Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Minutes to Greet you This Morning

I'm in the middle of getting ready for my day. We have to be ready to train by 7 and that is followed by 8 hours with only a quick break for lunch. After it's over a 3 hour trip to the hotel, so today is going to be a long one.

I slept better than anticipated. Can't wait to tell Kyle that he and Christy got engaged in my dream last night and that he bought her ring at Pamida.


When I am on the road like this I always have so many thoughts percolating but never enough time to write them all down.

But I did read a cute joke that reminded us of our kids....... so I"ll share that before I go put on makeup (I know, I know, only when I train....)

Young Johnny finished summer vacation and went back to school.

Two days later his teacher phoned his mother to tell her that Johnny was misbehaving.

"Wait a minute!" said Johnny's mom. "I had him here for three months and I never ONCE called you when he misbehaved!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So by now you're all thinking I've died or something....

But instead it was just a really packed day. I got up and packed and got ready to leave. Drove several hours to Duluth. Had dinner with a wonderful person who is very generous and entertaining (and also female, in case the fidelity police were wondering). We had a delicious meal I had a chicken sandwich with chicken breast
, brie, asparagus, lemon basil aioli 
on cranberry pecan sourdough (surprisingly delicious) We visited a long time and now I'm back at the hotel finishing a game of online scrabble with my husband.

You know life does repeat itself. My parents have played scrabble for years. And now "Yondalla" and "Motherissues" got me started with an online version. Bart has never been interested in computer games but suddenly he is an addict and we have a game going on in the background almost all the time. I win a lot. But he wins more all the time.

So i've had a good day, am not feeling as sick as I thought I might tonight, and planning on heading to bed soon.

I didn't die. I'm fine. Busy, but fine.

And tomorrow I am training and then driving and will be away from the keyboard almost all day long.... sigh.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanks for your condolences about Carl...

Carl was a beta, but thanks for all of the comments and emails of support.

Funny thing is, I really couldn't have cared less about the fish. I know, I know, I'm awful, but I knew the minute they walked in the house with him that his life expectancy had just rapidly decreased.

In a world like mine, hectic and full of meaning, a dead beta is really not registering on my rader.

I have bigger fish to fry.

Or is that not a good analogy here?

Great Way to Start the Day

Loved reading what Linda up North had to say about my speaking and the book.

Great way to start myS sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Philadelphia November 14th

Together as Adoptive Parents is sponsoring this event. Anybody near there want to come?

RIP Carl

It's a good thing my children can fend for themselves I guess. I can't even keep a fish alive.

Two weeks is all he made it in my office.

Not enough food? Too much food? Who knows. But I killed him already.


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Coming home wasn't as horrific as it could have been. Sadie is sicker than ever, Ricardo was gone without permission, John lied to me (again), the internet on the downstairs computer isn't working, and everyone is not feeling cooperative. I have not been the patient and kind person that just this morning I told everyone they should be.


I really don't feel well and I am most likely going to be going to bed early.

At least that's my plan.

You Can't Beat This

Today I got to sit and/or stand in front of a wonderful group of people, some that I had known for several years, and talk. For a long time And listen back. And talk some more. And I even got paid.

You can't beat that.

I got to meet a couple who were my first AAN match 7 years ago. I had never met me in person. And then I got to meet Linda for the first time after talking to her on the phone and via email and through blogs for years and years. I got to hug her! It was awesome.

And I met several of who whose names I did not recognize, but now they are falling in to place. Blog readers who have already bought my book.

And I also saw the social worker who placed our first teenage foster son with us (Joe in the book) and who we hadn't seen for 12 years. It was so great to see her again.

Some days I just feel blessed. And this morning, at the end of that conference, I felt blessed.

And then I came home. But I'll leave that for another post.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Crud

John has been sick. Ivan has been sick. Leon has been sick. Mercedes has been sick. It's the sore throat crud that has been going around that includes fever, chills, nasal congestion, sinus troubles, etc.

And I mentioned a couple days ago that if I were to get sick right now it would really not be a good thing. Tomorrow I speak in St. Cloud. I have to help with an all day training in Duluth on Wednesday and then I am going solo for an all day training in Lubbock on Friday. Saturday I speak at the foster care association meeting followed by the baby shower that my daughter's boyfriend's mom is hosting. It is the most chaotic 8 days of my life and...

you guessed it....

I woke up with a sore throat and things have gotten progressively worse as the day has gone by. I really do not feel well at all. But I have 90 minutes until I am heading to the Pregnant Pause with Salinda. I've told Kari for years that I really wanted to come to the event but I sure didn't want to come bad enough to get pregnant. It appears that I have found another way to attend, though it wasn't my plan.

I will be able to exist for the week and do what needs doing just by will power and adrenaline. But if I sound as bad as my kids have, I pity the people who have to listen to me.

The People

Not much time this morning -- multitasking like a maniac -- but wanted to quickly blog about how incredible the people that i have met because of my adoption journey.

I encourage you to take a look at your current friends and acquaintance, both online and in person. How many of them would you currently know if you had never adopted?

When I do that I am amazed at how empty my life would seem without all of them. Grant it, I would probably have other friends, but the caliber of people I have met since beginning this journey is mind boggling.

And you know what? It is because our kids turn us into these kind of people. I am a much better person than I was 13 years ago before I became a parent. The kids have refined me -- iron sharpens iron you know -- and I have become more understanding, more patient, more socially just, more compassionate -- I could go on and on.

And so have many of you. The incredible people I have met through adoption may not have been quite as incredible before their kids came along.

As Bart has said many times, "I started the adoption journey because I wanted to save a child, but in reality, my children have saved me."

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I took a few minutes last week to enter a contest, and I won.

How cool is this?

Saturday, October 3

My session is the one with Randy Ruth at 1:00.
Anybody going to be there?

6 hours

I get to go to my office and sit there for six hours, uninterrupted except possibly by lunch with Kari since it is her birthday.

I have much to do, but the idea of being uninterrupted for that much time sure sounds good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Speaking Schedule

Here's the updated schedule.

Pleasant Surprise -- Speaking in the Ciites October 3

Eleven years ago last summer Bart and I were able to attend a series of weekend camps with Kyle and Mike, who were then 11 and 8. The program was actually a great one. Kids with attachment disorder were able to to go camp once a month for about six months I think (give me a break it was 11 years ago). Three of those months they went alone and the other three we went with them. The camp counselors were actually students in graduate level psychology.

During the weekends that we went, Bart and I got to hang out with other parents and have support group time during the day while someone else worried about the kids. The leader of the support group was Randy Ruth. If you google him, and I suggest you do, you'll come up with results like this article. Randy and his wife have been doing foster care for teenage boys, many of them sex offenders, for 40 years. They are amazing, amazing people.

I found out yesterday that Randy has read our book and thinks it has many similarities to the presentation he is giving at the state Foster Parent's Association Meeting and he has invited me to co-present with him. How cool is that?

As soon as I get permission I will post the flyer here, but it is going to be located at City Hill Fellowship (Church), 12901 Roberts Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55346 (go to for directions). The session I will be copresenting with Randy is from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m.

Randy is the best and this is going to be great. Hope some of you can make it.

Book signing Bartlesville, OK, October 9th, 1-4:30 p.m.

O,K, OK. I'm sorry I slept in until 6:15

I did three home visits after 2 p.m. last night, one of the 2.5 hours from here, so I didn't get home until almost 10. I was just exhausted and so I told Kari we could skip the Y this morning. Well, apparently some of the boys have learned a new trick. If you want a really long, really hot shower, just get up before everyone else and take one. SO by the time I got in the shower at 6:30 it was ice cold. I know, I know, the water at the Y is always hot. SIgh.

The past couple days I have been annoyed by the ways a couple of my teenagers are projecting their bad choices and the results of them all over me. Their lives stink. That is true. But it isn't because I was the one who made bad decisions. And yet they want to find a way to blame me for their unhappiness. I really must teach myself just to ignore it all, but there are days when it gets very trying.

I also have three adult children who will lie nearly all the time. Every time they are asked a direct question it seems. Then, on the rare occasion when they tell the truth they are extremely unhappy that I don't believe them. I have finally started saying, "If you want me to believe you some of the time, begin telling me the truth all the time."

A perfect example just occurred. ONe of my sons just came in here and when I complained about the hot water being gone, he said he had a cold shower too. OH yes, that's right. Everyone loves to stand under a cold shower for TWENTY FIVE MINUTES!

See why I need to go to the Y?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grieving Again and Again

Yesterday I sat on a panel of parents who have children with mental illnesses. One of the mom's, whose son is 30, said something very profound. She said, "Sometimes I get tired of grieving."

I started to think about grief and how it is a cycle that supposedly has a beginning an an end. You pass through the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. It may take several years, but you get there.

Unless you have a child with special needs or mental health issues. Then you just start again every so often. A new loss presents itself weekly or monthly and it causes us to go through the cycle. It might be the loss of a dream that your child could learn to talk as a toddler, or attend kindergarten with kids his age. Maybe it was the loss of a child you cannot make friends in grade school, or who can't make it through the first semester of band in 5th grade even though he really, really wants to play. it could be watching your daughter sit at home the night of her first middle school dance, or seeing your son sit along the sidelines at youth group at church.

And then once childhood for everyone else is over and kids are going off to college a whole new set of grieving for "what might have been" come pouring over us. Young adults in jail, or failing classes, not graduating, getting pregnant, abusing alcohol or drugs plague us as we watch our friends' children having success-- graduating, going on to college, having a healthy relationship, getting married to a successful spouse, providing them with grandchildren. And we grieve all over again.

Sure, over time we learn how to accept the pain and it may be less intense at times, but loving and parenting the mentally ill is a very difficult road.

So maybe if you come across one of us sometime and we just don't seem as bouncy or as resilient as we are other days, it may just be that we are grieving about something that may not have anything to do with that particular day or hour of our lives. It just may be that for some reason we have tuned into that slow sad melody that plays in the background of our minds like elevator music, reminding us that it will never be the way we dreamed.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Quiet Day on the Blog Front

I will be in a training all day today. Had a night in the hotel and I got stuck on a dumb unnecessary project so I am annoyed with myself for wasting time. At the training from 7-6, then dinner with Kyle and his girlfriend, then arriving home exhausted.

Sound like a fun plan for the day?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dominyk Unsupervised with an IPhone

So we are having "cheep chinese" buffet ($67.00 for twelve people for Sunday dinner, drinks included) and we want to visit after our meal with friends so we send Dominyk (who Tony was agitating him beyond belief) out to the van with Bart's Iphone for entertainment.

I return home with an email from Dominyk, sent from Bart's phone, entitled, "Fat Boys, Tony and Rand."

When I opened it it was was this audio recording (edited quickly by me to keep it PG rated). This is classic Dominyk. Tony laughed when he heard it and they all know it's going on the blog.

So now you can hear what Dominyk is like and how he chants.




Soccer, Dinners Out, and Church

Yesterday i took five kids to the soccer game. It was a really fun time actually. Ricky played goalie and then got to play on the field, giving me awesome photo opportunities. So even though the game was a tie, I got good pictures, and that's all that really matters, right? (and if anyone cares, it was a scoreless first half when MY son was in the goal ;-)

Friday night Bart and I snuck away from a nice dinner out and last night I went to a wedding reception with him. The kids seemed to be fine and it was nice to have time with him.

Tonight I'm heading to a hotel where I will check in early and enjoy being alone and hopefully being motivated enough to write a homestudy I need to write.

But for now, it's church and Sunday School.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


A few years ago when we had some drama around here I blogged it in great detail. However, lately it's just almost routine and I don't respond quite as intensely to anything.

Last night I was stuck in metro traffic on my way home and Bart was doing a wedding rehearsal. Salinda and the boyfriend were on her way to his house for the weekend, him driving, when she called me and got me out of training because she wanted to argue about how much money I had left for her. (Which was a very generous move on my part by the way -- it wasn't money she had earned. I'm not even going to go into all the details because they are just dumb and not worth the finger energy to type them). But apparently my comments sparked an argument which resulted in them back in our front yard yelling at one another.

He was refusing to take her home, she was refusing to get out of the car, he was attempting to get her out of the car and, not knowing that this is their pattern, one of the neighbors must have been alarmed and called the police. Directly before that Sadie had called to tell me they were arguing and I had called each of them attempting to help them de-escalate, but they both hung up on me. Eventually I was talking to her from metro traffic, finally willing to talk while the officers were outside discussing whether or not to arrest the boyfriend. I then talked to the police, apparently they concluded he did not need to be arrested, and sent him on his way, leaving her here for the weekend in bed, wanting to be left alone.

And my resopnse after all of that was over -- really just an internal yawn at the pattern of it all. While the blog is about my family, it is really about me and my response to parenting these kids. Had I thought my daughter was in danger, I would have called law enforcement myself. But I am sure the neighbors think we were very irresponsible to leave our kids home alone. Actually, we had 4 "kids" home alone -- Rand (21), John (19), Sadie (14) and Wilson (10). Dominyk was with a PCA, four boys were at sports practices, and we THOUGHT Salinda and boyfriend were on their way out of town.

As you can imagine there are a myriad of issues here -- the tone of their relationship, their response to small issues, the inflexibility of each of them, the concern of our neighbors and the embarrassment that calls, the effects it had on the rest of the children, and on and on and on. But there was little I could do to stop the situation and if they refuse to speak to me there is little I can do to fix it.

I have tried to talk to the boyfriend and apologize but he refuses to speak to me at this moment. So I'm going to be smart enough to stay away.

The ironic thing is that I am a person who HATES drama. I just don't get into hysteria or any of that and people keep dumping it on my lap.

Bart and I were in bed by 9 last night which he thinks is embarrassing -- Friday night and we were in bed at nine. So since he thinks it is embarrassing, I have to blog it of course. But we were both exhausted from long weeks, and the little boys were in bed early, as was Salinda --everyone else was at a football game, so why not?

I was rewarded for staying in bed a bit longer when the incredibly beautiful child pictured above (who happens to be mine -- sometimes I still can't believe it) crawled into bed with me to be tickled. And suddenly, several hugs, tickles, and kisses later, I was reminded that it is all worthwhile.

In Case You Missed it in the Comments

Here's the link to register for the St. Cloud Conference

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anybody Coming to St. Cloud Saturday the 26th?

OCD and the Morning Pee

If you could be here right now you would be able to hear the joyous chorus (snark on for sure) of Dominyk needing to pee. WHen he first wakes up there is always someone in the bathroom and his pre-medicated ADHD combined with his OCD makes his need to get to the bathroom something quite intense. So he begins to chant slowly and somewhat softly for a short time, and then he really lets it out. Eventually the repetition and the noise motivates the person inside the bathroom to hurry. Unless it's Tony. But I don't even want to remember the days when it's Tony. That's not fun.

Back from the Y again with _____less Kari (anybody want to guess what might fit into that blank?) and feeling good that I beat my own record I had previously set yesterday. I'm trying to carve a little time each day off the time it takes me to walk a mile. However, eventually I am going to have to come up with a new goal because me running would not be a good thing and eventually I"ll reach the fastest I can go.

Bart is home this morning and Dominyk has chosen him to be the recipient of the next chant of the day, "My head hurts." I can hear him all the way down in the office. It will be followed by the "I'm itchy chant" which may be followed by the "my arm hurts" or "my leg hurts" or "I'm hungry" or one of the 15 or 20 chants that he has loaded into his brain like an Ipod. He just seems to choose one to play each morning.

Today I am away from the computer for several hours again. When I did the same thing on Wednesday I forgot my extra Iphone battery so I ran out of juice. I don't like to run out of Iphone juice.

Ok, ok, I know. I am rambling with nothing significant to say.

I'm interested to see if anyone besides Kari can fill in the blank.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meet Carl (and listen to me whine)

I've been trying to take a picture of Carl the beta fish that some of the boys got me for my birthday, but I couldn't get him to get out of the rocks until tonight.

So here he is. Meet Carl. He is supposed to keep me company during the day as the kids think I get lonely here when they are at school.

Tonight I planned to go to a football game at 5. But then I needed to wait for Dominyk's PCA to come at 5:30 and take Wilson to a Cub Scout activity at 5:45. So I decided that I was going to run home quick and eat, pick up Sadie from work, and then see the end of the game. But I took Jimmy to the game first and then went to get Sadie. But John wanted to ride along. So he came. ANd then Sadie texted to say she was staying an extra half hour -- except she waited 20 minutes to tell me, so then I didn't have time to scoot over to the game. So instead I sat and listened to all of John's opinions about my parenting and how we manage our money. By the time she finally came out and we got to the game, it was over. And then the football players whined that there were too many people in the van and were disappointed I didn't make it to the game. I got home and sat down to look at a video that Salinda had been wanting me to watch, but we got interrupted by Sadie telling me that Tony had made Ivan mad. I explained to her that they were too old for me to be doing all their relationship situations and that Tony and Ivan could work it out without her help or mine. THen I finally hit play on the video when the cub scouts called to tell me that they were done earlier. On the way out of the house reminded me that I had agreed to take her to the store tonight, so I did that as soon as I got back with Wilson. When we were leaving I saw Ivan and Tony peacefully talking, so I concluded things were fine. But when I returned I found Sadie was out talking to Ivan, obviously getting herself all wrapped up in the drama. So I ended up spending the whole night not watching the game but instead transporting crabby teenagers whose hobby is arguing.

Parenting a lot of teens at once is sometimes very fun. But I wrote the paragraph above all as once paragraph because that is how the night felt to me. one endless paragraph with no breaks and not much fulfillment.

But we're all home now, safe and sound. And I finally watched the birthing video with Salinda, we are waiting for Bart to return home from a meeting so I can go to bed..... and Dominyk is making very odd noises from the toilet. He's playing star wars clone wars but he keeps interjecting "Be KIND to me Baby Jesus." I totally don't know where he got that one

Quite a Good Feeling

It's quite a good feeling to arrive home having worked out to a quiet house. Except these silly kids are getting up on their own earlier this year. I finally told them that if they were old enough to decide not to go to bed at a decent hour then they were old enough to get themselves out of bed. And so they are. Earlier. Teenagers are weird.

Today is one of my favorite kinds of days. I have nothing on my calendar today until a 9th grade football game until 5:00 when I get to watch 3 of my guys play.

So that means that I can focus on several work projects that need my attention and spend my day at the computer cleaning up that email, which always makes me feel better.

I figured an update might be good as I've been all obsessed with the book and not talked about the kids as much.

Kyle is teaching 6th grade this year at the same school where he taught 3rd grade last year. He is still dating Christy and we love her. We got to see them a couple times in August and it was great to have them around.

Rand is getting a few more hours at the grocery store deli and always feels better about himself when he is working more. He is always happy when I'm not around because then he can do nothing without getting reminded about what he is supposed to be doing.

Mike, we presume, is living in our town somewhere, though we don't hear from him often. I'm sure John's in contact with him.

John is on hold until tomorrow when he meets his new P.O. Hopefully then he will be able to get a job and go to school once that is ironed out. He has made a couple friends in town that at least seem employed and law abiding, which is a step up from some of the other kids he used to hang with. He isn't causing problems at home, though his consistent lying is annoying. I call him on it all the time, but it's an ingrained habit. I seriously wonder if he can even distinguish between the truth and a lie.

Jimmy is almost 18 if you can even believe that, and has started his junior year. He had an IEP meeting on Monday and everyone is very pleased with his maturation over the summer and how well his year has started. He is doing a supervised work program in the mornings and is at a grocery store bakery. They say he is doing great, which we knew he would. He is a good hard worker.

Salinda is doing well. I think she is feeling better (she's almost 6 months) and she seems to enjoy her school. She is getting up for school without being horribly crabby and even though she is not challenged at all academically, she is satisfied to be getting her credits and doing something with her time that improves her life (something she pretty much took a six month break from).

Ricardo is playing soccer this fall. He is the J.V. goalie, which causes me more stress than him. He's a very good goalie, but I know he misses being out on the field. He is working hard with his school work right now. Last night Bart sat down with Leon, Ricardo and Ivan and helped them with homework together. They loved it and as I have told them often, if they have parents check their work, their grades will go up. Funny how Tony is in the same grade and takes the same class but didn't have any homework last night. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Mercedes is still wonderful, though she often returns from school with that nasty eighth grade attitude that she picks up from her friends. She is definitely a great kid and seems to be trying hard to do well with her grades.

Ivan isn't really our kid (though we treat him like he is), but we could have guardianship if we wanted it. His mom offered to sign the paperwork, but I'm not sure it is necessary. He's doing great -- playing football and working hard on school because he now has someone to help him. It's funny too, how the other boys will follow his lead when he gets out his homework and comes to us for help, something they historically haven't done. He's just so grateful to have someone who CAN help with school work and who has time and is willing.

Tony is actually tolerable. He has formed quite a facebook addiction (I know, I know, like mother, like son) but his is centered in Farmville, which I haven't gotten involved in. We finally have something he loves which makes behavior modification a wonderful thing. For years he hasn't cared at all about anything, so getting him to cooperate with a threat of consequence meant nothing. He has gone 2 whole days without uttering a curse word because I told him he couldn't use the computer on days when he cusses. This, I would say, is probably a record in the last 5 years. The moments when he isn't being a complete rude jerk are actually becoming more frequent and it is nice to see him finally growing beyond the need to make me mad on a consistent basis.

Leon is ... well ... you know.... wonderful. Watching him and how he interacts with me is such a joy. It's like seeing a normal healthy parent/child relationship for the first time. He sits next to me at the table and he pays attention to my plate and cup, making sure he hands me things. He asks me if I need help when he sees me doing something that I am not excited about (like someone else's dishes). He lets me hug and kiss him often. He's just such a sweet kid. And have you seen how dashingly handsome he is? I guess I may have to post another picture of him. I seriously hope that when he is an adult he will travel around with me while I explain that we adopted him at 12 and how much joy he has brought to our lives.

Dominyk is back on meds, thanks be to God and the psychiatrist. He is still quite obsessive and hyper, but with the meds he is OK for most of the day. He has some behaviors that are still very waring -- OCD is a very difficult thing to parent -- but he holds it together for most of the day. It's just that he doesn't around me. But you guys get that.

Finally WIlson is just as cute as ever. So bright, so articulate, so funny. He is doing great in school and is going back to cub scouts tonight. It's amazingly fun being his mom. I just love to look at him.

So everyone is actually at a pretty good place at the moment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seriously People

Yesterday I worked so hard to get down to just a few emails I made it down to 12 by the time I quit working yesterday.

I had a meeting.

Now there are 90.

And I'm not talking to you people because those are the fun people. I'm talking to EVERYONE ELSE.


Who's Coming to the Fergus Book Signing?

Leave me a comment if you're coming... (you can click on the image for a larger picture)

I'm not in the hospital

I walked a mile on the treadmill this morning and I"m not in the hospital like that one chick from the Biggest Loser last night.

Ah, the BIggest Loser. The things we in our society think are entertainment. Watching people lose weight. Watching fat people cry. Very interesting phenomenon. But I am sucked in and will be all season. It's my one indulgence. And of course I do have my laptop on my lap while watching it processing email and such. Just doing one thing at a time highly annoys me. I am the Queen of Multitasking.

Dominyk is a complete disaster in the morning these days. This morning it was 30 minute of crying, screaming, whining just to get him dressed and out the door. His foot itched, his head hurt, he leg itched. First pair of pants were too small. SEcond were too big. Third pair was just right -- except it needed a belt which he declared he couldn't put on himself (uh what about Phy Ed today? Gonna have your 7th grade teacher help you get dressed??? Learned helplessness is what Bart called it as he mentioned that today may not be the day I wanted to try and teach him to do everything himself.

Woke up to a clean kitchen floor. The "adults" who sleep on the porch must have decided to be cleaning fairies last night. I guilted them into by angrily doing the dishes they were supposed to do yesterday -- but I'll take what I can get. John has been doing fairly well, though he does go "out with friends" sometimes and I have no idea where he's going. It's the fact that he can still lie all the time that makes me crazy. It's the only thing I'm focusing on. Yesterday I noticed this huge red mark on his shoulder and when I suggested it might be a hickey he started some big story and I just stopped him about two sentences into it. "Your lies make me think you think I'm stupid. And that makes me mad. I know what it is." To his credit, he admitted that I was right and shut up.

I kind of feel like Cindy today meandering from one thought to another. if you knew her in person she talks that way too -- doesn't just write like that. She's hilarious to just sit and observe.

I was thinking this mornign that I should let you see the first few pages of the next book and see if you like the tone and style. Interested?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is Why I LOVE my husband...

Some people think I love my husband because he is crazy good looking.

Other people think it is because he can cook and bake.

I often think it has something do with the fact that he does all the ironing and a lot of the laundry.

But what happened this morning is why I totally adore him. The fun we have is matched by nobody.

I love hyperbole and I have been having so much fun pretending that the book is all I think about, slipping it into every conversation just to drive him nuts.

Today I responded to an email he had forwarded to me about a Christmas Party with a German Theme from the District Superintendent. i answered the routine questions about childcare etc., and then asked Bart:

"Any chance we can fit selling our book into a German theme?"

His email confirmed the receipt of the other information and he concluded,

"Maybe we could slip a bratwurst between our fingers on the cover picture for the German piece."

That dead pan sophisticated hilarious sense of humor goes beyond monster cookies, laundry, and the fact that he's "crazy good looking." Although none of those things bother me...... ;-)

Just need 8 more fans on Facebook

Apparently if you have 100 fans you can get a better URL for your fanpage.

Anybody want to be my fan?

No smart comments please.

Horror Story or Success Story?

Kari and I headed to the Y this morning where she obliterated me in the Biggest Loser contest this week. It was so bad I'm not even going to post it. Well, at least next week if I really kick it in gear, I'll have a lot to lose and can beat her then..

I blame my amazing husband for this week's weight gain. If you would have seen or tasted the to die for carrot cake he made me for my birthday, after having taken me out to lunch and preparing my favorite supper, you would understand why I didn't lose, but gained weight this week. And, by the way, all of my kids, for the first time, tried to make it a nice day for me in their own way. Tony really struggles with holidays, as our family, due to some older siblings, has had many bad ones, but even by the end of the day he had pulled it together. He has done quite a bit of maturing the past month or two and it's nice to see.

I was blessed with gifts that included chocolate truffles (see why I can't beat Kari), a Barnes and Noble gift certificate. roses and a beautiful card, and a fish. Yes, a Beta Fish named Carl. I'm fairly sure I will end up killing him, but the kids are convinced that I need someone to talk to during the day when they are all at school.

I must confess that I am really enjoying my teenagers for the most part. I assumed that I would not enjoy parenting teenagers, but it is SO fun ... and having a bunch of them at once is a lot more fun than you might think. Most of them are starting to get my sense of humor and we can laugh and joke a lot every day. I love telling them how beautiful or handsome they are and watching the boys, especially, blush. Sadie, of course, having an amazing self image, just says "I know" but the other boys get a bit embarrassed when I go on and on about their good looks.

As I drop off the kids for school every morning I always say the same things, "Bye, have a great day, I love you, make good choices, don't miss me too much. And now I end with -- and you high schoolers remember, every day counts."

For years I've been preparing them that their grades count forever starting in 9th grade, so I want them to remember.

It's the dailiy stuff that makes this fun. The stuff I often fail to blog.

Reading Cindy's blog as she quotes Amy I'm not sure what to think of it all. I hear what Amy is saying, but I would suggest some modifications. I'm going to have to think about.

I also think that my story is different in that while we were investigated by Child Protection, we did not have all of our children removed. And when we felt like we were in serious physical danger, our son was arrested and did not return home for years. So even though we went through some hard times, we have faced nothing like CIndy, Amy or Paula experienced. Maybe if I had been through what they have I would have a different opinion.

I do know this: There are not enough services provided for adoptive families and the fact that the system blames the parents is inexcusable. This is something that we have got to figure out how to stop if we expect more families to adopt from the system.

And remember this: For every horror story, there is at least one success story. And if when we adopt, we don't know which it will be, don't we owe it to the kids to give them that shot? IFwe can get the resources we need, doesn't each kid deserve the chance to become a success story?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sticking with You

Isn't this the best song for older child adoption? Heard it this morning.

Come on, it's me you're talking to
There's something going on inside of you
Don't have to say it, but I wish you would
Cause it would be much easier

You always hide behind yourself
You walk a lonely road with no one's help
I hate to break the news
You're headed for a fall

And if I have to jump
Then I'll jump
And I won't look down
You can cry, you can fight, we can scream and shout

I'll push and pull
Until your walls come down
And you understand I'm gonna be around
I'm sticking with you
(I'm stinking with you)

Even if you try and shut me out
I'm staying here cause that's what love's about
I might let you down, but I won't let you go

So lean into me, I want to know
Everything about the fear you hold inside
Cause you and I are better than just one,

So if I have to jump
Then I'll jump
And I won't look down
You can cry, you can fight, we can scream and shout

I'll push and pull
Until your walls come down
And you understand I'm gonna be around
I'm sticking with

If that's what it means to love you
If that's what it means to have your back
If that's what it takes to show you
Then I'm in, I'm in

If I have to jump
Then I'll jump
And I won't look down
You can cry, you can fight, we can scream and shout

I'll push and pull
Until your walls come down
And you understand I'm gonna be around

And if I have to jump
Then I'll jump
And I won't look down
You can cry, you can fight, we can scream and shout

I'll push and pull
Until your walls come down
And you understand I'm gonna be around
Cuz I'm sticking with you.
(I'm sticking with you)

Finding Balance

Every day is the beginning of a new year, but we take time to ponder on momentous days -- anniversaries, birthdays, New Year's Day. And today I'm thinking about balance.

When I started this blog -- five years ago now I guess -- it was just for fun. A side hobby and a place to share my ideas and thoughts with a few friends. Now I have readers everywhere who I have not met and friends from the past that I are reading when I don't know it. And I continue to dump things on here -- whatever I happen to be thinking.

And now we have finally published this book and suddenly my "online footprint" is important. I tend to feel more responsible to write weightier posts with greater meaning -- like a "real" author would do. I sometimes neglect to post simply because I'm not ready to put anything profound. And I don't know that that is good either.

Other days I say "Who gives a rip what people think" and blog something stupid or meaningless and later think, "Wow, bet people are thinking I'm a dork." And I'm not sure what the balance is. I don't even proofread these entries most of the time. SIgh.

I suppose I could create a new blog that was "professional" but it kind of goes against how I've always lived my life. I have attempted to be a person of integrity -- thinking, saying, and doing things that all line up with my core values and who I am. And I am the same no matter where I go or what I'm doing. So dividing myself up into a "professional author" and a "dorky old me" doesn't jive with me. Although I did separate out my twitter accounts for that reason and set up a fan page for facebook, so my super inappropriate stuff ends up on the "personal" pages.

I want to find a good balance without abandoning this very non-planned mess of blog where I dump things on people and occasionally write something worth reading. I figure people who have found me overly dorky have abandoned my blog long enough and some of you may actually keep reading because I'm a dufus.

Today I am determined to start my next book. This book is going to be much more like the blog -- way more humor. It will be based on the speech I give called "12 Survival Tips Learned from Parenting Twelve Children." I will attempt to tell some of the hilarious stories about my children while still being respectful and find a better mix. I am not sure the first book had much of "me the dork" in it.

So as I begin my 47th year I do it full of enthusiasm and passion, happy to be me, standing and facing my kids, the system, and the world and shouting "Bring it on."

Life's Journey is not to arrive at the grave safely
in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,
totally worn out, shouting "Holy Crap...What a Ride!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

LIke Mother Like Daughter

I woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep. When I told me why, I said, "Because I am my Mother's Daughter."

My mom has a long history of waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep. She has used those times to pray. I tend to use them to rehearse unpleasant conversations, past or future, or strategize upcoming decisions or plans. Maybe my life would be better if I chose to be more like my mother in how I spend my awake times.

I talked to my mom last night and she said, "My eightees aren't turning out to be as fun as I had anticipated." This is so much like her -- and me. All kinds of optimism and looking forward to things.

I am also amazed that my mom continues to grow as a person. She was telling me this week that she had asked God to teach her patience. I said, "WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU PRAY FOR THAT NOW?" When I am 80, I am going to be completely content with however much patience I happen to have.

So as I approach tomorrow, the day I turn 46, over half way to 90, I'm remembering my mom and how this apple didn't fall far from that tree.

And even though there are some things I wouldn't prefer, like waking up in the middle of the night, I am grateful for her optimism, strength and spiritual fervor which I either genetically inherited or picked up on by being raised by her.

Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

$3.00 Off Book Price for Blog Readers

From now until September 30th I'm offering the book at $3.00 off to anyone who reads the blog.

Just go hear to order it and type in blogreader in the coupon box at check out.

come on, it will be fun.

You can order it from here.

Gotta Love Reading This

on The Adoption Counselor's Blog . . .

A Very Quiet House

This morning even though countless people are sleeping in it our home is quiet. OK, not countless, but two friends are over. Of course, Salinda is gone so that is really only 12 kids, but sometimes it seems like they are multiplying. Last week I had to take two trips just to get kids and friends to youth group.

Training went well yesterday and I am sitting at my desk with a feeling that I love. Freedom to choose what I want to do. On Saturdays I let myself decide if I want to work and get caught up from the week before or if I want to get ahead for the coming week.... or if I want to just do something completely different. This morning I have no idea what I'll do, but I love the feeling of not knowing.

I know that I have a flyer I should design and a post card about the book and that I want to make a thorough list of everyone I have emailed to let them know about the book. That may be time consuming as I have been scatterbrained and harried in my approach and now I'm very confused. I'm not even sure my brother knows but over 50 people I've never met have ordered one. Weird.

Have I mentioned that my Oklahoma Wesleyan University Book SIgning is a Facebook event? If you live anywhere close to Bartlesville, come on up!

Guess it's time to get busy....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Training All Day

I'll spend today training prospective adoptive parents. We have a good day planned and I am usually energized by explaining the joys and trials of my children and the adoption journey.

The training is long -- but I've got some people coming in to tell their story and a video for everyone to watch, so I'm thinking it will be a good day for the people there. It's still an "awful lot of Claudia" but hey, who better to hear go on and on for 10-12 hours straight?

Don't answer that.

So since they will hear me go on and on all day, you won't have much to read from me.....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Upcoming Events and Some News

Just time for some bullet point announcements:

1) Our book is now listed on

2) Two Book Signings have been scheduled and we are working on a third.

The first is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on Friday, October 9th from 1:30 to 4:30. And the second will be in Fergus Falls either the 15th or 16th of October. More details to come.

3) I have a couple speaking engagements coming up.... One is in St. Cloud on September 26th and then I'll be in Lubbock on October 2nd. I'm also planning on selling books at a booth in St. Paul at the Foster Parents Convention on October 3rd.

Anybody going to be at any of these events?

If You've Read our Book and Liked It....

The last couple weeks have been incredibly crazy in every way. Lots of good things are happening, but I don't have a lot of time to sit down and put two thoughts together. Now that I am alone and the kids have started school hopefully a thought or two can connect.

Just wanted to let people know who have read the book and feel that it is helpful how to get involved in helping us get the word out about the book. Here are several ways.

1) Write an entry on your blog. Some of you have already done so like Gary and Cindy and Once Lost and Cindy and Holly (Holly is giving away a free book and Just checked and she only has 8 comments. Good chance you could win). I am going to be adding an endorsement page to the book website and you can increase your blog traffic by having a link there if you're interested in little perk and, like my kids are asking, "What's in it for me." Smile.

2) Write an official endorsement. If you'd like your name in print in the next edition, we are thinking of including an endorsement page. Four or five sentences with your name and title and yes, "Adoptive Mom of One" or "Hope to be Foster Parent" are titles. Parents and those in the process of being parents are some of the best endorsers as the book is written specifically for y'all (as you southerners would say). You can write an endorsement just by leaving a comment or sending an email.

3) Write a book review on Goodreads or in Adoption Voices.

4) Send out an email to whoever you can think of that might be interested. Friends, family members, colleagues, whoever.... If you are on any adoption listservs, you could tell them about it. If I tell them about it seems like spam, I supposed (and that isn't Spiced Ham)

5) Tell your agency that you've found a good resource for those starting the process. My dream is to have agencies handing out copies of the book at training, which is why we are negotiating to sell them in bulk at a low price.

6) If you participate in any adoption message boards or discussion groups, post something there.

7) Tell your pastor or someone at your church. November is Adoption Awareness Month and I am thinking about being in some churches that month to talk about our story and raise awareness about adoption. If you've been wanting to do that but aren't sure how, this would be a way to start.

8) Send me a list of the errors you found so they won't show up in the next printing. The birthmom/homestudy faux pas (is that how you spell that?) is corrected, but others would be great to hear about. I have already had a couple of you do so). I'm still amazed at how many errors are there no many how many people edited it.

Wow, I guess I just started going and couldn't stop. Sorry about that. I appreciate anything you might do to get the word out about the book. I hope you realize that I'm asking that you help not simply because we want to sell lots of books, but because we truly did write the book with hopes to motivate and encourage folks to adopt kids.

If one more kid gets a home and stays there because someone read the book, it's all worthwhile. Just think -- if you were the one to let them know about the book, you would have had a part in the greatest thing ever -- helping a kid find a family before they enter the world as an legally orphaned adult with nobody to be there for them when things aren't going well. And believe me, there is no greater feeling than to know you've been a part of making that true for a child.

Disjointed Morning

Kari and I have a tradition of going to Dunn Brothers for the first day of school. We usually talk a bit, have something to eat or drink, and then work. But since the wireless isn't working well for me there, we decided to got to Panera instead.

But when I got there an hour before her (because she ditched me at the Y this morning and couldn't be ready until 9) and the internet wouldn't work at Panera. So I ran an errand and then met her at Barnes and Nobles where the internet didn't work for her either.

Now both of us are in our separate homes finally being able to start working.

Feels good to have EVERYONE in school.


When Mediocrity can be Excellence

My daughter appears to be enjoying school. This is her second full day. For the past two years school has been a huge issue for her. She was very crabby about going, hated every minute of it, and was hard to get out of bed in the morning. Every morning was a struggle.

But now that she is going to Alternative School with the roughest crowd of impossible kids in town, she seems to be excited about going. And the more I think about it, the more I think I understand.

I think she finds places where she can be the best without trying too hard. This is the reason she chooses some of her friends, why she prefers to be in other homes than mine, and why she is enjoying this school. If expectations are very low she can excel without too much effort. The sad thing is that she could excel in the best of crowds if she just believed she could.

But I'm happy that she is happy and that she seems to be enjoying her experience.

It seems to be prevalent with three of our kids -- this seeking of peer groups and places where they can be the best with minimal effort.

Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

They Just Don't

I have a few kids who just don't (or can't) care about me. They really don't. They are so wrapped up in their own world that how I feel or what their siblings feel just does not matter at all to them. And I fought it for years and finally I'm simply understanding it. They do not care.

So I have switched my strategy this week. I have had long conversations with some of my other kids about how to get along with those who don't care. These unattached teens are just going to do what they are going to do and the consequences to the rest of us don't matter. Now if I felt that anyone was unsafe in any way, they wouldn't be living here (which is why we have 10 kids living here instead of 11, as Mike would be here if we let him -- but I do not feel that our stuff would be safe and we can't afford that at this point -- and in addition, when he gets desperate, he puts others at risk unintentionally.

So, since they aren't able to or will not change at this point, it is my job to educate the rest of us on how to get along with difficult people. My kids are going to leave this house (the ones who actually can and will) so prepared for the difficult folks they will encounter in their lives. And so instead of sitting around strategizing about how we are going to "make" so and so stop being the way we think they are supposed to be, we strategize about how to deal with them.

Example: We have two children who are not going to stop "borrowing" certain items from their siblings. I can threaten, consequence, warn, etc, but they just become more sneaky. They aren't going to stop. So over the past couple days we have had discussions about what the kids can do. One option is to offer to let them use it -- taking the power away from the offender and making themselves look gracious and loving, actually knowing that they would do it whether they offered or not.

A second option would be to have me lock up the items when they aren't using them.

But changing those who don't or can't care? Ain't happening.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This Moved Me So Much

Without saying anything I want you to watch it and tell me if it speaks to you and if so, what character you play in the story. Do you identify with this as much as I do.

It's called Cloud and Pixar did it. It's long but worth it.

First Day of School 2009


Today is finally the first day of school for the High School kids. In an hour I will be heading out the door with five kids who will be gone ALL DAY and one kid who will be gone 2.5 hours. I've already been to the YMCA (click to find out whether Kari or I won this week's "Biggest Loser" competition) I'm feeling pretty great physically at the moment, but I will crash later. Until then, I'm cranking though.

Last night it was really warm in our house and so nobody was sleeping well. I finally drifted off about 11 to have Dominyk knocking at the door. "I can't sleep mom!" I explained to him that I understood, that there was nothing much I could do, offered him some suggestions and cautioned him from waking me again. Which he apparently remembered until 1 a.m. when we went through the same conversation almost word for word.

I then catapulted out of bed with a bad leg cramp (no banana and potassium lectures please, I haven't had one in years) at 4:25 a.m.. Stayed up and headed to the Y. So I'm feeling good now, but it won't last all day. I'm going to be TIRED.

I've been meaning to blog this story about Dominyk in church on Sunday morning. If you know Dominyk, you know he really isn't like everyone else. He's 13, but his severe ADHD and his OCD, combined with his interesting personality, always make life challenging for whoever is around him. As usual during worship he wasn't enjoying sitting still, so I was trying to get close enough to him to correct him without everyone hearing me. He made a few gestures and then said, "Two simple words: Tic Tac."

Later that morning we were coming back to our pews from communion and I explained to him sternly that this was NOT a time where it was OK to talk. He nodded. About 35 seconds later he forgot and started to talk. I gave him a very serious look and he said, "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. Sorry mom. I'll tell you after church, ok? Is it ok if I tell you after church? I'll be quiet now, but later, after church, can I tell you?"

i'm sure whatever he had to tell me wouldn't have taken that long. Hmmm. I just realized he never did tell me what it was that was so important.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Because I Wanted To

I had $25 in JCPenney rewards cash today and I decided that I was going to spend it however I wanted to spend it. Up until yesterday I had not purchased a single item for the baby. But we were given an offer we couldn't refuse yesterday and I got a 0-5 carseat/stroller deal for well, let's just say, I practically stole it from some of our friends at church (THANKS, R&R). She wanted a book and offered to trade me the book for the stroller. Obviously they were being very generous but now that the spending ban was ended I figured it was time.

I bought the two cutest outfits. One is pink pinstriped so that should give you a clue as to the gender of the baby. But I knew all along she would be a girl, simply because it's not my preference. And yes, my daughter is that powerful. ;-)

So I waded through dozens of kitty cats and pink pin stripes and teddy bears and Little Princess outfits and came up with a couple of really cute choices. And it was fun.

These aren't the circumstances I would prefer for my first grandchildren to enter this world, but buying a couple outfits was fun for me! And I wanted to do it. So I did. And I liked it.

Expecting to do the Impossible

I like having a lot on my plate. Juggling many plates is even fun for me, but I do not like being expected to do what even I think is impossible.

Like finding a job for a 19 year old who just got out of jail and shouldn't be working with minor females at least for now -- not because of any danger to them, but because of probation requirements. I don't even know where to start. And I think he is counting on me because he believes I'm smart and capable.

That, combined with the expectations of several of my children which are actually achievable, is how I am beginning my day.

I'm just not sure finding him a job is within the realm of possibility.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A Few Soccer Pictures

The Ego Quality of Hope

Over the past year I have developed a seminar about Erickson's developmental stages in adopted children. Again and again I am shocked at how much the failure to achieve each of these emotional stages has impacted the children we love even though Erickson did not write them with adopted children in mind.

I am most impacted by that very first stage, trust vs. mistrust. In this stage (where attachment begins) it is the core task of the child to develop trust. Without that first core certainty about the safety of the world around them and the willingness of the people around them to meet basic human needs, children have a very bleak future. Attachment experts have been telling us this now for years, explaining Reactive Attachment Disorder to us and teaching us how to help the children heal.

But even children who are not diagnosed with this disorder seem to have trust issues that go way back to infancy. Erickson says that during this stage

as... "trust predominates, the infant learns to regard the world with an 'enduring belief in the attainability of fervent wishes' (hope). The emergence of this positive and adaptive ego quality signifies that personality development has proceeded successfully past the crisis of the oral-sensory stage (Erikson, 1964, p.118)"

And so the successful completion of the first stage results in the enduring belief in the attainability of fervent wishes, which is how Erickson defines hope. I am more and more convinced as I work with my children that they somehow missed this simple quality that I have taken for granted most of my life.

For as long as I remember I have believed that I can achieve the things that I want in life. I have been convinced that if things are bad, they will get better, if something is hard, I can overcome it, and that if I don't like something, I can change it. Those things lie at the very core of my being.

But what if my internal system was just the opposite? What if I believed that things were bad and they would never get better? What if I believed that if something was hard, it was going to overcome me and that if I didn't like something there was nothing I could do to change it? All of the sudden I become a victim of life instead of the person who is somehow at least minimally in control of my own destiny.

Last night we had plenty of teenage girl drama. One of my daughters has healthy attachment and it is obvious that she has developed hope somewhere along the way. By the days end, she apologized for her attitude, hugged me, and we both agreed that the next day would be better. My other daughter texted me right before bed, after I texted her that things were going to get better, "No they aren't. Nobody understands me and my life is bad and it is just getting worse and worse."

I used to live under the illusion that hope was contagious, that if I just had enough of it I could infuse it into other people and because of my overly positive attitude, others would be encouraged and hopeful. But I'm seeing now that this core ego quality is not something you can learn or catch -- that healing must occur first.

For each of my children it will be different. Some of them may never really fully develop this and it will be difficult to watch them struggle. But I think in realizing that it is not something I can change or fix by being happy enough, positive enough, or perky enough, I might be able to relax more and not feel so much like a failure if my kids don't grasp the concept. Instead my focus needs to be on developing trust. And hopefully, if we can do that, they will develop this core ego quality that has been such a part of who I am since infancy.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

And a Good Time Was Had By All

Thursday Night's Game

Ivan and Leon played great, but unfortunately the team didn't win.

More photos on my facebook if you really are interested.

A Short Tribute

As you know, Cindy, mother of 39 and I started blogging about the same time. Of course, I was first, and I encouraged her to do the same. She and I have worked together for AAN for several years helping find families for kids.

Today she blogged that she is done with that endeavor, and I think we should all applaud her. She is 10 years older than I and has been adopted for more than 20 years longer than I have. And finally she is moving on to something else.

I hope I have it in me to rally with that kind of strength for another twenty years. Right now I can only do so by focusing on the kids, not on the families, as I know the struggle the families will face. But I am so committed to the idea that children grow up better with a parent, one person committed to them for life, that I have to keep on keeping on. But I am early in this fight, and I think it is perfectly OK for Cindy to focus on other things and let us take her place.

That's how it works.... Crusaders crusade until they can't anymore, and then they pass the torch.

I'll be anxious to see who takes Cindy's torch.

Why Do I Gotta Be So Honest?

Why can't I just come home from a two day vacation and post some pictures and say "A good time was had by all" ???

I don't know that i can count on one hand the number of kids that had a good time, and I'm not sure anyone had a REALLY good time. I've been trying to analyze the dynamics for several hours and I'm not sure I totally get how things turn out the way that they do.

I think part of it is the awesome responsibility that I feel attempting to accommodate everyone. I want Bart and all of the kids to have a good time so I am consistently juggling trying to make each person happy. The problem with that is that the tougher more demanding kids never get everything they want, and the quieter more easier kids don't say anything but eventually sit and get pouty that they aren't get what they want, even though they never told me what it was. And then I get frustrated with myself because I can't figure out why I can't make everyone happy and why everyone is so crabby. That adds to the tension.

In the meantime, the places we chose to go (at the recommendation of one of the more demanding and pushy children) were places where it was impossible to be happy as a child. I realized this yesterday. An amusement park, with half price admission (but still $20.00 each) lets you ride all the rides you want and see three different shows for free as part of the admission process. However, several things at the park are not free. Go Carts are an exception to the "Unlimited Everything" possibility. Are every game in the world that costs $ to try and win big prizes. Video games, ski ball, and all that stuff costs extra. And then there is the food. The prices are incredible -- $3.50 for a pop or a water and everything goes up from there. And souvenir shops. Unlimited things to buy.

So if you aren't a millionaire, how do you get through the day without hundreds of frustrating arguments about why they can't have more and more and more money to do the things that aren't covered in the admission price? Dominyk was bored within an hour of arrival, refusing to ride rides, and obsessing about needing to eat, play, buy more, more and more. It made for a not fun at all time. I wonder how many kids at Valley Fair yesterday got everything they wanted? I doubt many at all. But throw in special needs to the mix and you have a disaster.

So all day yesterday I kept thinking to myself, "I coulda had this much fun for free!"

By the time we went to the Mall of America to look around and finish a couple school shopping deals today and were eating at the Rain Forest Cafe several of the kids were very tired from endless begging and we as parents were frustrated beyond measure. Three kids refused to eat, others whined about the food, and we just sat wishing vacation was over.

So I have to ask myself if I would have been more relaxed would it have been more fun? Will the kids remember this in the future as a fun time? Will they "take the best and forget the rest" as time goes by?

Because I can guarantee I won't remember the time fondly.

Based on my Facebook responses today I'm thinking there are many mom's who come back from vacations feeling exhausted and unfulfilled, wondering if anyone really had any fun. I hope that is the case. Not because I'm sick like that and want everyone miserable, but because then maybe I could feel more "normal" and thus, better, in a weird sort of way.

This was our last attempt at a full family vacation. By next summer we will have a grandchild in and out of our lives and I think we're going to divide it up and go in small groups with two or three children and one parent. I guarantee you everyone will have more fun.

And later I'll blog a few pictures and if you haven't read this you (which of course you will have if you're reading this, but anyway, the people who haven't read this) will think everyone had a wonderful time. I think I'll call the post, "And a Good Time was Had by All."

Friday, September 04, 2009


We had tentatively and without looking at a calendar decided to go on a mini vacation September 1st and 2nd. All the sudden we got close to Sept 1 and 2 and there were 2 soccer games, a scrimmage and a football game, High School Orientation, Jr High Orientation and a meeting for John with his P.O. all in those two days. Bart and I really weren't excited about the idea of battling the Labor Day weekend crowds, but we had been planning a vacation and "promised" the kids one, so we now are heading to an amusement park today, spending the night, and hitting the Mall of America. We had originally thought about doing the State Fair instead of the mall, until we found out how much it costs per person to get it.

So now we have several children who are disappointed that we can't go to the Fair as well. I won't state how much this weekend is going to cost, because I'm sure you realize that with 14 people going, even at the lowest price of the season... and 3 hotel rooms ... and meals .... that it isn't going to be cheap. We plan to have a picnic for one meal, which will bring moans and groans and whines from several, but the food there is so incredibly expensive.

When I was growing up we went to the amusement park one time a year -- on Labor Day in fact -- because it was free admission (that was before everyone paid ten thousand dollars per person to get in whether they were riding rides or not). My parents bought a few tickets, all that they could afford, and we selectively chose which rides to ride. We never bought a single food or drink item at the park, way too expensive. I can still remember eating peanut butter and jelly or cold American cheese sandwiches. And you know what, we were GRATEFUL. We seriously did not complain or even ask my parents for more. We never considered asking to invite a friend to come alone or to ask if we could have more tickets or buy food from the stands. By the time we were 6 or 7 years old we understood it was a sacrifice.

So why are some of my children so difficult to please? What is it about them that nothing is ever enough? Has society created this dissatisfaction? Is it our parenting? Or have we simply given them so much that nothing is a treat any more?

OK, feeling better to have gotten that off my chest. Would be interested in your ideas. Do you have kids like some of mine that absolutely refuse to be satisfied no matter how much they have?

Oh well, at least they are cute. And I've been triple dog dared to leave my computer at home for the next two days, so you'll go without blog posts. You can follow the journey on Twitter if you wish.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One Short Hour

With Jimmy's help and one short hour I went from this

to this.

He is a great helper and very motivating. And sure, you can borrow him any time you need to. Now I feel like I can get something done.

Me in Small Doses

I got a ton done yesterday. In fact, I'm starting to see a tiny flicker of light at the end of my tunnel. Got back from the Y with Sadie a few minutes ago (I blogged here about my answer to her question, "Mommy, do you like getting up and going to the Y". WE had a nice time and I'm feeling pretty good about the start of my day.

Today includes an OBGYN appointment (not for me, I've never needed an OB) and a 9th grade football game. We're thinking about having the whole family go. And then I am actually contemplating going on this mini family vacation without my computer. I know, I know, don't faint.

I have a theory about myself. I think that I work so much because nobody can stand me in big doses. If I'm working, I'm not annoying my husband or my children or my friends who really do enjoy me in short spurts, but seriously, I'm kinda intense and, if I'm wound up, uber annoying. So me working a lot is a good thing.

I hope that my family can handle it if I leave work behind for a day or so...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Want You to Know that You're My Hero

Bart has to take John to see his P.O. today. He offered to take Dominyk, Wilson and JImmy along for the ride -- quite the road trip because travel time alone will be six hours.

That leaves me here with 4 9th graders who were gone all morning and who are going to practice in a couple hours, and Sadie and Rand. Salinda is gone for the day. Long story.

But I am getting so much done. I started the day with 143 emails and I'm down to 56. I'm on a roll. Look out world!

Opportunity to Help

You Gotta Believe folks sent me this. A tangible way to help kids in foster care.

You'll need to click on it to make it big enough to read.

Life as we Know It is Over (or so she feels)

I can't help but think, as my daughter quietly sobs at the absolute devastation that her braces will not be off until Christmas, instead of fall, that it is so great to feel normal.

And I can't help but feel good that because she was adopted by us, this is the worst thing that will likely happen to her in months. No longer do her "worsts" include any kind of abuse or neglect, or wondering if she will have food to eat, or parents who will love her, or if she'll be moving to another foster home. Nope, here she is, healthy attached, loved, secure. And she feels like her life is over because her braces won't be off until Christmas.

It's so amazing how wonderful it is that we are suffering such a normal part of adolescence.

New Support Group Forming

I understand Kari is the presenter in October, and it's Yours Truly in November. Here's the flyer.