Saturday, May 31, 2008

Calling It a Night

I had this whole post done and then my program messed up and I had to restart it. I hate it when that happens.

Here is how we are ending our day:

  • Our family was invited over to Mike and Kari’s for wedding reception leftovers tonight. When people need food eaten, inviting our family, made up of several teenage boys, is always a good plan. The picture is of Mike, the redneck, determined to enjoy the porch he build with his own two hands, regardless of the fact that the rest of us went inside to get out of the rain.

  • Bart and I took a walk. We got interrupted twice. The first time we had to go back to deal with a wayward child. The second time we the call on Bart’s cell began with, “I’m not sure if this is an emergency or not.” Needless to say, we dealt with that when we came home.

  • We got a letter from our Mike who is in jail tonight. Bart blogs eloquently about it here.

  • Salinda has been appropriate and almost nice for four straight days and thus will be ungrounded starting tomorrow. She is very glad. I am too.

  • Theresa blogged about my New Month’s Resolution idea. It’s fun to see it catching on. If you decide to make a Resolution for the month of June, post it on your blog if you have one, and send me the link and I’ll place it here. (more blog traffic, hint, hint, hint).

  • Time to call it a night!

Wilson just took this Picture of Himself

And Finally.....

a couple of pieces of news about my incredible husband.

First of all, he wrote the most amazing blog post about the wedding last night.

AND here is some huge news. Each year the Bishop draws a name out of a hat to determine the conference preacher for the next annual conference. And my husband will be the 2009 preacher!!! Some people might think it is about odds, and probability -- I think it is a God thing.

He’s a great speaker and an anointed preacher so I’m excited for him. It is a big honor and a big responsibility -- quite intimidating even. He will be speaking to an audience of over 900 people, half of them who preach every Sunday. I know he will do GREAT!

The Book We're Writing -- I need an IDEA!

The book we are writing has had a name change. Right now on the blog it is called “Ten in Nine” but that was because we adopted 10 kids in 9 years. But now we have twelve so we thought long and hard and concluded that we would call the book “Claiming the Unclaimed: How 12 Children and 2 Adults became One Family.”

However, the book lacks my typical sense of humor and so I am going to be writing a humorous anecdote section and stick it between chapters.

Here is my conundrum. I can’t decide what to call it. Every name that I come up with Bart says is dumb. I thought of “The Humor Corner” or “Laugh Time” or “Laughter Break” but he doesn’t like any of them.

Anybody have a good idea? It would basically be a page or two every three or four chapters that tells a funny story about one or more of our kids.

What should I call it? Any good ideas out there?

New Month's Resolutions

So I have spent some of my driving time thinking about how I can make a resolution for thirty days. I mean really, I can do anything for thirty days. And so I have come up with two resolutions for the month of June.

The first one is that I am going to write something that will eventually be part of some book in the future every day. Whether it is the book we are currently working on or another one in the future, I want to write at least a paragraph every day for a month.

And the second is health related so I am posting it here.

Any of you want to join me in making a resolution for the month of June? It’s only thirty days and then if it isn’t something you want to continue you can quit. :-)

A Great Day So Far

The sun was shining brightly. The grass is green. I took Tony, Jimmy, Sadie and Ricardo up to the Cities for a soccer game. Everyone behaved appropriately (even Tony was better than usual) and the team played very well even though he lost. Ricardo is one tough player and we overheard several parents talking about his skill. Considering this is only his second season of competitive soccer (we had no team in our previous community) and only his 4th year playing on any formal team (he arrived from a Guatemalan orphanage 4 years ago) he does remarkably well.

So we spent six hours together and it was all good. And it felt great.

I took 89 pictures. The only way to get a good shot of him is to put the camera on continuous and follow him around the field. You can tell by these shots though that he is a determined, competitive player....

And I’m a proud mom.

Happy New Month's Eve

I have been thinking lately that it is too bad we only acknowledge the passing of each year. For some of us who have lives that are difficult (but yes, ones that we have chosen) making it through a month is a milestone.

Fresh starts are great things. New Year’s day for many is a time to re-evaluate and make resolutions and plans for the year to come. We see it as a new beginning and we often use that to make major life changes.

What if we started doing so every month? What if the end of a month became a time where we rejoiced that we made it through that month, especially if it was a difficult one? What if we felt the same way about the beginning of each month as we do about the start of each year -- that it was a new opportunity to make changes and begin again?

What if we looked back on the month and gave thanks for the good things that happened and gave God thanks for getting us through the hard times?

Celebrating the passing of a month isn’t quite like a year. In fact, you can’t even call a monthly celebration an anniversary because the word anniversary comes from the latin word “annum” which means year. And monthiversary sounds kind of dorky.

I don’t know that I am going to start a trend here and that people are going to walk around tomorrow saying “Happy New Month” or “Happy Monthiversary” but I do think that the end of and old month and the beginning of a new month should signify something. Celebrating 12 times a year instead of once, even if it isn’t to the same extent, can’t be a bad thing, right?

So, do you have any New Month’s Resolutions? Are you grateful for anything that happened in May? Or has it been a hard month that you are glad is over? Or a little bit of both?

For me it has been a month of real highs and real lows and I’m glad to turn over the calendar page and move on. But Happy monthiversary or Happy New Month or Happy New Month’s Eve, technically.

Want to start a trend?

Makeup Three Times in One Week

I only have a little while this morning to blog and I have so many things to talk about. What should be first?

Let’s start with last night and I’ll keep you up to date.

Salinda actually seems to be taking my advice to make the best of the situation she is in. She was not happy about being grounded and chose not to go with us out for pizza, but she did decide to make the best of the rest of her night. When we came home from the wedding (more on that in a second) she was busy playing basketball and running around outside with Dominyk (shocked us all). Then she asked permission to stay up late so she and Sadie could watch a movie together. She was very appropriate all day.

I had a few moments of frustration as we invited all the children to come with us to Mike and Kari’s daughter Katie’s wedding and they one by one refused. About 10 years ago we made a decision not to force our teenagers to attend things with us, and now I’m wondering if that was a bad decision. We have had so many kids who will ruin an event for everyone if they are forced to go, that we make things optional. There is nothing worse than paying money to be miserable and if someone chooses not to come along, it often saves us money. However, in this case, I was disappointed because these people are our best friends in Mankato and our children were too selfish to see beyond themselves enough to get dressed up to go. So, I have a question. HOw many of you force your children to attend “all family events” and if so, how does it go?

Anyway, for a while it looked like I was going to have to go to the wedding alone, which I really didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to leave Dominyk home with JImmy (who was in a major mood) and Salinda (who has had such a rough week) but Dominyk said he didn’t want to go. Even kegs of root beer could not lure him. But he assured us he would be safe from the other kids anger and if he needed to he would just stay in the bathroom for the whole time. ;-) He had drug his whole toy box into the bathroom and was planning a lengthy “play bath.”

At the last minute, Wilson and Jimmy decided to come with us and we ended up having a wonderful time. My kids were shocked to see my wearing makeup and putting on a dress three times in one week. It’s gotta be a record.

As you can see if you click the link, Katie was a beautiful bride and everyone did so well. We had promised a ride home from the mall to RIcky and Leon, so we didn’t stay long at the reception, but I did eat one of those famous strawberries dipped in chocolate.

We came home and I took a walk with Bart and then we went to bed and I slept a long time -- awakened only by our smoke detectors at 1 a.m. which we discovered work very well -- except we have no idea what set them off. And that was another night at the Fletchers.

We are heading to yet another soccer game for Ricardo today and I have lost the paper that tells us which field he plays on, so we’ll have to leave extra early in case I have to look for it.... SIgh. I even made extra copies. But I have kids who love to come in and take things off my desk and look at them, and sometimes they just forget and walk away with them. Or, I suppose that it could have been ME that lost it, but good grief, as long as I have 9 kids here to blame for things, why would I consider that option?

Friday, May 30, 2008

He is HOME and She is Testing Again

Bart is finally home and I am so relieved. For some reason I really missed my husband today... more than usual. And Salinda came down asking to have a friend come over, acting as though she never knew I said that. I reminded her that I had texted her yesterday explaining that and she denied that until I offered to show it too her (the Iphone keeps every text message back and forth until you delete it -- all like a chat window. Very cool feature).

So even though my heart was pounding I reminded her of exactly at what point in time I had explained the terms of her grounding to her, both times. I reminded her that she would be done being grounded on Sunday if she could do what she was supposed to do and be respectful for the next two days. She stomped off ... but I guess stomping silently could be construed as something other than disrespect. ;-)

Very few of the children are interested in going to a wedding. Dressing up on a Friday night in church clothes doesn't sound that appealing. However, the promise of kegs of root beer has Dominyk enthusiastic and Tony has a PCA tonight, so if we have to leave the other kids here we can do that.

We got paid too, so we're heading out for pizza for supper.

I don't know why but I'm lethargic and tired tonight. It's such a relief to have Bart home. I feel like I just completed a marathon.

It's That Time of the Month Again

No, not THAT time of the month...

It’s the time where I post kids for Adopt America’s Matching Bash. It’s a couple days that we dedicate just to matching kids with families -- which is the mission of our organization -- but as with any organization the actual mission sometimes gets clouded by record keeping, meetings, fund-raising, etc. So we spend two days doing nothing but matching kids and families and we put off all the other junk that gets in our way.

The week before the bash, I ask social workers to send me profiles. And this month I have received so many. And as I have worked diligently to post them, I have the same feelings as I always feel. “I could parent this kid!” or “wow, they are going to have trouble finding a home for this child” or “there are a lot of families that are going to be interested in her, because she is really cute, but they are going to have their hands full. They have no idea what they are getting into.”

My heart strings are pulled by the need. It is so great. But we are done. I heard a saying a long time ago that has stuck with me. “The need doesn’t constitute the call” and it’s really true. Just because I could meet a certain need does not mean that I am the one who is being called to meet it.

Lately I have found my mind wandering to other things I’d like to do. I would love to have time to write more, to blog more, to network and get ready to market the book we’re working on. I would love to have time to pursue other things.

But right now, I have 12 children who call me “mom” (unless they are very angry and then they call me lots of other things). I have two very important jobs that are changing the world by providing homes for kids, one at a time.

So I have to plug along dreaming of the day I’ll have time to do more stuff.

I just cannot understand people who can’t find enough to do.

ADHD and Meds

Before beginning this response to a reader question, let me say that I have dropped off kids for the next-to-the-last-time this year this morning. Next week I will do it once and then be on my way to visit my parents. I also just returned from the YMCA to check my blood sugar and had the lowest since I started checking regularly in February.

I had a reader ask what I thought about medicating kids at age four and it took me back in time 8 years to about this time of year.

Dominyk was in special education preschool at the time and Wow, was he a handful. He’s 12 now and still, as I have been posting, cannot sit still or keep quiet, but at 4. He was a perpetual moving object.

Anyway, I was at the Fitness Center and I have no idea why, but I was using the fitness center phone to talk to his preschool teacher. Thinking then that Dominyk would always be our youngest, I knew that I was only months away from having all the kids in school all day everyday (we had all day every day kindergarten).

I remember the conversation well. She said, “Well, I have some bad news.”

I replied, “Dominyk can’t go to kindergarten without medication?”

“nope,” she replied. “Dominyk can’t go to kindergarten and has to repeat preschool AND he can’t come back to preschool without meds.”

And so we started Dominyk on medication. And before this, we did not believe in medicating children. I remember talking to another parent about her son and she said, ‘We finally decided to try medication because it didn’t seem like he had a very good life when all he did was get yelled at all the time.“

We tried medication and it has made a huge difference. However, even with 5 different medications, as I mentioned yesterday, he is still so far out of the realm of ”normal“ when it comes to self-regulation and impulse control that most people would be amazed if they lived with him on a daily basis.

But we have grown used to it over the years, and he has done better during some periods, and worse during others. His combination of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and his ADHD require a great deal more patience than I have some days. He literally can ask for something 100 or more times even if the answer is no every single time. It’s amazing that he can keep going like that. It’s like the energizer bunny on steroids.

I love this picture of Kyle reading to him in 2002. I am sure I was somehow paying Kyle to do it.... But they were waiting to go to the pool and of course, his swimming trunks belonged on his head.

We should have known we were in trouble when he was 18 months old and could barely talk.... Check out this movie of him ”making his food fall.

Not Having a Very Good Start Today

We have four boys who share a giant bedroom in the basement. They rely on the oldest, who is almost 20, to set his alarm and wake them up in the morning. This morning he didn't have class, so he decided to sleep in. Without telling them, I guess. Because at 7:10, when they are supposed to be up at 6:45, I came downstairs to find them all asleep. So this morning is crazy.

I'm heading to the YMCA after I drop everyone off, so in order to read more you'll have to tune in later....

But, for your reading pleasure, Bart has blogged again. You can read his articulate words" while waiting for what he calls my "barf on a page."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

If You Do Not Believe in ADHD...

you should have been with me for the past 40 minutes. Even heavily medicated, Dominyk simply cannot self-regulate. He goes on and on and on. Tonight I left the house at 5:45 after a quick supper which was preceded by a trip to the YMCA. We went to drop Ricardo off at his soccer game in the rain, then dropped Jimmy off at the Y, and then Dominyk, Wilson and I went to the Festival at their school. Talk about a zoo. Hundreds of kids and parents spending way too much money on games and food I can’t eat. (sorry for sounding cynical, but I have attended at least one of these for the last 11 years and somewhere along the line, probably about 10 minutes into the FIRST ONE, they lost their appeal).

Anyway, it finally got over at 8 and we had to go back to get Ricardo from his game. (This one parent, one vehicle, one driver, 8 kids thing is getting annoying). We had to wait 15 minutes in the van for them to finish playing in the pouring rain and then go back to the Y to pick up JImmy.

OK, OK, so I’m getting boring and you’re getting lost in the details, and you just want me to SHUT UP.

Well, now you know how I felt when Dominyk talked NON stop for 40 minutes. I am not kidding. He was either talking or singing or yelling or making nonsense noises for 40 straight minutes. Since I did not nap today and had some stressors, I was really not feeling in top form to ignore him. At the very end of the 40 minutes, he had some joke where he would say, “Say what?” and he wanted me to say what. I told him I really didn’t want to. So then he tried it with the other kids. Say what JImmy?
Say what Ricardo? Say what Wilson? ANd none of them would play. He said it over and over and over again. Until finally, I said, a little too loudly, “WHAT!!!!!”

And he burst into tears and said, ‘You didn’t have to yell at me. I have feelings too you know.“

And i never did get to hear the end of the joke.


OK, so by this point you are all wondering if I need psychiatric care

So.... I use all my self-differentiation techniques, purposefully choosing to deep breathe, relax, remove myself from the situation, control my own anxiety.

I get to the school and have five minutes to wait. I’m all geared up for a fight. I worked on email to distract myself and finally felt OK and prepared for her arrival.

She gets in as if nothing had happened. I’m now wondering if her friend actually sent the text without Salinda even knowing or something, because she was so calm.

Maybe if I have enough of these false alarms I’ll stop being so freaked out.

So anyway, I went to pick up the boys at the other Jr. High/High School (Rand is at work, and Bart out of town, so there is only one driver). Of course, the boys weren’t there, not one of the four of them, but that’s another story that will probably go untold.

So I come home and walk in the door and her chore is already done. I say to Sadie, “I may need your help getting supper ready” and Salinda says, from the other room, “I’ll help you, Mom.”

And I fainted. right there. They had to use smelling salts to wake me up. OK, I exaggerated a little bit, but I was visibly shocked.

So, she is going to help me with dinner apparently. Oh .... my.... goodness. What a wild ride. I think I need to get out of the car and watch from below.....

Here we Go Again

Just when I thought we were going to have a calm night, I get a text from Salinda asking for her friend to come over. I made it very clear, right before she freaked out on Monday night, that grounded meant no friends over.

And I have to pick her up from school. I know I’m in for a huge attitude yet again. I made the decision not to rest this afternoon because I figured I would have a brief emotional respite this afternoon. Guess that was dumb.

I did get a ton of work done this afternoon. I’ve been really pushing it hard and now I’m tired. It is too late now for me to rest, and I’m wishing I would have. Dang.

Who knows how the rest of the kids will be, but I already know that she is going to be very unhappy. And that can set the stage for everyone else’s stress.

But who knows, lately. I could be preparing for the worst and not even get it like I did on Tuesday. Sigh.

Where's Mike? or .... What you don't know can't hurt you.

Wow. Our lives are so full of ups and downs it’s just amazing.

Salinda’s therapy was fine. She was fairly noncommunicative on the way there, but on the way home she was acting normal. Odd.

I then went to the court house to file the paperwork to get new birth certificates for Wilson and Leon and while I was there I checked Mike’s status. (there is a computer there where you can do that -- see all the criminal records in a data base). According to that, he had been out of jail for a while -- at least long enough to commit two new crimes the week of the 15th of May. But, since we never knew he was out, we didn’t even worry about it.

I came home and checked the website for our jail in our county, but he was not there. So I called the next county over and he is there, safe and sound, with a release date of October 4th. But he still has several charges pending. So I guess we’ll see what happens later.

It breaks our hearts that this is the life he is choosing. But I can’t help but be relieved that he is fed, clothed, and has shelter and that we are safe.

Another Day Dawns

I slept well and a long time. I did not go to the YMCA. I used the excuse that I don't like to leave the kids here alone and went back to sleep.

Even though Cindy had a much harder day yesterday that I did, I feel good and much more able to face my day today. Bart should be home tomorrow, hopefully in time to attend Mike and Kari's daughter Katie's wedding.

I have therapy with Salinda this morning, lunch with her best friend's mom (who Salinda says feels more like a mom to her than I do, so I figure we'll get to know each other and work together), and then Ricardo has a home soccer game tonight, though right now it is raining quite hard, so we'll see if that happens.

I have a long to do list still, though the last couple days I have gotten a couple big projects done, such as Rand's taxes and financial aid. I spent my entire day working on email yesterday and made a big dent in that mess.

I'm leaving to see my parents with Leon and Wilson on Tuesday down in Arizona. I need to be caught up on some work stuff as well as a few family things before I go.

The week has gone by fast.... I do pretty well when I take one day at a time. And Bart blogged a very meaningful post last night. Wish I could write like that. See why I married him?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And to continue the OCD nightmare...

He finished in the bathroom and came in and told me this joke no less than 32 times:

"why does it take so many squirrels to change a lightbulb?

"Because they're so darn stupid"

It was cute the first couple times, really it was....

OCD on a Spring Evening

I'm sitting in my office which is right next to the bathroom.

Dominyk has been in the bathroom for 1/2 hour. I think he has been sitting on the toilet the whole time. He may have taken some toys in to entertain him.

He has been singing one line to the same song for 20 minutes.

"I'm the chick y'all love to hate.... cuz I'm bossy."

Over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Fortunately I have learned to ignore him. But once and a while I chuckle to myself as I'm sure that there are very few places in this country tonight where there is a 12 year old boy, sitting on the toilet for 30 minutes, singing loudly, "I'm the chick y'all love ot hate."

A Productive Afternoon

After court I worked a while and then rested. Then I had a two hour burst of energy and got a lot done, though some of it is anxious energy and I’m not sure why. Salinda came home from school in a decent mood and asked if she could earn money mowing the lawn. Everyone else is fine. Maybe it’s just the overwhelming responsibility of handling things completely alone while Bart is gone.

The kids are making dinner tonight. Spaghetti. It’s a meal that Jimmy and Sadie like to make together and they do a nice job. We are still making it through the week without having to go to the store, which was my goal.

Even though I am getting things done I’m kind of restless and bored. Not sure how I’ll pass the hours before bedtime tonight...

Bart just realized this last night....

But how cool is this? Along with Cindy, (who I nominated by the way), Bart is one of the 17 domestic adoption blogs listen on the Adoptive Families Magazine website. And he only updates once a month. I was nominated for that list, but I didn’t make the cut. How fair is THAT? ;-)

I’m very proud of him, though, and I hope it spurs him on to blog more....

Report from Court

Wow what a day for the juvenile court system. It was packed. Salinda refused to speak to me all the way to court. She waited 10 minutes after I went into the building to come in .... sat in the van. Then when she came in she refused to acknowledge me as her parent and sat all the way across the waiting area from me. I played along and just left her alone. I actually found it kind of funny that she was embarrassed to be seen with me. After all, who should be the embarrassed party in this picture?

Saw a couple of Mike’s friends there ... one of whom was present when he stole our car apparently. He and Salinda had a lengthy conversation. It was so packed there that I overheard one of the public defenders say, “Look around! Every single one of the county probation officers and every public defender is here this morning. We should have a party!”

It took a full hour before we got into court. They lifted her stay of adjudication and assigned her to attend a cognitive restructuring group. It was very routine.

On the way home, after refusing to walk out to the car with me and offering nothing but stony silence, she suddenly asks if I am going to buy her lunch since she has missed her lunch period. I could not help but laugh out loud. I indicated that I couldn’t believe she actually could allow herself to ask. But I agreed to get her some lunch (while I planned to have nothing) and she then began to talk to me as if nothing had happened the past 4 days.

I think not speaking to her much is probably my best bet -- unless she wants to. Otherwise, it doesn’t go well.

And now that court is over and she is in a better mood, I can relax a bit more myself...

If you’re following my diet, you can check out progress here.

Heading to Court Now

Leaving to pick up Salinda. Dreading it. WIll be glad when it is over. Wish my husband was here, but understand that he can't be. I am sure I"ll be fine. More later.

Bart Blogged. Wow.

It's been a while, but he blogged last night.

Quick Morning Update

for the record, Debbie, no I wasn't offended by you calling me fragile. I just thought it was an interesting word to use for me. In fact, I'm wondering what kind of impressions I am giving in my blog to those who have never met me. Those of you who know me in person and have spent time with me, probably "get me" and understand what is happening in the blog. But for someone who hasn't, I suppose that you could come to all kinds of interesting conclusions by reading through the blog.

I would hope that the conclusion would be that I'm just a person -- a human being who has taken on a great challenge -- who doesn't always handle things perfectly, but is honest and open and willing to get up and try again when I get knocked down. But I realize that there are many blog readers who can be critical and look for things that are not great about me -- and if you are looking for those, the blog is completely full of them I'm sure. Lots of weaknesses and imperfections to find, that's for sure.

I am feeling much more positive this morning than I did yesterday. In a few hours the ordeal with Salinda's court hearing will be over and I will be relieved. I have not yet been to the YMCA, but will be heading there as soon as I drop off the kids for school. Then there will only be about 45 minutes before I head to court and then.... it will be over.

Everyone seems to be OK this morning.... we're leaving in ten minutes for school. And so far, everything is OK. Where is that wood I need to knock on?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Thanks, Debbie, for your comment indicating that I was sounding fragile. The really pushed me into some serious self-evaluation. I definitely don’t want to sound fragile.

i’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m overwhelmed sometimes, but FRAGILE? ;-) Nah.

I spent an hour helping Sadie study for her science test that is on Thursday. This is quite a victory for us because we actually had a nice time. This year me helping her study has not gone that well. We had a lot of conflict and controversy surrounding our study hours the last few months. But tonight we did well.

And actually, everything is OK at the moment. Salinda finally broke down and spoke to me because she needed to finish homework. She was smart enough to be civil. I am going to go to sleep feeling better than I have most of the day. My husband has called and he is fine and thoroughly enjoyed his day of meetings.

I guess we can conclude that all is well that ends well. And as long as I don’t start worrying about going to court with Salinda tomorrow, I’ll be fine.

Because I’m really not fragile. honestly. I’m a strong and resilient woman who sometimes can sound pathetic on her blog.

And I have no filter -- whatever is in my head comes out of my mouth (or out of my fingers in this case). It’s a liability, but sometimes it makes life with me quite interesting.

Late Breaking News from the Night that Never Ends

It's only 7:30. Sigh. 2 hours until Bedroom. Another sigh.

Another note from Salinda -- who prefers to spread venom in written form. I finally told her I was done being 15 for tonight and that if she wanted to talk we could do that, but I wasn't going to write notes any more today.

And another episode of Jimmy getting stuck on stupid. He tried hard to suck me into an irreversible power struggle, but I refused to allow him to do that.

Salinda has court tomorrow for violating her probation a couple weeks ago. I still haven't reached her P.O. to discuss the latest happenings. I hate doing court with her and without Bart. In fact, I always hate going to court without Bart.

Dominyk has been agitating everyone tonight, making life less than pleasant. He is sobbing at my feet now that nobody cares about him because he pushes people until they respond and then he doesn't like their response. And then, he wants me to respond to their response exactly how he wants me to respond, and when i don't respond that way his response to my non-response to their response is not acceptable. (Great sentence, huh?)

We had Ramen or Mac and Cheese for supper. Pathetic, I know. I had a protein bar.

Blah blah blah blah blah. Can you tell it's just a dumb yucky night around here?

I Think I Tend to Blog More...

When Bart is gone. And this time he is gone and very busy -- in meetings most of the day and evening.

I have already had to go a round with Tony. He is especially bad when Bart is out of town because he feels like he has more control. However, I was very stern with him when he started in today that I was not going to accept this kind of behavior from him this week and for some unknown reason he responded. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Salinda gave me a letter which she intended to be very hurtful. She is declaring that she doesn’t love us and never will. Every part of the letter was designed to make me feel bad. She asked me to respond in writing.

I wrote only one page and explained to her that part of life is accepting what is, instead of wishing for what can not be. Her dream family is a small family with one or two children who look like her. This family would have very few rules and would have low expectations for her in regards to morality and her future. So I explained to her in my letter that there some things that just are. They can’t be changed. Character is learning to live with the things that aren’t perfect and making the most of them. Her only choice is to run away from situations that aren’t her definition of perfect -- either running away physically or emotionally.

I reminded her of her potential and of the fact that we would love her and that she was our daughter...

Now I am facing an evening of parenting alone, something I don’t look forward to. But the kids are being pretty good right now.

Dominyk just came in and said, “Hey, look what C. gave me” (his future PCA who is friends with his current PCA). It was a statue of an eagle. He then said, “He also gave me an elephant. But I paid my respects with it.”

Confused, I questioned him as to what “I paid my respects with it meant, exactly” to find out that he had placed it on the grave of a World War II vet at the cemetery. I wonder how confused the vets family is going to be. ;-)

Nothing Has Changed Except....

I slept for two hours this afternoon when I should have been working. But, I now feel much more equipped to deal with the rest of today and will get some work done this evening.

I know it sounds like weird advice that it seemed Bart was giving me, but it may be the best advice there is. He says I need to give up and stop believing that something I say or do is going to make a difference for Salinda. She is bound and determined to do what she is going to do regardless. If someone is going to reach her, it most likely won't be me. And she is going to have to want to get it before she does.

I am sure that there are those who are wondering if it is good for me to be sharing such personal information with the world, but I have been blogging for 3 years now and have been told that many adoptive parents have been helped by my willingness to share how I am feeling about and dealing with these issues. Unfortunately, they are very common.

So, I continue to do so -- during the ups and the downs. And it helps me to share it all with you... hopefully, if you're going through something similar, it helps you to read about it too.

Facing the Faceless Days

I have not been this discouraged in a while. The combination of lack of sleep and all of the drama that Salinda is putting us through is pushing me very close to the edge. I really needed to lose weight this week to keep me encouraged, but I didn’t. So if you want to find out that bad news you can go to the other blog and read my pathetic whining over there.

Salinda had permission to do homework on our computer until 10:00 p.m. I told her that I would be reviewing what she did and that she only had permission to do homework. Instead she was on until 2 in the morning and now this morning is refusing to go to school.

I talked to her mental health worker who suggests that I allow her to have too much control and that I need to just parent her like I do everyone else. I am already nervous about how the afternoon will go. When she is out of sorts she punishes the whole family. And without Bart here for the support it will be more difficult.

But I talked to Bart who pointed out to me again that I can only control myself. Obviously, my multitude of words is only escalating her behaviors and making her angrier. She is not understanding what I am trying to tell her. My attempts to “scare her straight” or “provide an intervention” or “give her a wake up call” are not working. So, I’m back to shutting up and trying to control my mouth.

I am exhausted, and when I am tired and my feelings are hurt and I am discouraged, controlling myself is a very hard thing to do.

Oh, My, Goodness

I did not sleep more than 2 hours last night and I even took Tylenol PM. I have a horrible week to face without Bart (he's leaving at noon). As of five minutes ago, Salinda was refusing to get up, even when I threatened to call her in truant. I do not get to the Y this morning, so I have to go after I take the kids. But it is weigh in day, so I'm hoping for some kind of good news.

I'm anxious and nauseous. Of all of the situations I have faced in parenting, these with Salinda are the most difficult. I will spend the remainder of my day dealing with her Probation Officer, her social worker, trying to figure out next steps.

And I will miss my husband's presence!

Monday, May 26, 2008

False Alarm --- Things are Not Looking Up

Very bad night with Salinda tonight. I am still very stressed out even though most of the conflict has been over for over an hour.

She came home from three days of being away and didn't even let me know she was home. When i finally confronted her, she had nothing to say. I told her we needed to talk soon.

Finally, after we got back from Mike and Kari's, which was, of course, fun, and full of good food, I told her we needed to take a drive.

She started well, apologizing for what she did. But when I tried to explain her consequences, she got very cold and refused to speak to me. Then, I of course, talked more, which is never good. It resulted in a barrage of very hateful things from her mouth and she even shoved me once and tried to get out of the vehicle. She blames her family for everything. We are pushing her into doing all the things she is doing.

I am emotionally exhausted. I was hoping to handle this without having to notify her Probation Officer, but by the end of the night she had verbally abused both Bart and I and threatened to hurt Dominyk. She is putting all the blame on me, accusing me of being the reason for all her troubles. I am the one that wants her locked up because I am the one who keeps reporting her to the Probation Officer, so it is all my fault.

The bottom line is that right now she is not willing to work with anyone who is trying to help her. And Bart is leaving for his Annual Conference tomorrow, and if she continues to escalate things could get pretty tricky.

But for now she is calm and working on homework on the computer. I'll have to let tomorrow take care of itself.

I will blog more about this tomorrow, but in his sermon yesterday, the District Superintendent read portions of Matthew 6 from The Message translation and it was great.

Here's Matthew 6:31:

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

I'm counting on that being true tonight. I am simply at the end of my rope once again.... but, I'm tying a knot and hanging on.

Things are Looking Up

I accomplished a few things this morning ... including an expense report ... that will bring us in some cash. That makes me feel better. I also found the stuff I was missing to finish off Rand’s financial aid, so I should be able to get that done today.

Still no word from Salinda... Having her to face today is not making me less anxious. I’m trying to remember to control what I can control...

We have an invitation to Mike and Kari’s for supper tonight to grill outside in their back yard, something we always enjoy, so that adds a bit of perkiness to my mood.

I’m heading to my home visit. Dominyk’s PCA is working, which should improve Bart’s day (i’m going up to tell him now).

so things are looking up... sometimes I just get in a slump and don’t have any idea how to get myself out of it any more. But eventually I guess things just have a way of working themselves out.

No Money and Thus, Nowhere to Go

Today is Memorial Day and we, having spent a trillion dollars this weekend (or so it seems) are quite broke. I have to make a work home visit because it is it last day I can do it before Bart leaves for the rest of the month. I made a bad parenting decision about something small that upset several of my children last night (I said no to something I could just have easily said yes to, and my husband kindly pointed that out after the deed was done). Salinda is still not home and I have to discuss with her her consequences for her manipulative deceptive behavior this week when she gets home.

I’m not feeling all that on top of things this morning, like I wish I was. I have several projects I really need to complete that have been on my “to do list” ever since I started writing one consistently a few weeks ago. One of them I am missing some crucial papers for and can’t seem to find them. I’m annoyed with myself.

So I’m not starting the day feeling great. Everyone is kind of edgy and annoyed because they are not used to us having so little cash flow. Some of them are convinced they NEED new clothes and at the very least, money for a movie would be nice today. But they have no idea what it is like to be poor. We try to give them perspective from our childhood (or even from their own early years sometimes) but it doesn’t sink in very well.

Pay Days are this week, so it’s just a matter of days.... but I’m responsible for meals for the next four days. I’m going to have to get really creative.... But I’ll turn it into an adventure... and we’ll see what we can find to eat. Bart always has the house well stocked with food... So we’ll have to make do. Our kids start screaming “there’s nothing in the house to eat” as soon as the chips and frozen pizzas are gone, so I’ll prove to them that we can eat all kinds of stuff without having to go to the store.

I hope.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

As We Were Having Lunch ...

I was sitting next between my husband and our District Superintendent and across from his wife. We were surrounded by 9 of our children and five of our church friends. Our service in the morning was great. An excellent sermon, a baptism of our friends, Jeff and Kate’s, new perfect baby girl, and our new sons’ baptisms. Our son Kyle was home.

While we were having lunch, our District Superintendent, who baptized the boys, said, “This was a great morning. Mornings like this I would like to be able to put in a bottle or a box and let all the good feelings and joy come out on mornings aren’t so good.”

I couldn’t have agreed more.

There was some sadness because John and MIke could not be with us and because Salinda chose not to be, but the rest was pure joy.

The kids were well behaved for most of the day, even the ones with huge issues. The people we were with were wonderful. The lunch was delicious. It was just a great day.

A lot of joy for our family this weekend. Often the joy also equals stress, but for some reason this weekend, the scales seemed to have tipped often on the side of joy.

An Email I Received Friday...

from one of our friends was entitled "the little pill" (Except I don't really think it was the word pill. It was another word that required her to use symbols like $#@$&).

I am posting it here with her permission.

So, I was subbing at East today for Mr. P. (one of Tony's teachers).

Tony brought me a pass and told me he needed to leave at noon to go to the cities.

He sits down and the kid behind him asks him why he needs to go to the cities.

Tony tells him with all the seriousness in the world, "My brother died."

My heart immediately sunk to the floor.

I think the boy asked him "what?"

Again, he says, "my brother died."

I am sure all the color in my face is now gone.

The faces of all of your children flashed in front of my eyes.

I ask Tony, "Did you just say your brother died?"

He then fessed up and told the two of us he was going to his brother's graduation.

Had I not been so relieved that your children were ok, I would have thought about slugging him.

On another note, I found one of his assignments on the floor. I will bring it to church on Sunday.

Absolutely Wonderful

The service today was wonderful. We're heading to lunch now. more later....

Baptism Today

I need to get everyone up and moving, but our "new boys" Leon and Wilson are getting baptised this morning. Here is the video I made for them that will be shown right before the ceremony. Leon really wanted to pick the song, and this is the one he chose.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oh, well, there goes all those good feelings

Apparently Salinda left with the family she was staying with and is 3 hours from here, with no plans to return for her brother's baptisms tomorrow. I don't know all the details. I just talked to her and fortunately she is at least smart enough to be apologetic. But dang that girl causes me incredible amounts of stress.

At least she is with the people she said she was with. And she really thought I understood her plan, which she so poorly explained.

Are all 15 year old girls so incredibly unorganized? Or is it like a commenter suggested? Does she do this on purpose? Is it Can't, or Won't?

At least to her credit she's not being rude or nasty. I guess that is one step. But wow.

OK, deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. in, out, look at the big picture, head up.... sigh.

And I'm also the Mother of a Competitive Soccer Player

Ricardo had two games today. We got to see one of them. This year’s team doesn’t seem to be doing as well as last year’s team. But Ricky always plays hard, regardless of whether they are winning or losing.

I am a terrible photographer, but this gives you a bit of an idea....

They were lined up for a play -- and you see who is leading the pack.

Sleeping Triple in a King Size Bed

I had a minor lapse in judgment yesterday and suggested that maybe Bart, Dominyk and I could share a bed. I didn’t sleep well at all. Neither did Bart. Neither of us wanted to be in the middle, so Dominyk was and it was a long night. I had a hard time deciding which of the following I liked best:

        ❑        When he kneed me in the stomach
        ❑        When his tonail nearly sliced my calf
        ❑        When he insisted on lying on top of the covers
        ❑        When he elbowed me in the shoulder
        ❑        When he poked me directly in the eye
        ❑        When he reached over and placed his entire forearm across my face
        ❑        When he got up to go to the bathroom and then came back to the bed in a daze and said, “Now Mom, what am I supposed to do? I think Dad wants me to do something. I think it has something to do with sleeping.”

Oh wait, I know now what it was.

It’s when he was able to exactly position himself under my nostrils and blow his bad breath straight up them. Yeah, that was it. That was my favorite part.

I am the Mother of a College Graduate (and the wife of an incredible man)

Wow. I can’t believe it.

This morning we sat in the Great Hall at Bethel University. This is the third time I have sat in that auditorium.

The first time was this time of year in 1996, 12 years ago. My husband graduated from Bethel Seminary that year, a couple weeks before we got married. I was with my parents and his family and we were celebrating his achievement as an engaged couple with big dreams of ministry and family and clueless as to how it would turn out.

The second time I was in the Great Hall was in 2004. We stood together, Bart, Kyle, and I at the end of Freshman orientation, during a parent goodbye ceremony that only had one mission statement: Make everyone cry. Bart and I laid hands on our son Kyle and prayed with him and soon after we left him and said goodbye. He began his journey, not as scared as maybe he should have been and we left, not knowing how much we’d miss him.

And today, we watched him graduate. It hardly seems possible that it has been four years. But it has been, and he has made us proud.

When Kyle moved in he was the angriest 11 year old boy I had ever met. Having been abandoned by two moms, a birth mom and a foster mom, he was not interested in having a mother. But he wanted a Dad, and he ended up with a great one. Bart worked night and day to get Kyle to trust him and loved him unconditionally through years of very difficult and challenging behaviors. He was often emotionally exhausted and I, much to my own shame now, was personally not very helpful. SO hurt and angry by Kyle’s hatred toward me, I didn’t do a very good job of being his mom or Bart’s wife for the first four years he lived with us. But Bart hung in there, basically taught Kyle how to write, prepared him for college, gave him his all.

So today, as my children managed to be perfectly appropriate throughout the ceremony, I was very pleased with all of them, but especially very proud of two men. I was proud of my eldest son, who has gone from a 4 year old, setting his own alarm to get to kindergarten, living in a home filled with alcoholism, drug abuse, and domestic violence.... to a foster child, resentful an angry, not interested in attaching to anyone, to an adopted child who had no desire to be adopted ... to a successful high school student... and now to a Private University Graduate, maintaining a great relationship with a wonderful girlfriend.

And I’m proud of my husband, who saw a “seed of greatness” in a very angry troubled pre-teen and nurtured that in him, never giving up. He has loved Kyle unconditionally for over ten years, through some very, very hard times. And that kind of love, along with God’s blessing, has been transformational.

Kyle is a success story... a very powerful one. He has shown that it can be done. I can’t take much credit -- but I can sit back and be thrilled to have been an observer of the power of faith and unconditional love.

The Pool

After the zoo we took the scenic ride back to the hotel. The entire time Dominyk was perseverating (nice word for obsessing like am maniac) on the pool and how he couldn't wait to get there. I told him he would be bored after 15 minutes. We got to the hotel and had some complications (Bart had taken some of the kids out for supper and they had both keys to the other room). So in the midst of trying to get a new key from the desk, Dominyk was begging incessantly to get in the pool. To the point of me nearly snapping.

Well, i was wrong. It was only 12 minutes in the pool until he started begging to go back to the room. I made him wait a half hour, and he spent at least half of that hour begging to go back to the room. When And when he did he watched started a movie that is going to cost HIM $13.99 (after we pay for it today of course).

This morning he is obsessing about needing to begin shaving because he is going through puberty. Sigh. I'm NOT going to let him shave.

The Zoo

Instead of detailing all of the not-so-pleasant moments of this trip, and there have been many of them, i am trying to focus on the positive. Let me start by saying a huge thank you to those of you who have been encouraging me in my weight loss and overall focus on better health. But I better post that on my dieting blog.

Since 5 of the 7 kids were 12-14, we spent a lot of time focusing on body parts. The monkey was scratching his balls. The gorilla was messing with his wiener. A couple animals farted, and I've never seen Dominyk move so fast as he did heading to the lion house when Leon announced they were "humping."

This picture is of Dominyk on the same turtle that Bart had a picture taken with about 35 years ago.

Across from that was this live tortoise ... These old turtles live a very long time. Apparently the oldest living creature known to man is a tortoise over in London that was supposedly born in 1830. Live on, turtles.

Tony insisted on posing with the tortoise as well, and of course had to be obscene.

The seal is Sparky, who Bart's childhood dog was named after.

And the last picture is one of my favorite scenes from the zoo..... my husband, a wonderful father, walking with his kids. Sadie made it very clear that she could be affectionate at the zoo 90 miles from home, because nobody knew her there.

Snippets of Conversation from Yesterday's Ride

I had Sadie, Leon, Ricardo and Wilson with me yesterday.

Here are some snippets of conversation from 2 7th graders, a 6th grader, and a 2nd grader:

Wilson: (after Leon mentioned Forrest Gump, sounding exactly like the character) "My favorite part is when he got shot in the Buttocks)

Leon: When we were in foster care at our first foster home I had to share a room with this crazy kid. One night he heard me snore a little bit and thought I was a monster and started screaming and screaming.

Ricardo, man of few words (to Sadie when she told him she thought she saw Dandruff): Dan Ruff? Who is Dan Ruff?

Sadie: (when responded to Leon's question, "I wonder how much Mom's arm weighs") I bet her arm weighs more than Wilson.

Sadie (real name Mercedes, which she goes by at school, talking to Leon: My math teacher calls me BMW. Do you know what that stands for?

Leon: (in response to Sadie's Question): Big Man's Weiner

Friday, May 23, 2008

We made it This Far

We made it to the hotel.... Bart is my hero. He brought the 3 hardest kids with him and my ride was very very good. Lots of fun "windshield time" and fun conversation that I will report either.

Wilson was in my rear view mirror being very very cute the whole trip. I tried to get a picture, but Ricardo wouldn't cooperate. But Wilson is cute no matter what.

Celebrating Anything This Weekend?

What a weekend of celebrations. We have Kyle's graduation from college, Wilson and Leon's baptisms and the baptism of a couple's new baby, and Memorial Day. I'm sure there are some of you who have weddings to go to, graduations, maybe even a birthday to celebrate.

So, now I"m going to focus on making the atmosphere as stress-free and celebratory as our family can muster.

But now it is time to go pick up the others from school and get us all packed and out the door. Not sure I'll have time to blog again for a day or so, so I want to wish all of you who are celebrating something this weekend my congratulations and wishes for a great time....

I'm ready to let go of the anxiety and have some fun. Let's Celebrate everybody!

OK, So I Blew It But...

i picked up Salinda who announced that she would not be going to graduation. And following that we had a "discussion" that was really me ranting and raving and lecturing and not controlling myself a bit. I'm a bit ashamed, BUT, it was conversation -- she actually expressed herself many times instead of sullen silence. I pointed many things out to her... many, many things, as those of you know how me well can certainly imagine me doing.

I then took her to therapy and since she refuses to talk to her therapist, I did, for about 40 minutes. I updated her, we strategized, and I felt a little better.

Then I sat in the warm van in the sun for a few minutes and decided I would turn things around. I decided that I had absolutely nothing left to say that was parental or in lecture mode, or even to yell or rant about. I would just be repeating myself. So, I decided to see if I could create a different atmosphere in the van when she got it.

I offered to buy her lunch. The lady at the drive through at Arby's (yet another wrap consumed) was very confused, so that got us laughing. Then we spent the whole way back to school chatting about various things as if we were dear friends. Sigh. She is making a choice she will regret as an adult, and I'm sure there are many who would say that we shouldn't let her make it, that we should force her to come along.

BUT.... the stress level tonight and tomorrow will already be so high that forcing her to come may provide us with something more than Bart and I can handle. His mother is coming down to meet us there, and neither Tony nor Dominyk do well in hotel/ceremonial kinds of settings. So adding Salinda venom would be too much. Rand won't be able to come to graduation either, as he has to work, and Ricardo has a soccer game, MIke is in jail, and John is in juvenile detention. Not going to be a "whole family affair" anyway.

Sometimes it would be nice to be "like everyone else" and do what other people might expect of us. But we know what we can handle and how we have to do things.

But at least on the way home, I controlled the atmosphere. She left me for the weekend in a good mood and with me telling her I loved her, so if I die in a car wreck her last memory of me won't be the lecturing, can't take it anymore, freaking out mother (who more than likely had flared nostrils and smoke coming out of her ears) that she rode up to therapy with.

And maybe that's the best I could do today. Another day, I might be able to do better.

And almost an hour later....

In 20 minutes I have to leave to pick up Salinda for therapy and will find out then whether or not she is going to come along. Either way it will be stressful. If she comes, she will make us miserable. If she does not, I will worry about what she is doing.

But I am going back to remind myself of my motto last Tuesday morning when I was at the top of my game, when I had gotten my groove back. I blogged that I had told myself that I would Control What I Could Control. And that is my plan for the rest of today. I am going to control my responses, play my imaginary friend game if I have to, and keep myself calm. This morning, I was in a harried state and her suggestion that one of her high school friends was going to be driving her in the early morning hours through a major metro area was NOT acceptable. And in the middle of the morning rush when I was trying to get everyone out the door was very bad timing.

Now that I've had this hour to calm myself, listen to good advice, and remember that I can only control me, hopefully I'll be able to move on through the day and survive.

But this is SO hard. Coordinating a large family's schedule is difficult enough when everyone is at least somewhat cooperative, but when you have several that are scattered and one that is completely selfish and unwilling to see anyone else's point of view and cares nothing about the family system, it is like herding cats while trying to drag along a donkey.

And it is exhausting.

Calming Myself Down

I called Kari this morning after I dropped off the kids from school, and that helped a little. And then I read some verses and blogged about the great words of Scripture, “And it Came to Pass

The Plot Thickens

I’m not handling this well. I had to come to the computer just to calm myself down and blog to the world that the girl is infuriating beyond measure. She announces this morning after I write her excuse that she will not be going with us to graduation that some friend I have never met will be giving her a ride in the morning. She is a horrible planner and that is not an option for her. The only things I know about this supposed driver are not good ones. So I gave her the option of going with us or not going and spending the night somewhere else. If she stayed here with Rand, who knows what would happen. Last time she did that (and I don’t have time to find a link) he sat in the living room, all 350+ pounds of him, 6’6“ tall, afraid to confront her when a boy was in her room.

My stress level is climbing and this is not good. If mine gets higher, everyone else’s will get higher. I am going to have to start chanting some soothing monosyllabic something....

I have managed to avoid bouts of crying for a couple days, but I'm near tears now. It's going to be such a stressful day.

Not Starting the Day in Top Form

Troubling dreams about an old friend caused me to wake up out of sorts, and then I realized that Salinda did not do her dishes last night. Bart had given her permission to go out and I had texted her to remind her to come home in time to do them, but she simply chose not to. Confronting her about anything is so unpleasant. I also have to take her to therapy this morning and spend about 29 straight hours with her which, if she is not in a good mood, will be hell for all of us.

I didn’t go to the Y this morning because I knew I would be too tired to deal with the trip but I woke up at 5 anyway and only slept restlessly for the rest of the time until I finally got up early to shave my legs (OK, so it shouldn’t be such a major occurance that it makes the blog, but it is).

Today I need a calm soothing influence but I’m pretty sure Bart can’t be that as we both tend to get very stressed out when we face a change in routine. It makes our kids crazy when there is a disruption in the schedule and they tend to get very anxious. The anxiety level in our house increases by the minute. We have 30 minutes to go this morning and then there will be a break. Maybe I can pull it together then.

Blog posts like this are so pathetic, aren’t they? But sometimes the whole deal is just overwhelming and this is the place I have to turn to dump.

Feel dumped on? :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Long Trip, Tired Feet, but a Good Day

The trip with John went very well. I am convinced it is a good place for him and so is he. I have been working on a transition plan for him for over a year and am pleased that we actually may have it all fall into place in time. He'll be 18 in about 7 weeks.

Our day tomorrow is packed... and tonight I was hoping to get some work done, but I'm just exhausted. I don't see myself getting much done. I wish I was in bed already but it's only 8:18.

After my workout this morning and my walk with Bart tonight, my feet are tired. But I'm feeling great about the amount of exercise I'm getting. And I'm continuing to make good eating choices.

Now if I can continue this through our busy weekend.


My nap felt great. Now I'm heading with John's social worker to his interview. Won't be back until 7 or 8. I"m crossing my fingers things will go well with this and that he can move into that home soon.

Busy days for us around here.....

Naps and Self Discipline

Most people would not equate napping with self-discipline. But I literally have to force myself to nap on days when I get up at 5 a.m.

If I get up at 5 and go to the YMCA, which I have been doing most weekends, I feel great all morning. In fact, I usually can feel pretty energetic until about 3 p.m. Problem? I crash right in the middle of Meltdown City. Dominyk and Tony both usually have a meltdown right after school. And sometimes the girls each have their own estrogen induced wack-out-hour then as well. Sometimes Jimmy has a hard time transitioning. And if I am not well rested, I snap.

So, I have to force myself to take a nap before 3. Today I have to leave at 2, so I will avoid the meltdowns, but I know that tonight when I return about 7 I will be completely exhausted if I don't nap this afternoon.

So I'm heading up to do that now. Sounds a little odd -- I have to be self-disciplined enough to take a nap, doesn't it?


The OB-GYN visit today went as well as could be expected. She was quite nervous. After it was all over she and I were in the exam room alone together. She let me hug her tight, for a long time. She thanked me for coming with her. She seemed relieved and grateful and committed to refraining from any activity that would require a return visit.

And oh yeah, one more thing happened while I was there.

A Tragedy

I join Mary in asking for prayers for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family. I have been listening to his music for years and followed his adoption story. This is such a heartbreaking tragedy.

It gives me so much perspective to think about their pain and makes me feel foolish and petty to be so stressed out in a silly OB GYN appointment with my 15 year old daughter. I can't imagine their pain.

It Feels Like Chaos ... Somehow There's Peace

If you're not a person of faith, you may want to skip this post.

But I heard this new song by Sanctus Real today and it reminded me of the ways in which God changes us ... either through our relationship with our children or in other ways. As adoptive parents we are continually challenged ... but maybe this is God's way of refining us, of doing things in our lives, of heading us in a new direction.

I thought the song very appropriate for me lately. Maybe it is appropriate for you too.

Whatever You're Doing
by Sanctus Real

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...


Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

The Way I Was Made

If I time it just right and leave the YMCA, like I did this morning, at exactly 6:00, the local radio station plays this song at that time every weekday morning:

The Way I Was Made
by Chris Tomlin

Caught in the half-light, I'm caught alone
Waking up to the sunrise and the radio
Feels like I'm tied up, what's holding me?
Just praying today will be the day I go free

I want to live like there's no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one's around
I want to sing like nobody's listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I'm not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made

Made in Your likeness, made with Your hands
Made to discover who You are and who I am
All I've forgotten help me to find
All that You've promised let it be in my life

I want to live like there’s no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one’s around
I want to sing like nobody’s listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I’m not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made

It always prepares me well for the day. As did reading this Psalm. This one will be a very busy one as well. I am meeting a coworker for coffee, then have to take Salinda to the doctor, then at 2:00 am leaving so that John and I can meet with the director of Zumbro House again. John has decided he really doesn’t want to come back to the possible bad influences in Mankato and would rather try for a spot in a house a couple hours from here. We support his decision and need to go for the interview. So, that will take up about 5 or six hours of my afternoon and evening.

Tonight we need to prepare to leave tomorrow for Kyle’s graduation and the soccer tournament. I am hoping to get a walk in with Bart as well. Here I started the week planning to reduce my computer time and now I’m having to find ways to increase it just to get my work done.

Salinda continues to be “vemon girl” seemingly angry at everyone for everything all the time when nobody is messing with her. Some of it is teenage girl, i know, but she certainly expects a lot from the people around her when she is willing to give so little. I continue to dread interchanges with her, but have worked hard to learn to keep my mouth shut and not make matters worse.

Other than my time with her, I am anticipating a good day. And who knows, maybe my time with her won’t be quite as bad as I’m anticipating it will be.

Or maybe it will be worse. ;-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Very Excellent Day

I had such a great day. Bart and I left around 9:15 and we were at the mall by 11. We had lunch today which I will mention in my dieting blog. Then we shopped for clothes for me. I was cooperative and tried on many things for my husband to give me input on. We selected a couple of outfits for graduation and the baptism and we even found them on clearance at JCPenney (We saw some clothes at other stores and I simply walked out because the prices were so high). Then after the mall Bart stopped at Whole Foods, we went to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis and we walked and had great conversation. The walk is also addressed in my dieting blog. Then I had dinner with a great friend and Bart had a wonderful time with Kyle and we headed home to a clean house and relatively mellow kids.

A great day all around.

Mom and Dad's Day Out

Today we are heading for a Day Out, as I mentioned yesterday. It should be fun to get away and do something different, though my endless to do list will haunt me.

I will have staff meeting via phone from the car this morning. I finally found my bluetooth headset and got it working again with my Iphone, so I’ll be able to use that today while Bart drives. I’m trying to break my habit of constantly being on the phone while I drive and have even reduced my cell phone plan to prevent me from this habit... But it sure makes travel time fast. Today though, I’ll have Bart to talk to when I’m not in staff meeting. I’m sure he’s thrilled. ;-)

I will need to recharge today somehow because there are a lot of “Salinda” days ahead. Thursday is the OB GYN (no, not pregnant), Friday therapy, and then next week, while Bart is out of town, I have to go back to court with her because she violated her probation. After she was caught about 10 days ago she avoided all of us for about a week, not dealing with anything. Then she had a couple good days and now she wants her privileges back and everything to go back to normal. I don’t think that is the way it’s going to go. We need to have a long talk, which seldom goes well. I’m waiting to see what the therapist thinks.

Speaking of therapy, I love the fact that our kids therapist is sworn to confidentiality. I don’t see my own therapist, but sometimes the therapist for four of our kids becomes my therapist. My big personal crisis that I keep blogging about without detail was at it’s peak last week when Salinda went in and it was great to be able to tell her about the whole thing. She was very supportive and I was able to tell her things in a way I couldn’t tell others. That “sworn to confidentiality” thing is pretty freeing and in telling her exactly how I felt I was able to understand it better.

So today is recharge day. I hope that it works. Because we have a big week coming up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seven Months Ago Tonight

Seven months ago tonight I remember being completely discouraged and miserable. It was soon after the "Salinda steals our car and then gets caught and then the police give it to Mike and then he steals it again" experience. I was home alone and so stressed out. I was feeling like a complete failure and as though there was no hope.

As I look back over the last seven months I can see many ways that God has changed me. He brought people and situations into my life that have made me a better person. The things I have gone through have made me love my husband more than ever before and have made me a better parent.

These seven months, as I have mentioned quite a bit in the last few days, have not been easy ones. They have been months of really good times and really hard times. They have made me ask myself the difficult questions that nobody wants to ask themselves.

And yet tonight I am grateful for those months and those experiences. There will be other nights when maybe i'm not feeling this way, but tonight gratitude is my primary emotion.

I have heard Deborah Hage speak many times. The first few times I heard her speak she was nearing the end of raising 14 kids to adulthood and concluded her seminar with this song. I have thought of it often and am hoping I can maintain this same attitude as we complete our parenting journey over the next ten years.

Well-Deserved Nap

I have been cranking through my emails and blogging a lot this morning. I started with 118 emails. I am down to 50. If I'm going to survive the evening when I get up at 5, I must nap a bit before the kids come home. So that's where I am headed....

Yesterday's Court Hearing (Posted with Permission)

Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of attending a finalization for a match that I helped to make. An excellent match. But let's go back in time a little bit.

Two years ago while we were preparing to move to this town, where we currently live, I got an email from a stranger. She had found my name on some outdated website and contacted me because she and her husband were looking for a support group. They were in the process of getting their home study completed and wanted to hook up with other adoptive parents. We invited them to join us for some picnics with Mike and Kari and a few other families and started to get to know them.

Since they only live a few blocks from our church, they started to attend after we moved here and have become great friends. Once their home study was done, I began to ask if they wanted me to help them find children. And as I'm sure you know, once they said they did, I got busy.

A year ago in April they were matched with two girls, ages 16 and 11. And I helped them go through paperwork and try to decipher it and predict how easy or hard the girls would be to parent. I never can tell by paperwork, but I tried to help.

The decision was made to go forward and the girls moved in back in August. And yesterday they went to court. And it seems to be a very, very good match.

The oldest is now 17. She is finishing her junior year of High School. She has dreams of going to college. She just want to prom. She is doing very well in school and finally experiencing a "normal" adolescence. The youngest is finishing up fifth grade and seems to be doing quite well herself.

I can't tell you the whole story, all the ins and outs, but I can tell you this: Lives were forever changed and I was a part of it. And yesterday, knowing that, and hearing the proclamation that they were now legally adopted, made it all seem worthwhile.

And looking at the picture, you would have thought I was only considering looks when I made the match, but in reality they were open to girls of all races.... Couldn't look more homogenous though, could they?

I Think I'm OK now...

Just so you know, it's been a week since "Black Tuesday" when my situation that I have been vaguely blogging about came to a head. Fallout lasted until Friday about 11. Since then I have been trying to recover.

Thanks to some great friends and a wonderful husband, I am finally back to being myself today. I'm clipping away at getting work done, with very few distractions, and I think my head is getting back into my game (which is a good thing).

Everything seems to be back into place as of this morning, my anxiety is decreasing, and I am heading into a busy week ahead.

Bart and I are taking tomorrow to spend together. He wants to help me find a couple of outfits for Kyle's graduation and Leon and Wilson's baptism this weekend. Since most of my pants are nearly falling off now, I suppose I'll have to let that happen. I hate shopping, in any context, but I am going to work hard to be pleasant during this experience. During the afternoon, Bart is going to spend some time with Kyle and I am going to hook up with an old friend from years ago who is in the Twin Cities for a Homiletics conference. Mike is a great guy. I am looking forward to spending time with him. I haven't seen him in 3 or 4 years -- we used to work together in Oklahoma back in the early 90's and he and his wife and my best friend Bob and I spend our weekends playing endless games of Rook and singing songs from the 70s. Ahh, those were the days. Fond, fond memories. I'm hoping I can get him to do his impression of the Singing Rambos for me tomorrow. ;-)

Then Thursday I may be travelling with our son John to a possible group home for him to look at. I am really hoping this will work out for him as I think it will be ideal in helping him to transition to adulthood.

Friday night the whole family is heading to the Twin Cities to spend the night in a hotel. Ricardo has a soccer tournament and Kyle is graduating from college first thing Saturday morning. Then we'll stay to celebrate.... After Ricardo's game we will come home and the next morning is the baptism, followed by an afternoon soccer game if the team wins.

Then Tuesday Bart leaves for three days, then there is another soccer game Saturday, and by Tuesday, Leon, Wilson and I will be leaving for Arizona to see my parents.

Very busy days ahead, but that is good. I have a personality where plunging deep into busy helps me get back on track.


John's Adult Mental Health Worker who will soon have his case is an adoptive parent and is incredible. She and I were talking this morning and I revisited the Can't or Won't question. After talking to her I realized some of our insights were bloggable, but decided the post belonged on this blog instead of here. Check it out and let me know what you think.

71 "adults" a Day

From the AdoptUsKids "Monday Morning Memo" yesterday:

The Children’s Bureau recently announced new numbers based on the 2006 AFCARS. One of the saddest numbers was 26,000. This is the number of American children/youth who aged out of the foster care system. This number is higher than the previous year. Averaging this out, it comes to 2,167 kids per month aging out of the sytem and 71 each day. So – as you read this today, 71 more of our kids have left to fend for themselves.

If this fact does not motivate me to start working harder, I don't know what will.

I taught a segment of a college class a few weeks ago and I asked them the following questions:

How many of you are under 25? Nearly all raised their hands.

How many of you have talked to your parents or a relative in the last week? All hands stayed up.

How many of you asked that person for something in the last two weeks? Almost all hands stayed up.

I said, "I expect that most of you are fairly smart. You probably don't have a mental health diagnosis. You likely were not prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol. You don't have a learning disability. And you probably have a healthy attachment to your parents.

Picture this, I then told them. What if this was your story: On your graduation day from high school, your parents took you to an apartment and, without a vehicle, but within walking distance of the job at McDonalds they had found for you, paid your first months rent and said, goodbye and good luck. And you never heard from them again.

How many of you would be OK today?

not a single hand went up.

I reminded them that even with all of their good beginnings, they still needed parents. And that so many foster kids have a similar thing happen to them WITHOUT all of the other good things they were fortunate enough to have had growing up.

It was a sobering time.

71 kids today.... on their own. I need to get busy.

It's Tuesday....

and as is typical, Kari has written a powerful post. I just returned from the YMCA and yet another mediocre workout, but there is more weight loss to report. I am proud of myself, actually, for sticking to this.

Yesterday afternoon was one disaster after another. First, I left 10 minutes later than planned. Then there was a fender-bender on the road here in town that I take, and so it resulted in a delay. A detour en route further delayed us, so I was late picking up John. I am so far behind in emails, that I was trying to respond to a couple from my phone, which wasn’t going well. When I arrived at the Human Services building for John’s interview, 30 minutes late, I sat there for 20 minutes waiting for them to find the people I was meeting until it suddenly hit me that we were supposed to be meeting at another location. We had the interview for John, but the meeting afterwards never happened. That will have to be rescheduled.

By the time that was over I was completely exhausted, but we still had the play to attend, which was actually fun and relaxing. As you know, i already posted pictures last night.

Having not been at my desk for most of yesterday, and having accomplished next to nothing last week, I am drowning in work. I’m hoping to have the energy and stamina to get lots done today. (By the way, i want to point out once again for all you curious folks, my setback last week had NOTHING to do with any of my children or my husband. It was just a personal thing and I am physically quite healthy. Maybe some day I will blog about it.)

Salinda wants me to go to the doctor with her to get some tests done (no, not a pregnancy test, but you’re on the right track). She was saying that she wasn’t going to go with me, but that she was going to have a friend’s mom take her and I made it clear I was willing to go. Apparently I now have that honor. Trying to figure out how her brain works and why is too puzzling for me.

If you’re having a hard time dealing with a difficult time in your life, you may want to check out this devotional I wrote called God Intends Good. Remembering how God can make good things come out of a less than perfect situation was a good reminder to me.