Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lightening Rod

I think Salinda is my lightening rod for stress. I just confronted her about a few things that I needed to talk to her about and she didn't want to hear and her response was the same as it always is. Stony silence after attempts at defending herself and being deceptive.

I am letting it go. Simply said that the nice thing about her is that she was never quiet forever. That she would always come back around... especially the next time she needed something. Reminded her that I cared about her and that I would be there when she needed whatever she needed next.

I htink maybe I need to go play that Wii again....

That was a Great Idea

My Wii Fit Workout to relieve stress plan totally worked.

Old Habits Die Hard

I think I have Post Traumatic Stress. A mild version of it, but I think I have it. I have heard lots of adoptive parents talk about that.

Even though Salinda is doing OK, I still need to confront her about a couple of things. And even though things have been going very well, knowing I have to talk to her brings about physical signs of stress for me. Heart rate increases, hands get cold, and I have to force myself to calm down.

I think this is due to several "negative feedback loops" that we have created in the past and getting back to them. She has done something, I have responded the same way, it has gotten more negative, she has responded negatively, and so it all continues to happen in the same way.

Even though some of these patterns have changed and we do better, knowing a conversation is coming just brings on the same stress as I blogged about happening back in October. Hopefully the outcome will be different enough times that it can erase all of this.

But until then I need a solution.

Today's solution is to go work out on the Wii fit for a little while and see if I can warm up my hands and feet..... Getting my blood pumping in a positive direction can't hurt.

It Works for Us

The way we do things at our house may not be the way anyone else does them. For example, as you know, I'm swamped with work. Everything seems to be picking up lately.

And we've had lots of appointments over the past few days so I have not been able to get anything done.

So today I'm sitting in my office listening to the contented sounds of my children, two extra kids with a third one on the way, and my husband happily serving the children lunch in a nurturing way. I enjoy listening to pleasant sounds in the background.

And I am downstairs eating at my desk, with my husband delivering the sandwich he made for me, along with the yogurt he insists I eat, and a glass of ice water. I'm getting ready to hit my stuffed email box hard now, and I have a couple reports that are way overdue.

I'm sure that there are those who would have negative things to say about this arrangement... but there are also those who have husbands who do these kinds of things and are very grateful... and those who wish they had husbands who did.

Makes me want to burst into a lively and annoying version of "Don't you wish your husband could cook like mine" sung, of course, to the tune of "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me."

Well, dontcha?

Another Monthiversary

Another month has gone by and it's time to report back on our successes or failures of the last month and set New Months Resolutions for the month of August.

I had one Diet Pepsi during the month of July and a few sips of one of Dominyk's dumb pops on July 4th. Otherwise that was IT. Not bad.

And I had a few pieces of chocolate during the month and those and the Diet Pepsi were my only bits of caffeine.....

Now, for August:

1 hour of working on writing/speaking stuff each day or a total of 7 hours a week if things get crazy.

and my diet and fitness goals are here.

Come on, set some with me. Make a New Months Resolution. At least one.

And if you made one last month, let me know how it went.

Time Keeps on Slippin....

This morning I was going to get up at 5:40 but I was just TOO tired, so I ended up getting up at 6:20 with the intention of spending from 7:30 to 8:30 working on speaking/writing stuff. Several things happened, including this storm, the arrival of extra children for me to care for, and taking time for a bowel movement, which I am sure none of you want to hear about. However, one of the major irritations of my life is how much time they take. Like I have TIME to poop. But I digress.

SO my hour of book writing has been postponed again and I have to leave in 45 minutes to take Sadie to the doctor for her sports physical, which if it was like Salinda's, will take over an hour.

Things are piling up, but I am going to do my monthiversary post first.....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

TI - RED or is it spelled Ti - ERD

I'm just tired. Plain and simple. I came home and started doing things at full speed right away without having any down time and it is starting to take its toll. I really want to be in bed already and it's only 7:00. I may just be forced to have a nap.

I got this far in my blog post and then Bart let me know he needed me to help him get things started at the Laundromat. Because of a misunderstanding, I ended up feeling very responsible for things not going well.... and that made me feel even more tired and crabby. Sorting the laundry also makes me nuts. I mean seriously, in the laundry that they brought to me from the basement where 4 of the oldest boys live a basket that contained flannel jeans (yeah, they've been wearing those this week), Several of Rand's Senior pictures, two miscellaneous shoes that did not match nor fit anyone down there, and a ski mask. There were also several blankets and a set of curtains..... because we need to spend money to wash them.

So now I'm home trying to get things done but a bit too crabby to actually do much.... and Bart is at the laundromat, even crabbier I'm sure. I volunteered to do the laundry for him, but he wouldn't take me up on it.

So tonight we'll get to bed later than planned because the laundry will take forever. And we'll both be in not very good form.

Don't you wish you could be here tonight? Fun times.

Ceaseless Badgering

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is not fun to observe. It involves repeating the same thing over and over again, repetitious and redundantly, ad infinitum.

Today it was "there are too many dishes. I can't do the dishes. It's too hard." Endlessly for 15 minutes before his PCA came.

Fortunately his PCA has an ability to get him moving. He's really good. Have I mentioned we like him?

Check This Out!

Bart sounds so great on the radio. You gotta check it out. His radio show on Sunday night really was good.

You can hear it by clicking here and then scrolling down to the archives section and then look at the June 27th program.

You may want to listen to several of the archived radio shows. There's a lot of good stuff in there about adopting teens.

Just when you think things are looking up

Got a call from our daughter's P.O. Apparently her U.A. turned up dirty (pot) again. It was dirty when she was in detention a couple weeks ago too for the same reason. I have hesitated to post this here, not sure why, but it, among other things has me very stressed at the moment and Bart is not home so I need to tell y'all. I told him briefly, but that was before I talked to her.

She didn't respond when she got the news, but sharing it with her was stressful for me.

I don't think she has a drug problem. I think she is doing it to fit in. But she certainly is not taking her probation seriously. I have no idea what is going to happen, but it will probably just be another slap on the wrist.

It's funny because I just got to the point where I was thinking to myself that maybe she was making better choices, choosing better friends, etc.


Just Isn't Enough Time

I got up at 5:50. You'd think that would be early enough on a summer day to get something done. Our editor is telling me that I need to spend one uninterrupted hour a day writing if we are going to get the book completed by the deadline we have set. I am more than willing to do this, but uninterrupted hours do not come easily around here. I managed to get it done first thing yesterday, which is a good thing, as the rest of the day kind of went to pieces.

This morning Salinda, Sadie and I went to the YMCA and got back by about 7. I then showered and sat down to get started, but within 15 minutes I had to leave for an orthodontist appointment with Sadie which got me home at 8:25. I have a staff meeting conference call at 8:30. It is running a bit late and there are technical difficulties, so don't be looking at the post time and suggesting that I'm blogging when I'm supposed to be listening (that was for the benefit of my coworkers who might be reading).

So, I haven't started my hour yet. Tomorrow I'm getting up at 5:30.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control

Yesterday on the plane ride home I read this book in its entirety. I thought there were some very good points made and intend to practice some of his ideas with a couple of my more difficult children.

I had come to the conclusion a few years ago that attempting to control my children through attempting to modify their behavior just simply was not going to work. They were not changing and I was getting more and more controlling and nothing good was coming out of it. So reading the book and discovering that they had arrived at the same conclusion was a relief.

I am not going to go into any more detail about the book, but I definitely think it is an approach worth knowing about and considering. I think you should click above and buy it, read it, and let me know what you think.

Very Off Day

Not as bad as some people's, but I was off today. Started the day off and it just kept getting worse. Had the big fight with Sears. DIdn't even win. I don't consider the $100 gift card even a marginal victory, but it is better than nothing.

Then I took Salinda to therapy. After therapy she had a doctor's appointment and I got confused about which clinic it was at. So I ended up driving 15 miles before I realized it was up the road from the therapists' office and had to turn around and go back. It took 60 minutes.

Fortunately she was calm and not horribly impatient. She has been doing fairly well in that area lately. She was home last night but is at a friend's now.

I'm more tired than I realized i was and am looking forward to this stupid day being over.

a 25% Redemption

Sears is offering me a $100 gift card. That covers about 25% of what we will probably spend at the laundromat.

I guess I will forgive 25% of this mess.

But not a percentage over.

Nearing Explosion

I'm nearing the end of my patience today and I'm about to explode. Sears just informed me, after SIX WEEKS of me calling them, that our warranty agreement includes rental reimbursement. Turns out I could have had a rental from the first day and been reimbursed for it.

Six weeks later and hundreds of dollars at the laundromat and this is the first that anyone explains this to me.

Our part is still on backorder. June 14th is the day that I called them for the first time. It's July 29th. I'm beyond annoyed. Now they are saying there is a new ship date of August 1.

I already told them that I am going to be sure that I never buy anything from Sears again and recommend to the whole world that they never buy anything from Sears again for the rest of their cumulative lives.

They are still acting as though it's just too bad that I have lost this money at the Laundromat, but there is nothing they can do.

Six weeks.

Give me a break.

I'm ready to punch a wall. A wall in a sears somewhere. Cuz if I punch something here, it might be a Sears appliance, and then it would take six weeks to get it fixed.


Transitions have traditionally been very difficult for us in our family. We often come home to just a horrible mess and have so much trouble getting the kids back into gear.

But this time things have gone so smoothly that I'm waiting for the phone calls to begin letting me know it wasn't as great as we thought. But so far so god.

We returned about 10:15 p.m. Dominyk had stayed and MIke and Kari's and Mike had dropped him off at 10. He was asleep by the time we got home. Everyone else was waiting for us, proud to show us a clean house. They gave us hugs and were very proud of how well they had done while we were gone.

this morning I'm trying to get started. I have some assignments from the editor that I need to work on and my goal was to spend an hour a day of time uninterrupted by anything else. I was planning on being at my desk by 7:15 this morning, didn't get here until 8. I was planning to turn off my email program and my messenger program and focus, and that hasn't happened yet either.

And my to do list is monstrous. So.... that being said, it's good to have a nice transition home. It's nice to be back, and I've GOT to get busy....

Monday, July 28, 2008

We Get by with a little help from our friends

We just got a call a few minutes ago (by the way, I plugged in the lap top and am sitting on the floor. Bet that's quite a site).

Our PCA's grandfather was in an accident and they are going to make the decision to take him off life support tonight. Certainly a very sad situation. The other PCAs are busy and we are in NYC.

But I called Kari. She will keep an eye on Dominyk for several hours until we get home.

It's the only way.... to get by with a little help from our friends.

Now maybe we need to move on to getting high.

Just kidding, of course.

24 minutes of Battery Power

Sitting at JFK airport. Only have 24 minutes of battery power. Am trying to eat and blog and check email with everything balanced on my lap. Not an easy task.

Pat dropped us off about an hour ago and we have checked in and made it through security. In a few short hours we will be home, facing whatever is there to face. One thing I know for sure will be there is loads of laundry as the stupid part for the washer STILL isn't in. Have I mentioned that I hate Sears?

From what I know, the kids have done fairly well. We haven't heard otherwise. So hopefully we're not headed home to a bunch of surprises. Still have one more thing I want to blog for sure about the trip, but will make sure I do that when I get home.

So Little Blog Time this weekend

Plenty has happened but I have spent such limited time at the computer that I haven't had time to blog much. It isn't because there wasn't plenty to blog about, but because I really didn't have the time.

Bart did a great job on the radio show last night. His voice is perfect for radio -- he shoulda been a DJ. As soon as I know that it is online, I'll provide the link.

One of the things that always strikes me about being around Pat's staff is that they truly understand the dynamic of these children. He only hires people who have either been in foster care themselves or who have been foster or adoptive parents of teenagers. Thus they have a better understanding than most. I wrote about this when i was here last in a series about the making of a great agency that you can find in the December 2006 archives that also tell more about Pat and our trip here before. But this particular entry refers to those hiring principles.

Sitting in a room with all these incredible people with such variety of experiences is a very cool place to be. Whether I'm "training them" or not, I always learn from them. They have had experiences that Bart and I have not yet had, including parenting GLBTQ kids with multiple issues that were adopted as old as the age of 18 (in New York State subsidy goes to 21).

I have a few more things to write about all this, but now I'm going to shower and get ready. We're having breakfast with Pat in 30 minutes....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Long but Good Day is not Near Over

Church this morning with Pat, his mother, Bart and our editor. Afterwards, Pat's mother and his pastor, wife, and grandson joined us for breakfast at a diner near the church, which was tasty. Then Bart and I met with the editor who asked lots of tough questions and presented a ton of work that was going to have to be done over the next few months. He believes that the book can actually be done by April 1st. The amount of work between now and then is just staggering, But I have learned something over the past several months about big projects from my weight loss journey. You have to take one step at a time. And so I am going to try to do that and if I can discipline myself see the results at the end of six months.

There are a lots of things that can be done -- lots of big ideas to dream about -- but I need to just take them one step at a time.... and eventually, they will come to pass.

Bart and I are leaving with Pat in 30 minutes where Bart is going to be interviewed for his radio show. You may be able to hear it tonight, I'm not sure. We're taping it at 8:00 EASTERN TIME and you can click here and then hit Listen Live. Hopefully it will work. if not, you can catch it archived later in the week.

I've told him Bart I will sit quietly and look at him adoringly.

Still Alive

Well, we have an editor. And we're not dead, kidnapped, and I believe our credit cards are all safe. He showed up yesterday and we travelled back into the city together.

This was after several thousand steps....

We had a late Italian dinner today and have now had a good nights' sleep. We'll be heading to church later this morning.

Hope you weren't too worried we were dead.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

from a jersey bound train

Bart suggested he'd like me to stop talking so I thought I'd blog from my iPhone. We are heading up to meet the guy I met online who wants to edit our book. Pat was giving me so much crap about this risk that now I am obsessing about it. He suggested a scam artist and a kidnapper as possibilities but did stop short of suggesting ax murderer. I guess we will know soon. My gut is usually very good on stuff like this but I know Pat and Bart would love to give me grief about this for the next 40 years... Assuming he is not an ax murderer and I'm still alive.


To read where we went in NYC to use up 20,400 steps you can click here. Last night we went to Coney Island around 8;45 p.m. Walking down the streets of Brooklyn at that time of night might be a little frightening to some, it was actually not bad. Lots of people were here. We walked blocks and blocks until we found a spot I could sit on the boardwalk and Bart walked a little more looking for snacks.

When he returned we had 45 minutes of a "romantic date!" It was very unusual. We didn't talk much about the kids. We people watched. He fed me a few bites of his ice cream. We laughed and talked and then saw an incredible fireworks display. I kept thinking it was over because so many parts of it were like the "grand finales" I had seen in the past. By the time we returned to the apartment to climb the long staircase I was exhausted, but very glad that I went. Bart and I seldom get a chance to

In 10 minutes Pat is taking us to a local diner for breakfast. Then we will meet with his part time staff from 11-1 and another set of staff from 2-3:30 at which point we are going to take the subway to New Jersey to meet "the editor" and help him find his way back through the city (he's not from this area and not thrilled at all about driving through New York City in it's entirety. We're making our way down here to go to Gargulios which is a few blocks from here where we'll have dinner and discuss the book, contracts, copyrights, etc.

We heard from the kids and they are doing very well. Jimmy reported, "We are doing berry good, Mom. And nobody is fighting or nothing." That's always good to hear.

Off to breakfast....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Presentation and Plans

Presentation went great and my over-eager site seeing tourist fanatic husband is ready to hit the trail. We're going to do the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.

We're off........

And by the Way

I was debating having a pop. I still haven't had one. Only 2 accidental swallows since June 30th...

Speaking in an hour

In and hour Bart and I are going to be presenting two presentations to the staff of You Gotta Believe. If you are wondering what we are going to talk about you can check out the outlines here:

10 Ways to Survive in a Crazy World without Going Crazy

And a presentation based on this blog post about Immaturity in Adopted Children

It will be a fun couple hours. Pat's staff are all either children who have been in foster care or adopted as older children or who have had the experience of adopting or fostering these kids. Many of them have been doing it for years and have survived.

We're looking forward to it.

More About the Play

I shamelessly stole this photo of their website.

We went to see [title of show] last night which is a play about a couple of guys who are writing a play about a couple of guys who are writing a play. It had lots of good stuff in it...humor, good music... and a message about never giving up on your dreams.

My favorite song from the movie is called "9 People's Favorite Thing." I can't find the lyrics but the message is this:

I'd rather be 9 people's favorite thing, than 100 people's 9th favorite thing.

The whole song is about being unique and true to yourself and hoping that if you do something that you in your heart feel is quality and expression of you, then the rest takes care of itself.

The play was a good message for me as we get ready to make this book we're writing a reality. Tomorrow we meet with the potential editor and if this is a go, my work is cut out for me.

But i need to .... i want to... get it done. And I want to focus on making it significant for a small audience other than focusing on marketing ability or making money. It's my gift to waiting parents or people in the process.... and I hope it becomes one of their favorite things.

Long long day yesterday

Wow. yesterday was a great day but quite a marathon. We got up at four, as you know, were at he airport by 5:30, and into NYC by 11. We drove straight to Long Island, which is quite a lengthy ride from JFK if you know NYC. We were then interviewed for the television program, which, when it airs, you can watch streaming live on the internet, so I"ll give you the link at that time.

By the time we were done there it was almost 2:30 and Pat decided we should head straight to Manhattan to get tickets for a Broadway show and have dinner. So, even though we had not had lunch, in order to avoid lots of traffic, we went with the plan. It was a long time to go without food, but it was worth it as we got tickets and had a nice leisurely Italian dinner, complete with one dessert that we shared between the three of us.

The play that we saw was called "Title of Show" and we all enjoyed it quite a bit.

But it made for a very long day. We didn't get to the apartment until about 11 p.m. I'll blog more later. We're going to breakfast.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the Scheme of Things

What's it going to matter if I go 23 days without pop or 31? I'm on vacation for goodness sake.

Ride to the Airport

We were rushing to get to the shuttle because the desk person at the hotel last night told us, "you better be on time because at 5:02 the 5:00 shuttle will be pulling out.

We got downstairs a little before five to hear the desk manager on the phone saying, 'Where are you? You're scheduled to drive the 5:00 shuttle?"

His solution -- the housekeeper. She was very nervous, a cute little lady with an accent, and she kept muttering "that d*** van driver" over and over to herself. The ride was very interesting. First she asked everyone if they were too cold. When several commented they were hot, she turned off the air. Then she went to the other terminal first, and didn't now how to get back to our terminal. I watched the signs and gave her directions.

i knew that if I was warm and feeling carsick, Bart was probably miserable. He is always 20 degrees warmer than me regardless of the temperature....

But we made it and got checked in. We're now having bakery items for breakfast (savory spinach scone here) and will board in about 30 minutes.

Ah the joys of travel....

First to Blog This Morning

It's 4:10 a.m. and it appears that I will be the first to blog from among my friends this morning. We have to catch the 5 a.m. shuttle.

This is way too early. Only slept five hours and not great sleep either. I shouldn't be complaining, because we're heading for a great week. But it would have been nice to begin with a little more sleep.

It could be much worse though, and I recognize that. . .We could have trouble with the kids for example.

Heading to the shower and thus to begin my day...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

At the Hotel, but a lot later than planned

Bart thought he might be done with his interviews by 7 or 7:30. He didn't get home until after 8:30, so we just got to the hotel and it's 10:20. We have to be at the shuttle at 4:40.

Looks like we're going to start the trip tired. But the kids are all doing well and it's been a calm week, so that's good news.

Nice comfortable hotel room. Too bad we're only going to be in it for 6.5 hours. ;-)

Made it

Looks like I made it through the day. Got a lot done that I needed to. Kids were very well behaved.

Waiting for Bart to finish up a couple things and we're on my way.

I'm sure I"ll be blogging.

12 Hour Countdown

In twelve hours we'll be done with all the myriad of things that need to be done today and on our way. I'm looking forward to the trip, but not to the twelve hours worth of things that need to be done between now and then.

I didn't go to the YMCA this morning but was up early getting ready to tackle my to do list.

Many details to take care of. And this blog post is SOOOOOOO boring. I think I'm going to publish it without repeating myself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Bart's home. All is good. I wrote the first draft of the script for my video. Cool stuff. Should have been doing other things, but I just had to start it. you know, me and my visions.

Twenty four hours from now Bart and I will be alone together. Can't wait.

Visions of Videos

Maia linked this video to her blog.

When I saw it I started to have a really cool vision of how I could do a video similar to this to promote our book. Flashing kids faces and words about how we built our family.

I hate it when I have visions. I have to control myself to keep from starting to work on my vision and focus on the tasks at hand.

Just not feeling very motivated

I am having a hard time getting myself going this morning. Everyone is so calm and nice lately. I honestly think that they are relieved to have a break from the stress of Tony's constant conversation and irritating behaviors.

But then things are relaxing like this and I sit down to work i get distracted by other things that sound more fun and then I never get things done.

I did have an exciting conversation with our potential book editor who we are meeting on Saturday in NYC. He has some good ideas and a time table that seems reasonable. So I'm excited about moving forward with that project.

But now I must move on to getting my work done. Lots to do before we leave tomorrow night.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trip Today

I headed to John's 45 day review meeting today. He seemed to be doing OK. He has big dreams about the freedoms he wants to have and they are not even close to what he is allowed there. He will have to go through this transition himself. He is very tempted to walk away, but he has no money and he has no job. SO hopefully he'll figure out that his best bet is to remain where he is and to not walk away, even though he is 18 and can do so.

The trip was fine, but now i'm quite behind in many things I need to do before I leave on Wednesday night. We have a full few days planned in NYC and Bart will barely be recovering from DC before we leave. But it will be a weekend full of great opportunities.

The past week that he has been gone has been the most peaceful one that I have ever had with Bart out of town. I don't know why that is the case, but I'm not going to argue. Just going to be grateful.

Tonight I plan to watch the movie that Kari recommended. In fact, I borrrowed it from her because I'm too cheap to rent it when I don't have to.

This is the last night I'll spend without Bart. I'm really glad he's coming home.

Apparently I somehow missed it

Bart blogged last night.

Moods and Weirdness

Well, I confirmed the story. Apparently Salinda was not feeling well on Friday night and wanted to come home. I confirmed it with her friend and her friend's mom. And she has been home ever since. She's at work crew right now. She has been compliant and appropriate and that always makes me feel a bit suspicious and odd, which I don't like feeling. You'd think I could enjoy the times when things are well, but I just keep waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Anybody else get that way with their kids?

I have a meeting about John this morning that is at his group home. It will be a 7 hour chunk from my day and while I don't mind, it is requiring a great deal of planning and logistics to get the day planned.

My trip to the Y and my weekly weigh in really made me mad today so I'm recovering from that now.

time is speeding by. Better get the things done that I have to get done. Won't be posting much today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Very Tired Now

I was very wound up when Mike and Kari and kids and nephews came over for supper. It didn't help that the first thing that happened is that Mike lifted his shirt to show me his sunburn, and I pretended to lift my shirt to flash him, and Kari lunged across the room and grabbed my shirt, pulling it down, I thought I was going to die laughing. The look on her face was priceless. For a split second she really believed I was going to do it, which of course she rationally knows I never would, but it was so funny....

I also had a very long argument/discussion with kari's nephew about his celebrity pals and whether or not they should cease to exist that was very very funny.

Ordering pizza was an adventure in and of itself, with me entertaining the guy at the Pizza place as well as people in our room. Can you guess the difference between G, PG, PG-13, and R rated pizzas?

Then Mike, Kari and I were trying to explain what a thimble was to Kari's nephew and Jimmy helped us explain. You know, a THIN BALL.

Anyway, guess you had to be there. But I laughed until I almost cried several times.

Good stress relief. But I was exhausted by the time it was over.

now I have to try and get these kids calmed down. have two extra girls here tonight...

A Whole Bunch of Messed up People

We had church today. And even though my husband was gone, it was a good service. Guest speaker was awesome and for some reason stuff started to hit me in a new way.

I sat there looking around realizing just what a bunch of flawed individuals we all are. Just a bunch of people, surviving the human condition, internally full of all kinds of conflicts and questions and struggles. The best of intentions not always arriving at the right conclusions. Making mistakes. Doing stupid things. In need of grace.

I may blog more about the sermon later, but I was reminded today that people outside of the church often view the church as full of hypocrites. I really don't see it that way. I think that inside the church is one place where we all sit emotionally naked before God and realize that we are what we are.... flawed. Messed up. Human.

The older I get the more I realize that we all have hidden things that mess us up. We have flaws and faults. But we all also have gifts and things to share with others. The key is letting God's grace heal all of the mess ... to forgive us and help us move on to a new place where we can share those gifts.

I didn't go to church with a bunch of hypocrites today. I went to church with a bunch of humans who together know that we are fallible.... and in need of grace.

And I received that grace today. Grace to begin anew. Grace to live another day. Grace that allows God's glory to shine through a cracked and imperfect vessel.

Grace. Don't ever want to take it for granted.

Parting Words

I got up early this morning to take Tony to camp. He is such a difficult child. He was attempting to be cooperative for part of the morning. But he decided on the way for me to drop him off to let me know that when Rand took them swimming last night, that Tony's refusal to do what he said caused Rand to have such a loud obnoxious fit that the police were called by some other adult. Rand had instructed Tony to not tell me about it.

Well, the conversation did not go well as Tony was unable to accept any responsibility for any part of the episode last night and my frustration escalated him into a cussing screaming frenzy and I wasn't doing that much better myself.

By the time we got to camp he had calmed down a little bit and we got out of the van and talked to the Troop Leader and everything was fine. He let me hug him goodbye and tell him I loved him.. But then he had one final request that I didn't think was necessary. And when I told him no, he leaned in to the van and whispered "fat whore."

Lovely parting words. I guess that it's a good thing that if I somehow died between now and then he wouldn't have to carry them to his grave knowing it was the last thing he said to me, because if you asked him right now what he said to me this morning, he couldn't tell you.

Ahhhh the joys....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not a Bad 12 Hours or If you Believe it, Live it

We had a nice trip today. Left at 5:30. Took 6 kids with me. They were well behaved for the most part, though Dominyk has such a low tolerance threshold. Amazing how easily annoyed he is.

We were on time to both games and the team won both games. Ricardo scored a goal in each game as well and played two of the best games he's ever played. I was very proud of him.

Here's the sad part.... the district championship game is tomorrow morning at 9:45. Right in the middle of church and it's an hour away. Our family policy is that we don't miss church for sports, so Ricardo won't be playing. It was very nice that a couple of parents took time to tell us that they applauded our decision. One of them said, "You won't find any of the parents on this team that don't believe in putting church first."

I wanted to say, "And yet all of your sons will be here instead of church tomorrow." But I didn't.

If all of the parents really believed that, and refused to bring their sons to games on Sundays, then nobody would get away with scheduling them.

But Ricardo gets it. He doesn't argue and he doesn't complain. God is more important than soccer. And it isn't really that I believe that if you miss one sunday of church it's the end of the world. But it is the principle of the thing. If we say that our faith is more important than sports, then it has to be lived out. If we say we believe something we need to live it, and we need to convince our parents of that as well.

It's just sad for the team that they scheduled the tame on Sunday morning, because he really is a very very good player.

Weird Night and Early Morning

I'ts 5:15. We're leaving in 15 minutes for Ricardo's first District Soccer Tournament Game.

Last night I had a hard time falling asleep but must have dozed off about 11:15. At 1:00 Salinda came home unexpectedly in tears saying her best friend's mom had dropped her off. Her explanation? She was homesick. Well, that just isn't quite making sense to me. I confirmed that the mom brought her home, but there has to be more of a story. 15 year olds, especially Salinda, are not in tears being homesick. I was touched at the thought, gave him a warm hug, and she told me she loved me ... but I have a feeling there's a little more to the story -- especially since phone calls came in at 1:15 and 1:30 from numbers I don't recognize. The first one I answered. The second one I was asleep but Caller ID let me know. She was in bed at 5 when I woke her up. Who knows the rest of the story. Too bad Paul Harvey isn't here because i"ll probably never hear it.

After I dealt with her it took me a while to fall asleep.

Then at 3:45 Rand came home from Relay for LIfe. He woke me up to let me know he was home. After I said good night to him it took me a while to fall back asleep.

In fact, I'm not really sure I did before I found Dominyk in the kitchen at 4:45 heating up leftover nachos from John's birthday dinner that he found in the fridge. I gave up and stayed up and got everyone up at 5:00.

So I am going to spend the day in the van at soccer games and killing time in the metro area between games with 5 kids on four hours or less of sleep.

At least Tony will be here with a PCA today. Otherwise, based on yesterday's behavior, I might not have made it through the day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

8:23 p.m. and I'm Still Alive

I survived the Laundromat with Tony, Dominyk, Jimmy and Sadie. We washed, dried and folded 11 loads. That's about $43 dollars in case you were wondering.

I also survived a trip to Walmart, though it was not fun. Tony pushed every button I had multiple times today.

Before we went to either place, the "glass guy" was here. I forgot he was here and Tony was going strong, just really on my last nerve and he would not relent. I finally screamed something really appropriate like, "I am warning you buddy, you better KNOCK IT OFF right now or ...."

I can't even remember what I threatened, but let's just say it wasn't all that nice and it was LOUD.

later I found out that the gas guy cut himself. Now, this has got to be unusual, right? I mean glass guys probably don't cut themselves every day. I didn't ask him, but I had to wonder if maybe he didn't just cut himself right when I suddenly screamed at Tony.

As I was leaving he mentioned he was having a bad day. I simply said, "I suppose you heard that I'm not having a great one either.

Salinda is at a friends, Rand is at work. Everyone else is fairly calm. I miss my husband tonight even though all is well.

Long Day Ahead

It's Laundromat day, thanks to sears. And it's shopping with Tony and Dominyk both today because both of them are begging to come and if I leave one home it will be disastrous. Taking them will require every ounce of self control I possess, but I'm going to pretend to be a good parent.

Tony is the most committed provoker I have ever met. He is relentless. And Dominyk is the most reactionary child I know. put those two together and you can imagine how the next several hours are going to go.

it's also Pack Tony for Boy Scout Camp Day. I am going to have to buy him some new clothes, which I hate to do because the other kids see it as a reward and he is the least deserving. But the truth is he really needs them. His PCA is coming to help with the arduous process.

Is it wrong to be glad he's going to camp? He needs the break from us and we from him. He leaves early Sunday morning. After camp he'll spend a week with Bart's mom because she lives close to the camp. And by that time it will be august. ANd then we're only a month away from school starting.

So I'm going to take a deep breath and try to make it through all these loads of laundry and a trip to the store with both these boys along (and Jimmy and Sadie to provide some help and balance). I may just pay Tony and Dominyk to shut up at the laundromat. I know it's not good parenting, but I"m in survival mode.

And somehow in the midst of everything else, my in box has crept back up to 100. SIgh.

Lots Going On -- Sorry for the Late Post Time

Wow, a lot was happening this morning. I'm in the middle of setting up the itinerary for the New York trip and spent time talking to both Pat O'Brien and our potential book editor. Looks like we're going to have an awesome few days that will be packed with opportunities to share our story, help others, and learn ourselves.

I went to the YMCA late today but my report of it is funnier than usual because of what happened afterwards.

I have a potential match brewing with work that I'm very excited about. Three neat kids and a neat family.

I feel like i've been in the middle of a tornado with all of the activity flitting around my head and in my computer and on the phone (and yeah, kids in and out constantly). But it's all good and very energizing.

We've had a surprisingly good time here this week. The kids have been better than usual and it probably has something to do with the fact that I have been taking things very slowly and methodically and intentionally. One step at a time, not thinking too far ahead, managing everything. When Bart is here I rely on him for a lot of things and thus am not quite as intentional, if that makes any sense at all.

Apparently Bart and Kyle are having a great time as well.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Other than the fact that my back is killing me..... This has been a GREAT DAY

Our trip to see John was perfect. Everyone was calm and behaved appropriately. I took Salinda, Sadie, Jimmy, Leon and Wilson. Everyone got along very well and we had a great time.

Salinda was home again all day today. And pleasant. Hard to believe that sib group of 8, 6, and 4 year old Hispanic kids from New Mexico are now 18, 15, and 13.

John was very glad to see us and we had a great time.

And on the way home, Wilson decided he needed to take a picture.

Emancipation Day

Today is John's emancipation day. He turns 18 today. That means that from now on, legally, I can't tell him what to do. And legally he's not our responsibility any more. Emotionally we are, and we will always be his parents, but we will no longer be held accountable with him for his mistakes.

I'm not sure he's feeling very good about this milestone. He knows he is not ready to be an adult (which is why he is in a group home) and when I called to wish him a happy birthday this morning he said he wasn't excited about being an adult.

I on the other hand am experiencing some happy thoughts. We have raised him to adulthood. He is alive. We are too. And the next time that something happens, if there is a next time, he will face the consequences alone.

He is our fourth child to reach 18. Only 8 more to go.

Anybody want to join me in ragging on Sears?

The washer still isn't fixed. The parts which they told us would be shipped on July 6th are backordered. WOn't ship until tomorrow or so they say ... and not arrive until the 25th. What is this 4 weeks? 5? I'm losing track.

Getting the service agreement/warranty with sears is actually costing us money instead of saving it. We now have spent probably enough at the laundromat to have purchased a whole new washer.

Every time I think about this, it makes my blood boil. Kind of like the ferret. But now the ferret is gone. The washer, however, is not. It is still here. And it still doesn't work. And tomorrow I'm going to have to go back to the laundromat.

What's Happening at the Fletchers this morning?

Well, Salinda left last night after being home for 54 straight hours without being grounded, which is probably the longest she's been home in a stretch in months if not years. She was pleasant 95% of the time she was here. She spent the night at a friend's last night but was back here by 9 this morning.

Dominyk and Sadie are at school. Everyone else is here and very quiet. It's odd.

Today is John's birthday and we are leaving to go see him at about 2:00. Somewhere in there I'm supposed to take Tony shopping for stuff for boyscout camp, Sadie to the store for odds and ends, and Salinda for a haircut and it's already 10:20.

Still have several of yesterdays calls to make, though half of those are done.

Guess I should get busy...

I Feel A Rant Coming On

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with old friends of mine who I actually encouraged to adopt about six years ago. They have had quite a ride. And now, their 14 year old son, soon to be diagnosed with FASD and already diagnosed with RAD, has made false allegations and created a mess.

And, as you can imagine, based on reading about my experience, the county has targeted the parents and is listening to every word this child is telling them. He is taking everyone for a ride just like any kid with RAD might do. And the "professionals" who are trained to listen to the child, are buying it.

The story is all too familiar. Cindy has been through it. Paula has been through it. Countless others who do not blog about it have had the same challenges.

Here is the way it goes. Something happens to trigger an investigation. Then the child makes up things or exaggerates. Then the county offers services that are sometimes not possible to comply with or unreasonable. If the parents do not agree to follow those recommendations, it is documented that the parents are uncooperative. And then the circus begins.

Now I realize that this is going to ruffle feathers of some folks, but here is how I see it.

Most Child Protection Workers are trained to view family systems. They are trained to document things that parents are doing wrong. And for some reason they do not seem to understand that there are some children who are just so damaged and so difficult, that regardless of where they live, regardless of the family system they enter, they are going to be manipulative, impulsive, challenging, and nearly impossible to raise.

So the journey begins. Multiple individuals involved who are attempting to figure out why the parents are messing up this kid. The manipulative child has an "equal vote." Everyone is asking them what they think and what they want and the kids with FASD really have no clue how to determine what is best for them. The adoptive parents' opinion often becomes the least valued opinion, because after all, they are the suspects in the whole picture. And often, unfortunately, the more the adoptive parents assert themselves and try to help people understand, the more they are blamed for being defensive, or angry, or unreasonable, or not giving the child a fair chance, or blaming, or difficult to work with or whatever.

Often when we are at the very end of our ropes with a child and have tried everything is when things fall apart. And at that point in time, after 3 or 4 or 6 or 8 years, we are at the end of our emotional resources. And then, when we need support the most, is when the accusations begin. And then we have to fight every inch of the way for services to help our child.

This is not to say that I think i am a perfect parent or that I have done everything right. It's not to say that I don't need to make some changes and be open to direction. But would it hurt the investigating workers to say to a family, "Thank you for all you've done to attempt to raise this difficult child. We are sorry that you are having struggles. Let's work together to find a way to help the child?"

The most tragic thing is when counties conclude that they should terminate parental rights for a child who will never be re-adopted. I remember clearly the day that we were told that they were going to terminate our parental rights of MIke. His therapist, who he had spent a long time manipulating, wrote a letter to the court saying, "Mike deserves to spend the rest of his childhood with a family who loves him." That still makes me burn with anger and want to weep all at the same time. How could a therapist of a kid with FASD and RAD, with only 2 sessions with us, conclude that we didn't love him???

But recommending termination when a family already is committed to a child for life and is not neglectful or abusive is simply not wise. On any level.

I don't have the all the answers to this dilemma. But I know that this is the one thing that makes it difficult for me to recruit families for these children. It's not the children and their behaviors, it's the accusatory response of the rest of the world that brings parents to wits end.

Obviously my conversation with my friends yesterday opened some old wounds. But looking back on all the painful things we went through, we survived. John is turning 18 today (more on that later) and Mike is 19. We made it until they were legal adults with them being alive and us having our reputations fairly intact.

So if you are going through it, remember, it will come to pass. Eventually you will be vindicated. It will be over at some point and life will seem more bearable. And in the meantime, hang in there.

Wow, this seems like a disjointed and weird post, that I took way too long to write. (Started it last night). But I'll publish it anyway. Not publishing it after working so hard on it would be about as stupid as terminating parental rights for a teenager who already had parents committed to him. But not quite.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Started a Blog Entry But Didn't Finish

Will finish and publish it tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bart blogged from Washington DC about his day.

Playing "Let's Pretend"

Some days I play this game where I "pretend" to be a good mom, a diligent worker, etc. It makes me feel like I can handle it more if there is a time limit.

Kari talks about how she pretends to be Mr. Rogers sometimes. For me, I just pretend to be a good parent. I make myself respond to every situation calmly and be nurturing. I hold my tongue and don't react immediately. I smile when I want to yell. Sometimes I can pull it off.

And when I am pretending to be very diligent, I clean off my desk so it is well organized and looks neat.

Today I have accomplished both of those tasks so far. The kids are doing well even with Bart gone because I am pacing myself and working hard to keep calm. This is essential when I don't have him here to back me up, especially with a couple of the kids. And my desk is cleaned off and my to do list is gradually shrinking.

Heading now to visit with an old friend who is an adoptive parent. Their lives are resembling ours a few years ago. Hopefully something I have to share with her will be helpful.

My currently conversation includes, "I CAN TOO HAVE A VAULT. It's an energy drink. That doesn't count as pop."

Two hundred and twenty seven times.

You may want to take it out of your pocket before it rings

I was looking for my cell phone. I asked Tony straight to his face, "Have you seen my phone? Is it in here?"

He said, "nope."

So I called it.

And it rang from his pocket.

"oh yeahhhhhh, he said. I have your phone."

Oh, Yeahhhhhhhhh.

Self Inflicted Penance

Jimmy blew it big time last night and he knows it. He has consequences and I think he's ready to pay them without a meltdown, which is progress.

He knows how to make "the Sandwich" and delivered it to my office.

Self inflicted penance?

It's a Dog's Life

While I was busting my butt at the Y this morning, apparently Gizmo was enjoying my spot on the bed. Lying exactly like I lie on my pillow.

I know he misses Bart, but REALLY. That is my spot.

See Why We Call him "Sexy Ricky?"

Even though I couldn't get him to smile, when he struts around in dressed like this, kinda pushing his chest forward, I can't help but comment. Talk about looking good and knowing it.

Phone Call Day

I have declared today Phone Call Day.

Today I need to:

Set up an ortho appointment;
Set up 9 dentist appointments;
Set up 3 sports physicals;
Set up Therapy for three kids for the month of August;
Call Sears to determine why all the washing machine parts STILL aren't here and to find out if we have a service agreement on the dishwasher;
Call the dryer repair guy; (yes, the heating element is out in the dryer)
Call and set up a home visit.

So, Today is Phone Call Day.

We'll see how many of those I can get done.

But I love it When They are Unpredictable

Last night I gave Salinda a ride to get her glasses even though it was 9:30 and I wanted to be in bed. On the way there I explained to her that it was very frustrating for me when she asked me questions and already knew the answer was no. I asked her why she acted the way she had and she said, "I don't know." And I think that she was probably telling the truth. I don't think she really understands this need she has to punish me and be angry all the time.

So after a quiet and sullen ride, with steam coming out of her ears the whole way home, we pull into the garage. On a whim I say, "would you like to go to the Y with Sadie and I in the morning?" And to my surprise, she said, "Sure."

So we went this morning. And she was fine. And now she's fine. And I just smile and shake my head.

By the way, I forgot to mention this. Yesterday her therapist was in tears when I told her about buying Salinda the books and fixing her favorite meal. She is just so amazed at how far I've come in parenting her and how well I'm doing. I tried to explain why. A lot of it has to do with this. And some of it is input from some amazing people in my life who have given me great ideas. And some of it is probably just being tired of the stress of the way I used to handle it.

but regardless, it's fun to notice progress.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I hate it when they are so incredibly predictable

John called tonight. To make a long story short, he is frustrated with the place he is living. He had so many different warnings from the managers of the house from the beginning that he needed to think about what it would be like to live in a place with so much supervision and with other adults who were much more delayed than he was. But he was in a big hurry to get out of the place where he was and so he wanted a move NOW. He got to move when he wanted to but now he is having second thoughts. And now he's 2 days away from 18 and really can't have any second thoughts.

But I knew this would be the case when he made this choice. I let him make it, knowing we would be at this point right now. I'm just praying he can make it through the next month until football starts and that he gets a job (he's really bored). He has always wanted to play high school football and he has enough credits left that he can go one more semester of high school. If he can just hang in there until then, maybe he'll stick with it and make the right decision.

And then there is Salinda. All night long she has avoided me, sleeping most of the time. She tends to hybernate in her room when she is home, which I don't mind, except that I knew that she was going to pop into my world around this time and ask to leave. And although I'm not going to explain the whole reason why she can't leave, she knew that the answer was no before she asked the question. But I knew, all night long, that she was going to come ask. So I was waiting for the question, and then what I anticipated would be a huge fit. She didn't give me the huge fit when I anticipated that it would happen.

But then ten minutes before I'm ready to finish this blog post and go to bed, she wants a ride to a friend's house to get her glasses. She's once again spewing venom at me because I'm not eager to jump and serve her when she hasn't done what she's supposed to do all night long. I asked her to have a simple conversation with me and I would take her, but she's refusing to do that.

I suppose I could take her and we'll have a conversation in the car.... But it won't be pleasant. At least I'll get it over with though and won't have to have it tomorrow. Gotta self-differentiate. My mantra.

Bart is in DC. We are talking online. I don't even want to get him stressed out, so I'll not share any of this junk with him. Maybe he can have a good night's sleep and not think about it....

Ten Minutes Until Supper

Salinda is home and sullen. Things aren't going her way. Hopefully she's not going to let things continue to go downhill as I need to have some peace tonight. Every time I think, "Hey, I'm getting better at not getting anxious" she does something, or gets in a mood and then I am faced with the same anxiety as before.

I have gotten more done in the past two days when I am only at my desk for a few short blocks of time than I do when I sit here all day. One project in particular is almost done and I have actually been straightening my desk and going through papers. I have kept my email at right around 19... even though they keep coming in. Maybe by days end tomorrow I'll see a blank inbox, though a couple of the emails represent big projects.... so that might not happen.

but at least i'm making progress, something that doesn't seem to have been happening much lately.

Bart's Out of Town So He Blogged

It's been a while, but here's a great entry about his relationship with Kyle and how it has changed over the years. Or not changed.

Down to 19 messages

And Salinda never made it to work crew. She was at her babysitting job and ended up throwing up. She thinks it might have been too many Flaming Hot Cheetos.

I can't think of anything more unpleasant to vomit.

Approaching celebration Time

I'm down to 28 emails in my inbox. I have been busting my butt all morning to get this far. I see light at the end of this tunnel and I haven't for weeks. The oldest email in my box is dated April 14th. When these are caught up, then I have to head to a list of projects that I don't want to do.

But for now it's the grocery store, and the courthouse to file paperwork, and then pick up Salinda from Juvenile Work Crew. Surprisingly, she is usually in a good mood after she finishes that experience. Go figure. And, if she can be pleasant on her way to therapy, that will be three weeks in a row. Dare I hope for that?

Even When Caught Red Handed

I left the house this morning to do the home visit. Dominyk and Sadie had already left for school. The dining room table was empty.

I came home and a package of burritos, the sour cream, and two boxes of ice cream were out sitting on the table.

Tony was in the shower.

Everyone else is sound asleep.

But I'm "frickin dumb" to think that Tony did it. It couldn't possibly be him. He just woke up and went straight to the shower.

Seems so odd to lie even when you're caught. But maybe he's even convinced himself he didn't do it....

Thought Maybe You Hadn't Seen This

If you are new readers and haven't checked this out, we put together a list of six weeks of menus, including grocery lists, several years ago.

I just went there to figure out what to have for supper.

It's a link on the side of this blog, but it may be easier to just click here to feed your large family.

We're going to have Crock Pot Pizza tonight -- one of my favorites to fix from years ago, back when I used to cook....

Another Day of Ins and Outs and Running Around

Am back from the YMCA and now getting Dominyk and Sadie off for summer school. Bart is flying somewhere over Ohio or Pennsylvania about now and I am getting ready to head to a homestudy visit for a new family. I hope that the kids who remain can hold it together.

This afternoon Salinda has therapy and I need to take her and Jimmy to get contacts ordered and glasses fixed. I also need to be responsible for dinner, which will require a trip to the grocery store.

In the middle of all of that, I have a lot to do at my desk.... if I get a chance to sit here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Day is Almost Done

I'm going to try to head to bed early tonight. I really pushed myself today and worked hard. Took a walk and set a record as to number of steps walked in one day since I started wearing the pedometer.

Everything seems to be OK. Some of the boys are still at the park, Salinda is out buying hair dye with a friend, and everyone else is here and getting ready to call it a night.

Bart has already said goodnight to be from his hotel room. He and Kyle leave for the airport at 4:30.

Busy day tomorrow.....

My World is a Little Weird

I have a 12 year old sitting in the yard at a card table yelling "Baseball cards and toys for sale" to no one.

I have a 9 year old in here trying to decide how to make money. Maybe he could clean people's houses. His friend's house is really dirty. Maybe his parents would pay me. Or maybe I could get paid to teach babies how to walk.

My 14 year old with the lowest amount of body fat is walking around in a muscle shirt. I said, "OOOoh, Ricky, walking around thinking he's sexy." He said, in his low voice, "But Mom, I AM!"

My daughter who was in Detention all week is happy as a lark. Has a friend here and was giddy and cheerful all through supper.

I'm not trying to figure any of it out.

And we've made it two hours

Pleasant, almost happy, cooperative, communicative, not asking to go anywhere. Did ask to invite her friend for supper, which is fine.

Always a puzzle how these teenagers minds work.

First Five MInutes have Gone Fine

Salinda came home. Met her at the door, she let me hug and kiss her a couple times. She was in a good mood. Reported that her probation officer and she had had a "long talk." I told her that the P.O. had said that a half hour with her might be worse than court. She laughed. I told her we were having her favorites for dinner. She said, "Really?" and then she went straight to the phone to call her friends.

Who knows how the rest of the night will go, but it is a relief that she isn't coming in with major attitude and anger. That's a positive step anyway and will cause a lot less stress.

My Daughter's Coming Home Again

Just go the call from the Probation Officer. They will be back in 45 minutes. We'll see how the welcoming, we are having your favorites for supper, here's a gift, we missed you and love you goes over.

I just got rid of the ferret. After I've had a chance to recover from the stress of that whole ordeal I may treat you to a blog entry about it.

Also got the kid's computer fixed, which has been hanging over my head for a while.

Checking things off my list and plowing through email. Started the day with 120. Down to 64. Almost half way done.

Running There and Here

Trying to get lots done but never at my desk for very long. Bart is getting ready to leave and I've been doing errands, taking people places, etc. Just got back from the grocery store.

I now have "assignments" from the most-likely-to-be-our-editor person so I have to slip those in between jobs and kids. Never enough time.

For the first time in a while I feel like I could use a nap!


I'm not reporting much about the visit with the Dietician. Let's just say that it is annoying to be told things I already know. More than once. Repetitiously. Redundantly. Again and again. On and on. Over and over and over.

It's not a lack of knowledge on the part of parents that is an issue. It's a kid with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who is obsessed with food and drink. Heavy, heavy sigh.

So she taught us about portion control. And she talked to us about the whole family cutting back on unhealthy foods. But she stopped short of going over the food pyramid. I think it may have been the look in my eye that said, "Don't you DARE reach for that food pyramid poster.... or else"


One More Piece of Information before I Leave for a While

Bart and I are thrilled (OK, Bart may not be thrilled -- that's a pretty extreme emotion for a guy who lives in moderation) that we have found someone who is interested in editing our book. He is actually living near New York City right now and is going to meet with us in 2 weeks when we are there on our trip.

We like his work, he is not charging anything upfront, and he sees great potential in the book. He also sees great potential for future books and since he is excited he will push me to work on it consistently. I have a feeling that I am going to be very difficult to work with, but he says he has worked with people more difficult than I, so I guess we'll see.

But the good news is that hopefully we are really going to get moving on this project, and we need someone to push us. now I have to be pushable. Good luck on that one, says the peanut gallery.

late breakin news

Salinda's probation officer called. There will be no detention hearing. The P.O. does not want to add to her probation. She does want to spend forty minutes alone with her in the car and have some conversation with her. They should arrive here between two and three. Hopefully she'll have a good transition, but if not, we'll just take her back in, love her the best we can, and prepare for another round. Apparently she tested positive for marijuana, but I'm not surprised.

The relief of not having court is very welcome news.

And Dominyk was supposed to have lab work done this morning -- fasting lab work. Bart and I both reminded him over and over again not to eat. But he forgot.

So now I have to make two trips the clinic in the next ten days instead of one. Sigh.

And Jimmy did not get the job. Apparently people are concerned that he would not be trainable to get the job done if the answer to every interview question is, 'HUH?"

Wow, Do I Love This Guy!

My husband is just amazing, as you all know. Well, at least you all know that I think he is. The way he sees things and the things he says and the words he uses and the ideas he has always surprise me. I love his wit.

For example, this morning he is getting ready to leave for 8 days. He says, "Let me take the boys to school for you this morning. It helps assuage my guilt." OK. Good thing he married someone with a good vocabulary.

And yesterday I asked him, "Can I wear white shoes with black pants if my shirt has white in it?" HIs response, "Only if you want to look like a piano. Not a grand piano anymore. More like a mini-grand."

Gotta love him.

Not Looking Forward Today

I confess. I'm not looking forward to the day. Do not click over here to check out my weigh loss or lack thereof unless you want to read a whole lot of crabby.

This morning I have a visit with the Dietician to talk about Dominyk's weight gain. I am going to walk in there, all 250+ pounds of me and try to convince her that we really do know HOW to eat healthy. He just takes food when we're not looking. And she's going to look at me and in her little skinny head she's going to say, "RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT". And I'm going to be crabby. It is not like intellectually I do not know what he needs to eat. I just think it would cause a ton of resentment not to have anything in the house that the other kids like (the psychiatrists recommendation -- no fattening foods available in the house for anyone). So anyway, you can imagine how excited I am about this appointment.

Then some time today there will be court with Salinda. I do not think she would be comfortable with me reading the books I bought. My plan is to simply stick them both in her purse with to Salinda,love, MOm and the date in each of them. I think the books speak for themselves.

I never enjoy court or what happens afterwards. But maybe her spirit will be different this time. Or maybe it won't.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Running here and there

Taxi driver is my main occupation these days. Spent the day running here and there taking people where they needed to go. Will need to do some more of that later.

I went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon and bought Salinda a couple of books. One of them, suggested by Process in this comment, is Runaway Bunny, and the other is "I'll Love You Forever."

It is my intention to make her favorite meal tomorrow night (sound like the prodigal son) and write her a short note that goes with the books.

And we'll see how it goes. Assuming they let her come home after court, which at this point is the P.O.'s recommendation.


We are waiting for Bart to finish teaching Sunday School and Dominyk is having a meltdown. He wants to go out to lunch now. Not in a half hour Not in 20 minutes. Nor in 10, but now.

He has asked me what time it is 30 times in 40 minutes. He pushes and pushes until I get angry or frustrated and then cries because I do.

I'm not sure how to stop him or get him off the subject ...

So I just sit.

And listen.

And try not to scream.

Sunday morning once again

Within just a few minutes I will be waking children up and preparing for church once again. Bart has already left with two of them, and the other six who are home will be leaving with me.

After church I will call Ricardo's soccer coach. If they are playing in the championship game, some of us will leave and head up there to take him to the game and watch him play. Much to the disappointment of his teammates, Ricardo does not play in Sunday morning games. They are starting a game now that he is missing.

If they are not in the championship game, then we will all have lunch together and the day will be spent doing things like laundry (still at the laundromat) and possibly the Wii Fit. The kids are getting a big kick out of it and it is fun to see them enjoying fitness.

Tomorrow there will be court for Salinda. I am thinking of approaching things a little differently this time based on her comments yesterday. Will provide more details as I formulate the plan.

If it serves as nothing more, it can be an experiment in which I report to you the results. Maybe if it doesn't work with her, it will work for someone else. Or at least keep you from trying it for nothing. ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Long Supper

Bart and I gave in to the endless pestering of Tony and Dominyk and took them out to supper. It wasn't much fun. They can be very trying and even though we were patient, it wasn't that much fun for either of us.

We're going to go for our walk now and then I"m going to go to bed early, I hope.

Long day today. Another long one tomorrow.

Funny How Detention Can Soften the Spirit

Conversation with Salinda this afternoon. Lots of tears. She even said something about how maybe house arrest might not be a bad thing because she needs to spend some time at home.

But I have learned something over the years. Things said in detention are always well thought out and the right thing. But there is an amazing change that happens when they come back home. All the sudden all the good things they thought through in detention disappear.

I hope she has it figured out this time. But those calls from detention are always deceiving.

The Parade that Never Ends

We had an OK time at the parade. We were fortunate enough to have friends who have a house on the parade route, so we didn't have to stress about where to sit. And they are really nice people who provide food, drinks and a bathroom to use. And they are even friendly and conversational. ;-)

I teased them today that their yard full of "friends" were really just people who were nice to them all year round so they could have a good spot to watch the parade. It may just be worth it as this parade is a really big deal in our town.

On the way there, Tony and Dominyk were calling cars and I reminded them that we could talk about it all the way to the parade. Immediately Tony, who had just called a Mercedes convertible, said, "It's OK, Dominyk, you can have it." I laughed hard.

Other than the ride there and back, the parade itself was not bad at all. It was actually enjoyable for the most part. Fortunately the weather was perfect. I did take a couple pictures from my phone which I will blog later.

Addicted to My Drama, Are you?

Never before have 90 people checked in before 9:00 on a Saturday morning. What's WITH you people? I'm laughing.

Anyway, I rested well after the officers left. Took me about 45 minutes to settle down but then I slept like a rock. I am glad Salinda is safe. I am hoping that she has time to think a lot about her choices, though I'm not sure how well thought out any of them are in the first place.

Even though I knew she needed to go and face her consequences, it still wasn't easy for me to sit and listen to her sob. This is her 3rd or 4th trip there. I wish I could believe that she would learn from it this time.... maybe it will be the time that she gets it. I hope so.

Meanwhile, back to the rest of my life -- I'm taking Dominyk and Tony to a parade today. We have to stop by the store first and will more than likely have lunch together afterwards. Everyone else is busy, so this might be fun to see what life would have been like had we stopped at two.

Bart and the other kids had a great night last night. And now they are headed to another soccer game.

Bart and Kyle are leaving for 8 days in DC as Kyle's college graduation trip. I am not looking forward to handling the rest alone, but I know I'll be fine.

Off to another day in our wild world.

It is 12:08 a.m.

twelve hours after she said she would be here salinda's showed up. She picked up the extension and overheard me talking to law enforcement and figured out she is returning to detention. She is sobbing and only spent a little while blaming me for turning her in. She woke me from a heavy sleep so I am veer groggy. I am sitting in my living room typing in my iPhone waiting.

Well that was very fast. They came to the door. I let them in. They asked me if I knew they had and A and D. (Arrest and Detain order) I said that the P.O had mentioned it. They said only one sentence to Salinda. "Do you have shoes?" She got them. They left. I said goodbye to her. She was silent.

I am too tired for any other emotion but relief that that part is over.

Plenty of time I'm sure for other emotions tommorrow

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just so Tired

Feeling a little helpless tonight. Hate it when bart is gone anyway, and now have to worry about if/when Salinda is going to show up. The free floating anxiety about this has worn me out.

And I hate sleeping alone when I'm stressed.

Is everyone enjoying hearing me whine?

And by the way, more visits to my blog today than in a long time. Sensationalism. Does it every time.

It's 9:15 and still no Daughter

But I did manage to have the privilege of breaking up a huge fight between Jimmy, Tony, and Rand, whose combined weight is about 800 pounds. It was really fun.

And I am very stressed out just waiting for whatever time she gets home. I hate dealing with police officers in the middle of the night. It's very disturbing. And knowing I might have to will make it difficult for me to sleep.

Heavy sighing.

It's 4:00 and she's still alive

She just called. Said "I'm calling to check in." Said I never said she had to be home at 12:00. I told her that this was important stuff and that she should have listened to me.

I explained to her that she needed to be home. Told her that the officer needed to see her here or she would still be considered missing or on runaway status and the longer she was gone the worse it would be. Told her I didn't understand why she kept doing this stuff.

She said "If I asked you to let me, you would say no." I said, "Of course I would. And you know that I should say no."

She sighed. I told her she needed to get home. She said she was coming home.

I finally just let her hang up. I know she isn't going to tell me when she'll be here or where she is.

I continue to dread her return.

It's 2:30

Still no word. But I did distract myself for an hour setting up the Wii Fit. It will be a good tool I think.

It's 12:50

And apparently Cindy is spending her afternoon checking in to see what is up. She's reading my blog as a distraction from her life, and I just read hers for a distraction from mine. Funny how that works.

Well, the Probation Officer called. She has already issued an "A&D" (Arrest and Detain) order. So when Salinda comes home, even if the P.O. has left for the weekend, then I will call law enforcement and they will come take her to detention.

She will stay there until Monday at least.

The longer she is gone, the longer she'll be there possibly.

I don't know why she doesn't just hurry up and come home when she knows

It's 12:20

and my money is on her not coming back for quite some time. Maybe not even until tomorrow. Maybe even later. She figures she's in trouble now and got nothing to lose.

I hope I'm wrong. But my guess is that she will stretch this out for a long time. And I will wait.

But we've done this before.

With Mike.

With John.

So I'm learning to manage my anxiety.

Sort of.

Well, it's 11:20

And the phone call yesterday said she would be home before noon. i think she was stalling. It would be nice if she was home by noon and get this over with, but I can't imagine that she will be. And my guess is that if she thinks she is in trouble anyway, that adding a few hours, or days, isn't going to make too much difference.

But we'll see. She proves me wrong so often. It's the not knowing that makes me anxious.

New Month Resolution Update

Only a few sips of pop on the 4th, otherwise no pop at all. Day 11.

And only a few bites of chocolate when I forgot a couple times.

So I'm doing pretty good.

What about everyone else?

Hitting the Big Time

If you know anything about the adoption world, having my name on the same page with Dr. Crumbley and Jaiya John is not exactly a bad deal. Anything but.

I'm looking forward to this speaking engagement quite a bit. Why don't you all come to Indianapolis? Bring your husband, or your wife, bring your kids. Come meet me. It would be fun.

By the way, if you want to download and share that Speaker's Brochure with anyone who might be interested in having me come to your area, feel free to do so.... If you need me to email it to you, please let me know.

Playing Hard Ball

Well, I'm not, but Probation finally is. As soon as I got back from the Y I called the P.O. and she said she was going to have Salinda put in detention when she returns.. She said she is tired of playing games. I explained that I had been lied to about her whereabouts two weekends in a row and that she refused to tell me where she was last night. "A friend's" was her only explanation.

How will Salinda feel about this? Betrayed and angry at me for reporting her missing. She will sob endlessly about having to return to detention as she hates it there. She will feel falsely blamed.

So, how do I feel about this? My first feeling is that it is going to be a very crappy couple of hours from when she gets home (if she does return) and when she is arrested and taken from here. The arrival of law enforcement at our home always causes the other kids to freak out. And I hate the stress.

My second feeling is that I am relieved that Probation is taking this seriously. Salinda obviously doesn't care if she gets in trouble or gets caught. She just keeps doing this dumb stuff -- almost every weekend. She doesn't tell me the truth, she isn't where she is supposed to be, and she doesn't seem to care that she gets caught. As one of you guys emailed me, can't she be a better liar? Any time I choose to catch her I can.

My third feeling is that I am glad that I don't have to come up with consequences. Probation Officer and I have an agreement. If I want to handle things at home, then I come up with appropriate consequences. If they handle it, they do. So spending the weekend in a detention facility will be consequence enough and I won't have to come up with something.

Fourthly, I feel relieved that once she is out of here I will have a couple days I don't have to wonder what is up with her. Probably sexist, but because she is a girl I worry about her way more than I did MIke or John when they were doing all this junk. I keep picturing her kidnapped or raped by these guys she continues to pursue... or other things.

I am also, and this is my fifth reaction, feeling very said. This is because she has so much potential that she is throwing away. She cares so little about herself and I'm not sure who can help her.

My primary feeling though, at this moment is one of dread. I dread the anxiety of waiting to see if she shows up. I dread the blow up that will be occur when I tell her she needs to stay home until her Probation Officer calls. I dread the outburst, anger, and sobbing that will burst forth when she realizes she is heading to detention. And I dread the court hearing on Monday which I will have to attend alone because Bart will be in D.C. with Kyle.

And I don't like it that these things often happen when Bart is out of town. He will be leaving today to take some kids to Ricardo's soccer tournament today, so I'll do all the stuff above that I dread alone. And don't even think that I should ask him to stay home. I can do it just fine. It's just that things are always better and easier when I have my husband around.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update again

Apparently the police are leaving her as a runaway until she returns home. A phone call isn't enough. Then they will have to come to the house and verify that she is here.

That's going to make her very happy.


Safe, but far from Sound

Mentally at least she's not sound. Good grief.

Her friends tracked her down and she is ok. Says she's coming home tomorrow.

It will be interesting to see what her probation officer does with this.

i did a pretty good job of not lecturing (too much) and of letting her know that I was glad she was safe and that I loved her.

Hopefully she'll be home by noon like she is supposed to be.

Sometimes I think she is addicted to the thrill of all this drama -- sort of like Mike was. I mean, why not let us meet these friends, why not hang out here in town, why not make this stuff acceptable behavior instead of sneaking, manipulating and plotting.

It gets so old!

Do Police Stations Have Punch Cards or Frequent Flyer Miles?

I just got back from the police station. Salinda left yesterday reporting to me that he was being picked up by a couple girls (one who I have met) and that they were going to go to the town where she has permission to stay with people we have met. She said she would call when she got there.

That was 28 hours ago and I have heard nothing. I texted her friends and it turned out she was never picked up by either of the girls she mentioned and did not stay at the place that she said she was staying.

So I went and reported her missing. This happens every time I start to trust her. I should have known she was lying through her teeth when she texted that she loved me twice.

There is that small possibility that something is really awry and that there is fowl play and even though the logical conclusion is that she is just hanging out with people we would never give her a chance to hang out with, I can't help but be a little worried.

I hate the stress of waiting for the police to call or for her to show up or call. It's still stressful no matter how often you go through it. At least for me it is.

Gotta get rid of this anxiety though....

Meltdown Question Round 2

I guess when I was posting about what to do when a large child or teen was having a tantrum was more about what I was supposed to do to keep my mind occupied and keep myself patient while I listened to the screaming fit.

Here are some of the things I have tried with my kids:

1) Calmly responding to repetitive questions until I just can't answer the same question any more;

2) Ignoring the behavior completely and attempting to focus on my work;

3) Involving myself in something else that is distracting me, like an IM conversation with someone at the office. Telling them about it makes it easier to live with;

4) Blogging about it as it happens;

5) Taking pictures or making a video, even though I seldom do anything with the pictures or movie. I have one son who will immediately stop crying and put on a smile the second the camera is pointed at him, but will begin again when I put it down. So sometimes I just sit here pointing the camera at him when my ears need a break.

6) Talking to another child as we attempt to distract each other;

7) Reminding them that their behavior is not helping them (which, in turn, they should remind me that reminding them that their behavior is not helping them is not helping them. wow what a sentence).

8) Asking for my husband's help if he is home or mention calling him. They respond differently to him (a big duh in most adoptive homes -- mom is usually the target)

9) Try to distract them with a funny story or silly behavior (this works for some, not for others)

10) Shut my hands over my head, close my eyes, and sing "Amazing Grace" somewhat loudly.

Any other ideas -- not about what to do with the child/teen, because sometimes there is nothing you can do, but what you can do with your own mind to keep yourself from the urge to silence the shrieking object using any means possible?

That was the question I was trying to ask.


I have been having weird dreams lately, but early this morning it was apparent that I was having some serious anxiety issues about the day. There are reasons for that.

I called to check on Salinda last night and it turned out that she was not at the place where she said she would be. She had promised to call when she got there never did, so before going to bed I called to check and make sure she was OK. The people she was supposedly going to visit said that they didn't even know she was planning to come. So obviously she either got her details a little confused or was completely lying to me.

There is that small chance that something seriously bad has happened, but more than likely she has made up some story and is some place she's not supposed to be. But eventually she will resurface and I will have to deal with her.

I also have a training today where are the details got all mucky and so there was some stress about that. In my dream this morning, all these anxiety issues came swirling about in a very odd way.

I was at the training site in my pajamas. I did not have my projector. I did not have my computer. I did not have my training notebook. I was trying to figure out a way to get home, get those things, and get back when Salinda called (still dreaming) as if nothing was wrong. I was trying to sort out where she had been while driving her someplace. I went back to the training site and then found out that the only couple who had signed up for training had decided no to stay. I had recruited others to come so that the room was not empty, but the couple who was paying for training was freaking out because she just saw her "cousin's husband's sister's boyfriend" who she had had major conflict with and she was NOT going to stay in the same room with him.


When I got back from the YMCA I came to my office before showering to make sure I could find my projector and my notebook. Fortunately, they are exactly where they are supposed to be. I'll be in training almost until bedtime, so not many blog entries today.

And I'm not still in my pajamas.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Love Passion

I love people who are passionate about things. It doesn't even matter to me what they are passionate about. They can agree with me or not agree, but I just like to see a little passion.

That's why i love to see typically calm, cool and collected Ricardo playing soccer, because he is so passionate about it. He is intensely involved in the the whole thing and he is so into it. It is gives me great pleasure to watch his skill and the intensity that registers on his face.

This is the beginning of a marathon week of games. Game tonight and 6 games in the next 4 days....

The team won tonight. Ricky played well as usual.

Emotional Day Around Here

I started the day ranting.

By noon, Wilson had cried.

By one, Leon had tears in his eyes.

By four, Jimmy had cried for 75 minutes.

By five, Tony began to cry. (Apparently someone at school overheard him say that he knew who was driving the vehicle in a hit and run accident accident and reported that to the state patrol. And so the officer came and Tony denies everything and oh, the meltdown he had.)

I think everyone else has been tear free today.... but there were only 7 kids home. So over 50% have had a meltdown.

And we still have almost 4 hours until bedtime.


I thought maybe we could share coping techniques for people who have big/older children who have meltdowns. My technique with my 16 year old is attempt to talk him down and negotiate something, providing some warnings and threat of consequences, but once he gets going, I simply have to stay out of the way. He throws things and wails and cries like a toddler and he is 6'2.

I can't de-escalate him, at least haven't been able to.

Anyone else have kids bigger than them that cannot be restrained that you've found a way to contain when they are having a tantrum?

(by the way, I'm totally psyched. I took the picture above in a very dark room using the backlight feature of my new camera, and I'm very excited that it turned out so well).

Just Another Day in Paradise

I left to give a ride. I was gone less than 9 minutes and Bart came home and all hell had broken lose. One kid was crying, another was threatening to beat someone up, and the house was reeling in the stress of conflict.

But we resolved it all, step by step. And now things are calm again.

Just another day in Paradise.

My Son is the One Who is Smiling

I'm not going to give you the link, because that is even crossing my boundaries, few that I have, but the jail website of our county has mug shots of all of the people who are incarcerated.

My son is smiling for his picture. Having FASD probably explains that, but I wonder what he was thinking. Nobody else really smiles for a mug shot when you are booked and sentenced. The rest of the guys/gals on the page certainly aren't.

But there he is, smiling. I have asked myself why. Did he want to look good? Was he happy to be back in jail? Was he intoxicated or high? Or does he just not know that you don't smile for your jail intake picture?

But by the time Mike was about 10 I started reminding Bart, "Don't ever use the word why and the word Mike in the same sentence. There are no answers."

Have already spoken 50,000 words today

Two things happened this morning that resulted in me using way more than my alloted words for the morning.

First thing was Salinda texting me at the Y at 6:50 that she needed a ride to work crew at 7:30. My morning was already over packed. Bart called and needed me to stop and get milk and Sadie and Tony were both with me and they needed to shower and go to summer school.

So, I finally agree to get her there by 7:30 but not without a rant. Now I realize that I had three parenting choices:

1) Love and logic -- tell her that I couldn't possibly get it done this morning, and that she would either have to walk or miss it.

2) Agree, explain my difficult situation to her calmly, and hope that it registered that she needed to plan better; or

3) Agree reluctantly to pick her up and then yell and lecture her for a long time.

Of course, of the three choices, I picked the worst one. But it felt good. She got a real lecture on the phone, but by the time I picked her up she was in an OK mood and apologetic. I figure that in picking her up I still made the statement, even if I didn't do it graciously, that she can count on me, when she obviously cannot count on her friends. I think that she genuinely tries not to inconvenience me, but she relies on some of the wrong people to come through for her.

So I used several words blasting her. But the majority of my words were spent in the "black, purple or maroon car" argument.

Almost as we are pulling out of the driveway this morning with Tony, Dominyk, Ricardo and Sadie heading for summer school, Dominyk "called the black car." Tony said, "I call the purple car. That's a purple car." Dominyk said, "No, it's not, it's black so it's mine."

I said, "Do you guys think you could argue about that all the way to the school?" (about a 7 minute ride). I decided to have some fun, and joined in the argument... until I was talking faster than I probably ever have before. Dominyk, Sadie and Ricardo were wide eyed and grinning through the whole thing, but Tony kept trying to get a word in edgewise, argue with me or get me to shut up. I had mentioned in my stream of consciousness monologue that he had insisted that the car was maroon after all but had never called the maroon car, so it was really mine.

I must admit, I was absolutely hilarious. I was on a role -- a monologue that literally was about nothing other than whether or not the car was purple, maroon, or black and the fact that if it was maroon, then it was indeed mine. I talked nonstop for a full 7 minutes.

When we finally got to the school I stopped abruptly. I looked back at Ricardo and said, "I bet I just said more words in the last 5 minutes than you do in a whole month." He didn't say a word, but simply nodded.

And as we drove away from the elementary to head to the Jr. High, Tony said, "Well, it was maroon mom, and I did call it before you did."