Monday, June 30, 2008

Very Easy Day

Wow, this was a very easy day. I wish I would have gotten more done, but it was such a relaxing day that I wasted some of it.

Salinda is gone on a babysitting job for most of the week. Dominyk and Sadie are with Bart at camp (not going to have to listen to a pop meltdown for 3 days!) Rand had school this morning. Tony was with PCAs. Ricardo is playing soccer out of town.

Tonight for supper there were only 4 boys and me. It was so weird. Tonight, only Wilson and JImmy were home as Leon had a meeting with his confirmation mentor and Rand had a church event.

I went walking with the neighbor across the street, and now I'm calling it a night.

Life's good....

She Won't Let you Be Her Mom, until She Knows She's Your Daughter

I've written many times before about "claiming" the adopted child. I have found that many families will have a child placed with them and view it as a "test run." They decide that they will see how things go for a while.

Problem is this: The child isn't going to trust you until they are sure they are staying. And this may take until years after they finalize. So, the adult has to claim the child first.

And if the adult does not claim the child, then everyone gets stuck. And the longer you wait, the harder it is. And behaviors escalate, etc. I think I'm repeating myself.

But the title of this post is something that I said to someone the other day. And it sums it up perfectly.

"She won't let you be her Mom, until she knows she's your daughter."

We can't look at a child in an adoptive placement and say, "Why don't you treat me like I"m your mom?" if we haven't already, in our hearts, say they are our child.

This could have been written much more articulately, but I think you get the point.

You gotta claim the child. And hold on and never let them go.

Happy Monthiversary!

We made it through the month of June! The first month of summer is over and here we are. A month ago I posted a challenge to make a New Months Resolution.

I made two. The first was to drink 64 ounces of water a day. The second was to write at least a paragraph each day.

Well, I did much better with the water than the writing. I would say that at least 24 or 25 days this month I got all that water down. And to me, that's a lot of water. There were some days when I even drank more!

How about the rest of you? What did you decide to do? How did it go?

Who else wants to join us for New Month's Resolutions in July?

Me -- no caffeine and no pop for 31 days. Wow. One day at a time and I'll do it.

More Picnic Pics

While Kari cooks, I get to take pictures.

And I'm sorry, no matter how hard I try I can't get over how cute Leon and Wilson are.

Why We Love to Picnic with the "other" Fletchers

These two pictures show the main reason why we like to picnic with Mike and Kari. They grill. We sit on our butts. (and, no, Kari was not going to hit Mike with the spatula -- I don't think -- though last night, I guess it was a possibility, but don't look over here asking ME to share their dirty family secrets with you... (joke)

And then there is the fact that we get to look at cute faces like THESE ones...

And the fact that our kids get along so well. At least ten of them sharing one picnic table without any real drama....

Feeling Good about Being VERY Human

I'm used to being imperfect. It has sort of become routine for me to make errors since I've been doing it for years. My husband is much more perfect than I, so I think when he makes a mistake he gets more stressed out.

Take this morning for example. I am feeling great at the moment -- but the last hour has been, well, less than ideal.

Sadie and I headed to the Y this morning. It was weigh in day (you'll have to click here to find out if I lost and leave motivating comments ;-). I knew that she needed to be at the church at 8, so I planned our trip there accordingly. When we returned at 7:15 I discovered a very frustrated husband who had intended on leaving to be at the church at 7:30. One of Dominyk's pill bottles was missing from it's usual spot and he couldn't find Dominyk's pants.

I apologized, helped find the pants and pill bottle, and then got everything ready that I needed to take to the shower. I put my clothes in a neat pile and then gathered the other things I needed to head downstairs.

I got downstairs and into the shower. Much to my surprise when I got out was that I had grabbed the wrong pile of stuff. All I had with me was one of Tony's shirts and one of Wilson's shirts. Now, Tony's shirt may have been able to cover a portion of me, but Wilson's might not even cover my forearm. I was in a bind.

Since everyone home was still asleep (Bart has since left) I decided to run upstairs in a towel, hoping not to traumatize the children if they were to awaken. My biggest concern: Where do you put your pedometer if you're naked?

I finally decided to go ahead and carry the pedometer and sacrifice yet another few steps. By the time I had gotten upstairs Bart had called having forgotten a folder than I needed to return to him.

And yet, after my workout this morning, I'm feeling good. My mistakes made me laugh instead of frustrating me and of course, gave me a blog entry.

So it's all good. And anyone can get used to being imperfect if you practice long enough.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ending the Day

We had a wonderful time at the park with Mike and Kari. I will post pictures later that show why we love going to picnic with them.

All our kids were active and for the most part, fun.

Salinda spent the entire weekend at home, was not mean or nasty, and even interacted somewhat. She has gone to her babysitting job and made it through three days without drama or disobedience.

I'm grateful for each day that is drama free in my world.

Wilson and a Dish Towel

Wilson was playing with a dishtowel today. He named his characters.

First we had "Captain Wilson"

Then, "the Virgin Wilson"

and finally, "Mummy wilson"

Sunny afternoon at "The Pit"

There is a “lake” in town that people locally refer to as “the Pit.” There is very little supervision here (as in NONE) and so I don’t drop kids off here ever. But they love to fish and swim here, and so sometimes I give in and bring them.

Today it seemed like too perfect of a day not to be outside and so I have my laptop at a picnic table at “the pit.” When I am out of battery, I will sit in the sun and read a compliation of writings by Hmong American writers that Bart checked out of the libary.

I have Dominyk, Ricardo, Leon and Wilson with me adn Bart took Sadie, Tony and Dominyk with him to do laundry. Salinda, still with near perfect behavior all weekend, is staying home, asking at her own initiative to earn some money to pay off her debt. Rand is working.

We have plans to picnic with Mike and Kari later this evening, and then it will be time to pack up Sadie, Dominyk and Bart as they head to 4-5-6th grade church came tomorrow morning for 3 days.

I went to the grocery store after church to shop for the three days while they are gone. $229.00 and much stress later (I had to take Dominyk with me and he begged incessantly) so the only redeeming factor was that I walked about 3,500 steps in the grocery store. I think that I’m getting a little obsessed with this pedometer because in the middle of the night I almost pinned it on my underwear so I wouldn’t have to miss it counting the steps on my two or three middle of the night bathrroom trips.

Other than the wind being a little strong and these flies that keep biting me, this isn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

now I’m going to try to get just a little work done before my battery dies. I figure without the internet to distract me maybe I’ll actually accomplish something. And since I am back to 102 messages in the in box, maybe I can some of that cleaned up and responded to to send when I return home.

Calm Before the Storm

It's Sunday morning and in 40 minutes we will walk out the door ready for church.

In 10 minutes I will wake the remaining sleeping children. In the thirty minutes that follow things will get wild around here. There will be some tense moments -- probably some screaming and some anger.

But the nice thing is that we are finally to a point where everyone can handle sitting through church. There are some weeks when Dominyk still struggles, but for the most part, everyone does well. I actually can focus on the music and the sermon.

It's nice to have a Sunday morning where Salinda is being cooperative. She actually asked to leave for church early as she would like to sit by her confirmation mentor and his wife. He is a wonderful older gentleman and that she selected herself and he is a super nice guy.

Well, the calm is over ... let the storm begin.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Drama Free Weekend (so far)

Salinda has been home since yesterday at 5 p.m. and so far we've had a drama free weekend. Last night she read a book. She watched TV today -- went to the mall with a friend for a couple hours and is home early on a Saturday night. It appears she intends to do her dishes without arguing.

The friend that she spends the majority of her time with is out of town for the weekend. Usually when this happens Salinda is here and very crabby. But she's been ok so far.

Now I have to go round everyone up to head to showers and bed. Church early in the morning.

No drama is actually fun and a great contrast to what is typical when Sal is home. Nice to have a break.

Electronic Stimulation Store

It's raining. We were going to picnic with Mike and Kari but it is cold and they're tired and Bart went to see Kyle in the Cities and so we bailed and said we'd do it anohter time.

So I decided to buy some quiet and went to the Electronic Stimulation Store -- otherwise known as Blockbuster Video, which reminds me of a story that possibly has never been heard by any of my blog readers (besides my dear husband).

When I lived in Mexico I lived in a small house with 8 college students, 1 other missionary, and a college student. We shared one bathroom that you had to walk outside to get to and many days there was no hot water. But I digress.

Once and a while, for a very special treat, i would rent a video for the students to watch. This was a major undertaking because I had to ride with flirtatious taxi drivers through disastrously scary roads in order to get the movie and then return home in equally daunting circumstances.

The first time that I took a taxi to rent a movie, the guy pulled up and I said, "Me puedes llevar a Blockbuster Video" pronouncing my Spanish and my English very well.

He could NOT understand me. I said it again and again Block-bus-ter Vid- e- o.

Finally I explained in Spanish what happened at such a place and he said,

OOOOOOOH . Bloke Booster Bee Day Yo.

Yes, I said. Bloke Booster Bee Day Yo.

And I pronounced it that way for the remainder of my time in Mexico.

Mission Trip Memories...

Last night Bart and I spent some time with a few of the kids. Jimmy had just returned from a MIssion Trip to Inner City Milwaukee. It is interesting to see the things he thinks are important to report. Here are some examples and his view of life. Also interesting to see the kinds of questions that the other kids ask.

Jimmy: I had a meatball sub at Subway Dad.

Bart: Oh yeah, what do you have on it?

Jimmy: Lettuce, cheese, and Cucumbers ... of course.


JImmy: We went to Lake Michigan.

Dominhyk: Did you see any Sea Lamprey?

(I had to google that to even know what it was!)


Jimmy: I had to sleep next to the youth pastor. It was not a good thing.


Jimmy: Dad, Did you know that in Milwaukee the Fire Engines are Green?

Meatball subs, Sea Lampreys, Sleeping Arrangements, and Fire Engines.

Guess the actual Mission of the MIssions Trip kind of got forgotten.

Quick and Painful or Slow and Gentle?

There is one situation in which I prefer Quick and Painful over Slow and Gentle and that is when getting a perm. For seven years in Luverne, I had the same person cut my hair and it wasn't a stranger, but a friend, so I enjoyed talking with her and it made the time go by fast.

But since we moved here I have not had a good haircut or perm. I get so frustrated that I just hate going, which makes me put it off until Bart is getting desperate and saying "what do I have to do to get you to do something about your hair." I'm not even going to blog what he threatened me with this time.

So I finally went today and fortunately I had someone QUICK. Every inch of my head is throbbing, I got solution in my eyes twice, and my shirt is soaked, but I was in and out in 90 minutes and it was worth the pain.

Perm doesn't look horrible either.

And because I walked around the mall, I've already got the targeted 7000 steps in for the day.


My blog entry was supposed to be titled, "It's 10:00 a.m. and nobody has pissed me off yet today."

But I waited to long to blog.

But, maybe I can remember how I felt 37 minutes ago and go back to that spot of good feelings.

I made it to the YMCA again this morning and then came home and showered. Got dressed and came downstairs and, even though Salinda was home and awake and we talked, she didn't get nasty with me. Wow, 3 minutes of positive interraction. I have to document that. Oh wait, I am. ;-)

Sheri commented on my blog today about a dream she had about us. It's hilarious. I had a dream of my own last night.

I was at the Luverne pool (we used to live in Luverne) and the manager of the local pizza joint was working at the pool. While I was in the pool lobby, several different people who didn't belong there (a former boyfriend from 1988 and a woman who was his wife in the dream (but certainly was not his "real life" wife because I know her) and a couple of other people from my past, in addition to some Luverne people. Each one of us came up and said, "Is it true you're moving back here?"

Apparently there was a rumor around town that we were moving back there so that Bart could manage the Sioux Falls Super Walmart. The rumor was that everyone was angry with us here and they were asking Bart to be removed as their pastor. I kept reassuring everyone that this was not going to happen, but they were so caught up in the rumors, that the wouldn't believe me.

So if that rumor is out there, then don't believe it!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hate getting caught up in one thing

I started one project this morning and it is still not done. Bart has decided to take the boys to see Wall-E that they have been looking forward to for weeks and I am going to take Sadie to lunch because she has her Jr. High "Right Start" program all this week and can't go to the movie.

So my project still isn't done and I need to leave soon.

Salinda is still at a friends and Rand is lumbering around... you guessed it.... doing nothing. I let him write out his own work schedule for the week (he is supposed to do some chores in exchange for rent since he's almost twenty) but he is refusing to follow his own schedule, so I guess he'll stay home from the movie and lunch and DO NOTHING.


Slow is Better than No

So I got to sleep in and headed to the Y at 7:30 instead of 6. Nobody has summer school on Fridays and I needed more sleep due to this stupid summer head cold.

Between my sneezing and coughing and wheezing and nose blowing I am not exactly in top form. I feel something brewing with Salinda today, but I'm trying to just be thankful for any stress free times we do have.

My idea of making a to do list yesterday only got me through two items of it between all the taxi-ing and appointments.

But, as I heard on a podcast morning, "Slow is Better than No" So if I got two things done it's better than nothing....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ending the day peacefully (though whining) and with another Wilson Story

My sore throat has turned into a full blown head cold, which is not OK during teh summer. Well, it's not OK any time, but I hate feeling lousy when it is nice out.

I walked with Bart and now I"m going to take some cold medicine and go to bed early.

But time for a quick story:

Today I reprimanded Wilson. "You get up in the morning and think you're too old to come give your mom a hug?"

He jumps to his feet, all 49 pounds of him, sticks his chest out, beats it with both fists and says loudly, "I'm a man!"

Reverse Psychology

SO Salinda fulfilled her obligations at home and after being rude to me, wanted a ride to her friend's house. I made her ask nicely and then took her.

She was pretty rude to me on the way up there so when we got a few blocks from the place I said, "Now, I've got a few more parenting things I need to say and then afterwards I'm going to say that I love you and tell you I hope you have a good night and then I"m going to be interested in seeing just how mean you can be as you walk away."

We got there and I said, "I love you. have fun."

She looked a bit confused and finally simply muttered, "thanks for the ride."

I smiled.

The Infamous Door Slam

After barely speaking to us for the past two weeks, Salinda (after signing the paper) asks me for a horrendous favor.

The answer "no" was not received well. In fact, the door was slammed, the emotional level in the house skyrockets, the attitude is smelly, life is back to the way it when she gets pissed.

She took it a step forward. Apparently had stolen her older brother's laptop and then lied over and over and over again to me about not having it.

I'm trying so hard to regulate my pulse. Does having your heart rate up really high count if it happens when you're not exercising?

The Ultimate in Self Absorption

Salinda called from her friends asking if she could do something tonight. I reminded her that she had dishes tonight.

Here was our conversation:

Mom: "Sure, as long as you get your dishes done tonight. You have supper dishes."

Daughter: "well, I was hoping that I could come home in the afternoon and get them done first."

Mom: "Don't we have to eat and USE the dishes before you wash them?"

Daughter: "oh yeah, huh."

Well, THAT did not go well

I got distracted by many things this morning and only got two things done on my list.

One was a profile for work that I needed to get done and it has taken me days, so I was happy to have that one done.

Another one was a contract for Salinda that her therapist suggested.

Instead of reminding her to be cooperative and pleasant like I usually do, I decided to have her sign the following:

I have thoroughly read and understood these expectations. I am agreeing to the conditions therein. I am not, however, going to agree to remember them, nor am I agreeing not to act surprised or shocked when you remind me of them in the future. I am not agreeing not to be crabby or argue or blame you or be mad at you when you remind me, nor am I agreeing not to sulk, pout, give you the silent treatment, yell or act inappropriately. I’m just saying that at this moment in time, i understand them and agree to comply by them in order to have what I want.

I am going to let the therapist see it first and let me know if she thinks it's a good idea.

I figured trying humor might work. I suppose it depends on the mood.

Beginning the Day Well

Because he won't do it, I posted about Bart's walking patterns on my diet blog and also described my morning -- which has been perfect so far on the same blog.

Mellow night here again last night, although it is very warm and we have been trying to save money by not running the air conditioning. So it was difficult for us to fall asleep. However, I finally did with the help of some cold medicine and I'm feeling better today.

I am going to go into "list mode" this morning and try to crank out a few things that I've been putting off doing. Maybe I'll reward my self with time to blog something decent today if I get to a certain point on my list.

This is our third week of summer. June is almost over. We are yet alive.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The End of the Washer Saga for now

Well, he got a little nicer. Still cussed some more though.

The tub is punctured again and the warranty doesn't cover that, but he is going to not charge us anyway. Which is good news. Bad news is that we are going to have to wait another week until that part comes in. Another 25-30 loads at the laundromat probably. Grrr.

Some people might think that a letter or call to Sears or the Better Business Bureau might be a good option to get better service. But we kind of have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) about the BBB.

It's a story most of you have not heard.. in fact maybe none of you .. .because it happened many years ago. We had called Steam Brothers to have them come clean our carpets. We usually hired a local guy who had this super huge powervac that he brought with him and vacuumed the house first before he cleaned the carpet. So I didn't do a very good job of vacuuming, believing that all people did that.

Come to find out, the Steam Brothers guy believed that I should have had the house perfectly vacuumed. He came and disgustedly told me he would be back in 2 hours and I better have the house vacuumed well. Because we had a big event coming up and needed it cleaned, I busted my butt to get it cleaned. It was back in the height of my severe back pain, so getting the house done in those 2 hours was very very painful.

He never came back. Apparently the job was too hard (we had 7 little kids at the time and the carpets were quite dirty). I was so angry and in so much pain that Bart was very bothered by the whole thing. He wrote a very articulate letter that he put a lot of thought into about what had happened.

Three days later social services stopped by the house to do an inspection. They had received a call saying that we were living in filth. Hmmm. Wonder who could have made THAT call.

Their investigation was unsubstantiated, but very embarrassing and painful to endure.

And thus, we have Post Traumatic Stress about the Better Business Bureau.

And since the Sears guy turned out to agree to replace the parts without charging us, I guess I'll ignore his cursing and the fac that he was SMUG. Did I mention that I hate smug?

Normal People

I used to think that I only wanted to spend time with people who "get it." People in the adoption and foster care world often don't feel understood by anyone else.

However, I have concluded that being with people who are "normal" and have regular lives can be refreshing. People who have one or two kids, who have reasonable jobs, hobbies, etc. can give me perspective. I have learned a lot by incorporating some of these "normal people" into my lives.

So today I had lunch with a normal person and it was fun and refreshing and gave me perspective.

And that's a good thing.

Do you have a Pirate Who Doesn't Do Anything?

If you haven't heard this song you absolutely have to. I love it. I have laughed over it for so many years. But living with a "pirate" isn't as funny as the song. And if you have adopted a child with special needs who is now an adult, you know exactly what I'm talking about."

My favorite line is "and if you ask us to do anything we will tell you, we don't do anything."

Right now we are living with an adult son who doesn't do anything. He can literally sit for hours of a day and do absolutely nothing. He is supposed to be paying us back for room and board by working a few hours a week but I can't make him do anything. And he is nearly driving me crazy. I just made him go for a walk because he choked Tony until there were red marks and then denied.

As he walked down the street he yelled with his loudest voice at me in front of several neighbors using several curse words for a long time.

If he thinks he's humiliating me then he is so wrong. I stood there. He yelled at the top of his voice. He is the only one who should be humiliated -- but maybe he is incapable of that emotion.

Laundry Repair

WE have the same Sears guy here that we did almost two years ago and I am equally unimpressed. If you read that post you'll see that I just had a very hard time with him because he is SMUG. And I really do not like smug. In fact, I hate hate hate smug.

He's an older guy, probably mid-fifties, and I just heard him utter, in my house full of kids, "Oh, S***. G*** D*** M*** F***. Lovely. And he looks clean cut and normal and fine -- like someone's grandfather.

He had to annoyingly start the conversation with, "Well, bad news I'm afraid." Apparently, after we have gone a full week since he was here last, he ordered the wrong part. But he also has found a leak, which he had to refer to as "ANOTHER" leak that is there "AGAIN" because he remembers 2 years ago. I KNOW we had a leak in the drum 2 years ago. I know this is the second time. You do NOT need to remind me.

We have a service plan though, so we have to use this guy.

Bottom line of irritation for me is that he can never seem to get the thing fixed. 2 years ago he ordered a part and made us wait three weeks and then when it was finally here, he said "Oops, can't fix this. You need a new washer."

It looks like we're heading there again. He's coming back later and may say the same thing.

And if you had been here the last 1/2 hour, you would realize that I am more patient than most people think.

Dominyk has been crying and obsessiing about everything for a whole hour. Rand is upstairs acting like a 3 year old but not doing anything.

I may just have to intervene.

And oh yeah, we'll have to return to the laundromat. Last week we did 23 loads there. That's a LOT of quarters.

Taxi Driving and Lunch Plans

Would it hurt to smile when you get in the van? Say, "Hi Mom" when I interrupt my schedule to come to get you. Would it hurt to have pleasant conversation or maybe even just a "thank you" when I drop you off? Would it really kill you to do so?

I have been spending hours of my days transporting children hither and yon (whatever that means) and sometimes it can be very fun. But sometimes it is just plain awful when the kids are so ungrateful and rude. The girls are the biggest offenders in this area, most likely because boys forget that they are supposed to hate their mothers.

OK, enough of my whining. Here are some good things to report:

1) The washer repair guy and the parts he ordered are actually both here at the same time. And that is good thing.

2) Leon and JImmy have been gone several days on the missions trip and we haven't gotten any calls.

3) Dominyk has been riding the bus to summer school and attending summer school without a PCA for a week and a half. We haven't gotten a single call.

4) Our PCA schedule seems to be working well this summer. Tony especially responds fairly well to his new male PCA who doesn't put up with his crap. It's fun to watch Tony actually be respectful.

5) Rand is working still. At least 24 hours a week. And taking a summer school class which he has no idea how he will pay for, but ooops, this is a good news list so I'll drop that.

6) Salinda is babysitting this morning and spending a lot of time not breaking rules but not being home. This seems to be a good solution for us and for her.

7) Sadie is staying close to home this summer and for the most part is doing very very well. Not having much contact with negative friends or her older sister and she's blossoming. She's also spending a great deal of time with me which I have enjoyed.

8) I have lunch plans with a very fun person today. And I'm excited about that.

9) I have a lot of friends online and through my blogs that keep me going all day long with blog comments and emails. I don't take them for granted.

10) My husband has been able to work from home a lot this month because he didn't take enough vacation time last month. Having him here always makes everything better.

Internal Motivation

I've cut my inbox in half and am struggling my way through my Nalgene bottle (mother's day gift) of water. My throat still hurts and my to do list seems endless. Hard to stay motivated.

One of the things that I heard on my ADHD podcast is about how the part of the brain that is affected by ADD/ADHD/FASD is the part of the brain that affects monitoring emotions. It is what allows us to regulate how we feel as well as how to control it and keep some of those emotions to ourselves.

The podcaster pointed out that the word motivation comes from the same root word as emotion and thus if the brain cannot regulate and process emotion, it cannot self-motivate. I can't imagine how I would survive if that little voice in my brain wasn't continuously saying, "OK, now, time to get moving." The podcasters who both have ADD talk about how hard it is to even get motivated to get up when the part of the brain that tells you all the reasons why you should isn't working.

So even though I'm not getting as much accomplished as I had hoped, I'm at least happy to have the part of my brain functioning that tells me I should be!

Deciding What to do

I took this picture when we were discussing supper plans last night. I know it is blurry, but it seemed as though we were attempting to fit as many folks as possible in my 7 x 9 foot office.

The people in the picture you don't recognize are two of our PCAs...

Eating Out

Spur of the moment last night, when Bart was missing some ingredients for what he planned to make for supper, we headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for 40 cent wings. On the way there, I was trying to find the camera and Ricardo said, "Whose birthday is it?" I told him nobody had to have a birthday to take pictures.

Wilson piped up, "It's my butt cheek's birthday." "Which one, right or left?" I asked. "Well, they're TWINS" he replied.

Two of our PCAs joined us. They are always welcome because Tony and Dominyk are so much more tolerable when they are around ... plus, if one of them can't handle it, a PCA can have the privilege of having to leave the restaurant with them and Bart and I can enjoy the meal. They are both really good with the kids and fun to have around as well.

Dominyk almost lost it when we decided we would all have water instead of pop, but he pulled it together.

The kids were telling "My Momma" jokes. I don't let them tell Your Momma jokes to me -- I say they can't dis my mom but if they want to joke about me it's fine.

This is Tony's favorite "My momma's so fat when she hauls a** it takes two trips." I think it's a funny joke and Tony loves the excuse to say a bad word.

Ricardo made up his own last night... and the way he said it was so funny. His English is still heavily accented and he seldom speaks a grammatically perfect sentence, but last night he did. "My mom eeees so fat dat when she goes to the moobies, she seets by eberyone."

I laughed and laughed. He's such a handsome kid but refuses to let me take pictures.

On the way home, Sadie asked if the wings we had eaten were chicken wings. A very long discussion ensued as we tried to figure out what other animal they could possibly be -- considering most animals don't have wings. We concluded that canary wings might be a little small and goose wings a bit bigger. I think her main issue was more than likely confusion over whether or not Buffalo's had wings, but I didn't ask and embarrass her.

Wow, I need to get done blogging and get to work. Somehow my email inbox has crept to 117 emails that all need attention. How did that happen?

Getting Going Kinda Late This Morning

Went to bed with a very sore throat and woke up with it even worse, so I did not go to the YMCA.

We ended up going out to eat last night -- I will post pictures and some funny stories of that in a few minutes. Now I'm facing a full day with a headache and sore throat, but fortunately, a bit of motivation.

Bart was making fun of my blog the other day. Yup, it's pretty exciting stuff these days. "I'm so tired I just don't feel like doing anything and I don't know what to blog" he moaned.

yeah, ok. Whatever.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Seldom Consult the Internet (other than blogs) for advice...

But there are a few interesting articles about raising teenage girls and read. I enjoyed reading that my daughter may be "typical." I thought this article about"raising a teenage girl was good" and the ending was great.

Most teens, girls and boys, are going to need emotional space one minute and some equivalent to a big bear hug the next and knowing when they need each is guesswork on everyone's part, including theirs

That was worth reading the article to find.

Surprisingly, Salinda was pleasant and conversational to and from therapy, and I worked out a plan with her therapist that just might allow her and us to survive the summer....

So I'm feeling encouraged for now about this particular issue. At least until I see her again (she's at a friend's).

Featured in this E-Zine

If you subrscribe to the Whole Hearted Parenting Ezine you will see that they have my Kung Fu Panda blog entry listed in their Parenting News You Can Use email newsletter.

Kind of cool.

In a few minutes I will be fortunate enough to spend a couple hours taking Salinda to therapy. I'm sure it will be delightful.

I Exist, Therefore She Hates Me

I have a confession to make. I predicted from early on that I would be a horrible mother to a teenage girl. I knew I didn't have it in me. But when I saw a picture of these two girls and their brother what was I going to do? I mean seriously. The teenage years were so far in the distance -- I forgot my pledge to myself.

But here we are, in the land of teenage girls, a land that I knew I would not navigate well. And while Sadie is doing well 90% of the time, Salinda guarantees that 90% of our interactions are negative, even when I'm trying to make them positive.

I called her today to ask her plan for the day and when I reminded her for the 4th time this week that she had therapy at 2 today, she was instantly angry at ME because she had forgotten this small fact. So I got yelled at, she threatened to hang up on me, yada yada ad infinitum.

I had to call her back with a phone number 20 minutes later and she was perfectly fine, nice enough, laughing even.

I think I need to take my "it is what it is" approach. Many of the things she does, I am learning, are just typical teenage stuff. She's angry, she's sullen, she's upset when things don't go her way, she's stubborn, she can't stand being told no, she's sneaky, manipulative, and mean to her siblings.

But when she is in public she is perfectly appropriate, appears sensitive, kind and caring. She gets along well with adults and her peers. Her grades are OK -- nothing to brag about, and certainly not at her ability , but OK. And so far this summer (knock on wood) she hasn't violated her probation.

So maybe I am just going to have to get used to everything being my fault and blow it off. Cindy is my idol in this. This quote from her blog entry today cracked me up so much that I laughed out loud (referring to her daughter).

Call me later and tell me how that pissy attitude and ignorant mindset works out for you Miss Thang.

I have sons who are ten times worse than she is with what they say and how they act. But it is just WAY girls do it.


Sometimes I'm Vague on Purpose

I was thinking about how vague the post is that I just wrote and I realized that sometimes I am vague on purpose.

If I don't give you all the details, then it is easier for you to apply it to your own life. Because, in the example of the post I just wrote, the "is what it is" could mean anything in your life. If I tell you the ways that it applies to my life, then you might miss the way it applies to yours.

Does that make sense? Or maybe I'm being vague about my vagueness.


It Is What it Is

Today I am once again having to remind myself of the importance of accepting what is. I am pushy (NOOOOO! you're saying) and I tend to want to make things happen. And often there are so many things out of my control that I cannot make the things happen that I want to happen.

Over two years ago I posted this quote and it is time for me to remind myself of it once again.

The Actual and the Ideal

There are two things: the actual and the ideal.
To be mature is to see the ideal and live with the actual.
To fail is to accept the actual and reject the ideal;
and to accept only that which is ideal and refuse the actual is to be immature.
Do not criticise the actual because you have seen the ideal;
do not reject the ideal because you see the actual.
Maturity is to live with the actual but hold to the ideal.

There are lots of things in my personal and professional life where I have to find this balance. And I often do not succeed.

There is one more sentence though, that i think needs to be added to the quote for me. And that is that sometimes you have to let go of the ideal - or at least reframe it. Because some things just are what they are and that is what they have to be. They may never be ideal -- they may never even get close -- but they are what they are.

So today I am telling myself again, "it is what it is" and I can either live within what is or drive myself crazy.

I think I'll just live with it. It is what it is. And that is probably the better alternative than going crazy.

"I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You"

I heard this song, that UTube will not let me embed because embedding is disabled, and thought it was perfect for adopted children. I am especially thinking of Cindy in Texas today and think this song is perfect for their new baby Isaac. I have been following her story for several years, and ironically actually saw her from across the room when I was in Houston once. I thought it was here, but wasn't positive and sure wasn't going to walk up and say, "He aren't you the ebenezer blog Cindy?" But later I emailed and sure enough, we had been in the same building at the same time.

Even though the video doesn't show anything about adoption, if you listen to the words it's a perfect song for us who love our kids before we meet them. And we have to do that. We have to claim them before we meet them, or it's never going to work.

But I digress. Point is this: It's a great song. And applies certainly, to many other situations, but I think you'll agree that it applies to adoptive parents and their children.

Today is January First

I heard a a great podcast this morning about the harm of an "All or Nothing Approach towards Fitness and Weight Loss" and I want to steal a couple of his ideas. But since I'm giving credit, I'm not really stealing them.

He perfectly describes my whole approach to LIFE, which includes everything. I'm an all or nothing person and an all or nothing thinker. But the harm in that is that more often it is nothing than all.

I would diet and blow it -- and then say, "OH well, I had fries for lunch, might as well get a chocolate shake at supper" and then the next day it would be "yesterday I had fries and a shake, so I guess today I can do it again. I guess that diet is over." ANd that is how you end up with a 6 year weight loss chart that looks like this one. Either I was dieting, or I wasn't.

Same thing with exercise. If I had momentum going, I could keep going no matter what. But if I skipped a day, or a couple days, then I didn't go back to the Y for months.

I have often believed that every day is a new day ... and that we start fresh, but I liked the idea that every day is January first. We can start new and begin again.

I realized on my way home from the Y that I was doing the same thing with my monthly resolutions for June that I came up with the end of May. There have been a few days this month that I haven't written anything and some days when I haven't kept up with my water intake.

And I embarrassingly confess to you that I concluded that it didn't really matter. I would just stop trying, wait until the end of the month, confess to you that I hadn't done it every day, make some new ones for July and move on.

Today I realized that if I did that I would be wasting 7 days of drinking enough water, and 7 days of writing a paragraph. And how dumb is that?

The all or nothing approach is such a mind game and it gets us nowhere.

So, today on my way back from the YMCA I drank 24 of my 64 ounces already. And I'm planning to write something today.

Did you make a new month's resolution? It isn't too late to make a June one. Every single good choice counts. That's what I'm learning. And so if it is a week, a month, or a day that I do the right things, it matters.

I am going to add something new in July, but before July gets here, I'm getting back on track for June.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And back to the even keel

Sadie has apologized and kept to herself. Salinda didn't apologize, but changed her mood suddenly for no apparent reason. Both girls have been fine since before supper.

We watched Ricardo play again tonight, but I didn't have my camera. And afterwards Bart and I ended the night with another walk.

I am enjoying our walks quite a bit. He often had told me in the past that a good walking partner is a quiet walking partner. But we have enjoyed several good conversations while we have walked lately and it's been nice to be uninterrupted. When we talk in the house we are always followed around and can't have a private conversation. But on our walks we can enjoy some conversations that aren't interrupted.

I seem to be in another slump. I get this way sometimes. Distractible, my mind on other things, not able to concentrate as much as I'd like. each day I hope for it to be better, and some days it is, but a lot of times I'm just not with the program.

The only thing I'm doing right is my fitness and dieting stuff. Now to get the rest of my life in gear....

Estrogen Fog

Oh wow. I often describe our home as " testosterone planet" but when both girls are crabby, the estrogen has way more power... Both girls are in quite the mood today. I don't know how people who have a house full of girls handle it. Moody, moody, moody today and the mood is not good.

And of course, they are both in bad moods and of course I'm the reason they are in bad moods. I keep telling myself to breathe deeply and say little, but sometimes parents have to communicate something with their children. And in this case, my existence triggers their anger so I guess I just need to deal with it.

Salinda's habits set me up to fail. She seldom communicates unless she wants something and when she does communicate, I have things I need to tell her. So I begin to do so, which always leads to her being crabby.

And Sadie has had a really good summer up until today, when I showed up 2 and a half minutes late to pick her up. Apparently that is enough for her to be angry with me for an entire day.

So I'm just reminding myself that they will grow up, that I can do anything for a few years, right?

This Just In

Bart and I get to return to New York City in late July! We're going to be presenting for Pat O'Brien's staff and will be on his radio show. We'll also be able to take in a Broadway play.

We'll be staying only about 6 blocks from Coney Island in Brooklyn. Last time we were there (which you can read all about in the December 2006 archives -- we were there from the 11th to the 16th) we had a great time, but I could hardly walk without pain. Now i'm excited about possibly walking around and enjoying myself and not spending the whole time thinking about how badly I need to sit down.

Bart and I love to get away together and it's been 6 months since we had that opportunity, so we're looking forward to it.

Forgot to mention

That if you want to know how much more weight I lost this week, you have to click here.

And Beginning a New Day Calm as Well

Finished my workout... Sadie came along. She and Dominyk have left for summer school -- they are the onlly ones who have it today. Everyone went to bed fairly mellow and so far the morning has been the same way.

Really need to get things done at my desk..... Maybe I'll write a REAL blog post later today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ending the Day Surprisingly Content

I haven't had the best of weekends. Not very motivated and made some dumb mistakes that have caused some heartache for both me and Bart -- most of them just carelessness. And there were the ups and down of parenting the kids....

But right now I'm feeling OK. I got plenty of exercise today. The kids are all very happy and mellow. Salinda is actually home and has been appropriate and cooperative and in a good mood all day. That is so nice.

We had a great time with our friends at lunch, church was good this morning.... all about Grace, which is such a significant thing, and something that becomes more and more real to me all the time.

So I'm going to head tonight to bed grateful -- not for the mistakes I made, but for grace. Grace from God, grace from my children, grace from my husband, grace from my friends.

Grace -- unmerited favor. Grace -- getting the good stuff we don't deserve. Grace.

Going to bed grateful for Grace.

Yet another story for the book

November 2007

Jimmy's limited intellectual ability combined with his sheltered early years in a Guatemalan orphanage often causes him confusion which can lead to some hilarious comments.

Leon and Wilson are Hmong by ethnicity and that had been explained to Jimmy many times.
He had also been reminded more than once that they had a Texas accent, and did not speak any language but English. But he must have forgotten both those things because I overheard this conversation:

Leon: "Where y'all goin?"

JImmy: "Y'all? Y'all? What are you talking about. I don't speak Chinese!

Another Humorous Anecdote for the book

Again, feedback welcome, or even a complete rewrite if you think it is necessary and are inspired.

April 2000

It was 20 minutes before supper towards the end of a very long day. It seemed as though every child I called mine at that time was angry with me for one reason or another and I was exhausted.

Dominyk, four at the time, came into the kitchen asking for something to eat because he was just so hungry he couldn't take it any more.

"No honey," I said, in my most patient voice, "We'll be having supper in a little while."

"I HATE you, he exclaimed."

Feeling as though most everyone did at that moment, I sighed, "Oh Dominyk, join the club/"

"What, he screamed increduouslyy. "I don't want to be in your club. I hate you!

Love Fest

I came back from taking the girls to the mall after we finished lunch with Tim, Sue, Sarah and the other Fletchers. and found Bart and the kids still in the living room. He said they were having a love fest.

I took a picture...... Ricardo was uncooperative as always, but this gives you an idea....

Dominyk is Bored, Bored, Bored, Bored

As you know Dominyk has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and he has an obsession that has gone on since last summer. Pop. And if it isn't pop it is the money to buy the pop, and if doesn't have money, it's how to earn it to buy the pop, and if he has the money, then a ride to the store to buy pop.

We've tried everything to stop it, but some days I just don't have the energy to battle it. So today he was so so so very bored after he earned the money by selling toys from a stand he set up in our yard, so I let him go to the store. And I forgot to forbid him to buy pop when he went in (something I've been doing for a while) and so he came out with a three liter.

"Look mom, 3 liters for a dollar." (I"m thinking -- ick, that has got to be some nasty tasting cheap generic pop)." And I just gave up.

But I told him, "I thought you were going to come to the store to stop yourself from being bored. If you buy pop, how is that going to give you something to do."

He said, "MOM, it's 3 liters. I'll drink some, and then I'll have to pee, and then I'll drink some more, and then I'll have to pee some more, and then I"ll drink some more....."

Words of Wisdom from a Man of the Cloth

I won't go through all the details or give you context, but these were the wise words that Bart shared at the lunch table:

"Women with only one leg do not look at porn sites on the internet."


Even though I don't have unlimited text messaging, most of Salinda's friends do -- and they are out of phone minutes. So last night when I was hoping to go to bed I was getting texts asking me things. They were ambiguous "can she spend the night"? Who is she? Who is texting? It was all very confusing.

I've asked Salinda not to text for permission because permission means asking and then receiving an answer. Fortunately, the thing she was requesting would have been fine had I understood it in the first place. And she was home 20 minutes before her curfew and had a good reason for not being here at 9:30.

And fortunately she and the friend were up the first time I woke them this morning and are happy enough to get ready for church. And she is one of Salinda's nicer friends. So all in all this is a very minor thing compared to several of the past weekends.

Does anyone else have this texting thing going on with teens where they think that a text reporting in means that they have asked permission, even if the parent never sees or responds to a text? Or is this just my private cross to bear?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm ready to call it a night but....

How many of my blog entries end in a but? I should count sometime. But that might take way too long.

I forgot to post about the workout this morning, so I just finished that here. And we didn't walk tonight.

Salinda, of course, wasn't home when I told her to be and I can't reach her where she i supposed to be. Another trip around the cycle.

I will be attempting to go to sleep without her home, which is never easy for me.

But for now I'll call it a night and we'll just see how it all goes.....

Always another day tomorrrow...

My Writing section of the Website has begun

I spent some time working on my writing page of our website.

If you'd like to check it out, here is the direct link.

Feedback is always welcome if it is kind and constructive.


Less Than Half Home But...

Less than half of our kids were home for supper tonight -- only five of them -- but I have failed to mention that not only is our washer on the fritz but the dishwasher isn't getting things clean either. So, tonight was Rand's turn for dishes but he had to work at the grocery store tonight, so I did his dishes for him since we're having company for lunch tomorrow....

It took a very long time to do dishes without the dishwasher, even though Ricardo helped me dry and put away.

Now Dominyk is obsessed with going to the store to spend some money he earned from a neighbor today and now Tony is working for some money, so I'm waiting to take both of them.

Salinda is due home after spending the night at a friends and I always am nervous about whether or not she'll be on time.

Jimmy and Leon left today for a missions trip to inner city Milwaukee this morning. Tonight Bart had a call from the youth pastor's cell phone. He said, "Great, I have a call from Jeff." I said, "how do you know it's going to be bad?" "Well, when the youth pastor calls during a missions trip, it's seldom good news.

He called back and it was Jimmy's voice.


"Yes, JImmy"

"How are you?"


"You know the church we're staying in?"


"It's very big"

"That's good, Jimmy"

"Hey, Dad?"

"Yes, Jimmy."

"You know that spending money you gave me?"


"Can I spend some of it?"

"Yes, jimmy"

"Can I buy a Brat (Bratwurst)"

"Sure JImmy"

"OK, Bye."


I guess all calls from the youth pastor's phone on a mission trip don't have to be emergencies.....

And last night Jimmy said...

Tony was going on and on and on last night a the dinner table that we needed to get a new kennel for our dog, Gizmo. He was complaining that the dog begs at the table (I wonder why -- since the kids feed him no matter how many times they're told not to, Tony being one of the worst offenders, though I digress).

Anyway, Bart stated, "I'll tell you what, Tony, I'll buy a kennel for Gizmo if I can put a muzzle on you."

Jimmy, very confused and probably picturing one of the girls at school, looked at Bart and said, "A Muslim?"

And Not Proud of the Morning either

Wow, I as a person who talks (or types) way too much I am tempted to articulate in great detail all the mistakes I made this morning, but I am going to show some restraint this morning and not burden you with the details.

Bart is busy cleaning and cooking today -- made a bunch of banana bread I am restraining from eating, though it smells so good. Everyone is fairly mellow this morning and I'm finding if I just leave them alone and give them some psychic space they do better. I tend to be in constant "reminder" mode about what people need to do and it tends to set people on edge. I'm working on that.

In fact, I am already looking ahead to my next month's resolution that will involve something about this, along with another big resolution to be announced on June 30th.

It has taken me too long to write this blog post as I keep getting distracted.

Guess I should just be done and hit publish.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not a day I'm Proud of

I'm glad my day is over because today I failed in many ways. I won't articulate all of them for you, but I certainly didn't accomplish what I intended, or eat what I should have, or exercised as much as I planned, or been as patient as I'd hoped, or as kind, or as loving.... or .... or..... or.....

But I guess some days are just like this, and historically I would have said these were grounds for giving up ... but I have learned that tomorrow is a new day. And even though I was a pathetic version of me today, tomorrow I can be a new and improved version.

Here's hoping!

Alone again

How weird. Here I am alone again in the middle of the day. It's almost unsettling. I find my mind wandering when I am not multitasking.

Bart took Jimmy and Dominyk to get haircuts this morning... thus the pictures.

and now they are seeing movies.

And I'm working, can't you tell?

I find myself much more likely to blog more...

when I know people are reading.

And on top of my regular readers, this morning I was reminded of this post from 2006 and so I sent it to some of the social workers I work with. I know summer is sometimes a hard time and thought they could use the encouragement.

I also have some good news about my pedometer (if my math is correct) so if you’re keeping up with my fitness plan you might want to check that out.

I’m actually pretty motivated today (unlike the last two days) and am getting a lot done. It’s Bart’s day off so he tries to do stuff with the kids on Fridays so I can get things done.


I'm going to combine everything I am learning about exercise, like this for example, and controlling this part of our lives, and apply it to adoptive parenting and add that to my list of topics I can speak about.

Of course, I need to be skinnier first. ;-)

And it Came to Pass (Round 2)

Last month I blogged about October 20th which is now nine months ago. I remember that night because it was a particularly hard one for me. And it sort of began a period in my life which, as I have mentioned many times, has been life changing.

Now that nine months have come and gone since then, I can see the ways in which everyone in our family has grown and changed. My blog has been a constant reminder of how things come to pass ... the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride.

Even the past month I can see progress -- I can see through the ups and the downs and the turns how God has worked in me and in the life of my kids.

So, even if my blog is, as Bart says, "barf on a page", it is a great tool for me to go back and remember how I felt... and how it all came to pass.

And it helps me to take time and remember the way things were on a given day, and the way things are now. Just think.... for example... back then I weighed 42 pounds more than I do today. Tired of hearing about that?

This is a song that I have listened to over the past months that has given me a lot of strength. Josh Groban has such an incredible voice and the message is so powerful. It is not only a song that empowers me, but reminds me to empower my children with this concept. Their road is so much more difficult than mine.

I am loved -- by an awesome God, an incredible husband, the best parents ever, my kids (most of the time), and lots of friends. Giving up? Never.

Please Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

For a long time I got caught up in the mindset that in order for me to take good care of others, I had to put them first.

I grew up with this mentality -- and while in principal, I think it is a good one, I think that we as over-achievers can take it to an extreme.

I learned this little song as a small child,

Jesus and Others and You
what a wonderful way to spell JOY
Jesus and Others and You
in the life of each girl and each boy
J is for Jesus for he has first place
O is for Others we meet day by day
Y is for you in whatever you do
Put yourself last and spell joy.

(can you believe I still remember that -- wow, my memory amazes even me).

So, I grew up believing that this was the formula and any time that I start to think about myself and what I needed I felt some shame. I reminded myself, “it’s not about me” and I squelched those feelings.

And then, as I have blogged before, over the past year I sort of had a “mid-life crisis” where I started to evaluate everything. And I realized that maybe, if I was going to do a good job of caring for other people, I needed to think a little more about me and what I needed and how not getting what I needed was affecting the people around me.

When we went to Arizona a couple weeks ago, I listened for the hundredth time the words “Please put on your own oxygen mask first” and realized that maybe my priorities were slightly out of wack when it came to caring for my own family. Maybe if I was taking care of me, I would be better prepared and equipped to take care of others.

If I get up, go to the Y like I did today, have a glass of ice water, shower, and sit down to my computer for a while to gather my thoughts before the kids get up, I am a much better parent. If I am feeling better physically, I am a better parent. If I am taking time to do things I enjoy once and a while, I’m a better wife and mother. Before I used the reasoning, “My kids need me, I don’t have time to .... work out .... fix healthy stuff to eat .... go out to lunch with a friend... get to know someone new ... read a book .... rent a movie just for me. But now I’m finding it works different.

While I still believe that when it comes to a lot of things, the Jesus, Others and You priority system is accurate. My kids needs often come before my own. But if I take it too far to where I completely ignore what I need and want, then I become resentful.

How many of us as adoptive moms (or dads) start to feel like martyrs when we put others first all the time. Have you ever walked through the house muttering to yourself, ”There isn’t a single other person in this HOUSE who can pick up socks on the floor“ or ”if I have to put away the milk ONE MORE TIME“ or ”doesn’t anybody ever think about how I feel?“ I used to catch myself feeling those ”poor me feelings“ often.

Putting myself first sometimes allows me to not get caught up in the martyr complex. And it helps me to have the strength, building on past success, to come up with a plan of how I might just be able to teach some of this not-so-old dogs some new tricks -- like how to put away the milk or pick up their socks.

Maybe I’m still not at the right balance with this, but I definitely believe that especially in times of stress, it’s my oxygen mask that has to go on first, or none of us will survive.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Yes, it's true. It's not a word I use often, and it probably doesn't mean what it means when other people say it. But yesterday and today for some reason, I have been in a slump where nothing sounds fun or enjoyable. Of all the things on my list, I can't get excited about any of them. And my list is long.

So I spent a lot of time today wasting time... doing dumb stuff that got me nowhere and made me even less motivated. Sigh.

My pedometer has finally arrived so that I can participate in the Amazing Pace with Bart. I'm excited to see how many steps my workouts are. Unfortunately, my workouts have been the most successful parts of my last two days.

I'm hoping to get back on track tomorrow.


I am annoyed. Some are petty annoyances, some are major annoyances. Is annoyances even a word?

First, the place John is staying called wanting to know if I would sign something giving him permission to smoke. Two days ago he told he he didn't want to start that bad habit again. He has never had our permission to smoke and for another month he isn't even legally old enough to buy cigarettes. I'm wondering now how he was going to be getting them. Anyway, I told them that no, he wasn't going to have me give permission for him to smoke. In 28 days he'll be 18 and he won't require my permission. If he still wants to take up that habit again he can. He hasn't had access to cigarettes for 6 months, so I can't see how starting again could possibly be a good plan.

Second, the ferret. Well, I'm just not even going to talk about the ferret. If I do, I will push myself over the edge.

Third, I was at Baker's Square using their Wi-Pie service this morning with Kari. Kari had to leave because she couldn't get her computer to work with that internet, and the air conditioner was set at I think about 24 below zero, so I got too cold and had to leave. When I got home I decided to work from the dining room, but I couldn't get it to work there for some reason. So I'm back in my office sulking.

Fourth, after wrestling with the wrong password because he gave me the wrong one, I got into Rand's college account. He told us that his summer class was covered under last year's tuition. Apparently, he was wrong and now he owes several hundred dollars that he doesn't have. And he doesn't qualify for much financial aid next year, only loans and work study. His grades are not good at all and he won't ask for help from the Academic Support Center, which the tech college here is "famous" for. He could be getting extra help, he isn't asking for it. So we have to decide what to do. Last year we had two kids in college and so he got lots of grant money, but with Kyle graduating, he didn't qualify for any grants for next year. Do we let him continue to go and go into debt, with us cosigning the loans, if he isn't even willing to get extra help and he has poor grades? Or do we say he can't go back and has to wait a year? He's living here without having to pay room and board. He finally has a part time job... and is taking summer classes. Maybe we should make next year contingent on this summers grades. He still has a good 4-5 weeks left and if he really cares about staying in the program, maybe he should ask for some academic help. it's annoying, to say the least.

And finally there is Tony and Boy Scouts which is a constant annoyance to me. Bart blogged about it several weeks ago and sometimes just the mention of boy scouts bugs me. Bart is working on stuff for him to go to camp this summer. And so then I have to think about how he hasn't earned more than a badge or two and he has probably lost them and ... and.... and.... and.... sigh.

Sometimes I admit to going through the grieving that Bart talked about on that post and that others commented about. We certainly could have chosen a road that led to Eagle Scouts, and over-achieving talented children who were committed to excellence, and rock-solid academic achievement. Instead we are dealing with jail terms, probation, group home smoking policies, and a kid failing a college class he can't afford to pay for at the technical colllege.

I'm not saying that I don't want to live my life. I just wish I could live two lives. At the same time. So I could see how the other side felt, maybe just for a few days.

Motivation Breeds Motivation and why I now Like Working Out

This past week more people than ever have been emailing me privately or leaving comments that they are being motivated by reading my blogs. I am thrilled to know that is true.


Because it’s all about me. (joking of course)

But seriously, do you know how motivating it is to know that I have motivated someone else? And how can I quit now if you are counting on me not to?

If I realize that my motivation is someone’s inspiration, then I can’t give up or quit. I have to keep plugging along. And that makes me more determined than ever.

I also have discovered one reason to enjoy working out. I used to absolutely hate it, but here is one reason why I like it.

I go there with a 40 minute job to do. Nobody distracts me. I either succeed or I fail. When it is over, it is over. It’s all up to me and I’m the only one who can control it.

It’s so different that the rest of my life where nothing is ever done. WIth parenting the job never has an ending. I am distracted constantly. I never know if I am succeeding or failing because it’s too hard to evaluate. It’s never over.

So working out can be a good thing. It helps me to know that in a controlled environment, I CAN do it. And that makes me believe that I can do it in other areas as well.

beginning the day

Did another interval workout at the Y this morning and it seemed easier today, which I guess is the point. But I came home to reminders of my short comings, which I don't like to be reminded of. Now I'm having to regroup.

More later when I've got my head on straight....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ending the Day

All is mellow here. Bart and I took a walk after having dinner with some people from church.

The kids are all doing fine.

Everyone seems to be at a decent point at this moment.

And I"m heading to bed......

I Think I'm Alone Now...

Wow. Weird. Everyone is gone. I would write who is where, but you probably don't care. I wish that I had the motivation to match this opportunity but I'm kind of feeling in a bit of a slump. I will plug along, but I'm feeling sluggish and hungry (which hardly ever happens any more) and unmotivated.

It seems either that I am dealing with lots of stress and chaos, or nothing ... and when there is nothing I'm drained from the stress and chaos.

I am here though, plugging away. I did get this interval training program graphic done for those who are interested in my exercise this morning (all 2 of you, not including my husband, probably).

Back to The Top of the Circle

Over a year ago I wrote this post about Teens and Attachment on my Everything Adoption blog. I reread it this morning and it so pertains to us once again.

Salinda has gone through this cycle almost weekly for the past two years. It has been exhausting. But I am happy to report that at t his moment we are at the develop trust stage, heading for another screw up ... eventually. Process asked me if I could articulate my "approach to Salinda." I think that you have read my approach as it has changed over and over and over again trying to find what works. And I should have known better. One of the things I learned over the years is that it takes over six months of consistently trying the same approach before you can figure out of it is going to be effective or not. So, here is my current "approach" which I am attempting to follow.

1) Realize that it is a long, cyclical process that is going to take a long time to get through. For some reason, she is not "figuring things out" or learning. So I am trying to remember this and prepare for the long haul.

2) She is an introvert, so she needs time and space to think things through, so I can't pressure her. The best thing for me to do when she is out of shorts is to shut up and ignore some of the small things she does. I used to be so perplexed as to why she seemed to be making things worse for herself by breaking little rules, distancing herself, etc. Now I am learning that for some reason this is part of her cycle. It is part of her "rage" segment. It's passive aggressive defiance which, if ignored, passes fairly quickly.

3) She is hoping for a reason to explode, so if I don't give her one, she often doesn't. I was unknowingly provoking her which made her escalate. I am being careful not to do so.

4) I cannot compromise. I sometimes give her choices (an idea I got from Parenting Teens with Love and Logic) but once I give a consequence I don't negotiate and I don't back down. This was my biggest temptation and I admit it was lousy parenting. She freaks out at the word no and so I tried to avoid the huge melt downs by negotiating. (Ironically, she just walked in and I had to tell her no and yup, nastiness pouring forth like a hissing cat or a venomous snake). I don't know why her responses always get to me more than others -- because I have a whole bunch of kids that meltdown at the word no and have for 10 years. But she is bright, and mean, and vindictive, and very personal with her anger. I guess that's why.

5) I have to control what I can control, which is my response to her, because I can't change her (or anyone else). She is going to do what she is going to do and I must control my own emotional response.

6) Finally, I am finding ways to attempt to make connections with her when she is not angry (which is a window of opportunity of about 5 minutes every other day. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating. 3 minutes. just kidding).

I am sure this parenting approach isn't going to make it into any books, but it is what I've come up with for now. Parenting her is very difficult for me, and the whole story is so multilayered I could never tell it all. But surviving her teenage years with both of us alive is the primary goal, and so far, I'm being successful with that much at least.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At the end of the day....

Took a walk, came home, tried to medicate Dominyk, and he was literally bouncing off the walls. I have never seen him do it before, but he was making his body bump into one wall and then the other, all the way down the hallway. He was chanting bump, bump, bump, bump as he bounced from one side to the other.

Salinda seems to have rebounded and now is fine.

Lots of PCA hours for Tony today made him a happy camper and the house more peaceful.

RIcardo and Leon are at Mike and Kari's watching an outdoor movie. Rand and Jimmy are at a Moondogs game. Salinda is at her friend's softball game. Quiet night.

Tomorrow I actually have a day at home. Hopefully I'll be able to get much done.

Going to head to bed fairly early so I can get up and be ready for the YMCA in the morning. Continuing to build momentum, more every day...

Home Again, Home Again, Wherever Home Is

John is safely moved in and seems to be fine. 2 hours of paperwork later, I hugged him and left. As I predicted, the trip was enjoyable and it was a beautiful day to travel.

I think he is a bit apprehensive, as he always is when moved to a new "home."

One thing was interesting. He has been in out of home placements for several years because of his aggression issues. When the director asked him about some of his interests and hobbies, he asked if he knew of a place where he could practice cage fighting or ultimate fighting. He didn't get the irony of that statement.

The group home director tried to suggest that possibly he should just focus on working out and doing strength training for now.


Playing UP

Last night Ricky "Played Up" which means he played with the U15 team because they were short on players. And, as you can see, he was "playing up" to the point that his feet didn't hit the ground.

It was almost dark when I took this shot, which may be why it's so blurry, but it looks kinda cool.

We didn't get back from the game until almost 9:30 and it was only a couple blocks from here.

He is really quite a player...

My Day Today

I know, i've been blogging a lot. Maybe too much for you, but it's good for me. Bart says that I'm getting egocentric and that the blog is becoming all about me and that you want to hear more about the kids. I say screw him. Oh wait, no I didn't say that.

I am finding that blogging is becoming the key in my efforts to change my life so in a sense, I guess it is all about me. But I hope it is helpful to you as well.

I just posted about building momentum on the dieting blog, and while there it is about diet an exercise, it really pertains to almost everything.

I have enjoyed my two hours of quiet. I'm actually in the bedroom, finding that a change of scenery helps to motivate. I've been plugging away at a fairly full inbox and making progress.

In 45 minutes I am leaving for a two hour trip to John's new group home. He is moving there exactly one month before his 18th birthday and this will hopefully mean that he can transition well. If anyone has a 16 year old who may need an assisted living situation as an adult, you better get started working on this now. It has taken us almost 2 years to get things set up for this and we're only actually having everything fall together a month before he turns 18. This is all due to the fact that there is a worker at the county who "gets it" and she has been working hard with me almost since we moved here to set up things for our kids. Once John is settled we will start working on Jimmy. He is 16 and a half and definitely will need to live in someplace supervised as an adult, but for different reasons than John.

So today is kind of a celebration that we accomplished this. We had Mike all set up too, a little over a year ago when he turned 18, and it didn't go well because of his choices. John will have the opportunity to either make the best of this and do it well, or head in the other direction. But at least we know we had him set up to succeed.

Fortunately, I enjoy the social worker and she and I are travelling together, so the four hours will go quickly, I'm sure. Plus we'll get to have some lunch on the way. Maybe a nice Arby's Wrap... NOT. (692 calories than you very much)

I've finished delivering unwelcomed messages to Salinda and she managed to receive them without curse words, so the day is off to a great start. :-)

Adrenaline pumping

My adrenaline was pumping again this morning -- and not just because of my morning workout I returned from the Y to the next chapter of the “visiting ferret” that I have neglected to blog. Salinda agreed to care for a ferret for a friend temporarily that has turned into longer than temporary. It drives the dog crazy and if we had known that temporary meant indefinitely, we would not have agreed.

Last week she moved the ferret to another friend’s house supposedly because that is what the friend wanted, but I’m assuming that the fact that the ferret kept Salinda up at night was the real motivation. So last night sometime apparently the friend got sick of it and instead of putting it in her room she decided it needed to be in the living room. And the dog was going nuts.

So I asked her to move the ferret back into her bedroom, and reminded her that we had never agreed for it to be in the living room. She of course refused. So I had to go in again and remind her that we were not going to spend our day protecting her friend’s ferret from the dog. She burst out of bed like a cannon shot her there and proceeded to mutter and cuss and argue her way to the living room, dragging the cage upstairs and encouraging the dog to bite me.

We’re going to have such a nice day.

My approach to Salinda post is still brewing in my head. My approach until she is through this spell is to try not to provoke her, give her space to think things through and make good choices, and yet to confront her gently about things not acceptable.

And someone delivering a ferret to my living room while I am sleeping and she was supposed to be, is certainly odd.

Maybe there are households where people come and go all night while their parents sleep, but in our house we usually like to know it if someone is in our home ... especially considering some of the choices of friends our kids have had in the past.

I’m going to be taking a couple kids to summer school soon, but will post more later. I’m sure you know that when I say I’ll post more later, I will. And then some more later. And then some more after that. ;-)

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Couple Dominyk Stories to End the Day

(because I’m too tired to recount moody Sainda’s night -- she’s fine, but wow is she unpredictable).

This morning we were talking about diagnosis. “What do you think I have?” Tony asked.

“Probably ODD or Conduct Disorder.“

Dominyk pipes in from the back of the van after not listening to any of the conversation, completely serious with this question: ”A Condom Disorder? Tony has a Condom Disorder?“

and tonight he had some leeches left over from fishing tonight that he is going to use tomorrow. I cautioned him from getting his finger too close to the leeches because they would suck his blood and that would hurt.

He starts to whimper. ”Why did you have to go say that?“

”Say what“

”That it would hurt?“

”Well, didn’t you know that leeches such your blood?“

”Yes, I know that they suck out your blood, but you didn’t have to tell me that it would hurt!“

Nothing Going Quite as Planned

The meeting with the P.O. is cancelled.

My meeting that was supposed to get me and 4 kids out of town for several hours is cancelled.

We just got a troubling message from the treatment facility where MIke is asking for his insurance information, but we're not sure if he is on our insurance, and if he is, if we can afford copays for their treatment.

I remember when I used to think that 18 was the goal -- just get them to 18.

I was so dumb and naive.

And we only have a brief break before we have to gear up for Round Two

I confirmed that Salinda’s entire story about Friday night is a lie.

At least she’s finally mowing the lawn.

But eventually we’ll have to talk again about Friday.


I’m leaving for a meeting out of town tonight -- taking a couple kids, at least, with me.

I hope that Salinda is decent to Bart. I’d rather take it from her than have him have to.

And the bell rings and we're done with Round One for Today

I happily gave Salinda’s friend a ride home after she was here for 2 nights. It was a 30-35 mile round trip and fortunately, her friend expressed gratitude for us letting her spend the night two nights in a row, and for letting her come on the youth group trip, and for the ride home to pick up her stuff, and for the ride to work, because by the time we got home Salinda sure wasn’t.

All I needed to do was to try and track down the truth about Friday night, which I am still not sure I have, and to let her know the parameters of her grounding. She can only listen to me for so long (today I think she may have made it 3-5 minutes) and then she shuts down, gets angry, and tells me to stop talking. I have tried the approach where you say a couple good things, then deliver the bad news, and then end with the good stuff again, but she never lets me finish with the good stuff -- always cuts me off before I get there. And if you are thinking that I should just say it anyway, you do not know how much me talking escalates her when she wants me to be quiet.

Her therapist says the less I talk the better. I delivered the news I needed to (which she will conveniently forget soon) so I guess I just needed to stop talking. Which I did. And attempted to enjoy the stony cold silence (with her CD blaring in the background. Fortunately, it was the song that I really like on her CD so I didn’t mind. In fact, the song was really helpful to me at that moment. She doesn’t know that though -- if I told her she’d never listen to it again).

So she is sulking. Hopefully she’ll get motivated and start doing the things she needs to do. But regardless, she will avoid me until 1:25 when we have to head down to her Probation Officer’s office. Now THAT should be a fun meeting.

Oh well. I’m going to try to keep reminding myself that I can only control my response, not her actions. Yes, my mantra.

Enjoying my Solitude

I've spent the last 90 minutes basically alone. I have talked to Bart a couple times but have been catching up with everyone by reading blogs, been answering emails, and just enjoying the silence. The kids who are not in summer school are not out of bed yet (even though it is getting late).

Salinda's friend needs a ride home soon as she has to work, and that may begin my stress for the day. Who knows what her mood will be? But I can't control her mood, only my own.

Is this becoming my mantra or what?

Besides, who can have a bad day when you discover you've lost more weight?

I know, I know, don't tempt the children. They will then find a way.