Monday, August 31, 2009

Candid Norwegian Affection

So I'm taking this picture of Kari and Mike and they know I'm taking it and she has her hand all sweetly placed on his thigh and she's looking all affectionate and happy and loving.

And then less than five minutes later I take a picture of them when they don't know it and her arms are folded tightly against her chest. Guess that's candid Norwegian Affection.

And if she doesn't want me blogging this kind of stuff she shouldn't be telling the public about our new biggest loser contest..

Adam is a Wimpy Wimp

Kari's son by birth, Adam, defriended me on Facebook. All because I threatened to post a picture of him.

So here's a picture of him anyway.

And maybe that's not the only reason he defriended me. I tattled.

11 out of 12 Aint bad

For an hour this weekend 11 of our 12 children were home. Our son Mike stopped by, Kyle and his girlfriend were here for the weekend, and we enjoyed that hour. Before that, we had a picnic with with Mike and Kari and three of their kids. We had a pretty good time. Ivan (our eternal guest) had his first S'more of his life. He declared them messy.

This morning I've been to the Y but I am waiting for Kari's post so that I can post her back.

Today I am going to pick up Salinda to bring her home... not sure for how long, but she says she is going to school here.

Life is crazy, but good. We are having to figure out how to fit people around tables and in vehicles... and we keep collecting friends. I think tonight there are 3 extras here... let me count ... yup, 3 if you count Ivan.

As you have probably heard, Mother Theresa said,

How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers

However when I google "Mother Theresa" teenagers I'm coming up with nothing. :-) Have a good day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guess who...

was in my office within minutes of walking up this morning, teary eyed, apologizing profusely? Guess who sobbed when forgiven? Guess who is attached and CARES that he disappoint his mom?'

I explained to him that he had a healthy heart and that I was sorry for overdoing the guilt on someone who didn't need it overdone, but let him know that it's a good sign when you feel bad if you disappoint someone you love. That is how it is supposed to be.

And all is well.

Don't Take it So Personally

At one a.m., after a fairly decent evening for us, I awakened for one of my many nightly trips to the bathroom to hear a lot of noise coming from Ivan and Leon's room. They were talking to a girl, on speaker phone, which is totally not OK. These are the guys who I thought were doing what I asked of them all the time. I hate feeling like they haven't been all along and I just haven't caught them.

I was very frustrated with myself for not being able to go back to sleep and being so upset with them. Minor infraction, I've dealt with much worse. Stupid teenage behavior.

But sometimes I can't help but take it personally. We have gone out of our way to let Ivan move into our house without complaining. We have included him in every activity all summer and not received any financial help from anyone to do so. And so in order to not get his phone taken away, Leon relies on Ivan's phone to break family rules. And Ricardo, who is really supposed to be sleeping downstairs, has been given a break and allowed to sleep on the floor in their room because apparently he thinks he is too good to share a room with Jimmy and Tony. So to find them all, up far after bedtime, breaking a rule they know I care about (I think it is completely rude to be on the phone late at night --call me old fashioned) it just frustrated me.

So I had to talk myself down, remind myself that it really wasn't about me, and that it was a minor infraction. But I hate feeling deceived. It's definitely my pet peeve.

Just when I think I have something conquered, it comes back to haunt me. Again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

By 10:00 yesterday morning I was simply exhuasted. It has been a very long week. And I had a long trip planned that would put me on the road from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. I decided I just couldn't do it and asked my boss and my husband if I could get a hotel last night. I was in bed by 8:45!

Wide awake by 6:15, feeling rested, and here I am getting stuff done long before anyone is awake at my house. I'm enjoying the quiet.

Kyle is coming home with his girlfriend for tonight and tomorrow, so I need to head for home fairly soon, but for now I'm doing some things that I enjoy plus getting some work done.

Maybe I'll have time to blog a little more in a bit.

Endorsement Page for the Book

If you have purchased the book and written a blog entry for it, I would like to link that blog entry to my book website. It will bring new visitors to your blog, so it benefits you, and obviously it would benefit me as well.

Let me know if you've written one and if it is OK with you for me to link it.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Past/Future is recommending my book!

Check out her great blog entry here.

Days Like This

Last night we went out for dinner at a Token Barbeque in Mapleton, Minnesota, about 20 miles from here. Bart had found a coupon on the internet and while I'm no foodie, everyone in our family was thrilled with the food. I don't typically write anything about our dining experiences but we had a great time and twas well worth waiting for. The owner spent time talking with us, and our kids were well behaved. It was a nice time.

This morning on the treadmill I was listening to my Iphone's built in Ipod and listened to the words to this song for the first time. i had heard the song many times in the background and assumed it was talking about bad days. But surprise, surprise, it's about good days.

It left me with a strong desire to be the kind of mama that tells her kids that there will be good days. I think as a parent I am always wanting to warn my children about pitfalls, about problems, about concerns and I forget to mention to them that they are going to have a whole lot of good days to look forward to in their lives.

I hope that years down the road, when they have a specially good day, they will, like Van Morrison indicates, be reminded of me and how I promised them days like that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Save the Date....

Surprise, Surprise

I just took a few minutes to check out some blogs (obviously not following my plan very well) and noticed this entry from Monday.

Wow. Very cool. Thanks, Cindy.

Book #2

This is a great email that I received. So great that I wanted to share it.

When I found your book in my mail box after arriving home from work last week, I thought: "ohhhh, but I don't have time to read another book right now." I decided I'd just peek at it while I was unloading the groceries. Well, beginning with your Acknowledgements page and Preface, I was drawn into your story. As a reader of your blog, I had never before pieced together your history as a couple, your plan to have a missional marriage, and the order in which each Fletcher joined the family. I had realized how much chutzpah you have, but I never realized how much you DID with it. I literally decided at 7:00 pm that dinner was going to come out of the freezer, and I was going to keep reading until I was done. Which was 4:00 am. And that included re-reading several chapters.

The reason that I was so excited to read this is that the writer of the email is the exact kind of person Bart and I had in mind when we wrote the book. She and her husband are planning to adopt waiting children. Discovering that she liked the book that much was very motivating to me.

She also asked me about my next book, and so this is a sneak preview of what I think one of the next books is going to be. I am going to write "Twelve Parenting Strategies Learned from Parenting Twelve Children." But the writer of the email above gave me another idea. She asked me if the book was going to include practical things and asked some of her own burning questions:

I hope the strategies will also cover some practical ones. I was really wondering how you managed with one bathroom in your first house. How did you split up bath times? How did you teach kids to respect others' time in the bathroom? Same question on meal times.

Another area I would like to hear more about is how to ask for and receive help from friends and neighbors. I think a lot of parents (like my sister for example) feel a little guilty asking others to take their children for a visit or overnight. Especially if they have some issues, as my nephew does (Aspergers). But I know that this is necessary to maintain the marriage relationship, work, and personal sanity

So because of her inspiration, Bart and I have talked about how we would like to have a Q&A section at the back of the book where we address questions from our "readers." So if you have a question for either one of us, you can leave a comment. If you want it answered by one of us specifically, let us know which one. ANd please let us know how anonymous you want to be -- if you want your name mentioned at all as the asker of the question.

I'll probably ask this a few times in the next several weeks as we begin to work on book #2.....

How do You Do It?

(now that I have a decent camera, I figure I should start sharing pictures, and like Cindy, my friend with 39 kids, they may or may not have anything to do with the post).

People ask me often "How do you do it?" when they find out I have 2 jobs and 12 kids. So I thought today I would focus on the work portion of my life and answer that part of the question.

I get a lot done. I'm a doer and doers do. In fact, I do lots of things at the same time. But over the past few years, when my work load has exceeded the amount of hours in a day, I have had to learn to do things smarter. I don't know if it will help you at all to learn my strategy for accomplishing things, but writing it down will help me to remember to how I'm supposed to do it on days when things aren't going well.

1) I get the blood pumping right away. I learned this over the past year. If I get up very early, go to the YMCA, and have a 40 minute workout and a shower before coming home to get the kids up (during the school year) my whole day is better. Even in the summer I need to get moving in the morning. The days when I sleep in and go from my bed to the shower to the desk are never productive or good days for me. I have come to rely on a little help for some endorphins to get me going. If you saw me, you would know that at the moment the Y visits are not making me lose weight, but they are starting my days right.

2) I tackle the things that require my best brain first thing in the morning. A decent blog entry, a chapter of a book, an article I need to write, a strategic plan for one of my jobs, a report to court or the meat of a powerpoint presentation are all examples of things where I need to focus without distraction. During this time, which I do right away, I often turn off my email program and my Instant Messaging program (I have Adium, which gives me access to all of the programs in one spot).

3) I reserve projects that I'm excited about or that stir my creative side for times when I am feeling sluggish. I love to design a brochure, put pictures and animations on a powerpoint, or work on websites or mess with a digital photograph. If I can find a way to work this into something I am required to do, I save it for mid or late morning, or early afternoon after lunch when I know that I am going to be tired and need something more "fun" to do. I also use projects that I enjoy as rewards for getting things that aren't so fun done. For example, I might say, "If I can process 50 emails this morning, I'll let my self spend time developing a relationship with a social worker with kids on her caseload or making the powerpoint for training nicer."

4) I schedule meetings, lengthy phone calls, and in-person visits for mid afternoon. I'm an extrovert and being with people energizes me. Sitting in my office all day alone drains me. But if I schedule my meetings in the morning, my most productive time is given to things that don't require it. So I schedule home visits and meetings with people in the afternoon. I always feel more energized after I've been around the kids I've placed and talked with their families, or after I have a good conversation with a coworker or a cup of coffee with a professional I need to visit with in town.

5) I reserve "brainless work" from when I am most spent. Filing emails or papers, answering facebook or twitter messages, reading blogs to quote or use in trainings, chatting in adoption chat rooms, etc. are things I do in the evenings when I am most tired.

6) I manage a to-do list that is motivating instead of draining. On my best days I keep track of my to-dos. I have a To-Do List manager called Things that syncs with my IPhone and it is amazing. I use it to keep track of what I am doing. I break things down into manageable pieces and enjoy clicking them off. I have a very hard time focusing on one project, because my mind is so active, but having a place to put down all of those thoughts when they come to me keeps me more focused. The satisfaction of crossing things off the list keeps me going. Often I put "Process 10 emails" and then I cross that off and put "process 10 more emails." Or I have "First Load of Laundry" down that I cross off to write down "Load Two."

7) I play silly games with myself. I was telling Kari this morning than I had my first office job when I was 16 and I kept a notebook inside my desk where I had written "Secretarial Olympics" and I would keep statistics on how many envelopes I could stuff in five minutes, how many labels I could put on in 3 minutes, etc. Every day I tried to break my record. I still do things like that to keep me motivated.

You may have a different personality than I do. Your best and most productive times may be at night or you may be an introvert who is energized by being alone. But taking a little time to strategize your own energy level and your own productivity might help you get more done.

Of course, if you aren't a doer it doesn't matter to you how much you get done anyway. But if you are a Type A workaholic type person you totally understand why I want to be as productive as possible.

So now you know how I do the work part of my life. Maybe another time I will blog about how I handle all the responsibilities of the kids and the house and all that other stuff. Or maybe then you'd see how unorganized I am so I should leave that out. ;-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We All Have a Lot to Lose

Yesterday's Blog Post started a conversation that, if you haven't read the comments, you should go back and check out. The back and forth commenting gave me plenty to think about.

I don't have time this morning to write a perfect blog post (OK, so now you are laughing and thinking "she's NEVER had time to write one, why should she start now?") but I want to throw a few thoughts your way and see what you think.

One of the things that surprises adoptive parents who have been outsiders and are now on the inside, having adopted, is how much of adoption is about grief and loss. It's obvious on the side of the children -- they have lost their birth families, in some cases siblings, former foster parents -- in fact, everyone who has ever been important to them. And they have lots what everyone else takes for granted -- the knowledge of who they really are that it takes them years to discover. Many of them resolve this as they grow up, but that sense of belonging and deep seated confidence of where they fit into the world is not there. I'm not an adoptee, and I can't claim to know how it feels, but I have watched this as my kids enter the teenage years and adult years. The question, "Who am I" becomes much more difficult to answer when you are not raised by the people who genetically formed you and gave you life.

But there is a ton of grief and loss for adoptive parents as well. First, there may be fertility issues which lead to adoption and there is enough loss associated with that to create books and blogs and articles and research.... on and on. Now many of you may have had that question about us secretly burning in the back of your mind -- so I'll answer it for you. We don't know if we can have children by birth or not. What I tell people is by the time we were married 3 months we had at toddler, and by the time we were married 5 years we had 9 kids. We didn't try not to have kids by birth, but we sure didn't have much time to try to have them. And now, if I were to get pregnant.... ew. Don't even go there.

But beyond the grief and loss associated with infertility there is the loss of a dream. Now grant it, many birth families have to go through the loss of a dream sometimes as their kids don't "turn out" the way that they thought they should. But adoptive families, especially those who are adopting older children, have this vision that they are going to save a child. They are going to love them enough to fix whatever is wrong with them and they will all live happily ever after.

And I think that this kind of grief and loss-- the kind that presents itself in a new way every single day -- is what chips away at who we are. We may feel it on the day that we take an 18 month old to the doctor to find out why they still aren't walking. Or when the preschool teacher says, "NO, he can't go to kindergarten and if he wants to come back to special needs preschool next year he has to be on medication." Or when we watch our 4th grader in the school concert and notice that she isn't like everyone else. Or possibly it is in middle school, where suddenly hidden disabilities become very obvious as our child cannot possibly coordinate homework when he has to change classes. Or when a teen goes into residential treatment, or juvenile detention, or when you're told they are pregnant.

And ultimately there is grief when a child simply cannot move out on their own. Our dream for them -- to live independently and be a contributing member of society -- seems unattainable.

And then there is the dream, that we were talking about yesterday, of how our family is "supposed" to be or, more personally, what kind of a parent I always hoped to be. How we envisioned it, how we put it together and what we thought it was going to look like. And regardless of how much we try to maintain that dream, we eventually realize that it can't be done.

And that is where our mind starts to shift from "I'm losing myself" to "I'm becoming a better me." We see how we can change ourselves in order to change our environment. I'm empowered when i realize that my son can sleep on the couch every single night and I'm going to be able to let it go and focus on things that matter more because our relationship is more important than my rules. And as all that happens we begin to find answers and we build on those until we finally become the people we should have been in the first place.

Not that I want to make this blog all about me or anything -- oh wait, my blog IS all about me ;-) -- Lately I have not been on the positive side of things because I've been overwhelmed and exhausted. I know that I need to get back there. And I have found that adoptive parents are all somewhere on that continuum. Hopefully the longer we do this, the more we progress.

Because the bottom line in all of this is we all have a lot to lose -- a lot of things we should lose. And so possibly, in losing ourselves, we actually find the self that we were meant to be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If you want to know how Bart and I often communicate

I usually don't link to her because she is quite vial and uses the F word more than all of my children combined, but the conversation that the Bloggess blogged with her husband cracked me up. I am not THAT much like her, but Bart is so much like Victor that you'd think they were twins. You have no idea how many times a week he tells me to lower my voice....

How do I feel today? I Feel Resigned

Resigned. Not that I have resigned, because as a parent you can't resign. But I feel resigned to the fact the that some of my children are not going to change. And I'm resigned to the fact that I'm going to have to live with it.

I like to be obeyed. I've always liked it. From the time I was the oldest child of two little brothers as a 4 year old, I have needed, wanted, HAD TO be obeyed. OK, so I'm a control freak, but hey, at least I'm honest.

And up until I was married I was. Then I agreed to obey him and I do. Which you are all guffawing at, but it is true. I am a submissive wife. Which my husband doesn't believe in. But that is so far off topic. Ok, now that i"m in the middle of it I better explain. It is not hard to submit to someone who truly loves you. And he knows that I will do anything he asks, so he is careful about what he acts. And it works very well. But I love to point out to others about how submissive I am to him because it bugs him. So I guess that probably nullifies it to a certain extent. But whatever.

Anyway, up until I was married and had kids people usually did what I said. ANd as an adult, if they didn't, I fired them or kicked them out of school if they were insubordinate. I have often said, "The only thing I've ever been good at is telling people what to do, and now I'm full of a whole houseful of people who don't do a word I say."

So I like to be obeyed. ANd my philosophy is that the "little things" count. If I say, "Turn off the TV at ten" and my kids don't, and then they say, "It's not that big of a deal" then I say, "Exactly, so why can't you do it?" I think it's the little things -- the tiny rules that are based on the family system working well and Bart and I surviving living here -- those are the things that show attachment and trust and love.

But that's the problem. We have kids who never have been attached, who don't trust us, and don't know how to love. So they aren't going to care about the little things and there is nothing much I can do about it.

This morning John is sleeping on the couch again. He was obviously up doing laundry late into the night. Both of those things I don't prefer and I have asked him not to do again and again. Am I going to make my son, who is doing better than he has in years, move out of the house because he won't sleep in his bed? No. Am I going to start some consequence game to try to stop it? I don't have the energy. So I guess I'm going to have to let it go.

But in some ways I sort of feel like I'm selling out each time I come to this conclusion -- that one of my "rules" is going to have to die. If I were looking in at my situation I would be so critical -- After all, I am the parent, and I should have control over my own children.

But the truth? He isn't going to do what I say in some areas no matter what. So maybe I should just stop caring and let it go.

I hated typing that. Badly.

And by the way. I don't like the earring, or any part of the "gansta" look either. But he's nineteen and sometimes you just gotta let it go.

Am I just way out there today or does anyone else mourn the death of a rule when you finally have to let it go because it is not going to get obeyed without way more stress applied to ensuring compliance than it's worth?

Let me Say it For You

I am finding that going to the YMCA with Kari in the morning is an excellent way to start my day for many reasons, but one is that our conversation always leads me to a good blog post.

She and I were talking about blogging and why people read our blogs (OK, OK, Kari, I was the one talking about why people read MY blogs -- she's always waiting for me to make a mistake so she can pounce on me. Just kidding. Kinda).

And one of the reasons that I think I read some blogs or others read mine is because I say what you're thinking and feeling but you don't want to say it or aren't sure how to say it. A perfect example is Cindy's blog entry about desensitization this morning. Just yesterday I noticed this twice: Once when a new adoptive parent saw me at the clinic and was telling me about how her child stole, got caught, got the consequences and then she said, "Guess What?" with true shock and horror registered on her face. I said, "She stole something else." Almost like DUH! Except that I forgot that she is normal and has lived a normal life for more years than I have and she isn't quite ready for that shocking realization that consequences aren't going to work.

Another situation in my life which has completely desensitized me is Dominyk's perpetual noise making. I don't even hear it. And then I'm all like, "What in the world is everyone staring at us for?" until I realize that it is not normal for a 13 year old 200 boy to make shooting noises with his mouth ALL THE TIME no matter WHERE WE ARE. Sigh. But I'm oblivious to it all as my tolerance level has slowly increased by necessity.

Other times it is a more serious issue we have. Anger towards our children, or resentment as I blogged about earlier this week, or frustration, exhaustion, etc. You may think to yourself "I don't think I can take this one more day" but I'm typing it for all the world to see.

There is something comforting and freeing in knowing that my responses to the absolutely crazy circumstances of my life is normal -- the same thing everyone else would feel. And when I blog those feelings and you email or comment that you feel the same way, I can take a step back and say, "Whew. I'm not as crazy as I thought."

Having said that, let me post again about how I really feel today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Opportunity to Share Your Story

Do you know of families in Arkansas, Texas, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, Rhode Island or North Dakota who could
participate in this great project?

We would like to promote families who have identified a child whom they adopted on or See details below.

Voice for Adoption is actively seeking participation for this year’s 2009 Adoptive Family Portrait Project. We are looking for families who have adopted youth from foster care. In this year’s project entitled Many Faces, Many Families, we will highlight the unique stories of families who have chosen to provide permanency to children through adoption. We will work with policy makers to make sure they hear the stories and needs of these precious families. We need your help! If you are a family who has adopted from foster care and would like to participate, contact me for contact info.

States/districts where families are needed:

Benton County
Washington County
Bull Shoals
Diamond City
Eureka Springs
Fort Smith
Lead Hill
Prairie Grove
Siloam Springs
Van Buren

Litchfield County


North Dakota
Whole state

New Jersey
Bergen County
Sussex County

Rhode Island
Whole state

Collin County

A Spoon Full of Sugar: The Art of Good Blogging

Now that I am a "published author" (although some people would say that if you self-publish it doesn't count) I have started to do a little reading about creating an online footprint and building an online presence. And for a while there I was thinking that I really screwed that up with all my stupid blog entries about bowel movements and leg shaving and other things. Or, if not then, by tweeting a series of inappropriate things said and done on our trip to Columbus last week. But this morning while Kari and I were in the shower (SEPARATE SHOWERS AT THE Y) I was mentioning to her that maybe unintentionally I have been doing something that makes good sense.

I have seen some folks who are very intentional in their blogging and they only blog about their topic of choice. Their words are well thought out, their writing articulate, and they would be the "go to" people for the people wanting to read about the topic they have chosen to be the central focus of their blog. However, the best of these bloggers, throw in personal things once and a while that keep the readers coming back. One of my favorite non-adoption blogs that I try to keep up with and that I have mentioned before is Scott Kelby who has been my hero for years. On his blog his sense of humor occasionally breaks through. He is professional, but his weekly embarrassing photos of himself, along with other things he throws in, keep me coming back.

Then there are the bloggers who seem to have no purpose at all for blogging. They are often very hilarious and write well, making blog entries out of almost nothing. But if you follow these blogs long enough, the passions and opinions of those people seem to develop a theme. Even in the midst of "meaningless fluff" they seem to have a message.

The key to a blog's longevity and effectiveness has to be finding a good balance between the two. Because honestly, I don't want to take my medicine plain. If I need to learn about something that is hard for me to grasp (again, photography is a good example) I don't want to read page after page of technical stuff without any relief. But if I want to learn about a topic, I don't want to wade through pages of nothing meaningful either. I want the content to be there as well.

I don't think it would take long for you to guess my passion and the underlying purpose of my blog (other than my own cathartic, narcissistic meanderings :-). I want kids in families before they age out of foster care -- either my family or someone else's. And I want people to learn how that can be done with the parents surviving the experience. But in the middle of it all, a few personal stories that make you laugh probably provide enough balance to keep you reading.

So if I post about the small forrest I have growing on my legs and that gets you to read the next post about how we are all getting way too resentful and need to let that go, then it's served it's purpose.

Unintentionally I've found a fairly decent balance. I'm sure there are those of you who want more medicine and need less sugar, and those who want more sugar and could skip most of the medicine, but hopefully in the end we'll all be healthy from a good combination.

Because after all it is a spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm playing the Funniest Trick on Dominyk

He is sitting across from me as we speak. He is playing trivial pursuit with me as I work. I haven't told him that I am googling everything to get my answers.

Needless to say, I'm winning.

He can't believe how smart I am today.

Getting Ready to Reprint the Book Already

We are reprinting the book this week. So, here is a couple things you who have been reading my blog for a while, here is what you can do for me (if you want):

1) If you haven't gotten your book, i really would like my closest friends and biggest "fans" to get the remaining 25 copies not yet spoken for. So order yours to reserve it. Otherwise, the price goes up and yeah, you know. Nothing I can do.

2) If you have already gotten your book, can you let me know if there are any other glaring mistakes besides the fact that I did a search and replace for birth mom and replaced it with home study. I know, I know, embarrassing. Are there other mistakes you have seen.

And if you have read it and you'd like to review it, that would be fun. You can do it at Goodreads. The page is here.

THANKS! It's been fun to share our lives with you and to hear about how you haven't been able to put the book down. That makes us feel good.

Eventually it will be time for me to start marketing to agencies and counties. That was my original intent for the book -- so that they could offer it to families new to the process. But that may be on hold while I catch up with everything else.

Thanks for all your great support!

Practicing Honesty

I realized yesterday that our children, around 8 years ago, began to develop amongst themselves, an ethos of dishonesty. While this is the absolute opposite of what their parents practice, they seem to have collectively determined that to lie was the best bet. They have covered for each other, lied for each other, taught each other how to lie, to the point that the do not value truth one bit. Combined with the FASD that some of them have, where the truth may not even be able to be grasps because of the gaps in their short and long term memory, we have had a jungle of lies to wander through for years.

Once some of the older kids either left the home or were unable to live at home, this seemed to improve. A few of our kids who do are nuero-typical and attached, seem to have the makings of a conscience. While their sibling loyalty was strong, if pressured, they would still value our relationship over them.

This last week, for some reason, either because I've been paying more attention or because with John home they are reverting to old patterns, I have been playing detective, bad cop, interrogator and prosecuting attorney a lot. And i am amazingly good. I didn't spend 9 years being responsible for hundreds of naughty college students for nothing. As Residence Hall Director and then Dean of Students, I was in charge of the college discipline policy. I got very good and knowing when someone was lying and if the facts didn't match up. I interrogate separately and then I combine everything that was squeezed out of them and double it and then figure I have received half of the truth. ;-)

It is very tiresome to live with people you can't trust. I think I should repeat that sentence and state it more strongly. It is exhausting to daily live with people who will look you straight in the eye with the intent to deceive.

I have been approaching John's return home as if he were one of the 19 year old kids that You Gotta Believe is placing in my home for the first time. He is so afraid of getting "kicked out" again that he is having a very hard time being honest. SInce it is not our intention to kick him out unless he is physically dangerous or we can't afford the things he is stealing from us (and stealing has never been his consistent issue) he will be allowed to remain here. However, I am confronting him daily about things he is doing that are inappropriate simply to help him practice honesty.

There are no consequences from us when he does not keep our small rules. He is 19 years old and has enough consequences hanging over his head if he screws up at all to keep him pretty safe. But I am asking him questions just to see if he is able to tell the truth. So far, he's doing better than he has in the past, but still can look me straight in the eye and lie to me.

Yesterday I finally figured out if it was him or Ricardo who was lying about something by putting huge pressure on Ricardo. Finally, when John realized that Ricardo was willing to give up a season of soccer to protect him, John confessed. Surprisingly, I think that is progress. A few years ago, John would have let Ricardo do it and not felt any guilt whatsoever.

So we're taking things one day at a time. I'm talking constantly about telling the truth, emphasizing honesty in every conversation for a while. This will annoy them, probably, but I annoy them 24/7 anyway. Day and night, just ask them. Might as well be annoying them with a theme.

Hey, that's a great concept: Theme Annoyance.

Anyway, this morning I woke up and found Rand in clean clothes, having had a shower and having shaved. I said, "Wow, Rand. Good job. Times they are a changing. Now if I could just have a whole day where nobody lies to me...." He said, "Mom, that's a fantasy."

And completely off-topic, Sadie has decided that she and I need to take One-A-Day for women with some special breast and bone cancer reduction thing. So we bought some yesterday and she has taken it upon herself to make sure that I take my vitamins every day. Funny how those roles change. I figured it would happen when she was 44 instead of 14 though.

Off to church...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Two Amazing Cindy's

Having online friends is really cool. Having online friends that you actually get to meet in person is even cooler. Having an online friend that you actually saw across the room but didn't talk to, well, that is very cool too. In a different sort of way.

Most of you know that Cindy and I have been friends for a long time. I convinced her to start blogging, which should mean that i have more readers than she does, but of course, she passed me by long ago. But she did me right yesterday with a great review of the book that you have to check out.

The "other Cindy" is a young thing that I met online via blogs a long time ago -- like back when she had no kids. ANd now she has three. And last year she decided to get skinny and she did. ANd I decided to get skinny and I got a little skinnier except that then I got less skinny again. Anyway...

A couple years ago she was doing a visit at the CPS office in her city and I saw her from a distance when I was speaking in the building -- and I saw a couple of her kids and the kids birth family -- and I thought for sure it was her -- but I wasn't sure enough to say hi, plus I figured she would be a bit stressed out, so I left her alone. Later we talked and I was right. It was her.

Anyway, we have formed quite an interesting friendship. She is as competitive as I am and she and I try to beat each other in stupid face book games. And lately she's kicking my butt. Plus now she's skinny and gorgeous. AND she got invited to write an article for Adopting Families Magazine, which I have never been asked to do.

So, all those things combined, she is basically kicking my butt, so I figured that now that she has surpassed me in every arena, she might forget me -- one of the little people. But NOPE. last night I got a copy of an email that she sent to Adoptive Families on our behalf and I'm gong to put it here. Cuz I want to and she can't stop me. :-)

I also wanted to mention something you may find helpful in what you're doing on Foster Care Adoption. I know you mentioned you already have two other people writing about older child adoption but I'd like to recommend another source in case you need it. You may even already know about them since they regularly speak around the country and are very active in the foster adopt community. Claudia and Bart Fletcher have adopted 12 kids (older kids) and some of them have now transitioned into adulthood. One of the most important things about adopting an older child (in my opinion) is understanding thatparenting these kids is a commitment that may not always include a love that is visibly returned. Her writing is incredibly honest and straightforwardand gives great insight into what adoptive parents are walking into when adopting children that are older and have special needs. Claudia even points out that while many people consider these issues to be problematic with older children, it is also a big concern with kids who are adopted as babies/toddlers. Because of early environment (drug/alcohol exposure, etc) some children will have lifelong issues regardless of the age they were when adopted. The Fletchers' story is not necessarily one that would make all potential adoptive parents view foster care as a viable option but I think it does something even more important. It sheds light on what can be the reality of adopting these kids and gives adoptive parents the information they need up front to make a decision about what they can really commit themselves to. Their experience is touching and genuine and they openly share all the ups and downs - they deal with everything from ADHD/FAS/RAD to teenage pregnancy. And they do it with such grace and love that you can't help but love them. They have just published a book that is the best resource for pre-adoptive (and adoptive) parents I've ever seen. Check out Claudia's blog at and the link to their book 'Out of Many, One Family How two adults claimed twelve children through adoption' is:

She signed it.... just an FYI.

Both of these reviews are humbling and well written and the time it took each of them to give us their vote of confidence is amazing.

Thanks girlfriends.. you both rock!

Does this Sound Familiar to any one else?

You need to clean your room if you want to go anywhere today.

But that's not fair.

It's the same for everyone else in the house. So it's fair.

But cleaning my room is too hard.

You don't have to clean the room, but if you don't clean the room you can't go anywhere.

But that's not FAAAAAAIR.






MOOOOOOOOOOOOM (at full volume) It's not FAIR!!!!!




You may choose whether you want to go to your room now or go when your dad gets home (he won't go for me anymore, and I refuse to get into a physical altercation with him)

I can't stop crying.

You can cry in your room.

but that's not FAAIR.

(I'd go on, but eventually you'd get as I am right now and that wouldn't be FAIR!!!) ;-)

I Should Have Been a Prosecuting Attorney

I am an amazing interrogator, let me just say that.

I should have been a prosecuting attorney.

Sometimes You Just Need to Reboot, Remove Some Stuff, and Empty the Trash

This morning my computer is telling me that it has no space on my hard drive. This means I have to stop everything and do a few things I won't be able to use the computer or download the software I need to keep it running. While I am waiting for the computer to do some things which I have asked it to do, I thought I'd blog about how this is really a metaphor for what we need from time to time.

My computer goes non-stop. I put to sleep when I'm not using it, but I hardly ever restart it. I just go from day to day, making it work without a break, not having enough time to reboot. And it gets sluggish and slow and performs at low capacity. Finally it seems to get to the point where it has had enough and won't keep going until I do something.

Aren't we like that? We move at a frenetic pace, with so much to do, that we forget to charge our own batteries. We neglect to put our own oxygen mask on first. And after a while we just get tired, and sluggish, and slow and perform at low capacity. As mature responsible adults who have some self-knowledge, you probably know what you need to do. Some of you garden (Weirdos. ;-) Some of you take baths (again, don't get that -- sitting around in dirty water, but whatever). Others might watch a mindless TV show (can't wait for Biggest Loser to start again so I can have a bowl of chips and watch fat people cry. OK, so maybe that was a bit insensitive, but I'm serious. I'm hooked on watching that show. But anyway, I digress). For me it is getting up early and working out and having a shower before my kids are even up. Others might get lost in a book (Hey, I know one that just got published -- Out of Many One Family -- (see, you knew I'd work that in here somewhere). Or maybe, if you're like me, it's taking time to write a very long blog post. Whatever it is, though, you need recharge and do it often.

The other thing we need I had to do after I restarted my computer this morning was to free up some disk space. This morning I did a search and realized that I had every language you can think of installed in my computer when it came and that was glogging up a ton of hard drive space. I downloaded a free program (Monolingual, if you're curious about this and a mac user), and suddenly I have languages like Dzongkha and Amharic deleted from my computer. And since until this very moment I never knew those two languages (and several others) existed, I doubt I really needed them taking up my space. Using this program just saved me 2.9G of hard space.

Other times I have to archive things. This means moving them to another hard drive to store there. This is a tedious process, but it is so freeing when it is done. And sometimes there is stuff that I really don't need at all, and that goes into the trash.

So how does that apply to what we need to do as people? I believe we all have things that we need to get rid of that are clouding our minds and hearts. I could write a book about all this -- hey, I just might some day, but today I'm only going to talk about one.

Resentment. Lately I admit it, I have been resentful. Pure and simple. I have been angry with an undercurrent of deep resentment because I am now being forced to deal with repercussions of the actions of my children which I spent years trying to prevent. We started talking to Salinda about not having sex when she was six years old. And now she is 16, having a difficult pregnancy, and bringing a child into the world without seeing any need to find a job. Her boyfriend is currently unemployed as well. And, other than Bart and I, nobody is visibly concerned about paying for this child's expenses I guess she knows we'll just do it, but I'm sure you can imagine why this creates resentment.

Secondly, John was begged not to give up the services he was being provided. I literally shed tears, begging him not to give up his CADI waiver -- which, if you know about MN services, is a huge thing to get. We had spent years trying to get him on it. But to no avail he walked away. And therefore he lost his SMRT. He also asked to be taken off his IEP when he turned 18. This post is already paragraphs too long so I won't explain each of those things, but basically what it means is 1) He gave up free room and board for years;, 2) he gave up all medical insurance and he is no longer on ours, and 3) he gave up the right to go back to public school to finish and will now be going to alternative school with a whole bunch of people he should be avoiding. So, homeless, jobless and without insurance, he is back in our house. He really wants to work and is a very hard worker, but the recent jail stay has prevented it. Anybody have a job for John? I can't say enough about his work ethic and he's trying very hard.

So yes, I have been resentful. I am working hard to support people who would not be in dire straights had they listened to me. So not only am I having to work more now, I'm resentful about all of the work I did trying to prevent something that happened anyway. Why did I bother?

Now I have two choices today. I can throw my resentment in the trash and then empty the trash and be done. Or I can put it on another hard drive where I will only look at it once and a while. I wish that I could say that I have the ability to get rid of it completely, but I'm not sure I'm there yet. However, I can move it out of the center of my mind, stick it on another hard drive, and only visit it once and a while. But if it is on the "external hard drive", so to speak, instead of right in the middle of my computer screen, i won't be forced to live with at the center of who I am.

So this morning, I am taking time to reboot myself. I'm taking my resentment and sticking it on an external hard drive, where I will only visit it occasionally. And I think I'll move the anger that goes with it into the trash. I can live without that.

Need a fresh start? Pick something that will charge your battery and do it today. Have something that needs to be filed or thrown away? Do it now. Mentally move out some of the garbage that is troubling your head and heart and throw it away if you can't. If not, at least archive it. ;-)

And if you would like to share what it is you need to get rid of, maybe you'd like to blog about that or comment. I am always motivated by reading what others are doing to improve their lives.

Well, my computer just finished installing it's updates, and it's asking me to restart. I have emptied my trash, and freed up lots of space. Now my computer is ready to perform better.

And thanks to this blog post, so I am.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Things That Make You Go "HUH?"

I am alone. It is quiet. I actually have an office now for Permanent Family where I will be working a couple days a week. It is nice to have a place to go where I can focus and get away from my small home office. Eventually I think it will provide me with a good place to think and write and concentrate. As for this moment the silence is kinda freakin me out. But I could get used to it.

So, things that make you go huh.

Ok, for the curious -- last night was about cigarettes and how my minor children got them and whether or not my not-so-minor children were involved. I had a good conversation with John this morning, but I'm not sure if I should trust him. His personal DNA seems to be clouded with manipulation and opportunistic behavior, and he certainly looks out for #1.

The minors who were smoking (and apparently in possession of chew as well) will go unnamed. However, I am quite disappointed both in their choices and in their decision to be deceptive. I still have to track down the truth.

In attempting to track down this truth, however, I did receive answers to a couple of my past burning questions on things I never got truth on before. I would like to believe that I can teach honesty to my children, but I talked with my friend Paula today, who some of you know, and she suggested that the sibling bond between teens and the length they will go to protect one another might be impenetrable. She inferred, actually, she said it straight up, -- most teens do not tell the truth to adults. Great.

My daughter Salinda is in the hospital with kidney stones and has been since yesterday afternoon. But what makes me go "huh" is that I didn't know that until four p.m. today. She texted me from there yesterday but said that they were going to call me to ask me for permission to treat her. They never did, so I assumed she went home.

Apparently she texted me yesterday that she was staying overnight, but I never received the text (a common problem with Alltel, which I have heard from my PCAs, thus I believe it). So today I texted to see how she was and discovered that she was still in the hospital. The back pain which they thought was kidney stones is apparently gone, but her head hurts so bad she almost passes out. Her pain tolerance isn't all that high, so I never really know for sure what to make of it all.

But I guess she's pregnant now so they don't have to notify her parents when she wants our insurance to pay for her overnight hospital stay? Weird.

So, apparently things are happening that I don't know about often these days. And you know what? I'm kinda bored with it. I know that sounds weird, but I am. I was telling Kari this afternoon that it's like watching a marathon of a high drama show. After a while even shows like "Cops" or "Intervention" get old.

And so staying up until 3 a.m. to find out who smoked when and where and how they got their cigs for like the 20th time in my parenting history -- boring!!!! Annoying!!! Sigh, ugh, yuck. Dumb.

Wow, I'm still pretty crabby, huh?

Around the Cycle Again

I'm not sure if adoptive parents of kids with special needs (Third Degree Parents as we have started calling ourselves) eventually get to the point where we can't muster up enough energy to be as upset as we used to be. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing. I'm sure my emotional intensity after every mistake didn't help my older kids when I was back in my "determined to fix them" stage, but I think now I may be so numb that I'm not responding intensely enough. It's a hard balance to find.

Last night I was up until 3, trying to iron out who did what. I have two kinds of kids living with me. There are those who care primarily for themselves and will say or do anything they need to to manipulate the people around them. Truth, somehow, has become completely insignificant, and the only desired outcome is getting what they want, protecting themselves, etc. However, I do have a few children who I feel are attached to me and who would place our relationship over their own self interest. They tell the truth, regardless, and it does matter to me.

Last night there were several people involved in a situation and I have one from each of those camps telling me their version of the story. Except that I know that the one with a conscience is lying and I can assume that the one without one is. I want to know what happened -- not because I am even all that into seriously consequencing the behavior, but because I want to know if the one who I thought had a conscience really has joined the ranks of the other side -- the side where selfishness trumps relationship and people are an ends to their means.

Going over details again and again in my mind last night left me with few hours of sleep and I woke up late, giving up a couple of my blessed hours of quiet when I can work. And then Dominyk shattered my silence with a full blown meltdown again this morning. He literally greeted me, with his eyes barely open, with the words "I'm bored" and then began his "I'm itchy" fit. It's long and exhausting on a good day, but today, when I was tired, I had to really bite my tongue to respond to him patiently.

Attachment disorder is an ugly ugly thing. It robs people of those things that most of us have deep in our souls -- that we take for granted. It robs people of their self worth and the healing process is very lengthy.

And this morning I'm weary, because attachment disorder affects the people around the person as well.

And finally, I'm feeling embarrassed for even feeling bad about all this, because other people have it so much worse. We don't have anyone being violent (except for the normal things, like Tony punching a whole through his wall yesterday), and for the most part, I feel safe. Nobody has mental health issues that are keeping them from living at home, and CPS is not involved in our lives.

And that puts us way way up on the quality of life ladder from a lot of families like ours.

So I will attempt to be as grateful as I can.

And today, I need to know the truth. Who bought the stupid cigarettes isn't the issue. The issue is do I have one pathological liar, or two?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

OK, one More thing about the Book

Tired of hearing about the book yet?

I'm sitting at Dunn Brothers with Wilson, Dominyk, and Sadie trying to work. But I was thinking of something.

If you aren't interested in buying from our online store you can always just order privately and send a check. Some people don't like to give their addresses or send money online.

We have about 50 books left from our first printing and when they are gone we reorder and then you have to pay more because our current profit margin is pretty small. The price will go from $15, to $13.95 plus tax if you are in MN and shipping. Tax and shipping is about $4.30. So right now for $15.00 you can get what you will be paying $18 something for in a few weeks. Just a heads up for you.

So if you're planning on it, but putting it off, you may want to get one now, or at least don't blame me if it costs more later.

Of course if you're like my kids, I'll warn you about the future consequences of your choices, you'll not heed my advice and do it anyway, and then somehow it will be my fault when what I warned you about comes true.


Note to self:

When you add a signature line to your all the emails going out from your inbox, which usually total hundreds a day, you might want to spell published right when you announce to the world that you've published a book.




(Is that a phrase?)

Two more Things about the book (and why I blog so much about the book)

ok, first the why.

One of my passions in life is that adoptive families should share their stories. Blogging, tweeting, facebook, speaking and books are a way we can do this. And our company, Third Degree Parenting, is all about helping people do that and doing it ourselves. So that is one reason why I keep sharing with you about the book -- hoping maybe you'll want to do the same thing some day.

The second reason is that ever since I started the blog 4 years ago it has been simply about dumping whatever is in my brain into your brains. ANd this is what is in my brain lately is dumping stuff about the book into your brains lately. Cuz that's what is in it. Along with many other things.

OK, two more things about the book. Thorn took time to add it to Goodreads and write a review and Jill has joined her in writing one. However, "Thorn" caught a huge error in it and I'm embarrassed. If you read her review she can tell you about it. I'm glad she caught it hough so I can fix it for the next printing which should be happening fairly soon.

The good news for those of you who have not read the book is that I am not going to raise the price of this defective book now until we reorder fixed ones. So, if you want a collectors item proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am dumb, or at the very least, careless beyond belief.

ANd finally, in case you didn't catch it in the last post, if you've been trying to send me a check and it came back, send it again. The addresses on the book websites are correct. Now.


10 Biggest Marketing and Book Selling Mistakes

I already have enough content to write a complete book on how to screw up a marketing campaign for book sales. I swear, I a wreck sometimes. I probably won't bore you with all of my silly mistakes, but a few of them are pretty big.

1) Have a Marketing and Book Sales Plan. I never took time to write a plan. And thus, I don't have one. New ideas float around in my head, and I do things by the seat of my pants and then don't keep track of what I have done. Kind of frustrating to be running here and there in my mind and not going anywhere.

2) Sloooooooow doooooooooown. Wow, I have made so many careless mistakes. Here's a great example. I posted info about the book to a few of my adoption listservs and it has been almost hilarious. The first time, I did a nice HTML flyer and found out that when it translated to digest form it didn't contain the links. So I wrote an apology post to the list and included a link, but then I got distracted and didn't post the complete link. So the third day I had to write yet another post giving the correct link. So everyone is thinking "Geez, I can't imagine what her book looks like if she can't even write an email!"

3) Don't get a Post Office Box set up at a company that is going to go out of business. I had advice that it was crucial not to use my own home address for book sales, so I went to Postnet, which was a really cool place to get a physical address when you don't have an office. I was thrilled. Until they closed down.

4) If you get a post office box at a company that goes out of business, don't forget to change the address at your online store. Now people are sending me checks to the wrong place. Isn't that just dandy? I figured it out and fixed it this morning.

5) If you have an online giveaway, make sure that you get the emails of the people who enter it so that you can track down the winner when she/he wins. Duh. Or maybe not. Save a few bucks if you don't ever have to give it away -- hey, not my fault, I can't find her. Just kidding. I posted the announcement here but haven't heard from Jennifer yet.

OK, that's about it for now, but as you can tell I've been an accident waiting to happen through this whole process. I suppose that marketing and book sales tip #6 could be:

don't try to take time to market a book when you have 11 kids (10 over 13) living with you and a grandchild on the way, 2 more than part time jobs, and a budding speaking career). Of course, nobody else probably needs that advice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Surprise, Surprise

I was actually fairly productive today. Tired most of the day, but productive. Tomorrow I hope to be even more productive. The Y is closed so I don't have that option, so hopefully I will sleep better tonight and wake up happier.

FYI -- a kid with OCD who has hives is not fun.

FYI -- having a huge zit on your chin when you have house full of teenagers is not fun. Dominyk keep wanting to explain to me how it is not a pimple, but a ZIT and Tony every time he walks by me just points to the spot where it is on his own face and sneers at me.

FYI -- having several ninth graders to pick up after football practice is very smelly.

FYI -- filling out forms for insurance for adopted kids is not fun when you have a lot of them. They don't even all fit on the form.

FYI -- having a husband out of town with a dozen kids at home isn't always fun, but it isn't that as bad as you might think.

FYI -- I need to go to bed early tonight!

Welcome to my Whiny World

I am whiney this morning. I was all set to go to the Y (but still not dressed) when Kari's husband called to say she couldn't make it. I should have gone anyway but instead I tried to go back to sleep, wasting an hour of time not sleeping and now I'm up and groggy and mad at myself and overwhelmed.

So I have to figure out a way to get back on track. Everything I do lately I feel I'm not doing well enough and it's making me frustrated.

So at this point in time I am not going to continue to whine to you, but instead get busy. ANd hopefully things will start to improve.

I have a dark chocolate candy bar on my desk. I think that might make me feel almost as good as exercise. :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Theory

I have another huge zit. On my chin.

Similar to the cyclops zit, except in a different place.

All the sudden I have horrible acne again -- as bad as when I was a teenager.

And I figured it out. There are so many hormones floating around in this house from all these pubescent and pre-pubescent and adolescents that their acne is contagious.


Snippets of Conversation with Dominyk

Me to him: Dominyk, it is not appropriate to discuss the sexual orientation of the elderly in public places.


Dominyk to me: AAAAAH. AHHHHH. My pubic! It's freezing to death.


Dominyk to me: Why can't I play "serial killer" with the neighbors?


Me to Dominyk: I'm sure you could wreak havoc in that thing.

Dominyk: What's wreak havoc?

Me: Pretty much what you do all day long.


Dominyk to me: I did NOT break anything in the neighbors garden. I sliced it. With a sword.

Shackles of the MInd

I heard a story on the radio this morning about elephants. Apparently in Asia, elephants do hard labor for their owners. And they never wander away.

The reason: They are tied with a thin cord to a stump. As you and I know, the elephant is strong enough to walk away, breaking the cord, breaking the stump, and trampling anything between them and wherever they want to go. However, they don't even try. Why? Because they were conditioned as baby elephants.

When a baby elephant is born, a heavy shackle is placed around their foot. Try as they will, they cannot get away from the stake they are shackled too. The more strong willed ones often hurt themselves in the process, but after a while they finally learn that they cannot get away no matter what. As they get older, the owners trade the shackles for a small cord, and the metal stake for a wooden one, but the elephant no longer tries.

How many of us are like elephants? A long time ago we were told by someone that we couldn't do hard things. We didn't amount to much. We were ugly or dumb, or incapable, and we began to believe it. And now we believe that we are shackled by heavy hard things, when actually all that is keeping us from reaching our potential is a thin cord that we could easily break if we just tried.

Maybe you're facing something difficult and you are thinking to yourself, "I can't do it... I just can't." Think again.

Are the shackles on your feet or are they only in your mind?

An Odd Thing

Well, Salinda had her ultrasound done today and it's weird. I suppose if she were married and I was going to be a grandma in the same order that most people prefer to get there, I'd be rushing home to blog it. But somehow blogging the gender of my grandchild who will be born to my not-yet-married, 16 year old daughter seems weird.

Would you blog it if you were me?

ALso had a long talk with John today about his note that he was going to hang out with some positive friends from 1-3 a.m. That was his informing us of what his whereabouts. He ended up at Mike's which I figured he would, and now is acting ignorant, like he had no idea he wasn't supposed to do that. He's pretty slick but he isn't really pulling anything over on me. He is just doing his thing and thinking I'm playing along. Difference is, now he's 19 and on big-time probation, so he's the one who pays the heavy price if he makes a mistake. He's too old for me to try, in vain, to accomplish controlling him and keeping him out of trouble.

It's all odd -- this transition in my parenting -- going from an intense need to fix kids and control their actions to realizing that I really can't. It is hard to maintain my own anxiety.

But as you've heard me say, and as I've written in the past:

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.

Attempting to Prioritize

As I was driving home from the YMCA this morning (without Kari -- you'll have to ask her about why I was greeted by her not-so-fully-clothed husband instead of her this morning) I was thinking about today and all the things that I need to do this week... and concluding that half of them really had to be done TODAY. Problem is, today isn't going to be long enough.

One of the things that suffers when I am swamped is my blog and I apologize. It gets neglected when things are crazy. This morning we are going to find out the gender of our grandchild when we accompany Salinda to her ultrasound. THen I begin parenting alone for 5 days. I have to be able to prioritize very carefully and use every minute I have to get things done.

However, this morning I returned home to discover that I have something that has jumped to the very top of the list. I have misplaced our only van key and thus, I will be putting that at the top of my list.


Monday, August 17, 2009

If Anyone Would Like to put a Link for the book on your blog

Just download this and then go to your blogger page and upload a picture and there it will be. You can put whatever title and picture you want and then add the link:

Just download the picture from here to your hard drive first.

If you do it let me know so I can go look at it ;-)

Who knows, maybe you'll refer so many customers my way that I have to give you commission.


There were around 700 people at NACAC. About 7 of them bought books that hadn't preordered them. That is like 1 in 100. So I was starting to get a little depressed . . .

and then I started to think. . .

if one in every 100 people in the world bought the book....

It's all a matter of perspective.

Some Pics of John as promised

He's lost a lot of weight and he really needs us to buy him a razor....

Congratulations, Adopted1 (Jennifer)

Whoever you are, you won the giveaway. Unless I really screwed up... Leon picked 296 and Adopted1 chose 299. So, she/he wins the book.

And now, for a special surprise. In a couple days I am going to increase the price of the book on the website, but for those of you who joined the giveaway contest, you can order it for $14.00 including shipping and handling. This is barely above cost for us by the time we pay to ship and everything . Just go to the website and order it for $15, but when you pay, just send $14.00

Starting the end of the week the book is going to go to it's regular price of $13.95 plus shipping and handling, which is about $3.50.

Thanks for participating in my first giveaway.....

Pay Later

We always have to pay later. Apparently, things were a little crazy while we were gone. The neighbors garden was trashed and Dominyk was doing all kinds of strange things that apparently his siblings didn't notice. We had a PCA that worked for many of the days, but there was one day when coverage was shaky and apparently he was in the neighbors yard. I felt really bad when I was given the tour by a neighbor who has had a garden for 30 years without any problems.

Then we started hearing other things from the kids about weapons made out of glass, and Dominyk playing "Serial killer" games with Wilson in the neighborhood and other such odd stuff. He has an appointment tonight at 7 -- an emergency psych visit. Hopefully he will get on some medications and soon!

The kids of course have been denying their involvement in some of the other things that were reported and we've had a long conversation with John's P.O. this morning which caused some stress.

I am glad that I am learning how to better manage my stress, because I have a ton right now. But the one lesson we have learned, is that if we enjoy something without our kids, we end up paying later.

Let's just say today is pay day.

A Good Start

I did not have a restful night. But I am having a good start to my day. In order for me to accomplish what I need to over the next several months, I know that I am going to have to exercise. My energy level when I was going to the Y every morning was phenomenal. It was the best I've felt in my life. So I have to get back at it and I started this morning.

The number of things bombarding me is just crazy right now -- I have a fall schedule that is filling up, we have books to sell, and on top of that we have a few kids. ;-) Some of the kids are in need of special attention at this time and I am determined to give it to them. I'm in the process of moving my office as well and this is on in addition to preparing for fall at church.

And then there are my jobs.

And so I am feeling quite overwhelmed. Later today I promise two things: 1) I will have Leon pick a number and announce the book giveaway, and 2) I will post some pictures of John that he insisted we take last night. He is so happy to be home that he insisted on me taking several pictures of him and him with various of his siblings. I will post those later today.

For now, though, my energy is running high and I need to dive in. Hope you have a chance to check out the website, and order a book while you are at it.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

For Your Eyes Only

OK, you get a sneak peak. Let me know of glaring errors and give me your general opinions. It's a first draft and not yet released to the general public.

The Website for the Book.

The Good, the Not So Good, and the Pretty Ugly

We came home to kids very happy to see us and to a nearly perfectly clean house. The kids had worked to please us and it was really nice to see. Travelling for most of the day, combined with the hangover from the Benadryl I took last night, had me pretty worn out. So it was really nice to see the kids. That was very good.

The not so good was all of the tattling we had to endure, although it really wasn't horrible stuff. It is just a lengthy process to sit and listen to the various children report what everyone had done.

Finally, the pretty ugly was Dominyk's horrible crying episode that lasted over two hours He would just settle down for a second or two before he started up again. The kids said he had not been like that all week, so I'm glad that he at least saved it for us, because he was inconsolable.

While we were gone he had an allergic reaction to the only medication he had been trying, so now he is med free again. We have to get him back in to see the psychiatrist.

Everyone but Dominyk and Bart headed off for our STAND VBS kickoff in the park. Dominyk immediately calmed down and now everything is mellow. The older kids are at youth group.

Tomorrow morning reality starts again. I need to be more organized that ever before in order to accomplish all that needs to be done. Wish me luck...

Plans for Today

Surprise surprise -- I'm going to be doing a lot of sitting. But not as much as yesterday. ANd I have one more book we got at the conference that I plan to read, and I plan to tweet. And until I run out of laptop battery, i plan to work on our book website. ANd we should be home mid-afternoon to reconnect and re-establish ourselves as a family before heading to the park.

I'm trying to muster up enthusiasm for the weeks ahead. Not as easy as it sounds.

How's NACAC Year 4: It's about Connection

Over the past several years at NACAC, I have written a post to try to describe it. In 2005, I wrote this post from Pittsburg. In 2006, it was in Long Beach, and I wrote this post. In 2007, we went to Tampa where I shared this entry. In 2008 we were not selected to speak and couldn't afford the trip to Ottawa, Canada, so we didn't make it. But this year, as you know, we were in Columbus.

This year NACAC was a bit different for me. I sensed a shift, viewing the conference as a new author and a speaker, no longer finding things new, exciting and different, but finding things to be as expected, routine, comfortable, good. And this is the conclusion I came to.

All of us are connecting continually online. It's the new culture -- Web 2.0 -- you and I on facebook, twitter, in blogs. And for that reason I think we lie to ourselves and say that we really know people and that we don't need to spend money or time going somewhere to meet people in the flesh. But we're wrong.

Bart and I and Mike had the chance to have lunch with one of our blog readers on Friday. K had read our blogs for a long time, had bought our book, and is my friend on facebook. We have chatted a few times via email, etc. But I had lunch with her on Friday and I looked her in the eye. I watched her expressions as she sat in my seminar and as we talked over lunch. I heard her story with a chance to ask questions and to get answers. And nothing online can compete with that.

I mentioned our time with the You Gotta Believe staff that we have been building relationships with for three years, either at conferences, in NYC, or through emails and phone calls. Immediately we could begin laughing together (because that is a big part of their ethos) but also passionately discussing issues that are important to all of us.

And we met new people that we had never known before -- people we plan to continue to relate to in the future both on a personal and on a professional basis.

One of my fears is that we will all begin to lie and say that online "relationships" and "networking" is all we need and stop attending conferences -- stop making the effort to see each other in person. I certainly hope that is not the case. Because we really do need each other, and we need real, in person conversations, to thoroughly know one another.

So while this is not as eloquent as some of my posts in the pasts, I remain passionate that NACAC and organizations like them should not give up in their attempts to get us together in the flesh. Because we need connect in every way:

mentally -- to share, to learn, and to grow -- bouncing ideas off one another -- in person, complete with facial expressions, tone of voice...

physically -- to shake hands, to hug, to pat each other on the shoulder --

emotionally -- to become connected with a deep feeling that adds to and surpasses any online connection

and spiritually, where we find likeminded people who share our live's passsion and our faith.

And NACAC provides that place. Every year, regardless of the economy, to anyone who makes it a priority.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What a Day!

It has been quite a day.... a long, not very exciting, tiring day of travel. But I got some things done.

We started the morning with breakfast and soon after stopped for gas. At that point I began to sign books, have Bart sign them, and put them in envelopes so we could find some unsuspecting post office in Indiana to mail them from. Fortunately, Mike is a very good assistant and by the time. As the pictures above tell you the story, we couldn't figure out a way to get to the post office. By the time we had stuffed everything, Mike was completely surrounded by books, and by the time we made it the post office ... well, both of the faces these men are making show their enthusiasm.

Then it was hours to drive -- and I mean hours. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally Wisconsin. White Castle for lunch, Glass NIckel Pizza for supper -- and in the meantime I tweeted and I tweeted. Set up a new account for 3rd Degree Parenting to separate out my foolishness and actually added some interesting ideas about sibling separation and adopting from foster care if you're interested in reading them.

I also read a complete book called Growing Up in the Care of Strangers while in the car. That, combined with figuring out how much profit (hint hint, very little) we are making per book took up much of my day.

We really discovered that the three of us are quite boring without Kari. We miss her.

I Think I'll Wait

Even though I slept 9 hours last night, I'm exhausted. We left the conference early and saw a movie and had a quick Chinese buffet for supper. I was asleep by 10. I stopped to get some Benadryl and eye drops for my allergy/stye problem and it really knocked me out. I'm still groggy this morning.

I usually blog about the meaning of NACAC but I think I will wait until I am feeling more positive. Right now one of my eyes is kinda swollen shut, we're leaving the conference early to get Mike home, I'm "low" on Benadryl after affects, and few people were as excited about my book as I was. And the next three weeks before school starts (don't even leave a comment that your kids have already started ... unless you'd like some serious repercussions) are going to be beyond hectic. Bart is leaving for five days to see his sister and I know some of the kids are really going to need a lot of attention. My email is piled up and and I have some major projects for work, as well as all of my August visits to make in the next two weeks.

So I"m going to save my How was NACAC post for another day. I'm not feeling positive about anything in the world at the moment, so I don't want to be negative about something that is so great.

We will travel a full day today -- getting as far as Wisconsin and going a different route than how we came. I doubt I'll have much energy to tweet and besides, it just makes me miss Kari.

We had word last night that the neighbor had to take Dominyk in because he had a reaction to his medication and we found that John has already broken one of the minor guidelines we gave him. Transitioning home tomorrow wont' be fun.

ANd so now you have my down side. Fortunately for you (and for me!) my upside will return soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Selling Books, Selling Me but not Selling Out

I have realized this week that I'm a horrible self-marketer. I guess in order to sell books you need to sort of be willing to sell yourself. And I'm too busy talking about how big my butt is on twitter or posting pictures of my half closed eye to wonder about image.

And I'm having a hard time not using my blog, facebook, and twitter to be funny and to express myself to all of you, who I see as friends. Self-degrading humor is my trademark and I don't know how in the world that combines with self-promotion. But you know what? I'm probably not doing any changing.

Which, in the long run, is going to probably hurt sales. Who knows.

But I'm going to probably just stick with being me and figuring out another way to promote the book. It will take more work, but to turn this into some schmaltzy marketing blog just wouldn't work. I've had some people give me ideas (thanks) and I've got plenty, so for now I'll just be me.

One-Eyed Fun

I have a few minutes this morning and I would type out my notes from one of my sessions yesterday that was really good, except that I don't have my notes with me. Maybe they are in the car or at the exhibit with all the books that aren't selling. (more on that in a moment if I have time).

After all our hilarity I can't even be lighthearted this morning about poor Mike and Kari and them having to be away from Anna while she is sick. . Here I convinced them it would be OK for them to leave their kids for a couple days for the first time in over 20 years and now this happens. Anna is in very good hands, but Kari is never going to want to travel far away again.

I woke up with my eye swollen half shut. In fact this picture is me trying to get it as far open as I could. Bart says it is hardly noticeable. Do you think we're at that stage where he doesn't really look at me any more?

Today we speak... we get the books ready to mail ... and maybe we'll go out and have some fun. If you can have fun with one eye.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Time for Everything

This is the first time in my life that I have actually been too busy at a conference to spend time working. Other than essentials (emails and calls) I have been fully engaged in the conference. We left at 6:30 this morning and didn't arrive back to the hotel until 9:30 tonight.

Kari tells you about yesterday here. It too was a long day.

Tomorrow we don't have to leave quite as early.

Tonight it was dinner with Pat O'Brien and some of his staff from "you gotta believe" and a few others at the hotel restaurant. Three years ago I was all gaga about meeting him and being invited to appear on his radio talk show. Two and a half years ago, we went out to NYC and I was all gaga about being in a picture next to him.

But oh how times have changed. Tonight he asked to sit on my lap and I told him no. (He wants to be sure you know he asked in front of my husband and I'm sure he would appreciate me explaining the context ... but.... naw.)

Kari did awesome with her institute this afternoon. She's such a good presenter.

Tomorrow after our session I am going to spend some time attempting to sell books and possibly blogging NACAC. if you missed me tweating the first session this morning you might want to check it out. Good stuff.

Help me pray that we sell some books tomorrow or I'm going to have to be holding them on my lap all the way home instead of Pat....

In the Midst of Mayhem

The food court is full and I am sitting in it charging my phone on my laptop and waiting for Bart to bring me my lunch. I was able to Tweet the first two speakers this morning before I ran out of battery. Pretty good stuff. I'll finish later.

Lunch is here, better eat it.

Off to NACAC

Hoping to tweet some of the sessions but low on battery. How dumb am I. If you want to find me at the conference, try the adopt america booth

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another Great Night

More friends from my past, more great food, the books arrived, and I'm tired!

It was the Trip that Never Ends

Wow, it took a long time to get to Columbus. We really had a long day, but it was a good one. 10 straight hours in the car, with a brief break for lunch and several stops to pee, gas, and snack. Never once did we turn on the radio. We only used each other and my Iphone for entertainment -- tweeting, facebooking, etc.

I can't say enough good things about our evening last night. Ben and Faith and I were missionaries together in the country of Mexico back in 1992-83 when their kids were 13, 11, 8 and 3. Now the oldest is 30! We got to see all four of their kids and meet some very nice spouses and incredibly cute babies. It was an amazing time. Can you tell by the pictures we had a great time? Mike and Kari were there took, but no room for pictures in this post and no time to finish this entry. More later.

Tonight -- more friends for dinner. I'm getting very very sleepy though....