Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Natural Consequences

Six of the kids I have at home are ages 13 to almost 17. They have a "bedtime" that I don't enforce. At 10:00 p.m. they have to turn off things electronic and the middle schoolers are supposed to go to their rooms. The high schoolers can be other places in the house as long as family electronic devices (computers, TVs, Wii, Playstation, etc.) are off by 10.

SInce I get up at 5 most mornings now, I don't stay up to make sure they go to bed. And I really don't care if they do. BUT I have told them that if they are mature and responsible enough to determine their own bedtime, they are mature and reponsible enough to be responsible for getting themselves up and ready by the time it is time to leave.

Now, before you think that I am REALLY mean, understand that one of the things they can do is to ask me to wake them up. They can say "Mom, I want you to wake me up every morning." Or, they can ask me the night before. Five of the six children have chosen to get themselves up in the morning. They understand that the ride to school leaves at 7:30 and if they are not ready, they will get left....

Every morning I wonder if they will get up or not. So far, they have -- later than I would have awakened them, but they have gotten up and made it to the van by 7:30.

This morning, it just might not happen. I think I hear the girls, but the 3 boys in the basement I haven't heard a peep from and we leave in 18 minutes. One of them has to shower.

So we'll see how it goes. I'm heading to Dunn Brothers to have breakfast with Kari and get work done as soon as I drop everyone off, so if they aren't ready, I guess they have bikes. And again, in case I'm being observed as the wicked witch of the midwest, the school is less than two miles and many of the kids their age who live farther away from us ride their bikes every day. In the snow... Uphill ... both ways. Oops, wrong story.

Getting yourself up in the morning is a life skill. I figure my kids can learn it now, when the consequences are less severe (have to ride your bike to school) than later when it might mean failing your morning class in college or getting fired from a job.

Well, it's 7:25 and it looks like everyone might make it but Jimmy. And he'll learn...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sorry for all the one liners...

But Bart blogged on his walking blog today and it's quite insightful...

One More Reminder about Support Group

The Support Group is meeting beginning this Wednesday. More details here.

Up and At Em

Everyone's starting slow this morning, but i'm trying to stay out of their way. I'm not sure the reminders do anything but annoy. They certainly don't speed them up.

Two psych appointments and a long to do list are what I face today. More later.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A record

So sorry I forgot to blog this morning. I did make it home safe. This morning I got up, spent time trying to beat a new facebook game and with my obsessive personality, of course, had to keep at it -- had church, lunch at home that Bart cooked for us, took the girls and Dominyk to the mall, came home and then headed to a youth group potuck and the movie "stranger than fiction" which I highly recommend. The discussion that followed was quite interesting as we pondered fate, providence, predestination, sacrifice, and abundant living.

I came home and helped Sadie with math and now it's time for bed. Full day.

Everyone seems to be feeling ok though. Nothing major -- no outbursts, minimal conflict, and cooperation from everyone at least on the most important levels.

And so here we are ... another day done....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From Atlanta

I'm in the Atlanta airport. I enjoy airports. I love watching people and imagining their lives. I like to eavesdrop and observe and compare people's lives with my own, recognizing that I don't know, really, much of anything.

My obsessive personality caused me to nearly fry my brain on the first flight. Delta now has a touch screen media center free to everyone where you can play games against other people on the flight. I won the first round of trivia, and then had to play games like Bejeweled and other puzzle games. I got the high score in 3 different games, meaning that either I'm GOOOOOOOD or the plane is very very new (or who knows, maybe they reset it every week just to motivate people. But as you can imagine, knowing that I could get the High Score of All time and type in my name really kept me playing.

I'm feeling a little tired at the moment.... my eyes are kind of bugging out of my head....

I'll be boarding in about 15 minutes for the last flight of the trip -- and then I'll wait 90 minutes for a shuttle, and then ride back to our home town.

It's been a good week. I must be a lot like Linda who posted that she always gets lots of ideas while she is gone. I always come home with a long list of ideas and dreams -- way too many for my schedule to accommodate, but I forget about that while I'm away and dream big.

I miss my kids. I just got an IM. "Hi, mom." And I asked, "Who is this?" And I recieved, "it's me. Dominyk F."


Finishing the Days Away

Decided that I'd get plenty of exercise walking through three airports today (Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago) so I didn't get up and go to the little fitness center. Besides, there those skinny little treadmill hogs that might take up the machines so that I would end up having to ride the very uncomfortable exercise bike again while I glanced over at their timers obsessively for 40 minutes. Not my definition of a good time.

last night I dreamed that I was visiting Heather Armstrong of Dooce fame and we were touring her house. I think the whole family was spending the night with Heather, her husband John and their daughter Leah -- it was a nice house and I recognized several parts of it because I've seen them on the blog.

Now mind you, Heather isn't a friend of mine IRL (in real life). In fact, I only know her, as do thousands of others in our country, as the person she portrays on her blog. And I know way to much about her dogs. She is not exactly my moral compass... but her writing is hilarious and they have a fairly normal life compared to ours. So in this dream, when Jon was trying to drive us all around in a 15 passenger van, he was a bit frustrated. First of all, we all had a very hard time getting showered in the one bathroom they allowed us to use, so we were late leaving and then whenever we tried to pick up kids to go, they had a friend with them, or they weren't where they were supposed to be at the right time. So by the end of my dream, Jon was pretty frustrated.

Why did I just tell you that? I have no idea. I guess when you spend your evening in a hotel room watching someone else flip through channels (yes, Angela, I don't get enough of the Suite Life of Zach and Cody at home, so could we please watch it???) while you do your email, there isn't a whole lot to report.

We're off to meet the limo-that-really-isn't-a-limo driver in about 20 minutes and then I'll begin a 12 hour and 15 minute journey from my hotel to my home.

Looking forward to seeing my family and my wonderful husband who did a great job of holding everything together during a tough weekend with lots of extra activities.... It will be great to see him.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shout Out Hogs

Angela is wanting a shoutout now. Good grief. A shout out for being present when I got my email inbox down to 11.

And thanks to Holly's suggestion, Holly who has no blog that I know of, and is a friend of ours from college, suggested that we needed a glossary on the blog.

So now we have one. Right above the logo you can click on it. It's not complete, nor is it perfect, but it's a start.

Support Group Starts Wednesday

Remember, the Spiritually Supported Adoptions group is starting on Wednesday, October 1st. Details are here.

New Updates

Updated the website. Bart now has a writing page that links to an article that was recently published. check it out.

Reflections From Far Away

I'm sitting at the new Adopt America office near downtown Toledo. Being away from home often gives me a renewed sense of energy and I often am able to think more clearly about everything when I have a chance to get away. And this has been no exception.

Here are a couple of my conclusions:

1) I love and miss my kids. Several of them are doing so well right now -- in fact, most of them are. Whereas in the past it has been a huge relief to be away from the drama and trauma that they bring me, this time I was sad to be gone. We have had several really good interchanges this summer and the school year has been off to a good start. I love them and it's harder for me to be away from them than ever before, which seems weird since 7 of the 9 at home are 13 and over.

2) I have an amazing husband. Very few people could leave that many kids at home with a man and not return to a disaster. But the kids love him and love having him with them and, as he blogged this morning, they are having a great time. I miss him a lot, but I feel even better about being married to him when I get away and realize the incredible freedom he has always given me to be myself and pursue my dreams, even when they are at a cost to him.

3) I am still very passionate about getting kids home. Talking about how to match better, how to work in the system better, how to work with families better -- dreaming, planning, and working towards doing things well motivates me. I always come up with many new ideas when away from my routine.

4) I work with some amazing people. I had a wonderful time this week with the people that I was able to meet or see again. It was fun to see the things we have in common -- and the things we don't. Learning from their experiences and being in awe of the things they do is so enriching. Examples: one of the women here changes between 44 and 55 diapers a day -- all on kids way too old for diapers. They are impaired, handicapped, delayed, whatever word you want to use, with very low IQs, but she and her husband are giving them a great start. Another woman who I referred to earlier, has many, many children with serious medical issues and has been adopting for over 35 years. She has renovated an old school building and while many people might see this as very very weird, it beats an institution, where most of these children would end up, any day. I won't mention each person, but the women I met with this week -- both those who flew in and those who work here -- are amazing in their own way. (And yes, Ashley and Karen, your names are being mentioned. A huge shout out for reminding me about the TV program last night....)

5) I am glad that I work at home. While I have enjoyed being here at the main office, I get so much more done from home. I enjoy being connected to all these great people, but am also thankful that I don't have to get up, get dressed up, and drive in to work each day. I like doing what I do from home.

6) My family needs a break from me. I think having me gone for a few days is good for them. Bart offers some things that I don't, and I think that they, and I, are all feeling much better about each other when we're done.

7) Finally, there is a great deal more work that needs to be done. Too many kids are still waiting. Too many families are still waiting. Too few families are being recruited for the kinds of kids that are out there. All the things that I have been blogging about for months are true. So much to do, so little time. And the possibilities are endless.

Going far away sometimes can be a good thing. I'm glad I'm here.

And I'm glad that tomorrow I'm going home.

Wow, what a Slacker

Long day of meetings and meals and conversing made me tired last night and I've barely blogged. In fact, I didn't even join in on the late night conversation and went to bed at 10 so I could work out again this morning.

Now it's time for breakfast....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Up and at em

Actually went to the hotel fitness center this morning and am feeling quite good about that. Now it's a shower, breakfast, and an entire day of training that will probably last well into the night. Won't have a ton of time to blog.

This is a day of brainstorming on how to match kids better, faster, smarter. I love coming up with new things.... the challenge is getting ourselves to do them once we come up with them.

i miss my kids, but Bart reports that things are very fine. Salinda really wants to see her boyfriend and his family this weekend, and so she is being very well behaved. Everyone else is busy and happy and I'm glad. But when he blogs about these kinds of experiences I'm nothing but jealous to be missing out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

heading to bed after...

reading my husbands blog.

He's so good.

check it out here from tonight and this from this morning.

Wow, I love the way he writes.

Dinner for 3 Hours

Three hours. Nine women. Eight of them parents of at least 4 kids. One woman has adopted more than 50. She's been adopting for 40 years. Lots of stories. Lots of kids lives represented -- tough kids, the kind of kids that nobody else adopts.....

Since MG doesn't have a blog, I have to share two of her amazing stories, though I'll turn them in to one sentence stories.

She got a mother's day card from two of her sons. They both signed the card. Convenient that they were both inmates at the same prison.

And.... her daughter is married to her own daughter's grandfather.

It's true. A long convoluted story, but true.

If we told you this stuff was true you wouldn't believe it, would you?

Now Arrived in Toledo

We're here after a hilarious "limo" ride in a sedan with a driver who does stand-up part time. I kid you not -- it was an entertaining ride. He had met his match in me and the banter was back and forth-non-stop.

Sharing a room with Angela who shared the sedan ride and participated in the banter and we're heading out to supper in a few minutes with some of the other famous adoption specialists.

Life's good at the moment -- no bad reports from home.

Gotta love that.

Arrived in Detroit

Well, after a quick hour on the ground in Atlanta, I'm now in Detroit. Have my baggage now and am waiting for another specialist to fly in so we can travel together to the hotel in/near Toledo.

Flights have been uneventful. I let myself buy a book and have it all read already.

And, to keep you from the suspense, the author of this blog is the first person to pay hard cold cash to pre-order our book. A guy who writes daily posts about an alley. Hmmm..... gotta make you wonder.

Of course, this same guy happens to be a terrific Dad that I blogged about in this post last spring.

So we're off and running with the book, but it's kind of funny how things work. When we were thinking ahead to selling a book, we were thinking "I'm sure all of our real friends will buy it." But apparently, from what we've heard, they are all thinking, "Surely Bart and Claudia, if they are our real friends, will give us a free copy."

Quite the dilemma.

Catching You Up, Story 1

It's 6:30 and now I'm in the Minneapolis Airport all checked in and ready to go, having a scone for breakfast. I promised to take some time to catch you up on a couple or more situations that I haven't taken time to blog about.

The first is about Salinda. For about the last 3 months she has been sneaking off on weekends to spend time with a boy/man who has turned 18. She would not let us meet him, so therefore she did not have permission to be with him. But she found ways...and was then grounded for doing it. She was miserable, but we were not going to back down. "either you are going to let us meet him, or you'll have to continue to sneak off, lie to us, and receive the consequences."

So that is how it went. For several months. She could usually go about 3 weeks before she couldn't take it any more and would devise some scheme.

A few weeks ago the reason came out. She had been less than honest with this guy and his family about her life. They are Hispanic and she had not mentioned that we are white and that she is adopted. She was pretending another family was hers and the longer it went on the harder it was going to be to expose her lie. I told her again and again that she was the one who was making her life miserable. That she was going to have to choose to accept her life as it was and live with it because the color of my skin and the fact she was adopted was not going to change.

I explained to her that I was not unhappy that she was spending time with his family. I told her that a lot of "cultural camps" for adopted kids weren't authentic and that her spending time in a Hispanic community with a Hispanic family was a good way for her to know her culture. And I reminded her that I had lived in Mexico 2 years, spoke Spanish, and was pretty convinced that the family would be convincing of our situation and like me well enough.

So over the past months I kept consequencing her, but started looking for moments when she and I could talk about other things and I would slip in questions about the situation and how it was going. Finally, this past weekend she was given permission to go to his Homecoming Dance with him with the stipulation that we would meet him and some of his family.

On Sunday afternoon (after several miscommunications requiring me to be more flexible than I like) I met Salinda, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's mom for supper. I told her ahead of time that Salinda was adopted and we were white -- didn't want her to be too shocked. Salinda also told her some of the story.

The meeting went fine, but I almost burst out laughing when I saw the big bad 18 year old man who was kidnapping my daughter and wisking her away to another town. He's the most innocent looking kid you'd ever meet, short, very skinny, and looks not a day older than 15. Turns out he is hardworking (drove a combine 15 hour days for several weeks this summer) has plans to go to college, and is an excellent athlete.

Other surprises included the fact that his mother's father is French Canadian so I don't think me being white was all that bothersome to her -- and the fact that she has custody of step children, helping her understand our foster/adoption past. We had a nice long supper and at the end both his mother and this sweet little man/boy gave me hugs.

Salinda is much happier now, as I knew she would be. She is still a teenage girl, still impulsive and doesn't plan well, but she is more settled. Her relationship with us is less strained. And even though he is 18, having a college bound boyfriend with a good work ethic and an overprotective family is not a bad thing. Especially if he is 75 miles away.

Sure, this was not the perfect way to have all this done. And I definitely have unanswered questions, but understand the culture well enough to get certain things about what has happened. And I'm happy to have that part of things over with. Maybe now she can move on to other things, like getting a job, taking driver's ed (as soon as she stops all the lying) and start making her own plans for her future.

But I'm smart enough to know that now that he's not forbidden any more, she might have to move on. ;-)

And I also know that there will be more challenges ahead. Today in fact. But it's nice to have this one wrapped up.

And so now you're caught up on that part of the lives and it's time to board my first flight to Atlanta (where I'll only be for an hour).

And I bought a silly novel and a puzzle book. My 12 hours of travel today requires that.

It's 5:50 and I'm getting ready to leave

I had the most troubling dream about something. And my alarm woke me up from said troubling dream. And in that troubling dream I was getting ready to say something really important. As I opened my mouth, my Iphone Mirimba's me out of the dream.

For the life of me I can't remember what I was going to say or why, but I know it was super important and that it NEEDED to be said. And now I"ll never be able to say it.

Received an email indicating that we received our first pre-order for the book coming out this spring. So exciting. More on who placed that later today.

If you want to purchase yours, you can go to our online store to do so.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

from yet another hotel room alone

I'm in a hotel room.

never made it to Dunn brothers this morning. Jimmy' IEP meeting was long and he ended up being my third kid to serve in school suspension in a week. Lovely.

Had a nice lunch with Mike and Kari.

Left on 4:30 shuttle.

Came to hotel

Ordered dominoes.

Worked a bit.

Now am talking to Bart online.

And I will go to bed early cuz I have a 6:00 shuttle to catch. My travels yesterday will take about 12 hours. Doesn't that sound like fun?

He always says it so much better than I and often makes me cry

Bart blogged about our morning. He left out all the gory details of the morning that I usually spew everywhere, but he sure does have a way with words.

Slow Start

Everyone is dragging this morning. I have an IEP meeting, so I need to get the kids off to school and they all overslept.0 I'm debating spending some time at the coffee shop, but if I do that then Rand will accomplish absolutely nothing today. He never did grasp Object Permanence so he still fully believes that if nobody is watching him they won't know what he is doing or not doing. I have found him many many times sitting in the middle of the place he is supposed to be working (even if he has to drag a chair in there) because he doesn't realize that I can hear the difference between doing dishes and sitting in a chair.

Today if I leave the house he will sit and watch TV until he hears me pull up and then he will jump up and run to the kitchen and act as though he's been working all morning. However, since I happen to remember the condition of the kitchen when I left and if there are no changes.. hmmmmm.

He of course, will argue vehemently that he's been working for 3 hours, but, well, I'm sure you know that I can tell.

So, I have to decide which is more important to me today. The solitude and tasty snacks of Dunn Brothers or a not-much-cleaner house and 12 arguments with Rand.

Hmm. The coffee shop is sounding really good about now.

We're celebrating the birthdays Kari and I have with Mike and Kari at lunch time and then I have to ready to get on the shuttle to head to the Cities to spend the night. i could have gotten up at 3 in the morning, but by the time I figured mileage and parking the shuttle and a hotel were pretty close in price. And 3 is very very early.

I'm off to Toledo.

And this is Tony's last few words (after I suggested that it was a little weird that he was eating chips and dip while he showered) "And you think I"m weird! You're the weirdest one around here -- with moles all over your face and that Fat, Fat, A**..."

and I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, but at least I don't eat chips and dip in the shower."

But I didn't say it outloud.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simply Tooooooooo Tired

Too tired to blog anything more tonight. Bart and I took a long walk after I spent hours and hours on email today with some irritating interruptions.

I'm heading to spend some time with him as I will be heading out again tomorrow....

Feeling a Little Insecure

I had been debating as to whether or not I should tell a couple stories on here that would require me to risk being considered a not-so-wise parent.

After reading Paula's post today, now I'm really nervous to post anything.

A Couple of Quick Reminders

If you would like your blog included on the Third Degree Parenting blog resource list, please let me know.

Also, if you have not signed up to receive the e-newsletter, email me. Another issue comes out today.

The Day Ahead

Been to the YMCA, Bart's been on his walk and blogged about it, and I'm getting the kids off to school....

Have a ton to do today, but fortunately I have a little bit of motivation....

hopefully it will go a long way...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trying to Remain Glum

Every once and a while I have a bad day. It doesn't happen all that often and it usually comes when I'm overtired. I had one today. I was feeling discouraged -- that's the best word I can come up with.

But my friend's Sue and Sarah insisted on an ice tea and it was difficult to be completely mopey with these goofy grins across from me for an hour.

And then I finally met Salinda's boyfriend and her mother and that experience left me less moody simply because of the humor of it all (more on that tomorrow).

And tonight Bart, Wilson and I went out for supper for them and a snack for me and Wilson's homework face, and Dominyk's monkey face at least made me smile.

It looks like Dominyk's toe isn't the issue -- but possibly some tendons or ligaments on the side of his foot -- so Bart says he should be fine.....

And tonight, my son the teacher called. I had to text him to remind him that he had parents and should call us. But he did. And he was good natured about it.

So even though I was completely committed to remaining mopey the entire day, I didn't completely succeed.

And I only allow myself one day to get over a bad mood. So tomorrow -- I'll be baaaack....

Good Grief

It's Sunday morning after church. I'm sitting at my desk reading about every person in cyber space who has ever broken a toe trying to decide if I should take Dominyk to the doctor or just tape the toe and let it heal. The doctor who goes to our church is on call this morning, so I couldn't get any free medical advice. I was longing for the days in Luverne where we had 3 wonderful MDs in our congregation and there was always at least one of them in church....

I have not come to a conclusion as to whether or not it warrants a doctor visit.....

Half the advice I've read points one and the other half points the other way.


What a wonderful way to spend a half hour.... reading about all the gross things that happened to people when they broke their big toe.

Made It Safely Home

Well, we made it home last night. We were about 45 minutes from home when we got a phone call. Apparently Dominyk had been outside literally climbing the outside wall of the house, trying to break into our locked bedroom to watch TV. Apparently Salinda had broken in once while we were gone, and it appears this is something they do. Yes, it bothers me. A Lot. But anyway...

He feel, spraining his ankle and possibly breaking his toe. The neighbors who had agreed to have some of the kids over to their house across the street, came over here instead and were taking care of Dominyk until we got home. By the time we were home he was calm, but he didn't sleep well and thus, neither did I. He woke me up several times to tell me how much it hurt until about 1:15 when he finally fell asleep.

Then I had troubling dreams for the rest of the night.

I will blog later about Salinda and where she is and what she is doing this weekend. She's actually doing it with permission... but it's a long story and we're leaving for church soon so I don't have time to get into it all.

The kids seemed to do OK with us being gone otherwise. Nothing major to report other than the room break-ins and the toe-breakage....

Dominyk said he can't help it that he has AdhD (he always puts the emphasis on the second D when he pronounces it) and that Wilson should have tried to stop him from climbing the wall....


Friday, September 19, 2008

From the Indy Airport

We've had a nice trip. Nothing exciting. Some down time. A chance to relax a bit. A chance to get things done.

And, most importantly, a chance to connect with people who are doing their part-- both personally and professionally -- to make the world a better place by caring for children.

And so we head home to ours, hoping they are still alive....

Revising the Company Website

Bart is out taking a walk and I am revising the company website. I intend to include a list of other blogs from adoptive and foster parents or parents with special needs. Eventually this may replace the "adoption blog central" blog that I started a while ago.

if you would like to have your blog listed on that page, please let me know. In exchange, I'd like you to stick a logo for our company on your blog. Yes, you too can have the famous piece of pizza logo. But you don't have to. Only if you want to. OK?

Let me know if you want to be included by sending me an email.

We're Boring but it's Kinda nice

Watched an episode of law and order. I got a back rub. We had dessert. I'm tired and want to go to bed but Bart says "It's only 8:30 HERE" (meaning only 7:30 at home) and apparently it is not okay for one to go to bed that early.

So maybe I"ll stay up til 9.

But this Chocolate Lava Cake with ice cream that I really shouldn't have had but did is making me feel quite sleepy and content.


Tired but a good Tired

The session for my keynote was for two hours this morning. I didn't realize it was going to be quite that long because I didn't look at the program for the conference until this morning. The welcome and announcements took 30 minutes and then it was just me -- no powerpoint and a few notes -- for 90 minutes. Very hard to keep people's attention that long, but I think I did OK. Several people enjoyed it.

Then 15 minutes after I was done I had to do another 90 minute session. The presentation room was REALLY cool and we got the sound and video to work fine. That went well too, but by the time that was over I was REALLY tired. Had lunch and tried to rest for a few minutes, but then had to go say goodbye to the people leaving the conference.

Bart and I walked almost a mile to have Turkish food, which was quite tasty, and now we're back with an evening alone together in our "parlor." Maybe something good will be on TV.... and we can relax....

It's been a good day...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finishing Touches

I'm going through my keynote address and putting finishing touches to my notes, rethinking the presentation yet again. Sometimes when I'm getting ready present something that I've presented before it starts to get old sounding and then I wonder if it is going to be as boring to everyone else as it is becoming to me. So then I try to spruce it up and add another story or two and make it interesting to me again.

It might not matter to anyone else, but it would be really awkward if I were to fall asleep while presenting....

Our time at the dinner theatre was fun last night. The play was less than squeaky clean, but sometimes it's fun to cut loose a little. I think our host and hostess were a little embarrassed to have taken Pastor Bart to something that off-color, but I found it funny..... both the play and the fact that they brought Pastor Bart to see it.

And sorry, L and L, I know you told me not to blog this but.....

Hopefully I'll be able to blog later this afternoon and tell you that things went well.

Ok, OK, I"ll break a leg....

We Have Arrived (in more ways than one)

I'm feeling kind of dorky and dumb .... because this is my first experience as a Keynote Speaker and I'm not used to being treated like I'm important. It's sort of fun in a weird sort of way. Almost surreal. And certainly very dorky of me to be posting these pictures. But hey, I'm a real person .... down to earth and no frills ... and this kind of cracks me up in a way. But if you're reading this as a results of hearing me speak tomorrow (later, if that makes sense) I hope that this doesn't mess up any idol worship. Just kidding. I'm not expecting idol worship. (See, I am a dork).

We were told to wait by the Limo stand by our driver and we did ride in a long black car, but it wasn't a limo. When we arrived, we saw our room and it was nothing special .... until I realized we had a second key to the room next to us that was marked "Parlor." Very nice.

So we are here. We have plans for dinner with friends tonight at a dinner theatre which should be great fun.......

Now I'm trying to decide if I should lie down or not.... if I do I"m afraid I won't fall asleep tonight. If I don't I'm afraid I won't make it through the night.

So this is the life of a key note speaker. Not that glamorous, huh?

From Chicago

In the airport in Chicago. Waiting for connecting flight to Indy. Very easy first leg of the trip.

Have been amazed at some of the changes since I have lost weight. It's fun to see improvement and to see how my hard word is paying off in making my own life so much better.

I'm very excited about speaking tomorrow. I hope that I can make a difference, as that is what it's all about.

Thanks to everyone who prays for us and encourages us. It makes a big difference ....

Off to Indy.....

from the plane

sorry I didn't have time to blog this morning. But we made it to the airport and we are on our way to Indy via Chicago. Kids seem fine. Last night the girls and I had going away spats. As is typical Sadie resolved hers. Salinda didn't. Oh well.

Happy to be alone with Bart. Excited to be speaking tomorrow.

And I didn't need a seatbelt extension. Now that's big news. More later

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Odd Morning

Being called a b**** at 4:45 a.m. is one of my favorite things. Honestly it is. I was up to use the bathroom and Tony was up because the dog that he had locked in his room needed to go to the bathroom. But he wasn't going to let him out. So when I told him he had to.... yeah, you can imagine. I finally just did it myself. But it took me 45 minutes to fall back asleep.

I had decided to work out at home this morning because Sadie texted her apology to me last night and asked me if we could work on her homework this morning. So we got it done.

Now I'm going to have to postpone my workout for after the ride to school, making my whole day go later than planned. But as the day wears on I may need the extra sleep...

I spent most of yesterday finishing a project (which resulted receiving good and important news for one of my families) and working on my seminar for Friday. I used Keynote which I hadn't familiarized myself with too much yet, and it rocks. Does so many cool things Powerpoint can't do. But that's Apple for you. Except for MObile Me. but don't get me started.

I now need to prepare the handout for the seminar, get all the instructions ready for PCAs and others who will be helping with the kids while we're gone and hopefully have my desk cleaned off. I need to get a couple things ready to be mailed as well... and I have to have a haircut....

The day before a trip is always one where I have to keep checking off my list again and plodding forward all day long to get things done. So ready.... set..... go.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sometimes You Just Can't Do It All

I made it very clear to Mercedes that during this school year, her time for my undivided attention for homework was going to be after school. She and I have historically not had fun with homework together....

So today she takes a full hour after she gets home to have a snack and by that time I was leaving for a football game.... followed by the end of a tennis match ... and a lengthy conversation with Salinda. By the time I got back she was in the bathtub, which took her a full hour.

So she comes downstairs and refuses to do her homework. Says she doesn't want my help, until I threaten her with cell phone loss. Then she gets it and refuses to tell me what page it's on.

So I tell her, "Not gonna do it. Don't need the stress."

And then she really wants to do it bad. But it's too late.

And it's my fault that it's so late at night that she can't get it done.

Yup. All my fault. Like everything else.

Good thing I"m used to it.

8 sons before one Touchdown

Leon is my 8th son to play football at least one season. Nobody else has ever scored.

Kyle played as an 8th grader. Uneventful.

Rand played in 8th grade, and again in 11th. He usually spent time on the bench.

Mike played in 8th grade. He was usually very confused.

John played in 7th grade, and then started this year. He usually played defense. This year he quit going to practice.

Jimmy played in 7th grade. He never really knew where the ball was.

Ricardo played in 5th grade and was very very good. But he played tackle. And when you play tackle, you don't score. He played in 6th grade -- one game until he broke his collar bone.

Tony played in 6th and 7th grades. He usually plays line. So it's hard to score when you're playing line.

And now, there is son #8. ANd he gets to play running back. And he's fast. Not to mention really cute.

And all his life he's wanted to play football. ANd he's wanted a mom there to watch him. ANd I don't always make it to every game (tonight we had a football game, a soccer game, and a tennis match all at the same time).

But I"m so glad that I was there to see the first touchdown a son of mine has made. ANd I"m glad that the first time he made a touchdown he had a mom there to see it.

Tony played too -- and did a great job. Hung in there offense and defense almost the whole game.

These are the moments that make some of the other ones worthwhile.

Also Overheard

Ricardo had an assignment for Health. He had to make a pyramid of his life and list strengths and weaknesses in the physical, mental, and social areas of his life.

I explained them to him and we had this conversation:

"What about physical, Ricardo? What are your physical weaknesses?"

(Imagine slow, low voice with Hispanic accent)

"What does dat mean mom?"

"What's wrong with your body?


"OH, come on, everyone has a physical weakness."

"No, really mom, I don't have none."

"What about your toe fungus."

"Mom, I'm NOT going to put my toe fungus!"


"Last night I'm lying in bed with my beloved husband. Our pillow talk isn't exactly normal. He somehow ended up touching my face and said, "Wow, you need to do some plucking." I grunted and told him to stop touching it. He said, "Can I help it that you have more testosterone than John Cena?" I responded, I'm so gonna blog that."


Speaking of John Cena, Wilson told me he had gotten me a random gift for my birthday. And random it was. A poster of John Cena, shirtless, flexing his muscles. He put it up for me on my door. "When you're working Mom, it will help to have a sexy man to look at."

What a kid....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Told Myself I had to Finish a Project First before I could blog

and it took me ALL




Yesterday was a nice day for me. Everyone was pleasant and cooperative and I decided as a birthday present to myself to not even talk to Salinda about anything. I just decided to wait. Now, I have more to confront her about.... maybe i'll put it in writing this time. She's gone until late tonight at a tennis match.

I have had a frustrating morning.... the project I was working on that I can't blog about -- was so very annoying and another work situation =ly annoying. That's equally, by the way. But they are unbloggable.

Rand has been dragging his feet with every single instruction I've given him this morning as he is supposed to be earning his rent.

And oh yeah, I found out yesterday that John quit football without telling anyone and was lying about being at practice, giving him time to hang out with his new girlfriend. He met her only 2 weeks ago and she's telling him she's pregnant. I informed him that two weeks is really quick since he's only known her that long.....and maybe the baby isn't his ... or maybe she's not telling the truth.

I wasn't all that cooperative. John's opinion is that he doesn't need to be in a group home -- that he's ready to live on his own in an apartment. It's just that he needs someone to pay for that apartment. So why can't they just give him the money they are paying the group home.....

I'm not going to be a part of any plan for him to move out on his own. And he's not happy. And I ranted and raved like Cindy says she often does and got all over him about his dumb choices and lack of responsibility, etc.

He got mad. And I didn't care much at that point.

He said he was going to hang up and I said, "OK john, Happy Birthday to me."

But I texted him later and reinforced my love.

But not his choices.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Overheard in Our HOme

Dominyk (in reference to saying, Oh, Lord while in the bathroom): "And Mom, I'm not taking the Lord's name in vain. I was just thanking him that my pocket knife did not fall into the toilet."

Salinda today at lunch. Mom, I really think I need to see a psychiatrist. I nodded in agreement! "I have this pain in my back that isn't going away." I suggested she might mean chiropractor.

Jimmy (discussing a recent event with Bart) "We got some jeans for me on the line" (Took me a while to figure out they ordered them online as we have no clothesline and I was very confused).

Tony (after hearing one of the Mom's give an award for Exceptional Servitude to one of the Boy Scout Dads) "Mom, did she really say sexual servitude???)

Salinda (after her eye exam): Mom, they said I have autism. (I responded, "are you sure it isn't astigmatism?"

See why we say "never a dull moment?"


The 4th issue of our newsletter from the company we have founded to help encourage adoptive and foster parents to share their stories both in spoken and written form is coming out tomorrow.

If you have not yet subscribed, please email me so I can include you on the list and you can get the newsletter tomorrow.

While I was Camping

Bart was blogging.

Another Tale of Two Brothers.

A must read.

Miscellaneous Shots from Boy Scout Mom's Camp

A camp fire, some relays, an olympic theme...

We had a great time.

The Secret is Out

Well, I wasn't going to mention it, but this morning apparently a whole heck of a lot of people know.

Like adoption.com. And Pepsi. And Spark People. And all the people on my facebook because several have sent me wishes.

My email already has all these "Happy Birthday" messages and it's only 8:21.

Who would have thought that technology would be bringing so many warm fuzzy birthday messages to each of us on the big day.

We'll keep it low key. I often in the past have pretended it's not my birthday, but that makes my kids without issues (and we do have a few) feel bad that they can't celebrate. So I just try to ignore the ones who will completely freak out today when they find out it's a day that is supposed to be about me.

We'll have lunch out and then I have a report to work on this afternoon for work and Salinda needs help on a project for school this afternoon. Something that I'm not all that interested in helping with since she broke into my office while I was gone to use my work phone and did through the family files. Again. I do have a lock on my desk. Guess I'm going to have to start locking the phone and the desk. Now I'm going to have to confront her, listen to her blaming and lies, and have her be crabby with me because while I'm off being a Boy Scout Mom she can't' live without violating my personal space.

heavy sigh. Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

sitting in the van in the rain after a night on the ground

last night in the tent wasn't as bad as last year. Warmer and I went ahead andy got up to pee three times instead of fighting it. Will blog about evening activities and post pictures when I'm at the computer instead of typing into this iphone.

It's raining and all the activities for the day involve being outside so we will see how that goes. But I survived the night and I am sure not missing the 53 pounds I had with me last year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

from the parking lot on my iphone

we made it. What a day. But we are here. Tshirts and flags made. So many glitches. Long day.

But we were the first ones here and all is well. May not have a signal so may not blog until late saturday or early sunday morning. I have my camera. Even remembered that.

The Flag

Well, this is the flag. Please don't make any suggestions about how something could be bigger or different at this point. One of the reasons it is proportioned the way it is is because I have to fit each section on a 8.5 x 11 iron on transfer paper. Sigh.

But this is what I'll be working on today. while I should be doing other things.

Busy, Busy Days

The last few days have just been crazy. Very busy ones. And my eating has been out of control as has my stress. But yesterday marked a huge milestone for me in my health plan so you can check it out if you'd like.

Our major task yesterday was to get all of our handouts shipped to the conference where I speak soon. It was a major task. Over 300 folders which we had put together the night before....

IN trying to prepare for Boyscout camp I had a whole bunch of running around to do after a conference call (which was very fun because afterwards I got to call and tell a family they were matched -- one of my favorite parts of my job). Then I headed to run errands -- had to buy a flag pole and material - then picked up pizza, dropped off some for Salinda at her tennis match, headed home to regroup, when to Tony and Leon's football game, left there to pick up Salinda from tennis, went back to their game, exchanged something at the craft store because I bought the wrong size, returned to the game to pick them up, came home, and then headed to my good friend Sue's who helped me sew the flag.

OK, I lied. She did it all and I sat while her husband served me tea. Thanks, guys!

Bart was equally busy yesterday with back to back meetings until around 8:30 p.m. It was crazy.

Now today I have a project this morning that i MUST get done before a 10 a.m. conference call afterwhich I have to get the iron on transfers printed to finish the flag. Also have to go to the mall and shop for outfits for camp, pack, and find sleeping bag and air mattress. It's going to be a long weekend.

Bart is trying to drag me to the store to shop before we head out of town too. SIgh.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DIdn't Make It...

Didn't make it this morning. Last night I was so tired that this morning I just didn't get up at 5. I have such a busy day today that I knew I wasn't going to be able to rest at all.

I intended to get up at 6 and was counting on Bart to be my alarm clock like he used to back in the day when I wasn't getting up to exercise. He didn't get up so we slept until 6:40. I know I needed it so I'm not complaining too much.

Up until last night I was planning on calling our country for Boy Scouts "The Fletcherlands", rhyming with the Netherlands. Yes, Fletchulance is hilarious, but if you knew this crowd of overachievers, it just wouldn't quit fit in.

But then when Mom in MN commented with "The Fletch Republic" I knew that had to be us. I like it a lot. And to be diplomatic, I liked a lot of the other suggestions as well.

So today I am taking the logo that I made for our company and making a flag. I've attached the one I made with kids faces that is going to go on the flag... as well as the T-shirts we are going to attempt to make.

So, it's the Fletch Republic.....ANd I have so much to do to get ready for that in addition to everything else.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Falling Into Bed TOnight Exhausted

The stuff for my presentation at the conference next week just got in today from the printer. It has to be shipped tomorrow. So we had to make up 300 packets of papers. And it took a long time. And my back hurts.

Had some help from a few of the boys, but wonderful help from both girls and cheerful conversation as well.

Always nice to feel some peace in the house and a lack of conflict.

Now if there were just a few more hours in the day so I could sleep...

My Answer to What is a Good Reason to Adopt?

I figured I should at least take a stab at my own question.

My personal answer is similar to Yondalia's. We started doing foster care because there was such a need and then we realized we were pretty good at it. And then we concluded that it would be nice to not have to say goodbye to kids, and started adopting instead. Once we got going, we figured that if we already knew what we were doing, were fairly good at it, and had empty beds, with all the kids waiting we should keep going

I think that the journey to adopt has to be headed into with eyes wide open. And there should be a combination of reasons for choosing a difficult path. Some of them are selfish, but not in the ways that most people might think. It meets a need in me, for example, to make a difference in someone's life -- to do the right thing -- to contribute to society -- to do what I feel God has planned for me. I also am very grateful for the life experiences I have had, the ways I have grown, and the incredible people I have met through my journey. But I was a whole person before I became a parent. I didn't need a child to complete me. I'm not saying that this is even a bad thing. But if that is someone's goal, disappointment is certain if they adopt from foster care. The child is not going to give back in the same way that a birth child or a child adopted at birth MAY be able to.

I also believe that there needs to be the knowledge of what we as people can do. I met with a man and his wife recently and he said, "When I read the case file I was worried about how bad my life would be if I agreed to parent these children. And then, a few days later, my thinking began to shift, and I started to worry about how bad their lives might be if I didn't agree to parent them. We have the ability to do this. We can provide them a home. And so, even though we know it will be hard, we need to do so."

The focus of older child adoption must be on the needs of the children. And I think that my frusration and anger in my post the other day has more to do with the crazy myth that is out there that if you get young kids with no diagnosis then life is going to be much easier than if you get an older kid with multiple diagnosis. And the fact is, it doesn't always work out that way. In fact, sometimes it works the exact opposite.

If we head into adopting a young child with the idea of what we absolutely can't handle, we just might get it down the road. And then what? You roll with it, right? And so why not know what you're getting into...

Just a few of my undending thoughts.

I guess my main point was this. Don't not do something because it looks like it might be tough. It can end up being the most amazing journey.

Our most recent adoption came at 12, the oldest kid we ever adopted and he is so awesome at 13. He has not a single issue. And our hardest kid came at 20 months.

So.... sometimes you gotta just do it. Don't assume that the ones that look the hardest are impossible. A kid that's been in foster care for many years is going to have a lot of diagnosis and a lot of paperwork. But currently may be in much better shape at 14 than any kid you get now, at age 4, is going to be in 10 years.

Hope this is making some sense.

The Kids I Post and How You Can Receive those Emails

In my work with the Adopt America Network I help match homestudy ready families with children in the foster care system. We help facilitate many adoptions across state lines. We're a non-profit and we don't charge any fees to either families or the counties.

In order to have us help you get matched, we need you to register with us. Once that happens, you can ask to be placed on an email list where I post all kinds of kids.

I would LOVE to help match you. Just put my name on the application when you fill it out. You can download it on this page.

Those Extra 15 minutes and I NEED your creativity

This morning I got up at 5:05 instead of 5:20 so I could head to the YMCA and get back in time to shower and have 15 minutes before I woke everyone up.

These extra 15 minutes are very important for some reason. If I get showered and get done right before it's time to wake the kids up, I feel rushed. But having just fifteen minutes to quickly blog and to read through some email and blogs gets me started well.

I went to sleep feeling fairly at peace with the world. Days are super busy right now, but everyone seems to be on target getting the things done they are supposed to get done. Some of the kids are even pretty tired after their long day of school and then practice and then evening activities.

This weekend is Mom's Camp for boyscouts which Tony and I attended Last year. This year is an Olympic theme and we have to come up with the name of a country for our family. So, using the name Fletcher I have to come up with something creative and make a flag for the country.

By Friday.

It's Wednesday.

Any ideas? ONe family has already stolen the "add ania" to the end, so we can't be Fletcherania and another famiy already took the island idea, so we can't be "Fletcher Islands".

Everyone family in this troop is a classic bunch of over-achievers so there is some need to not be absolutely pathetic.

So, any ideas?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Focusing on the Relationship

Salinda and I had a rip roaring text argument for a while this afternoon. But I concluded it by saying maybe we needed to spend some time together.

Surprisingly, she agreed after tennis and I took her out to supper. I had already eaten, but we had a very good and long conversation -- over an hour -- about all kinds of things. She appeared to be very honest and open with me and accepted her consequences without argument.

There are so many nuances to her whole story that I haven't shared here and I can't possibly explain them all, but it appears that maybe she wasn't lying to me this weekend after all. I have a lot of thinking to do, but right now I think the best thing for me to do is wait for her to make choices... and hopefully they'll be the right ones. I cannot make them for her.

And so we head for another ride around the teen attachment cycle. And just as with an infant, this is my favorite part. The anger has been expressed, the child is comforted and we're all at peace.

What is a Good Reason to Adopt?

In my previous post, which I agree may have been too harsh, I received a comment suggesting that wanting to save a child is not a good reason to adopt.

I commented back that neither is wanting to fill a personal need to have a child isn't either -- especially when it comes to adopting older children from foster care.

And so I ask this question:

What IS a good reason to adopt? What should be our motivation?

Welcoming my Husband to My Other World

Dunn Brothers has become my other world, and Bart will be joining me here in a few minutes for breakfast after another one of his long walks. I have a ton of work to do and I don't get it as much done at home for some reason.

This is a fun world for me. I can sit in the corner by the outlet and work undisturbed. Nobody talks to me, but if I get bored I can look around and see what others are doing. I enjoy seeing the business meetings taking place, the elderly couples having their breakfast or lunch, students studying, frazzled moms stopping by for a break after dropping kids off to school. I guess I've become a "regular" and that's OK.

Torina commented a few days ago about the kids I posted and the response I had gotten. I thought I'd give the report of the last week.

I've posted 54 kids. As you know, the posts go out to hundreds of people. I received 4 responses for a 2 year old Caucasian boy with medical issues. I received 5 responses to a legal risk 8 month old HIspanic boy and the only reason I only received 5 was because they had to be in that particular state. I received 2 responses for 3 AA boys under 7, and 2 responses for 2 Biracial girls under 10.

And that would be it. So of the 54 kids, I got responses for just 7 of them. Several of the other kids are over 10, but not all of them. But they do have issues.

I would say this is probably pretty representative of what is going on in the system. Families want kids with mild issues under 8 or so..... the kids are either over 10 or have major issues.

So the kids wait.

And the families wait.

Because families don't want to do anything that might be too hard.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Well, I made some phone calls today and found out that a lot of what Salinda told me last night wasn't true. Her friend's mom did not give her a ride to the other town. In fact, the friend's mom is VERY unhappy that Salinda couldn't be trusted when she said she had a ride home. These people did give in and give her a ride home when she called them last night, but they were not happy about it.

She had an away tennis match so I have yet to talk to her. In fact, I am feeling crappy tonight and so I am not going to even talk to her when I pick her up from the school in 45 minutes. I'll just let her know that I talked to her P.O. and her friend's mom and that she and I will talk soon.

I'm not feeling well and I dread picking her up, but Rand has been "sick" today and Bart is exhausted so I'll do my parental duty. If I can stay awake long enough.

Hotel for St. Cloud Conference

For anyone wanting to join us the night before the St. Coud Conference (conference October 4, spending the night October 3) we will be at the Americinn which is on 4385 clearwater road.

And here is another attempt to link the brochure, since last time I messed up.

New Months Resolutions Very Late

I have been having a hard time posting these because I've been in kind of a slump....

I decided that my September Resolutions are going to be to combine what I did previously and go back to doing all of them. My plan back in May was to keep adding things. But when I had a deadline -- the end of the month -- I went back to old habits. So....

for September I'm going to go back to no fast food.... 64 ounces of water .... and no pop. And an hour a day of exercise. I may make an exception when I'm out of town...

And then I'm adding something -- only one dessert per week.

We'll see how it goes? Did anyone else make new months resolutions for September? I know Maia did.

So that's my plan. For the rest of september -- drink my water, no pop, no fast food, and an hour a day of exercise. And only one desert a month.

As for my non-diet related goal, I want to write for an hour a day. I have spent so much time on other book related stuff that I haven't gotten my writing in. Want to get back to that.....

I know it's nothing exciting, but it's probably best as September is going to be a very busy month for me with lots of travel...

My Son The Sociopath

I forgot to blog this the other day....

At conferences Dominyk's sixth grade teacher said, "So Dominyk, what is interesting to you? What things are important to you?"

His response, "Fire and Knives."

Knowing he sounded like a complete sociopath, I asked him to clarify and he toned it down to fireworks and pocket knives.

I'm sure she was relieved.

Sometime between 1:30 and 5:30 a.m.

She must have come home. When I went to the bathroom at 1:30 a.m. the hall smelled like the hall. When I went to the bathroom at 5:30 a.m. it smelled like her perfume. Of course, she wouldn't be kind or courteous enough to knock on our door and let us know she was home safe. But by this point I have trained myself not to worry about her safety. I stress about having to confront her and what is the best way to handle her, but not about whether or not she's safe.

So I think she's awake. I woke Sadie up, didn't speak to her, because she is very crabby in the morning and I don't feel like starting my day like that today. I got up and went to the Y this morning and have been feeling pretty good, so I didn't want to discuss anything with Salinda and mess up my day..... I'll save it for after school.

I slept fairly well last night, though not long enough.... and I'm heading off to the coffee shop this morning.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Natural Consequences

Well, this time I may not have to make up any consequences. The natural ones might just be enough.

Apparently Salinda was able to convince her friend's mom to give her a ride without my permission to this boys house in another town. They are supposed to be picking her up and bringing her home, but they won't answer their cell phones. She just called me and hinted around that I should be driving all the way over there to pick her up tonight and bring her home so she doesn't miss school.




I told her: You have a friend whose mom took you there without my permission and you have a boyfriend who has a license and a car. And you are there without my permission. I guess you are out of luck because there is no way that anybody from our family is going to come rescue you. I guess you either have to find a ride home or miss school tomorrow.

She's not excited about that option. But there is no way I'm leaving at 8:15 at night to drive 90 minutes to pick her up and turn around and drive 90 back. Someone else out there who helped her get there or someone who let her stay there without my permission can figure out how to get you home.

And this is the part I didn't say:

Laughing to myself: Yeah, right, kiddo. You treat me like crap for a solid week and then you run off without my permission and then you want to be rescued from the natural consequences of your ridiculous choice and you call me to bail you out?

Not on your life.

You're big and mature enough go get yourself there, you can figure out how to get back home. But it isn't going to be me.

(OK, go ahead and slam me and call me an unforgiving unkind mother ... but seriously, if I rescue her, she certainly won't learn. She might not learn anyway, but at least I don't have to come up with some other consequences if she gets stuck there.)

Oh What a Day

Some days I just get tired. Tired of the same old thing repeating itself. Salinda finally called around 12:30 to let me know she was in a town 75 miles from here. I knew something was up. I predicted this all week. I could tell she was planning to sneak off.

So she is supposed to be home by 7:30 and I doubt she will be. I still haven't decided what to do. I'm tempted to ground her to her room for a few days -- not just because Deni suggested it in a comment, but because it was Salinda's idea herself. "I'd rather be grounded to my room than go to church."

But I understand the focusing on relationship thing that Process mentioned -- it's just that she wants nothing to do with me so I'm not sure how to proceed with that. I reach out to her as much as I can, but she shuts me down and shuts me out.

The second tier of stress to my day is Dominyk. He took pocket knives to church without me knowing it and pulled them out during Sunday school this morning. SO the teacher called me over for a special little conference and gave them to me. I told them he could have them back in a week.

He has obsessed about nothing else all day long and it is about to push me over the edge. I have heard him chant about it again and again and again. Crying screaming fits that last a long time. I'm not going to give in -- but it has caused me to have a very very long day.

By lunch time after the marathon ride home and begging for the nap, I was ready to run away and hide. But there is no vacation from being a parent, which is unfortunate because I could use one.

It doesn't help either that I have eaten my weight in food in the past three days. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I know I am facing weight gain tomorrow.

And I didn't sleep well.


Consequencing Impulsivity -- Does it Even Make Sense?

It's been three weeks. That means it's time for Salinda to screw up again. It's been her pattern lately to be able to make it about 3 weeks and then do something stupid. Last night she was at a friends and knew she had an 11:00 curfew. I texted her friend at 7:30 to remind her of that because she said Salinda was napping (when they are together they have really weird sleep patterns). I told her that I would make no exceptions because of last weeks behavior.

So she never came home and each time I woke up in the night I had to go through the possibilities in my head. Her friend covered for her and she really took off again? She never woke up and her friend decided to just let her stay even though she knew I wouldn't like it?

And then I have to think about the next day. Will she show up in church or will she skip again? Is she even in town? When will she be back. And all those thoughts go through my mind one by one as I attempt to sleep.

And then there is the whole consequencing thing. The Probation Officer and her Mental Health Worker are just convinced that if I consequence her enough, her behavior will change. Her therapist and I arean't so sure. I mean good grief, she's been grounded multiple times in the past 2 years has had all kinds of privileges removed, been in an out of home placement, been in Juvenile Detention at least 4 weekends.. and she still won't follow rules.

The problem is, most of her choices might just be stupid impulsive ones. Now, isn't the principle of consequencing the idea that a child or teen faces a decision and then ... ding ding ding ding ding.... a bell goes off in their head that says "Last time I did this I got grounded. I don't like getting grounded. I don't think I'll do that again."

But what if the bell doesn't ding? Or what if, in a scrambled teenage brain, the consequences are weighed against the perceived thrill of the rule-breaking episode, and they would rather have the consequence. "I don't mind being grounded if I can spend time with my boyfriend" is a classic example.

SO my question to myself is this: Do I heap on even more consequences hoping that this will wake her up next time? It certainly never works. In fact, the more I heap on consequences the more stubborn she gets and it begins an endless war that makes life miserable for everyone. But I can't not consequence her or everyone is on my back for being too lenient. So I can't win.

And this is why it all gets so old. The constant attempting to find the "right thing" to do, when maybe there just isn't a right thing.

I know a lot of blog readers think that I don't consequence her enough... but I've been down that road and it is counter productive. For some reason with her personality it makes her behavior spiral to an unreachable places if I get the theory in my head "I'm just going to give you more and more consequences until you break." She doesn't break.

So if she doesn't show up at church, I face a day of tracking her down and deciding what to do about her choices. And since I am not impulsive and have a brain that is able to weigh all sides of a decision, I get to dedicate the majority of my thought time, most likely involuntarily, to deciding the best course of action.

But the hardest part for me is that it really hasn't mattered. It doesn't seem that any of the decisions I've made in the past -- whether they have erred on the side of too harsh or too lenient have changed anything. Her behavior, though still within the bounds of her probation most of the time, is still rebellious, impulsive and, if I can risk using a harsh word, stupid.

But I can't not deal with it. I have to come up with something. Sigh. Seems like a lot of wasted effort for nothing.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lunch with Normal People

Barb and Hal have been our friends for years and Bart has been Barb's friend for most of her life. We had planned to have lunch without kids today and thanks to Kari and a PCA we were able to do so.

What a nice time we had. Talk about hilarious -- the four of us together talked non stop for 2 hours and 15 minutes and consumed a whole lot of food. It was awesome.

Here are some great quotes that came out of our conversation:

Regarding reality TV: There's no such thing as reality TV any more. In fact, I bet on Animal Planet they tie down the gazelle so the lion can catch and eat him. (Hal)

"No honey, you cannot dress up like a gangster for Halloween (Barb on the phone to their daughter)." follow up comment, "So you won't let your kids dress up to be what our kids already are?" (Claudia)

"Barb's sister has about eight kids with 10 different guys" (Hal)

We told many stories about our lives in the last 9 years since we saw Hal. He was amazed. He said, "Maybe we should write a book about our lives. It would probably be almost as exciting as yours. Our cat got out and it doesn't have claws. We were so worried."

There was also a heated political debate between Barb and Hal... and the moment when Bart and Hal got real brave expressing their views (while Barb was in the bathroom -- the cowards.)

It was two hours and fifteen minutes of pure fun and unending calorie intake. And we had a blast.

We've gotta do it again. Although Bart did admit that spending that much time with three extroverts all at once was pretty exhausting for an introvert.

And he has to do a wedding this afternoon.

Oh well, I'm feeling great. And really, isn't it all about me?

Another Facet of My Amazing Husband

Armed only with his Iphone, my husband is now taking pictures and then blogging about his walking experiences in his new blog "Walks to Remember." Not only are the pictures especially beautiful but his writing is oh so good.

Check it out.

Creating Community (an important and exciting post about upcoming events)

Since I started blogging in 2005, we have created quite a community of people who blog and read each others blogs.. We comment on and about each others blogs, quote each other, and often in the strangest places, we meet each other and say or hear the words, "Hey, I read your blog!"

Immediately if we say those words we feel an instant connection and sometimes when we hear them we feel sudden shame or embarrassment (well, at least I do with some of the things I've written about. Can you say "average weight of a bowel movement?""


There are going to be a couple of opportunities this fall to enhance this sense of community for those who live in Minnesota. The first is a conference in St. Cloud where Bart and I will both be speaking. It may be a little far for some people, but he and I are going to make a night of it and rent a hotel the night before. There will be lunch and we could try to sit together. If you come early, maybe we could even stay at the same hotel the night before..... Wouldn't that be fun? Of course, I might not have any stories to tell that aren't already on the blog, but I could listen to yours....

Here's the link for the brochure. The conference is cheap and there is even a free youth track for kids 4-17. (But we think we're leaving our kids at home).

So, who is already planning to go? Who is now thinking about it? Comment and let me know. Let's see if we can have a great group of us who can connect in person. It will only make the blogging more personal. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

I just had a thought -- you don't have to be in or near Minnesota. If you're independently wealthy, like most of us adoptive parents, you can fly in. ;-)

Also, Bart is thinking about starting a day time support group in North Mankato for adoptive parents. We may be able to do it around a lunch hour for local folks who have jobs. Is there any interest? What days would work best -- email us privately and let us know. He's an excellent group facilitator and there is certainly a need in our area for a support group for foster and adoptive parents or anyone who is raising kids with special needs.

So, Come to St. Cloud on October 3rd and 4th or just October 4th. And let us know about the support group....

A little Good News

A lot of the 80 emails this morning were either junk or blog comments (good ones, too, you should read them) so I'm already back at 54 after a few minutes.

Isn't That the Way They Say It Goes

Peaceful night here last night. No estrogen but mine in the house -- both girls at friends -- and if you asked Bart he'd tell you that I have very little. Probably have more testosterone than some men, but I digress....

Yesterday I had a goal. I wanted to make "net progress" on my email. That means that I want to have a certain number of less emails when I finish than when I start. So I set small goals for myself. I started the morning at 80 emails. I had a goal of netting 10 by 10:00 a.m. which I achieved by 9:23. Yes, I'm a geek and I kept track. What are you gonna do about it? Oops, sorry, talking like my kids.

So I was down to 70 and I wanted to get down to 60 by lunch. So I worked fast and furiously -- but the problem is that when I work hard to do that, I send out emails that get responses back. Lots of responses. When I send out waiting children, for example, they go to about 225 people. All those people have opportunity to respond. When I send out waiting families, they go out to 360 people who all have opportunity to respond.

Just so you know (and this will help you to understand matching) very few of my waiting kids get responses -- because they are older children. And very few of my waiting families get responses -- because they want younger kids. I think that's all I need to say about that or I'll start to rant and never stop typing.

But anyway, that's just to show you that each of my emails may only get 3 or 4 responses, not 100 or 200 ... and many of my emails get no responses (kids with profound disabilities over the age of 12 for example, or African American boys over 12, or well, anyone over twelve, but again, I digress).

So anyway, I wanted to get down to 60 by lunchtime, so I busted my butt and did nothing else. For every one that I sent out, a few more came back in. I left for lunch 5 minutes late as I just cleared sixty at 11:50 and literally ran out the door before more came in.

By the time I got back from lunch I was back up to 80.

I spent the afternoon (in addition to driving kids around and an ortho appointment) working to get down to 50 before supper which I accomplished. And then worked after supper and after our dessert out with Bart to make it down to 40 before I forced myself to leave the computer before the next batch came in. (I have it set for them to come in every 15 minutes).

And I fell into bed exhausted. I just checked and yesterday I sent 277 emails in one day -- many of them, as mentioned, to over 200 people in each email.

I logged in this morning. And yes, you guessed it. There are exactly 80 emails in my inbox. BUT today is saturday and all the rest of the Adoption world has the day off. So I just may catch up before they all come in on MOnday and stop emailnig me.

And, before you conclude that I don't want an email from you, don't even think that. It's your emails that break up my day -- they are the ones I look forward to.....

Sigh. Guess I better to to my inbox.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dessert with Dad

Bart had a wedding rehearsal and all the jr high and high schoolers were busy tonight (most at a football game) so we decided to take Wilson and Dominyk out for dessert while Bart had a late supper. We had a fairly good time.

Dominyk though has two things that don't go well together -- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a canker sore. So we spent a great deal of time talking about the canker sore. For a while Bart was trying to convince him that it was caused by using excessive curse words -- or possibly by using the word bored too often -- but he wasn't buying it.

And he could do was explain to us in many ways how much it hurt, how irritating it was, how he couldn't keep his mind off it, how much he wanted it to go away. he asked all kinds of questions -- how do you get them, what causes them, how long will it take to go away, could he give it to someone else, was he going to get another one, would it spread .... yeah, OK, I know, you get the picture.

When we got home, Wilson was carrying some buns in that Bart had in the back seat of the car. He bent over, shook his skinny little butt in the air, covered them with the bags and loudly asked the question, "Like my buns?"

Another Excellent Question

And Toni (actually a friend of ours from college) asked another question. What is the value of an adult being diagnosed with FASD? Is it too late for them to get a diagnosis?

I have often thought about that in regards to Rand. What does a diagnosis serve if we are to get one? If his IQ is too high, would he qualify for services anyway?

Have any of you had a son or daughter diagnosed with FASD as an adult? How did that serve them or you? Would you recommend it?

A Good Question Worthy of Discussion re: FASD

Question I've often asked myself:

If FASD is a new diagnosis, then why weren't more people affected 50 years ago? Or, if they were affected, then what happened to those kids? Did they have the same challenges as our kids do and just get institutionalized? Did their parents pull them out of school and put them to work? Or did they just get the sense beat into them with a paddle?

Or could it be that there are other things attributing to FASD now -- maybe a combination of all the preservatives we have in food now that combine with it.

I'm sure there are lots of places to go to look up this information, but what do you guys think?

Has FASD been around forever, and if so, what happened to those kids as they grew up?

OK, so I have to blog some more

So I'm talking to Kari, my resident FASD expert, about my last post asking her if I should publish it. She says "yes, and if you need statistics I have them, publish it" so I hit publish.

And while we're talking, Rand calls. I take the call and hang up on Kari.

I had sent Rand, age 20, to get a haircut. Here's our conversation.

"Mom. I just went to every haircut place in town and everyone is booked until three o'clock."

"And you have to be at work by 2?"


Long pause.

"So, Rand, I guess you're not getting a haircut today then, huh?"


Long pause.

"OK then."

"OK, Bye Mom"

Rand was not diagnosed. Looking back at his baby pictures, he even had all the facial features, but they are hard to distinguish by now. But he had them all. But when he came to us at 11, having been in the system for 7 years, he had never been diagnosed with anything on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum.

But at age 20 I had to help him conclude that if you go to work at 2 and nobody can cut your hair before then, then you can't get it done today.


Gotta love him though -- because he calls and asks for help. He's attached to us. And that makes all the difference in the world - he trusts me to tell him what to do and he follows my advice. Unlike his brother, the same age, who is currently in solitary confinement in jail because "the guards here are so prejudice." He never learned to trust us.


Aren't I just full of encouraging news today?

My Cold Right Foot and straight talk nobody wants to hear about FASD

Two very unrelated posts.

The last two days my right foot has been terribly cold all day long. My other foot seems fine and no, I'm not sticking one of them out of the window.

It's weird.

Yesterday I took 20 minutes doing steps on the Wii and still it was cold.

And I have to talk about FASD for a few minutes because lately Tony's behavior has been so much like Mike's that it scares me. He came to us at 20 months without any diagnosis (obviously). We have no proof that his birthmom drank while she was pregnant and there is no documentation that she did. But good grief....

Last night after the pringles throwing fit he finally settled down. We had a long talk about not taking things that don't belong to you and about telling the truth, etc. MInutes later I let him go sell some cards for a football fundraiser and he walked straight out the door and hopped on MY bike. Something in that brain of his just isn't clicking.

This brings me to the reason I am posting.... So many people who want to adopt will say "we won't accept kids with FASD." And all I think to myself in the back of my head is, "Good luck on that one."

Think about it. Seriously. A birthmom who cannot keep custody of her child -- is that someone that you think is going to be sober throughout her pregnancy? Sure, it's possible, but not probable. If the statistics are that 1 in 100 babies born today are born somewhere on the Fetal Alochol Spectrum, then I would guess that in the world of children removed from their birthparents because of a Child Protection issue, the statistics are going to be a lot lot higher.

But the kids are not diagnosed unless there are facial features. If there are no facial features there is supposed to be some kind of proof.

I recently had a caseworker send me a case file for one of the families I'm trying to match. I read through the file and it said all through the file that relatives said that the birthmom had been drinking during pregnancy. So I wrote back to the caseworker that my family had been trained about FASD and was willing to parent children who had those issues.

She wrote back and then called and said again and again, "these children are NOT diagnosed with FASD." I wanted to say, "WHO CARES?" But i"m a professional.

So the end result is that the family, who I told "you better prepare for kids who are all prenatally affected in one way or another" was not chosen. I hope that the social worker for the family who is chosen was able to make the same conclusion and not buy the story of the worker of the children.

If I were a betting person, I would bet every time on a kid from the system having been exposed to alcohol in utero. I prepare all my families for it. Then, if it isn't the case, a nice surprise. But that's better than not being prepared at all.

I know, not the news anyone wants to hear. But if you saw Tony at 20 months when he walked into our house you would have fallen in love with him too. And if you would have been naive and inexperienced like we were, you would have thought nothing of the fact that he was born to a 17 year old who was in foster care herself and most likely drank during the pregnancy. But looking back, we shoulda guessed.

That's not to say that we didn't love him ... and still don't. That's not to say we wouldn't do it again. It's just to say, I guess, that "there is no FASD diagnosis" really means virtually nothing. Because you have to figure that if you need admission of alcohol use that nobody who is being investigated for abusing or neglecting their child is going to say, "oh yeah, I drank all through my pregnancy."

And remember this: A lot of the damage to the brain of the fetus happens in the first trimester -- a time when a lot of women don't even know they are pregnant. So some birthmoms who make that responsible choice and stop drinking as soon as they find out they are pregnant still may have affected the child.

Not something you wanted to hear probably. But the facts. And I am sure my blatant honesty is going to enrage someone.

But seriously. Think about it. If you absolutely could not parent a child with FASD, adopting a child from foster care is like playing russian roulette. Except that there are more like 5 bullets in the gun instead of one.