Thursday, April 30, 2009

And More Drama

So after a morning of Tony and Dominyk and their therapy I had been texting Salinda who was complaining of stabbing stomach pains and then suddenly stopped texting. I thought she might be passed out or something but apparently they weren't stabbing enough to keep her awake and have her sleeping it. I woke her up hours after she was supposed to be up doing school and was not treated well. I was already exhausted at 10:30 a.m.

I worked a couple hours at the coffee shop and then on my way out of town received a text from Salinda. Mike decided to call Salinda while she was home alone. He had apparently been over at the high school talking to Jimmy and had called her to announnce that he was coming to the house. Salinda told him it wasn't a good idea but he said he was coming anyway. She did exactly the right thing. She texted me immediately and locked the doors to the house. This is a huge step for her as a couple years ago she would have let him in and done whatever he asked.

The problem with the scenario was that both Bart and I were out of town -- not far, but far enough we couldn't make it back on. I told her that she had done the right thing and told her to call if he came. She called a few minutes later to say that he had called and asked her repeatedly to come outside, but she had refused and he had finally driven away. Apparently he was looking for money. We found out later tonight that he had been at the lunchroom at Jimmy's school badgering him for money until he was told by the principal that he had to leave.

I made it to the out of town home visit and then came home to have dinner quickly and then was heading out to an important meeting at the church when Salinda's mom's boyfriend called and left a message. I chose to ignore that until after the meeting. However, there was a message from John as well saying he was coming to the house tonight to get some stuff he left here at Easter. Fortunately he was also willing to bring back some of the things he had taken from us, but it was one more piece of drama I did not need. I told him he could come after our meeting.

So, after the exciting but exhausting meeting we came home and I had to arrange for John to come and pick up his stuff. And then I tried to call the boyfriend's mother. She was busy and she asked that I call back tomorrow. So we saw John, we had Mike in our driveway, and I'm drowning in teenage girl drama.




A Humorous Anecdote

Last night we were at church and we were waiting to have supper and Leon told me that he had turned his ankle at practice. I asked him if he had heard a noise when he did it, like a popping or a crunching noise. He said no and asked me why I asked.

I told the kids a story about how when I lived in Mexico I was walking down a dark stairway and twisted my ankle and fell. I made the creaking popping noise that my ankle made when it turned.

Wilson pipes up, "Are you sure it wasn't the staircase?"

And then Ricky, slowly and in his deep heavily accented voice, said a very long sentence for him, "Did everyone in the whole town have to come help you get up?"

I love it that my kids have a great sense of humor, even if the target is me. In fact, in our house you are not allowed to tell "Your mama's so fat" jokes, but if you want to tell a "My Mama's so fat joke" I allow those. ;-)

Sorry Ricardo isn't looking at the camera in this picture. I wanted you to see his smile and he refuses to look into the camera and smile simultaneously....

I am so not a drama queen

My home has drama. Plenty of it without adding drama from everyone else. But my oldest daughter is knee deep in the family daughter of her boyfriend's family and trying hard to get me dragged into it. Attempting to stay out of it as much as possible, I am doing my best to self-differentiate as she sits and tells me who I'm allowed to talk to and what I'm allowed to say. As she does her best to control me she insists that I am being controlled by his mother because I picked up the phone and talked to her for three or four minutes.

I tried to explain that I am not 14 and not going to refuse to speak to someone because she insists on it.

She has made the conclusion that she cannot be happy in our family or in our town. And until she is willing to see that as a possibility there is no way to convince her. And so she dedicates her life to plotting a way to get out of town and out of our house as often as possible. It's exhausting.

At least I have some leverage now to get her to do some of the things she should be doing.

But this never ending drama is SO not me. I avoid it like the plague and it keeps finding me no matter how hard I try to stay away from it.

Busy day this morning. Therapy for two kids, a post-placement visit, and then a really fun meeting at church tonight that I am looking forward to. I just have to avoid or wade through the mess Ms. Drama Queen sends my way and I'm not sure which takes more emotional energy.....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lasted for 5 hours

Well, apparently my intervention lasted about 4 hours. She's back to the "i'll do what i"m going to do no matter what you say" mode. SIgh.


As unpleasant as they are, sometimes my kids need an intervention -- and it seems to jump start them back on track. I ordered my favorite breakfast. I couldn't eat it because of the stress of our meeting. But the result, somehow, is a kid that is now somewhat motivated to do something..... which I didn't have when we started.

Whether genetically or otherwise, I inherited or developed the "tackle hard things" motivation and do not understand people who shut down because they can't see a way through a situation. But my daughter doesn't have that. And sometimes she needs me to say and do certain things to get out of her slump.

I just wish that those meetings were not so emotionally stressful for me....

Troubling Things

Don't you hate troubling things? I have some brewing in my head that I can't put on the blog today and they are just rumbling around in there slowly and steadily, causing me to feel anxious and unsettled.

I'm leaving soon for breakfast with Salinda which will at least mean that i"m not stressing about how that will go because it will have already gone.

That was a weird sentence.

How Many Times Can I Use the Same Title

My computer has an autofill component and so if I type the same thing in the same box it will complete itself. Apparently I have used the words "home Again" as the beginning of several different entries -- so i have had to add variations, but this time I ran out of creative solutions.

Our re-entrance into the family was with very minimal stress. It seemed to take forever for us to get home last night, but the kids did just fine while we were gone. Other than a few glares from Salinda over something trivial and Wilson being a bit out of sorts this morning (which is unusual) we are having a pretty good transition.

I checked on Salinda's online school progress after letting her be responsible for it for several weeks because it was stressing me out too much. I did so to prove she wasn't telling me the truth. Wow, is she far behind. She may not pass many classes, but it's her life and I'm trying not to get too involved. However, she wants a favor this weekend, so I've got some leverage. We are having a late breakfast together this morning to talk about it all and I'm not exactly looking forward to it. I still tend to get over-anxious before our conversations (Post-Traumatic Stress I suppose). Memories of her threatening to jump out of vehicles, grabbing the wheel when I'm driving, pushing me out of her room, screaming in my face, cursing like a sailor .... not fond memories and they seem to cause me some anxiety when i know I have to confront her again.

The next few weeks, like they are with everyone, are super busy for me and there are some things I look forward to and some things I'm dreading.

Our session went well yesterday. Bart and I did one together with a fairly large and receptive group. Immediately following Bart presented with some of his fellow trainers for a state children's mental health progra. My husband is an incredible man. Whenever I hear him speak I am awed by his insight. One of my favorite things he says is this:

I started this journey to save a few children. But instead my kids have saved me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It Shouldn't Be Blog Worthy . . .

. . . but I had time to shave my legs this morning. I am hoping that you people think that there are times when I shave my legs and forget to put it on the blog, but that may not be true. If not, it's been since August 8th and I really can't believe it's been that long.

So, I, with you, hope that I did it somewhere in between and just forgot to blog it.

We are up and ready for the day. Bart is going to sessions while I work this morning and then we present at 1. He presents after that and then we head home.

Last night we had dinner with a group of parents who have children with Mental Health issues. It is always interesting to hear the stories of people who share our plight (at least some of it anyway).

I was reminded last night of how ironic it is that adoptive parents want a guarantee that they will not have to deal with certain mental health challenges. Most of the people that we met last night gave birth to children with the issues that adoptive parents will not accept when they read a profile. They certainly never signed up for the lives they have, but they face their challenges with dignity and character.

In the adoption world parents would like to pick and choose what they are given, and we have that right. However, pregnant women do not. The difference is that if birth parents have an extremely difficult child, nobody is encouraging them to "give them back" or saying "well, this is what you wanted." I don't know if there is more compassion and understanding on behalf of others for those parents ... but at least they are not blamed for "choosing" a difficult life.

At least as a society we have come far enough not to look at a child with a physical disability and assume that it's the parents fault. And as Kari has often blogged, we all long for a day when mental illness and organic brain damage due to alcohol or drug exposure in utero will be seen as any other illness or physical challenge. When parents are freed from the bondage of the stigma, we may be able to more easily contend with the behaviors of our children.... because as long as their issues are seen as being caused by us, we have an uphill climb.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Arrived and Busy

After having lunch with some old friends we hadn't seen for two long, Bart brought me to the hotel. We weren't able to get in our room right away, so I waited and worked there while Bart went to a session. Then I came up to the room to work some more.


Actually, the mission still motivates me -- and knowing that the work I do will get kids home keeps me plugging along.

Tonight we're going to a buffet with some of the people who are involved with Bart on a committee....

I'm sure I'm embarrass him in some way.

But after all, that is why I married him. So the world would know he is imperfect.


Heading North

Bart and I are heading North to the MACMHA conference (or whatever letters Children's Mental Health are). We have various rolls at the conference and get to have lunch with friends. But first, getting children off to school... Will blog this afternoon from the hotel....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Case you Thnk My Blog Needs a Name Change...

I'm not even sure I have the energy to even write down all of the things that happened yesterday and today.... So I'll be brief:

1) Dominyk woke up incredibly agitated. We needed to leave to go film a video for Children' Mental Health and we had to leave him here with the older kids because none of the PCAs could work and we already were taking Tony to spend some time with Kyle while we were at the video shoot. By the time we were left we were sure he was going to completely lose it by the end of the day, but miraculously he didn't.

2) I finally had received the stomach flu and I felt awful. I could barely move. Finding my an outfit was a tedious and annoying task leaving me drained before we left.

3) My plan to work on the house and yard yesterday morning before we left certainly did not happen. I could barely move. Did I already say that. Yes I did.

4) Tony rode with us to the Cities and talked non stop. Sometimes the things he says are so annoying that I it requires all my self control not to lose it.

5) The video shoot went fine. I enjoyed meeting people and teasing the powers that be who did not select me to work for them but will accept my services for free. It gives me great joy to make a gutteral sound in my throat and prent to slit it with my finger when I talk to them about how they chose to cut me after the audition/training. CKCKCKCKKCKCCK.

6) We had supper with Kyle and his girfriend. By this point, the flu had overtaken me and I sat there in pain, so much pain that I didn't realize how self-centered our oldest son was being.

7) In the midst of this entire day there was adoption drama with one of my families and an adoption situation that I can't blog about it.

8) On the way home, the flu took over and I had to have Bart pull over so I could barf.

9) While I was barfing, Salinda texted me that her plans for prom were off and they weren't going. I texted her a couple times and got no story. I finally gave up.

10) I came home and fell into bed exhausted at 9 p.m.

11) I finally got up around 8:45 and checked my phone and there was a message from Salinda's boyfriend's mom. I called her and got a 30 minute retelling of a very annoying drama filled day that resulted in my daughter basically ruining her son's senior prom. I apologized.

12) Sadie had neglected to shower last night and when I finally got off the phone I had to shower but she was in there, cuttting my preparation time in half (and since I only need 10 minutes... well, you get the picture).

13) Dominhyk couldn't find his shoes. He is wearing my shoes.

14) I left for church with wet hair to teach youth Sunday school, and play a keyboard that wouldn't turn on. I played the piano instead.

15) Bart and I both felt like crap but we took everyone out to eat instead.

16) On the way to eat we got rear ended.

17) After a hurried lunch, I came home to get Salinda's side of the story and let her know I would be to her friend's house to pick her up tonight.

18) I have to leave soon and drop of paperwork for one of my families, lead a Spiritual gifts group, and then go get Salinda, still feeling gross.

Tomorrow morning Bart and I are supposed to head to Duluth to the Mental Health Confererence.

See. My blog is correctly titled -- that is only about 29 hours of our lives and I didn't include everything.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Wow, it's Almost Noon and I Haven't Blogged

Work is just exploding for me. Everywhere. I have so much that i can't seem to figure out how to get things done.

And I had to go to the dentist.

I was so bored sitting there. Fortunately there was little pain but I felt like Dominyk. I was so BOOOORED........

and I was very grateful that i didn't have that job.

Scraping the gunk off people's teeth who are too lazy to floss.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why I Shouldn't Blog at Night

What a day. Dominyk spent the morning puking and obsessing about dying. Bart let me have a break to go work at the coffee shop and I was interrupted by so many things that had to be done RIGHT NOW that I didn't get to my list. Sadie came home sick and threw up as well. Now Bart is feeling awful and Tony is convinced he has broken his toe, though he has been convinced several times over the last few months that he has broken something so we are dubious.

John had a meeting at school today where everyone was trying to convince him to move back into the house, but he only tolerated the meeting for 15 minutes and then stood up and walked out. Salinda came up with some weird plan to have Sadie recover from her illness at Salinda's boyfriend's house, which I put an end to.

Tony's meltdown over his toe was upsetting Bart so I tried to deal with it and probably further upset everyone.

And I sent off a quick email that made one of my families panic today so I ended up making a 9:00 p.m. phone call to pull them away from the edge.....

I have to go to the dentist tomorrow and I'm dreading it.

And for some reason my stomach keeps sending me negative signals as well. I hope I don't have the flu.

ANd now it is time for me to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.....

From 8:16:30 to 8:17:00

Exactly what I heard for these thirty seconds.

Ow, Ow, Ow my stomach, it hurts.

I'm going to die.

I am going to die. I'm going to die.

My stomach is going to get so big that it explodes and I'm going to die.

I'm too young to die. I know I am and I don't want to die. I'm too young.

I don't want die, but I'm going to die.

I've got to go puke....

and from the bathroom -- "I"m going to die mom"

To which I can only respond, "You're not going to die"


Dominyk has the stomach flu. He threw up several times during the night. Every time he did, I cleaned it up (How did THAT get on my list of things to do during marital-divide-the-duties day?) and then couldn't fall back asleep for a while.....

Dominyk's OCD has him completely unable to stop fixating on his physical ailments and I have already heard "MOm, I don't feel so good. Mom, my stomach hurts. The back of my throat feels weird. My head doesn't feel right. I puked you know" about 75 times and it's only 7:08. Bart agreed to take the kids to school because I don't feel so good either, but I haven't been able to go back to sleep because I keep getting interrupted.

I had nothing on my schedule today and was looking forward to getting a lot of work done. I am sure I still will, but only between repetitious reports about Dominyk's condition....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Stands Out to You?

I am thinking about doing a top 10 Funny Posts and Top 10 Serious Posts list on the side of my blog.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Does something come to mind quickly when you think about something funny I've written or something serious that moved you?

And Time Keeps on Tickin.....

This school year has just flown by days are so packed that they almost run together. One thing after another it seems, day after day until it's a blur. Today I have an IEP meeeting, a home visit, and several phone calls to make. I have some important reports that need doing on top of dealing with Tony who is still home sick.

Maybe I'll have time for a blog entry that is burning in my brain.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Too Harsh?

I need to call Cindy's Cell and say, "Hey girl, tell me I wasn't too harsh" . I just read John the riot act when he finally got around to calling us to tell us he's OK. I let him know he was making a horrible decision. He is convinced he can make it on his own, living with a girlfriend's family without a job. I tried to point out that it was possible that she might not love him forever and that it was a little hard to get a job and that he had just walked away from free room and board indefinitely. But he is convinced that he is fine and that he is making the right decision.

I was probably a little frustrated, just letting him have it, but I represent reality and I thought I'd give it one more effort before it became impossible for him to change his mind. He could go back to the group home today and not have any problem getting them to give him another chance. But by the end of the month it will be too late. And that isn't enough time for him to crash and burn.....

So I was firm ... representing the ever so annoying reality of life to him -- while he lives in a fantasy world where he is ready to make it on his own and group home living is not for him. For his sake, I hope that he proves me wrong. BUt I have a strong feeling that once again I will be right.

When it comes to some of my kids, I hate being right.


I'm at the coffee shop even though Tony is home sick and Salinda is home supposedly going to do school work. I figured staying there I would get very anxious and they are certainly old enough to be home alone.

I am thoroughly enjoying time to work and get things done. I'm speaking in Texas two weeks from today and I'm working on a Keynote presentation, getting to use that creative part of the brain. I am often spurred on to get more done if I can take those creative breaks. Later today I have to deal with some unpleasant situations, so I'm giving myself a few hours this morning to dive into something I'll enjoy.

I truly do enjoy my life as a whole. I love the fact that I can always think of something to do, that I have plenty going on at church, home and work and that I have the ability to do amazing things because I am a Mac user. ;-) I have enough ideas that I could keep 20 people busy 40 hours a week...

So I'm off and running and content. At least for the moment. Until the phone rings or a text or email comes in... I wonder how long I'll have to feel good.

I know that you think I sound negative, but I'm just being realistic. How many of you know the feeling I'm talking about? All is good now but you are just waiting for something to mess it up......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Did your Food Taste Well?

I am really annoyed at a whole lot of people and a whole lot of situations, but I am going to take it all out on an innocent server at a restaurant we went to last night who asked me if my foot tasted well. not swell, but well....

I mentioned to him that he was using incorrect grammar. I said that he should have said, "Did your food taste good?" because the modifier was modifying the noun, food, not the verb, taste, and thus he needed to use the adjective -- good -- as opposed to the adverb -- well.

Now, if someone corrects my grammar, even if I think I am right, I suggest to them that I will have to check into it. Instead, he wanted to defend his case. "Well, I think it sounds right. And I'm going to keep saying it. And nobody but you has ever had a problem with it. I say it all the time."

And since I was experiencing back pain, and probably a little crabby about several things, I said something that really isn't very Minnesota nice. I said, "Well, they were probably just nice people and didn't want to correct you. But they may have walked away thinking you were a moron."

To which he mumbled something about not being a moron. And then the girl next to him, another waitress, said, "I don't think it is nice to call someone a moron." To which point I said, "I didn't say he was a moron. I didn't even say that I thought he was a moron. I simply said, that others might think he is a moron if he doesn't use correct grammar."

And his conclusion was, "Well, I don't care if it isn't correct. I'm going to say it anyway."

And that pretty much sums up what I think about a whole lot of people today. They basically walk around this world saying and doing stupid stuff and then they say things like, 'I don't care what people think. I'm going to do it anyway because I LIKE it."

The bottom line is that there are a whole lot of dumb people in this world and, even though I try to be as "Minnesota nice" as I can, sometimes I just gotta let someone have it. I suppose it was a bit cruel to take out all my frustrations on a poor kid who takes people's money at a local restaurant, but good grief, am I asking too much to have someone say, "Hmmm, maybe if the way I talk is COMPLETELY WRONG I should think about changing it?"

Nope, his food is going to taste well forever. Moron.

P.S. Now I'm having all these thoughts about how people are going to take this the wrong way and not see the humor in it and how I'm going to get negative blog comments if I'm too mean. Yikes. What a world we live in. People can commit horrible grammatical errors and continue to choose to do so but when I talk about them anonymously I feel guilty? Ugh.

Got "er Done

Well, we made it through yesterday. It was one thing after another all day back to back.....and we made it to the end. Now we're up at starting again.

I took some pictures at the International Festival yesterday, but of course they were not on the memory card (because I had taken that out of the camera) and now they are on the regular camera itself and of course I can't find the cord. So if I ever find it you'll get to hear about that.

My back was so stiff yesterday that I didn't dare try to go to the Y today -- and Kari wasn't feeling well either so neither of us went. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be feeling better.

We tend to drag out birthday celebrations here so we have yet to do his cake....

I'm heading to get Salinda after I drop off the kids at school -- and I'm taking 7 of them this morning as the neighbor has to go in early... Picking her up always makes me anxious because sometimes she is really crabby. The break from her has been nice, but it comes with a price.

Wow, this blog post is making me yawn. It needs to end.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Facing a Marathon Day

In order to organize my thoughts, I am going to tell you about our day. Fortunately, I'm not nearly as stiff as I was last night, or I wouldn't be able to even get up to go anywhere.

We have Sunday school at 10, church at 11... then we'll head home to change and then go to the international festival at the Jr High/High school where we will buy various foods there for our lunch. Sometime before three I need to shop for Dominyk's birthday which is today and possibly have his cake. I lead a spiritual gifts study group at 3 and after that Sadie and I are going to try and catch the VIP sale at JCPenney's before we have practice at 5:30. The kids have youth group at 7.

John is still missing from the group home. We haven't heard from him. And Salinda is coming home tomorrow morning after a long absense which always adds a layer of stress to my life....

Fifteen minutes from now and I will be hopping in the shower to begin it all. I'm tired already just thinking about it.

Marlboro Man in the Morning, Pioneer Woman in the Afternoon

We had Kari, Mike, Ben and Anna over for dinner last night and Bart made a great meal. I had sent him a link to a Pioneer Woman recipe that I thought would taste really good and he surprised me by announcing he was going to make it for dinner. Though the picture didn't turn out looking anything like hers, the potatos were delicious. The fruit salad looked as lovely as it tasted, and the Ice Cream Cake that Kari picked up on the way over was quite tasty, though as her personal trainer I probably shouldn't have allowed her to eat any.

Thinking about how Bart had wanted me to get up early and head out and look at the yard and start working in the dirt, I commented at the table last night that not everyone can have Marlboro Man in the morning, and Pioneer Woman in the afternoon. To which Wilson asked, "Which one of y'all is the man at night?"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five Hours Later

Bart and I were outside for 5 and a half hours. Most of the kids were out there for 5. Some of the kids worked for almost all five of those hours. Others did not. Wilson is the only one who didn't help but hey, he's little, and cute, and he had a friend over.

Here are some highlights.

Ricardo is the most diligent of our workers. He quietly works HARD without complaining or arguing. He was Bart's preferred right hand man for most of the day. He motivated Rand to keep up pretty well most of the day by his example.

JImmy spent most of the day inside cleanign the house, which he did an excellent job on. He came out and helped us finish bagging towards the end.

Sadie helped me with a big rock project and then helped haul wood and bag. As usual she was cheerful and helpful and posed for a picture.

I paid Dominyk a penny per rock. He has no idea that if he had worked by the hour he may have made more, but this kept him motivated.

Tony was walking by with a few sticks and I grabbed the camera and said, "I gotta get a picture of you working while I can." Then my battery in the camera died. He insisted I use my phone to take another one and then grabbed a bigger armful of sticks than he had used all day to pose for this shot.

Leon was at a friends and so was Salinda so they missed out on the fun.

We started with the side of the house looking like this.

ANd by the time we were done with that part of the project it looked like this.

But we still have several more hours of work to do on another day, which is evidenced by all this junk we hauled to one spot in the backyard. Lots of junk.

And just so you don't think that I just sat there, look at these nails! Cindy would be shocked, as would several of the rest of you. Not because my nails are usually nice, but because they belong on a keyboard, not in DIRT.

ANd finally, a picture of Preacher Man's blister. Another anomoly.

I took a picture of his calves, because they are sexy, but I know he wouldn't want that here. Even though he thinks he can call me Cowlaudia.

You'll Never Guess What I'm Doing

At the moment I'm checking on some software that I am installing (that I am very excited about) but the whole family (with the exception of Tim and WIlson) are outside working on the back yard. Bart is motivated this year to make it look nice and he's got us all out there helping.

And there is even talk of trying to grow something. But I'm not going to jinx it by talking about it yet.

But for now we're outside raking....

Friday, April 17, 2009

Those Moments of Joy

When I share my "12 Survival Tips" with audiences, one of them is "Find one moment of joy each day."

Today's moment of joy is named Tim.

Without asking, Wilson brought Tim home from school and suggested he spend the night. When we got to the restuarant to celebrate Dominyk's upcoming birthday, Tim's true personality shone forth. Extroverted and adorable, he immediately figured out that nobody was going to know he wasn't part of the family. "Hey, it looks like I'm adopted and you guys are my parents too." He immediately started telling people around him that he and Wilson were twins.

He decided that the waitress carrying the sizzlin fajitas was also "Sizzlin" and started immediately to flirt with her. When she teased him back he winked at me as she left and said, "I've got a chance."

I asked him if he thought it might be a problem for her than he was 9 to which he indignantly replied, "I'm 10!"

He also informed me that he understood women ... that he simply told them "My way or the highway." When he asked him how that worked for him, he responded, "I've got GAME."

Later he asked the waitress straight up if he had a chance of dating her and she mentioned that her boyfriend might not be very happy if she did.

I asked him if he came with a remote because his volume was set a little high, so for the rest of the meal every time he got noisy i would pretend that I had a remote and was turning him down. Immediately he would pretend as though I had turned him down too far and simply mouthed words until he reached over and pretended to take the remote out of my hands to turn himself up.

There were so many things he said that were hilarious that Bart and I laughed through most of the meal. And since Mike was trying to call while we ate, we sure needed that distraction from impending drama.

Sometimes God knows what we need, and tonight I needed a 10 year old boy with game to provide that moment of joy.

The Plot Thickens

Well John packed up his stuff and left the group home. We assume Mike picked him up, but we don't know for sure. It is such a complete repeat of what happened 2 years ago. Mike did the exact same thing on April 20th two years ago.

He left a note indicating that he would be living with another family, but I'm not sure he'll ever do that. If MIke did pick him up he may never make it back to school to finish out the year. Once again we did everything we could to set up a decent transition to adulthood for one of our sons, and once again a son is walking away from it.

Salinda all the sudden is texting that she wants to come after being gone for a while and I'm wondering if she knows they are here and intends to hang out with them. That would be their next move together -- to sneak her out to hang out with them.

In addition, Tony got in a fist fight in school today and we are concerned about how long we and he can remain safe with his very short fuse, antisocial behavior, and agressiveness.

It's a great day to be a Fletcher.

The Missing Kid

OK, OK, Angela -- so 4 plus 4 doesn't equal 9.

But this is the kid that is missing. I don't make him do anything. Could you if his little face looked up at you like this? (Hairdo his own doing)

Actually, he falls in the middle between the two groups. But most of the time I just can't muster the energy with him to put up a fight. He is so cooperative and cute..

Buzzing with Activity

Our lives are abuzz with activity. Two kids in track, one in tennis, one starting soccer -- my jobs, the church, and it's Springtime. And I have made it to the YMCA every morning this week with Kari.

I really wanted to spend this time writing a parody of the song "Your Body is a Wonderland", changing it to "Your Body is Such a Wasteland" but I really cant' dedicate the time to it. I know you are disappointed.

i was talking to Kari this morning about how right now we have nine kids at home and 4 of them have to be forced to do what they are supposed to do and the other four do what they are supposed to without being told. I am so tired of parenting the ones who have to be cajoled, threatened, consequenced, even bribed just to do one chore a day and the dishes once a week. you'd think I was asking them to climb Mount Everest....

The group home where John lives left a message last night on my phone. They were calling "make sure he had our permission to leave for the weekend to see his brother." Well, I immediately knew Kyle hadn't invited John for the weekend, and nobody here had, so I knew it was Mike he was planning to see. I called them back and said, "That's like you asking me, "Does John have permission to jump out of a six story building face first onto concrete. No, of course he doesn't have permission to spend the weekend with Mike."

Mike doesn't have a vehicle. He doesn't have a license. But he does have manipulative powers over John that might convince him to abandon a very good plan.

It was almost exactly two years ago this week that Mike was in a halfway house. We had him qualified for free room and board and a succession of programs that would guide him into adulthood. He was a senior in High School on target to graduate with six weeks left. And he walked away from it all.

John is in the same position. He has room and board paid for indefinitely. He has six weeks until graduation. He has a plan. But this one weekend with Mike could derail him completely and he could end up homeless and without a diploma very quickly.

I know that John is 18 and he can walk out of that group home and go with Mike if he chooses, but I certainly am not going to put my stamp of approval on such a stupid plan. But it's beyond my control and that stinks.

It could go either way. John could tell Mike no, that their parents won't let him, and stay put for the weekend. Or he could simply arrange for Mike to pick him up after school and not go back to the group home. I hope he chooses the former.

It's unfortunate that I am so used to bad choices that I almost expect them. No matter how much I repeat myself and harp at my kids about making good choices, they just don't. And then they are so shocked at the natural consequences of their actions. I could give you paragraphs of examples.

But instead I will just repeat my mantra,
"Lord, give 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."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Boy

What a little honey he is. He got two first places and a second in his track meet today. I was sad to have missed it.

Everyone who thinks adopting a 12 year old is a guaranteed hassle needs to meet my boy. Dang, I love this kid....

Wow, what a Day

I got up at 4;45. I did the Y and was Jillian for Kari. I was in rare form.

I came home. I got everyone but T & D ready for the day and out the door. I took Tony and DOminyk to therapy. I stopped and bought Tony something for his track meet before taking the boys back to school.

I came home and plunged into email and IMs for work for 3 hours.

I left and did two home visits and between then did email at a coffee shop.

I drove straight from my second home visit to my lady's group from church that I lead that ended at 8:30.

I came home.

I'm blogging. And I'm tired.

I had an excellent morning, mood wise, but by midafternoon I was dragging. I made it through though.....and now it's time to fall into bed.

Tommorow won't be quite so frantic....

As my kids would say... this is so frickin hilarious

You have to look at my other blog and see Kari's personal trainer. And you can hear about our morning at the Y from Kari by reading here.

I Could Do It Too

Just so you know, i could have a really cool blog too, you know. If I didn't have 12 kids and 2 jobs and 4 specific responsbilities at church and a workout schedule (and the responsibility of being Kari's trainer). Looking at some of the really popular blogs has me dreaming of having the time to invest in making this that good. But instead you get 15-20 minutes of my day ... often drivel... and once every week or two a post worth reading. I hardly even have time to get the camera out any more.

Some day I'll have 20,000 readers instead of 200. Well, maybe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

The Adoption Counselor and her post today, and the video she referred to, had me in tears today.

How the Internet Sucks

This morning I got back from the YMCA determined to sit down and blog before the kids woke up. But I have several blogs that are RSS Feeds and my computer notifies me that they are updated and so I had to check them. And since Scott Kelby, one of the people I admire a ton but have never met and has nothing to do with adoption, had updated, I had to read him. That took me to The Pioneer Woman, who I had heard of but never read before, and these stories about how she met her husband.

And thirty minutes later, zero blogging done, zero anything done, except reading the beginnings of a cool story that I'm going to have to resist all day long.

And that is how the internet sucks. It sucks us away from the things we are supposed to be doing and sucks us in the lives of other people and since I was very young people have always intrigued me to no end.

Fortunately, Ricky and Leon went to the school at 6:30 to lift weights and Sadie can ride with the others and Bart is taking Wilson and Dominyk this morning, so I have been given back my half hour.

And now I am passing those links on to you so that you, too, may discover just how much the internet sucks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Coffee Shop Fantasies

I'm going to head to Dunn Brothers. I need a change of scenery. And even though I don't have to go anywhere (no stress here, I'd actually be home alone) I want to get out and rub shoulders with normal people who have different lives. At this particular place, lots of people (I'm assuming who have home offices) go there to work. Often they talk on the phone about business stuff and I like it. I like to eavesdrop and think about what it would be like to have a job that wasn't so all-consuming. Dealing with people's lives all the time can get exhausting. It really is a burden at times, one that I carry with me 24/7. I dream about my job and I think about it most of the time.

So call me a sicko, but I go to the coffee shop and fantasize a bit while I work on hard things. I think about what it might be like to have a job where the worst thing that you could do to a "client" is mess up their website, or install their garage door wrong, or provide them with a logo that they thought was the wrong color. Now, I'm not saying that those things don't produce stress, but the fact is, they can be done over. They can be fixed.

Placing a child in a family is a much different kind of thing. Once it is done, it is done and there is no way to do it over. Suddenly everyone's life is changed and there is no going back. There are times when children are hurt further by families and times when family's lives are destroyed by the issues children bring them combined with fighting the system to try and get services for them.

I have to take a paragraph to repeat what I've said before -- that the most difficult part of placing kids for me knowing what will happen if the parents need support. In attempting to advocate for their children, they will often embark upon a journey of blame, shame and frustration. They will most likely be denied the services they need and will sometimes be taken to court and accused of abandonment or neglect. They will have people intruding into their lives and making judgments. They will make one or two statements in frustration that are written down and repeated as the players attempt to build a case against the parents, proving that they are the cause of the behaviors the kids had long before they moved in.

So yeah. Holding that stop sign on the highway might be a hot and physically exhausting job, but those people don't stay awake at night second guessing themselves. They don't wonder if maybe they could have messed up someone's life because they held the sign too high or two low.

So give me a break people, and let me fantasize about other occupations for just a few minutes today while I help people make their dreams come true.

And pray with me that their dreams don't become nightmares, that their faith and strength will help them through the hard times that come, and that like me, even after walking through fire they can say look back and say it was worth it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

If You Live in MInnesota

If you live in Minnesota and have adopted a child from foster care, please email me privately. We need to band together and make a difference if we want to see post-adoption services to parents continue.

Weird Way to Start My Day

I went to the Y with Kari (no that's not weird) but have spent the last few minutes looking at my weight numbers since 2002. Even though I have gained back about 15 of what I lost last spring and summer, I am still lower than I had been the previous six years. That is encouraging to me and motivates me to try again.

I woke up completely dreading my day. I have a lot of things to do that I don't want to do, and I always dread Salinda's return because I never know what mood she is going to be in. But I had a great workout and now I"m feeling motivated at least. Hopefully the next half hour goes well and nobody messes with my mojo.

The day is ahead of me. My desk is piled high and my to do list is long. But right now I'm counting ont he Endorphyn Hypothesis:

The edorphyn hypothesis is the most physiologically based theory that endorphyns produced by the brain, pituitary gland, plus other body tissues, reduce the sensation of pain and produce a state of euphoria.

Or maybe i'm euphoric after working out simply because I believe I'm supposed to be.

Whatever. It's working for me. Until someone pisses me off. ;-) Nothing like getting 7 kids off to school on the first day after Spring Break to test the edorphyn hypothesis....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Pictures

Easter Humor

Jimmy and Bart were enjoying their typical banter today when Jimmy announced to Bart, "you probably wish you could spend time with some boy Lesbians, don't you Dad."

Obviously, Jimmy doesn't have his facts straight.

So we corrected him. Jimmy, no such thing as a male lesbian.

Oh, well. He said. I'm just trying to be funny. It is Easter.

Easter High and Low Lights

you can decide which are highs and which are lows...

... getting up at 5:35 and realizing that we had an extra two people here and only one shower and that we only had 45 minutes for 7 of us to shower before we had to leave for the Easter Sunrise Service:.

...telling the boys to wear polos until after the breakfast they had to clean up for not realizing that they might not be able to find me between services and that they didn't know how to tie their ties...

.... Wilson and Dominyk posing for pictures and me saying Wilson's name and him pretending like he heard God. At that moment my battery in the camera died and Wilson was convinced that God heard him ...

... Dominyk having a meltdown in church because this was our second service TODAY and our fourth this week. So he ended up stabbing himself with a pencil and then bleeding everywhere so by 9:05 (service started at 9) he had to go to the bathroom and wash the blood off his hand.

... Dominyk making it only 15 minutes with his tie on before he started obsessing that it was choking him to death and that it had to come off because he couldn't breathe....

... Leon sitting on the other side of me and letting me put my arm around him and even laying his head on my shoulder.

... Leon falling asleep momentarily and drooling on his tie and then being so nervous that someone saw him.

... Mercedes being her very helpful self all day long.

...Bart sending Tony away from the dinner table because at least on Easter we shouldn't have to hear the F word.

... Salinda manipulating her way into not having to come home and missing easter with the family.

... Seven of my sons in white shirts and ties and two others dressed nicely...

... helping more with dinner than usual ...

and now sitting in my bedroom listening to Wilson, Bart and Sadie snore in a quiet house....

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I really gotta stop

busting up fights when the kids each way more than 200.

My arms are killing me.

Should I Be Feeling Guilty?

Kyle is home for Easter. We found out yesterday he'd be joining us for 28 hours. He arrived shortly before lunch, which he did because we promised him it would be good. He has been here for about three hours. We went out for lunch and he came home and revealed to Bart that his job had been cut and he has to look for another one. Bart told me so I asked Kyle how long he had known. He said "about a month." and I said, "So you didn't think that was something we might have liked to know?" He said, "Oh. I thought I told you."

I haven't seen him since Christmas and he has only called us when he needed us. He makes it clear he hates to come home. It's a tough relationship for us sometimes. i've mentioned before that having him distance himself when he's never quite gotten the whole relationship piece, while it is age appropriate, is somewhat disconcerting.

So today he may have said five sentences to me personally and he says "So, you guys wanna buy me a suit" to which I did not reply favorably. I tried to explain myself but he just seemed indifferent and in a hurry to be done with our conversation.

I could never pop into someone's life and ask for something if I had not a continuous relationship with them. I would be ashamed and embarrassed to ask someone to buy me something if my own personal choices had made me broke (a spring break vacation to Cancun and a huge car repair bill that was due to ignoring warnings from his dad that he needed to get the tires aligned months ago).

So I said no. And now I feel guilty. Do we need to buy him things so that he will stay in touch with us? Do all parents get asked to buy their kids things forever, even if the kid is making more than his parents? And do parents feel bad if they say no? Is this what we have to look forward to as several of our other children become financially independent?

Rounding the final Bend in the Marathon

This week has been quite a marathon for us. Bart has had 3 deaths and several people hospitalized from the church. One of the deaths was very tragic and sad and hit all of us in church very hard. We also had the speaking engagement in St. Cloud which both of us spoke at and it was Spring Break. John had to be returned home last Monday and picked up yesterday. And there were services to prepare for and participate in (and preach at for Bart) on Thursday and Friday and there are three tomorrow. The kids have to help get ready for an Easter Breakfast tomorrow. And to help Bart out, I have purchased groceries and prepared meals for four straight days, which if you know anything about our lives is highly unusual. We usually eat out when Bart doesn't feel like cooking, but we've been spending too much doing that so I cooked this week.

Now today is the final bend before we end things tomorrow.... six haircuts, ironing and preparing outfits for everyone, a trip to the mall for a few final items and a lot of organizing and cleaning. Kyle should be here this afternoon.

Holidays are a lot of work for a lot of families, but for a pastor's family, Holy Week and Easter are especially full. But considering the sacrifice made for us through death on a cross, I can usually find a way to suffer quietly. My difficulties pale in comparison to most.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Totally My Theory of Counseling

This is how I would be if I was a licensed therapist. It is often what I want to do with my kids as well.

It makes a lot of sense really. Don't you think?

Easy like Sunday Morning

Sadie and Jimmy went with me to pick up John to bring him home for the weekend. When we were on the way home someone asked me if I cared about something and I said, "no, I'm easy." And I started to sing that old song, "I'm easy ... easy like Sunday morning."

And thinking of our mad rush each week to get everyone looking decent and out the door on time, Sadie said, 'Sunday mornings are not easy."

Making it Work

One of the things we have discovered is that if we separate Tony and Dominyk, all of the rest of the kids can hold it together at home without parents for a couple hours. In fact, they often do better without us there. The last two days our "children with a conscience", as Cindy referred to that type of children in her blog today have been steadily working on cleaning the house and raking the back yard without being asked. They know they are earning money, because we don't give our kids money they don't earn, but their motivation is to please us.

In order to keep those two apart, we took Tony with us on Wednesday, and yesterday and today, while the other kids have been sleeping, I've brought Dominyk to Dunn Brothers. He loves it here and yesterday he was very pleased with his low cholesterol choice. He has been spending time reading, which, if he will pick up a book and get started, he actually enjoys. Meanwhile, I get more work done that I would if I were home listening to him scream:


Tony is hurting me..

And if I don't respond in 3 seconds, because I'm on an important phone call trying to convince someone, over the screaming, to adopt kids like mine....

See, you don't care about me....

Thursday, April 09, 2009

ODD on Steroids

Sometimes if I can take a step back I can actually laugh at how oppositional Tony is. He really does try to oppositional about everything and sometimes I can actually get him to laugh at himself when I switch things on him. Like I'll say, "you need to go with me Tony" and he'll say, "NO, I'm NOT going with you." And then I say, "Whew, good. I was hoping to take Dominyk anyway" (or something like that) only to have him say, "That's not fair, you have to take me" to which I can easily say, "oh good, that worked! I REALLY wanted you to come" at which point of course he'll say, "Well, you can't make me go!"

After I attempted to take his picture and he turned his head I said, "Thank you so much! That picture is really going to help me prove a point on my blog when I talk about oppositional behavior. You were perfect!"

And the look of confusion on his face was priceless.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Very Difficult Parenting Decisions

I was listening to the radio today after I left the Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota conference where Bart and I spoke and I heard a commercial that said "Sometimes Parents Face Very Difficult Decisions. And then a boys voice in the background, "Can I Dye My Hair?"

ANd I was all like, OMGOSH! Let me tell you about difficult parenting decisions:

A difficult parenting decision is deciding whether or not to call law enforcement when a child is violent;

A difficult parenting decision is whether or not to allow a child to spend time with someone when you know the relationship isn't healthy;

A difficult parenting decision is whether or not to let a child who has stolen from you move back home if they will be homeless if they don't;

A difficult parenting decision is whether or not to have a child arrested for hitting you when they are on probation;

A difficult parenting decision is if tonight is the night to take a child to a psych hospital.....

and I could go on.

Can I Dye My Hair?

Doesn't even register on the chart....

Ok, so He's a Bit Spoiled, but Can You Blame Us?

I confess that Wilson is getting a bit spoiled. Not horribly so, because that's just not my nature, but the little things slip with him. He's so easy going and pleasant and he just seems to slip through the cracks on some of our rules. Since he is the youngest and will soon be the only non teenager or adult in the home, some things just don't seem to be the same for him as they were for everyone else.

He's a slow eater, but he can typically put away a lot of food so the "if you are young enough to order off the kids menu you have to" rule. And since, according to restaurants, he is our only child these days, the look on his sad little face when we order big meals and he has a kids menu is pretty pathetic. Thus, he ends up with a lot of food some days -- often more than he even realizes.

A couple of days ago Bart and I took Dominyk and Wilson out for lunch because they were the only children not at school. During the meal I looked at my Iphone and saw an email asking me to take on yet another project. It is a very important one, but I am so swamped.... so I was telling Bart about it and said, "How am I going to fit it all in?"

Wilson looked down at his plate, and back up at us and said, "How AM I going to fit it all in."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Talking People Out of It

I came to a conclusion yesterday. Maybe us parents of troubled kids shouldn't have started blogging or connecting online. Now, before you have a hissy fit, hear me out.

For me, blogging has been a lifesaver. Sharing my story with the world, the struggles we've faced and the joys, has been life-giving and cathartic. But I fear it is doing harm to children.

Not my children. They are fine. They know I blog, they know I call them by name, and they know that they can read it any time. They don't bother. But they know they can.

But the children that are being harmed are those out there in the system who are waiting to be adopted. Because our blogs, I fear, are talking people out of adopting.

I recently talked to an experienced adoptive parent of a large family who was recently matched and she said that almost every online support person she knew was telling her she shouldn't take the kids she was matched with. In our conversation, I told her why I thought that we should never talk people out of adopting kids with special needs.

I think before I talk someone out of an adoption, I should as myself the following questions:

1. How do I know what the family can handle? In a lot of cases, I don't even know the family. Sure, I know them from reading their blog, I may know them from phone calls, and I may even have been able to spend time with them in person once or twice. But unless I have lived in some kind of constant relationship with them, I don't know them. For example, I can say that I know Mike and Kari. I have spent time with them in person at least once a week since we moved here almost three years ago. We see them with their kids. We share life together. We talk almost daily. If they were talking to me about what kind of kid might match into their family, I would feel like I could give an educated opinion. I also can say that I know Cindy. We have been together in person three times in our life and I have read her blog daily for almost 4 years. We talk on the phone every once and a while. But in saying that I know her, I realize that it is a very distant way and in a very limited one. Even though I have met many of her children and been in her home, I have not been there during crisis to see how she responds. I know her family dynamics from her expression of them on her blog, but I have not experienced them. I have met and spent time with Linda and her kids and have met Mimi (not her real name) in person, and talked on the phone with both of them, but basically they are online friends. And while I can claim to know Sheri, truth is that I have never spent a second in her physical presence. So how do I know what any of these people can or cannot handle, with the exception of Mike and Kari who I am with weekly and communicate with on a very intimate level?

2. How do I know what the kids will be like? Every time I help a family make a decision about kids they have been matched with it is without ever meeting the children. A case file is not a crystal ball, and neither are diagnosis. As I have written many times in the past, there have been children's whose paperwork and psych evals have painted them to be nearly psychopathic who have moved into homes with their adoptive parents and permanency has settled them down and they haven't had a single struggle. And then there are children with absolutely no diagnosis who when they hit their teen years nearly implode and the whole family system is in shock. So nobody can read the bios of kids and their case history and say "these kids will ruin your family." There is no way to know.

3. How do I know what God wants for someone else? I have a hard enough time knowing what God wants me to do. Could God not be calling them to take those kids for reasons unseen? And if God wants those kids there, will God not be able to provide the strength for them to make it through and eventually look back and be glad they did it?

4. How do I know the future? I truly believe that if we were given a case file that was supposed to predict our future in a job, or with a birth child, or in a marriage, or with our health and we had a chance to say no to that future, we might often miss out on the greatest things in the world. Would a person who survives cancer and looks back on it, seeing how their perspective in life has changed, or how rich and full their lives have become because of the people they met, or how they have grown and changed CHOOSE to have cancer if given a choice? Not in a million years. And so we are handed a case file and told -- you can choose NOT to do this. Or what about a family who is going to give birth to a child who will later have a stroke? If someone handed them a file and said, read through this. This is what you might give. Wanna get pregnant? Not in a million years. But in adoption we have that choice. We see kids and read about them and then we have to say "sure, I'll take that" or "no, thanks, I'll pass." And I truly believe many people pass on the very things that could have made them into even more amazing human beings because the task looked too daunting and the price to pay too high. The rest of life doesn't offer us a peak at the future -- neither should a case file.

5. How do I know that my own story isn't influencing my advice-giving too much? If I am in the middle of hell (and all of us go through times when we are experiencing difficult times) how do I give someone advice without letting my current situation cloud my thinking?

6. How do I know that my own story isn't going to end up with a happier ending? I am a firm believer that if I can't do it now, that some day I am going to look back on all that I've been through and be glad I did it. Sure, I'm going to have lived through some awful times and I am going to wish I would have done things differently, but even in the midst of bad times I have been able to see that at some point in the future i am going to be able to look back and be grateful that each of my kids is my kid and that God choose me to be their mother.

7. How do I know the fact that something is going to be awfully hard means I shouldn't do it? Society tells us that if something is difficult we should avoid it at all costs. But as mentioned above, what about all the good that comes from doing very difficult and hard things? Living a life where we dodge and attempt to escape the hard things has turned us into a society of selfish folks with weak characters and very little passion or purpose. Don't even get me started.

If I don't stop writing I may never stop and I have many things to do, but let me tell you how I am able to encourage families, instead of discourage them, from adopting hurt kids.

My underlying philosophy of adoptive parenting is that I know it's not about me. It's not about the parents, it is about the kids. If I focus on the parents -- how their lives will change, how bad it could be for them, how much the system might put them through, how little support they might get -- I will never ever be able to suggest adoption.

But if I look at a child or a sibling group and I begin to think about them if they are not matched .... aging out of foster care without parents to advocate for them -- I can't talk someone out of adopting them. They may grow up to be worse than they are now, but that is a risk every parent takes, whether they are parents by birth or adoption. But they will have had the advantage of having parents and of seeing a different kind of life.

Our oldest son is not a giving person. He has attachment issues and he is not one we have ever gotten much back from. It is emotionally exhausting for us to be his parents, even when he doesn't live here, because he expects things but doesn't give back.

Last month he hurt his knee trying to do a back flip with some buddies in Cancun. He's a third grade teacher and he took the school's spring break to go on a vacation. When he returned home, he found out he had to have surgery. Not having seen him or heard much from him since Christmas, we of course knew that when he needed something he'd call.

And so after his surgery Bart stopped by to find him broke and without groceries. Bart went to the store and came back and stocked his shelves. He spent time with him. He listened to him worry aloud about his finances. And then Bart came home.

Maybe Kyle only needs parents once or twice a year. Maybe we aren't going to ever get much back from him. But to me, it was that afternoon -- that one day in his life -- that adopting him was worth paying the price. Because even as a 3rd grade teacher, living on his own, financially independent though careless, needs a parent. And on that particular day, had he aged out of foster care, he wouldn't have had one.

Was raising Kyle easy? No way. Were we idealistic, naive idiots when we read his case file and said yes? You better believe it. Did he put our marriage through stress and strain and cause us many sleepless nights? You know it.

But a couple weeks ago, at the ripe old age of 22, he needed a dad. And because we said yes we read a file when he was 10, and brought him home at 11, he had one.

It's not about us folks. It simply isn't. Because if it is, then we are the biggest of fools. But if it is about the kids, and obeying God to provide those kids with someone that most of us received without having to ask (loving nurturing parents), then we are doing one of the most powerful things anyone can do.

So I won't talk anyone out of it. Never. I will talk you into it. Because it is the hardest thing you'll ever love. And with a strong faith, I truly believe that all of us, blogging from nursing homes in 40 years, will be looking back and saying "those years were AWFUL. But they made me who I am today. And I'd do it again."

Monday, April 06, 2009

It would be nice to have just one day..

where something on my body did not feel wrong, hurt, or upset. It has been weeks since I've felt good and while I realize that my whining is very pathetic considering others are battling major illnesses, i still wish I could have one day that was pain and discomfort free.

The past two days it has been my right arm. I blocked myself from falling when I tripped the other night and i pulled some muscles in my arm. It's amazing how important it is not to have my right arm in pain. I sleep on my right side and I can't do that now. I use both arms to get out of chairs or couches so you can imagine how that goes now. And, with my still frequent trips to the bathroom, you can guess what I usually use my right arm for, and THAT has not been easy to accommodate.

Spring break starts for the elementary school kids today, the Jr. Highers join them tomorrow, and then the High Schoolers have the last three days of the week off. This is Bart's busiest and most stressful week of the year, and I'm feeling a bit behind with what I need to do. All that is not a good mixture so it will require me to be in tip top shape to navigate the boredom, stress and tension in our home over the next six days.

And without my right arm, that ain't gonna be easy.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Controlling the Uncontrollable

One of my "12 Survival Tips" that I wrote for adoptive parents is not to attempt to control the uncontrollable. However, I still try and do it.

One of the things I want to control is how much contact our son who just got out of prison has with his siblings. We had a restraining order because he would not respect our wishes to not contact the other kids, but it has expired. He doesn't understand why we got it in the first place. Said "you guys must really be afraid of me" which isn't it at all. It's that he will not respect our boundaries. When we say "don't have contact with the other kids, don't call the house phone" he does it any way. And now he got ahold of some of their cell phone numbers and he is calling them and beginning to manipulate them.

Most of what he does is probably innocent. He probably misses all of us and wants contact. But what he always forgets is that once we open that a crack he stretches it until he is back in our home stealing from his siblings. He's inviting his law=breaking friends into our house. He's asking his younger siblings to cover for him by spraying cologne around the house while he smokes pot. He takes their bikes. He takes their electronic devices. And while they love him, they don't want to have to worry about their stuff and they do. And their anxiety level goes up so high when they know he is around.

John is in a vulnerable spot at this point. The next few months will be crucial for him. I don't want him to be sucked into some plan that Mike offers to him. But now that he has a way to contact John (John is here for Spring break, and Mike has contacted him through a siblings cell phone) I can't control that. And who knows what will happen.

It has never been about loving or not loving MIke. It is about keeping everyone else feeling safe. And while the kids in our home are not afraid of Mike, and neither are we, they are afraid of the people he hangs out with and the fact that he consistently steals our stuff. It makes them nervous It makes them anxious.

And it makes me anxious that I can't provide that kind of security for them. Is another restraining order a good idea? I don't know. I don't want him to be back to no contact. I'd like to be able to have him call Bart's cell when he is in a jam or when he just wants someone to talk to. But I don't want to have him calling his siblings on the house phone or on their cells. But i can't control that. So I may have to let it go.


Yesterday Tony was doing everything he could to push Dominyk (and thus me) over the edge yesterday as we drove around the Twin Cities. And Dominyk, because Bart and I didn't communicate well, was without his Aderall, so he gave Tony plenty of ammo. However, for him, he did pretty well holding it together.

At one point during the day while we having lunch there was a lull in the conversation and Tony was actually quiet and I caught him looking for something to be irritated by. It made me laugh.

On the way from the audition to the Mall of America, Dominyk was talking about something and Tony said, "Geez, Kid. You're imagination is just out of control. I can't believe what a big imagination you have" in a very annoying disdainful tone."

And Dominyk, not at all agitated, replied, "Well thank you, Tony."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I am Doing Nothing

I am wasting time. Doing nothing. Absolutely nothing productive. And I'm loving it.

our day was long. We spent 8 hours away from the house for a 15 minute meeting. But we had fun. And I think we took 11 of us to the mall of america and purchased one easter outfit and meals for all of us for under $200. How many people can discipline themselves that much? And only one of our children complained.

Like I predicted, the day was better than I thought... and the surprising thing? Well, Salinda is in the "you can't talk to my boyfriend's mom cuz you just make things worse" mood (uh, it's called, making things TRUTHFUL, but whatEVER). The surprising thing was that she took it so far as to not let me talk to her to give her directions on where to find us. Which made it a little frustrating for her to try to help her get there. But eventually they found her.

The not so surprising thing is that Tony made sure that whoever was with him was as miserable as possible, which is why Bart and I made sure not too many people ahd to be around him.

I think we all had a pretty good day, considering. Well, everyone but Bart who came home emotionally exhausted to find he had people in the hospital he had to visit and two people had died. So he is off providing pastoral care while I do absolutely nothing.

And that isn't fair at all. But that doesn't mean I'm going to do anything.

Joy, or at least a better attitude, always comes in the morning

Slept over 9 hours last night and feel much more like myself. Thanks for those of you who commented on my rant last night -- I thought it was actually funny myself once I finished writing it.

We're heading to the Twin Cities with everyone except Rand and with one friend, so that should be interesting. Most families getting ready to take some kind of small trip like this would just get in the car and go, but we have so many different things we need to do in order to make the trip work. Who is riding next to who will make a huge difference in how the trip goes and so the logistics are quite daunting. And now we have two people to pick up on the way there and one person to drop off (yes, it's Salinda and yes, I'm actually grateful for the break from her. I need it. And I could blog about ten paragraphs about how warped the situation is with her and her boyfriend and her boyfriend's family, but I"m just going to let it be. It's not like super weird or anything -- but it is complex and... never mind. Not going to explain. But it will be nice to get a break. She's been home and in the house nearly every day and night all day long for over 2 weeks and that is a long time for her and I to coexist.

So we will see how our day goes. I'm sure that in some ways it will be better than I am anticipating, and in other ways I will be shocked by something that happens that does not go anything like I could even predict.

But most of our days are like that.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Grammar Alert: Run on Sentences while I RANT ON

We are home, but boy am I crabby. I'm not even sure I should blog any of this, but I sometimes feel like quite the hypocrite. I mean really, yesterday I got paid to be the parenting expert and today I suck as a parent. And yes i said suck. Because my mother doesn't believe in computers so she will never know that I said it.

I got up at 5 p.m. so that my daughter could be in therapy by noon. And we drove for 6 and a half hours to be there right on time and then she refused to speak to the therapist. Even though she KNEW that we got up simply to get here there in time, even though she ASKED me to set up the appointment, even though she had to know this would piss me off so royally (yes, once again, I can say piss because my mother doesn't touch computers) she didn't say a word for 40 minutes with the therapist.

So, did I follow my own advice and disengage and ignore her. NO WAY. I let her have it with both barrels. I spent the whole week going out of my way to be nice and unselfish and I got that in return. So the remaining 20 minutes of the trip was me letting her know how I felt for a change. Like she cares. Ugh.

And then I came home to a whole bunch of news about people who lie and don't do what they are supposed to do. And that bugs me to no end. Knowing that they are lying to me. And do you know why it bugs me? It bugs me not because they lie, but because they think I'm stupid enough to believe them. And That annoys me. Horribly. And I could spend my time proving that they are liars but I am tired. I've been proving that kids are liars for 12 years and some of them are still lying, so whatever.

So I'm crabby beyond recognition because I am sleep deprived and my bowels have still not completely recovered from whatever virus attacked them several weeks ago and so I can't enjoy eating much and my stomach makes odd noises and I gurgles and then I have to spend a lot of time on the toilet which is only made better by the fact that I have a new addictive Iphone game that I can play while I sit there. I know, i know, too much information.

So I have come home and my children probably wish I hadn't and now tomorrow we have to haul a bunch of their ungrateful butts -- (just in case someone prints off my blog and gives it to my mom, I gotta say butts. I mean, i could get by with piss and suck ... maybe, but I can't do a**. That would be completely off the chart of acceptable. So butts it is) -- up to the metro so that Bart and I can audition for a video about children's mental health. Which is actually kind of funny because once again, I'm a hypocrite..... I tell people to be all "I'm so self-differentiated and I have this parenting thing down" and then I lose it.

I guess the bottom line is that I try hard. And maybe there are parents out there who don't mind putting forth TONS of effort to be a good parent and get so little back -- and most of the time I get it, I really do -- they are KIDS, they aren't going to give much back -- but then once and a while I just feel sorry for myself and get mad.

And now I'm feeling like maybe I shouldn't blog any of this because some critic might come along and write some comment about how I probably don't love my children or that I'm not a good mom or whatever.

But maybe not. I mean with me being this crabby, even troll commenters might want to steer clear.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This is Why I'm Nearly Insane

I was on my way home from my speaking engagement which, by the way, was great. Fun people.

Anyway, Salinda texted me three times on my way back to the hotel. "Where are you? When are you coming home?" etc. etc.

And I got back to the hotel and came up to the room and she immediately walked out without a word and went down to the lobby.

This is why I'm nearly insane.


Everything is fine, but it's stuff like that that make parents shake their heads and go "huh?"

Can't Do It

That's the thing I'm learning. Some teenagers aren't going to be happy, no matter what you do to try. Give them exactly what they want, and it's not what they want... even if it's exactly that.

My afternoon was dedicated to meting John and Salinda's needs and the end result was a haircut John doesn't like and Salinda not being able to find a dress for prom even though she already bought one on Tuesday. Now she is planning to take that one back because she doesn't like it. But she can't find one she does like either. SIgh.

Oh well. I tried. ;-)

One Down, One to Go

Speaking engagement went well this morning. Good receptive audience. Have another one today, but meanwhile I guess we're heading to the mall.....

A New Day Up North

I woke up about 6:50 and debated sleeping a while but figured i should be wide awake for my presentation this morning. I know that the expectation is energy and humor, but I don't feel like I have much of either at the moment.

My presentation today is about surviving parenthood.... and so far I've done that, so I guess I'm qualified. But who knows how the rest of the journey will go. ;-)

I got an instant message last night that further confirms the concern I've been having about the lack of support provided to us as adoptive parents. While parenting our children is very difficult, even on a good day, doing it without support makes it almost impossible.

I'm still struggling with the idea of recruiting families knowing the uphill battle they climb. but it's about the kids.
I keep telling myself that.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

We are Here and it's April Fools in MN

Snow. Still. Bad roads for a while. Then we arrived to lots of snow. I'm still coughing like crazy and it doesn't seem to be getting better. So I guess I'll cough my way through my presentation tomorrow.

Salinda and John were excellent travelling partners. Salinda did a lot of the driving and that made me a lot less tired than usual. It was a good trip.

Tonight she is doing school in front of the hotel TV while I work. Most likely will accomplish nothing but I'm so tired of policing her that I may have to just let it go.

Heading North

Salinda and John are heading with me up to Crookston, MN and tomorrow morning I'll be speaking in Grand Forks, ND .. even with the flooding. We will be doing some shopping, possibly, and some school work (hopefully) and have some good conversations (most likely as John is a good conversationalist). Half way through the trip I'm stopping at my workplace to have lunch with people I've worked with for a long time and never met. Some of them it's been 3 years of near daily contact by phone, instant message, and email, but they've never seen me in person. I'm sure that they will be disappointed --

Physically I'm not up to par, but I'm on top of things emotionally at the moment which is a good thing. If I can just keep from hacking through my presentations, we should be OK.

I'm presenting on Surviving Parenthood -- to "normal" parents, a different audience than is typical, but they are asking for laughter, levity and meat, and I can usually provide that. I am also praying that I can be a break in the stress in the midst of the flooding, storms, and frightening situations up in the Red River Valley.

Hopefully I'll be blogging later that we have arrived safely.