Friday, October 31, 2008

The Teenage Brain and the Nice Things about Cell Phones

Last night Sadie came to me distraught. John is coming for the weekend and she had promised that she would help us take Wilson Trick-or-Treating. He's very excited about it. But she had a friend who wanted her to come over. She spent 20-25 minutes describing her dilemma and telling me she was gong to cry because the decision was so hard. She didn't want her friend to be mad at her.

So I concluded that I would just tell her that she couldn't go to her friend's house. That way her friend wouldn't be mad because it wouldn't be her fault and her brothers could be happy.

Well, you can imagine how well that has gone. As soon as the decision was made, but not by her, she knew EXACTLY what she wanted to do. But she turned the whole thing into a long debate and refused to go to bed. This morning she has wanted to continue to argue the point.

The main reason that I'm being insistent though is that she consistently uses John whenever she is angry with me. "John and Salinda are the only family I have. He means everything in the world to me." He hasn't been home to spend the night for a year, and hasn't been home for two nights for two years. And yet she wants to leave... just like Salinda who does the same thing. With Salinda I am trying to be gracious and help her enjoy her confirmation weekend -- and we want her boyfriend here for that special day -- so i'm being a little more flexible. But with Sadie she just gets all caught up in the drama.

Which leads me to why I love cell phones (sometimes). She told me she wasn't going to come home after school so I texted her:

If you aren't home by 4:00 your cell phone will be off.

Her response:

What the heck y r bein so stupid.

I respond:

Have a great day. I love you.

She responds:

I don't love u I dont get y i cant my friend wants me to go really bad

I didn't respond.

She responds:

Whatever y cant I go over to my friennds house she really wants me to go over.

I did not respond.

I'm not going to respond. She's not supposed to have her phone at school anyway.

Text messages can be ignored. That's one of the reasons why I like them.

But all this drama from the teenage brain can get exhausting. Hopefully she'll pull her attitude together and we can have a nice night. Or not.

i told her that. "You can choose to have a bad attitude and attempt to ruin the weekend -- or you can have a nice weekend. I've learned I can't control which one you choose. Guess

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I shouldn't blog at 9:00 p.m.

I'm so crabby right now. Kyle, who can't find time in his schedule to make it down here, just texted to ask if he could have Mike's snowboard boots. Mike, who if he is lucky has three things that he owns that he knows where is, Mike, a week out of jail, Mike, homeless and couch surfing. And Kyle, a third grade teacher, making more money that I do in his first year of teaching, wants Mike's stuff.

Why? Because he needs some. That's the answer he gave. Mike has repeatedly wanted Kyle to visit him over the last year when he's been in jail. Mike idolizes Kyle. And yet Kyle has never felt Mike deserved a visit. But now, he needs snowboard boots and so he wants us to give him the boots. I'm just shaking my head in complete irritation.

I just texted him to talk to Mike and that I was irritated with his even asking but felt that it would be too hard to explain in a way that he would understand why I was irritated. Of course, he didn't text me back.

To me it is as ironic as a person in New York CIty who works on Wall Street walking by a blind beggar and taking his blanket.

And this coming from a kid who can't make it home (90 miles) for his brother and sister's confirmation.

I suppose I should give him a break. Not his fault nobody attached to him when he was a baby. But STILL you'd think, that after almost 11 of years of pretty decent training and parental involvement he'd at least have figured this much out.


The Disappointments of Parenting

Salinda and Jimmy are getting confirmed this weekend and I thought that it would be nice if as many of us could be together as possible. However, Kyle is too busy and too broke to come down. He can't afford to drive 75 miles.

It's a matter of priorities. I figured this out a long time ago. If a person says, "I don't have the time or the money" many times it is an excuse and it just means "it's not that important."

In addition, Salinda wanted JOhn home, but now she doesn't want to be home because she hasn't seen her boyfriend for two weeks.


Making any two teenagers happy at the same time is tough enough. And we have 8 of them. Not to mention 2 that are in their early twenties.

What were we thinking when they were all sweet and cute and under 12?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

So Unpredictable

So last night is perfectly fine! Bart and I had a late supper with two other family units from church. It was an enjoyable time. We had a PCA for Dominyk, and some of the kids went to the Y, but they all returned home soon before we did and everyone was co-existing peacefully together. We all went to bed relatively happy and the house was free of conflict and stress.

Bart picked up MIke from work and blogs about this experience here.

Busy day today with appointments for the kids and other things for work.... we're off and running.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another post......

Bart's version of last night can be found here.

Support Group and Newsletter

Spiritually Supported Adoptions support group meets at the church tomorrow at 11:15. If you are planning to attend, please email me to let me know so Bart can plan.

Also, if you have not yet signed up for our company newsletter, please let me know and we'll put you on the list!

Vitamin Water and a 20 Minute Walk

Last night Bart bought some vitamin water for the family. Dominyk was with him, and since he no longer gets pop, his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder now has shifted to being obsessed with any drink that isn't water. So Bart brought them home and Dominyk was determined to pass them out. However, Bart had already given him instructions about how to do that, and when he didn't follow them, Dominyk went into a complete meltdown.

We mistakingly believed the meltdown to be over and took just 20 minutes to go for a walk. Sadie joined us and when we were on our way back we met Tony, sobbing on the street, small backpack packed, saying he was running away. Bart took care of Tony and I headed home to find DOminyk sobbing. Apparently he had tried to pass out the Vitamin Water which Salinda felt was not his job to do, so she took it away from him. He ended up throwing them at her and so, according to him, she hit him. He then proceeded to kick in his door.

Meanwhile, one of the Vitamin Waters had split open when it was thrown and apparently when Tony decided to get involved and pick it up, Jimmy for some reason decided to torment him by calling him the ever so popular "fatty." Tony hit Jimmy and Salinda determined that she needed to get TOny off of JImmy because he was about to knock over the TV. Jimmy pinched Tony, Tony left crying, and that's the end of that.

Except that I didn't handle the whole thing well leading to numerous further outbursts by all involved and me going to bed feeling like the worst parent in the world.

So.... the series of unfortunate events. What was the reason? Bart shouldn't have bought Vitamin Water? We shouldn't have gone for a walk? Salinda shouldn't have decided it mattered if Dominyk touched it? Jimmy shouldn't have.... Dominyk shouldn't have ... or I could go on.

Or I could go back further. Nobody's birth moms should have been drinking when they were pregnant. Nobody should have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or unvalued as an infant or toddler.

Or I could be even more personal. I should have followed my own advice that I gave while speaking in Texas last night. I shouldn't have let myself get overtired. I should have responded more calmly. I should have ..... the tyranny of the shoulds.

But it's over for another round. Maybe next time we'll do things differently and things will turn out differently. Maybe next time we won't do things differently and things will turn out the same....

But every time we go through something like this, it always passes, there is always a new day ahead, and we can always have yet another fresh start.

So this morning I was more calm, more patient, did things right and things were fine. Until the next time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Returning Home

Did my home visit and just got home. Bart is gone with Dominyk who has taken Tony's place in boyscouts. Tony was quite the under achiever and Dominyk very eager, so we made the switch...

Do you think a family is weird if one spouse has to find out about how the other one's day went by reading their blog. Bart blogged more about Mike while I was gone -- stuff I haven't had time to talk to him about yet.

Long Awaited Report on Mike

From Bart... an update on Mike.

The Beginning of Another Work Week

Up at 4:55 this morning and off to the YMCA to weigh in . Then back home to shower and get ready for the day.

I came home from taking the kids to school and found an two-page typed essay in my door with a note from Salinda saying that she had chosen to write about me because she ran out of time. She wrote two pages all about me called, "Whom I Admire." Her theseis was that I was strong, intelligent, and outgoing.

Her concluding paragraph says,

I guess I'm super lucky to have a mom that is strong, intelligent, and outgoing. Even though at times she can be embarrassing. I'm sure many people admire her, but especially me. Overall my mom couldn't be a better person.

yes, in case you're wondering, I did cry. Of course I did. Rewards like this are so few that when they come they are often overwhelming.

What a great start to the day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes, a Pretty Good Day

Church was great this morning. Salinda, very tired and not feeling so well after her long, troublesome night, sat closer to me than she has in years. Let me put my arm around her a couple times.

Dominyk, for the first time in ages without Aderall (because I forgot to give it to him) was able to hold it together pretty well with the promise of a pop with lunch.

I was thoroughly enjoying listening to the 4 8th grade boys behind me (our three plus Ivan, the friend who spends weekends here) singing. It was especially cool to hear Ivan singing the songs he is recently learning during our services as I'm not sure he has any church background at all.

And Wilson was the only one to receive his 3rd grade Bible in the 2nd service. He selected his own outfit today, complete with a clip on tie. So naturally, when he was presented with his Bible and people began to clap, he had to bow. It was adorable.

After church I took the girls and Wilson to the mall and it was free of drama -- probably a first. Salinda picked out a sweater/dress for confirmation. It may actually be somewhat modest if she wears it with leggings as she is promising to.

The rest of the day was uneventful.... Bart needs to blog about Mike... or I'm going to have to.

And, in case you've been paying attention to Kari's blog, there is no way she's going to have the guts to post the video of me singing a silly song when her husband has promised to help me get her back if she does.

Such a chicken.... And yes, Kari, that movie appears ANYWHERE and you're going DOOOOOOOWN...

Another Stupid Day that Ended Well and another good day that started stupidly?

Salinda continued on her rampage for most of the day. She was angry and upset and took it out on everyone. The stress level was very high because she was cussing me out every time I spoke to her. She was refusing to do what I asked, and thus several of the other children followed suit. It didn't go well.

This seems to happen every time I speak and explain to people how mature I am and how much I've learned about parenting. I tell them all about how they SHOULD do things -- and then I come home and do the opposite. Makes me crazy.

By 5:20 last night she had finally gotten herself out of her funk. She came to my office and gave me a note explaining why she was upset and how mad she was at herself for messing up her own weekend. I went upstairs and she finally talked to me.

She asked permission to go somewhere. I explained to her in great detail why I didn't feel it was a wise choice. I told her though, that I would let her make the decision. She chose to go. We agreed that I would pick her up htis morning around 9 so she could get home and get ready for church.

About 5:30 a.m. she called and asked me to get her. I won't go into much detail here as some of her high drama "friends" or "enemies" might read this, but let's just say she didn't have a good time. She is exhausted and only has a few hours to sleep.

But she was open and honest with me, admitted she shouldn't have gone, told me not to let her go again and explained why it wasn't a good suggestion.

Now if she can just make herself get up and do what she's supposed to do, maybe we'll have an OK day. SIgh.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A very Stupid Day

Yesterday turned out to be a disappointing and stupid day. It all went fairly well until 3:00 when I went to pick up Salinda from school and she wasn't there. Since her probation had just ended the day before it made me panic. I tried to call her friend and got no answer.

I came home and her friend called me back. Said that she hadn't been in school all day. Then I really started to wonder what was up. I had been home all day except for lunch.... but sure enough, she was in her bed. Her eye was puffy so she didn't go to school. Well, I didn't handle the whole thing particularly well, but the fact that she was furious with ME because now she couldn't go out at night (Our rule is that if you skip school all day, you don't leave the house or have electronics until the next morning). So she reverted back to her horribly nasty self of several months ago and broke every rule -- except leaving the house and using the computer because it is password protected and I refused to log her in. The conversations we had were less than pleasant and she continues to accept no responsibility. It was perfectly fine for her to hide in her bed without telling us she was skipping school and she should be able to go out because not being able to go out is if you're SICK and she wasn't sick. The fact that if she wasn't sick she should have gone to school seems to not register with her.

So she refused to eat dinner with the family, cranked her music -- not super loud, but loud enough to be annoying, helped herself to supper to eat in her room without our permission, and then watched TV nearly all night long.

My theory is that she is feeling guilty about something -- because that is how she acts when she does, but I think it's lies she's telling her friends, not us, at this point.

So we will see if her mood has broken. She wants something, and I purposefully am waiting to see how today goes before deciding what to do about yesterday. I parented her, she tortured me back, typical of a 13 year old. Except she's almost 16....

I'm sure she has big plans for the day, but we'll see what happens this morning. I'm not as interested in giving her consequences as I am in trying to understand what is going on and help her through it. But I am not going to give the other kids the impression that they can skip school and then spend the evening out and about....

And on another not so positive note, Mike had gotten a job about 10 days ago right before he was released from jail. He had Bart give him rides to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. Last night at 5:10 they called from work to find out why he wasn't there. We haven't heard from him since Thursday night.....


Friday, October 24, 2008

Home Again and Back At It

Had a great trip professionally and personally. Nothing out of the ordinary, personally, but I'm very excited about the new presentation I did about the Methods of Matching. I was hoping that the tools I created would be helpful and it looks as though they will be very much so. The workers seemed excited about them, and they made sense to them. I also got some very good suggestions as to things I had left out and am ready to get going and perfect the presentation even more before I start to advertise it more heavily and attempt to do it again.

Problem is, I'm back home with a list of things to do a mile long and a full in box and I need to spend some family time so, you guessed it, no time to work on all the things from the trip I'd like to do.

And not enough time to blog. Oh well, maybe more later...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Heading Home

Yesterday was a great day. Yesterday morning, as an introduction to the day, i shared the story of how we got our kids. The audience was amazingly receptive and everything clicked. It was like an hour of stand-up comedy combined with passionate point-making about raising tough kids. There was a definite connection with the audience and I loved doing the presentations. The other part of it is that I really am feeling good about all of our kids right now, and so talking about them is a little easier.

The afternoon was a little dry, and my slides had some Typos (I really need to slow down with some of this stuff and pay just a TAD bit of attention to detail), but it was a great day.

Last night we had dinner with Brenda and her daughter, Gretchen. We spent some time discussing an arranged marriage between Gretchen and Wilson, since they are the same age.

I showed Gretchen this picture of Wilson in a dress. I said, "Won't this be a great story to tell your grand childeren some day?" I made my voice sound crackly and old and said, "Come here, honey, and let me tell you something. The first time I ever saw a picture of your grandpa, he was wearing a dress."

So then I took a picture of her to show to Wilson, and as they dropped us off, I said, "We'll begin planning that wedding now." She's such a sweet kid that she just giggled.

Heading to the airport in 15 minutes.... Will be home soon after the kids get there today. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ready for another Big Day

In 20 minutes we'll leave the hotel for another day of training. It's a great group of workers that I really enjoy -- committed professionals who are eager to learn and get their jobs done and it is really fun to be part of helping them learn things....

Yesterday was a very full day. We started setting up at 8 in the beautiful chapel at Lena Pope Home. This is a picture of the outside. If you have time check out the link. Lena Pope's story is an amazing one. Her legacy and what she was able to begin back in 1930 is very inspiring.

I spoke about Matching Myths from 9-12 and then we had a break for lunch. We went to the Deli at Central Market, a store that my husband would have thought was the closest thing to heaven. I couldn't help but think that he or Sarah would have been able to spend a full day in that store. Took a few pictures. The store is huge and each department was so much bigger than anything I've seen. There were literally hundreds of kinds of cheeses, (pictured is a whole stack of Parmesian) lots of organic stuff, (ever heard of italian cauliflower -- it's the green stuff) and a bakery to die for. I had a baked potato for lunch with lots of wonderful toppings....

After lunch I presented Matching Methods for 3 hours and it was a very practical session. I think the handouts that I've been coming up with are actually going to be quite helpful.

After my presentation I met Samantha for supper. She reminds me so much of Leon it is uncanny. She is animated and fun and we had a great time.

Then I presented to foster parents from 7-9 p.m. ANother great session.

I was simply exhausted last night, but it was a good exhaustion. And now i'm minutes away from leaving again so I better post this...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So you don't die of curiosity

Bart blogged some of it here. THe other part of it was that he had contact with Salinda without our permission and I thought Salinda was trying to hide it.

But I'm feeling better now that I know that Salinda talked to Bart and she told him about it and seems pretty balanced about the whole thing.

So I'm getting over it... but the fact that he specifically did what we asked him to within 24 hours of us spending all that money on him irks me.

But who knows how much of what he does is intentional?

Answer. Nobody. Not even him.

So that was all. Nothing traumatic -- just something disappointing. And I can do disappointment. It's what we do.

5 Minutes and Practicing what I preach

I just have five minutes before I head to have supper with Leon and Wilson's birth sister.

I found out something troubling and I am upset with myself because I just got done explaining to people in my sessions today how you can't control your kids and how you can't let them get to you. But this is getting to me. I'm very frustrated that it got to me and that I can't practice what I preach.

And I'm not even sure I should blog it.


Up and At "Em

Except there is no one to be at, if that makes sense. Just me, and Karen and she got herself up and showered without my help. Didn't even have to give her any prompts or reminders. She may even brush her teeth without being told.

We're leaving at 7:15 for a long day. I was up at 5:20 and at the fitness center hoping that will give me more energy today as it is a long one. This morning from 9-12 is Myths of Matching, then a break for lunch, then Matching Methods in the afternoon, complete with a live matching session. This evening I'll present "12 Survival Tips I Learned from Parenting 12 Children" to foster and adoptive parents from 7-9. Between those sessions I'm hoping to have supper with Leon and Wilson's birth sister.

So it will be a very long time before I can rest today. But every minute of it will be fun -- at least that's MY plan. We'll see what everyone else thinks as I drone on and on....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Meal

Great meal tonight with Brenda, her daughter (who took the picture) and my coworker Karen. Here's a shout out to Ashley who is only WISHING she could be on my blog.

We have busy days ahead, but exciting ones.

Going to sleep now.

from DFW

That's Dallas Fort Worth. ;-)

I am here an hour early because of a change in flights, so I am taking a moment to blog before Brenda, one of my favorite colleagues and one of the best CPS Adoption supervisors I've had the privileges of working with picks me up. I had a great flight, uneventful, my luggage didn't weight too much, and it is actually here with me as I type.

Everything is fine at home, at least it was a few hours ago when Bart blogged.. I share his contentment that for now all is well.

I am looking forward to this week. Lots of information to share for sure.... Hopefully it will be received well and progress will be made.

For right now, life is good....

from MSP

That's Minneapolis, St. Paul... the airport.

Had breakfast with Mike and Bart this morning. Very good to see him.

I am freed in my new approach to parenting my older kids, which I've been trying to articulate not so well here in the blog.

I used to protect the kids -- all of them -- from what they MIGHT do. I used to make way too many choices for them, trying to make sure they didn't head in the wrong direction. And obviously, they did anyway.

So now I am much more free because I realize there isn't a lot I can do to stop them. They are going to do what they are going to do. If I let John come home, for example, and Salinda is influenced to do something she shouldn't, then she will be on probation longer and have more consequences. However, if I don't let John come home because of what MIGHT happen, I might not be able to help him as much as I could. He is talking about wanting to visit with a military recruiter, and I am convinced this is a very good option for him. So, I could work hard to protect everyone from making mistakes and not be able to do the good I might do.

Again, I can't put kids at physical risk, but I'm done protecting kids from making their own bad choices. I want to be able to be there for them and understand them more than to try to control what they do. Most of you have probably already figured that out, but it took me a long time.

And now I must board the plane. I got put on a different flight -- an earlier one, so I need to go....

One Year Ago Today

I remember one year ago today because I hit a real low. I remember it because Bart was out of town and I was getting ready to go to Texas to meet Bart there and meet Leon and Wilson for the first time. We were in the middle of the big mess with Salinda and Mike having stolen the car and I was just beside myself not knowing what to do.

That day kind of became a marker in my head as the months went by and I blogged about it here. I must now report that now that a year has gone by I realize that in nearly every way I am a better person. I am 43.5 pounds lighter. (by the way, Made it to the Y this morning by 5:30... had a nice suprise.) I have more energy. I have made it to new levels of self-differentiation and am able to view my children's behavior as something I can't control, but can simply help them navigate. I love my husband and kids more than ever, things are great professionally, we're making progress with the book.

There has been no year in my life that I feel I have learned more about myself. I'm so grateful for the ways I've grown and I'm thankful for the fact that I've had all of you to share that journey with.

I know i'm not even close to being where I want to be, but things are so much better than a year ago.... I'm better, the kids are better.... In fact, with the exception of Mike, every one of our kids has made so much progress in the past year it's almost unrecognizable ...

And yet, ironically, as I write this, Bart is with Mike, having picked him up as he was released from jail this morning.... so who knows what the next chapter in his life will be.

And now, I'm off to take the kids to school and soon after, will head to the airport yet again. I am very passionate about the materials I am going to present, so I'm excited to speak, but the preparation and travel is a hassle.

More whining from the airport possibly....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bart's Been Busy Blogging

While I've been getting ready for my trip and providing transportation to youth group, Bart has been blogging and has been taking kids out to eat so he has even more to blog. He's getting more page views than I am lately.

I'm finishing printing a few things and sending a few emails and then it will be time to pack my suitcases once again. It is never fun to leave, but it's a lot easier to do so when things are going well....

A Great Day

The last 26 hours have been great. Kyle and his girlfriend were here and we had a wonderful time with them. Everyone was basically well behaved -- we had lunch and then Bart took kids to buy a bunch of pumpkins. Leon, Wilson, and Leon's friend Ivan (who looks like John) had never carved pumpkins before. Kyle and Christy helped out with carving and taking pictures, and, as you can see, other things.

Then this morning we were all in church and, very untypically, all sat together in the same pew except Rand and, of course, Bart who was preaching. Everyone was perfectly well behaved and it felt so good to be together....

Lunch afterwards was uneventful as well.

Now I'm getting ready for my trip.... and the house is very calm -- everyone seems to be quite content today.

It's very very nice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Time WIth John

We had such a nice time with John yesterday. He has grown up so much. He's lost a lot of weight too --a bout 35 pounds, and looks good -- strong and steady. He's been working out and really is doing great.

He hasn't had any incidences in several months of being aggressive.....

He's talking about the military when he finishes high school, which I think would be a great plan for him.

He has only spent one night here in the last year, but we're considering inviting him for a weekend. It would be a risk -- he could make some horrible choices with connections he has here in town, but if he does, he does.

I'm trying to let go of my need to control the situation and just let him make his choices. And hope to enjoy him for who he is regardless of what he might do and let go of that need to make sure everything will be OK if he comes home.

I can't believe it...

I didn't blog yesterday.

Not one word.

That has to be some kind of a record.

And I have no time to blog this morning either.

Day with John yesterday was wonderful. I will post more later. And Kyle and his girlfriend are coming today, so we're busy cleaning and getting ready for that.

I only came down to make a phone call and realized I hadn't blogged!!!!

So sorry. more later.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Calling it a Night ....

Bart has far surpassed me as a blogger today. His life is way more interesting than mine lately.

Salinda's boyfrend and her mom came to pick her up for the weekend. They just moved to a new house and she has been a big help getting stuff unpacked. Apparently he's paid for gas so she can go there and everyone is happy. They're nice people and it is really hilarious that she took so long to let us meet. She could have made things so much easier on herself.

Tomorrow it's my plan to take some kids over to meet John for lunch. It's a long drive, but he's doing so well and needs the encouragement.

It appears that Kyle and his girlfriend may be coming for the weekend....

I've almost got my presentations completed for my trip -- just some fine tuning.

And now, time for another good night's sleep I hope.

I'm Bored, There's Nothing to DO

Dominyk gets bored. Easily. And almost always. And he expresses it repeatedly.

When we go out to eat it is always a challenge because he has nothing to do. We try to distract him with conversation before the food comes and when he is done waiting for others to finish, but it doesn't always go so well.

Last night my picture taking kept him occupied as did his impersonation of R2-D2 complete with paper napkin rings for decoration.

Dinner Out

Last night those who wanted to went out to dinner with Bart and I. IN these pictures, you may think you are seeing John, but NO, it's Ivan -- Tony, Ricardo and Leon's friend who now practically lives here. He's a neat kid and has spent the last two weekends here and is again this weekend, including the break. He lives in town, but he likes it here.... AND I figure it he is here, he isn't anywhere else, which sounds like a really stupid statement, but certainly is significant.

In fact, when he is here, then my 3 eighth grade boys are here.... and that means they aren't anywhere else either. ANd they seem to enjoy each other and have fun.

Having Ivan here really makes me miss John. He looks so much like him and even has some of the same mannerisms. He's always helpful and polite, like John, and often asks me if there are things he can do to help me. He's earning big points with me.

And supper was quite nice, actually.... except for the occasional Dominyk outburst, which I will blog about in a moment.

Lacking That Typical Good Morning Feeling

Last night Bart told me about his visit with Mike. I responded in shock, but in ways that bothered my husband and we started one of those never-helpful always frustrating conversations that resulted in us both feeling bad. I didn't sleep well, complete with weird dreams about a friend of ours (no I'll never tell who) drawing body art on my husband with permanent marker... and when I woke up my head hurt. I did a strength training workout that was pathetic and I have no energy.

Plans to visit John aren't working out the way I planned Bart is gone for all but an hour and a half today. I have several things I need to do to get ready for my next trip and my desk is a mess.

SO much for every morning I wake up fairly happy.......

ANd besides that it is cold. I am not ready for winter. Don't want it to come.

I know, Whine, Whine, Whine. I'm going to shut up for now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Second Chances

Salinda asked tonight to go to a friend's house where she hadn't been for two years. It was not a wise place to be back then which she later admitted to me.

I expressed to her my concern, but also suggested that it was important for me to offer people another chance. I explained that she needed to make good choices and that she needed to call if things were not going well and I would come get her. She is old enough now that she needs to be making those choices -- to get out of negative situation -- instead of me trying to protect her from them. God knows that never worked anyway.

So she is there, I'm offering another chance, and she'll need to make sure she makes good choices..... and if not, then we'll deal with that as it comes.

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it is me.

My motto all the time now. And it seems to be working.

Sitting in the Hotel with Tears in My Eyes

as I read my husband's eloquent post about our church. He is exactly right. Nothing can replace true support when we are on a journey like ours.

My 4000th Post - Support Group Cancelled

I happened to notice when I signed on this morning that this is post #4000. Wow, that's a lot of posting. I started the blog 3 and a half years ago so my math tells me I have averaged 3.13 posts a day. That's an incredible amount of posting. I'm not even going to ask my readers how many of the 4000 posts you have found worth reading.....

I suppose I should be doing something amazing to celebrate this accomplishment, but instead I am going to report that Bart is sick this morning and I'm out of town so our Spiritually Supported Adoption Support Group is cancelled for today.

Pretty typical of me, huh?

I slept well (because I need to report that every day too) and now have a few hours (interrupted by my hair cut) to work before I meet a friend to have lunch on the way home. And then we begin 5 days without school as I prepare to leave for another trip. I still have one more powerpoint to prepare and want to do a couple videos..... but we'll see how much time I have.

It's nice when getting ready for my day means only me getting ready -- a nice change.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reading All About It From Afar

It's weird reading about my own family from a quiet hotel room.

Bart blogged about MIke's sentencing today.....

My Personality and Driving Liabilities

Whenever I drive, I plan, think, dream, envision. And as I drive my body becomes more and more tired and my mind more and more energized and alert.

So when I arrive at my destination, especially if it is a hotel room and I"m alone, I have to decide which I will appease -- my tired body or my energized mind.

And I almost always choose to work hard and push my body to turn some of my ideas into reality.

And I don't rest.

And by nights end I'm dead tired.

Bart's articulate Writing

ANother example is on his blog today.

2 Hour Late Start

We used to have early outs. Now we have late starts.

I much prefer late starts. Most of the kids sleep in.... It's nice to have a couple extra hours in my morning.

I am busting through a list of must dos this morning before I leave for a day to do some visits in the western part of the state. I am looking forward to having a few uninterrupted hours to work at the hotel before my meetings and I am going to get a haircut from the only person who knows how to cut my hair. And THAT I'm excited about because my hair is driving me crazy. I mean who cuts someone's hair so that the sideburns are straight on one side and tapered on the other? Of course, who let's someone cut it without noticing it before leaving the hair-cut-place? Sigh.

I have just sent the kids off to school with Rand (Salinda was babysitting overnight). And now I have a few hours before I have to leave. Lots to do, not enough time to do it, but it's all good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Poster Child for O.D.D.

Bart wanted to take Tony to go get a snack. Tony's been bugging him for days to take him somewhere.

So tonight Tony, when he wasn't even misbehaving, said, "Tony, get your shoes on."

His response, "I'm not going to some damn juvenile detention center."

Where does that stuff come from?


I'm Done Moping

Sometimes I accuse my husband of being a little depressive so I was surprised today when I got an instant message from his computer.

It said, "I am done moping."

Surprised, I said, "REally?"

and then the message came back, "Yes, and the kitchen looks nice for when Fletchers come over. This is Jimmy."

Apparently he doesn't know how to spell mopping.

Bart blogged another funny experience he had today...

A Couple Reminders

If you have not yet subscribed to our company newsletter, you may want to do so. Another issue will come out sometime today.

Also, our Spiritually Supported Adoptions groupwill be meeting at the Belgrade Avenue United Methodist Church on Wednesday at 11:15. My husband is the one who will lead the group and for those of you who are sick and tired of reading about me, hearing me, talking to me -- I'm not going to be in town on Wednesday, so you won't have to put up with me.

Email me if you'd like to be on the newsletter list or if you're planning to be at the support group meeting. I'd like to give Bart an idea of how many to prepare for.

I'm now at Dunn Brothers and so enthusiastic about my projects for the day. I love it that regardless of how overwhelmed I get, I am almost always passionate and excited about the ways I am able to make a difference in the world as I bumble along...

Took this picture Saturday morning when I took Tony out for breakfast. We had a nice time, but my lap band kicked in and it resulted in me regurgitating my food, resulting in egg chunks coming out when I blew my nose, which I know is way too much information and my husband is cringing at my lack of social skills right now, but anyway, I digress...

Love this picture -- shows his amazing blue eyes.

Six Minutes Until Take Off

Kids get up in six minutes -- though three are already up...

I've blogged about my morning workout and weight loss for the week and now i'm going to wake them up, followed by the morning scurry, and then I get to meet Kari for breakfast. Mike might even come for a while.

I have a ton to do, but at the moment I'm feeling quite good..... We'll see how long it lasts...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mercy and Grace

The picture has nothing to do with the post..... but I like it..... It is indicative of their personalities for sure.

Today I'm being an instrument of Mercy and an instrument of Grace.

As I may have blogged before, Grace is getting what we don't deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve.

Salinda did not deserve a ride tonight. She called desperate for one even though she left only with the understanding that she had a ride home and I would not have to come get her. Then, instead of telling me her ride fell through, she stayed an extra night without permission and skipped church this morning. But when she called this afternoon, I agreed, for a small fee to help with gas (natural consequences) to go pick her up.

So, I extended Mercy -- not giving her what she deserved -- which was having to figure out how to get herself out of a mess that she, and only she, created.

And earlier today I went shopping for black pants and a black shirt. Mike has been hired at a local fast food joint and is now in the jail work release program. He needed clothes. Bart was planning to do it, but his day was so busy that I offered to go get them. And so tomorrow Mike, who has stolen thousands of dollars of stuff from us, will be the recipients of a brand new outfit that his dad and I paid for. And I extend grace -- and he gets what he doesn't deserve.

Why extend Mercy and Grace? Because it is important for me to be merciful and gracious. They may be grateful, they may not. They may take advantage of me and return my kindness with anger. But I'm not doing it for what they will do in return -- I'm doing it because that is what Jesus would do.

It sounds trite, I know, and it certainly has taken me a long time to get to this point -- but I am thankful to have learned a bit about God's grace and mercy by extending it to my children.

And since I am often in need of both from God, it only makes sense that I should give to others what I desperately need from Him.

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Salinda isn't home. But I know where she is. Just like always, she told me she had a ride home before I took her -- lately she has -- but this time, she didn't. And so she's there and I've given her a deadline of 11:00 a.m. to be home without consequences. Next time I'l agree to go get her if she can get up there I htink. This is crazy.

But otherwise, things here are really really calm. I keep knocking on wood, but I may not need to.

Thanks to those who have given me permission to use pictures. They are really enhancing the powerpoints a lot!

I am debating sharing all my presentation content online. It doesn't quite have the punch in person and I'd hate to have people just reading it all here and then not showing up when I am live.....

Plus, the time involved to explain every single point articulately so as not to have people offended or misunderstanding me just isn't in my schedule right now.

Some day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Anybody want to give me permission to download pictures from your blog and use them for a presentation I'm doing?

I love to include pictures on almost every slide of my powerpoint because it keeps it interesting and graphically appealing as well. Usually I just google and steal things (not copyrighted things, of course) but I was thinking that pictures of actual adopted families doing stuff would be appropriate and they are going to get sick of looking at my kids if they are the only options.

I'm doing four presentations in Texas:

1) 20 Reasons Why Large Families Are an Excellent Resource for Most Waiting Children

2) Erickson's Developmental Stages for Adopted Children

3) The Myths of Matching

4) The Methods of Matching

It's amazing the way that I can incorporate good pictures into my presentations and I'd love to use some of yours.

Whadda ya think?

Couldn't Sleep Long

I tried to sleep in this morning, but I ended up just lying there thinking about how many things I needed to and wanted to get done today. Last night was very mellow around here. Bart made Posole, a Mexican soup, that was very tasty. And he and I went for a walk after supper. Later he and I watched a video, "Boys of Baraka" which was an interesting documentary. Salinda, Wilson and Sadie are all spending the night with different friends, and the 8th graders had a friend over, but it was a very calm evening.

Today I am going to continue to work on my presentations for the Texas trip and I may even do a "winter coat" inventory before it gets cold enough we need them. Then there is the very annoying task of glove, snowpants, and hat purchasing. Other than socks, which are the #1 reason to not enjoy a large family, gloves and hats are one of the most annoying parts of my life.

I'm sure the kids have places they'll want me to take them and things they will want me to do..... and that, and my presentations, may fill my day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Passing the Test

I confronted Salinda during our hour long ride. She responded honestly and appropriately. We laughed at some of her self-owned stupidity, and she was not surprised nor argumentative about her consequences. We had a great conversation and I happily dropped her off to head for lunch with friends.

This is us, the Three Musketeers, naive but brave 11 years ago. Here we are now, older, wiser, better people and TIRED. We have 32 adopted children between the three families, our marriages have all survived, and we are still deeply committed to even our most troubled children.

And we can still laugh and have fun together.

I asked them, "what if we had known now, what we did then .... what if someone would have been at our first lunch meeting when we were in the homestudy and pointed at each of us saying -- you'll have a child in jails, you'll parent a sexual perpetrator, you'll have grandchildren before you're ready to, you'll have kids in residential, you'll have CHIPs petitions filed against you, you'll have your possessions stolen.... etc. etc. etc." Would we have done it again?"

All of us said we would for sure......... Even knowing it all.

We had fun trying to take this picture..... and even suggested we should go for the look all our daughter's go for -- try to make our tongues meet and show multiple straps -- but we decided to be old and normal.

I bet you're glad.

Racial Identity Formation for Adoptees

Over the past 4 weeks Salinda has been so wonderful. She has not told us a single lie that we know about, her behavior has been pleasant and cooperative, and I've been trying to focus on positive interactions with her which is easy when she is doing what she is supposed to do.

But last night one little mistake led to me discovering some other mistakes and now I'm going to have to confront her. This will be the true test. If she can work through conflict with me better than she used to, that will be a huge victory.

Last weekend at the MNASAP Regional Conference where we spoke, we heard Jae Ran Kim present information about Transcracia Adoption. You can read a little about her here. Her presentation included an explanation of the Cultural-Racial Identity Model which I am assuming came from this research though she did not cite it.

When she was presenting it, i was amazed. It was as though she was telling the story of Salinda's life.

The first stage is naivete. This is the stage where the transracial adoptee does not realize they are different than their parents or the stage where they have no contact with people of their race on a personal level. For Salinda this is when we lived in a smaller town, until 2006, and she spent nearly all of her time with white people.

Then comes contact. This is when the child/teen/adult comes into direct contact with several people from his/her own race for the first time. For Salinda this is when she started school in our much larger town and was confronted with a bunch of people of color.

Stage three is disintegration. This is where nothing makes sense and there is panic because the adoptee does not know where they fit in. They are scrambling and their minds and emotions are churning.... and it's almost like they are internally freaking out because they don't know where their space is in this world. This was Salinda's 8th grade year. Her initial friends were of her own race, but they were not role models and she ended up in some very bad situations..... She then was best friends with a girl who was white for several months and that became her peer group. Then the summer after that she was hanging with a crowd of people of many races, but all of them with dilinquent behaviors. Looking back I can see how she just flitted from place to place trying to decide where to land.

Then towards the end of 9th grade, it appears she hit the Immersion stage. This stage involves surrounding oneself with only people of their same race and seeing them as perfect -- the only ones who understand. Things that are seen by the adoptee as "white" are rejected -- and their culture is embraced completely. For Salinda, she was completely into this stage from last March until recently. She spent almost the entire summer with her Hispanic best friend and she told me many times that that woman was more of a mother to her than I was. At least I was smart enough to step back and realize that, though I had not heard of this racial identity model, she was exploring herself and needed to come to her own conclusions. I let things flow instead of stepping in to stop them even when I wasn't sure I was doing the right thing.

Emersion is the next to the last stage where the adoptee steps backs and begins to see that possibly there are negative things about their own culture as well. They sense differences and all the sudden aren't completely embracing their own culture just for the sake of race or culture alone. They begin to process the whole situation and start to come to their own conclusions. I have had many conversations with her over the past few months about many of the things that other Hispanic parents she knows are not doing well, according to her. And once and a while she even hints that she thinks we're better parents and that are family has better value than some she has met. I think Salinda is currently in these stage -- sorting out what about her culture/race she wants to embrace and what she'd like to incorporate from white culture into her own identity

Autonomy is the last stage where the adoptee discovers where they fit. This will continue to be a journey for Salinda. And I hope that eventually she'll allow me to walk with her... just a little bit... which was impossible during the first several stages.

And now I'm off to pick her up. And you'll have to stay tuned to find out if it was the historically typical blow up freak out nasty conversation, or if we have truly made some progress, both of us.

And A Couple More Things

Very seldom do I get excited about preparing a new presentation. Last week, for example, I did a presentation on the resources available to parents who have adoption assistance. I think I did a nice job with the layout and graphics, but the subject wasn't that exciting.

This week I am preparing for a Matching Methods presentation in Texas on October 21 (sorry, it's not an open event as certain training dollars are paying for it. It involves me taking what I have learned doing matching over the past five years and applying it to the caseworker side of things. I've developed a few new forms to help in the process and I think the stuff is good. My powerpoint is attractive, informative and fun and I'm learning more and more about Apples IWork programs as I'm using them exclusively. I'm loving them more all the time.

So I'm motivated and inspired.

Finally, I am going to have lunch with my two first friends of adopted special needs kids. We all started our homestudy process the same summer (summer of 97) and we met online at that time. Between the three of us we had adopted 20 kids in 20 months.... and now I think our total is 31 or 32 between the two families. It's been such an incredible ride -- between the three of us there isn't anything we haven't been through i bet.

So that's my day -- we're meeting an hour from here and, to Salinda's delight, in the same town as her boyfriend's family, so she will get another free ride there.... She's been doing so well I offered to let her miss a few classes, which I hardly ever do. But she very responsibly made sure she had no tests or major things happening during those classes.

Our kids grades (the ones I've seen any way) are better than they've been in a long time.....

Time to wake 'em up!

That's What Friends Are For

Bart and Leon had gone shopping for new church clothes the other night because Leon wanted to look good for church, unlike nearly all of his siblings who will seek to go to the absolutely limits of what is acceptable. So Bart wanted to accommodate that, but the pants they bought were way too long.

So last night we headed over to Tim and Sue's and Sue hemmed my pants while Tim let me beat him in cards. Well, maybe he didnt LET me, but I warned him that should I happen to win, this picture would appear on my blog. He good naturedly posed, so he can't get too upset (and yes, I did say that the word loser would appear....).

Leon enjoyed watching a movie in the quiet basement while their daughter Sarah did homework and enjoyed the peacefulness of their calm, clean home.

As we were heading out the door, I realized that I had left my check book at home, so I actually had to borrow money from Sue.

So, is that not a great friendship? Show up, have your friends hem your pants, beat them in cards, and then instead of paying them for services, walking away with their money your hands. Just can't beat that.

Afterwards Leon and I went out for a snack. He had written a paper about his life for school that sounded fairly unhappy and depressed, so I wanted to give him a chance to explain. He just smiled and said he was trying to fill the paper. I asked him if there were times in his life or places where he had lived where he had been happier, and he said no. And other than getting rid of Tony, there wasn't a thing he could think of we could do to make his life better. So we had a nice time, a great tasting (but not so good for you snack) and a good conversation. He is such a great kid.

This morning after my workout - my own personal hottest party ever - I came to sit at my desk and could hear Tony in his bed singing a sweet, soft song. I am sure he did not know I was here, but it was nice to hear his voice doing something besides annoy someone or cuss me out.

Great way to start the day.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Got it Written

The blog post I promised has been written -- maybe not as articulate as I might have wished, but certainly food for though.

Taking Away Our Weapons Before Sending Us to War

We're having a lot of nice family time tonight and Leon and I are heading out to have his pants hemmed by our friend Sue and then maybe out for a little snack.... He wrote a pretty sad paper about his life and I want to talk to him about it.....

Possibly I'll blog more about that later.

Tired of My Office, Tired of My Bedroom

I have been working hard on a new Matching Methods presentation for workers that I am very excited about. I am developing tools that I think will really help workers in this process and it is energizing for me. However, I've been cranking for most of the day and am getting weary.

Something quite odd happened to me today. I realized I was looking forward to seeing Salinda after school. I literally have had inner dread and stress about contact with her for the last two years so this feeling was odd.

She has been doing so well... her grades are good, it looks like she may be off probation soon, and she's been very cooperative at home. Even when she needs to be confronted she doesn't completely freak out.

When I got home today I mentioned to Salinda that I had actually been looking forward to seeing her this afternoon. She looked at me weird.

I spent several hours at the coffee shop and then decided when I got home that I was tired of my office and my bedroom chair where I've been working a lot lately. So I decided to work in the living room. We have two areas in our living room -- one big couch that faces the TV, and one sitting area that faces the fire place. I am facing the fireplace. The girls were watching TV. A few minutes ago Salinda sad down next to me and rested her head on my shoulder. May not sound like much to some people, but with her that's huge.

And I'm grateful.

Off and Running

Salinda isn't home this morning -- no, she didn't run away, she's where she is supposed to be -- so Rand was free to take my van full to school, giving me an extra half hour of time.

I am in one of those moods where I love everything I am doing, but just don't have time to get it all done. I am frantically making to do lists and pushing through task after tasks, loving every minute of it, but simply not having enough hours in the day.

In 10 days I am heading to Texas to speak to Caseworkers. I'm going to be doing a new presentation that I am very excited about and am developing it this week. Fortunately, it for one of my jobs, so I'm not having to do it in addition to everything else. It is a presentation about matching methods, and if you know my personality at all, creating forms, and making plans and charts and all that stuff is one of my favorite things. So I'm doing all of that....

So today I'm off and running to accomplish much!

I do have a blog entry on my to-do list called "Taking away the Weapons before Sending them to War."

I'll let you ponder that a while and hopefully I"ll get it written today.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When your therapist is moved to tears

When I reported all the good news about Salinda to our therapist and told her the story of Sadie and the lesson she learned about Dominyk, she got teary.....

so any day you can move your therapist to tears is a good day.

Good tears.

Everyone here continues to do so well. It's very nice.

I had a very full day. Bart's has been even fuller as he's still at a meeting at the church.

I've been up since 5 and I'm tired.

And tomorrow it's time to do it again.

So I will. ;-)

What It Feels Like

I'm blogging this story with Sadie's permission.

Our morning routine is to drop of the elementary boys first (Dom and Wilson) and then head to the Jr. High and drop of Sadie, Leon and Ricardo. JImmy and Tony ride with the neighbor who is my very best friend because of that one small deed that saves me so much stress every day.... but I digress.

Often Dominyk is murmuring as he gets out of the car that he doesn't have friends and people make fun of him. And Sadie laughs. Pretty, popular, smart, no special needs, she for some reason thinks it is funny ....

Until a couple weeks ago when it was Homecoming Spirit Week. Sadie spent the weekend getting her outfit ready for Monday. Bart had to take her to the store so she could have it just right. It was cowboy day and she looked really cute. She was all excited until she got to the front of the school and saw that nobody else was dressed up. And even though she really didn't look much different than she does most days, she couldn't make herself enter the building.

I was not going to take her home to change. I wanted her to learn a lesson. I debated for a long time what to do, but I felt that this was something she needed to figure out. Finally after a power struggle, which I've learned how to avoid most of the time, she got out of the van. And walked home to change. The rest of the day was very irritating because she chose to continue to make poor choices, but I'll leave out those details.

However, I was able to turn this into a very thought provoking lesson for her, and I think she got it, which is why when I asked if I could blog about it, she let me.

I told her, "Every day Dominyk is different from everyone else. Not just in the way he looks, but in how his brain works and how he acts. He can't help it. And every day he has to make himself walk into school knowing that he is different. Except that he doesn't have the choice. He can't walk home to change his clothes so he can automatically fit it."

I continued. "You are blessed because you have no special needs. You fit in. But I think you have learned that maybe Dominyk has more courage than you do. Because every day he walks into the building knowing that he will be made fun of. You couldn't make yourself do for one day, what he has to do every single day of his life. I hope that you will remember the feeling you had when you couldn't make yourself be just a little bit different for one day the next time Dominyk says that he has no friends."

It was a hard lesson to learn, but she got it. And I think she'll remember it for a long, long time.

Turn of Events

Well, Diverstiy Day was yesterday. So I'm not there. Sigh.

I'm at the coffee shop between meetings. Didn't feel like going all the way home and then coming back to the same area so I came here instead. I'm trying to decide what to do with my free unexpected hour. So many things I would love to do, all of them work or blog related, but I'm getting sucked into IMs and Emails. I may just get one blog entry done that has been brewing.

Diversity Day

I'm heading to "Diversity Day" at the elementary school today. All of the parents of children who were marked as something other than white got a special invitation by phone -- mine came from the principal himself. I usually don't go to things like this, but I really want to give the schools information on adoption friendly curriculum this November for Adoption Awareness Month, so I figured I'd support his event and maybe that would be an open door.

Now my secret is out. Don't tell anyone my motivation.

It should be interesting anyway..... but that is where I will be, followed by a home visit here in town, so there won't be much blogging for a few hours.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hate it When He is right

Bart commented that my blog has been pretty pathetic lately and he is exactly right. Wow, I've just been drowning in work ... so much that I haven't even taken time to blog. I have taken time to exercise, but blogging not so much.

I keep promising more, and not delivering.

i'm going to lose my readers

Come on kids, we need some DRAMA.

Just kidding.

Bart blogged a funny story tonight entitled the Confirmation Lap Dance.

I've been pushing myself all day long and it's time to rest. Tomorrow .... another day.

1 Vehicle and 1 Shower

I was very impressed with how well my children cooperated this morning. Last night Mike, of Mike and Kari, came over to start fixing our bathroom, which needs to be redone. That meant that we had one shower instead of two for our morning routine.

We also have neighbors who bring two kids to school for us, but they had to leave early this morning, so I had to give 7 kids a ride in the same minivan.

But you nkow what? They were all very cooperative. We got the 7 showers done in about 75 minutes and we all got along on the way to school.

I'm feeling quite motivated this morning, so I'm hoping to accomplish much. And don't fear. I have a list of blog topics for when things slow down so possibly you'll be able to read something worth reading at some point along the way.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Yesterday was a good day. Church was especially nice, with everyone's behavior almost perfect. The bonfire was postponed because of weather, so we were all very lazy. The girls sat in my bedroom and watched Lifetime Television while I played silly computer games and only did a little email..

Last night Bart and I had supper with another couple while most of the kids were at youth group.

I got a pretty good night's sleep.

All is well here, making blogging quite boring. No drama. No excitement. Maybe I'll blog a rant or two I've been thinking about today since I don't have drama to report.

And I think I'm going to go to the store on my way back from taking the kids.... I've been sending Rand to save myself time, but he very often gets the wrong thing. And with his FASD, he doesn't learn from last week's mistakes. He just makes the same one again. Frustrating.

Sadie and Wilson have ortho appointments today but Bart is suggesting he might go.... oh crap, I gotta write their excuses.

Better go..

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Day Ahead

It's Sunday morning. I'm up, but not showered yet, which is really unusual. I almost always get right in the shower. But I needed to play a couple rounds of Bowling in Facebook.... ok, maybe NEED is not exactly the word, but hey, it's not the worst way to live out my mild case of OCD.

Realizing that I had not been home on a Friday night or Saturday since September 6, I realized that meant we hadn't had Mike and Kari and their kids here for dinner for over a month. So even though the house isn't clean, we're having them here for lunch. Ordering pizza, too. BUT we'll be together.

Then later today the youth group is having a bonfire.... i'll stay home with the only two who are currently not in the youth group. And maybe I'll beat my high score in bowling buddies....

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

I didn't blog it before we left, but for the first time ever, we left six kids home alone ... ages 13-20. Only one night, and with backup across the street. But we came home to absolutely no issues (at least that we know about). Very grateful for that.

The conference was a good one. Lots of neat people there, very communicative audiences.... and people who are obviously "in the trenches" of parenting tough kids. It is always encouraging to be with folks like that.

I hope that the things I was able to share will be helpful to folks....

The ride home was endless chatter from Dominyk once again. He just doesn't stop. But the hightlight of the trip home was when we were listening to oldies and Bart belted out, "Everyone knows it's Misty."

I guess the song should go, "everyone (but Bart) knows it's Windy."

I'm still laughing. He's not.

Weekend "getaway"

Salinda, Dominyk, WIlson, Bart and I left at 2 yesterday (or tried too -- it was actually more like 2:20) and met Salinda's boyfriend's mom on the way so that she could spend some time with their family this weekend. We then drove in the opposite direction to meet Kyle and his girlfriend for dinner.

The ride was interesting, to say the least. All three kids slept until we dropped Salinda off, and then Dominyk started talking. And he talked, non-stop, for the next 7 hours. I kid you not. He was either talking to someone or making noise in the background the whole time.

He obsessed about driving over the new bridge, he initiated a discussion about poop and where it goes on airplaines, he made a running commentary on everything he saw. We were pretty sure that "Kari's Virgin World" was probably "Kari's Vision World" but we're not sure. And on and on it went, over and over again...ALL night long.

I brought my camera with but didn't remember to take pictures at the restaurant. WE went to a nice Italian place and other than the fact that Dominyk was digging up treasures from a space he found between the seat and the wall (dirty forks, dirty napkins, a glasses case) and that he obsessed on eating so much bread that by the time his food came, he couldn't eat it.... We had a nice time.

We then drove another hour to the hotel, where the boys went swimming. I did take pictures but forgot to bring the connectors from the cameras to the computer. Sigh.

Had a very good nights sleep and now we're getting ready for breakfast before we head to the conference. We'll spend the day with other adoptive parents and then head back home, picking up Salinda on the way.

And that's our idea of a weekend getaway. Sigh.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Feeling a bit More Encouraged

Got a major project done this morning.... so I'm feeling good about that. Started my day with 145 emails, down to 90. Feeling good about that. We're heading up to St. Cloud for tomorrow's conference -- taking Dominyk and Wilson with us and dropping of Salinda to see her boyfriend before having dinner with Kyle and his girlfriend -- all on the way up there, and I"m feeling good about that.

Salinda and her friend are here momentarily as it's homecoming and they are out of school early. They are hyper and happy, and I'm feeling good about that.

The new weight loss support group, Third Degree Parenting Losers, is off to a great start. And I'm feeling good about that.

Bart is doing our laundry. And I'm feeling really good about that.

I had a good workout this morning and another mini workout around 11, and I'm feeling good about that.

Bart is dealing with phone calls from Mike in jail, and I'm feeling good about that.

So, just as there were many reasons to not feel good yesterday, there are reasons to feel good today. Or possibly there were an equal amount of both on both days, and I chose to focus on one yesterday, and a different one today.

Why Do I Give?

Several conversations have led me to this post. Conversations with my husband, with friends, and online conversations. And this post comes as a result of looking at some of our children and seeing NO payoff for years of investment. I know there are many of you who are screaming BTDT (been there done that).

So why do I keep giving to kids who:

a) have never given back;
b) may never have the capacity to give back;
c) not only don't give back, but cause harm to me, my possessions, and my other children;
d) have been or are being hateful, rude and mean;
e) may never change.

My response?

Giving benefits the giver when it is done with expectation of nothing in return. I am a much, much better person as a result of my years of loving those who don't return my love.

I understand a lot more what God's love is because I have chosen to give to kids who can't give back. There is great fulfillment in knowing that I have been able to make myself do hard things. There is joy in overcoming the struggles.

I think of some of my friends who are parenting children with severe physical challenges or severe mental retardation. They are considered noble for caring for kids who can't give much back and they don't expect the kids to give much in return. I think they would tell you that they do receive things back, but I wonder to myself why I expect my kids with moderate or severe emotional and behavioral challenges to be able to return my love?

Parenting, in any form, is a selfless act. But if I go into it expecting to receive.... that's my first error.

I give because it is the right thing to do. I love because God has called me to love. I do it again each day because it is what I need to do.

And on the days when I get a little back, that's great. But I am beginning to believe that the perpetual task of loving the unloving and giving to takers is creating a better me.

So I'm going to do it again today. And so will you.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One of Those Days

It's been one of those days where little went right and lots went wrong. Seemed that everywhere I turned from morning until night something wasn't quite going my way.

I did finish my powerpoint for my presentation on Saturday, so I'm glad that's done.

Now I have one other big project I'd like to get done tomorrow morning before packing and getting ready to leave again....

Gonna call it a night soon.

always some hope

As Bart blogged, there is always some hope in every situation, even in Mike's.

Feeling Pretty Defeated

Bottom line: Not enough hours in the day. Even when I don't waste a minute, I simply don't have time to do the things I want to do, much less the things I need to do.

I need to have a life remodel or something. Wonder how I might go about that? I thought about blogging about all the things that were bothering me in my world, but it would be an endless post.

I get this way when I don't see any light at the end of my tunnel for days. I just get overwhelmed. And blogging about it ... helps how?

Not sure. But it does.

Just need to get reorganized and tackle one thing at a time I guess. Back at it for now.

Bart Did Blog The Story of His Visit to See Mike

You can read it here.

It's Morning Again

Another peaceful night around here and things are going well so far this morning. Nice to see people being cooperative for the most part. It makes it so much more fun to live here when it is that way.

Last night the 3 8th graders invited their friend Ivan (pronounced I-VAUGHN) who looks so much like John that it made me really miss him. While standing in line to eat we were jesting quite a bit -- I was standing with about 6 of my kids in line and the banter was fun and light-hearted, nothing like it is when people are tense and stressed.

The downside of our lives right now is MIke, who may be released from jail soon and has absolutely no where to go. We are so torn up about this. He is our son. We adopted him so that he wouldn't be homeless as an adult. He isn't the one who did the damage to his brain by drinking when he was pregnant. And yet, to bring him back into our home would be tragic. He never maintains for more than a few weeks and he usually steals between $500 and $3000 dollars worth of our belongings each time we let him move back in. He also gives our kids with anxiety issues near anxiety attacks with his sporadic behavior and the other people who end up at our house when he lives here.

And we cannot in good conscience ask one of our friends to take him in as we know he would most likely steal from them as well. He is literally out of options at the age of 19, burned every bridge there is. Has been non-compliant with every program and now he has executed his time and thus has two convicted felonies on his record -- both theft related -- which will make getting a job difficult. He has lost everything he owns -- doesn't even have clothes to wear to interview in now that he has a work release program.

Bart visited him last night and will probably blog about it, but I have been beating my brain trying to come up with answers. I hate it that society has no programs for him -- that a kid with FASD who has a high IQ cannot get more services -- that people fresh out of jail have no place to go -- that he is just steps away from homelessness as we speak.

He has nobody but us. If we don't intervene he will be back to a life of crime within days -- because he will see no other choice. But if we do intervene he may still be back to a life of crime within days.

this really, really stinks.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not Sure What's Going On

But I'm not complaining. Things have been going so well around here that I almost feel like I'm in a different household. Salinda, especially, has had almost a complete turnaround. She participated in church tonight and even came and took my plate at the church supper to carry it to the kitchen for me.

I am having fun with the kids. ANd it's nice....

Third Degree Parenting Losers

That's the name of our new group. Have to do a little company promotion while I can, you know....

I'm inviting you to join me if you are working on losing weight by subscribing to this group. I am excited about it as I think it will be fun.

If you're too lazy to click over to see what it is all about, here is the group description that I created.

Parenting kids with special needs is a different kind of parenting. Kids with medical, behavioral or emotional issues, whether they are adopted, foster children, or children by birth, require a lot from us. We often forget to take care of ourselves.

3ºP (Third Degree Parenting) Losers is for people parenting these children who are attempting to lose weight or just get healthy. Join us as we encourage each other to "put our own oxygen mask first."

Here is the link to become a member.

Support Group Today

Don't forget that our new Spiritually Supported Adoptions support group begins today at 11:15. Intentional converstion begins at 11:30. If you live anywhere near Mankato we hope to see you there!

Monthiversary -- What are Your Goals?

September was Pathetic. And because I was undisciplined I am farther behind than ever and have gained back 5 of the pounds I lost.

But the nice thing about time, is that it passes, and September is now OVER. So that means it's a new month and time for New Month's Resolutions. Anyone else making them? I know Maia did.

Here are my three goals for October:

1) Only one Dessert or sweet treat a week.

2) Spend 90 minutes every day at my desk with my internet connection off. I am sure that this doesn't mean anything to most of you, but I am the queen of multitasking. Problem is, my projects that require intense concentration never get done because my brain is always being called away by my instant messenger or email program, or I get tempted by a blog or website or stupid addicting game where I'm trying to beat unbeatable people who happen to be my friends on facebook. So, for 90 minutes a day total (and you may not think this is much but it IS) I am going to turn off my airport and focus on those projects.

3) Create and maintain an online support group for parents of kids with special needs that are trying to lose weight. I think we are a unique group of people, with more challenges than many people trying to get healthy, so I thought we could encourage each other and that would make me more accountable as well. I hope to have this set up today, so if you're interested in joining, let me know.

So there you have it. Would love to hear if you're setting any goals for October...