Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Facing Another Battle

I didn’t sleep well last night at all. I’d be surprised if I got a total of three restless hours. That does not prepare me well for the battle ahead.

I have to take Salinda to therapy and last night she presented yet another unplanned, unreasonable request. She does not plan well and gets herself into messes. Then of course, we have to bale her out of the messes. But, if we say no ahead of time, we subject ourselves to torture -- with her being very hateful to the whole family to punish us for saying no.

My plan is to discuss this with the therapist present ... to explain to her why the last three times we ended up agreeing to one of her plans she ended up caught in a situation full of drama, tears, and pain for herself, and thus for all of us. I am going to explain to her that it is because I love her that I would say no, not the opposite.

I am a positive thinker. I am an optimist. But I can guarantee you this is not going to go well.

And I do not have the emotional energy necessary to deal with her today, making me angry at myself for getting to this point of exhaustion.

I know that if I am tired, I do not handle my life well. But lately there are times when just cannot sleep... as you well know from my whining about it before.

So I will plow through the day and probably attempt a nap this afternoon.

Anticipating Summer

Another 5 weeks or so and it will be summer. School will be out. I have started thinking about what summer means and I must confess that I am not excited about some of those things. Summer means bored children and me attempting to do my job while attempting to keep them happy and occupied. Summer means that the teenagers in town get a little carried away and wild, and Salinda usually wants to head down that road. Fortunately she is on probation, so hopefully that should carry her through the summer without too much difficulty.

i am excited about some things though. No more rides to school, shorts and sandals instead of jeans and socks, a more relaxed schedule....

but most of all I am experience a strong amount of anticipatory grief at losing my time alone.

Adopt America

Another comment way back when was in regards to Adopt America and how to become a volunteer specialist. If you are an adoptive parent and passionate about matching kids with families, you can go to the Adopt America Network Website and learn about the program. Then call the office and ask to talk to someone about being a volunteer Adoption Specialist. They will tell you what to do from there. ;-)

FASD kids and Middle School

A few weeks ago a reader commented that she would like to hear my thoughts on FASD and middle school. Maybe one of the reasons that I haven't responded is that the whole topic makes me sigh.

We found out with Mike that middle school was the "beginning of the end" for him in regards to academics. Life was hard enough for his him when he had the same teacher in the same room for most of the day. Teachers in Elementary School tend to provide a lot more guidance and communicate more with parents. But in Middle School the thinking shifts to one where it is "time for students to start taking responsibility for their own school work."

In addition to that shift, there are now 5 or 6 or 7 teachers in that many classrooms in a new building. Homework is different for each class assigned by different person with different expectations. All of this becomes much more overwhelming for kids with FASD.

In addition, now there are many social expectations that make kids stand out as being very different than their peers. While the child may not notice this as much, the peers (and we as parents) do. We feel our child's pain, even when they don't always feel it themselves.

Fortunately for Mike in one sense, after attempting to struggle through Middle School and High School, was in residential placements and did very well in school there academically. One classroom, one teacher, no distractions of wild decorations on the walls, tons of structure.... he was able to maintain As and Bs in those settings. However, he is very bitter about his adolescence "you guys had me locked up for all of high school!" He never can remember that it was his choices (or his inability to make good ones) that got him there and kept him there.

Middle school is difficult for any kid. But for a kid with FASD, it is even more of a challenge. Certainly working with school personnel to set up an effective IEP and communicating with them closely will help, but it's going to be difficult at best.

Does anyone else have any suggestions or know of resources to point folks to? I don't feel like I'm doing a very good job of answering this question. i mean, "Oh yeah, it's gonna really stink" isn't a great answer. ;-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Meltdowns

Dominyk is having a meltdown. It is his second major meltdown today. The first one lasted forty-five minutes after school. He took a break and finally went with his PCA and did something but came back and started in again after supper. This one has lasted almost thirty minutes and is going strong.

I talked to the psychiatrist today. She said all we have to do is not give in and he will learn to stop begging. I explained that it had been 3 months since we had given in and it didn't seem to be making a difference. She told me we should hang in there.

I want to send him to her house.

Flu Redux

Apparently Sadie now has it, though may still go to school. Dominyk was complaining that he thought his was coming back.

Tony had a miraculous recovery yesterday, up and bothering me by 9:15, so he went off to school, confessing that possibly the reason he threw up the night before is that he had fixed himself 3 hotdogs and six pieces of bacon. Not on my watch. Oh wait, maybe it was. Sunday nights we allow our kids to make their own dinner. Guess he needed a bit more supervision.

I made it through my day yesterday with minimal hassle, which was nice. Today I have a day at my desk and hopefully will accomplish a few of the projects I have hanging.

Dominyk has a psychiatrist appointment today....and Bart has more meetings today than a person should have in one day. I'll miss him as we communicate via instant message most of the day.

Not a lot to report, which is good I guess....

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stomach flu...

Dominyk had it on Friday. Tony and Rand now have it. And of course, I am the family's designated puke-cleaner-upper. And Rand won't be able to give rides... and I will end up in the van longer and whine whine whine.

It must only be a 24 hour thing though, because Dominyk was feeling much better on Friday by about 1:00 and then got it in his mind he was going to go out and have some fun. In our house, if you're sick, you're sick all day... so he wasn't going to be able to go anywhere. He obsessed and wailed and had a major tantrum -- and I really needed to have a nap. There were a couple of very stressful meetings ahead for me and I needed to rest. I didn't get to rest, though, and instead I got more and more stressed out. It wasn't a good combination.

So I am wondering what Tony will do around 1 today. I'm not too worried about Rand, he will most likely hermit in his room, relieved not to have to do anything or go anywhere.

Fortunately for me, maybe not so fortunately for Bart, I have to leave around 2 p.m. so I will miss part of whatever happens.

We are making slow but steady progress on the book editing project and I'm excited about that. It is going to take a long time, but the end result will be worth it.

Even though I got caught up to some extent over the weekend, my day is still full.... and it's time to wake up the kids. Another day is about to begin in full force at the Fletchers...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

One of those "All is Right with the World" Mornings

I woke up this morning content. Smiling even. I am a person who usually wakes up happy -- the words "God's mercies are new every morning" reminding me that every day is a fresh start. And unless someone messes with me, I can remain like that indefinitely.

Instead of waking up crabby until something makes me happy, i wake up happy until someone makes me crabby. And I have now made it 22 minutes without being messed with. :-)

The sun is coming up earlier and even though it's probably only 40 degrees outside, the sun is shining and the grass is green. It looks as though there may be small buds forming on the trees and I can hear the birds. We're all getting up to go to first service this morning because we may be on the ushering schedule, though I don't know yet for sure.

I got a lot done yesterday including a thorough cleaning of my office. SItting in a cleaner environment makes me feel much more energetic and positive.

Last year I took Sadie to the "All Daughter's Tea" at church and she was reluctant to go with me, so this year I had considered skipping it. However, instead SHE asked ME if we were going. So that is on the schedule for this afternoon while it appears Bart will be taking Ricardo to a very cold soccer scrimmage.

Summer is on the way... and approaching quickly. But I am choosing now to pass over that thought as I might very well mess up my own good mood.

We made it through yesterday without any major issues or meltdowns, even though it was too cold for anyone to spend much time outside. Then last night Sadie and Wilson decided to cook dinner and serve it restaurant style. They were so cute -- made menus and served us at the table one by one. Appetizer (celery with peanut butter and raisens) steak and rice with pudding for desert). Wilson was (carefully) using a knife bigger than his forearm to cut the steak, all dressed in an apron. We tried to sneak a picture, but they didn't turn out well.

More and more Leon and Wilson are starting to demonstrate attachment. When I told Leon I may need to travel again soon, he said, "Aw, I'll miss you" and last night, WIlson before bed, said "I love you first" followed by, "tell Dad i lllllove him!"

See? It is all right with the world.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Things

It has been a long time since I have been able to see out of my deep hole of work and other responsibilities. Each day has been a struggle. But recently I've started to look ahead and think about new things.

One of them is getting the book edited and finally published, setting up a website, and beginning to market it. The others I can't share yet, but they are fun to think about.

Today i have big goals and plans of what I would like to get done. However, I realize that I may accomplish only some of it. But i am glad to finally be out of the stage where I can't see the future to actually having some goals and starting to plan again.

By nature I have an entrepreneurial spirit -- I like new things, new ideas, big projects and big plans. And lately the day to day stuff has taken all my energy and I haven't had the enthusiasm to think ahead. Even if I don't make progress, to see those plans as possibilities for some day is at least a step in the right direction.

And it snowed last night. On April 25th. Of all the men in the world, I had to marry a Minnesotan.

Friday, April 25, 2008

And then one of those other days

Yesterday was a very calm day in comparison to the day before. Nobody was horribly argumentative, we had no severe meltdowns, there was very little stress. The calm after a storm, I suppose, or more likely than not, the calm between storms.

Today is a day full of appointments -- therapy for Tony, therapy for Dominyk, a PCA assessment for each of them, and a meeting with Salinda's Probation Officer and social worker. And somewhere snuck in there, I have a couple jobs to do.

In working on the book I am taking a journey back through time and am reminded of how innocent and naive we were... those were the days....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One of THOSE nights

Last night I reached the end of my emotional energy. I had awakened at 4:10 a.m. rolled around and I had already had several mild altercations and witnessed more than one meltdown, I was more than tired. I was doing all I could to hold it together when there was one of those potentially, but didn't turn out to be, annoying situations with Salinda brewing. I really couldn't take much more and had my own little meltdown. Unfortunately, several of our children had done/said embarrassing and inappropriate things at church last night, which always bothers Bart immensely. So the two of us were not a good combination.

But our "never go to sleep mad" rule applied, and by 11 everything was ironed out and we went to sleep. I did not go into the Y this morning as I needed the sleep.

Salinda has therapy at noon and I dread taking her. Mom is always the target, as Paula mentioned in her post, and after a while it just starts to get old...and frustrating... and draining... and all kinds of other things.

There was a time when I believed that if my parenting was stronger, if I gave out more consequences, etc., that I could singlehandedly modify behavior -- they would LEARN. But I have since been the one to learn. You cannot consequences mental illness out of someone. You can consequence the anxiety of early trauma out of someone. And you certainly cannot consequence organic brain damage out of a person's head.

My parenting is mediocre at best most days (and no, that is not an invitation to disagree and comment otherwise). But at least i'm not caught up in the unending battle to consequence away their pain. It simply is not the answer.

Bart and I are beginning to work on actually getting our book published with a goal of having it done by summer. And we hope to also develop a website that will feature the book and our speaking calendars as well as some resources that we think are valuable. And it is our intention to to focus on "Unlearning Parenting" -- because so many parenting techniques that work with other kids do nothing but frustrate kids like ours and us moreso.

More to come on all that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Leon (no longer Napoleon) and Wilson became Fletchers yesterday at 3:34 p.m. All of the children who are currently living at home were in the courtroom with us as well as Dominyk's PCA who was able to take pictures (Thanks, S!!!) The pictures with the judge are very dark and hard to see, but everyone cooperated fairly well for a family photo afterwards. Everyone but Tony handled the whole afternoon well, and Tony did fine in the courtroom, but he is really an anxiety magnet and when we are trying to accomplish something involving stress, he is always the one flitting from person to person pushing every button available to him. He almost ended up missing the event.

After court, we headed to buy bikes for "the new boys." It was the most pleasant bike-buying experience I ever had. I gave them their limits on price, which they did not argue with, and they each quickly made a decision they were thrilled with. When we got to the check-out counter (OK, so we didn't go to a specialty bike shop -- guess check-out counter gives that away) I wanted the price checked as it was different than the sign. It took 13 minutes. Not once did either of my new sons complain or argue or get impatient. As I looked at them I just smiled at their calm demeanor.

ON the way to get the bikes, I explained to the boys that they were now legally ours. That meant that there would be no more social workers, no reports, no monthly visits, and, if they stayed out of trouble, no more court hearings. They sat taking it all in until Wilson finally spoke. "But what about my brother and sister?"

I had to explain to him that the courts never did what they needed to in order for their brother and sister to be adopted and that they would have to stay in foster care until they turned 18. I reminded the boys that we had told their brother and sister that they were welcome to visit any time and that if they chose to they could come live in our community and have as much contact with the boys as possible. They seemed satisfied with that, but the question was still burning in my mind hours later. What about situations like this? Why didn't/wouldn't the court terminate rights on all four kids and at least try to place them together? Why couldn't they have the option of being adopted, even if they didn't choose it? I know, I know, they were too "Old" (14 and 15), but sometimes I wonder ...

After the bikes were taken home and ridden for a while, all of us but Salinda went out to eat (we are well beyond forcing teenagers to come to an event that costs money so that they make everyone else miseraable). The boys chose Buffalo Wild Wings and it was .40 wing night. We had 4 boys who ate 24 a piece and another who ate 18. They were very intent and quiet as they tacked their mounds of wings. All and all it was a pretty good day/night. The least stressful finalization ever... and we believe, our last.

We tease Ricardo (who learned how to eat chicken wings in Guatemala) that he REALLY knows how to eat a wing..... Here's a picture of the bones.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today is the day

I'm feeling great this morning. Very excited that by the end of today, Leon and Wilson will be our sons. They are such incredible kids. We feel so blessed to have them as part of our family. They are pretty excited as well. They have requested dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. Not a cheap option, but they're well worth it. We are insisting that everyone be at court, which means some sporting events will have to be missed, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime event that we aren't going to have anyone miss.

I am going back to the coffee shop this morning. I have an interview there and will stick around for a while. I can get a lot done there if I focus.

Lots going on for me with my jobs and appointments etc.... better be off and running.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bart Blogged to tell you About Last Night

And his not-really-a-conversation conversation with Salinda.

And Now, how the Week Begins

It's 6:16 a.m. Bart and I are the only ones awake. I just finished at the YMCA and have showered and am at my desk. It is very calm and quiet here... and will be for the next 15 minutes when we begin the morning routine.

Salinda didn't get what she wanted last night, but we learned that having her express her angst to her calm, cool, collected, patient, pastor-dad was much more calming than her "these are the facts, who cares about emotion, just get it together will you" not-at-all-a-pastor mom. She is unhappy and has done something that she thinks will disappoint us but is refusing to say what it is. I have a feeling I know but I'm waiting for her to tell me. Maybe that's not the right approach. I'll have to think about it.

She is carrying a big burden on her shoulders and won't share it with us... I'm tempted to try to make her talk, but maybe carrying the burden alone is a natural consequence of whatever it is she has done.

It is difficult when kids reach the teenage years because they will do what they are going to do. Parents can only hope that by the time kids reach these years, they have had values instilled in them that will carry them through them. In our case, several of our kids have really struggled during the identity formation years largely in part, I think, to their trying to find their place in this world as an adoptee who still has ties to birth parents.

But one of the things we have learned is that if a teenager has made a decision that they are going to do something, whatever that something is, they will find a way to do it. They are beyond the age where they can be completely controlled, if it is true that they have ever been....

Having 9 teenagers simultaneously may not have been the best planning we've ever done. There sure are a lot of burdens to carry...

Maybe our experience with our older boys has jaded us ... we still parent our kids, but with the knowledge that even our best attempts may not have the results we want them to. And that is sometimes so discouraging that it is tough to keep trying.

But we do.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wow, How the Weekend Ends...

We had a pretty relaxed weekend. There were moments when it was difficult, but for the most part things went fairly well. Until about 8:45 when the drama began. Salinda is upset about something that we are not allowed to know (teenage girl drama) and was insisting on a rule exception again. In the midst of it all, I find out that Rand, whose computer was supposed to have been turned in to me, was using it. (long story).

So he comes upstairs denying using it. Says he hasn't touched it all week long. I give him a second chance, asking him if he would like to reconsider as I can check the computer and see if he has been on it. He says, "Go ahead and check it." So I do. And there is proof that he has been on every day this week but one. Ironic, I think, yet he does not see the humor. He stammers and yells and mutters and storms around talking to the walls (he does this when he has something to say to me that he doesn't quite feel brave enough to say directly to him). So as he is muttering around, Salinda is apparently upstairs finally talking to Bart, and I'm waiting to find out the result.

By this time on Sunday nights I am so very ready to go to bed and have it be Monday. But apparently that isn't going to happen quite yet.

A Self-Deprecating Story

This morning I wore socks that didn't match to church. And as I was putting them on I said to myself, "Well, they're close enough. They are both black and if anyone has enough time and energy to stare at my feet long enough to discover that they don't match, then they deserve the reward of discovering that they don't. I got interrupted from my train of thought, slipped on my shoes and was off to help someone find something or button something or break up a fight or some other wonderful chore I have on Sunday mornings.

I made it through Sunday School and all but 10 minutes of the second service without giving another thought to my socks. After all, I had resolved the issue in my head. Until it was time for our prayer circle and I heard my usually stoic son, Leon, chuckling and looked at him and he had a big smile on his face. We were supposed to be praying, so I whispered "What's up?" at which point in time he pointed down to my feet. I looked down and realized for the first time that not only were my socks not matching, but my shoes did not match either.

He got the biggest kick out of it. And I had to laugh myself as well.

Then, just as I thought we were going to make it to the end of the service without more drama, Dominyk turned sideways during the benediction and saw that Tony had left a few minutes early to secure the prized front seat of the van. In a panic he runs not to the back of the church, but sprints across the front of the church, slipping through a door in the front that leads to the area behind the podium. I just laughed and shook my head. What more could I do?

The Three Amigos

As we were leaving the van to go into the restaurant last night to celebrate Dominyk's birthday, Leon, WIlson, and Ricardo realized they were all dressed in black and red in shorts with big tennis shoes. So they sagged their shorts a bit and sauntered into the restaurant like they were part of some gang. These are our three mild-mannered quiet kids, so to see them do that was hilarious.

Ricardo and Leon have decided they are twins, separated at birth. (I know, I know, they are different races, but whatever...) The theory Leon came up with is that they were born in Mexico and that Ricardo went south to Guatemala, and he went north to Texas and they have been reunited. They are coming up with all kinds of variations to the story, but it's great to me to see them bonding not only as brothers, but as friends. They truly enjoy each other.

By Tuesday, we will legally be the parents (or guardians, in Dominyk's case) of 12 children and Leon and Wilson will be ours forever. It will be nice to be in court to celebrate for a change. ;-)

Dominyk is 12

Last night we celebrated Dominyk's birthday. His request: Mexican Village where he loves to get the "Border Burger." it's a place one of his PCAs takes him sometimes and he just loves it. It ended up that almost everyone came, which wasn't the plan, but it turned out OK and we had fun. It's hilarious to see our Hispanic kids ordering burgers while Bart and I have Mexican food, but whatever....

Afterwards we came home and he opened his presents. We'll have cake today. Dominyk was very appropriate, very grateful, and very endearing as he opened his gifts. Sometimes things almost seem "normal." :-)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It has to be a record

I just realized a few seconds ago that I had not blogged yet today. This has got to be a record. Obviously, things have been pretty uneventful, which is why I haven't had a need to post.

My meeting yesterday wasn't nearly as unpleasant as I had thought it might be... and I had a safe trip home. Last night Bart, Dominyk and I were the only ones home for a while. It was very unusual to only have three people here.

Today has been a mellllloooow day -- with me at the desk most of the day, at least 4 of the 9 kids gone for most of the day, Bart at the church doing a funeral.

You know it's a slow day when I forget to blog until 4:30 p.m!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Highs and Lows

I don't blog much about my job because I've seen other people try to do so, and often it leads to trouble. But in 24 hours time I wlll get to experience some highs and some lows. Unfortunately, my highs are over, and I'm leaving in 45 minutes for a "low."

Yesterday I got to visit two families that I really enjoy. They are getting homestudy updates and have finalized kids -- one of them a very tough one. And it is so fun to go back and see the kids doing better and to hear them scream my name and come running to me. We had good visits and it was fun to catch up -- one of the families I hadn't seen for over a year.

Today I have to talk to a family who is at their wits end with a child placed with them. I fear they are going to give up without finalizing. It is a very tricky spot to be in. Until a family makes a final commitment to a child, regardless of what might come there way, the child can sense their lack of commitment and their behavior worsens. The longer the family lives in indecision, the worse the behavior gets.

In my training and in my conversations with families, I always stress that the family must claim the child as their own on the day that child moves in. If either parent sees it as a testing period, the child senses that and it goes downhill from there.

So I am glad for the highs of my job. But I don't enjoy the lows.

I've been gone since yesterday -- got into my hotel room and took a nap, which was wonderful. Then did my two visits. Slept a long time last night (again, wonderful) and now am working in my room until I head for a lunch visit on my way home.

Things went fine at home. I am not dreading heading home, but I am sure that Salinda will have some wild plans for the weekend which won't be acceptable and I'll have to tell her no, something that usually requires a great deal of emotional stress.

So my time of escape is almost over.... and my time to face reality has begun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on the Plan for John

The more I think about it, the more satisfied I am with the current plan for John. It is important for Bart and I that our kids have a chance at a good transition to adulthood. If you want to read back to the March and April archives from 2007, you will see that Mike had a real opportunity to make it through that time period. He was in a halfway house, completely paid for. He needed to attend school for 6 weeks in order to receive a diploma from a suburban High School with a great reputation. All he needed to do was go to school, allow them to help him get a job, obey minimal rules, and stay drug and alcohol free. If he cooperated with that program and lived within it's structure, several months later he would have had everything paid to transition into another facility for at least a year after that. It was as good of a deal as he was going to get and it had real potential to provide him support for the next several years of his life. However, within three weeks he had been kicked out of the program and he spent the next year racking up a long list of criminal charges, including at least 7 or 8 felonies, and trying every chemical he could get his hands on. The result may be years is prison once he is tried for everything. But at least he had a plan.

Now John is approaching 18. He is in a juvenile detention facility and up until last week there was no concrete plan for his transition. Now because of the hard work of a worker at our county, the plan is for him to transition to a group home about 6 weeks from his 18th birthday that he can stay in as an adult. He and three other young men will be in a "normal" house with one staff person there at all times. They will be transported to school and work. They will be required to live chemically free, not be aggressive, and help with the cleaning and cooking in the home. They will have assistance managing their money. He can stay there as long as he needs to. Since he will not graduate until January and has no money, this is the only real option for him.

If the details work out for this, he will have the best start we can give him. I have been calling and talking and working on something for him for over a year now, and I feel good about the plan that is put in place. The unfortunate thing, which we have learned, is that he will still be the one who makes his choices. We cannot make them for him. And so we must now provide support, pray, and sit back and watch what happens.

And that, sometimes, the not-doing, is the hardest thing parents are ever called to do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My trip to the Desert

Last night I left late on purpose for Ricardo and Leon's game as Minnesota is just being teased by a Spring that is not really sure it wants to show up. I figured I would be cold. I mean we had a huge snow storm eight days before. But I didn't realize how cold, and I certainly did not count on being in a cold desert with the wind blowing dust into my face.

It took me a while to find which field the boys were on, and it had been my intention to catch the last 15 minutes of the game. But the first game had gone long and so I ended up getting there at the top of the 2nd inning. I like watching my kids play sports, but baseball is not my favorite. Part of the problem is that at that age, it is mostly a pitching game, because there are so few hits. So it's all about balls and strikes and if your son is not the pitcher or the catcher, it isn't exactly action packed. Even at shortstop and third base, I'm not sure that Ricardo or Leon touched the ball (except during warmups) more than two or three times each (if you count the times Leon ran after a foul ball).

So I sat in the stands, shivering, with the wind whipping around me. By the time the hour and fifteen minutes had passed, I had dirt in my eyes, grit permanently etched in my teeth, and sand caked in my ears.

BUT, the smile on his face when I said the standard Mom phrase, "OK, Leon, come on now, you can do it buddy" as he went up to bat made it all worth while.

I drove them threw Burger King for supper (I know, I know, not healthy -- but hey, I came home and made a sandwich). They weren't really very cooperative for my after-the-game shots, but I know they were glad I was there.

And it is those short moments, a smile, a thank you, a look of surprise or pleasure, that make all the rest of the not so great moments disappear. An oasis in the desert of parenting special needs kids, giving us just enough refreshment that we feel like we can go on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Well, unfortunately for John, but not so unfortunate for me (feeling selfish all the sudden) Bart and I have a speaking engagement this afternoon and will not be attending John's hearing. I was dreading it, and now I cannot attend, so that is good.

AND we got a phone call this afternoon that Mike's jury trial for stealing our car (for which we had been served subpoenas from both sides) has been cancelled because he pled guilty and the whole thing is now over. He will be sentenced at a later date, but we do not have to appear, we do not have to testify, we don't even have to worry about it any more.

And while there is a whole lot of sadness about the fact that jail is sometimes the only solution that society has for people like Mike, and there is the unfortunate grieving that comes from watching him throw his life away, for this moment I'm just being selfish. And I'm glad that I can spend tomorrow doing something besides going to court.

I was dreading April because we had 4 court hearings. One of them is over. Two of them we're not going to. And the last one is a happy occasion.

So I am relieved and I am selfishly happy.

I am not happy for MIke, but I'm happy for me. I carry the sadness for MIke every day, but today I am going to just experience the happiness for myself for today. I hope that's ok.

Oh the Joy of It

It has been a long standing joke of mine that I would rather parent 100 more boys than one more girl. Truth is I think I'd rather not parent any more kids, but I certainly could not imagine doing "teenager girl" again. Even the best and brightest teenage girls, who have lived with excellent birthparents for years, have very interesting times during their teenage years. Striving for independence, attempting to fit in with their peers, dealing with the pressure of testosterone driven boys, impulsivity, unwillingness to understand guidelines and live within them, etc. etc. etc.

Last night Sadie pushed all my buttons again and again and again until i finally decided to avoid her. She had laundry in the washer, so I decided to just change the laundry for her instead of asking her to move the stuff. She came down 30 minutes later (an hour after the washer and dryer were done) and yelled at me because she had another load to put in and accused me of deliberately changing her laundry to make her mad. Since I had genuinely been attempting not to make her mad, her accusations were frustrating to say the least. But the hard part is that she will not let it go. She pushes and pushes and pushes until I'm at my wit's end.

Last night Salinda broke rules again.... minor ones, i guess, but enough that I would have been somewhat justified in talking to her P.O. However, this morning I woke her up and made her come talk to me. I told her that I was going to simply document the behaviors and at some point turn them in if things didn't turn around. The conversation went reasonably well until the end when I was waiting for an apology. Her words were I'm sorry but I wish I would have had a video camera to document tone of voice and facial expression. ;-)

The amount of emotional energy it takes to navigate the intense drama of the teenage girls years is more than I have some days. I find the whole experience quite draining. I woke again at 4:20 after a brief altercation with Salinda at 12:15, so I am not well rested. But I did manage to make it to the YMCA to work out and weigh in this morning.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Such a Privilege Being Married to a Man

Who can think and write like this.

Wild Week Ahead

I'm gearing up for a very busy week. I have 3 home visits, 2 of which will involve an overnight stay several hours from here. John has a court hearing (which we will not be able to attend because of a prior commitment) and MIke's trial is this week.

Salinda had another fit last night when I told her no. Neither she, John, nor Mercedes have ever done well with accepting that word. WIth Salinda, she is nearly always appropriate and does what she is supposed to do (in regards to chores and family rules), so she hasn't had to hear the word no very often. However, when she does, she cannot handle it. Her attitude is horrible and she is defiant and mean. It is emotionally exhausting to deal with her.

Last night I was triple-teamed in an onslaught of demands. I had just sent an email to a friend indicating I had had a good day and then, after 9 p.m., it all blew up. Tony decided I needed to burn him a CD, not accepting that it was too late for me to start the project. Dominyk got obsessed with the idea that he I owed him $2.00 and would not let it go. And after the two of them had drained me completely, Salinda popped in with an unreasonable request to spend a school night at a friends who she had been with all but 6 hours of the entire weekend already.

I did not respond well. Fortunately, I calmed myself down and was able to fall asleep by around 10:30. I actually slept again last night for which I am grateful.

Today John's new worker and I are going down to interview him about possibilities for the future. Even though I was down there to see him yesterday and am not thrilled about the return trip, I am excited that something is happening for him.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Responding to a Comment

I had this question that came in one of my comments:

Do you have any advice to parents who have begun searching photolistings for children to adopt? We just sent in a request on a sib group of five in Texas.....what questions should we ask? how does the process work? what "buzzwords" should we pay attention to in listings? We are excited and terrified at the same time and sure could use advice from someone who has been there

In reading this I thought about the matching series that I wrote several months ago. I don't remember what is all there, so if I don't answer your questions there, let me know. ;-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

8 Hours

I slept for 8 hours!!!! I'm thrilled. And I woke up with some enthusiasm about the things I have to/get to do today, which is unusual as lately I have dreaded most everything. I gave myself the luxury, since it was still only 6:15 when I woke up, to lie there a while and plan how I would tackle the tasks of my day.

Salinda miraculously "found" the keys when I asked her to look for them. I explained to her that she needed to apologize to Bart. I will keep reminding her. And no, her apology yesterday was not that big of a deal (responding to Jen's comment/question) it was forced and meant little, but I still make my kids go through the motions of apologizing even if they don't mean it. I figure then maybe later they will get it.

We all went to bed fairly peacefully last night and we will probably have a pretty lazy day around here. There are supposed to be snow flurries again and I would whine some more about having to live in MInnesota, but even I'm tired of that theme. Our new boys are just so tired of cold. They were used to Dallas where they could play outside almost year round and this has been a very long winter for them.

Time to get my nose to the grindstone and get some of this stuff done!

Friday, April 11, 2008

And it Does Get Better

Bart let me take a mental health day. I spent from 9 until 2:30 at Dunn Brothers alone. NObody interrupted me (well, except a few phone callers on my cell). I took care of a hoard of emails. It was a productive few hours.

And my meeting was good as well. It was about John. One of the workers at the county that has been out advocate for a long time has had the case transferred to her and we are going to see him next week to try to convince him that a group home setting as he transitions to adulthood would be a good plan.

Salinda texted me between classes finally apologizing for her attitude. We still haven't found the keys. I am still very tired and ate too much to comfortably fit in my stomach, so I am not feeling physically well, but emotionally I have recovered substantially. I may try to lie down for a while, but the house is buzzing with adolescent humans, and sometimes that doesn't go so well.

Bart and I are both feeling a little bit listless and unmotivated, not a good combination. Usually one of us is feeling up to the things and the other isn't. When we are both out of it things can be challenging.

But I'll get there. It may take a while, but I'll have myself back in shape in no time.

Hitting Bottom

This morning I think I hit bottom. At least I hope I did. Because if the bottom is ahead then I am not sure how I will handle it. I would go through the whole story, requiring me to relive it all, but let me just give you some highlights (if you can call them highlights).

* 9:00 p.m. (last night): Argument with Salinda resulting in her intense anger and me shaking;

*9:15 p.m. Dominyk refused to take his pills, resulting in more anger from him.

*9:30 p.m. Bart and I try to go to bed early. We get interrupted every 4-6 minutes for at least a half hour.

10:00 p.m. Apparently there is water in the basement and a fuse is blown downstairs. I instruct the kdis to go to bed because they don't need lights to sleep. They do not.

10:15 p.m. I redirect the children who are still running around the house talking in loud voices with flashlights, but it doesn't work.

10:30 p.m. I go back out to attempt to redirect Tony, who is not responding to my attempts to redirct and instead screams cursewords at me.

11:00 p.m. I fall into a fitful sleep.

4:30 a.m. I wake up, but decide not to go to the YMCA because I need the sleep.

6:00 a.m. I get up, because I never did fall back asleep and now I am angry that I didn't go to the Y and wasted that 90 minutes.

6:10 a.m. I take a shower in the dark.

6:25 a.m. I try to fix the fuse box, which I cannot.

6:30 a.m. I get into an argument with my husband because I am so crabby he cannot stand to be around me when I am so crabby, which is due to sleep deprivation.

6:45 a.m. I call Mike and Kari, sing a few words of a song, and I ask Mike can come look at the fuse box.

7:00 a.m. I wake up Salinda who refuses to go to school. I warn her that I will call her P.O. if she doesn't go and she will be truant.

7:05 a.m. I leave the house and drive aimlessly until Mike calls to say he is coming over to fix the fuse.

7:20 a.m. I meet Mike at the house and we try to figure out the electricity problem.

7:30 a.m. Salinda yells at me again.

7:32 a.m. Tony reports that Salinda has left the house stealing Bart's keys. I yell out the door that if she has them, I may call law enforcement.

7:40 a.m. Mike find the problem and the electricity is back on.

7:45 a.m. I reset the internet, talk to Bart some more, and leave the house. I drive around a while, stopping to answer Salinda's angry texts where she denies having the keys.

8:00 a.m. I head to Dunn Brotheres but am so emotionally unstable that I'm not sure I can even be in front of people. I stay in the car for a while.

8:45 a.m I enter Dunn Brothers, emotionally exhausted and completely spent and begin to blog.

9:30 a.m. My meeting person gets here and I have to stop blogging. :-)

10:45 a.m. I come back to finish off the blog.

I guess the reason I blog today is that I think that there are a lot of us who get to this point periodically. I am emotionally spent, exhausted and don't feel well. I don't know how I can face the rest of the day especially knowing that I will have to deal with a very angry Salinda. I think I need to sleep for a long time, but since our school district has more reasons not to have school than any district I've ever seen, I have 7 kids at home. Sleeping might not be possible.

I am tempted not to blog on days like this. Days when there isn't a lot of hope on the horizon. But sometimes, sharing it with those who have been here and know how this feels helps. And then, if I blog everything, I can go back and read my own words, for example, things like hope is birds singing in the cold darkness and remind myself that everything is going to be OK.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Fun Stuff

We had a wild morning -- the only appointment to get the van fixed (because it sounded like a jet taking off every time I got into it) was 15 minutes before it was time to be at three conferences. So, Bart agreed to help with transportation and see to it that we all got where we needed to be.

He brought us home after everything was over (three very good conferences by the way, well, good for my kids -- no overachievers here, but all progressing). Right before Dominyk and I got into the car, apparently Wilson had convinced Bart to listen to some rap station and Bart was happily singing, "Like a Cyclone, she makes me wanna do it all night long" joking with the children that he was singing about me.

Dominyk picked up on it quickly but was a little confused about the lyrics, belting out, "I'm a Psycho."

As Bart and I commented on this I reminded Bart of what had happened last night. I walked into Dominyk and Wilson's room before bed and WIlson had just gotten out of the shower. He was standing there with a huge towel wrapped around his tiny body, and his hair plastered down on his head, still very wet. The room smelled horrible. Wondering if there was rotting food in the room, I asked, "What smells in here?"

Wilson responded. "We've been farting."

Before I could say anything more he breathed in deep and exclaimed, "The Smell of Discovery."

He later confessed to having stolen the line from Sponge Bob, but it was SO hilarious.

The remainder of the ride home included a conversation so awesome that I was already blogging it in my head when Bart said "I'm blogging that, so don't even think about it."


Guess you'll have to wait for him to get back from therapy and read his blog to hear about it.

John Update (not because I want to)

(The picture above is of John when he was 12. Wasn't he sweet? Still is, by the way.)

I need to update you on John. Not because I want to, but because I need to share how things have gone. Knowing that some professionals involved in his case read my blog has made me a little hesitant, but I will simply present the facts and try not to share much emotion (yeah, right, you're all thinking, good luck with that).

Here are the details up until January 29th.

Well, now, as you know, it is April 10th. The plan we were told back in the fall was, "If john screws up, which he probably will, we will put him into ______ (a secure detention facility which also is a residential treatment program) for a couple weeks and teach him a lesson and then put him back into foster care." And so John screwed up and they put him in ________.

And he

is still


Yes, January 18th he was asked to be removed from his foster home and a few days later was sent to learn his lesson for a week or two. And it has been almost 3 months. He is now 3 months from his 18th birthday, not sure what happened to his stuff or the money he had earned last year (he had it on a card that he thinks was left at the foster home). He cannot work, most likely will not graduate, and has no plan for the future.

Furthermore, charges were pressed against John for 5th Degree Assault for the incident in his foster home before he left. I was not there, so I do not know what happened. But what i do know is that he should not have been there in the first place. He was unmedicated, frustrated with a situation he did not create, and in the wrong setting, as we had tried to make clear for months.

To top it all off we received a bill to pay for the public defender... which I am, on principle, going to attempt to refuse to pay. I could write an angry paragraph about this, but remember, trying to leave emotion out of this.

John happily reported that his new psychiatrist agrees that he does not need medication. However, on Friday night, in a secure detention/residential facility, he had to be restrained. I do not know how to put those pieces together and feel at all positive about his prognosis for the future.

I'm still working on a plan -- have a meeting tomorrow -- to transition him to adulthood with supports, but time is running out.

So, those are the facts about John. And you all can mentally add any emotion to the post that I purposefully left out.

But my final question is this: If John is an adopted child, with parents who are fairly strong advocates, and this is his story, what are stories like for the 17,000 seventeen year olds who will age out of the system in 2008 who do NOT have adoptive parents who advocate for them?

I think the answer to that question is far too depressing to even begin to contemplate. And that question alone motivates me to be sure that that number goes down every year.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bart is Back to Blogging

And his entries are very powerful as always. Check this one out.

Court Hearing #1

Well, our first court hearing is over and it wasn't as bad as I thought, but may have been worse than Salinda planned. She will be on probation for another year and will have more community service. I am kind of glad that she will still be on probation as it provides us with a backup to our parenting. I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

It is amazing how many people we are starting to recognize at the court house. We've become kind of standard fixtures there. We still have 3 hearings to go to in the next 2 weeks.... The one that we dread of course, is the last one, where we will have to testify against Mike.

But this hearing was fine and I'm glad it's over. One down, three to go.

For those who care about my dieting progress

you can check it out on this blog.


Last night I blew it. I got caught up in a ridiculous argument with Sadie. She wanted me to help her with homework and she had it stuck in her head exactly how she wanted it to go. When I suggested I help her in a little bit different way, she was not interested and she began a huge stubborn streak that resulted in me yelling at her (OK, so I wasn't handling it well).

The instructions on her paper said that she was supposed to circle the homonym pairs and she decided to choose that as her battle ground. She was not going to circle them. She was going to underline one and circle the other one. The problem was, that the word that didn't fit in the sentence needed to be underlined.

So, being the intense person that I am, and already tired having been awake since 4:30 a.m., I could not see past the instructions (I am a very black and white thinker, especially when I am tired). If I was going to help her do homework, she needed to get it right. And she decided she was not going to circle those silly little words.

I started to yell and it got worse from there. However, I refused to let it go on all night. I finally just told her that we were both too tired, that she should have done her homework directly after school as expected here (she didn't admit to having any after school) and that I would be happy to help her in the morning, at 6:15. I physically removed her from my office and locked the door so that we could both recover. She screamed that she wished I wasn't her mom (and I have to confess at that moment, I wished i wasn't either, but I didn't say so outloud).

When I heard her crying, i went into her room and attempted to make progress, but she was still caught up in the stage where everything became an argument, so I finally just said goodnight and told her I would wake her up in the morning.

Later Bart mentioned that possibly I could have just let her not circle the words. That it was her homework and that if she wanted to get them all wrong I should have let her. I'm sure that when he mentioned this to me I probably blinked and looked shocked, because last night when I was that tired, the thought never crossed my mind. I was so intent on making sure that she did it RIGHT. Sometimes I really drive myself nuts.

But this morning I was able to wake her up and she came downstairs to my office, and we had the assignments done in less than 20 minutes. And she thanked me.

Parenting children who have a history of abuse or neglect is extremely difficult sometimes. There is so much healing to be done and we as parents often are caught up in some of the stress of the issues our children have. There are moments when we change and become people that we do not like much, people we are not proud of. The stress, anxiety and frustration of our kids behaviors lead us to places where we do not recognizer ourselves. And at that point sometimes the challenges seem unfaceable.

But this morning I am thankful for redemption -- for second chances for all of us. I'm thankful that when things get screwed up, there is the option we all have to be the extenders or recipients of grace, or both. And that in the consistent mending of relationships they are strengthened. And I am thankful for the redemptive love of merciful God who always extends that grace to me, to all of us.

And next time I think I'll just remember to let her get them wrong if she is determined to do so.

I hope.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Answer: One Hour and Twenty-five Minutes

Question: How long does it take to pick up 3 kids from school?

Well, I guess it depends on who you are, where you're from, and how big your town is. But in our town, it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to go to two schools.

Except that it's MY family we're talking about and so that makes everything different. First, Bart had decided to stay at the church and let Rand make dinner, so he asked me to bring him his medication. So I left a little early. Then I headed to the elementary school where Wilson had foolishly asked to stay after on the playground. We tried to worn him that he was asking to stay too long and it would be cold, but he insisted and sometimes kids just have to learn for themselves.

So I show up and he isn't there. Nowhere to be found. Sadie had intimated earlier that he would sneak off to a friends house, so after waiting five minutes, I decided that is probably where he was so I headed to the school to get Ricardo and Leon, who always manage to be at the wrong door. Even though I tell them the same thing every time.

So I went to the right door, and they weren't there. So I gave up and went to the wrong door. And they weren't there. I called home. Rand said that they had already called and that he thought they had told Salinda they would be at the locker room doors (the right doors). I told him OK. I drove to the right doors again. They weren't there.

By this time I figured Wilson was going to be getting scared if he had come to the school from his friends and found him not there. So I left the Junior High and headed back to the Elementary only to find him not there again. I sat and waited a bit and he finally came running out of the school building where apparently he had been sitting on a radiator "burning his butt" so he could warm up.

We headed back to the Junior High where we waited at the right doors. I sent WIlson in to look around. No sign. I called Rand. He had heard nothing. I told him to go ahead and serve supper to whoever was ready to eat. I drove around to the wrong doors. I sent Wilson in. Still nothing.

Finally Rand called. "Leon and Ricardo are at the park, that is where practice was?" And I was supposed to know that how???

SO we headed to the park. Except that the park is on this annoying street where, if you don't turn 2 blocks before the park you have to drive 16 miles to turn around. OK, so I exaggerate. Probably just a mile. But still. So i decide to take a back road, which turns out to be a dead end road leading to apartment buildings. I turned around and headed back to the endless road with no streets and went all the way back to the park.

By the time I got there my Guatemalan and my Texan were freezing -- no foresight to wear sweats, just shorts and t-shirts. And I asked, "So how was I supposed to know you were here." Leon said, "Well, I figured you would know that if we weren't at the school we'd be here." And Ricardo only muttered, in his guttural quiet tone, "I said to Salinda that." And I thought, "well, honey if you "said to Salinda that" with that kind of grammar in that muted stoic tone, she might not have understood."

Fortunately these are my easy going kids and they were not mad and fortunately I have had a pretty decent day and so I found the whole thing more comical than annoying.

I just find it amazing that a simple task, picking up 3 kids at two schools, can take one hour and twenty-five minutes of my day.

Bart blogged again today about normal days.

On My Way Out the Door

I'm heading to Minneapolis today to go to the hospital and get my lap band filled. I will talk about progress in my other blog later today, but I was back from the Y at 6 this morning and showered, and now I'm leaving for my drive.

Yesterday was kind of an emotional day for me, but I feel like I'm back on track this morning. And of course, since I can't have anything to eat or drink until after I have this thing filled, I'm starving and thirsty, something I never even think about when I can eat anything I want.

I'll report later.... maybe even blog from the waiting room from my phone, depending on how much time I have.

Monday, April 07, 2008


If my IPhone gets out of my site, pictures like this end up on it.

I probably have blogged about this before, but I am one of those folks who wakes up happy almost every day until something changes my mind. I like new things. New days, new weeks, new months, new years, fresh chances.

I believe that we always have a chance to start again fresh. I believe that we can each change ourselves, and thus the world around us simply by choosing to do so. I never believe that a situation is too far gone, or that there is no hope, or that we can't make a difference.

I especially like Mondays when I have no appointments. The kids are safe in school where they should be (smile) and I can focus on what I need to get done. And right now, I have a lot to do.

The rest of this week and all of next week I have at least one thing on my schedule each day so I'm going to enjoy my day at my desk. And, fortunately this weekend I had time to clean of my desk, so I get to start my day working in an organized work space.

Well, it's almost time to wake everyone up. SO it may very well be that my good start gets interrupted. But I had 50 minutes. And that's not bad. ;-)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Hugs, Confusion, and Viagra

I just realized I hadn't blogged yet today, which is pretty amazing for me. If I don't get it done early in the morning them sometimes I forget.

Tony took this shot of Wilson hugging me last night. He's so adorable and so fun to hug.

Today we had a bit of a confusing time. I didn't take my cell phone to church and we decided to meet after church for a brunch buffet. I got there with half the kids and Bart didn't come, and didn't come, and didn't come. We finished eating and he still hadn't come. Sadie had a friend with her, so we used her cell phone to finally contact him and he had been talking to a parishioner. Apparently Dominyk, who had asked to ride with him, came screaming curse words through the church foyer. Bart decided to just take the other kids to Wendy's and be done with it. But that 40 minutes where I didn't know where he was were disconcerting. Guess we rely on our cell phones too much.

Bart picked up a prescription today (for either diabetes or high blood pressure) and Napoleon asked if it was viagra.

Having huggable kids who like me and have a good sense of humor is really taking some getting used to. Not that our other kids haven't been fun or lovable, but in different ways. But these guys LIKE me. It's just so odd.

Bart blogged more about his day here.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday Fun

The kids stood around my computer today as I demonstrated some photoshop abilities -- apparently they have a superhero day at school this week... and needed these.

When it comes to this stuff, I am a huge perfectionist, so I had to stop myself before I spent the whole day trying to make these better.

One Driver, One Cook

The past 24 hours I've been the only driver around here and THAT is a change. Rand is off at a Culinary Competition this weekend and Bart will arrive home from a trip to Nashville and a meeting in Minneapolis this afternoon. So I have been the only driver and the cook. We have done OK, but I didn't realize how much I had been relying on Rand to run errands and drop people off and pick them up. Having to do it all myself was quite exhausting and I have another day of it today.

Rand had to get a new suit for the competition..... amazing how quickly this boy turned into a man.

Both of the girls put me through the ringer last night. Hopefully Salinda will be able to recover from her poor choices and move on. I often worry she might spiral down like she often does. Sadie has yet to apologize and make things right. Last night I was so exhausted I just finally chose to stop talking to either of them until today as we were getting nowhere. Hopefully a good night's sleep for all of us will help.

Why I Blog

I do not think that anyone would ever use the words "politically correct" to describe me, neither in person nor online. And sometimes, being so politically incorrect in a public way, like a blog, may not be a great plan. Up to this point, I have ignored that issue, but recently I've been thinking that if I ever decided to pursue another position in the adoption field, my candid posts and often odd sense of humor might not be viewed as a positive thing.

Kari has been wrestling with this issue as well and she and I talked about it this week. And I had to go back and remind myself of why I blog and what my intention is.

First, I blog for me. In the past more so than now, I relied heavily on the blog as a place to go when there was nobody else to listen and I was very stressed, especially if Bart wasn't home. Somehow, sharing with all of you the intense stress I was under calmed me down. Lately, however, I have tried to pick up the phone and call a friend, or wait until I can talk Bart instead, as to not always air our dirtiest laundry in the front yard.

But secondly, I blog for adoptive parents. I blog for people who live in a small town, like we used to, where they don't have other adoptive parents who understand. I blog for those who think they are the only ones who feel a certain way so that they can come to my blog and say, "OH, I am so relieved. I'm not the only one who feels like......" I blog for parents who plan to adopt, not to scare them away, but to show them that regardless of the horrible things that happen to me, I can keep going and that anyone, even imperfect me, can do this.

So, I blog as adoption support for others and for myself. Certainly there are others who read my blog -- it's public and so I am sure that some of my neighbors, possibly my kids teachers, social workers, members of our congregation, members of our extended family, and lots of others read what I write. But my intention is that we, as adoptive parents, support one another through the medium of my blog.

And while lately I have tried not to be as specific about some of my children's issues to protect them a little more, I am not going to stop being candidly me. If I second guess every sentence I type, then it will cease to be the gut-wrenchingly honest portrayal I have always hoped it would be.

And I guess, if some day, I don't get a job because of what i've printed, then maybe I wasn't supposed to have that job anyway.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Communication with MIke

I really wanted to blog about this, but Bart asked if he could, and so I agreed.

And of course, his post is much better than mine would have been.

Hope is Birds Singing in the Cold Darkness

It's still dark out there and there are still small patches of snow. But the birds are singing I can hear them out there in the cold darkness. They are singing because they know that spring is coming, even though there very little evidence. Their song is a song of hope.

At this moment all is OK in my world. I'm not thrilled about three of the four court hearings we have to face in the next few weeks (one of them, April 22nd, we finalize the new boys, so THAT I am looking forward to). But for today, all is well. Today there is not anything too tough on my schedule today (a United Way Presentation in late afternoon is all) and the kids have been very well behaved this week.

But there are other days when things don't seem this hopeful. There are days when my world seems cold and dark. And I have to ask myself, "Do I have the strength to sing in those situations?"

Often, I probably do have the strength, but I just choose not to. I would rather moan. And the more negative things I say to myself, the more entrenched in that hopelessness I become.

But I'm vowing today to remind myself the next time things are dark and cold in my world, that I can still sing as the birds do. I can still sing because I KNOW that in the midst of every winter there is a spring ahead. Just as the birds carry that knowledge with them and burst forth into song, regardless of how cold and dark it may be at the end of winter.

I can't hear them anymore -- the birds outside -- because the noise of my house has taken over. The kids are starting to get up, the shower is on. But I know the birds are still there, and I know that they are still singing.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time the noises of my life drown out the sound of the birds singing, I will still remember that weather or not I can hear it, the song of hope plays on.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A New Setting

This morning I am sitting at my husband's new desk. Having gone 12 years without a space in his own house he could call his, the desk, which he bought two weeks ago, is obviously so important to his well-being and it makes me wish I would have bought him one years ago.

I had the laptop in the bedroom last night and forgot to grab it when I headed downstairs to shower, so I decided to come back up here and spend my half hour blogging and reading blogs as is my tradition from 6:30 to 7:00 every morning. It's an interesting change of scenery.

The kids have been especially calm and well behaved the past couple days. I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out and everything to change, but so far they have done well.

I'm sitting here in the dark with Wilson asleep, his tiny body tucked into the seam of the recliner, and Dominyk hogging most of my bed. Dominyk has a very special way of screaming the word, "Tony" with all the angst of one being under intense torture, and apparently Tony invaded his dreams because I was awakened with that lovely shrieking in the middle of the night. Early this morning Dominyk was awake briefly and rubbing the top of my head. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, "Oops, I thought you were gizmo." I love it that he can't tell the difference between me and the dog.

The to-do list I have keeps getting longer and the things I'm getting done shorter, so I have a busy day ahead as always. I'm also cooking beans tonight..... Cooking never makes me very happy, but beans is one meal I can do.

Maybe one of these days I will write something in the blog worth reading again. But then again, maybe I'll just keep saying the same things over and over again. ;-)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Out of Town and Blogging Again (Finally)

Bart is in Nashville and actually spent some time blogging this morning. I always love it when he blogs.

Reaching a New Stage

I didn't plan my week to be the way it is turning out to be, but we're fine. The huge snow storm on Monday that cancelled school, cancelled an out-of-town trip I needed to take, so I had to reschedule for yesterday. But that meant it was going to be a crazy evening and Bart was out of town.

I left Rand, Sadie and Jimmy in charge of supper and Rand in charge of the pick-ups from school that the PCA doesn't do, and headed out around 12:30. I got home at 5:35 and had to leave again at 5:50 for Sadie's 7th grade registration meeting. I had called from the road and given instructions and sure enough, I walked in to sit down to a wonderful meal of spaghetti. It tasted great. I left then, with instructions for Rand to take several of the boys to the YMCA.

The evening was very peaceful and I actually went to bed at 9:15 and took Dominyk with me. We were asleep by 9:30 and apparently everyone got themselves off to bed because they are all there now.

It's nice to be at a stage in our lives with a combination of children that with a little creative manuevering can be left home for periods of time alone and can put together a full, delicious meal.

Tonight we eat at church though, and I'm glad I won't have the hassle of cooking. But the kids are all excited that tomorrow there will be beans. It's my tradition to make black beans and rice when Bart is out of town and they look forward to that and my homemade salsa.

We're missing Bart, but so far we're doing OK. There are no major stressors this week (those are coming in the next two weeks as we face three separate court hearings) but this week is just business as usual.

I'm off to start the morning routine!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Anything Can Happen on a Snow Day

Of course, nothing really happened EXCEPT what was expected to happen.. which was that the unexpected brought expected arguments, meltdowns, fights, etc. for about the first two hours the kids were home. They were all here by 11:15, but by 1:00 things seemed to settle down fairly well and the rest of the day was fine. Leon, WIlson and Tony spent hours playing in the snow and actually had a great time. They had this picture taken to send to their sister. They have some trouble remembering that just because it is April does not mean it is time for shorts.

It doesn't seem necessary for me to continue to lament the fact that it is April and we have several inches of snow in the yard as it won't make any difference. However, driving through a winter wonderland was certainly not my plan two weeks into Spring.

I was at the YMCA by 5:15 again this morning. If you want to read about my progress on that front you can go to my shrinking slob blog.

I'm on the road today since I couldn't go yesterday. And as always, my to do list is longer than my day. Bart leaves today for Nashville, where it is much warmer and that means I will be cooking (or the kids will) for the rest of the week.