Friday, July 31, 2009

We're Both Still Alive

Dominyk had a particularly bad day today. One meltdown after another about everything. He could not be redirected, he couldn't stop obsessing, I could tell my mom was getting a bit frustrated, but she has known him all his life. The thing that I thought was interesting is that she pointed out that he was actually more directable and seemed more mature 6 years ago. Now that's scary.

We have arrived in Phoenix. Dinner with old college friends tonight, and breakfast with another in the morning.... and then home.

You may want to start following me on Twitter. I have a feeling the Fletcher Awesome Road Trip is going to be worth following so you'll want to be in the habit.

Taking a Moment

I took a moment this morning to read a couple blogs while my mother is reading her BIble (I know, I know, ouch) and saw that Kari had announced our upcoming road trip to NACAC. What she didn't announce is that she suggested we call it FART (Fletcher Awesome Road Trip). She, she's as sick as me.

So, that being announced, I'm also happy to announce that Bart finished his final edit of the book last night, so there is a very good chance that we will have the book to sell at NACAC. Wouldn't that be sweet. Still a few things to do.

Dominyk has done fairly well until this morning when he refused to wear any of the shirts packed for him. I"m doing laundry and he's wearing a dirty shirt. SIgh. Crying sobbing melt down in that big body. Not a pretty site.

Today we finish our time here and drive back to Phoenix to have dinner with friends and then spend the night in the hotel. Breakfast early with another friend and then fly back to be in Mankato by 4:30 tomorrow....

Life's good.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We Are Alive

Just trying to spend as much time with my parents during this quick window of time as possible so haven't been on the comptuer lately.

However, FINALLY someone has a wireless hub near their mobile home. Now I don't have to go to Denny's.

It's nice to be able to be online here, but tempting to work instead of relax.

And just so you know, Dominyk is bored. And itchy. And hot. And he has a headache. And he's hungry. And did I mention that he's bored?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If You Prayed...

that I'd have more time to blog this morning, then THANKS A LOT. Our plane is delayed an hour and 15 minutes. We were happy with the first delay because the shuttle arrived 15 minutes late and we would have missed the plane. But the second one... well, we could have done without that.

Dominyk has been pretty good so far. He slept for most of the shuttle ride and other than asking approximately 2 questions per minute non stop he's doing OK. I had to go to the bathroom and I leaned over and whispered, "If anyone tries to abduct you, tell them "I have severe ADHD and I'm not on medication. They'll leave you here." He cracked up.

We have a 4 hour ride to my parents after the plane finally lands, assuming it ever takes off. I may be tweeting if you want to follow us there.

Hope you're having a stellar day.


Yesterday I was so proud of my children. They were eager to provide a nice welcome home to Tony, who had driven them all nearly crazy before he left in June for Bart's mom's. We had a family meeting and agreed that we needed to give him a fresh start. The kids had the idea of having a welcome home party, and so the girls and I went to the store to purchase a cake and some chips (nothing says a party to our kids better than chips), streamers and markers to make a poster. EVERYONE helped get the kitchen ready and we all sat around the table waiting for him.

Later I found out that on the way home he had mentioned to Bart that nobody even wanted him to come home and that they would probably not even care that he was there. Instead he walked in to find us all seated, waiting for him, posters, streamers, cake and chips. Even Salinda helped decorate and get things ready for him.

The kids were so cooperative in making him the center of attention for that half hour and it seemed to ease him back into the family quite well. I think each kid is earnestly giving him a fresh start, which speaks volumes about how much they have learned and grown.

I was speaking last night and mentioned that our kids are still wanting us to adopt more children. They have such generous hearts. Not a one has asked anything about Ivan living here -- even though he isn't adopted. Not one of the children has suggested that they might get less if we include him, or that there is less space, or less attention for each person, though all of those things are true to a small extent (he's a very low maintenance kid).

Not one of the kids said no to having John move back home. They know he is going to need his family. And they will change bedrooms, move over at the table and in the van or car, and give him room.

And Salinda and the baby? They all want her to choose to live here, though we won't pressure her. But they would be welcome too. And the theme of the summer has been, even with all of the bedrooms filled to overflowing, "Can we adopt again?"

Speaking of Salinda, yesterday she picked out a book of 100,000 baby names. I laughed to myself because she has a hard time ordering from a menu that has more than 10 choices and here she thinks she's going to read 100,000 names and pick two. Anyway, I digress..

She was intending to use some money her boyfriend, Henry, had given her, to purchase the book. As she was standing in line with me I said, "I can go ahead and pay for that book." And then I smiled and said, "for that grandchild that's not really mine." For the first time since she was a little girl, I literally saw her face fall with visible sadness. She said, "Oh, Mom, I didn't mean that."

I responded, "I know you didn't. It's OK. But sometimes I think that your boyfriend's family might think that because they don't understand adoption." She nodded. I said, "I just hope that the baby never thinks that." And she said, with determination, "I'll make sure it never does."

So even though yesterday was so packed and busy, it was a wonderful day. There were evidences that my children are actually getting it.... that despite their issues they are understanding the point of our lives. They are grabbing ahold of our mission and our vision for helping others and for keeping children from aging out of care without a family and making it theirs. They are generous and kind and we're having a lot of fun.

So i"m leaving with unmedicated Dominyk this morning (I'm itchy, so very itchy, I can't stand being so itchy mom, and it's hot, so very hot......) at least feeling hopeful about the next year of transition and changes. It appears we may be at a place where the positive energy and the maturity of some of our more stable kids can counteract the negativity of the others. And it's been a long time.... probably 11 years, since that has been true. For years it was the other way around.

Last night I hooked up with one of those seasoned adoptive parents (meaning older than me) who had had a daughter with an unexpected pregnancy. I couldn't remember how the story had turned out, so I asked. She responded, "Oh yes, all four of her children live with us." Thanks a LOT for that big burst of hope. ;-)

Will the next year be trouble free? Of course not. But as the years go by, there will be a lot of opportunities to watch God work in and through us and our kids. And today I feel like I just might be able to take it on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Full Day Ahead

Thanks for the comments last night of support about the "It's not really your grandchild" comment. I plan to follow up today just to ask some questions and make her think. I realized something last night -- the main issue is that I have her situation figured out. She doesn't. She is living in some little dream world doing her best to make everything all right. She is making things so easy on the father of the baby that he can't possibly not fall into line. But she is scared to death, subconsciously, to do one thing that might demonstrate what a small investment he has in the whole deal. Right now she can assume that he is in love with her and mature enough to handle all this, but if she made him be inconvenienced at all, then what if he didn't do what she asked???

Better not to ask.

I can't help but get frustrated about impossible situations that I did not choose. But maybe I should add this to my pre-adopt training -- if you adopt a girl, expect to be a grandma earlier than you might wish. Then if it doesn't happen that way, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Or, I suppose you might be thinking, "if you're smart, put them on birth control right away."

My main concern is that she not use the baby to manipulate, especially as it gets older and can figure things out. I will let her know that she is already doing that by saying things like she did yesterday and caution her from continuing to do so. It will go in one ear and out the other, but it will make me feel better to say it.

I just started multitasking and realized that my file for my Keynote presentation for tonight is corrupt and won't open. It was half done and now I am going to have to start from scratch.

So, this blog entry has been interrupted by a shocking jar into life and I must be done. Now. You don't even get to hear about my full day as I promised in the blog title. I'll tell you more later.... if I have time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Held Accountable?

I have a memory like a steel trap. I remember everything. And so my question tonight is, when a teenager is angry and says something, should it be remembered? Taken to heart? Taken personally? Discussed later?

I knew I would hear it at some point or another. Guess I didn't expect it to be so soon. And even though I'm trying not to let it bug me, it is.

today she said, ironically while I was giving her a ride to get prenatal vitamins that our insurance is paying for, "Well, it's not REALLY your grandchild anyway."

ANd the answer is...

NO. No meds until Monday. So I get to take Mr. Itchy, Headache, hot, hungry, thirsty, babbling non stop Dominyk on a plane.

Anyone have some valium?

(I'm exaggerating for humor's sake. I'm sure I"ll survive)

Past/Future has Found Transportation

Thanks to those of you who offered to help. Past/Future has found a way to a much better situation. Now pray that she will stay there and settle... so many former foster care kids are addicted to moving, but we all need stability to find ourselves.

And yeah, I told her this. A couple dozen times.

If You're Wondering What I think about the Movie "Orphan"

The Adoption Counselor writes pretty much what I would have written.

Coming Home Tomorrow

As much as we don't miss the turmoil he causes, we've missed Tony. Bart is heading up to get him and he'll be home tomorrow. Bart's aunt sent us this picture -- he had his hair died this summer.....

He'll be home tomorrow. Let the games begin.

I Know I'm Supposed to be the Expert

but wanna help me out a bit?

I'm working on my presentation about support groups tonight and thought maybe I'd get a story or two to back me up. SO if you have time, desire or energy and would like to be quoted (or referred to anonymously) how about a comment that answers one of the following questions:

1) Why should adoptive parents participate in Support Groups? (if you think they should).

2) WHat has been the best support you have received as an adoptive parent and why?

3) What are the characteristics of a good support group member?

4) What are the keys to longevity of support groups?

5) What else do you think I should say in regards to starting and maintaining support groups?

I Need MEDS!

Dominyk's psychiatrist decided this summer that we needed a baseline. He had been on medication since he was four -- 9 years on Aderall with only momentary breaks to see what did or didn't work. While in many ways he is no more agitated or hyper than he was without it, we are discovering that his primary issue is his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He has been on an antidepressant to combat this, but we had thought that the Aderall was making it worse. Well this little experience has taught us that whatever he was on definitely was better than nothing in regards to the OCD.

If you have a child who has ADHD and OCD you know how lethal the combination can be. The constant talking about the obsessions is about to drive me batty. Before it was just pop and drinks. Now he is itchy. All the time. He has been up for 30 minutes and I am not exaggerating at all (probably underestimating) when I say that he has told me that he is itchy in 7 different ways at least 60 times. He's also hot and can't get comfy (as he puts it). And his head hurts.

I am supposed to take him to see my very elderly parents in Arizona this week and I can't imagine hot, itchy, uncomfy, head-hurting OCD/ADHD mantras the whole three hours on the plane. ANd then the four hours in the car.

Fortunately, the pop thing is still an obsession because I am so desperate this morning that I told him if he could let me work for an hour uninterrupted he could have a caffeine free diet coke. SO far it's working.

I called the psychiatrist to tell her that either he needed meds NOW or I did. They are supposed to call me back. If they don't agree to medicate either him or me, you may just hear me from here, wherever you are.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sometimes I Freeze Up

When I have a big blog post brewing in my brain I often freeze up and don't blog much until I have time to sit down and blog the brewing post. And lately I have not had time to do much of anything at the computer.

Today will be no different. We leave for church in about 40 minutes and then immediately after coffee I am leaving to pick up Salinda. This evening we have church in the park that includes a water fight... By the time that's over it will be bedtime.

In the next two days I have 2 post placement visits, a doctor's appointment with Salinda, and a presentation to both prepare and give in a town 30 miles from here. The following morning, Dominyk and I leave for a couple days with my parents in Arizona.

So, i am not sure when I will squeeze in my burning blog post. But it's my plan to.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

At a worship seminar all day

Follow me on Twitter. Maeflye.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Something to Think About until I Have Time to Blog about What I Think About It

"When sinful, broken, hurting people are pleasanly surprised at how accepting we are, and religious people are outraged at how accepting we are, there is a good chance we're starting to live like Jesus. We will have finally learned the difference between acceptance and agreement - a lesson religious people find hard to grasp" - Bruxy Cavey

Your thoughts?

Denver Broncos, Missing Friends, and Fasting

Oh yeah, St. Paul.... Well, close to their anyway. I'm going to an all day training today where I am going to learn how to train. I'm starting the day feeling whiney and with a headache and I never do well with day long trainings. So that's my pathetic beginning to the day.

Every once and a while my gift of faith gets me in a bit of trouble and somehow I put God on the line. Last night was one of those times. You can read about it almost word for word on Past/Future's blog. It reminds me of something that happened a long long time ago...

I was pretty naive. I was all of 22 years old, straight out of a Christian college not having spent more than a few hours with "non-Christians" in my life. After all, my life at the time was all about personal holiness and while we were supposed to impact the world, we weren't supposed to get too close. You know that kind of Christianity. Anyway, I was thrown into the den of iniquity, as it appeared, when I became a Residence Hall Director at South Dakota State Univerisity. Three hundred and seventy-five undergrads were my responsibility and I was only 21 years old the day I started the job.

FIrst floor east was full of football players. Big ones. Rough ones. Ones who partied all the time. And one of them really thought he was good. As I did daily, I was shooting the breeze with a few of the guys in the lobby and the rest had walked away and I asked Bruce, "So, what do you want to do with your life?" He said, "I want to get drafted." And I said, "I didn't think the draft was still in effect, can't you just enlist?" (OK, OK, not one of my brighter moments)

He looked at me as if to say, "Are you THAT stupid?" and then said, "The NFL draft, you know, Football!" Ahh yes, Football.

So out of my words pops a phrase that a year earlier would have been expected at that point. "Well, I'll have to pray about that. He said, almost sarcastically, "ok, you do that."

At that time, my mother was reading a book that she had been sharing with me and it was about visualizing your prayers. The premise of the book is that if we are praying we need to be specific and visualize the answers. So I tried to picture Burce playing football but I didn't know what uniform he was wearing. So I tracked him down a few days later.

"Who do you want to play for? I asked. He quizically looked at me and said, "Why does it matter?" And being 21, naive, and full of faith, I told him the whole thing. "I have to visualize you in a uniform when I pray." He laughed and said, "I don't care. I just want to play. You pick the team."

Being from Denver, the choice was easy. The Broncos it was. And so up until the day of the draft, I prayed about Bruce and visualized him in that orange and blue uniform.

Draft night. I'm scared to even watch it on TV. I busy myself with other things. People are coming in to let me know what round it is. He knew it wouldn't be the first few rounds, but someone came in and mentioned that the 5th round was over. Now, I don't know how many rounds they have, but a while later I heard some serious noise coming from first floor east. you guessed it. Eighth round. Bruce was drafted. I went down the hall to congrutated him and recieved a big hug and several thank yous. I said, "Don't thank me, thank God."

And you know the end of the story. He graduated that year and he took off for Denver.

The next year when I was home at my folks for Christmas, he and his fellow players picked me up and took me to a Broncos hangout for dinner. He ended up hurting his knee and getting paid $90,000 a year to sit on the injured reserve list for a few years before they decided he could not play. (Maybe I shoudl have prayed that he get drafted AND play football. Oh well).

Why did God choose to answer my prayer? Was it because of my faith? Was it because I went out on a limb? Was it to reach Bruce? Was it to encourage my own faith? I have no idea.

I have spent a lot of time IMing Past/Future over the last week. You guys coming together to save Princess was a big thing in her life. And for some reason it seems like finding Clay O'Connor is becoming more and more important to her every day.

Can God assist in this situation today? Of course. Will He? I don't know. And a conversation that was basically just an innocent way of me attempting to find out how cynical Past/Future is about God, turned into this deal.

Does God have bigger things going on? Yes. In fact, I know of a situation in need of all of our prayers. But God is big enough to handle them all.

I could write volumes about what I am learning about faith and Christianity through my new friend past/future and the hell that she has endured in her life. I have learned more than I want to about how organized religion has furthered her pain. But I also believe in a God that is bigger than church and even more powerful than the hurt that people who call themselves Christians have inflicted on others.

So I did it. I put God out there, just as Linny is putting God out there asking us to fast and believe for Cindy's healing.

Join me in praying about both of these situations. And to tell you the truth, I won't be surprised if Past/Future finds Clay today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Request

If you adopted an unrelated child from foster care, your input is needed for a survey on post adoption birthparent contact. Michelle Roberts, a foster and adoptive parent herself, is doing a graduate thesis on post adoption contact in foster care adoptions. Even if you have had no contact with your child's birthparents, your input is valuable to the study. The online survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and contains no identifying information. As a special thank you, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to the store of your choice. Please take a moment to help with this study. Go to for the online survey or contact Michelle at if you would prefer to have a paper survey mailed to you. Your help is greatly appreciated!

After all this time...

of following the story of these two gorgeous little girls, I got to see them today finally, now that their adoption is final.

Check this out:

... but keep the old ...

When I was a child my mother used to sing this song,

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold

Last night I had to come over near our old home town to do a home visit, so I brought Sadie and Jimmy to meet some of our friends who took them out to dinner during my meeting and then gave them a tour around town. Afterwards I met them back at their house and we had a wonderful conversation.

I love being with people who were formerly a major part of our daily lives and realizing that "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Now I'm off to get a haircut from the only person who ever really can cut my hair right....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will they scan my butt?

Wilson still likes to ride in the cart. Today he said, "Hmmm. Why do we always end up buying me? Do you think they'll scan my butt?

The Busy Days of Summer

So many things go on in our world that it would be impossible to document them. Little things that make us laugh, like Wilson's indignant look, or the beaming smiles of Leon and RIcardo when they grin. Dominyk and Jimmy's crazy comments, Sadie's fixation with her hair and nails lately -- just all those little things that make teenagers and preteens fun to be around. But remembering them even long enough to get back to the computer is sometimes tricky.

This afternoon Jimmy and Sadie and I are heading west to our old hometown where I am going to get a haircut and visit with one of the families on my caseload. We're looking forward to some time away. Then I'm back and heading to St. Paul on Thursday night for a meeting all day friday, back home, and then back up there for an all day worship seminar with Sadie and some other women from church on Saturday. Next week I fly to AZ to visit my parents.

SO in light of all that, I have much to do. We just found out yesterday that the place where we rented our mailbox so our company could have an address is now closing -- thus all of our printed material is going to be wrong. Sigh. Lots to do, little time.... but so much of it fun.

And the reprieve from all of the stress has been nice this summer. We've had our best summer ever and I've loved the time we've spent together as a family and the time with the kids. It's been spectacular.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Back of the Book

Some of you may be wondering if this is my marketing strategy == to show you things piece by piece. Actually, it's just me sharing things step by step with readers who have been with me since I started posting the book on the web back in 2005.

So if you are just joining in, feel free to roll your eyes.

The Rest of the Story

Today I sent $125 to Past/Future to buy food and treats for Princess. She and I have been in contact consistently and eventually I may share more things with you as she allows. Let's say that I'm enjoying getting to know her. And I'm encouraging her to write more, hopefully inspiring her a bit and if you check out her blog you'll see some new entries.

Please read her and give her some encouragement. I think she is a good story teller and she gives good insight. Hope you agree.

First Draft of the Book Cover

Here's what we're thinking of.

And the online store is finally fixed, so you can pre-order it here.

Don't You Dare Touch the Wheel (Parenting Advice for Parenting Teenage Girls)

And so the focus of this blog post will be on how moms can survive the teenage years with their girls. It was requested by Kacie who commented:

I'm really interested in your advice here. I lead a group of Jr. High girls and all of the moms are new to the teenage years and some are already at their wits end and begging us for help. Although I am the oldest of six kids, I've never parented before so I don't think my advice is worth much.

Do you have any advice you'd give mothers of teen girls that are pushing away from their moms?

First, you need to understandI am the worst ever mother for teenage girls. I hate shopping, I despise drama, and I never do my nails or hair. I am embarrassing on every level. I don't look good. I don't care what people think about me. I don't try hard to watch what I say or do in front of others. See? I am a teenage girls worst nightmare.

But I have learned that really, teenage girls are going to be who they are regardless. They are going to be fine -- they will survive. The question is, will I?

So here goes.... my advice...

Don't touch the wheel. This goes back to my analogy about driving. In the teenage years, your daughter is driving and you are in the passenger seat. She's not going to let you drive. She might let you THINK you're driving, but she's going to drive. Here is the way it goes.

But I want to take that a step further and say that most conflicts take place during the times when the parents freak out and reach over and grab the wheel. Then there is a struggle for the steering wheel and the car is all over the road. Yelling and screaming and potential accidents are all around during those struggling times. (I actually had this literally happen when my daughter wanted to get out of the car when I was driving once and it was not fun -- she was trying to take control of the vehicle while I was driving).

Instead of trying to take the wheel, pray hard, close your eyes if you have to, and continue to be encouraging. You can provide consequences (the ditch) and let them know what will happen. But you can't attempt to keep them out of the ditch. The more you try, the more determined they are to land there.

There are of course other things to help:

1) Don't take things personally;

2) Stay as far away from their drama as you can. A non-anxious presence who listens without too much comment is welcome.

3) Refrain from vocalizing many of your preferences. I have found that sooner or later my daughters both figure things out but that if I jump in and tell them what is best I do two things: first, I push them in the opposite direction, and secondly, i rob them of learning their own lessons.

4) Let go a bit -- this goes back to letting them learn. We do so much to protect our kids that we don't allow them to make any mistakes -- which is how most of us learn things.

5) Realize that no matter what you think, you can't control them. They may have a relationship with you that leads them to want to please you or a good moral backbone that will lead them in the right direction but they will be making their own decisions.

6) Try to focus on openness and honesty being more important than rules. If teens feel they can talk to their parents they may be more likely to let them in when something is happening than if they fear being consequenced for everything.

I learned so much the hard way by doing things wrong. I'm not sure that my daughters would be any different than they are now had I done things differently (they are complete opposites from one another in the choices they've made) but I would certainly have saved myself much heartache, drama, stress, and tension.

So, my first piece of advice would be to avoid having daughters if at all possible (alert: Humor, tongue in cheek, sarcasm, etc.) But if it is too late and you already have them and they are teens .... best of luck.

Trust them a little, trust God a lot, let them drive, and whatever you do, don't grab the wheel.

Finally on YouTube

For those of who found it too burdensome to click on the link a couple weeks ago, now you don't have to ...

A New Twist on an Old Habit

Bart and I have prayed together before going to sleep every night we have been in the same house since the night we were married. Sometimes I must confess that our prayers are pathetic. We're exhausted and sometimes completing an intense discussion and at times the prayers are short and even ill-tempered (no, no, not that. Anything but ill-tempered). Anyway....

Bart has a book of prayers and he decided that maybe we should start reading prayers to give us some variety. So I opened up the other day and flipped through, landing on a familiar prayer. In fact, this prayer was sung by a quartet at our wedding. WE had no idea at that point where God would lead us. But as I read it I could not believe how applicable it is to the journey God has chosen for us in parenting hurt children. I could go through and explain to you why but there is no need. It speaks for itself. Here are the words, exactly as they were sung at the wedding.

St. Francis' Prayer

Lord, make us instruments of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 28th in New Ulm....

Hint: If you click on this it gets lots bigger.

The Kind of Dilemma's I'm Accustomed To

I just got a phone call and my plan for John while we are gone to Ohio just fell through. He is to be let out of jail on August 10th and we have to leave soon after for this trip.

So now I have this dilemma. I don't want his first week in town to be staying at home with some of the other kids unsupervised, but it is not easy to convince someone to welcome him straight from jail.

Why can't I just have dilemma's like how much to spend on school shoes or whether or not my children are eating enough fruits and vegetables?????

Off and Running

I have a full day at my desk today. Finally. And I have a to-do list a mile long. Good grief. My email box is full, I have a dozen calls to make, and projects out the wazooooooo..

One of the things on my list is to wrap up the Princess thing for Past/Future and get a gift card out, so if you have sent a check, let me know you sent it and if you want to donate do it before I get around to taking it down.

Sorry to do a drive by this morning... Hopefully I'll post more later.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Creative or Critical?

We went to a concert at our church tonight. I'm still not sure what I thought about it so i'm not going to try to describe it. However, I did hear one statement that I thought was worth the whole hour.

"Do you want to be known by God as a creator or a critic?

It reminded me of one of the wisest men i know who told me once that he had a "Critical" file. He said told me that "creative people are often critical people" -- that it is easy for them to see the mistakes in others. And so he had a file system where he kept critical thoughts. He had files for different professions or stages in life. He had a grandfather file, a senior pastor file, a medical professionals file. He also had files for things he was currently doing: a father file, a husband file, etc. When he had a critical thought he wrote it down and filed it.

For example, if he saw a grandfather doing something that he thought was wrong he jotted down that thought and filed it in the grandfather file. His plan was to get out that file when he became a grandfather and learn from himself. He did that with all kinds of things. And he said that it helped him to have something constructive to do with his negative and critical thoughts.

While I never went so far as to set up a system, I found this to be a great idea. I remember now, somewhat chagrined, of all of the wonderful parenting advice I gave when I was a critical single childless woman.... now all the sudden I am understanding why my advice didn't work all the time.

Tonight I am recognizing my need to be creative as opposed to critical. I have limited energy. I can pour it into creating things and making them better or I can pour it into being critical of others and what they do.

i choose creative. What about you?

Sorry to Leave You Hanging

I don't usually do that, do I?

I don't usually completely leave you hanging. But on Friday I just ran out of energy. I mean completely. I don't remember being this tired ever. I was just at the end of myself. I had been on this hyper-manic energy boosted wild thing for about two weeks where I never stopped pushing even long enough to catch my breath. And then I crashed. Hard.

So, I just sat there. Sadie and I rented two videos and I took the day completely off of both jobs and just relaxed. I didn't answer a single email that was work related. I went to bed early and I slept in later than usual.

Yesterday was a day completely devoted to soccer -- the District Championship for Ricardo. It was a lot of fun and I started to feel like my old self again. Kyle and his girlfriend joined us for part of the day and we saw a movie between games. The day was relaxed and even Dominyk did quite well.

Today we're headed for church and lunch out with friends we haven't spent time with in a while. My life has been so busy that I've made no time to connect and I got fed up with THAT and set it up yesterday. They are amazing and I've missed hanging out with them.

Part of my lack of energy stems from anticipatory stress. Tony called and is coming home sometime in the next week or so. We as a family have decided to try together to give him a fresh start. He is growing up a little more all the time and if the kids here were just a little more tolerant of him and more supportive, I think we could actually see some improvement.

Second stressor is the John situation. We feel he has no option that will allow him to be successful other than allowing him to move back home. He may or may not be successful, but we feel we owe him the best chance possible to complete his probation and have all the charges off his record. It's a scary proposition, but we've all changed a lot since he lived here, even me, so maybe we can do this.

Third stressor, of course, is Salinda's future plans, which are still unknown. That I"ve been handling OK at this point, but space is becoming more limited at our house as people are moving in. Ivan finally disclosed that he doesn't feel safe with his step-dad, which is where his mom is living right now, so he may be with us indefinitely. He's never a problem and I can't let him leave and go somewhere where he isn't safe. So not knowing what she will decide about where to live before and after the baby is born is hanging out there as well.

I've gotten pretty good at managing all this and handling it one day at a time but there are some major changes brewing at work and I'm involved in a ton of things at church all the sudden the invincible CMF got to the point she couldn't absorb it all. So I had my day.


I've also been in contact with Past/Future and may be posting some of her story with her permission soon.

i love my life. I really do. But I guess even I have to leave you hanging once and a while and take a day off.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update on Princess

Past/Future emailed me a picture of Princess in the car with the caption " Princess and I begin our journey to our new home!"


Computer for the first time today

i got up motivated to clean Dominyk and Wilson's room. I figured it would take 30-45 minutes. Try 2 hours and 40 minutes. Sigh. Five huge bags of garbage. And this is a room that has been cleaned weekly by their definition.

Then we had a family meeting. We are facing several major transitions in the next several months, so we needed to plan for that. Tony will be home soon, and Salinda soon after that it appears, though she may change her mind We have to figure out as a family what kind of chance to provide for John.

John has been given a Stay of Adjudication. He has not had a violent episode in over 2 years. He has been very stable. We contemplated renting an apartment for him, but just simply cannot afford to do so at this time. So we are talking about him moving in with limited rules (rules and Conduct Disorder don't go well) until he can afford an apartment. He is very motivated at this time to do what he is supposed to do. Mike was given 3 different "last chances" and he messed them up, but that doesn't mean that John shouldn't be given one. He was home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, several weekends and Easter and did fine.

I will leave that with you ... for now. Because we're going out to lunch. So I'll let you know the rest of the story then.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Dream Never Dies...

Cindy got me thinking this morning as, in her typical style, she meandered through her thoughts jumping from one thing to another as she blogs. (And if you're curious, she talks that way too.... just sort of gives people around her a trolley tour of her very active brain as she sits and visits). But I digress. Like her. Anyway today she was thinking about all the possible careers she could have had and that got me going.

I am one of those people who just absolutely loves what I do. In fact, I love everything so much that I can't stop doing all of it. Right now I am in the middle of so many projects. I was going to list them all. In fact I started, but then I knew I was going to get comments about how I could possibly do all those things and still be a good parent.

Well, my first response is that I never said I was a good parent.

But secondly, we have a pretty good system around here. Most of the kids are teenagers or adults and they really don't want me overly involved in their business. The ones who are living at home this summer are very appropriate and doing what they are supposed to be doing. They have been awesome. Plus, they have a nurturing and involved Dad AND I include them in a lot of what I do. Sadie is in a couple of the groups with me. When I go on trips, I take one or two sometimes. We eat meals together as a family and I am here and available to them most of the time.

Anyway, a defense of my lifestyle (where did THAT come from) wasn't my intention. I simply wanted to say this.

I love everything I'm doing. I am energized and motivated by almost everything I get to do each day (except housecleaning and laundry). I like being in the middle of many things and impress myself with my ability to juggle them all.

But sometimes when I'm driving (the only time I actually process anything and think) I think about all the things I would have loved to have done with my life. All the things I still wish I could do. I would love to learn to be an excellent photographer. I could totally get into a career of web design, expanding my knowledge for that. I have wanted to be in involved in inner-city ministry for years, living in the slums even, and attempting to touch people there. I could easily spend a lifetime in another country as a missionary.

The kids are bugging us to adopt again, especially Sadie. She even offered to help pay for background checks, which all the sudden are $70 a pop in MN for everyone over 14 -- which means just to get started on an update would cost us $630. I don't know that we'll adopt again, but I could easily see us someday opening our home to more teenagers. I'm finding that now that I've figured out the key to parenting them (you can't control them, no matter what you do, so instruct, consequence, and observe -- but treat it like a movie that you're watching, and enjoy seeing how the plot unfolds). Parenting teens by attempting to control them is as foolish as sitting watching a movie and thinking that by your own will power you can change then ending.

hey, that's good. I just thought of that. I am going to have to quote myself on that one. Often.


Life is so amazing and so full of opportunity. I have a very hard time understanding those who walk around with their heads to the ground muttering something about dreams not coming true.... There's always a way to overcome, always a way to make something happen... you just gotta find a way. And there's always a way. Dreams never have to die. Sometimes they have to be altered or a new path found, but a dream can live on.

This blog post is never going to end if I don't stop and certainly I didn't plan for it to go in this direction, but maybe for some reason you needed to read this today.

I'm never going to be able to live long enough to do everything I want to do. I"m already feeling signs that I am getting older -- some of my joints hurt sometimes, and I get tired easier. I actually have forgotten a few things lately, which NEVER happened. But I still have a thousand dreams to pursue, a million things on my to do list, and a bunch of lives to impact, and a world to change.

Let me leave you with a snippet of a song from years ago:

The dream never dies, just the dreamer;
The dream never dies if it's strong;
The dream never dies just the dreamer...
So come on everybody dream along....

and speaking of dreams, and to do lists, and lives to impact, and worlds to change -- I gotta get busy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wow, how Time Flies

I forgot to blog this morning. That's so unusual for me. But I was cleaning up email. Started at 180 action items yesterday at 4, ended at 100 last night. Started up again at 7:30 this morning and now it's 10 and I'm down to 20. What a relief.

Now today I have 10:30, 11:30, 3:00 and 7:00 meetings, with plenty to do in between.

Off and running.... more later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Leaving the Donate for Princess Button Up Until Friday

Just so I can make sure that everyone has a chance to donate, I'm leaving it up until Friday. Past/Future and I have discussed this and she agrees that an online gift card to a major pet store for food, etc. would be appropriate. I plan to take care of that on Friday so if anyone else would like to donate, please do so before noon on Friday.

I Drove to Chicago Yesterday, Except that I Didn't

Yup, 9 hours in the car yesterday. I coulda driven to Chicago in 9 hours. Instead I just drove around Minnesota.

Started with a homestudy update visit and then a post-placement visit, having my 8 hours in for work by 3:15. I then rushed into the house to take care of paying the Princess kennel bill and then leaving immediately with Jimmy as a companion to go visit John.

That was my first visit to Adult Jail (having been to numerous juvenile detentions over the years). Bart and I have been coming up with a plan that will help John when he is discharged in August that would allow him his one big rescue from us. We have provided I think three "last chances" to Mike, so I figure we owe John at least one more. He's had at least one, possibly two. I lose track.

Anyway, I went to discuss this with John. He looks good -- thinner than he's been in years, but a bit hardened I think. He has been granted a stay of adjudication and he is determined not to violate his probation. However, he was clueless as to how he could do so if he was homeless and in the town where he was previously arrested. So our offer of mercy was well received. I bought him a phone card on the way out to use to call me. We'll see if he does use it for that purpose. I always like to see how kids respond to guidelines on simple things -- it is almost always an indicator of how cooperative they are being and what kind of mindframe they are in.

I know that John can pull this off with some help from us if he really wants to. And I know very well how determined one can be behind bars. But there is something about all the lures of a past life when you get out that sway you in a different direction.

Bart saw Mike yesterday and reports that he is better than he has seen him in a long time. Go Mike. But Mike reports that his success is just not having many friends. MInding his business, working when he can, staying with a friend outside of our town. It seems to be working for him. He has a lot of community service, which he is doing, so that's good as well. We're contemplating inviting him to slowly spend more time with us and then the other kids.

Something has happened to me over the last year or two, particularly over the last 2 months. When we found out that Salinda was pregnant, it was kind of the last straw. Bart and I had done everything that everyone else does. I took her out when she was seven for her first facts of life talk. We had another one the week she turned nine to cover other things. Then when she was twelve we took her to a nice restaurant and made a covenant with her and gave her a chastity ring. When she lost that ring, we replaced it. We discussed her sexual activity over the years. We talked many times about pregnancy and how it would affect her.

And now that she's pregnant we are getting flack from some family members -- her siblings and some others -- that somehow the fact that we let her spend weekends with her boyfriends family is why she got pregnant (like she couldn't get pregnant in the handicapped bathroom at school had she wanted to. I know. SIck thought. Mentioned to me by a highschooler though).

So when we found out that she was pregnant I exhaled the longest sigh. I don't know if the word defeated would be the right one, but all the sudden I was being handed a situation that I had fought for ten years to prevent. And it was the final nail in the coffin of my dream that teenagers can be controlled.

By the time a child is 13 or 14 they have made some decisions. Either they have decided that they will embrace their families values, at least while living with them, or if they will head in a self-destructive path. Sure, parents can still have rules, but they will be broken. ANd parents should still consequences and attempt to redirect the kid, but you can't make a teenager do anything they have decided they don't want to do.

Sometimes rebellious teens turn into productive adults. Sometimes they don't. But now, parenting my 11th teen, I have finally figured out that i can't control them. The kids we have living here right now have chosen their path. They are going to attempt to follow our rules most of the time. They are making good choices. They want to please us. They don't want their lives to turn out like some of their older siblings. And so we have very few rules lately. I consequence very little. If someone makes a mistake, we talk about it. I ground kids occasionally or take away privileges, but for the most part I handle things differently than I used to.

And so I'm less about controlling my adult children even if we are helping them. I noticed this as we were coming up with this plan for John. Previously I would have been all about rules and guidelines, long lists of them.. Now I'm just trying to set up a situation that has only natural consequences. John's chance at making it is on him. The rest of our kids are stable enough that I don't think he will lead them astray and he won't be living at home.

I am really rambling this morning, aren't I? Anyway, bottom line -- help us pray for the financial ability to carry out the plan and for doors to open. I can't reveal the whole thing yet, but I'd like to have an option for him other than being discharged from jail to homelessness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Past/Future is Speechless

Bart send the Western Union $ the way the kennel instructed. We are waiting for confirmation that the kennel owners have received it, but this is pretty much a done deal. I just got off the phone with Past/Future and she is so grateful. She can't wait to see the dog.

I'm hoping this is a jump start towards a better future for her. And now she has my number. I told her she could call me at any time.

Wish I had more time to blog. This has been an amazing experience for me. But the fact that I spent a day helping save a dog has propelled me to think about what to do in a few weeks when John gets out of jail. So I'm off to talk to him about that. I won't be back until bedtime.

Have a great rest of the day.


I've been trying to reach past/future today but her phone is off. WE did it. Unofficial calculations show $898.00, plenty for paying off the bill and for a Petco gift card or some other such thing.

Now I just have to figure out how to get Paypal to transfer money to Western Union. May just have to use our credit card. Or have Bart do that. Oh wait, I like that last idea.

This whole experience has taken less than 24 hours (by 17 minutes). I am have been given a new perspective about humanity. It has been personally quite rewarding to be a part of it. It has made me think.

And I have no time to tell you about any of that as I am brewing up a scheme that requires me to travel to see John in jail tonight. I've already been on the road for four hours tonight, but I have a feeling if I don't do it tonight I may not do it and I need to head over there.

So that's my plan.

A BIG ROUND OF APPLAUSE to all of you who chipped in to get Princess home to Past/Future. I will report back in when the bill is paid.



I am amazed, awed by your generosity.

We are over $500 and so it looks like we will have what we need if it keeps coming in.

Now, what happens if we get too much as I will not have time to constantly be adding it up as the day goes on.

Do you have Ideas of things we could do for Past/Future if too much comes in? (I wasn't anticipating this problem, but it may very likely happen if I'm not here to post that we have enough....

So Far, You Aren't Letting Her Down

When I posted about Princess, Past/Future's Dog, I thought to myself, "I bet there are enough generous people out there that we'll be half way there by morning.

ANd you didn't let me down. We are a little more than half way there. I would like to only have to make one payment, so if we could get to the total by days end, I think they would accept that. Any little bit helps. There have a few people who have been able to give more than $20, but I figure if I have about 250 readers a day -- that's only about $3.00 a piece, so every little bit helps.

If PayPal intimidates you, let me know and I'll let you send me a check.

I have noticed an interesting trend in who is choosing to give and who isn't and I'm tempted to blog about it, but I'm not going to until I've sent the check because 1) the trend might change, and 2) I don't want anyone to feel manipulated into giving.

For years I have talked about nameless/faceless kids who have "aged out" of the system who are now adults. But seldom do I have an opportunity to step in and say I'm sorry in a tangible way. I want to apologize for our society and our country who in attempting to protect children, often harms them further. A couple years ago we became acquainted with Kim and her family and helped them in many ways. I chuckled at the post title, Being a Grandma, because the teenage girl in the picture is now pregnant and so apparently I will become a great-grandma soon. Sigh.

Anyway, Kim was a real live person who aged out. I was able to see what it was like to have to create your own support system and attempt to make connections. Now Past/Future is another person who I don't really know but whose innermost thoughts we have been able to read.

Past/Future has asked for a list of the people who have contributed so that she can pay them back but some of you have asked her to pay it forward. I know she will be especially careful to do that.

Let's reach the goal today. OK? I will be away from my desk for most of the day, but can update my blog in short spurts from my Iphone as the emails come in.

I'm proud of you folks. You are trusting beyond what is humanly natural to help someone who is really very alone in this world. Hats off to you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Story and How You Can Help

If you read the story about Princess that I asked you to email earlier you know that a former foster child, now adult, needs some tangible help.

I talked to her on the phone today. She revealed to me her real name and her phone number. It took an amazing amount of trust for her to do so. i can tell you that she is a real person. She and I and her kennel have been either emailing or on the phone. While I was talking to "Past/Future" today she received and email from the kennel today saying that they will be putting the dog down on Tuesday if she didn't pay her bill. She blogged about this today and included some pictures of .

The most recent email that I received from the kenne about 15 minutes ago is that they are willing to work with us. I forwarded the email to "Past/Future" and she is so excited. She also got permission today to move in to her new place early and if she can pay the bill she won't have to pay more boarding fees and can bring the dog home by Friday. She is so excited about that possibility.

The total bill will be about $750. We already have $78.00. As I mentioned before, I never do stuff like this, but I would love to reach out and show past/future that regardless of how the system and other adults treated her while growing up, there are safe, trustworthy people in this world who know how to care for others. She was never legally freed for adoption. She is one of those who aged out without a family.

I'm putting a paypal link on my blog. For those who do not want to mess with that and would rather send a check, let me know how much you'll be sending and Bart and I will cover it until your check comes.

Past/Future has asked that she not receive any of the money directly. I have an address of how to sent a Western Union Money Order to the Kennel. I'd like to send at least one installment so they don't put the dog down and the rest by Friday so she can bring her home.

Sometimes I get myself involved in some pretty interesting things. But as Wilson said today, "yup, that's something Jesus would do."

I don't have time to type all the details now

But I want you to start thinking.

So read some of this blog. Particularly this post and then answer this question for me:

How can we not help?

She hasn't asked for our help, but I decided to do something and I've spent some time emailing her. We have come up with a way for people to help her and for her to remain anonymous. The money collected will go directly to the kennel.

Trust me, I never get involved in stuff like this but for some reason I think I need to.

Do any of you agree with me?

Decisions, Decisions

I had an idea this morning. It involves finding a way to take care of our grown children who need somewhere to go. It of course spiraled into several other ideas and now we are facing many decisions. I am like this often. I get one idea and it kind of explodes like dominoes that keep knocking each other over one at time in a a line that never seems to end.

As soon as anything is firm, I'll be sure and blog it, but until then, as my mom used to say, "mums the word."

And since you are wondering as I was:

Mum's the word


Keep quiet - say nothing.


Mum; not mother but 'mmmmm', the humming sound made with a closed mouth. Used by Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 2:

"Seal up your lips and give no words but mum."

Slamming the E

It's fairly unmotivating to blog when one has an "e" key on the laptop that isn't working right. You have to push it extra hard in order for it to typ and whn you dont it's hard for popl to rad what you right. Undrstand? (OK, I'll start typing with great intensity and do it right.

We're up and getting ready for a great day. Church in the morning and STAND in the evening. Did you know that even if you don't regularly attend our church you are invited to join us at Sibley park tonight? Well, you are. Tonight we're going to have a scavenger hunt or two.

Yesterday's parade was actually really fun. All of the kids were appropriate and sat with us, a far cry from several years ago when the little kids were little and bonkers and the older ones were so (fill in the blank) that they would either refuse to go or not sit with us. Parades then were to dread.

I have a few pictures. Maybe I'll post them later. When I'm at my desk and don't have to slam the "e".

Saturday, July 11, 2009


The last couple days I have had no time whatsoever to reflect on anything. I have been going full speed ahead now for days and propelling myself from one task to another, one meeting to another, trying hard to impact the world the way I feel it should be impacted, pursuing my passions, and caring for my children who have been more delightful this summer than ever before. It's been energizing and fun, but I have had no time to reflect.

This morning Kari's Post which led me to Cindy's Post which took me to the other cindy's post as well as Theresa's Blog and I absolutely had to stop and digest and reflect.

Thirty minutes of pondering all those posts and digesting them, and I have no answers. Other than that we all have something to be grateful for.... and that maybe reflection is something I should start making time for.

Why is it that we realize when life is more than half over how short it really is?

Friday, July 10, 2009

When a Plan Comes Together

I have been working on multiple things over the past two days and let's just say that things are falling together in nearly miraculous ways. And that is just way cool.

Some days I seem to beat my head against the wall consistently and get nowhere. Other days I reap all the good stuff I've been sewing.... This must be reap week.

I'm hoping it continues.

Speaking Schedule

I've been working on this today.... check it out to see if I'm going to be in an area near you.

Claudia's Speaking Schedule

In Rare Form

Yesterday from Dawn to Dusk, I was in rare form. I am thinking that a psychiatrist would have dubbed me manic yesterday. I had so much energy, passion and enthusiasm that I was wearing out the people around me. It felt good, but when I crashed, I crashed. I was exhausted by nightfall.

My problem is never a lack of passion about something, or even a lack of energy to accomplish all the things that I have going at once. My problem is this pesky little fact that there are only 24 hours in one day. I want to do so much.

I had a meeting with the interim director at the adoption agency that I work for and it was very positive and exciting. I was able to start dreaming about the future and that was really empowering. Then I had worship band practice with an amazing group of youth who I know can do amazing things if they decide they want to. Then it was a transportation frenzy, soccer pictures, a baseball game, and the rest of a soccer game before bedtime snacks at the table with most of the kids and a lot of fun banter.

I swear I could keep 10 people busy full time with all the ideas I have for changing the world.... except I may not have much time to tell them what to do....

I was away from my computer from noon yesterday until this morning. That's gotta be a record... but that means I have a stack of email that is really high (can email be stacked high?) that I must get to.

For those of you who don't know me in person, be glad that yesterday wasn't the day that you met me for the first time. I would have worn you out and you would have walked away thinking I was a bit unbalanced.

but then again, maybe I am.....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Picture Catchup

I was on a roll this morning after the YMCA. Lots of energy and going on and on about well, everything, especially one thing, that I can't blog about. It's a minor health issue that is simply annoying, but not really bloggable....

But I was reminded of my motto years ago, when I was a Dean of Students: I've got places to go, people to see, butts to kick, and a world to change. That is how I'm facing my day today.

Salinda has been home and has been doing driver's ed hours. Good news from her end is at this point in time she is planning on going to school in the fall. For a while she was saying she would drop out and I, practicing my self-differentiation skills, simply reminded her that if she was going to live here she needed to be in school. She has been having a better attitude and seems to be making some positive decisions, though I still have PTSD in regards to her moods and attitudes and I'm dreading the fact that it might all come crashing down if/when she moves back home.

Tony has called homesick, though he won't admit it... and John is writing from jail. We continue to have contact with most of our children often, whether they live here or not, though Kyle and Mike are sporadic at best.

Here's some pictures I forgot to post. Dominyk was with us on the 4th too, but the picture I took was goofy, but his teeth were so yellow that I had to whiten them up but then ended up making him look like he had gums instead and saved the picture by accident. I know more information than you wanted....

Fourth of July and Baseball....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

i Lied

We don't have baseball tonight.

It's tomorrow night.


Back from the YMCA which was uneventful. I'm experience back pain again, only a little bit but some, and that annoys me. In fact, for some strange reason, everything is annoying me lately and I need to get out of that slump. Part of it is probably because I haven't been sleeping well and because I'm tired of being mediocre. But I'm going to save you all from that whining crap and tell you about last night's game.

Last night Bart and I sat through Leon's baseball game which seemed to have 26 innings but they said it was only 7. We won and he had 3 great hits -- three for three. He also made an awesome catch in the outfield. It was a great experience. We sit by ourselves and don't know anyone or talk to anyone, but I think maybe this is better as I recall our days in our former small town where baseball games could make me livid. So it's nice to have some time to just enjoy the game.

Last night Leon would come off the field and look for us, his 14 year old eyes eager to see our approval, and give us the best smile ever. The kind of smile that every parent wishes they could receive when they take time to watch their sons play ball . We were remembering how Kyle would not allow us to get out of the car or be seen by anyone when he was that age. It's so nice to have a different response.

We came home to a not very happy at all Wilson because Leon's game went long and we didn't make it to his. It's also nice to see that it matters. In the past we have had kids tell us very clearly not to show up and watch them play.

Tomorrow night we have 2 baseball games and a soccer game all at the same time. Wonder how we'll be able to manage that...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

There's Always Someone

I think I tend to get whiney. Most people probably do. But I mutter to myself and complain about this or that -- both here, in Facebook, and in the "real world" with the people around me. I hate it when I get caught in a rut and sometimes a reminder can jar me and at least make me feel ridiculous for being so whiney.

This morning I ran into a friend at the Y who told me of some health problems she's facing. Certainly not fair at all as she has always been very healthy and taken good care of herself. And here I am suffering no serious health problems even though for most of my life I haven't eaten right, exercised or cared enough.

Really it's just not that fair how things go and there's always someone who has it worse than I do. No matter where we look, there's always someone. My worse and your worse are different things. I look at women who have a kid or two and are stay at home mom's responsible for keeping a perfect house while their husband doesn't contribute at all to the cooking and cleaning and I think their life is way worse than mine. That might be the ideal for someone else. So we all have someone we can look at and say "they have it worse."

People often tell me I serve the same purpose for them. They look at my life and it makes theirs look great in comparison, so they tell me.

So thanks for the reminder, J, if you're reading this. Our prayers are with you! Thanks for being perspective for me this morning. And who knows, things may turn out lots better than you fear.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Perpetual Conflicted Frustration

OK, I'm angry this morning. Not at the world, but at myself and at the fact that there are only 24 hours in any given day and I am attempting to pack too much into them.

First of all, I weighed myself at the Y this morning when I went with Kari and I"m sure most of you don't even want to click over and find out about that, but that was AFTER I had nearly killed myself tripping over baskets of laundry that were Rand's chore to move last night. He wasn't required to do anything yesterday around here. I just let him have his Sabbath -- except everyone has a chore they do every day. If someone doesn't do their part, it's like a Jenga game when the last piece is pulled out. Everything starts to spiral from there. Almost everyone else in the house (with the exception of Dominyk), even Ivan, our summer guest, does there chores without too much hassle. But for some reason Rand just can't or won't do what he is supposed to do.

I have a huge pile of stuff I need to do today and I really wanted to have a lot of positive energy to start my day. I now have energy, but I'm not sure how positive it is.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work from home, but if you don't do it, you don't know what a difficult trick it is to do so. You never have to leave home, but you never get to leave work. And the things that need to be done around the house distract from the things you need to do for work and vice versa. I am sure there are people who have the whole thing balanced out perfectly and separate things out by hour, etc, but my guess is that most of us who parent, work from home, and attempt to manage a household fall into my category of .... hmmm... what would be a good phrase ... perpetual conflicted frustration. My only saving grace is that I am not a perfectionist or I'd be insane by now.

I have been working on this post for almost an hour in the midst of jumping from thing to thing. I better just hit Publish and get on with my day....

Sunday, July 05, 2009

On Getting Old

The past year I have found myself getting old. You may think I am exaggerating, but the truth is that this is the year I have gotten old. Not before this year, I had no grey hair and the aches and pains were minimal. These year my hair has turned grey and I am finding my joints in my fingers hurt when it's cold, a sure sign that I'm inheriting mild arthritis like both of my parents have suffered from for years. Dominyk asked me why I was getting grey hair and I just asked, "Have you ever seen a grandma that doesn't have grey hair?" He was satisfied with that response, knowing that in 6 months I'll be one and then, of course, the grey hair will be a necessity.

I've also spent a great deal of time reflecting and realizing who I am and that it's not going to change. I am pretty firmly established as a person, and while I hope that I make some changes, fundamentally I'm really not going to be much different. I don't feel 45 .... I still feel 20. I'm not ready for my life to be half over.... sometimes I feel like it's just beginning.

On the way to church this morning, we heard this song and then Sadie and I saw this movie together. I heard the chorus and realized that this is going to be my life. I'm never going to stop climbing. I'm never going to quit looking for something big to do next.

Here's the chorus:

Theres always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an up-hill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there.
Ain't about what's waitin on the other side.
It's the climb.

He's not like everyone else

Dominyk has been pretty good in church lately, but it's because he's been able to fall asleep, which isn't very complimentary for the preacher's son, but less disturbing than his usual antics. But lately he's been snoring so loud that it's fairly disturbing and I've been hoping he'll stay awake

Well, this morning he did.... for the whole long hour. It was really warm in the sanctuary this morning, and he couldn't get comfortable. He had not been able to find his belt and he was convinced that his pants were going to fall down, which is not even a remote possibility. But he won't be reasoned with -- no belt equals pants falling down . He desperately wanted to sleep, but simply could not get comfortable.

So the games began. He obsessed about his pants. He obsessed about not being able to breathe. (To no avail, I suggest to him that people who can't breathe can't talk, but he never gets that). He obsessed about not being comfortable.

Then Bart made this mistake of mentioning that the disciples went somewhere "two by two" which led to the repetition of several verses of "the ants go marching two by two" except it was really just repeating the same verse (the second one) again and again. Sort of like that sentence -- repetitious redundancy.

The next move was to pretend to shoot out every stained glass window with a fake gun. Then he ripped apart every tithe envelope he could find.

The next time I looked over at him he had his socks AND shoes off and was playing with his bare, but fortunately clean, toes.

He wanted his back rubbed. He wanted his back scratched. He wanted to rest his sweaty head on my shoulder, which of course, I did allow.

During the last hymn, "Christ for the world we sing" there was great evidence that he not only marches to the beat of a different drum, but that he dances to the beat of a different song. He was singing something about getting that Boom, Boom Boom, and 3008 and two thousand late and dancing while the rest of us were singing an old hymn, that really didn't have a dance beat.

And, as Bart was saying the benediction, Dominyk was, not too loudly, but loudly enough, saying his own "Thank God it's finally over," he proclaimed.

And even though the whole thing was quite entertaining and fun to blog, I'm not sure those sitting around us trying to worship thought so.

Next week I think I'll let him snore.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

All Things Settling Down

I decided to face things head on so I called one of the kids not living here and confronted them about their conversation. An apology was offered and some things were straightened out I then confronted my facebook friend and that has been resolved.

And then I saw a movie by myself. A rare treat, but I enjoyed it.

Now Bart is busy in the kitchen and Kari is busy in her kitchen and I'm sitting planning on eating everything they are making when we head over to spend the 4th with them like we did last year. But reading through that post, today was a much nicer day than last year (so far).

Dominyk is completely off meds this summer and is actually more tolerable without them so I'm not sure what to say. He is quite hyper, so I'm not sure what to tell the psychiatrist.

But I think my minor anxiety attack is over for now and things are back to normal....

Morally Superior

Last night I posted a facebook update that talked about people acting morally superior when they weren't. As I was lying in bed thinking about that last night, I realized that my very statement was morally superior in tone. Why is it that we are so quick to judge others? I went and read Matthew 7 in the process:

The Message transalation puts Matthew 7:1-5 this way:

Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

I was slammed in the face bigtime when I read that. None of us is perfect and I need to be careful.

Am I morally superior? Nope. Just bumbling along making mistakes as well. And I deleted the facebook update status as well.

Putting Yourself out There

Sometimes I hate my decision to be vulnerable online. I started blogging with that commitment to myself -- that I would tell it like it really was.

Last night one of the kids who does not live here had some concerns about a kid who is living here and talked to another one of the kids who isn't living here to report their concern. These two, who don't live here, apparently felt a need to discuss what might be going on here with each other. Problem is that the two of them have done so many things in the past to harm our reputation and our well being. The irony of them discussing a possible problem here was particularly annoying.

I can't remember exactly what I said on my facebook status update, but it was something to the affect of, "Claudia hates it when people spread rumors as if they are morally superior when they aren't." I intended to follow up with something more specific this morning, including the explanation above. In fact, as I began to think about it, I was planning this post, which I just wrote.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was reprimanded publicly by someone on Facebook that I haven't sen in 25 years. They suggested that I spent way too much time in facebook, that I needed to learn something about promotion, etc, etc, etc. So on top of the whole situation there was that to deal with.

I deleted the status update and wrote a personal message to the person thanking them for a lesson well learned and will definitely be more careful in the future.

I guess being authentic and blogging from the heart, which most of us do as adoptive parents, isn't really geared toward self promotion. So now that it is time for promotion, apparently I'm hurting myself by putting myself out there.

So I've learned my lesson today. Venting, vague, judgmental facebook status updates are not going to be good for my book promotion. And all the sudden my heart isn't in facebook any more. I'm sure it will return, but for now I'm not feeling like it sounds very fun.

And I woke up to a text from one of the offending parties suggesting that we don't do anything about what's happening at home so they have to take care of it. This was without even asking me what we had done when it was reported to us.

So I am a bit annoyed this morning. Annoyed at my own imperfections and those of others and annoyed at my own false sense of moral superiority.

And I'm wondering how long I can keep putting myself out there....

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry

I had a scream fest last night. For any of you who have fooled yourself into believing that I am a calm, cool collected and patient woman, you shoulda seen me last night. Grrr.

It started around 5:15 when Wilson, who was supposed to be at his baseball game at 5:15 came in the house looking for socks. The message I had been given by Bart was that he had all his stuff with him at the pool so Rand was going to pick him up at the pool and take him to his game. I was going to go later after the game started with Bart to watch it.

So here he shows up asking for socks and insinuating, in his indignant way, that I should have his socks ready. For a very small child, he has this indignant voice attitude and I was in no mood to be blamed for his missing socks. His room is a disaster and he refuses to put away his clothes. . In adidition, I had been paying Rand and JImmy to help with laundry, which turned out to be quite a serious mistake. I won't give you the details, but it involved a heavy load of clothes mixed with damp towels from a month ago that Rand had used to clean up the leakage from some pipe plugging episode and then hidden in a closet. OK, so I gave you details. Let's just say that I was not happy about their stupidity.

So Wilson comes in so insistent that he had put his socks down the laundry chute and that I SHOULD have them ready for him. I looked in the dryer (where I discovered a half wet load of the most foul smelling stuff (and this was after they had been washed with Tide with Febreeze and Downey) and no socks. I then proceeded to go to my bedroom and dig through every single basket of clean clothes. The whole time I'm doing this monologue about how I'm expected to work a miracle at the last minute every time someone in this house looses something. Yup, Mom to the rescue. I was ranting and carrying on. I ended up dumping out about five baskets of clean clothes all over the bed because apparently when Rand and JImmy do laundry, they can't separate out the socks like they are supposed to. No socks.

I then went into Wilson's room that I had told him he had to clean on Monday that he had ignored and refused to clean and found a horrible horrible mess of clean and dirty clothes mixed together and thrown everywhere. That of course, sent me on another tirade of foolish yelling about how he had been told for days to get it done, but NOOOOOO, he has the Wii to play. I'm guessing it wasn't pretty.

Well, as you can imagine, I finally found the socks. They were still dirty, and stuffed in Wilson's closet. This was one of the few times where he has actually been caught in a minor screw up, and he wasn't sure what to say. He put on his dirty socks and went to the game.

When I arrived home after game I came in to find the kitchen a disaster. Rand was home alone and had done nothing for hours. The dinner I had made on Tuesday had been reheated and then everything was left out. In fact, he had not covered anything after doing dishes on Tuesday, so everything had to be thrown away. The pans he washed were black with beans, and generally he had done a horrible job with everything so so he could be done and watch TV. Having worked several 14-15 hour days in the last couple weeks (Me, not him!) I am beyond annoyed with his laziness. In addition, Jimmy had been charging me by the hour to do chores and housework and he usually does a great job, but I found a few things that he had simply not done that he had told me were finished.

I came unglued and began to clean with such a burst of anger-induced energy that I shocked the children. I was yelling and wiping and slamming and stomping and carrying on. Dominyk, Ivan and Jimmy were all trying to help however they could, but mostly just stood there mouths gaping while I banged around. I told Rand to sit on the couch and watch TV because that is what he does best (I know, mean). Of course, he could do the sitting part, but he couldn't keep his mouth shut, so he had to argue with a few of the irrational things I was saying, fueling my fury. I guess I should have told him to sit on the couch and watch TV quietly but I forgot to say "quietly".

Wilson was hiding in my bedroom. Bart went to hide from me too and found him there. Apparently he was very nervous, having not seen a true fit in the year and a half he'd lived here. I don't have them very often.

So when the kitchen was clean, and Bart had taken a few of the guys to the grocery store, I pulled Wilson on to my lap. I explained to him that sometimes when people yell, that's all they do. They don't leave. They don't hurt people. They just yell, and then it's over, and then everything is fine. Tears slipped down his perfect little face. Eventually he was satisfied and in his own way, wordlessly, accepted my apology.

Bart had taken Jimmy, Ivan and Rand to the store and they processed my fit. Bart tried to explain that if Rand and JImmy simply did what they were supposed to do, big outbursts like that could be avoided and that they built up when the kids didn't do what they were supposed to do for long period of time. Bart reminded them that I don't get like this very often and Ivan simply said, "At my house, it's always like that."


The boys came home with stuff for Root beer floats and we let the "little boys" (Dominyk and Wilson) get up and stay up late and we laughed and ate and joked around until past bedtime.

I shouldn't have flipped out. I shouldn't have scared the kids and possibly re-traumatized them. But maybe in doing so I reinforced to them that even when I am very very frustrated, I'm still their mom. Even when I yell and carry on, I don't walk away. In the middle of my biggest tantrum, nobody gets hit or hurt. And afterwards, we can hug and have floats and laugh.

So if you've ever had a fit in front of your kids, remember that there is some good in it. You're teaching them something they may never have experienced before. There can be laughter beyond the anger, joy after the pain, and no matter what, we're still here.

And we always will be, even if imperfect.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Sigh of Relief

I'm a pretty independent woman. Anyone who knows me in "real life" will tell you that. But I really like having my husband home. When he is gone I don't sleep as well and I feel unsettled.

So every time he returns I breathe a sigh of relief and things can be back to normal.

Nothing too eventful is going on here. Dominyk is back, so we are up to 4 kids at home (plus our guest). Tomorrow Ricky, Leon and Sadie will be back as well and we'll be back to the normal seven who are here this summer. It has seemed a bit odd around here, but I've enjoyed the break.

And now I have a couple hours of quiet.... so I better take advantage of them. Hopefully I'll have time to blog something worth blogging later today.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Upcoming Training

Wanna hear Kari in person?

Off the Top of My Head

A coworker this morning and I were talking by instant message and i was telling her about some of my kids bad choices as they are entering adulthood. She asked me, "how do you still push for families to take these kind of kids when you know what is most likely going to happen?"

Very quickly I responded this way (and much of it you have heard me say before, but I thought I'd show you what can come pouring out in less than 4 minutes)

Many reasons:
1) The kids need to have a choice. They need to see both sides. If we don't adopt them, they never even get a chance to see options.

2) Because sometimes the kids surprise you, and each kids deserves a chance to go the right direction.

3) Because society is stupid and teaches us that if something is hard we shouldn't do it. That's ridiculous. We are a weak pathetic society becuase we have been given permission to walk away from everything that builds character.

4) Because I am a different person than I would have been without raising these kids, even if they end up screwed up. As Bart says, "I adopted children thinking I could save them, but in reality, they have saved me."

5) There are moments of joy in the journey that are simply beyond comparison. When those moments come, they are worth the crap.

6) I have met people I never would have met had I not adopted these kids. The professionals and other adoptive parents have become great friends and taught me so much.

7) We have been able to influence the kids friend's almost more than the kids themselves. We have a 15 year old boy living with us this summer who we never would have met without our kids. We have had these kind of situations happen often where we have connected with kids we otherwise wouldn't have met.

8) God asks us to plant seeds. He doesn't ask us to harvest. He says that's His job.

9) The story isn't over yet. We're in the middle of it. I can't evaluate my success when I have a house full of teenagers. They still might "turn out OK."

10) The results for the kids if we don't do it are way too bleak. They are better off with parents, in fact they need parents even more, if they end up being big screw ups as adults. If we don't adopt them, they'll be big screw ups without parents, and that is tragic -- for them, and for society.

So, how's that? Not bad for 4 minutes.