Tony, all of whom are HORRIBLE bed partners.

Last night Leon surprised me by asking if he could sleep in our bed. Sadie had requested the chair but decided she might be getting a little too big for it, so she let Wilson have it. And I had the quietest night I've had when Bart was gone in my life. They slept without making any noise whatsoever, stayed in one spot the whole night, and never bothered me once. It was wonderful. I managed to sleep until 5:30, which for me lately is almost late.

I am finding it increasingly harder for me to get anything done when I am connected to the internet. Too many temptations online -- blogs to read, people to talk to in chat, games to play, and so this morning Kari and I are going to a restaurant for breakfast that does not have internet where I will stay and attempt to catch up on some of my work. Then I'm going to the grocery store, which is highly unusual for me. Making beans tonight since Bart is gone.

All remains pretty calm at our house -- even after I wrote about that. I guess knocking on wood works.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Happy Valentine's Day

Sometimes there are events in our lives that are pivotal. While I cannot share details, yesterday was one of those days. It was a day when emotionally I was at my lowest and was reminded that I was loved -- profoundly. My husband is the very best person for me on the planet. This is something that I know -- it is etched in my heart -- but sometimes it just gets rewritten, strongly. yesterday was one of those days.

He came home yesterday in the middle of my emotional outburst and brought me flowers -- a dozen rozes, and a Valentine's Balloon. He held me while I cried and listened to my long stupid story.

And in the midst of that all, I realized that many of my tears were tears of joy -- simply to have found and continue to have the privilege of living with a man who is my perfect match. Bright, articulate, funny, charming. Can always make me laugh. Always lets me be me, even when I'm the "me I am being" is so far from perfect and obviously quite annoying.

And that doesn't even mention all the things that will make all of you women in cyber space salivate with jealousy. He is an incredible chef, fixing all the meals for this large family. He does all the grocery shopping. He does at least half of the laundry and all his own ironing. He cleans bathrooms, to perfection, weekly. He vacuums.

And he's an excellent provider, and very good at what he does. I am so glad to know that as long as he lives I am guaranteed to go to church where there is a wonderful pastor who is a great preacher, an inspirational leader, and a concerned and loving caregiver who has a calm, soothing presence.

And he's a great dad. He has taught me how to be a better parent by his loving interaction with our children, his patience, and his ability to enjoy them, regardless of their issues.

So today I'm feeling very, very lucky. Happy Valentine's Day, Bart. I love you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Lately I have been a pathetic blogger. I have been distracted by oh so many things. I tend to have an obsessive personality and there are times when blogging is my obsession, and other times when it is not.

Part of the challenge, or the reverse of that, is that things are on a pretty even keel for us right now. The kids who are living at home are doing OK -- not by the definition of OK that most people would use, but for us it's the definition. We do have one child whose high grade is a D-. As you know, we have a child on probation. We have an adult child who cannot get hygiene under control for the life of him. We have kids who have meltdowns, refuse to do homework, argue incessantly. We have a daughter who agreed to "go out" with the only guy in the 6th grade that we told her not to talk to. But these are just little things. These are day-to-day parenting challenges that do not go outside our realm of normal.

So, what should I blog about? We haven't had the police here for almost two months. Nobody's life has threatened. I have not been physically injured by a child in over 4 months, we haven't had a major item stolen from us in a couple months either. It's almost as though we're having a calm between storms.

Oh great, it just occurred to me that this might have been a major, major mistake on my part, and I changed the title of my entry.

Fortunately, I'm not really superstitious...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'll Join in the Fun

Not only to win a free IPod, but to introduce you to a wonderful blog.

Check out Baggage That Goes With Mine. and comment to try and win a free IPod.

Late Starts are So Much Better

We used to have early outs. I hated them.

But this late start once a month isn't a bad thing. The kids sleep in a little, I get some time alone. They get themselves ready. The morning is more relaxed. It's a good thing.

And I slept last night. All the way until 6 a.m. So that part is good as well.

And I get to have lunch out with my husband.

Things are looking up. ;-)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Insomnia and Apologies

For some reason, i have not been able to sleep. It's driving me crazy. I wake up at 5:30, or 5, or this morning at 4:10 and cannot fall back asleep. And after about 30-40 minutes of lying there unable to go back to sleep I get up and figure that the quiet hours at the computer will probably be more productive than lying in bed. By the end of the day I am exhausted though. It's a cycle I can't seem to break lately.

I have found that apologizing to Salinda actually has been very helpful in mending our relationship. Sometimes it is as simple as saying "I'm sorry I didn't handle that better" if we've had a conflict. It seems to soften her a bit and allow for us to continue our dialogue.

Yesterday seemed to be teenage girl drama day. Salinda and I had an "altercation" in the morning, and Sadie and I in the evening. Salinda is overwhelmed with how busy she is this week. Several tests and wanting to earn extra money this week have her convinced her life is too stressful for her to survive. And Sadie has decided to "go out with" the one kid we know at school that we don't want her to spend time with. I"m sure that is exactly her motivation, but we want her to understand that.

Salinda has been doing so much better. She seems to be returning to the person that we used to know when we moved here. She wrote this essay for her Minnesota Grad Standards test and agreed to let me share it with you. I think you'll be encouraged as well.

There are many people in the world who have goals, weather it be a small goal such as not biting your fingernails or a big goal such as stopping an addiction. Do you have a goal? Well I have many goals as a young adolescent, but my number one goal is staying out of trouble and making a difference in my life.

About 18 months ago my family and I moved to a bigger city. Oh boy, was I in over my head. I came from a town of 5,000 people who were mostly white, and then I moved to a city of 50,000 people. I soon started hanging out with the wrong crowd and turning into someone I didn’t recognize. I soon started to rebel against my parents. I would do anything for my friends even if it were hurting the people that I loved and that loved me.

Then one night I did something that has had a huge effect on my life for several months and still has an effect. I was sent to juvenile detention and then to a group home. At the group home I didn’t feel like I learned anything, I already knew I had issues with adult authority. I just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I ended up coming home after a couple months. With that I had to be on house arrest and serve thirty hours of community service. As a fifteen year old I now have a record, which I am not proud of at all.

I now respect my parents a whole lot more, and I can stand up to my peers. Today I am doing well. My grades continue to be good, and I’m not rebelling against my parents and for once I feel like I’m getting somewhere. I plan on going to a four-year college and being a parole officer or social worker so that I can make a difference in someone else’s life

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There is a God

It's a high of -5 today. The boy scout moms were sponsoring a tubing party for the boy scouts. I had signed up to help. Against all odds I was hoping that it would get postponed. But as of noon today, we thought it was still on and we were scrambling to get there on time with all the gear to keep the boys who were going warm enough for tubing.

But I got home and found an email in my box that it had been postponed. And once again, I remembered, there is a God. And I am grateful to not have to go serve snacks to freezing boys scouts today.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Overly Emotional and Pushing Myself Too Hard

I am overly emotional this morning. Think I've been pushing myself too hard. Haven't been able to sleep well. Have been working too much. But still have so much to do.

Sometimes even when it all isn't overwhelming, it feels like it. Boy do I need to get a grip. I'm sure I"ll be fine soon.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Perspective Dreams

I had a dream last night that Salinda wanted to go somewhere and I said I wouldn't take her and she got evil and nasty and mean, simlilar to the way she was for months in the past.

It was a disturbing dream, but it also was a reminder that I should be grateful that things are better. She's having a rough week for some reason, and not talking about why, but for the most part she is not taking it out on anyone else or being particularly rude to us as her parents.

Everyone else is just moving along, step by step. Last night I spent a little time playing "Guitar Hero." The kids have lots of practice, but I have been able to hold my own if the song has a recognizable beat. (which, by the way, the songs from the 70s and 80s seemed to have more of than whatever this other stuff is that they call music).

Time to wake up the kids!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why Most Parents "Don't Care"

Tonight I listened to part 327 of why other parents "don't care" about who their kids hang out with, who their kids talk to on the phone, where there kids are, or what they are doing.

And I simply responded, "It's our job to care. And if your friends parents really truly do not care, then maybe you are hanging out with the wrong kind of people. But what I think is that your friends' parents probably do care about those things."

For some of my kids it takes a very long time to tell them no. The arguing ensues and then it gets very emotionally exhausting to continue to reinforce the same thing. I remember times when I would joke with Bart, "Uh oh. You have to tell Kyle no. See you in 2 hours."

The girls are the same way. They have more ways to discuss the same issue. Tonight it was Sadie. Got talking to a kid I had told her she should stay away from. But it wasn't that act that got her in trouble, it was the way that she sneaked the call and the fact that I caught them conspiring about how to keep the secret from me that they were talking.

So she doesn't have phone privileges. And it took her 1/2 hour to quit arguing about that. And I started to realize why if there are, indeed, parents out there who "don't care" it is because they are so tired of the arguments that they just give up the fight.

Ain't gonna happen here though. But boy am I tired of rehashing the same things over and over again. As of Tuesday, we are the proud parents of 8 teenagers. Really not brilliant planning on our part, but we're surviving!

Made It Home

After 14 hours of travelling yesterday, I made it home. It was great to come home to a relatively peaceful house. The kids all did great with Bart and he seemed to have handled everything perfectly. I had a good nights sleep and am ready once again to tackle the routines of my life.

My "to do list" is long and there are never enough hours in the day, but I have a couple days straight without meetings, so I am thankful for that.

Hopefully I'll have more time to post something of significance later.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Well, Perfection Can Only Go So Long

Sunday, perfect trip.

Monday, great day.

Tuesday, nearly perfect day.

Wednesday..... hmmm.

First flight was an hour late leaving, so now I have missed my connecting flight. And thus I will miss the first shuttle, and hte second shuttle. But I will hopefully get in in time to catch the 7:30 and thus be home by 9 or so.

Guess you can't have perfect all the time!

Perfect Day Recap

It's a little sad to have such a wonderful time without my husband and children. It certainly is not because I don't have wonderful days with them, but yesterday just happened to be one of those days where everything was perfect (except for the cracked Iphone, but I'm trying to forget that.

Several hours online yesterday morning helped me catch up on some email and get some time alone in a quiet hotel room. Called and sang to Tony for his birthday and he even confessed that he loved me, too. ;-)

Met some of my favorite colleagues for an incredible lunch overlooking this waterfall. The weather was perfect, sunny, about 73, nice breeze. The feeling in the air was one of Spring and the effect of the weather on the moods of everyone around us was palpable. The food was wonderful as we sat with the sun beating on our faces looking out over beautiful landscaping.

I then did a few last minute things at their office and headed to spend the evening with some of my favorite people in all my life. Three different families that I have known for over 20 years. I saw the baby girl I held when she came home from hospital who is now a senior. The toddler, now 23, still lets me hug him and even kiss his forehead like I used to when he was 3. The 11 year old, now 33 and pregnant with her second child, is still that same little girl with the same spark in a much older, much more laden with responsibility body. And the adults -- oh how old we have gotten.

Some of the best moments of my life have been spent with these people and their families. There is something stabilizing about reconnecting with people who have followed my journey since they were younger than I am now. And there is something comforting about the fact that as we all grow and change, and our circumstances around us, the highs and the lows, toss us about, that so many things about us still remain the same.

And before I went to bed last night I talked to my wonderful husband. I received instant messages from my duaghters. They all reported that things were going very well at our house. And again I felt so blessed to have a husband who can handle the responsibility of our large family so that I can go away, have a perfect day, get recharged, be with my friends, work hard, make strategic plans, and return ready to give it another go.

And this morning I woke up, ready for a long day of travel, but content to have made connections with wonderful people, both professionally and personally, who I truly enjoy.

God is good, All the time and ALL the time, God is good.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Perfect Day ... well, almost and so far

I was having lunch, outdoors. Sun is warm on our faces. Sitting with some of my favorite colleagues in the world. Food is wonderful. We're overlooking a waterfall.

We get up to leave and I say, "gonna be hard to explain to Bart how I was able to have a near perfect day without him and the kids. Get to see some of my best friends tonight, had a great day all day. Perfect."

Stopped to take a picture.

Dropped my Iphone on it's face.

Pictures of all of this to come -- maybe.

Still, the Iphone, though cracked still works, so it could be worse....

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sorry for not posting

Long day today. Several meetings, three meals (very good ones) lots of conversation. Got to visit a couple families. One of them I had matched her with 5 of her 9 kids over the years.

Incredible moment to watch some of them singing "Father Abraham" for us.

Now I'm exhausted and going to bed. Hopefully will have energy to blog more tomorrow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Perfect Travel

From now on I am travelling on Super Bowl Sunday every year. I had a perfectly smooth trip. Everything was great. I'm in SC now, heading to bed. Bart agreed to pick up Salinda as an act of grace. She has responded appropriately. It has improved their relationship I'm sure, and all is well at home.

And it is mighty quiet here. Ahhhhhhh.

Speaking Too Soon

Last night i went upstairs to get ready for bed, stopping to play a game of guitar hero that Tony had gotten for his birthday. Actually quite a fun game....

I felt good about my day. I had remained balanced. I wasn't so frantic. I had finished what I had to finish before leaving and I had spent time with Bart and the kids. I had juggled my various activities fine and remained emotionally on keel. For the past two weeks that has not been the case.

I was feeling all nice and good about myself. ; -)

Then the phone rang. I had given Salinda permission to spend Friday night and most of Saturday at friends out of town. She assured me she had two possible rides home and that she would be back in time for church this morning. I knew I was taking a big risk, but I wanted her to learn the lesson on her own. Saying to her "this is not going to work" over and over again would not have the impact of letting her try it once. And I know she sincerely believed that she had a ride.

This is all well and good, her learning her lesson and all, EXCEPT that I'm leaving town at 12:45 this afternoon and Bart is left here to deal with all the stress. And so my "I was a great wife, mother and employee" feeling of last night just poofed away when that phone rang.

She's still not here. She's very upset. She knows it is her fault. She is remorseful. Hopefully she'll find a ride home because we can't go to get her. "love and logic parenting" would say she can stay there until she figures out a way to get back here, but sometimes it's hard to deal with those things emotionally for parents.

I have apologized for letting her go. She declares it's not my fault. She is not being a rebellious kid right now -- she's being a teenager who can't say no to her friends and is a poor planner. And in this particular moment, we can't bail her out.

So I leave on my trip with yet another issue hanging over my head. But just as we have survived everything else we've been through, this too shall pass.

I'll blog again from the airport or from much warmer South Carolina tomorrow.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Our First Boy

It's hard to believe that our first son is going to be a teenager in a few days. Since I'm going to be out of town, we celebrated tonight.

Tony was 20 months old when he walked into our lives (you can read all about it here) and he has kept it hopping ever since. he's not easy to parent, but he has a soft side underneath all his O.D.D.

I feel like I've spent several years of my life dealing with his argumentation and difficult behaviors. But fortunately for us, we have memories of his early years. He was an adorable toddler and preschooler.

Happy Birthday, Ton! I can't believe you'll be a teenager in a couple days!

(I do have a picture, but BLogger won't let me add it now).

The Way It Goes

Well, even my best intentions don't turn out right.

I decided to take a break and watch Ricardo wrestle. He told me I didn't need to be there right at 11:00 because there were two meets anyway, and he wouldn't be one of the first few wrestlers.

I headed out the door with Leon, who wanted to go with me, and realized I did not have my checkbook. I did have my cash card though and, knowing I would have to pay to see the game, I stopped to get cash. I arrived at the game at 11:10 and paid $10 for Leon and I to watch the meet.

When we entered the gym, I realized immediately that we had missed Ricardos match. But like a good parent, I stayed to watch everyone else wrestle. After the meet, I asked Ricardo if he won. He smiled and said yes. I thought to myself, "Great, the one time I actually make it to a meet and he WINS, I'm late and miss it."

As we were leaving the parking lot I said, "So, did you pin him?" "Oh no" he said. "Da udder guy didn't come. I forfeit. I just go to the middle and they take my hand and put it up. I did not wrestle."

And I ask myself, "Who pays $10.00 to be too late to miss your son NOT wrestle?"

We did have fun at lunch -- The boys sure tried not to let me take their picture.


For the past several weeks I have been juggling a lot of things. I call myself the Queen of Multitasking and often I can do a very good job of handling a multitude of things.

But yesterday it all fell apart and I dropped almost every ball. None of them was major, but I finished the day concluding that I needed to make some changes, set my priorities again, and move forward with some intentionality.

So today, as I get ready to leave on a trip tommorrow, I am attempting to pick up each ball, dust it off, and set it on the shelf. Then maybe I'll be smart enough to realize that I maybe be able to juggle 20 balls at once for a short period of time, but that maybe I should just keep five or six in the air at one time.

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Morning Litany

Each morning as I drop the children off for school I say to them, "Goodbye guys. I love you. Have a great day. Make good choices. Don't miss me too much."

Lately little Wilson has been responding, "I won't. I NEVER miss you." and he bounds off towards the school grinning.

My routine is that I drop off Sadie, Dominyk and Wilson first and then take Ricardo and Leon to the Jr. High. A neighbor takes Jimmy and Tony (God bless her soul) and Salinda rides with Rand. But Ricardo and Leon are not morning people and are by nature fairly quiet so they seldom say a word on the trip.

I have added a line to my goodbye to them. To them I say, "Goodbye guys. I love you. Have a great day. Make good choices. Don't miss me too much." And WHATEVER you do, do NOT say good-bye to me."

The first time I said that Leon, as he is closing the door, gives me a sly smile and simply says, "Your wish is granted."

Wow, do we love these boys. I'm filling out paperwork to finalize their adoption already as we can do that after three months in Minnesota. I can't believe they've already been here that long.