Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Relapse but going strong

My cold came back with a vengeance. But after sleeping in because of a late school start, I began the busy day. First, get kids to school, then meeting for taxes with the attorney. Then lunch with Bart (I love having lunch with him) and then to the coffee shop to hurriedly plow through emails before a post-placement visit. Then the girls and I headed 2 hours east of here to get John. Salinda drove there and did an excellent job. We picked up John, headed to the mall, and had supper in the food court. I stayed there and did some more email while they shopped. Headed home and here we are. All is well, and we're happy for the most part.

Tomorrow I head for Grand Forks. I'm going to take John and Salinda with me. It will have it's ups and downs, but I'm hoping for a good trip. I had planned on this being a chance to get away, but I'll sacrifice ... hopefully I'll be glad I did.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm Glad I'm Growing Up... Because They Aren't

The weekend was riddled with conflict as Salinda tries to navigate a very unhealthy relationship. It's not an impossible one, and I haven't concluded that it's not worth saving, but she responds to him the same way she has historically responded to me when she is under pressure. And as you who have been reading the blog for a while know, that ain't a pretty sight.

Yesterday I came home from a Women's Study group to a major conflict that was in some of it's final stages. I had to convince her that calling the cops wasn't the best option and eventually I got them both in the vehicle to take him home. After fifteen minutes of continued horrible behavior, the whole thing resulted in her sobbing for 40 minutes. After we dropped him off I offered to talk, she refused. I offered again later and we were able to have a decent conversation.

After it was all over I looked back and realized I had made some progress. I'm still far from being perfect at dealing with her when she completely loses it, but I have gotten so much better at not escalating the situation and remaining calm myself. This has been a huge key.

I have a trip this week. I have offered to let John and Salinda come with me... it will give John a break from being at the group home (he's on spring break from school) and it will give Bart a break if I take them both with me. It will involve 14 hours of car time as well as a day an afternoon together. Salinda may get to catch up on some of her school, which is my goal, and the more positive interchanges we have the better things will go.

My big bout with sickness still isn't over. It had a reprieve where only my stomach was upset but I'm starting to cough again and can feel a cold coming on, or coming back, or starting up....

Just came back from the Y and am feeling quite groggy from last night's Nyquil, but I have to make a trip today so I can't spend any of the day sleeping...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Calm in My Home, but Not in My Head

This morning I woke up a couple hours before I needed to. I wanted to go back to sleep as the house was completely quiet and calm, but my head just started spinning.

Salinda and I had a wonderful ride Friday night to pick up her boyfriend. She drove and did fairly well and we had a nice conversation. Her attitude has not been too bad lately, even though she still isn't doing what she is supposed to do with school. Otherwise she's been fairly helpful and at least not taking out her stress on the rest of us (probably because she doesn't feel any cuz I'm feeling it all for her, but I digress).

However, yesterday she decided to start complaining about the food we serve and that pushed me over the edge and I gave her a "talkin' to" about her demands and she decided to take it out on her boyfriend so they had an argument and he threatened to go home. It is their typical response to any conflict -- get away, don't resolve it, break up, be done.

I spent a long time talking to them and he decided to stay. But I've done a lot of thinking about how unacceptable some of her habits are and how they are not working for her and this morning I couldn't stop thinking about how to explain it all to her without arguing.

On top of that there is a situation at church that has my head spinning as to how to best handle it... and I couldn't stop my mind from going through a very long to do list as I am facing an incredibly packed week with a couple of things that really have to be done (like getting the tax stuff to the accountant, for example).

So as Bart was getting ready to leave this morning he said, "Aren't you enjoying the calm that surrounds us?" to which I responded, "I might enjoy it if it weren't for the chaos in my head."

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Saturdays are open days most of the time, full of options. There are the things we SHOULD do and the things we NEED to do, the things we HAVE to do and the things we WANT to do.

Seldom do we push through the NEEDS, SHOULDS, and HAVE tos in order to do a WANT.

But today it looks like we're just going to ignore most of the three first ones and head to the last and see a movie.....

Friday, March 27, 2009

i Just Have to Say This

Even though most of you don't care.

If you had a mac

and Keynote

and an Iphone

How cool is that remote application?

I just used it for the first time and I'm so psyched. Using my phone to control my presentation.

You ain't got nothing microsoft....

Do you have a Blog or a Blahg?

In order for you to say the title of this entry you have to pronounce the first blog like Emma Thompson would, with a slight British accent, a lilt in your voice, and very sophisticatedly (which probably isn't even a word, and if it is shouldn't be used in this context). They you have to say the word Blahg as if you are a trucker who smokes 2 packs a day and haven't slept for a week and have something stuck in your throat that you are trying to hack out but it keeps getting caught.

Then ask yourself if you have a blog or a blahg.

I think they would be defined this way:

A blog is intentional. The writer produces well thought-out entries with an intended purpose. Each entry has a logical conclusion and is artfully created. Someone who writes a blog has their readership in mind. They think about who might be writing and what they might want to read. They do some planning and they have an agenda. They even proofread their entries. My husband Bart definitely has a blog (when he gets around to updating it).

On the other hand a blahg is basically, as Bart puts it, "barf on a page." Thoughts pour out without thought to the reader. Proofreading isn't dreamed of and seldom are posts even reread before posted. It is filled with errors and the writer does their best not to consider the reader -- but to honestly do a brain-dump and pour out their heart unedited.

If I read your blog, then in my mind, I know which one I think you have. But what do you think? Do you have a blog or a blahg?

And, in case you were wondering, I'm certainly not claiming to have a blog.


i realized something this morning. I think I have some inner anger or maybe resentment about all the time my teenagers have and waste.

Yesterday was an unusual day, but unfortunately not that far from typical. I was up at 4:45. I was home from the Y by 6:20. I got 7 kids off to school, giving rides to 5 of them. I was at my training setting up by 8:25. I trained from 8 until 7 without a break. I walked a few steps and started another group which I led until about 8:15 and then I cleaned up and came home. i tried to meet the multiple demands of several children who needed things signed and questions answered and then I spent a few minutes talking with Bart before falling into bed exhausted at 10:20, only to get up at 4:45 again to be back on the treadmill by 5:20.

Meanwhile, I have children who, other than school, did absolutely nothing yesterday and one, in particular who did very little online schooling. The rest of the day they did one chore if they did that (which takes 10 minutes) and that was the extent of their effort. They didn't even do homework.

They are kids, and I get that, but sometimes the contrast between my life and theirs is just too great that when they ask me for a favor involving a great deal of my time when they so very seldom volunteer to give me any of theirs, it's quite infuriating.

I keep reminding myself that this is what parenting is about. But it makes a difference if those who are making the requests ar honestly putting forth good effort to be contributing members of the family.

I suppose all families have givers and takers, but in families with kids with special needs, whatever they might be, the difference is painfully obvious.

It takes a lot of character to continue to give to someone who doesn't give back. I never truly undeerstood what it must feel like to be God until I started parenting children who didn't return my love, who don't give back and who refuse to listen to direction. Made me realize just how often I am that child......

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crashing and Burning

I was really wound up today. I trained for 10 straight hours and then I did another meeting for another hour and a half and i was really in top form. I had made it to 9 a.m. without anyone making me mad, and so I was in a particularly good mood. The people that were at the training were fun and engaging and interactive and good listeners and that always revs me up. It was a great day.

By the end of the day I was feeling quite positive about my life both professionally and personally.

And then I came home.

Actually, it wasn't horrible, but I was faced with some crabbiness and a general attack by several kids who hadn't seen me all day and wanted some attention. I was overwhelmed for a few minutes, but things settled down.

I also got to see several children who have homes because of my work, and that is rewarding.

So I'm exhausted, but it's a good day all around. Even with the stress of the past half hour.

Lost in Facebook

I kind of got lost in someone's facebook today. He'll remain anonymous, but he and I spent a great deal of time together when I was 30 and he was 4 He's now at MIT and just such a good looking kid. His whole family and I spent a year together back in the early 90s when i was a missionary in Mexico. Now his three older sisters are married and have children it appears and I, well, I am feeling quite old.

I'm also feeling a bit old after my foray to the Y this morning when women half my size can lift twice the weight I can (OK, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but not much.

I have a full day of training today where I will attempt to be honest and yet positive about the sacrifices we should make because children need families -- hope mixed with reality.

Following that I have a women's book study at church. It's going to be a long time before I can relax.....

And I'm sleepy already...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

14 Words

If you want to find out how my trip to the Y was you can. It's kinda funny. Maybe.

Yesterday I took a vacation day from my daughter's drama since she doesn't really know that I'm alive anyway most of the time, and she told me she didn't want to talk to me, so I just figured I wouldn't make her talk. She was up fairly early and did school work without being reminded but she's still far behind. I'm trying not to check very often, but I do have a touch of OCD and knowing that I can look any time to see exactly how many assignments she has gotten done and what time they were submitted at any time is just a tad bit difficult for me to resist.

However, I keep telling myself that it would really suck if what I got done every day was on the internet and people could click over and look and see what I got done. Now yesterday, when I had a motivated butt-kicking day and I was PHENOMENAL (ok, maybe not quite that good, but pretty productive) I would have liked it if people could check cuz you would have all been so "wow, she's amazing."

But the day before that I would have preferred that you not be able to check exactly how many games of Bouncing Balls I played trying to motivate myself through the day (I have this little mind game I play with myself to get myself motivated -- but anyway, I digress).

Salinda had only texted me once yesterday to ask me when I was coming home. Otherwise I heard nothing from her. And when I got back from my full day out of the house I didn't run into her until 5:30 when I said, "I haven't seen you all day. How are you?" To which she responded with an unintelligible one word grunt. I then said, "It's time for dinner." And then she was quiet the rest of the night and I was off doing other things and so that was the total number of words I spoke to her.

I won't be talking to her until about 11 today either -- I am doing the coffee shop and then a home visit. I will touch base with her, but I can tell things are not happy in her world and if she doesn't want to talk about it there isn't much I can do.

I am hoping to have another day of CRANKING out the work. I have these hyper-motivated streaks sometimes, odd how our personalities work, and then go back into kind of a lull. But I suppose we're all like that.

And now I'm at the end of the time I have alloted to blog this morning and I have no clever way to end this. So I will just end it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Cindy blogged about eliminating toxicity today and I clicked over and read the link she posted about dealing with toxic peopl and I realized that in all actuality, some of the the people who I have allowed to become toxic to me aren't really toxic people. It's my response to them that makes them toxic.

Over the past several years different ones of my children seem to fill this role -- the role of making me overinvolved and anxious in their lives. It is usually when they are caring so little about their own life when I care so much about them. Currently, as you know, this toxic relationship is the one I have with Salinda and it has been that way off and on for the past two-three years.

The article says
They cause other people pain, craziness, and aggravation. They are not hard to recognize. Just take notice of how you feel when you are around one of these people. It will be easy to determine. You will immediately feel sick and experience physical symptoms like a headache or stomach pain. Or you will just feel like you are going crazy, but don't worry that is the true mark of being with a toxic person. Remember this so that you will be better able to identify a toxic person.

Salinda is not like these toxic people described in the article. Sure, she's made some bad choices, and she has some flaws, but she is not nearly like what is described. But my pathetic response to her is toxic and all consuming some days to the point that I get very angry with myself. Her life and her choices exhaust me. As much as I want to do what the article suggests and mentally walk away from her, the more I am drawn in to try and help, when helping does absolutely nothing.

I think that the most interesting piece of this "conflict" she and I are having is that it really isn't a conflict at all -- it's me having a conflict with myself. I need to let go and walk away as her life is sucking the life out of mine. But she doesn't care one bit -- in fact, I'm not even sure she knows what is going on with me. She is so wrapped up in her own fog of teenage girl drama that I'm not sure that she even knows I'm alive. So while I sit and stew about her failing online high school, she salivates over catalogs of $600 prom dresses....

I am getting ready to speak 3 times in the next month about how to survive kids and I need to follow my own advice. I conclude my 12 Survival Tips Speech with the following anonymous quote:

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the person I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.

Easier said than done. I constantly am battling myself to shut up and not say anything to her, or text anything to her, as she allows her schooling and her social life to sink deeper into despair. She won't let me be part of the solution (and lately, fortunately, has not been blaming me for the situation). But if she is doing her best to shut me out, why can't I just stay out????

But Cindy is right and the author of the article above are right. This silly thing is taking up way more of my life than it should. I need an intervention. ;-)

New Day

Today is another new day. I am glad that is true every morning. But I'm feeling a bit drained this morning.

It's funny -- when I do cardio workouts in the morning I feel energized -- but the weight lifting mornings I feel sore and drained. Gonna have to think about that.

Salinda's life is exhausting me. I wish I had the kind of personality that I could just let it go and let her worry about it, but as you know as readers of my blog, i so desperately want her to live up to her potential and succeed that I keep trying to help. And helping doesn't do any good. It takes away from my time and energy and it doesn't do anything for her -- sometimes it even sets her back.

But having her home all the time it makes it hard to stay out of things when she is ALWAYS home during the day. Today I"m escaping to the coffee shop where I hang out and hope to get work done, but what I really need is a nap. I've never slept there before, but there are some nice chairs there that may be comfy enough to try it....

I also have a PCA assessment for Tony and Dominyk which always proves to be interesting. I never have to worry that they won't come through for me and prove that they need assistance. They usually manage to act horribly inappropriately even without trying.

Hmmm. 20 minutes until the kids get up. Maybe I'll just take a little nap right now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Emotionally Exhausted

What an emotionally exhausting day. The kids were all home from school and Salinda had me schedule a meeting last week for this morning to go talk about going back to regular school.

But then she changed her mind about going. Refused to get up. Big argument.

ANd then Dominyk spent the day chanting he was bored ... for hours....

And Tony was Tony and there were multiple altercations.

And Sadie needed a ride here and an immediate ride back..

And then Salinda had a phone call that she won't talk about that resulted in tears. And I don't think she got any school work done today even though she acted like she was trying to get it done.

And now I just don't have any energy left and it's 5:04 p.m. I feel like it's 10.

Grateful to be Crabby

(before you read the post, please note that the teenager pictured here has never once, not a single time, in the past 17 months since he moved in, made me crabby).

I was crabby for a while yesterday and it hit me that I was crabby like a normal mom is crabby and I'm almost grateful to be crabby. Because crabby beats traumatized, super-stressed, nearly-out-of-control angry, paranoid, or in a state of panic.

I was crabby simply because I have 4 of my 9 children at home who absolutely refuse to do things the easy way and will not be cooperative. Getting them to obey simple guidelines and rules and to do their dishes once a week or their daily chores requires so much energy. And I was just annoyed by their lack of gratitude and their laziness and their refusal to cooperate.

And then it hit me -- I am crabby for the exact same reasons that "normal" parents are crabby. I have daughters who are unorganized and can't plan well. I have sons who pee on the seat. I have kids who spend too much time in front of electronic devices. I am tired of chips in the couch.....


When I remember the days a few years ago of arrests, and court hearings, and mental hospitalizations, and residential treatment, and restraining orders, and CHIPS petitions, it is actually fun to simply be annoyed by what everyone else is annoyed by.

And don't think I don't know that tomorrow something could happen to take us right back into that stress-induced hell-like fog that some of my friends are going through right now, but for today I'm simply a mom of lazy, ungrateful, unorganized teenagers... a lot of them, yes, but all of them being typical.

And I also must mention that 5 of my 9 kids at home are actually helpful and easy to parent, delightful, psychologically healthy (for the most part) and pleasant. That's higher than 50%.

For those of you blogging who are having hard times, my thoughts and prayers are with you. And remember -- there are good times ahead. Four or five years ago I couldn't see that there was hope that it would ever be any better. But whatever you're going through, it will pass.

And maybe you'll join me in the glorious land of crabby someday --simply being annoyed by your kids for the same reasons the rest of the world is annoyed with their kids -- and for nothing else.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sharing My Feelings Exactly

Brenda, the Adoption Counselor, blogged yesterday about adopting teens. Families that I have been working with lately think I am nuts when I start to talk about them the kind of child would be a good match for them. They always begin with the "younger is better" philosophy and I do my best to present both sides.

There is something positive to be said about having some background and some good memories of children by the time they hit the teen years. However, they often do not compensate for the serious issues that are hidden and surface as the child gets older -- the mental illness or FASD issues, or the genetic personality quirks.

If we were going to adopt again, i would definitely look for teenage boys 14 or older. And since this is a huge pool of kids, it wouldn't be hard to find one.

First of all, if a kid is 14 in most states, he has a choice as to whether or not he wants to be adopted. This is a positive thing for me -- a kid wanting a family, seeing how important that is, and asking for one is huge.

Secondly, you know what you're getting. You know their history, their diagnosis (even though you have to be careful with this one because they have had multiple if they've been in the system, and some may be wrong).

Third, the child may actually have the sense to be a bit grateful when you put up with all kinds of things that nobody else ever has.... of course, they might not be, but often they are.

Another important thing to remember is that if the child is very difficult -- your'e only legally responsible for them for a few years. ;-)

A 14 year old is almost through the nastiest stage of puberty, IMHO. They are more settled. We have 3 fourteen year olds and a 15 year old right now and I am enjoying them now a whole lot more than I have the past two or three years.

Finally, there are several kids out there who are 14 or 15 and in regular, basic foster care. This means that they have overcome a TON of adversity. They are survivors. If they are involved in school and church activities at this point and doing well, they have incredible potential.

Wading through their case file would be a scary thing, but I encourage parents to start at the front and read backwards. Their current level of functioning is who they are now -- their case file is what they have become.

So if you email me sometime about how you'd like to adopt a girl under 8, please don't be surprised if I start trying to convince you that what you REALLY want is a 15 year old boy.

If you could get to know our Leon, adopted a couple months before his 13th birthday, you'd be sold.... trust me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Together Again for the Very First Time

Tonight all eleven of us who live at home, in addition to Sadie's new BFF and our friend from across the street, headed out to eat to celebrate Leon's 14th birthday. We were at the restaurant for 90 minutes (it was very crowded tonight) and everyone held it together so well I was shocked. Everyone was pleasant and fun to be around and the very annoying ones were only marginally annoying. We had a nice time.

I love it when that happens.

And Leon is such a neat kid. Wow.

Confused Again

We have a new chinese restaurant in town and Jimmy is very confused as to why they would name a restaurant after Leann's Chin.

Doing Nothing

I have an unscheduled day ahead with lots of projects I should be doing to prepare for upcoming speaking engagements. Wilson is sitting in here with me and I said to him, "what should I do today?"

I started to tell him about all my options and I concluded with the option, "Or I could just sit here and do nothing all day."

"That's it, he said. "Sit there and do nothing."

I responded, "I've never been very good at that."

to which he kindly replied, "I could teach you!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Night Wilson says "Maybe I Can Be your Present"

Character: Taught, Caught, or Genetic:

Both of these children are mine. Both of them have seen character modeled and had it taught to them by the same people. (In this situation I'm defining character as having the internal fortitude to make yourself do what you don't want to do because it is your responsibility)>

Child A: Character modeled and taught for 10 years. After spending the entire day in front of the TV or computer, this child, having accomplished nothing, has to be forced to do a half-baked job on the dishes.

Child B: Character modeled and taught for 5 years. After getting up at 5:30 a.m. to spend 13 hours at a wrestling match, having wrestled six times and been injured to the point that I see pain in his eyes, comes straight home and does an excellent job on the dishes. (He got them done before I had a chance to let him know I was planing to do them for him).

Child B's history prior to our placement is worse. He's lived here less time and yet has 10 times the character of Child A.

Is Character genetic? I wish I had the answer to that question. Because I'm trying very hard to teach and model it. But what if some people are genetically predisposed to not have much no matter what?

Enabling, Rescuing, or Self-Protection

Julie hit the nail on the head with her comment yesterday. It's not always about love with some of my kids. It's not about jumping in to help them so they will succeed, it's about jumping in to help them so that they will not punish me later.

Responsible parenting says, "if you don't get up in time, you can walk to school." And so, with my easier kids who don't punish me for providing them with consequences, I just let them be. Once in a blue moon they have to walk, but overall they do a fine job of setting an alarm and getting ready for school. However, my kids with ODD .... I can't make myself let them sleep because then they won't walk. They'll stay home and trash the house. They'll refuse to go to school. They'll make my life miserable. And so I force them out of bed -- not because I love them....

Now, it may well be that if I would refuse to wake them and not take them and they didn't get to go to school or whatever -- natural consequences -- that they might learn like the others. But am I brave enough to risk it? NO WAY.

Love and Logic parenting, or the approach of natural consequences, requires a great deal more parental emotional energy than most people would imagine. To shut up and stay out of things when you're watching a kid head for disaster without stepping in and doing something.

But if we are really honest with ourselves, we don't jump in to rescue them from their consequences, we jump in to rescue ourselves from what will happen to us.

Several weeks ago I was visiting some friends who have a very high maintenance granddaughter. It was late in the evening, and the kindergartner was quite tired. Her mother, knowing her daughter well, was finding her a snack. She was carefully choosing unbroken graham crackers. 15 years ago I would have mocked her in my mind and said, "no WAY I would do that for my daughter, If she doesn't want the broken ones she can go without."

But this time I knew better. I knew that it had nothing to do with enabling her daughter or spoiling her. It didn't have to do with the mom caring at all about what kind of crackers her daughter was going to eat.

It had to do with the fact that she had a 20 minute ride ahead and she was not interested in hearing her daughter scream. She was tired, she wanted peace -- thus, meticulous unbroken graham cracker selection.

And this is the way I do it sometimes too. It's not about my kids learning self discipline or anything like that.

Sometimes it's just about me remaining sane. Lazy parenting, maybe. But there are days when that is what it takes to survive.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Great Jimmy Quote

I asked him if the neighbor across the street was ready to leave (she gives a ride to Tony and Jimmy every day, saving my sanity).

He said, "No. She isn't out there yet. She always starts her car before she leaves."

Choosing What to Regret

I was asking myself this morning and explaining it to Kari on the way back from the Y, "Which would U rather regret? Doing too much or not doing enough?"

If you would have asked me that question 15 years ago, I would have said that I definitely would want to do as much as possible, to give something my best shot, to know that I had tried everything and then, if I failed, to at least know that I had done all I could.

But today, I'm not so sure.

How many hours of my life have a dedicated to attempting to change something that cannot be changed? How many endless paragraphs of words have I spoken that have never sunk in? How much emotional energy have I spent worrying about situations I can't control? How many long conversations helping a child make a good decision have I had simply to watch them make the wrong one? The phrase "beating your head against the wall" has gained real meaning for me over the years.

And so I look back on phase one of my parenting, the first 8-10 years, and I know I did too much. And I regret it.

However, I'm not seeing a lot of results from my new approach. Sure, I'm less stressed, and I realize that I can't control them, but they are still making bad choices, they still have behaviors that don't change, and now I wonder if I'm not involved enough.

But when it comes right down to it, if the outcome is the same, maybe I will regret doing too much in phase one more than I wonder about not doing enough in phase two. I just can't imagine continuing to pour that much effort into situations that don't seem to make a difference.

I'm sure that the temptation is to comment that "yes, you're making a difference, hang in there, Claudia" but you know what? With some of our children who suffer from mental illness, FASD, or attachment disorder, I'm not really sure I am. I'm not sure I ever did. And I'm not sure that with some of this stuff, any of us can do much.

Sure, we've given them stability. We've loved them unconditionally. They have parents who will never give up on them. And I am a firm believer that this is crucial. We've done a good job with that and for that I do have a sense of satisfaction. But as far as the rosy colored picture of rescuing a child from a generational cycle of abuse and neglect and placing them on new path for generations to come may not be accurate.

But, there is this, and this is what I hang on to: We have given them a choice. A choice they may not have had otherwise. They can compare where they are with where they have been and they can choose, to a certain extent, which path to pursue. And that choice, had they aged out of foster care without parents, would never have been theirs.

But like God, who created us with freedom of choice, that freedom to choose that belongs to a child is both a parents biggest blessing and their greatest curse. For when they do choose the right things, the pride and joy is beyond compare. But sitting back and watching them choose the wrong thing time and time again makes us want to somehow eradicate that freedom and insist that we be allowed to choose for them.

Will I regret adopting any of my children? Never in a million years. Do I regret some of the choices about how to handle situations? Often. And as I age and my children age, my approach may change, but the core remains strong. Permanency, even with imperfect parents, beats the alternative hands down.

And for that reason, maybe I'll choose a path without regret, and just know that I've done more than most would dare, and face another day, committed to growth, learning, and change in me .... regardless of whether or not I see it today in the lives of my children.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pushing Past the Pain .... and shredding it

Woke up with a headache this morning but still went to the Y and am now back and at my desk. I have found it increasingly harder to work from my desk lately and I'm not sure why. For a while I was going to Dunn Brothers, but lately have found the comfort of my recliner in my bedroom to lure me away from the desk. Today though I'm determined, among other things, to finish one particular project and to work on taxes.

Salinda should be returning today after an experiment (letting her "do school work" at her boyfriend's families home. It hasn't gone so well, so now she will be staying here until she is caught up. She promises she will not be crabby, but I'm preparing for the worst. I'm interested in discussing with her some of the events that happened while she was there -- trying to help her come to her own conclusions. I know that in the past me trying to point out things has never worked, so lately I just ask questions, listen, and hope that she comes to her own wise decisions.

Stomach and head still bothering me, not sure it will ever end. Maybe I"m just destined to spend 2009 not feeling well...

Next week begins a couple of very busy months for me. I have redone my speaking schedule and it even includes a link to my new brochure about the matching presentation I have developed. It also goes back to 2007 and I plan to take it back showing a history since I started speaking about adoption topics in 2001. I know it needs some work cosmetically, but I'm just trying to get everything in one spot for now.

As you can see, the next few weeks are going to be busy.

Also, if you live in MInnesota and have been thinking about adopting or having your homestudy updated, I'm doing a training here in Mankato March 26 and 27th that will fulfill the requirement for Minnesota's Adoption of Special Needs kids 16 hour training. It's not too late to sign up for that. ;-)

Today it is my intention to use my new shredder. Maybe that will motivate me to get organized.

I wish there was a way to shred other things, besides paper (no, not my children) -- things like anxiety, stress, worry, fatigue -- I wish they could just be fed into a shredder and destroyed.

Maybe prayer is like a paper shredder for pain....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beginning the Day Tired

I did make it to the Y this morning but I haven't slept the last two nights and my stomach still isn't settled. I'm afraid I may have to rest a while again today. I'm not accustomed to this!

Bart blogged this morning about a conversation with Mike yesterday.

In just a few minutes I'll be starting the morning routine. And once I finish it, i may just have to crawl back in bed and give myself a second start to the day sometime later.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Latest on Mike

About 12 days after his release from prison, Bart updates us on MIke's current situation.

Heading into another Week

I decided to ignore my rumbling, upset stomach and went to the Y this morning. It's a great feeling to come home at 6:30 showered and having exercised. Now if I could just get my stomach to cooperate I might be back to normal.

Salinda is heading home to face the music of online school today. She is so far behind and has to catch up. I predict her being horribly crabby but she promises she won't so I guess we'll see who is right.

Regardless of how it goes, if any of it is bad it will be my fault, so at least I'm prepared for that fact.

I have an entire day ahead with no meetings. Hopefully I'll feel well enough to get some things done. I thought on Friday I was over this -- whatever it is -- but it still hasn't gone away.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Letting Go of Excuses

Having 12 kids and two jobs gives me the excuse to say no to everything. If I say I'm too busy, nobody argues. But as long as I have time to beat Cindy in mindless facebook games, I've got time.

So when Bart did his 8 week Bible Study on using your gifts in the church, I picked three things. They are all coming to fruition.

I started playing keyboard in our church worship band, and while I'm not great, the music seems to be getting a bit more peppy and the people are more energized. I'm hoping this will move us forward with this service.

Secondly, I started a follow up book study with a group of women. Actually, I was hoping to gather six women, and so I invited 13 and now there are 12 signed up. So we are having two groups. The first one started on Thursday night and the second meets this afternoon. We are working through Equipped for Every Good Work and it is fascinating. Not only so, but it is great fun to be with terrific women who are bright, fun, and gifted.

Finally, I initiated an international student ministry and we had our kickoff potluck last night. Seven students from Nepal are matched with seven families from our church and based on last evening, things seem to be starting well. Four of the students were in church this morning and it felt good to see them there.

Sometimes I need something new and different in my life, but I have to force myself to let go of my standard excuse of "I have twelve children and two jobs. I'm too busy." And I have to make time for something different.

And tomorrow Kari and I are heading back go the YMCA. I still don't feel 100%, but I need to let that excuse go.

The sun is shining again. It's time to live!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

There's Something about the Sun

It's shining today. Brightly. I think I hear birds. Something about that after months of very cold, icky weather, that makes me wanna do something ... to have energy, to get out. I saw people playing tennis yesterday, even though the courts were surrounded by traces of old snow.... Minnesotans are ready for Spring.

I have a brainstorm that I am working on about how to keep my kids busy and productive this summer. I will have 6 kids ages 14-17 home this summer and with the economy the way it is even though they are technically employable, they won't be getting jobs that typically they would because others are forced to take them. I was trying to explain to Tony the other day about the recession and hiring and such and I said, "Tony, if you were an employer and could choose between a 14 year old boy and a 40 year old man with a family to feed, who would you choose."

Tony immediately said, "the 14 year old. Duh? Forty year old men have no energy. They couldn't lift things, or move fast, or anything." I'm sure most 40 year old men would be a bit insulted by his insinuations.

So, I have a brainstorm, but I'm not ready to say it outloud here for you all to read yet, but I'll be doing some investigating today and making some plans. At some point if it is going to happen I'll let y'all know.

So for now I'm off to plan and dream, something I enjoy, regardless of whether or not it actually happens.

Friday, March 13, 2009

They'll Pick the Highway

I started my parenting journey as a "My Way or the Highway" parent. I had rules, and by George, you were gonna follow them or consequences would be harsh. And if you continued to not comply they got harsher. But I suddenly realized that if a kid has Conduct Disorder or ODD, they'll pick the highway.

The difference is.... when you're they're parent, and you have legal responsibility for them, you have to go with them on the highway.

And the highway ain't fun.

Those of you with personalities like mine who have parented kids like mine know what I'm talking about. Our choice is not to change them or fix them. Our choice is to change our parenting style or suffer. Big time. All the time.

And even if we change it, we still suffer, just not quite as badly.

Sometimes I relapse into my old ways and dig my heals in and get caught in a power struggle until I finally come to my senses and realize how much it isn't working.

And then I go back to reminding myself of how to achieve something good and I re-evaluate and move one.

But if you have a personality like mine you know that is not an easy task.

But even though my way is better they won't pick it and I hate the highway. because often the highway is the lowest possible road of all.

Actually Healthy?

This morning I can breathe. Through both nostrils. I can speak a complete sentence without coughing.

I can poop, and what comes out is not water.

Nothing hurts.

I slept all night without the help of Nyquil.

These are good signs.

I am actually at my desk for the first time in weeks (I had been working from couches and recliners). I have a little energy.

I still don't feel 100% but these are all good signs.

Yay Me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dreams, Appointments, and Lack of Energy

I woke up from dreams of middle schoolers putting 7 layer bars in my ears and gooey turtle bars in my belly button followed by me trying to find clean clothes for a speaking engagement (they were dirty from the chocolate) and helping Bart (carrying all our luggage) navigate the taxi system in a big city in Mexico..... (anybody ever ridden in a "convi"?

The morning was not good, with me groggy and sick and Bart gone and Tony shoving me into a chair after I dared touch him to try to get him out of bed 15 minutes after I woke him up the first time. If he tells you I punched him as hard as I could in the face five times, remind him that if that were the case he might have a bruise and that taking his face into my hands to shake him and get him to open his eyes might be a little more accurate.

I am now feeling a bit better but am home alone all day and having hard time pushing forward with my work, though I have tackled some projects I had procrastinated with. We had 5 dentist appointments, an emergency eye doctor appointment, a doctor's appointment, a PCA asssessment, and an IEP meeting all scheduled this week. Everything is complete except the assessment and the IEP meeting -- assessment is postponed and the meeting is tonight.

I'm starting a new women's group with some people from church tonight and I'm excited to get that started. It should be fun.

Maybe by Monday I'll be back at the Y and feeling sort of like me again. I've given myself that long to recover and then i'm DONE being sick.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Psychically Connected and Completely Incompatible

Still not feeling up to par, but the doctor today gave me permission to stop taking one of the medicines that was completely messing me up. So I am feeling a bit better already.

Yesterday morning when my stomach was so upset I started thinking about the only meal that sounded good to me: Baked Potato Bar. And I meant to mention it to my husband as a dinner plan for supper but I forgot. And low and behold, what did he make for supper? The best baked potato bar ever. Broccoli, chili, cheese, ham bacon, sour cream, and a wonderful fruit salad. Dang, I love that guy. We are psychically connected.

But this afternoon after he and I had lunch we came home and were both pretty tired. He likes to sleep with the television on and watch crime shows and I like it quiet, but I am submissive so we often rest with the TV on. At one particular part of an episode where they were explaining how this woman reached her breaking point to strangle her baby or something. There was construction going on in the house and the noise was horrific and the baby was crying over it and I looked over at Bart he was snoring above the construction/screaming baby at full volume TV show. When I quietly pointed out the irony by saying, "are you really sleeping over that noise" he quickly awakened, punched the remote power button, and said, "NOT ANY MORE." Dang, I love that guy. But we are completely incompatible.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wow. Just Not Me.

It has been a long time since I have felt such a physical lack of energy. The one-two punch of the head/cold for a week and then the stomach just has me drained. I think that the diagnosis at urgent care might be wrong as the stomach pain hasn't gone away. In addition the medication that I was given has the most horrible aftertaste that I have no desire to eat. When I do eat it tastes horrible. And if I don't eat, then the medicine itself is causing more pain. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow morning hopefully for some answers.

In the midst of it all, though, it's time for an update. Maybe I'll take time to give you one now. We've all been coughing for what seems like months, but other things have been going on as well.

Kyle (22) is taking his spring break from being a 3rd grade teacher to spend a week on a beach in Mexico. I wish him the best. I lived there and he just needs to be careful. I love Mexico, but there are some things you just don't want to do there.

Rand (20) seems to be a bit motivated by my new incentive plan which required him to walk to work in the cold rain early this morning. All of the sudden he took some initiative to get some things done around here today. He still works about 30 hours a week at the local grocery store deli, is saving money for a vehicle, and paying back a student loan for a year in college that didn't result in very good grades.

Mike (turned 20 this week) got out of prison last week and convinced Kyle to pick him up. Kyle did what he viewed as a very selfless thing (which actually, for Kyle was pretty selfless) and gave him some $ and a ride to our town. Mike has had dinner with Bart and received some cash for his birthday. He actually at this point is exchanging work for a place to live which is one of the better deals he has struck.

John (18) has apparently settled back into his group home. Something is messed up with his credits and he needs to straighten that out. The marines are saying he is still on probation, but he shouldn't be. He's trying to get in there when he graduates.

JImmy (17) has brought his grades up to only 2 Fs and 3 Ds. He is seldom hard to have around, he's a jovial kid, but he loves to annoy his more agitated siblings. He is looking forward to playing tennis again this Spring.

Salinda (16) is currently spending her boyfriend's spring break with his family, taking a laptop to do school work, which isn't getting done. She may very well fail a couple of her classes and I'm tired of stressing about it. She is the queen of "sacrificing the future on the altar of the immediate." She's thinking she might like to go back to regular school for fourth quarter but can't decide which one.

Ricardo (15) finally finished wrestling and came in 4th in the district, not bad for someone who started the sport when he was almost 14. He's going to join a freestyle club and also plans on playing soccer. He tries hard at school and it is starting to pay off.

Mercedes (14), other than being a bit two involved in 7th grade girl drama to keep her grades up, seems to be having a fairly good year. She's really wonderful to have at home 95% of the time and is very invested in our family system.

Tony (14) may be the death of me yet. His ability to agitate me and push my buttons exceeds that of Kyle at his age which really takes some doing. His grades are slowly going up and there are moments when he can occupy himself and not drive me crazy. He just finished wrestling and is deciding between tennis and track. He wants to try the shot put.

Leon (13), other than struggling with a couple grades, remains a sweetheart. He finished wrestling as well and other than an occasional blip, does very well. He is also finishing wrestling Jr. Varsity and plans to run track.

Dominyk (12) is in Boy Scouts and loves it. He is starting to become more independent which is good, but his combo of OCD and ADHD can put us over the edge some days. His weight continues to climb but abilify is only medication that works for him.

Wilson (10) other than being sick the past few days is doing great. He is quite popular, invited to everyone's birthday party, and has a couple good friends who are here often. He can still melt my heart but his Dad, well, talk about having someone around their little finger.....

So that's the scoop. I had many blog entries formulating in my head the past few days, but I just don't have the energy. Bart and I have both felt tired, drained, sick and burned out the last couple weeks. Hopefully change is in the air.

Thanks for putting up with this dry spot. I'll be me again soon. Just watch.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Still not up to Par

Still not feeling well. It's a general sense of unhealthiness and I can't seem to crawl out of the hole I'm in. This is quite unusual for me and I hope it doesn't last much longer.....

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Explaining My Absence from Blog Land

My body has just decided to rebel and attack me. The head cold that started 9 days ago has moved to my chest and I'm coughing way more than I want to be. And Friday morning my stomach started to hurt so bad that finally yesterday afternoon I went to urgent care. Apparently there is an infection there as well, so I have antibiotics for that. I stayed away from the computer most of yesterday and slept a lot, which points out I truly was sick. I had a low grade fever, chills, the works.

I debated going into great detail about some of this stuff, because it could be hilarious, but I just don't have the energy. I'm involved in several things for church this morning, so I'm forcing myself to get up and get there, but I really don't feel up to par.

And now you've been able to listen to me whine once again. Lucky, arentcha?

Friday, March 06, 2009

I needed to read this today

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.

A big crowd gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants. The race began but no one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:

"Oh, WAY too difficult!!"

"They will NEVER make it to the top."

"Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!"

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one, except for those who, in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher.

The crowd continued to yell, "It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!"

More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But one continued higher and higher and higher. He just wouldn't give up!

At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

All of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it. A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.

It turned out that the winner was deaf.

For someone who doesn't drink coffee

Isn't it weird that I practically live at a coffee shop? Surrounded by the smells of gourmet mocha latte expresso cappucinos, I drink my ice tea and have some breakfast almost every morning. And then I sit and work here, undisturbed as well as comforted by the conversations around me. It makes me feel more human somehow.

I'm feeling a bit better today though my cough is more frequent and lower in my chest. I may be nearing either the end or the worst of this virus that has taken over our town.

Salinda is in a cooperative mood this morning, which is nice and I left her that way to return and take her for the weekend. She is taking a laptop with her with the intentions of catching up with school. The best laid plans. She's getting farther behind by the day.

Mike called last night to talk to Bart and he will be wanting to talk with him today. He's so desperate, but we have nothing to offer him. He doesn't want supervision so a group home environment isn't something he will agree to and there aren't any other options. Nobody can get a job, much less a convicted felon. It's a sad situation. Not ever easy to know what to do. Tomorrow is his 20th birthday.

Sometimes it is downright discouraging to look at the results of our parenting. But then there are days when we look at our kids who are doing well, thriving even, and maybe we're not doing so poorly after all. To have 9 kids at home, ages 10-20, none of them in legal trouble, not running around with the wrong crowd, obeying most of the major rules -- none using chemicals that we know of, all claiming to be sexually inactive, who aren't getting kicked out of school -- nobody is getting hurt by each other, no sexual acting out....

I'd say we're blessed.

It's a matter of perspective.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Decide to go to the Doctor. It might work.

In the night last night my throat was hurting and my cough was tight and I thought, OK, that's it. I'm going to the doctor.

And now, at 9;45 a.m., I feel better than I have in days. Maybe that's the trick.

Took Salinda to lunch lately and went through round 7 of getting her on track. Things are ok again for now.

And we had an uneventful night so at least we know Mike was somewhere safe. Kyle had dropped him off at a friends here in our town.

I have several a couple family visits today, but I'm currently enjoying my breakfast at Dunn Brothers, my new office.... ;-)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tonight's Dilemma

Bart blogged it.

Still Not Myself

I think I have two kinds of flu at once. It's been a long time since I've felt this sick but life goes on and doesn't stop for me unfortunately.

Adding to my stress is Salinda's school. A week ago I stopped checking on her as she said she wanted to do this on her own. I offered to put together a weekly to do list and now that I've been out of it for a week it appears that she is planning on failing at least one, possibly two classes. This part doesn't bother me -- that is her choice. What bothers me is that she is not following the guidelines that she agreed to about getting out of bed, etc. She is basically hoping for a life void of parenting and I'm not sure that I can sit back and give her that.

So I'm back into a conundrum about what to do with her. I wrote her a letter this morning which she has responded to, but I haven't seen her response as she is at home and I'm at the coffee shop. However, I've gotten her to agree to having lunch with me so we can talk about this. We need to keep working on communicating about things in a mature way. It's not something we've done well with the past couple years.

In retrospect I think one of the reasons that I am so frustrated is that this whole thing with her blindsided me. From the time she was 6 until she turned 13 she was the most generous, giving, kind, contributing member of our family. She was sweet and loving and we got along great. Sadie was the one I figured would give us a run for our money. And from 13 until now Salinda has been one frustration and heartache after another and Sadie has done so much better.

I guess I planned on life sucking with some of the boys, but I didn't think it would suck this much with her. I'd like to have my little girl back. She was nice.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Hannah asked in a comment for advice when welcoming a 16 year old boy into her home -- a foster son.

I'm going to start a list of ideas, and then maybe the rest of you can add some..

1) PIck your battles.

2) Don't sweat the small stuff.

3) Self differentiate.

4) Do not get sucked in.

5) De-escalate by not getting yourself riled up

6) Read Yondalia. She's the queen of teenage boy foster care,,,,

Anybody else?


Came back from the Y after being there at 5 and I am so tired. I may have to go back to bed after I take the kids to school. I hate being sick.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Less than Enthusiastic

Still not feeling good this morning, but went to the YMCA anyway. Gained weight after trying really hard to eat right and exercising 5 days last week. Just really don't want to think about how that happened. I've been back at consistent exercise for three weeks now and have gained weight. The old "muscle weighs more than fat thing" probably isn't working for me.

I've lost a file I can't find, am irritable and crabby, and am asking myself why anyone wants to read this blog post. Well, actually you probably don't want to be reading it. In fact, maybe you're not.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


This morning I am going to be recruiting families at church to be "host families" for 10 students form Nepal that I met last night. Bright, eager for connection with people, I was washing I had started the program months ago.

I read this incredible article about Nepal and I am eager to learn more about these students and their country. While I hope I can recruit enough families for all of them, I wouldn't mind them being one short so that our family could become a host family, though I know we wouldn't be nearly as good at it as some of the others will be....

Off to a busy day of church activities and family stuff..

Head Cold and my large Preschooler

Yesterday my headaches I've been having all week turned into a massive head cold that ran over me like a truck. I slept 10 hours Friday night and was still tired all day.

In addition to the headache and having a few things I had to accomplish, I was trying to assume most of "Dominyk Duty" as Bart is even sicker than I am. Dominyk is a very large preschooler on weekends. He weighs almost 190 now and he cries non stop about one thing or another. He begs and whines and negotiates and cries until he can get something he wants and then as soon as gets it or gives up on getting it he starts with another request and that is the cycle of the day. We've tried all kinds of things but usually this is the pattern.

yesterday I was firm with him and expected of him what was expected of everyone else which caused him to sob for most of the day.

It was lovely.