Thursday, December 31, 2009

This is Why I Dreaded it

Conversation a few hours after our arrival home with me an unnamed adult member of our family after I overheard that he had his younger brother's Ipod:

Did you take his Ipod without asking?

It's none of your business.

It is my business if one of my children is taking advantage of the other one, especially if one is younger.

Oh, shut up and go back to Hutchinson. It was better with you there.

If Only I Looked this Good

I've never looked this good -- not a day in my life. And here she is two days after a C-section and recovering from a huge infection and being septic and the whole nine yards. Crazy.

Doctor Just In

Salinda is out of the woods. Her infection is clearing up and she is feeling so good. She is up, showered, and in her own pajamas and, when it is just she and I hear, actually able to care for her child without interruption When she and Henry are here together they do quite well and it's really fun to watch.

I am going to be quite sad to leave the baby. But it is more than that. I'm sad to leave her mother and the good feelings there are here now. I'm going to miss the peace of being away from everyone else and the time to play with cute baby photos. (Isn't this one fun? I feel like a real photographer).

I'll be leaving in a few hours and this part of my life will be over.

Now on to the next thing, whatever it might be.

Another Outfit

Henry's mom showed up with another outfit so of course, another picture must be taken. ;-) I have one shot of her crying just to prove she does, but i'm not posting it and ruining the image of the perfect baby i'm creating.

Henry is such a gentle, caring and nurturing dad. It's been fun to watch.


I did it all by 8 a.m.. I held her, I rocked her, I fed her, I burped her, I changed her, and I sat while she looked at me for the longest time. We had great conversations, she and I. I have never seen a little face have so many expressions -- even when she is asleep her brow furrows, her lips purse, her cheeks twitch, and she grimaces. I love to watch her.

The room is so peaceful. Henry, Salinda and I are the only ones here and we have taken turns holding her. Salinda is feeling much better today -- up and about and holding the baby. It's so nice here.

But today I will re-enter my real world. Bart will bring most of the other boys up to see the baby and then I'll go home attempt to re-enter reality. I go back to work on Monday and the kids need to be back in a routine with school and everything. It's been a crazy chaotic holiday season with the blizzard and the baby and it's time for things to get back to normal.

And normal for me is not peaceful.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Few Minutes Alone with my Daughter

After several visitors today I finally, for the first time, had some moments alone with my daughter. We were able to talk a bit about a few of the concerns I have that have come up in the past couple days. She was receptive and listened to my concerns. I read her Bart's blog post and we cried together. She comforted me as I was crying harder, which was an interesting role. She thanked me for being here with her, said she missed Bart and wanted to know when he'd be back.

If you have read this blog for a couple years you know the struggles we have had over past three and a half years. There will be more in the future. But an online friend told me that it is what it is and just because it isn't ideal doesn't make it less. I am trying to focus on that and rejoice in small things. And there is no way on earth that anyone could not love this baby -- regardless of the circumstances.

Now I know that you are tired of hearing about her already and I'm really not as gaga as you think I am over this baby (i just have free time and like photoshop) but the baby really is good. She hardly ever cries. She is amazing. She eats well, sleeps well. Perfect. I'm going to get up early again so I can hold her tomorrow.

First Smile and Salinda back in Makeup :-)

Tired of Pictures Yet?

I'm having fun messing with the photos....

My New Definition of a Perfect Morning

I got up this morning early after a restless night and a way too cheery good morning from "Scott from the lab" at 6:15 and showered and then went and got my granddaughter. We spent hours of time together before here parents woke up and it was wonderful. Finally, after a few hours, she opened her eyes and spent a long time staring at me. I took her picture many times.

Kyle and Christy came by and we had lunch and I went over and got a new outfit and a card reader for my camera so I could transfer pictures.

I feel awful for leaving Bart home alone with the kids but he is very capable and I'm having the time of my life. I know these days only happen once and regardless of all the complications, I'm grabbing my moments when I can.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I held her, I fed her, she is now asleep and so are her parents

and I am going soon. A beautiful baby.

Need a good cry?

Read Bart's blog entry tonight

She entered the world quietly -- but others weren't

Gabby has slept most of today. She has had her mom, dad, both grandmas, grandpa, step grandpa, two aunts, two uncles, her great aunt, her second cousin, her third cousins (2 of them) and two of her dad's friends all trying to take pictures of her within a few hours. As many as 8 cell phones were be pointing at her at the same time.

I tried to stay in the background and wait my turn.

Bart and John have headed home. Henry (Salinda's bf) and I will spend the night in the room with them and Sadie will stay at Henry's folks house for the night. Kyle and Christy will be stopping by tomorrow and depending on how she is doing, I will either go home with them or stay another night or two.

Apparently Salinda is in for a couple more hard days. Her kidney problems continue. This is the reason for the c-section so quickly. Her kidney affection returned and the antibiotics that were safe for the baby were not helping. Her temperature was rising and the only antibiotic that might help is one that would harm the baby. So he went ahead and delivered her.

Salinda should be in the hospital for a few days yet. We'll see how it goes....

Pictures as Requested

Call me grandma

Gabriella Marie. Born at about 3 pm. Six pounds six ounces. Born before we could get here. Baby and salinda ok but salinda still not out of recovery room. Picture on facebook.

Call Just In

C-Section in a couple hours. Follow us on Twitter. This time I think it is for real. Her temperature is going up, the doctor was int he background, her kidney infection is back, her temperature is rising, she is sobbing.... her boyfriend called.

Bart is coming to pick me up soon. Sadie and John will come along if they can be ready in time to leave.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I DIdn't Even Bring You Along

Last night I went to see Salinda but I didn't even bother to get everyone all excited because I figured it would be a no news situation. She still had not received her birthday or Christmas gifts and I could tell she was missing me. Very seldom in the last few years has she acted as though she needed me, so I headed up.

There is always a very difficult decision to make for every parent every day when it comes to teens and adults, especially those who are adopted and have special needs. And the decision is this: Do we give them what they deserve or do we offer grace? Salinda at this point has chosen her lot. She has moved in with another family, chosen to be independent from us, to have the baby up there... but then she misses me and needs me. What do I do? Bart and I talked about the balance between justice and mercy.

And as we talked we realized most of our kids they are always the recipients of grace. They get themselves into tough situations and then they don't want to accept the consequences. They want to be bailed out. It happens daily, weekly, monthly in big and small ways with our kids. And we have to decide.

The Voice of Truth

That she went in last night at 11. Her pain from the kidney issues is horrible and even morphine doesn't help much. They are telling her that they are going to try the drug they tried Wednesday, but they can't start it until at least one of the women who are in labor right at the moment delivers her baby.

Salinda was told "they will induce and if the baby won't deliver naturally they are going to do a C-section." To her that means today. They told her that last week as well. I don't think it means today.

What I get frustrated with in this situation and others is that I want the truth to at least be spoken. The way the doctor explained it, it appears that unless the baby or Salinda's health is in danger, they are going to try to keep the baby in as long as they can. If her pain is bad, they will attempt to help it along, but as any doctor would be he is reluctant to break her water over a week before the due date.

When I try to explain this so that it makes sense, it as though I am the one who is stopping the baby from coming. Sadie, John and Salinda all give me looks that suggest that they believe that by me saying that it MIGHT not happen within the next few hours I am the one who is stopping the baby from being born. I must be mighty powerful.

Another situation in which the truth is being avoided is the issue of John and money. He needs some money to pay some fines. About a month ago he asked me what to do. I reminded him that I pay $4.00 an hour for chores around the house. That if he worked for just 2 hours a day for a month he would have $240 and the bill would be paid. I suggested that each week when he went to the group where he has to pay the bill he should take a portion of it, and they would realize he was serious about paying it. And I suggested to him that if he was unwilling to take my advice that it would be stressful for me if in a month he came and asked me the same question.

Well, you can guess the answer. Not a penny saved, and only a few dollars earned, he says yesterday, "I was wondering if I could talk to you about my bill." To which I responded by simply reminding him of the truth, of our last conversation, repeating it almost word for word. And you guessed it. He's not happy with me.

Maybe I should just let them live in a fantasy world. Maybe I should say, "OK, honey, I'll pack us up and come up. I'm sure the baby will be born today." Or to John, "I'm sure that someone else will step forward to pay your fines. Don't worry about them. You don't need to work at all. It will all just work itself out."

But since I can't lie, maybe I should just shut up. Someone wanna get me a muzzle as a late Christmas present?

Let the Drama Begin

Just sitting here, minding my own business, getting stuff done at my desk while everyone is asleep and Sadie calls to tell me Sailnda has been trying to get ahold of me. My phone lost it's charge about an hour ago and I intended to charge it, but I couldn't find the cord and yeah, you know how that goes.

Apparently Salinda is back in the hospital. She was supposed to go in at 9:30 this morning, so I'm not sure what that means. Not sure if she went in last night or this morning, or what is going on. ANd of course, I tried to call her back and she is not returning my calls. I'm waiting to get a minimal charge on my phone and then I will text her boyfriend.

Let the drama begin.....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Camera

Linda asked about my camera. I have a Nikon D40 and I love it. For Christmas I got a lens which will allow me to get closeups of the kids during their athletic events without getting off my butt. It also allows me to take pictures like this from across with room without anyone knowing.

I do love my camera. But I'm going to love it a lot more now that I can get shots from afar.

Finally Some Psychic Space (or as much as you can get when accompanied by a mouth that doesn't stop moving)

i am at Dunn Brothers finally having opportunity to blog. I am giving the other kids a break from Dominyk, who has been a little off this week. He had a meltdown today and has been agitated. For some reason he can play for hours here as long as he has a drink with free refills. Bart took Tony with him to run errands and while the other boys, I am sure, wish they had more time with us, they do appreciate a house free of constant conflict, stress, tantrums, meltdowns, etc.

So I can finally blog. The internet may be almost fixed at the house, but I'm thinking I need to upgrade my base station, which will mean a new device and some more work, but should result in a better experience for everyone. As the "tech guy" at our house, it is always my responsibility to make sure we have the best we can have in that department, and these past few months I have been falling behind in that department. I'm not working much this week and hoping to get some of that taken care of.

I have a list of things that I"m going to blog about some day.... and when you email me and ask me to cover something, I put it on my list. Hopefully I"ll get to it soon.

I also have pictures to post but they are at home.

In case you missed it, Kari blogged about our fun night last night. It's pretty fun watching pastor Bart sing "Like a Virgin."

I'm going to actually look at my inbox. Even over the holidays I'm up to 155.

Salinda is supposed to be heading back to the doctor in the morning, so who knows what the week will bring. As Bart says, everything seems kind of surreal as we wait for Gabby to be born. It's like having life on hold..... nothing seems quite right. But she is going to come out at some point -- just not exactly when her mom wants her to. She's a stubborn thing.

Like mother, like daughter.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Didn't Really Clean All Day

But we did lose internet. And go to a movie. And then still not have internet when we got back. So I was on the phone with hickory tech fora while and now internet is back.

But we're having company for dinner.

So I gotta go.

Just didn't want you to think I was still cleaning.

We are Alive and well

But we are cleaning the house and I vowed not to touch the computer until it's clean. So I'm touching my phone.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Anyone Else Ever Wonder...

If one of your kids might push you or, more troublesome, one of their siblings over the edge? I seriously wonder about that sometimes. And when the one pushing the buttons is one of the younger ones, you'd think they'd be smarter.

You're Nobody Til Somebody Texts You

For Christmas this year we have three more kids with cell phones. It's imperative now, if you are in middle or high school, to have your own number where people can reach you. If someone can't text you privately then you don't exist, plain and simple. And to give someone your parents landline phone? Nobody would be caught dead doing that any more.

And so they are all upstairs now configuring their phones. For his birthday and Christmas, Jimmy got an IPhone touch, nad I helped him download a free texting app so that he can also exist.

I've been wanting a new lense for my camera so that I can take sports pictures and of course, Bart came through for me. now I can not only take sports pictures but I can take pictures from inside my house of twigs in the cold back yard. And I can take pictures when Ricardo isn't looking from very far away. You ahve no idea how many pictures I have of him with his face covered.

Salinda nad Kyle both texted us how much they missed us. And Mike I am sure is thinking of us this morning from jail. Sometimes being missed is good. Kind of a "you don't know what you've got til it's gone."

And it's still snowing.

Let the Games Begin

WE made it til 8:40 this morning. The latest we have ever had Christmas. And we only have 75% of the kids here, the lowest percentage of our lives.

Only two of the kids home right now are those who tend to put a damper on holidays though, so maybe that will help.

I'm off for the gift wrapping. More later.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The other Concerts

Sadie and Wilson's concerts -- Sadie at school and Wilson at Church.

Looks Like I Made a Good Decision

Just got a text from Salinda. It looks like they are going to send her home today and have her come back on Monday morning. So apparently I didn't miss anything. But my poor daughter is very unhappy. Her Christmas isn't going to be fun and her birthday (also on Christmas) is ruined. She can't come home because of the storm and she is not with us over the holidays.

Fortunately I have learned over the years to keep my mouth shut. Of course I want to remind her that all of this is a result of choices she has made along the way, but I am simply a sounding board that tells her how sorry I am that things aren't as she wishes. I remind her that once you are a parent, things really aren't about you any way. She contends that she isn't a parent yet. ;-)

So via texts over the next few days I will remind her that we love and miss her and she will begin the life away from us that she has dreamed of a little bit sooner than she had planned. And we'll be here as support and a back up plan as things happen in the future.

And I'm heading up now to thank my husband for keeping me from over-reacting this morning and heading back up there. He's a smart man.

Less than 24 hours from now the build up and stress of Christmas will be over and we will be able to relax. We are here, safe and sound, for the duration of the storm and if all goes as the doctor plans, we'll be able to head up Monday for the birth of our granddaughter. But I think maybe this time I"ll see if I can talk to the doctor or nurse first. :-)

The Worst Three Hours

My prediction is that the next three hours will be the worst of the holidays. I hope that I"m proven wrong, but they are three dead hours with nothing to do before church except for chores. Our oldest boys have put off their shopping until now and are feeling stressed. I'm not even going with them to do their shopping. I'm done with mine and I'm not going to another store. My gifts are all wrapped and ready to go.

For some reason our adult sons that are home are crabby and irritable. They are easy targets for the other kids who are bored. Let me tell you this. If I were an adult I would be out doing something else during these times, but they seem to want to be here instead, riling and getting riled up, arguing with me about little things, and generally crabby.

The two most difficult children are the absorbers of family stress so the holidays, combined with the uncertaintly about the baby have them bored and reeling from place to place being defiant and most of all, bored. Dominyk is chanting and crying and calling me names. Tony is refusing to do his chore. It will be this way or worse for the next three hours.

But WIlson is happy. He got to open presents today and have his cake. And having a happy WIlson makes it difficult to not be a happy parent.

For Those Who Don't Follow Twitter -- NO BABY YET

On the way to the hospital we get a text that the medicine to "induce" really is a very mild first step that needed to be in her system for at least 12 hours to work. We found out later talking to the doctor that he had given her Cirvidil. We went ahead and went anyway. The roads were not good.

When we got there around 2:40 (they had inserted the medication around 2) we had to wait twenty minutes to get into the OB ward because it was quiet hours. WE got there and had a long 3 hour visit with Salinda, her boyfriend, his mom and sister, and Sadie and JOhn who had come with us. I asked to talk to the doctor.

He was relieved to finally be talking to us. According to Minnesota law, physicians do not have to have consent to treat anything that is pregnancy related and thus they are not by law allowed to contact a minor's parents even though they can bill our insurance. So I think that all along he felt weird not knowing us or being able to communicate. Salinda's boyfriend's mom had commented that they had been treated rudely by nurses who were very nice to us, so I coudln't help but wonder if race, stereotypes and preconceived notions hadn't played a part in the whole thing.

Just an aside -- think about this picture: 16 year old hispanic female goes to the hospital with her boyfriend and his mother for weeks on end. Her parents don't show up ever. One of her insurances is Medical Assistance. What is the picture you paint in your mind about where that girl lives, who her parents are and how they feel about her? Just another example about how the tip itself reveales little about the iceburg below.

Anyway, the nurse was quite surprised that Salinda's parents were white, though I think Salinda had told the doctor that she was adopted. The doctor explained to us thoroughly that Salinda was fine, the baby was fine, but with her kidney complications, Salinda was in a lot of pain. He nearly assured us that he would most likely be sending her home the next day without a baby and that we should come home last night and avoid driving in the worst of the storm. So we took Henry's mom and sister out to dinner and then made the trecherous 2.5 hour trip home (to go 65 miles). We arrived safely at 10:30 p.m.

This morning by eight the doctor had agreed that she needed to be given another medication because she had been contracting during the night which the Cervidil had caused. So this morning he gave her Pitocin and that is supposed to make her dialate. But we are facing the worst storm in 20 years over the next two days and so I either needed to head back up there right away or wait and risk missing the birth.

It was a tough call, but I have decided to stay home. I really don't think the doctor would have sent us home if he believed that we would miss the baby's birth. But the bottom line is that it is Christmas Eve, I have a pastor for a husband and 9 other kids who want to celebrate Christmas with me. Her choice to have the baby there in that hospital was made and now it may result in me not being there. I told Salinda that if she was in labor that I would come as soon tomorrow as the roads looked passable, but that I would stay here for Wilson's birthday here and Christmas eve tonight, and be here to open presents in the morning.

I am not sure how much it matters to her. I know she wants us there, but she'll be ok. It probably matters more to me, but again, I don't get to make the choices.

So we're headed into Christmas eve. Kyle and Christy, because of the storm and the fact we thought we were going to be in Hutchinson today, are heading to her parents and visiting next week. Mike is in jail. Salinda is in the hospital. But the other 9 children, Bart and I will be here to enjoy the holiday.

And maybe tomorrow, or the day after that, or sometime next week, or possibly in January, there WILL be a baby.

Oh the drama.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

oh yeah

if you want follow me on twitter and I'll keep you posted.

The Latest

So I get the text at 10:25 that they are going to induce today but don't know what time.

So I start heading out fast and furiously.

At 11:45 after several vague texts she tells me her sister is waiting to be picked up. I say, "Why? What if they don't induce until 4 or 5?

No response.

I call her.

She says she is going to go in at 1 and that they will induce when she gets there.

We're 75 minutes away.

But they are usually late.

So immediately I sent Rand for John and Sadie, the only ones who want to go with us, and am now packing.

And just so you konw, Brian and Jill are saints. They are keeping Tony and Dominyk. So evn though it might be boundary crossing, I'm letting you know. They are saints.

And the Script is In by Text

Should things like this really be texted?

"Well, I guess they are going to induce me today."

Then she called She is waiting for a call as to what time. Bart and I will make arrangements and then head up there as soon as we have a time.

Now I have to put it into high gear.

And I had this composed at about 10:30 and the internet died.

Feeling Less Enthusiastic by the Minute

10:15 and still no news. I have accomplished very little here at Dunn brothers, so I am going to venture out to Walmart. Maybe I"ll pick up some Christmas Spirit. Maybe I"ll buy something for the baby and that will make her come.

I really don't care about what's in the script today, but it would be really nice to have it in hand.

Waiting for the Script: Today Could be the Day

Test results were supposed to be in first thing this morning and then Salinda could be told a time they will induce today. If that is the case things will move into high speed mode as we get ready to drive 75 miles to the hospital. Instead of frantically attempting to prepare, I am choosing to calm myself at Dunn Brothers (where I accidentally just let out a very large belch moments ago, much to the dismay, I am sure, of those around me, but it truly was unintentional and I'm sure related to my lapband. Not that I can tell anyone who just heard me would believe it or care.)

This morning I did one of those mom things when I brought the trashcans in after I ran into them. Later I laughed at myself as I realized that my body language and attitude, thought no words were spoken, would have been clear to anyone who saw me. It's a very familiar mantra in the world of mothers "AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO CAN DO ANYTHING????"

Anyway, I'm here in my booth reflecting on how my status in life could change today and in the midst of all the chaos finding a certain satisfaction. As Bart said in his post last night, raising teenagers and adults is a bit different. It's a lot like being in your own TV show, acting the part, but not writing the script. If you look at a lot of TV dramas the actors are interviewed and they really do not know ahead of time what is going to happen with their own characters. They get the script, one show at a time, and live out the drama being created for them. If you mistakingly believe you are the author of the drama and can influence it, frustration awaits. In fact, you aren't really even a main character in their lives who is listened to very much.

To illustrate, I will refer to one of my favorite shows that I haven't watched much this season, Grey's Anatomy. Now, with technology, I can just buy an episode for $3 any time I feel like watching it, so I don't feel the pressure of trying to keep up. But using that example, if Patrick Dempsey offered an opinion to the writers of the show, they (the writers) might briefly listen and consider his input. But in the lives of my teenagers, I'm one of the extras, probably a nurse that stands behind the desk every episode but never has a speaking part, and if I offered ideas they would scoff in my face.

And so this morning, I can sit back and be really happy about some of the things that are going on in our "show" that offers too much reality to be entertainment. I am happy that Tony has developed a passion for something -- he is learning guitar -- and that this motivates him. I couldn't be more proud of Ricardo whose self-discipline and passion and competitive spirit have him 12-1 this season as a 9th grade wrestler. He is headed for a very successful high school career even though he started his career as a wrestler a few weeks before his 14th birthday, while most of his competitors have been wrestling since they were three. He gets up and goes to lift weights 3 times a week at 6:30, he disciplines himself in order to make weight, and he is a fierce competitor. Very few of our kids are as competitive as I and so I understand his heart -- even though the things we exceed in are quite different. I'm also very proud of Leon who is unplussed by Ricardo's huge success. He remains good natured, tries his best, and does very well even in his shadow. Last night there was no doubt in anyone's mind that there were two Fletchers competing on that team as he flipped his opponent over and pinned him quickly, catching everyone by surprise.

My mind wanders to other drama and while I am not happy that he is in jail, I am pleased with MIke's current attitude towards his family. Though selfish and attachment disordered, not nearly as close to us as we wish, I can't complain about Kyle's course in life -- college educated, employed as a teacher, giving back to society, and engaged to a wonderful girl. John's daily drama, frustrating because of little things, is a better story than he has had a in a long time. i could go on and talk of the other kids, but you are getting the picture.

And as we wait for the script for today's episode, the baby looms in the near distant future, either today or in a few days. And while as a writer, i would never have put a grandchild in the script for this season of our lives, i can't help but look forward to holding a baby in my arms, who especially because she will be born this time of year, will be a constant reminder of the Baby who over 2000 years ago entered the world to give me peace. And as Dominyk pointed out in church last week, the Angel had a name that is spelled kinda like Gabriella.

No, our lives are not ideal. From the outside looking in they probably appear chaotic, filled with stress and tragedy. But from the inside looking out, when that inside is calmed by the peace of Christ, it's a very good place to be. I truly love my life and I wouldn't want to be anyone else.

So writer of the drama of my life, hand me the script. I'm ready to live it out and see what today brings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Please Don't Faint

But Bart blogged again.

Salinda had her amniocentesis, but there is no conclusion. Sometime tomorrow they either set a time to induce her tomorrow or tell her they are waiting until after Christmas.

Ricardo and Leon are such great wrestlers. I was so proud of them tonight. But Bart will tell you more about that.

Heading to bed happy. I'll let you know in the morning if I was able to get to my bedroom without that changing. ;-)

Things You've Been Waiting For

After several months of silence, Bart blogged. It's good.

A report on the adult children that I refused to babysit yesterday: 21 year old had one of the most helpful days he's had in a long time without having to be directed. I was shocked and pleased. 19 year old made it to school.... at 12:30 and only after I reminded him that if he was going to choose to skip it wouldn't be in front of my face and he had to leave the house. He was however, up very early this morning and is already ready to go. He told me he was going to stay up all night -- that that was the only way he could get up in time. Whatever.

And finally, Salinda called in tears last night. She's in a lot of pain and very uncomfortable. She had been at the hospital most of the day where they did many tests to see if the baby is ready to be delivered earlier. Apparently Gabby weighs about 5 lbs 15 ounces, is very healthy (needed an 8 on some score and got an 8, but Salinda isn't sure what that meant).

So..... this morning she is supposed to set up an appointment to have an amniocentesis and if all is well (results take ten hours) then he will induce her TOMORROW morning. I am trying to send some very subtle messages to the little girl telepathically that she really needs to be born by Christmas Eve around noon so Bart can make it back to preach.

However, this could be false alarm #5 or 6 so we will have to see how it all goes.

I'm looking forward to Salinda being done with her discomfort and pain. She has been given some pretty strong pain meds, but she is so worried they will hurt the baby that she won't take them. She texted me in her hormonal state that this was going to ruin her Christmas. I simply texted back, "A baby can't ruin Christmas. Christmas is all about a baby."

I am very grateful for her boyfriend and his family who are willing to take care of all of these trips to the doctor and help her through this. I'm not sure I would have been very good at it. Not the most patient bulb on the tree. (Did I just mix a metaphor)

And Gabby .... I'm excited to meet her. It's not every day you become a grandmother for the first time. Prayers are appreciated that everything will go well. I'll attempt to keep you updated.

Monday, December 21, 2009

just another manic Monday

Except that nobody is manic. In fact, nobody is up, which means it will not be a good morning. I have a group of teenagers who will not go to bed when I tell them to. There are 3 of them who can get themselves out of bed without my help. They are 14, 15, and 16. I have a 14 year old and 13 and 10 year olds who ask me to wake them up. And then I have 18 and 19 year olds that can't seem to figure out how to get up. They won't ask me to wake them up and they won't go to bed when I suggest it's time. So I always tell them, "If you can't go to bed at a proper hour, then don't expect me to make sure you wake up." Tough love, parenting with love and logic, common sense.

I get tempted to wake them up because it makes MY morning better. But I am to the point now where I am going to have to let them experience their consequences instead of preventing myself from having some. I will let them later wake up in a panic and then I'll have them work to pay me back for the extra ride. I would think they need to learn the skill of getting themselves out of bed before they leave my home. Assuming they ever do.

But now it's time to medicate Dominyk. I have misplaced a prescription and cannot find it, had the wrong one filled, and thus he will be on a slightly different dosage of his medication today. I hope the school can handle him.

I'll let you know how it all goes.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I should Have blogged this afternoon

Bart preached an amazing sermon. He preached about the words "And While They Were There" from the Christmas story. He talked about how Mary and Joseph found peace in their circumstances and didn't have to "get away" to find peace. They found it "while they were there."

Before the sermon my mind was wondering -- to pregnant Salinda, to Mike in jail, to Kyle who seldom talks to us and thinking about how weird it was that I had a life where those were things I had to be preoccupied with during Christmas time. And then the sermon was great reminder of how I need to be able to allow God to give me peace where I am. I was feeling that peace all afternoon and well into the evening.

Until youth group got out and everything went crazy. Dominyk had a fight with Tony. John had Tony in a headlock. I tried to help calm everyone and got cussed out by all three. it was wonderful.

Peace. Here. Where I am. Gotta keep holding on to that thought.

But had I blogged this afternoon I could have much more eloquently explained the sermon.

Could Someone Please Remind my Children that they live in a Large Family

Sunday morning. 13 of us need to get ready for church. There are a few that I am responsible to wake up and we have a routine that never changes. But the rest of them, who get themselves up, just decide on a whim that they can alter the shower schedule. They get distracted or two tired to shower at night and then in the morning, low and behold, 4 people need to shower in 30 minutes and they all want the same shower.

There are a lot of people in our world who talk about how hard it is to get children up and ready for church. Most of them have two or three kids. For the past 10 years I have gotten at least 7 children up and ready for church and been on time nearly every Sunday and I have done it alone.

Obviously I have not done it without complaining, but hey, what do you think I am, a SAINT?

And every week there is another glitch thrown into the system to make it difficult. At least they offer me variety.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

It only Takes Five MInutes

My morning was going very well. I was up and at my desk, working on cleaning my desk and sorting through receipts and doing spreadsheets. The kids were asleep.

And then they were up. And my most manipulative child had convinced his gracious and merciful father to do something for him that I had already said a definite no to. And now, because I mentioned it, a blow up was caused and I have ruined the day.

It only takes five minutes....

Friday, December 18, 2009

My response to the "Invisible woman" Video

I posted this video and asked for your response. I am glad that most of you were encouraged. I had mixed feelings.

I have to confess that I had mixed feelings about the video. Sure, I understood her point, but like Angela, I wondered whether or not my kids were actually cathedrals in progress. Sometimes it's so hard to see that in the midst of all of their issues. There was one other part that really made me sad. She talks about how important it is to her that her adult children will want to come home to visit. Right now our children not living with us are not interested in being home much because of the severe behaviors of some of their younger siblings.

I got the point of the video, but somehow there was a bitter sweet taste in my mouth. Am I building cathedrals? I guess in 100 years someone will know.

It's nice when things work out for a few minutes...

I'm in St. Paul. I dropped Bart off at his training and drove straight down one street to a Dunn Brothers I found on my Iphone Map program. There was a parking space for free, almost in downtown, right in front of the coffee shop and they were willing to brew some decaf tea for me and then ice it. So I'm sitting by a window, internet working wonderfully, sipping on some delicious decaf earl grey and feeling quite good.

Bart and I had a fairly good morning. It started off shaky as the car door wouldn't shut, but we took the van and went to the mall. Got a fair amount of shopping done though (and no details in case some of my kids are doing some blog snooping). We had a delicious lunch together and then I dropped him off.

Sometimes it's hard to find a topic for us to discuss that won't lead to something unpleasant so we talked less than usual, but it was ok. It was fun just to be together. Tonight we have yet another Christmas concert for Sadie that we have to be back for, but the weekend is fairly free. Feeling good at the moment....

Checking in for those who tend to panic

Today Bart and I are heading to the Twin Cities to do some shopping and for him to attend a training. I should be online sometime this afternoon from a coffee shop while he is in training. I will attempt to blog then.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yesterday morning -- False Hope. What does Today Bring?

Random Thoughts:

Even though yesterday started well the van didn't. The battery died and we had to call AAA for about the 12th time this year. Since we had already used up our free tows (I think you get 4 or 6 or something) he offered to just sell us a battery and stick it in for us. Otherwise we would have had to tow it to get a new battery put in.

Today isn't starting as well but the van is.

Bart says that everyone who wants our book has already bought one? Could that possibly be true?

Jimmy "ran away" last night. He's 18. We didn't look for him. It was cold. He came home.

Sadie's attitude has done a 180 and all the sudden she has a great deal of motivation for school work. Amazing how taking away a cell phone can make a difference.

Rand isn't sure the Kirby thing is going to work out so well. He got a call back from KFC. WE're encouraging him to call them.

Yesterday I took the day off because I have a lot of paid leave I need to use. But I still had a visit I needed to do and several people from work had questions and IMd me, so yeah.

I wish I had a staff of people working for me. I could have a meeting and put them all to work. But I couldn't pay them. So that kind of limits my applicants.

Today I want to go to Dunn Brothers but I have to do bookkeeping and all the stuff is here. Unless I go first thing in the morning, other people get my booth. And it's by the outlet. And I like it. ANd they don't reserve it for me and I'm not sure why not since I come there a lot, but they don't. I think I will go. A lot of the bookeeping stuff is on my hard drive or on the internet. I can do it from there. Yeah. It's the Madison Avenue one in case any of you are stalkers and want a sighting. Where did THAT come from?

John is in a stay home and try hard to do the right thing mood. We like this mood. It seems to have lasted since Sunday. That is a good thing.

Tomorrow we might Christmas shop. WE did a lot online this week, but we are far from done. Bart has a meeting there so we could shop in the am and then I could coffee shop in the pm.

Time to pack up the computer since I have now convinced myself that I do want to work at the coffee shop instead of here. After, of course, i spend 45 minutes driving to three schools to drop them all off and say, "Goodbye, I love you, have a great day, make good choices, don't miss me too much. ANd if you're in high school, every day counts."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rand Got A Job

Selling Kirby vacuums door to door. That was the mysterious interview. But he is excited so we are trying not to downplay it, but he is even supposed to work Christmas eve. I can't imagine going into someones home to vacuum their living room on Christmas eve.

But we're happy he has a job and hopefully it will work out. Who knows. Maybe he has hidden talent. But now it all makes sense. He went to two interviews and got the job before they even told him what he was going to be doing.

Mysterious ads in the paper with code company names might actually mean the job isn't highly desirable.


And the Doctor said....

He wants to wait until week 38 to induce of Salinda doesn't give birth first. She is not at all happy. But apparently there are things in life that even she can't control.

So no baby this week apparently -- not for two more weeks. Unless she decides to come on her own.

Makes it easier to plan the week anyway.

For those of you who had me as a worker this is not for you

AdoptUsKids is recognizing the dynamic caseworkers who have provided support to families through the adoption and foster care processes. A new honoree is featured each month on Please nominate your worker today!

Answering the Tax Credit Question

Here is an answer to the question about the Adoption Tax Credit.

The current federal adoption tax credit will end on December 31st, 2010, so next year. At that time it will revert to $6,000 for only special needs adoption with the lower (pre 2002) family income limit and tied to expenses.

Last time, the tax credit was going to be like this was starting January 1st, 2002, and the leaders of extending and expanding the adoption tax credit was led by agencies who charge fees and whose families need help paying those fees. There are already a number of bills that will continue the current credit. The person I talked to doesn't expect it to move forward until health care is over. In 2001, the continuation bill was in the Bush tax cuts, and that happened in the summer.

Does anyone else have more info?

I'd like to See What Your Response to This Video is

Before I tell you what my initial response was. So, especially adoptive parents out there, what is your response?

Not Sure What to Send Family and Friends for Christmas?

A copy of our book would be ideal, don't you think?

Save $3.00 between now and Christmas Day. Just type in the word CHRISTMAS in the coupon box when you order from this website.

Some Days Start Well

It's 6:50 on a Wednesday morning. Last night everyone went to bed fairly happy. Most of them are still asleep. Ricardo was up on his own and out the door by 6:30 to lift weights with some of the other wrestlers. JImmy was up on his own and is already in the shower. Others should start popping out of bed any moment. So far, the day is starting well.

Salinda has a doctor's appointment at 2:50 today. At that time we should find out whether or not he is going to induce and if so, when. Since all the information I have usually comes via text and Salinda is sometimes not exactly sure what is happening, I guess we'll just have to wait and see as I really can't predict what will happen. She sent a picture message of his stomach yesterday and she is huge -- much bigger than she was even two weeks ago. We are waiting for the news from the doctor to plan our week/weekend.

I hope your day starts as well as mine has. And I hope mine didn't give me false hope. ;-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Good News

According to the recently released 2008 AFCARS data, the overall number of adoptions in the United States has increased! For years, the number of adoptions hovered around 50,000-52,000. However, this year, that number reached 55,000! Congratulations to you for your part in this great achievement! For more information, please click here.

Read this and weep (and don't you even make fun of us)

OK, Cindy and all y'all who live where it's warm. Currently -4, feels like -21. Brrrr. it's really hard to crawl out of bed when it's that cold. ANd the fact that it gets cold in the house is a constant reminder that we need new windows and can't afford them and that leads to all kinds of negative and depressing thoughts about our recent appraisal that shows we now, because of the market, owe more than the house is worth so we can't refinance, and then I just go down that negative road. SO if it was only warmer I could think about other things. On to an update about the last 20 hours.

As soon as finished the blog post yesterday (and forgetting to hit send) I went over to the classified ads in the paper, called a number and go interviews set up for JImmy, Rand, and John at some unknown company. I figured the experience would be helpful. APparently the job is selling cleaning supplies from a Kiosk in the mall or something. John is the only one who could really pull off that kind of job and their part time program doesn't start until January 1. Rand's supposed to call them back, but it sounds a bit fishy. Still, it gave them all hope and some practice interviewing.

Last night Sadie decided to flip out in a major way. She and I had agreed that she and three friends could have a "hotel" birthday party. Apparently she had invited at least 12 girls and decided on her own that she would pay for the extra room. When I tried to explain that it wasn't about the money, but about supervision she told me Salinda had agreed to help chaperone. Her plan was ot wait until Gabby was born and then Salinda coudl bring the newborn to spend the night in a hotel room with 12 8th grade girls. I told her that wasn't a good plan. She said she's going to do it anyway, with or without me, and that Henry would rent the room (he is over 18) and be one of the chaperones. I told her I didn't think most of the girls parents would like that plan much. I explained to her how Salinda probably didn't realize how bad of an idea the newborn/giggling girl combo was but that soon she would.

So I got to hear the whole you can't control my life, you're not my real mom, I'm not really a part of this family speech and she proceeded to declare she was running away. Typically I would just let her go, but with windchills expected between 30 and -35 I decided I better physically stand in her way, which was annoying to me as I was not interested in spending my evening standing at her room door. When she headed for the window, I simply grabbed her in bear hug on her bed and sat on her. I tried not to be too amused when she looked up at me and told me she was leaving. he south, I wanted to lsay "Child, which part of my 300 pounds you gonna move first" but I just looked at her. Bart finally came down to give me a break and he talked to her and then I left the room. Eventually she calmed down and I guess she decided to stay cuz I saw her later watching TV.

By that point I was overly exhausted, but John had decided it was finally time to have a decent conversation so we talked and he was charming and cooperative. I explained to him that I was no longer going to worry about his school attendance. It was his responsibilty to get himself up and to be in the car or else he was on his own. He agreed that was fair and has declared his decision to not hang out with his friends so much because it keeps him from doign what he's supposed to do. If he makes it to school today that might last until 2:45 when a friend says "Hey John, wanna hang out?" But hey kiddo, prove me wrong. I'd like that.

Salinda has a doctor's appointment at 2:50 tomorrow. WE're hoping that he will give her some answers so we can make plans that are more definitive. She really wants to have that baby. I'd like her to have it before Christmas myself.

End of brain dump.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I really should blog.... but

I'm not feeling anything happy or hopeful to post and I don't like to post when I am whiny. But apparently that is how I have been a lot lately.

Just got done at the Y and am now at Dunn Brother's. My biggest challenge, to clump it all together, is that I care more about my kids lives than they do and I overcompensate for them for the sake of peace or for the sake of attempting to get them on the wrong track. Now grant it, if most people looked in on our lives they would not see me as an enabler, I'm far from it. But internally I carry too much of their stress -- stress that they aren't even carrying.

John wouldn't get up this morning after being gone all weekend. He appeared sometime last night after having promised he would be home on Saturday night so he could go to church and WIlson's Christmas program Sunday morning. He never showed and then last night he didn't even let me know he was home. His first words to me were, "Why didn't you let me know about Salinda?" I explained that he wasn't home to let know, i didn't even know where he was, and that I am not going to track him down when he isn't even speaking to me and I don't know where he.

So I looked up his attendance online and it appears he is skipping some classes even when I do go through all the stress of trying to get him out of bed and get him there he wasn't even going to class once we dropped him off. So I need to let go of that. While I had his attendance open I meandered over to the other kids grades and almost all of them are slipping. I'm wondering if I liked it better before thre was a way to check grades on the internet. At least then what I didn't know wasn't hurting me.

I grew up believing that you had to try hard to fail a class. I couldn't imagine how anyone could fail. Apparently it's pretty easy. I keep telilng myself that it is their lives and their grades and their consequences, but you know, it's not jsut theirs. It's mine too. I told myself that the whole time Rand was in his first year of college and now here he is, two years later, still living at home with no job. So the consequences don't just belong to them.

Just like evryone else we are experiencing financial struggles. And we keep collecting more young adults who are unwilling to do their part. It's one thing to take free room and board when you are emotionally present and contributing to the family, but if you are going to slip in and out of the family system, always taking and never giving, it's a bit much.

I am going to have to once again follow my own advice and reframe, rethink, and rearrange my expectations so that I can live with what is. I am going to have to be thankful that my kids are home, the ones who are, instead of in jail or homeless. I am going to be thankful that they are healthy adn that they are not a danger to themselves or others. I am going to realize that I am not alone and that many others are going through the same things. I am going to have to find out ways to connect with my kids that are helpful and not harmful. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

In the middle of a bit of mayhem yesterday that was not really all that bad, I suddenly realized that life was requiring me to be quite the emotional multitasker. Here is the scene.

I was sitting at my desk. Bart was across from me with Wilson sitting on his lap. He had just received a lecture from me for whining about Christmas program practice and was unable to tell me what Christmas was about, so he really got me going for a minute. Ricardo had just left my office and Tony and Dominyk were in and out. Rand was standing at the door waiting for Bart to get off the phone. I was texting, on the phone, and in the middle of placing a huge online order with a Visa that was acting weird. I had a letter from Mike on my desk that I was attempting to glance through.

The phone I was on was a call inviting friends to join us for Ricardo's birthday dinner than he had waited until 11:30 tomorrow to plan. Obviously everyone he wanted to invite was busy, but I was doing as I said and asking anyway. I was texting Sadie reminding her that we were going to put up the tree and if she wanted to be home for that, she needed to be coming home from her friends. Meanwhile Mike called Bart on his phone from jail. He is desperate and misses us and knows that if he could just come home when he gets out of jail he would be fine. I could hear Bart patiently responding to his pleas. I instructed Rand to go pick up Sadie and then got a text from Salinda saying she was heading to the hospital. I texted her that if they said they were going to deliver the baby she should let me know immediately so that I could pack a bag and come up. I hung up from that, finished the sad plea letter from Mike, mentioned to Dominyk that he was, indeed going to clean his room, and called yet another not available family friend to invite them without much hope to join us for dinner in 6 hours.

As things cleared and Bart went up to finish lunch and I got the letter read and the phone calls all made I realized what had just transpired in the previous hour and chuckled. Most people would be overwhelmed by one or two of those events, and I was completely calm multiasking it all.

I wasn't even swayed when the starter in the van went out after dinner and we had to sit in the cold and wait for the tow truck. I hope I can remain as calm today when we only have the Avalon to get all of us to church.

To follow up: We aren't deciding anything about MIke's future until we have to. It may be months before court. They ended up giving Salinda medicine to stop her contractions and want her to hold out three or four more days so that Gabby can be 36 weeks before they deliver her. They sent her home for strict bed rest and with medication for the pain.

We had a tolerable time with just us at the pizza place, though Tony tries so hard to make as many people angry as possible. Dominyk did clean his room, miraculously, and he and I spent a long time at Dunn Brothers and I almost completely finished the Christmas calendars. John, who I didn't mention above, called, promising to be home last night, but he didn't show up.

The Christmas Card visa thing still isn't cleared up, but I did get some shopping done online yesterday. This afternoon we will make do with one vehicle and attempt to get what we need to get done done.

At this moment I'm feeling pretty good about juggling it all and maintaining my calm. Of course, I still haven't woken up either Tony or Dominhyk.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

This Year It's About the Baby

Today at lunch we talked about what Mary's family felt like in December over 2000 years ago. Her mom and dad were most likely consumed with what was going to happen. Would Jesus be healthy? Would Mary be healthy? Would everything turn out ok? When would the baby come? What preparations needed to be made? They probably didn't have as much time to worry about other stuff that month Because that year, it was all about the baby.

So this year we talked at lunch about how this December we're kind of in the same boat. Bart and I are consumed with thoughts in the back of our minds about what is going to happen. Will Gabby be healthy? Will Salinda be healthy? Will everything turn out ok? When will the baby come? What preparations do we need to make. We don't have a lot of time this year to worry about other stuff. Because this year, it's all about the baby.

So this year we don't have a lot of lights up. We bought a very small tree. Christmas gifts aren't going to be our focus as much this year, because it's all about the baby.

And really, that's the way it should be each and every year. The focus should be on that baby -- the one who came to live and die for us. So as you go through the next couple very busy weeks, I hope that you will join the Fletchers as we remind ourselves that this year, it's all about the baby.

Thank God for Blogs

I'm sitting here this morning with a pile of stuff on my desk and way too many possibilities of things to work on. There is a long day ahead with nothing scheduled and I love days like that -- except that for me there is always SO MUCH to do. I can't even relate to bored people.

So I'm thinking we have nothing on the schedule today and then I read Kari's blog and realize that there is CHristmas program practice for Wilson this afternoon. Good thing I didn't forget that. A kid this cute should NOT miss anything.

Wilson and Leon are having a hard time getting used to winter here. This is their 3rd minnesota winter but they still don't understand that even if you are in the house with the heat on, you still need to wear jeans and a sweatshirt. THey walk around in shorts and a tank top complaining about how it's cold in the house.

I just tell them, "Ya'll ain't in texas no mo, boys!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Ready to be a Grandma

Early this morning I had a very bad dream. I dreamed we were in the waiting room of the hospital. I was having my wisdom teeth pulled by our friend who is an agricultural journalist while we waited for Salinda to have her baby. Our dentist was also their with his daughter, who in my dream was pregnant but who is only 14 and definitely is NOT pregnant in reality. I don't know why the dentist was there pulling my teeth if the journalist was already numbing my gums, but whatever.

So I dreamed I needed to go to the bathroom and when I came back everyone was crying. They let me know that we had lost Salinda and the baby. Both of them were gone. In the dream all I could think about was how I had kept putting on my blog that I wasn't ready to be a grandmother and how that probably was the reason they were both dead. I woke up so incredibly relieved that it had been a dream

So, blog world, I am ready to announce to you this morning that I AM READY TO BE A GRANDMA.

Bring it on, Gabriella Marie......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Conclusion of the Conundrum and Baby News

Well, what the issue was was a winter coat. Wind chill was -15 today so iit really is a need, not a want. The fact that we have some old ones around here that would have done ok was what was bothering me but this is a kid who won't wear something if he doesn't look cool. Period.

So Bart and I talked about it and decided on a reasonable price for a coat -- and decided to offer to spend a bit less than that and ask him to make up the difference by working it off. He was cooperative and actually found one for less than what we offered to pay so he doesn't owe us anything.

It appears that other bloggers have been struggling with the same thing as Cindy and the Adoption Counselor both blogged about it today. I appreciate everyone's comments and responses on my post this morning. It helps to know that people have gone through the same thing and that others are dealing with it now.

And, since I may not have a chance to blog tomorrow (leaving early for a court hearing -- adoption finalization for one of my families) I should probably let you know that I received this text from Salinda tonight.

Hey. I went to the doctor today and he talked to the urologist and the urologist said to deliver the baby already.

So I'm rearranging my next 48 hours in my head and I text back, "WOW!!!! When?????

and she texts:

ya. LoL. But my doctor doesn't want to. So he said if I can hold off for five days I'll be good. ANd she has already turned and he says I'm a few weeks ahead and she will come early. He checked my cervix and said he could feel her head.

So, that means we should be welcoming a grandchild within the next week or so. I confess that I am wondering how I will feel. I am not like "most people" in how I respond to things, but who knows? Maybe I"ll be one of those sick people with pictures I'll be whipping out every five seconds to show people. You never know. And maybe this blog will be an endless series of photos of her. Or maybe I won't respond that way. I really don't know.

But it will be nice if the baby is here for Christmas and comes at a time where the roads are easy to travel. And it would be really nice if she isn't in labor forever.

But most importantly, if Gabriella Marie is healthy and her mother is as well, it's all that really matters.

Questions, Conundrums, and Puzzles

Yesterday four of my kids had meltdowns -- each specific to their own personalities. Ranging in age from 13-19, you would think that they would have moved beyond screaming defiant fits by now. I am grateful, however, that none of them moved to the point of seriously injuring anyone, though when the Ipod Shuffle, complete with charger, was thrown from 3 feet away, it did hurt the hand it hit. And a few items were damaged, but none of them were people. So we are making progress.

I'm again trying to discover a balance in my head between being merciful and gracious and teaching lessons about life my children, especially those who are young adults. The challenge I"m finding is that even when I explain my lack of willingness to purchase things they need if they are unwilling to chip in any of the money, they don't seem to be getting it. The attempts to make me feel guilty when they are unwilling to move a muscle to meet me halfway is intense. I don't disagree that they need some things. I don't disagree that good parents buy things for their children. But how are they to ever learn responsibility if they are allowed to get something for nothing when they are unemployed?

I'm sure that many of you have struggled with this same issue as your children have reached adulthood and it is difficult regardless of which side you find yourself erring. To err on the side of generosity can make parents feel like enablers and can make them resentful. To err on the side of love that is too tough results in damaged relationships and misunderstandings.

I usually toe the line well. But my current dilemma is bugging me and I'm not sure which way to go. I'd ask your advice about something specific, but I don't want to share too many facts about this individual as he has been complaining lately that I shouldn't "Make money off telling stories about my kids."

So what do you do when your adult children are asking for something that they do need, but that they have been unwilling to earn money to pay for and when they have had money they have spent it on foolish things?

How tough should love be?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anything Can Happen on a Snow Day

Remember the movie back in 2000? Kids sleeping in, snow stopped, sun shining, kids playing outside, new love ... and the slogan, anything can happen on a snow day.

Well, this is a snow day and it isn't going to be quite like the movie. It's 9 degrees outside, with a windchill of -15. The snow is blowing and it is forecast to continue to fall all day. The wind is sharp, cold and powerful, and there will be nobody interested in playing outside in it. Our two most difficult children area already awake and I hear them upstairs with my wonderful husband who is making breakfast. I do not lie, but at 8:17 a.m. I'm hearing the words "Give me some pop. Please. Please. I need some pop NOW" and the chorus of "knock it offs" that I hear as Tony and Dominyk pound on each other.

it's nice though, to have the excuse to all be here and not going anywhere. Bart and I will work as well as spend time with the kids off and on and Bart is baking a coffee cake that is to die for (thanks to Judy in Brookings who made it for us in November and shared the recipe!).

I am excited about a new program for my emails and I'm planning to initiate that today. Since I love new technology I should be fairly motivated. I'm also working on the bookkeeping for our company which

Last night I left my computer at 7 p.m. for the night to watch the biggest loser finale. Watching TV with Dominyk is really not all that fun, even though commercials can be entertaining. He is much more interesting than they are. However, during the show it is almost impossible to hear anything on the show.

However you gotta love someone who, when discussing the advantages of brushing ones teeth says something like, "White teeth are nice, but I think I'd rather use my breath as a secret weapon."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Link and a Funny Story

Here is a link to describe my experience at the YMCA. I am totally blaming Kari who ditched me.

And a completely unrelated experience, but not really, though I'm not explaining the connection, is an interchange between Wilson and I.

A few months ago I explained constipation to him in terms he could understand. I said, "It's when you can't get your poop out."

Two days ago I was heading into the bathroom. He asked me what i was doing and I told him I was going to go poop. He said, "I thought you couldn't get your poop out."

No wonder I'm so crabby! Wilson thinks I've been constipated for 4 months!

She Jinxed my Day

Kari thinks we're going to have the kids out of school by noon even though they don't start until 10 (planned late start). As soon as she started thinking that way the snow started falling harder. And not only is she predicting that there will be no school for this afternoon, she is counting on no school tomorrow.

I asked her about the power of positive thinking.

I don't think she believes in it.

The Best Laid Plans

Things hardly ever go as planned. On Sunday night John and I had a long discussion about his priorities and what he needs to do and he set up a schedule to earn some money for us to pay for a probation ordered class. I spent the day (in the back of my mind) planning things that I would have him do so that we would have plenty of work for him. Before school was even out he was texting that he was going to a friends. And then that he was staying for dinner. And then that he was spending the night there. The hardest thing to do is to pull back and stay out of it, knowing that I'm not the one who is going to have to return to jail if I don't get my butt in gear and do what I'm supposed to do. But my warnings, lectures, logic and explanations have not made a difference in 10 years, I don't know why they would now. So that plan was completely derailed.

Then last night I went to bed thinking about this morning's late start scheduled once a month. I thought maybe if I could get myself out of bed that I would come down to my quiet office and blog and plan my day and maybe even get some work done for a couple hours before everyone got up. I managed to make myself do so and came down by 7 to find Sadie already awake and getting dressed. When I told her it was late start she said she already knew. But she is playing music I don't like in the room next to my office and thus I have my headphones in to drown her out. But not quite like I planned my morning. She's very unhappy as her grades are terrible and thus she had a one night break from her cell phone which is in my pocket. That interchange didn't go well. Somehow she has a point to make and I"m waiting to see what that point is, exactly. I'm sure I"ll find out soon enough as she wants that phone back.

I don't think I'll plan today. I think I'll just take it one minute at a time. Why spend time making sure plans get laid when they are only going to get changed anyway?

Monday, December 07, 2009

High School Christmas Concert

In 1998 I went to my first middle school Christmas concert. Tonight I went to another one. I have been to one every year since then. That's a lot of concerts. And it looks like I"ll be going to one every year for several years to come.

Tony and Leon both did such a nice job tonight. They looked great and I was proud of them.

One Step at a Time

OK, so laugh at me. I started this post this morning and then I got no farther than the title and hit publish by accident. Guess I really am taking blogging one step at a time today. Step one: Title. Step two: Contents).

I am on a new plan to improve my life and the first step involves a health plan. I'm going to add one new habit a week (a suggestion of my newly appointed life coach) and if I don't accomplish the habit for that week I can't move on to the next one. I am developing my list of new habits and will be posting them on my health and wellness blog which, really, is kind of a joke sometimes, but really motivating and good at other times. It's always very real though.... sometimes too real.

I would love it if some of you would join me in my new habit journey. It always makes it more fun. I think we've done this before, but I know I'm much more motivated when others join me. Check here to see about this week's habit and post your own.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

The bottom line is that no matter how much judgment feels ... well... just, and deserved, and even right.... it doesn't win in the end.

I know that not everyone who reads my blog is a Christian, but James 2:10-13 says:

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Tonight John finally talked to me. I heard some of his woes. I tried to reason with him. He apologized. I forgave him. And then Bart and I took him and JImmy and Wilson out to dinner.

And even though I didn't really feel like letting go of all of my annoyed frustration, I did. And it feels a lot better.

Because even though judgment festers and feels somewhat good, it's mercy that triumphs.

Spinning My Wheels

This has been a very irritating weekend. Not only have the kids been pushing my buttons, but technology has driven me nuts.

I had three plans for the weekend. I wanted to scan some pictures, finish our Christmas letter, and work on the Christmas calendar. All of Friday afternoon was spent messing with a scanner that didn't even begin to start working until yesterday morning. Then I spent the last 24 hours, off and on, buying a new cartridge for my printer and trying to calibrate it, but after all that i looks like it did yesterday morning where everyone's face has a greenish tint. It's very annoying.

John never did get up this morning, refusing to attend church. I'm just waiting for him to come around. He pretended he was asleep when he was invited to eat lunch with us and later when it was time to go to a movie. Now he's slinking around the house getting ready to go somewhere -- who knows if he is planning to go to youth group or ask to be taken to a friends, something I'm not inclined to do if he isn't inclined to come to church. Of course, he isn't speaking to me so it will be hard for him to ask.

Usually I lecture and express frustration, but this time I'm going to wait him out. I don't know that either way will make much of a difference.

For some reason I am feeling a lot less able to handle the constant badgering and disrespect of a couple of my children and I can't seem to see beyond that. It's taxing. That combined with my techno difficulties is no fun at all.

I hope that by tomorrow I will be done with my funk and ready to get back into life again. If the gods of technology would smile on me, that would improve things quite a bit. Because I'm sure that my children ain't changing.

A Momentary Reprieve

Last night our friends did cheer me up and even though a few of the kids were still attempting to push me over. the. edge. I did my best to ignore them and focus on the fun we were having. Mike kept talking about mounting Kari (i't not what you might be thinking, get your mind out of my gutter) and we enjoyed some really good food.

I was feeling quite discouraged all day yesterday but went to bed swearing that I'd be find in the morning. That might have happened had I not been awakened by a barking dog that one of the kids or their guests was bugging at one a.m. and waking up to some defiance about church from John, who just better be getting up this morning and going with us. That's one of the non-options. You want to eat, you go to church. Sure, he can choose not to go, but he can also choose to live somewhere else if he doesn't like our rules. I"m sure that some of you would say that this is absolutely wrong to force a kid to go to church, but to tell you the truth we don't have much resistance. There are some family systems where it is non-negotiable for kids to miss siblings ball games because that is just what their family does. What refusing to go to church here signifies is rebellion. It's an hour a week that require, no more than that. Refusing to go has nothing to do with that hour, but everything to do with showing that you are a participating member of the family system and that you are respectful. We have only had two of our twelve who have refused, and it was when they were at a point in their lives when they were heading down a very long path.

So this morning I"m dealing with that and wondering if possibly today really isn't going to be that much better after all.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's Christmas Time at the Fletchers

I started this blog this morning

WHen I was in a pretty good mode.

But you wouldn't know it. In fact, the only thing that knows it is my computer as I am diligently working today to get our Christmas letter done, and will then begin to work on the Christmas Calendars that I do every year for gifts. Salinda usually heads up our Christmas decorating for the house, inside and out, but they aren't planning to come down this weekend so I'll put that whole project on hold.

and then things got worse and worse and worse.

First Tony and I got into an argument that resulted in me losing my temper. In the middle of it all the vacuum got broken and I felt really bad cuz Bart bought it not that long ago and it was a nice one. It's not irreparable, but it is still annoying.

I then had a pity party that I am the target of everyone's anger all the time but it got me nowhere.

I've had technical difficulties most of the day with a printer, which was preceded by scanner trouble yesterday.

And now I just returned from being cussed out because John shouldn't have to fold the laundry cuz it isn't his job to do that. He should come to a completely empty washer and dryer for his clothes that he wants clean. Even though he has no job and has nothing to do today, someone else should serve him.

I'm tired of being dumped on. I'm emotional, probably hormonal, and crabbier than heck. Kari and MIke are coming for supper. So are Tim and Sue. They better cheer me up or else.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Blind Side -- Round Two

The story behind the Blind Side is amazing, isn't it? I loved the movie simply because it gives the message that you don't know what is inside a person and that you have to take a risk.

I got an email this week. I need to be very careful because of data privacy, but it is from a major metropolitan area in Texas. The boy is almost 16, he is a football player, a track star and an honor roll student. He wants a family in his region because he has built a good life for himself there. But he wants a family and he'd like to go to college. He has some big dreams. He's a Caucasian kid, not threatening, has few behavior issues....

You would think that after millions watched The Blind Side that there would be so many people thrilled with the idea of adopting a kid like this. To tell you the truth, I really wish we had the room. He's the kind of kid who has already shown who he is. He's not a risk. 2 year olds are a risk. 16 year olds are a pretty sure deal.

If you know of anyone who is homestudy ready in Texas and might be, let me know. He's too good to pass up.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Who is Next?

This morning on the way to school John was mentioning that Kyle was the first person to "make it" in our family. I said, "well, if making it means financially independent, then yes, he is the first and the only." He was quiet for several minutes and then said, "Is Wilson next?"

Considering Wilson isn't even 11 and is only in 4th grade, I said, "I certainly hope not."

John looked at me quizically.

"I meant is he the next one to get dropped off at school," he said.

Some Funnies from our Week

I forgot to mention this from Thanksgiving Day and it's pretty hilarious.

Before the meal we were all seated/standing in a circle getting ready to hold hands and pray. Bart told me that I could say grace. I started out by saying how thankful I was that we were all in the same room. Told them how when my brothers and I were all adults that my mom said she never felt better than when all her children were together. I told them I now understood how she felt.

We then held hands and I offered my prayer to God that we were all together for thanksgiving.

I said Amen, and someone said,

"Where's Dominyk"?

(apparently he had gone to the bathroom).


At the Thanksgiving service, Dominyk was quite confused that the scripture he heard read mentioned something about the disciples putting the leftovers from the feeding of the five thousand into liquor baskets. (What translation speciifies they were wicker? I sure didn't remember that)


This morning I lost my shoe. I know it was right by the other one, but whatever, I could find it. Jimmy was helping and said, "Oh Mom, please help God find the shoe."

I asked him what in the world he was talking about. He said he was praying. I said, "then don't you mean Dear God, help MOM find the shoe?"

He Changed his Mind and Now There are Nine

Last night John called and asked if he could come over for JImmy's birthday party, which I reminded him was this coming Saturday and not yesterday. I told him that we were going to have supper at church like always on Wednesday. He asked if he could come along. I said he could. And then he said he was spending the night, getting a ride to school this morning, and needed a ride to his sex offender group after school. He is wondering why he doesn't have a chore this month.

I have NO CLUE what is up with him and why he is going from one extreme to another. I'm happy to have him here if he is being compliant, and I'm happy if he is happier someplace else. I don't like the unpredictability of the ins and outs, but I can even tolerate those if he is doing what he is supposed to do.

But I thought you'd like to have an update on how many people live in our house. It's even tough for me to keep track when it changes every day.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Incredibly Rewarding

This is a family I helped put together. Working with them has been incredibly fulfilling. A single Dad who had adopted one son from a Russian disruption contacted me a few years ago and now I've helped him add two more sons to his family. I joined them in court for finalization in November, and it was a great time.

I could tell you their whole story, but I won't to protect privacy, but he gave permission to share their photo and some of the story if it helped someone. He is an amazing father, the boys are healing so well, and they have a terrific family.

The definition of family isn't always exactly what people envision. But this is one of the coolest families I have ever known and it is incredibly rewarding to have been a part of their lives.