Friday, April 30, 2010

All Week Long

We are home safe. Drove four and a half hours almost straight. Leon was a great travelling companion. Even drove the last 75 miles for me, which were kind of scary for him but good practice. Rain, towns, highways. He was nervous but he did great. He's only had his permit for a month.

I made him let me take his picture on the hotel bed, where he spent most of the week. He wants you all to know that he had just woken up an that he didn't spend the WHOLE week watching TV. He swam, and he was in the hot tub, and he did his homework, and he walked to the mall..... and he did some other stuff. So he didn't watch TV the WHOLE time.

My Brain just Had to Turn On

What a glorious 8 hours of sleep I had last night. For some reason things were just right. The bed was comfortable, the room blissfully quiet, no interruptions... it was wonderful. I only woke once, at 2 a.m. to head to the bathroom, and then awakened at 6. I headed back to bed after another potty break, planning to stretch another hour or two out of my night since we don't have to leave until 9:30 or 10.

But then my brain turned on and started to think about all the wrong things. I have been continuing to struggle with the way that all my rules seem to be going by the wayside. Rules that were... after all... mostly for my benefit in attempting to be the control freak that I am and keep things the way I wanted them. I think about my home now -- full of teenagers and their friends and girlfriends and boyfriends in and out and all the ways in which my nice tidy structure has been obliterated. Rules like "don't eat in the living room", or "ask before you have a snack", or "do your chores before you watch TV" have just been pushed to the wayside by everyone.

Since we are down to everyone sharing one living space (we turned the family room into a nursery/bedroom for the girls and the baby) the TV is on almost all the time. The room is full of people who have and have not done their chores. They have food on their laps that I have not given them permission to eat. It's like mutiny.

Other rules are being broken as well. Things like "we don't have Saturday night sleepovers", or "you need to let us know when you have a friend over". These kind of things drive me nuts because they mess up my routine. Occasionally someone even skips church... ok, it's the same someone and he almost always does.

But the bottom line is... gasp.... the house is not any dirtier -- in fact, it may be cleaner, than it has ever been. The kids who are in our house, with a couple exceptions and as far as I know aren't doing anything immoral or illegal. Having Saturday night sleepovers drags a few people to church who wouldn't otherwise be there (although the lines in front of the bathroom on Sunday morning are a site to behold).

And the household is more relaxed than it has been. With me ignoring some of this stuff there are less oppositional outbursts -- from the kids and from me. There are less arguments and there is a general sense of peace in our house most of the time.

I want my old house back because I liked it. I liked having kids who had rules to follow and when they did not follow them were consequenced until they did. I liked knowing who was in my house and feeling I had some control. I liked being in charge.

But I look at where we are, managing 11 kids and a baby at home all this past week with me gone most of the time. Rand has a job coming up and has been doing most of what he needs to do to to earn his room and board. Mike is working full time and has been out of jail for a whole month. John got full time hours this week and has three more weeks to work before his next hearing. Both of them are staying out of legal trouble at this point and not stealing from us. Salinda, her bf and the baby had a good week at our house where they got along well and did not fight much, free from the stress of being at his house. And while they treated her room like their own apartment and didn't interract with us much (oooh, don't get me started on this whole rant) she seemed happier than she has been in months. Sadie has had her job at McDonald's for a full year. Salinda has her license and Leon and Sadie have passed driver's ed, and Leon has his permit. The rest of the kids are doing OK in school (OK meaning going every day, not getting kicked out, and most of them passing nearly everything).

Every day all of the kids are in clean clothes and they are fed. We make it to church on Wednesday nights and Sundays and the kids in the youth group are actively involved. We have 3 kids in sports who are doing well. There have been very few acts of aggression over the past few weeks. The no cussing rule has flown out the window (which really bugs me) but they aren't pounding on me or each other.

My husband is happier when the house is peaceful. He'd as soon let the rest of the rules go, just so we can have calm. So here I am. The only one who is holding out in my brain this idea that I need to tighten things up around the house.

I have spent a dozen years trying to prevent my children from screwing up their lives. And with all my best efforts, three of the 12 have done all they can to make every wrong choice possible. At this time, however, a good portion of their choices are pretty good. Do I really have to relax, shut up, and let it be good enough? I'm afraid I might.

One of our biggest concerns about the older kids and relaxing on the rules was that the younger kids would be negatively impacted by the negative choices of the older kids. So far this has not been the case. Our six youngest kids are not aspiring to go to jail or have children outside of marriage. They are watching the challenges the older kids face and don't want to go there.

But I can't tell you how hard it is for me to shut up and just let our new home be what it is. They know what my expectations are and they simply won't follow them unless I make it very unbearable for them to do otherwise.

But maybe I can slowly let some things go.... and shut my mouth .... and focus on things that matter with them. Leon and I have had great conversations this week about his future and what he might like to be when he grows up. We've talked about his character and the choices he intends to make. Maybe if I can take a breath and stop worrying about who is in my daughter's room when she is a mother herself.... or who is eating in my living room .... I might have more time to devote to conversations about choices, and character. Maybe my energy could be focused in a different direction.

Up to this point I have been loosening up with what I say and how many times I scold, but I need to loosen up about how I feel in order for this to work for me. I feel like an animal inside my own neurotic cage of how things should be and the idea of breaking free of all that structure and security that in retrospect may have only been benefitting me is driving me nuts.

See why I had to get up? All this stuff just circled in my brain for 45 minutes and I had to get up because I was driving myself crazy. I hoped in the shower and came here to get it all out of my head.

And now I run the risk of spilling this all out for you and having you recommend a psychiatrist. ;-) Have any of you made this kind of transition in your home -- from super structure to a different lifestyle -- and did it drive you personally to the point of feeling like you were nuts? Have you come to the point where you realized that the ONLY reason that you were parenting a certain way is because it worked best for you? Maybe I'm the only one in the whole world to go through this, but somehow I doubt it.

I guess I'll get some work done while cute little Leon sleeps snuggly in bed, his dark tan skin a contrast to the whiteness of hotel bedding..... now THAT is a phrase my husband would have written. ;-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Night Two -- Fargo

Conference went well today. A different kind of conference than I'm used to, but a really good one. Family Based Service professionals who were inquisitive attentive and engaged. Many of them had good comments to make about my presentation. I also had several great conversations between sessions with individuals who gave me good insight and more information for my presentation in the future.

Speaking inspires me because it allows me to redeem my own mistakes to help others. And everyone I meet adds something that allows me to be more thorough the next time.

So even though I had to cough my way through the presentations and I was exhausted at the end fo the seminar, it was worth it.

Leon and I went out for supper and have been watching TV> I'm heading to bed very tired tonight and I plan to sleep in before we drive home.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our first Night in Fargo

in fargo. Me and Leon. Travelling with him is so fun. He is so easy to get along with him and his smile is the best.

We are at the hotel where the conference is being held.

We went and saw a movie last night and then split a room service meal, which was fun for him as he had not done it before.

In the movie, The Backup Plan, which was cute but not life changing and probably not appropriate even for a 15 year old, though most TV is probably worse. there was a great line in it....

A dad was talking to a soon to be dad and he said "Parenting is awful. awful, awful, awful. Awful. And then there is this moment, something incredible happens, and all the awful disappears."

He was talking about parenting babies and toddlers, but i think it fits in to parenting kids with issues too. Things can be bad. Real bad, but then there is that sudden surprise that catches you off guard and makes you realize that it's all worth it.

Today I am feeling only a bit compromised... and am excited about giving a keynote at the conference. The 3.5 hour session this afternoon will be a little more challenging, but I'm looking forward to that as well.

Tomorrow we'll be back to reality, but it's been a nice break to do something different. I've gotten more rest than usual on this trip (kinda forced to by uncooperative body) and it's been almost been relaxing. Well, not all of it, but most ;-)

Training in New Ulm, MN on June 28th

Brown County Family Services and The South Central Children’s Mental Health Initiative present Charley Joyce, LICSW

Charley Joyce, LICSW, has been a social worker for 35 years. He is the co-author of "Behavior with a Purpose" and a contributing author of "Assessing Youth Behavior". Mr. Joyce provides numerous trainings for foster-adopt parents and child welfare workers and we are proud to have him provide the following training sessions.

Date: June 28, 2010
Session 1
Time: 1 – 4 PM
Core Audience: Professionals/Foster Care Providers
Subject: Grief and Loss in Foster Care
Location: Brown County Family Services Building * 1117 Center St *
New Ulm, MN

This is a three hour training on the issues of grief and loss experienced by foster parents, foster youth, social workers and the child’s own family. Special emphasis will be placed on the stages of grief and loss as they apply to each entity. Specific ways to support and respond to the challenges presented by foster care grief and loss will be discussed. The dynamics of child removal trauma and being placed with “strangers” in foster care are also covered in a grief and loss capacity.

Location: Martin Luther College * 1995 Luther Court * New Ulm, MN
(enter college at entrance off Summit Street follow road to back parking lot then follow signs)

A Reminder of Why.....

Some of you may wonder why Bart and I formed our own company, wrote a book, and speak as much as we can to parents and professionals on top of our demanding jobs and parenting tasks. Sometimes we forget too.

But yesterday after we got done speaking, an attendee told me that it was the best workshop she had been to at the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health Conference. I mentioned that last year I had had a few bad evaluations that I assumed were from professionals, but that I thought parents usually understood the point of the presentation. She said, in essence, that many of the tools that they needed were not being presented to them in other seminars and that it was those tools they were seeking when they came to the conference.

And then I remembered why we were doing all this in the first place. Why I was shoving medicine down my throat and leaving home on the brink of a relapse of pneumonia just to spend 90 minutes talking to parents. It goes back to my first adoption conference when I was in the middle of parenting our first very tough older kids. I was listening to a professional with many degrees and years of experience tell me how to parent my child. But nowhere in the brochure did it mention that HE had ever even lived for a day with a kid like mine. I wanted to stand up and shout "How can you think you know what you're talking about? Take my kids for a week and use your theories and let me know how that goes for you." The two or three seminars that I went to that were BY adoptive parents were so much more meaningful and rang true for me, but some of them obviously were parents who were very interested in sharing, but had no public speaking experience.

At that point I decided that maybe I should use my 15+ years of public speaking experience in other venues and that Bart, an excellent speaker, should join me when he could to share things that would impact the audience with our experiences. And every time since we started speaking, parents have given us good feedback.

Sometimes it is a hassle. As I mentioned yesterday, all of the details drag me down in booking the appearances and then actually getting there with everything I need. My health has been a challenge. Bart and I are an excellent speaking team, but finding someone to oversee a household of 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 people while we are both gone overnight is easy.

But yesterday I was reminded of why. Sure, we get paid sometimes (though yesterday we did on a voluntary basis), and sometimes we sell a book or two. But we don't do it for the money. We do it because it makes sense to do it and because it empowers other parents. It redeems our hard times.

The person who said this to me knows who she is and also reads my blog .... so if you're out there, thanks for the reminder. And you asked me to include this prayer in my blog again, so here you are:

The Modified Serenity Prayer (author unknown)

Lord, Grant me the Serenity
to accept the people I cannot change
the courage
to change the person I can
and the wisdom to know it's me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Now THIS is Funny

(picture is outside our window this morning in Duluth)

This morning I wrote down that I hated details. I wrote a post last night.... forgot to hit publish.

Wrote another post this morning about how much I hate details and forgot one little detail. To hit publish. Now THAT is funny. Even to me.

I also forgot the only thing I couldn't travel with when I left the MACMH conference today. So we had to waste 45 minutes going back for it.

But I just had a delicious meal with Leon and now we're "chillin" at the hotel -- me blogging and dealing with two days of email, and him staying on a channel just long enough for me to catch minimal interest in the program and then switching it.

I'm feeling a bit better thanks to the drugs that, If i never remembered to tell you, were prescribed at my request. Tomorrow I get to spend time with my "crew" up in their "crib" in Fergus Falls at our main office of Permanent Family Resource Center.. We'll have fun.

Thanks to Ashley in Toledo for letting me know that my blog didn't get updated. Hi Ash! She'll like it because she's like that... she likes attention.

And of course, 30 minutes after I wrote this, I realized that I didn't hit post on this easier.


Well we made it to Duluth. Bart had left earlier in the day and Kari, Leon and I headed up after lunch. Fortunately, she drove most of the way because I was feeling a little less than normal. In fact, when the doctor listened to my lungs yesterday she questioned if I could come, but she did what i wanted and prescribed strong stuff which has helped. You can't just not go, I told her.

I am drowning in details and I just hate them. what time are we suppose to be wehre? How much does it cost to park? Where is registration? Did you bring the books? How about the handouts? Projector? Adaptor? I just hate them.... details. They are not my thing.

But now I have to pack up and take care of several of them because in 75 minutes I'm speaking...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Safe in Duluth

Leon, Kari and I arrived in Duluth and met Bart for supper. I made it to the doctor this morning to check my blood thickness level . I convinced her to prescribe something for my cold and after she listened to my lungs she said she wasn't sure I should go.

Times WHen You Don't Have a Choice

THis is not the time for me to slow down. And I don't have a choice. Sure, I will rest more than usual if I can, but when you are scheduled to speak you show up. it's just one of those times when you don't have a choice.

A head cold is not enough to stop someone from speaking.... not is a cough. Although if it gets worse it will be more than that. I'm going to try to ward it off by drinking a lot of fluids and resting when I can.

AFTER I finish getting ready for my trip. ;-)

leaving at 1:30 with Leon and Kari to drive about 5 hours to Duluth. I won't bore you with the details of how it goes from there, though we are speaking at the Mental Health Conference tomorrow at 10:30.

Not a fun night around here last night. SOmetimes Bart and I both get overwhelmed with how much our kids use us, but we both know that it is because we allow it. And generally, we want to practice grace. Now if we could just get to the point that we can always act gracious about it....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

There Should Be Some Kind of Rule

About illness and travel. If a trip is scheduled, one should not be ill. I have felt so awful today. I have this horrible head cold and a cough similar to when I had pneumonia. I have the chills and a fever and I feel unable to function. Heading into a week full of speaking feeling like this scares me. Way too much to do.....

But I'll get 'er done. Watch me.

Collecting Bodies

Apparently we are having another body collecting session, and the bodies are getting bigger. Last night we had 11 of our kids, the adorable granddaughter, and 2 extra "adults" here for the night, taking the grand hotel census total to 16. Several odd things happened last night as well and two of our "adults" are refusing to get up for church at this point.

Note to self: If there is a change, ever so slight, of developing a very bad cough during the day, do not take a "water pill" because you are bloated. Especially if you are experiencing incontinence. And if you have a lap band that kicks in and makes you vomit when you cough. There's some very intense quick decision making to be made when all three issues happen at the same time: Sit and barf in your hands, or stand and pee your pants. Some not so great moments have happened over the past 24 hours.

The cold is a really bad one -- my second since pneumonia. The coughing sounds awful and I can't imagine that those who are going to listen to me speak in Duluth and North Dakota this week are going to enjoy it. I"m hoping it will get at least a bit better by Tuesday (that session is 90 minutes) and a LOT better by Thursday when I give the keynote and then a 3 hour seminar. SIgh.

Bart was in the ER last night having a boil on his neck lanced. He had spent the day miserable with chills and a fever and now is going to attempt to preach. The very heavy duty painkillers helped him sleep OK today -- hopefully he won't sleep through his own sermon. And I'm not even going to blog some of the disgusting things he's said about that whole situation.

This is a crazy week where we will be in and out and everywhere with trips and meetings and travel. Today is the day to get ready for all those events and I"m having a Nyquil hangover. Hopefully I can pull everything together and between coughs get myself ready for the trip....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reflections on my Stealing Poll

Before I take it off my blog, i thought I would share some of my observations from my poll. Obviously it was not super sophisticated statistical research, but I was actually kind of surprised at the results. I expected them to be higher in some cases and lower in others.

I didn't expect 21% of the families who responded to say taht they had had a birth child steal from them. I never even thought of stealing from my parents, neither did Bart. So that surprises me.

I am also surprised that only 52% of people had an adopted child steal from them. I assumed it would be closer to 75% or even higher. And that only 11% % had it go higher than $1,000

I guess all in all I"m glad that everyone isn't experiencing the same thing we have over the past 12 years since we got our first older kids. Not only have we had outright thievery, but the accidental "pilfering" of things that got into people's pockets and were never to returned. Things like the emerald and opal necklace that Bart bought for my first mother's day that matched my wedding band. Or Bart's class ring from high school. Things that aren't worth thousands of dollars but are worth so much more.

Sure, we learned to lock things up, and my office and the bedroom are both locked. I have locking drawers on my desk. We are a lot more careful now. But sometimes they can still get our stuff when we lease expect it.

I'm encouraged by the poll... even though it is far from statistically accurate. It gives me some hope that other people's lives can be different than ours and that every time I recruit a family for a child I don't have to immediately assume their lives will be like mine....

28 Days

Bart and John waited for a couple hours to get into court this morning, but discovered that John has a new attorney who is also an adoptive parent. She wants to gather some more information and she what she can do to help, so she convinced the judge to reschedule the hearing. John goes back 4 weeks from today. That means he has 28 days to work (hopefully full time) and to build a more positive case.

So for at least a month, he has a chance to move forward instead of sitting doing nothing. And in 28 days we'll see what happens next.

It's His Story and He's Sticking to It

The morning started out pleasantly enough as one of our adult sons, who because we only had one vehicle this morning I was taking to work as I took others to school, was chit chatting about how maybe he should go to the Y with me at 5 in the morning. It was a fine conversation and we were getting along marvelously until out of the blue he throws out that he might buy a car today. When I pointed out that he didn't have a driver's license, he yelled at me for making the assumption that he was actually going to drive it. I went on to explain that he would need insurance. He laid out his plan about how we were going to pay for it, which I of course, had heard nothing of and knew that Bart hadn't either. I explained that he might want to pay us back the money he borrowed over the past several months, and he declared taht he wasn't paying us back because that was his graduation gift for getting his GED. We were almost to the drop off point when I said, "don't buy the car until you have at least talk to Dad and have a plan."

Suddenly a huge burst of anger and the statements, "I don't NEED you to buy me a car. I don't NEED anything from you. You haven't done ANYTHING for me for 5 years and I've been fine." He slammed the car (from the ride I had given him after having woken him up this morning) and I rolled down my window and said, "You're welcome for the ride."

Now I am having this humongous desire to discuss this with him when he comes home. I want to point out the $510 loan for snowboarding supplies that we gave him so he could work a job that he was never paid a penny for. I want to mention the residential treatment we've paid for, all the trips to visit him when he was in various juvenile detention facilities, the new pair of shoes he always seemed to need.... the many things he's stolen from us that we never required him to pay back. and of course, I could list hundreds of other things he has done. But I'm going to tell you instead.

Because he has RAD and FASD and the facts don't matter. This is the world view he has chosen and nothing that I have ever said or done, no matter how many chances we give him, no matter how much we sacrifice, his conclusion will always be "you never do anything for me."

It's interesting. His older birth brother, who is our son as well, was the brunt of that comment and told me that he is done with him. He said it to him once, after he did a bunch of stuff to help him out, and now he's burned his bridges. And yet, as parents, we've been hearing the same song for the last 12 years.... and yet we still continue to do what he can.

I did think it was ironic that he was stating the words, "I don't need you for anything" as he was getting out of the van from a ride from us after having been awakened in a bed and home we've provided for him to live in, but I think I've finally learned to just let it roll off my back. By the time he comes home tonight he won't even remember we had the conversation.

We never have done anything for him. Ask him. It's his story and he's sticking to it.

Five hours

Back from the Y and trying to blog on the Scripture blog but my entry is getting longer and making less sense the more I type so I'm going to take a break.

Bart was home for about 6 hours last night... and I was able to spend almost 5 of them with him -- from 11:45 to 4:30. They were quality hours. ;-) He has been at a Spiritual Retreat for Writers that he was selected to participate and had a great time getting away and reflecting. Not my cup of tea at all. In fact, reflecting annoys and bores me. I like to stay very busy. But for him it was a great time and we had a pretty decent week with very few huge issues here... which as you can imagine is a matter of perspective and all relative... but for us it was calm.

Bart is on his way to take John to court. The hearing is at 9. I will attempt to remember to update you but I have several things on my mind this morning such as preparing for next week's speaking engagements, getting tires for the van, getting bandaids (can't be out of them), ordering track sweats for Leon, setting up an appointment to get the breaks fixed on the car, planning for supper, and working several hours as well......

I had dreams about lighting a bed on fire and not being able to put it out last night. I woke several times and didn't go back to sleep easily.... I think I may have gotten 4 hours of sleep, but because of the trip to the Y I feel ok. For now. This afternoon I may be sound asleep standing up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This TIme He'll Learn His Lesson

Tomorrow John goes to court. He has violated his probation by not attending a class he was supposed to attend. Otherwise he has done pretty well for him. ANd so when his probation officer thinks "We'll throw him in jail for 30 days and this time he'll learn his lesson" I don't think that's quite the way it should be.

John still believes that he will be able to convince them tomorrow that things really didn't apply to him. Part of me wants to hope that they will listen to him. For the first time in his life this week he is scheduled to work full time. He is proud of himself for getting the job, making it through his trial period, and finally having full time hours starting on Saturday. He may go back to jail tomorrow.

I see things from both sides. The members of the judicial system think< "we gave him a chance to prove if he could do what we said. He didn't do what we want, so he needs to be taught a lesson. If we throw him back in jail that will do the trick."

But John thinks, "Hey, I only missed a few classes. What's the big deal? I am doing better than I ever have in my life. I have a job. I'm going to get full time hours. I have a girlfriend. We're going to have a baby. I didn't do anything really bad."

I don't know what the judge will decide tomorrow. I don't know how it will go. But I'm not really sure that if he goes to jail for 90 days that he would learn a lesson. The lesson he may learn is that the judicial system is not about redemption or rehabilitation, but about punishment and consequences. And sometimes that isn't the best lesson to learn.


In January 2006, in order to get myself more consistent with reading Scripture like I used to back in the day, I started a "Scripture as I see it" blog. If you check it out it will make you laugh to see that I still haven't been that consistent.

But I'm going to try to start doing it again, so I wrote an entry this morning about constructing a fortress. If you share my faith, you may want to check it out. Hopefully it's helpful to you - it was to me this morning.

Birthday Attempt 2

On Monday night we had friends over for dinner and since it was Dominyk's true birthday they offered to pick up a cake. He wanted to cut it himself, so we let him. He concluded he wasn't all that good at cake cutting.

The Rest of the Story

SO yesterday's conclusion of the dishes story had some pluses and some minuses.

1) I didn't have to wake him up again, he was up on his own. Plus.

2) He said, "I am planning to do the dishes after work." Plus.

I explained that just this once I would let him get by with it because Bart was out of town and I wasn't going to be home. Another son, who was home, stacked them neatly.

3) He came home from school and said that the dishes had appeared out of nowhere and that there were way more than when he left for work. He left without doing a single one. Minus.

4) When I texted him and pointed out that his sister wasn't going to be happy about having to do all his dishes, he texted back that they had multiplied during the day. I explained that the house had gotten cleaned which is why he should have done them in the morning when I woke him up. I texted that he shouldn't use that as an excuse not to do a single dish. He texted back that they had just appeared out of nowhere. I texted back that that is why most of the kids did dishes right after supper instead of waiting until another day had gone past. He did not respond. Minus.

5) He came home, said not a word, did not a dish. Minus.

6) His sister forgot she had dishes last week and had promised to help the person who had done them for her, and failed to do so, so I didn't feel too guilty that she had to do his, especially since we didn't eat at home last night, so the dishes got done. Plus.

7) I kept my cool and didn't even get angry. Plus.

8) But that's because I never really expected to do them in the first place. Minus.

People ask how long we will allow adults to live here. I guess at this point, we have no deadline. Each kid is very different. But as long as we have a home here and they need a place to stay and are not horribly influencing the other kids we probably won't say much. Especially since a few of them are hardly here.

One of the most interesting things is that the kids who are "adults" and who we are no longer legally responsible for are the ones who complain most about how many people live here. ;-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Battle is with my Own Mouth and Trying to Keep it Shut

So over 180 of you defiant humans went over and checked out my fitness blog yesterday when I told you not to. I'm not even going to tell you today that I updated it because it isn't worth reading anyway, which I understand is why you don't head over there very often. But still, 185 hits when I tell you not too. I'm shaking my head.

My major mistake over the past 12 years of parenting a child with FASD is that I talk to much. So I consigned myself to speaking one sentence to a 21 year old who didn't do his dishes last night. The expectation in the house is if they are not done the night before, you get up early in the morning to do them. I said one sentence, confirmed that he heard me, and then left. Of course he didn't get up.

Now in the past I would have engaged him in a conversation as to why that choice was bad. I would have explained that he was living here rent free and it's the least he could do. I would have told him that I do all the things he asks of me. I would have mentioned to him how we don't like to see dirty dishes hanging around, and how it wasn't fair that someone else would have to do them. in fact, I can think of probably three full pages of information I could have provided him.

The result would have been the same. Except that we would both have been angrier. Possibly, if I had badgered him enough the dishes would have been at least attempted, but the result would have been a very unpleasant morning around here for everyone.

The only reason i woke him up at all was so that he wouldn't have the excuse of forgetting last night -- which actually could be the truth.

In 20 minutes I will have to go down and wake him up again or he won't make it work. Yes, I have to do my part. Now there are those who might say, let him sleep in and lose his job -- those are natural consequences. But I want him working. And natural consequences don't work with FASD anyway.

So this morning is all about me keeping my mouth shut. Easier said than done.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Defiant Readers

Congratulations, defiant readers. Usually I have 10-15 readers a DAY on my fitness blog. Today so far 151. ODD. I swear you all have ODD.

Day has not been bad. Did a radio PSA for the agency and well, basically, scared Kari to death that I would be inappropriate. But I told her

I've got a way about me,
don't know what it is,
but know that you can't live without me... anyway.

She tries to get me to calm down but I have my own style and generally it works out pretty well with people. But both my husband and my BFF are always so worried that I'll do or say something that embarrasses them.

Like at lunch when I pronounced the Pizza Hut Entree as Pee Zone and told the waitress that my boys thought that there was one of those in the bathroom -- a huge area of the bathroom -- that is called the pee zone and you don't have to make it in the toilet as long as it's in the zone.

Those things embarrass them, but they make me unforgettable. :-)

Minnesota's Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter

can be found here. Lots of good stuff -- even if you aren't from Minnesota.

Random Thoughts for an Early Morning

If you are a member of my husband's church, or if you are worried that I am sometimes inappropriate, please do not head over to my fitness blog and read about my morning at the Y.

Now I know you all have ODD and the fact that I just wrote that will probably bring more traffic to that blog than it has ever had. Sigh. But you have been warned. So no negative comments about my inappropriateness. ;-) Oh great. Now i'll get more COMMENTS than ever. Sigh.

Last night was a difficult one. Salinda is enmeshed in a very hard situation and is back up at the boyfriend's house, but not getting along well with him. I hesitate to write much, but it is a very troubling situation that she really wants me to stay out of. I'm having a difficult time shutting up and not fixing something, or trying to, but as she said last night, the situation is one that she brought on herself and now she is going to have to figure it out.

Somehow we have lost a pair of tennis shorts that Tony needs for his meet today -- and we spent over an hour looking for them last night. He is very agitated and stressed and I really don't know what else to do to find them.

It's 4-20, something I never heard of until recently, so I'm hoping a couple of my kids will actually choose not to smoke pot today.

i have a doctor's appointment this morning and have to record a PSA for a radio station. I told Dominyk I better dress a little nicer, and he said, "MOM! It's the radio!" I explained that the people recording it would see me. "oh, yeah." Kari might go with me. Unless she bails on me. Again. She does that you know. ;-)

FYI -- Kari brings out the smart alec in me, so it's her fault if I am like this in the morning after we get back from the Y. Seriously. All on her.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Not Much Cuter than These Two

This is a picture of Leon and his gf that was taken at Easter. She is such a neat person! And they have such a stable sane relationship for 9th graders. It's fun to be an observer....

The Pain of Choices that Aren't Mine

I will not blog details, as they are personal and difficult, but I have a couple of kids who are facing the pain of their own choices. And they come to me, and they acknowledge that it entirely their fault, but the heavy weight of the consequences of their choices staggers them. It is during these moments, when they are not being defiant, or defensive, but simply communicating their own pain that I feel the worst. Because I did my best to prevent this pain... my very best.

And now the situations are beyond my control completely and I have to watch them suffer.

Of all the things that I have experienced as an adoptive parent I think this is the most difficult.... to watch someone be in pain and not be able to change or fix the situation they are in. And in some cases, the situations are going to last for years.

Could I step in and try to control things and fix them? I could but I would be uninvited and just cause more anger towards me. So I sit and watch them feel their pain... the pain that all could have been prevented.

I have a few children that don't have to learn the hard hard way. But I have a few that learn no other way. And it's no fun to watch.

Each Day... Maybe Each Hour... Is a New One

We just had a great morning. No meltdowns, no hassles, no arguments. And I can tell you one reason why.

I pretended like my brain had no memory of yesterday. Thus, my mouth was shut about things that happened last night. I figured out several years ago that kids with FASD really don't store much in their brains. Every day is a new day. And so if I can be cheerful and happy and loving, they can too.

It's when my fully functioning brain gets in the way and reminds them of yesterday that problems begin. Then they remember that they are mad at me and have to go through the whole thing again. I have figured out to just shut up unless absolutely necessary.

Dominyk is 14 today... really hard to believe. He came at nine months... a very challenging 13 years old, but underneath all his challenges he can be a really sweet boy. It's weird thinking of my baby joining Facebook groups like Biker Girls (I took him off immediately....)

But anyway, life goes better when I pretend yesterday didn't exist. If you have a kid with FASD you should try it. It works pretty well sometimes.

My Day is Starting Very Well

Even though last night there was a definite smell of marijuana in my house, explained away as incense (I'm SO not that dumb) and I went to bed frustrated, this day is starting off great. Click here to find out how much weight I lost (It's a Biggest Loser kinda number) and to hear about this weeks fitness challenge. This one is so easy anyone can do it and it doesn't require you to even move.

Tony and Wilson both decided not to do their dishes yesterday, so they are upstairs together cleaning the kitchen in their boxers silently. This is very rare for Tony.... but I threatened to lock up his X-box and apparently the early morning hour and the threat are working wonders.

Bart is on his way already this morning to San Antonio for 4 days -- it's a writers retreat and he SO needs and deserves the break. I will spend my four days attempting to make very sure that I am responding appropriately to the things that come my way and practicing a lot of emotional self-regulation. At this point there is nothing on my calendar except for work and parenting so I should be able to focus on both.

Salinda has been here since Friday and it's nice to have her home, though teenage girl attitude really rubs me the wrong way. I would rather deal with testosterone filled, semi-ignorant, obnoxious boys any day. She has been pretty pleasant but a few of her snippy comments have made me cringe and I have to bite my tongue not to respond. Having her here also means having Gabby here and there are never complaints about that.

Salinda is an incredibly good mother. She is bonded so well to Gabby and is very nurturing. Gabby is always beautifully dressed and smells and looks good. In the being a mom to an infant role, she has outdone herself. She is incredibly patient with her and makes sure every need is taken care of.

The picture above is from Friday night. She's just SO cute... very interactive these days.

I'm off to spend a day at the office with a list of projects that need to be done. Tonight we're having some friends over that do not have a blog. They are normal people. We are having beans and rice. I need to get a list of stuff ready for Rand to take to the grocery store..... so until later, or tomorrow, I hope your day has started as well as mine.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not Like Everybody Else

Every once and a while Bart will turn to Dominyk and say, "Dominyk, you're not like everybody else." And at that point Dominyk never argues.

For this reason, his birthday was not like everyone else's. His birthday is actually tomorrow, but Bart is leaving first thing in the morning so we decided to celebrate it today by going out to eat. We went to Dominyk's favorite place and after a few conversations this morning that had made me particularly crabby, I really wasn't in the mood to sit and wait. However, Bart had a meeting I didn't know about and so he stayed at the church. With Rand and Leon. And everyone else came with me, except Salinda and Gabby as Salinda had chosen to take a nap instead of eating out with us.

We got to the restaurant a little after 11 and intense obnoxiousness prevailed for 30 full minutes until Bart finally got there. The combination of teenage giddiness, testosterone, and mental health issues pushed me near to the edge while waiting for him. Dominyk lost it towards the end and suggested he was not going to participate in his own birthday dinner because his siblings were "tormenting" him. I felt similarly tormented, but was keeping my mouth shut.

We convinced him to come inside after which he declared, before ordering, that his stomach hurt and he didn't feel like eating. He finally decided he would order, and we waited a while for our food. He left and spent a long time in the bathroom. When the food came he then proceeded to complain about how much his stomach hurt and how he didn't want to eat. He decided not to have them sing to him and give him a free dessert as he did the past couple years, instead he wanted a to-go box for his food (which he most likely will never finish) and spent the remainder of the meal time in the van waiting for us to be done.

Before he left the restaurant however, he convinced Bart to agree to take him to the store to spend his birthday money. Bart told him he would take him at 3:00.

Well, if you know that Dominyk has ADHD and OCD, you can imagine how 12:30 o 3 went. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. They are now off shopping and I'm sitting here thinking "we coulda had that much fun for free."

We have kids that aren't like everyone else. Thus our family is not like everyone else. And birthday celebrations are not like everyone else's either. I guess the picture above shows that even the photograph of the birthday boy isn't like everyone else (this is the best of the 10 I took).

But we will keep doing it.... Keep making memories, keep trying to make birthdays happy, and t we promised to do... even if we aren't like everyone else.

It Depends on Which Ones

Some people say "Wow, that's a lot of kids." And twelve is a lot. However, if we only have 8 at home, and they are the right 8, the whole thing is a breeze. Or, if we have a certain combination of kids together, it's like a picnic in the park -- but get the wrong combination and it's like an explosion and the whole family is stressed and tense.

However, I think that in every group of kids there are going to be some that act up and if our most difficult children weren't here, that others would rise to the occasion and cause a problem or two. So I don't have any big dreams about how it would all work out better if we didn't have these particular kids. In fact, compared to a lot of the families we know, we're doing OK, all things considered.

This morning was one of those mornings when the wrong combination was set up and it has not been pretty. I'm stressed and frustrated and am trying to regulate my breathing and calm myself down before we head for church. I recognize that if I don't maintain some sense of inner calm, that the whole thing is going to escalate.....

I do a keynote (which by the way, I'm doing in Fargo the end of this month and I just found out in Indiana in November) and the bottom line when it is all said and done is -- change yourself cuz they kids may not be able to change.... ever. And the constant struggle to make them do what we as parents want them to do is what kills us. I'm not saying not to have the right expectations or to stop trying, but it's the consistent insistence on results for our efforts that stresses us out. When I find myself getting mega stressed I picture my future as the psychiatrist in What About Bob drooling and in Depends at a pscyh hospital because he tried to change someone he could not change.

Fortunately for me (and for my kids) I'm learning some ways to keep myself from getting all worked up. Hopefully I"ll remember them this morning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Kinda Saturday

I'm at my desk, having a bagel and orange juice and blowing off the "house cleaning Saturday mornings" that I initiated several weeks ago. When May comes each Saturday morning you can get rid of garbage at the landfill without paying extra, so those weeks I will be really pushing people hard to clean up the yard and get rid of all of the furniture and junk that is stored other places in the house waiting until May. So I figured today we would take it easy.

Plus, I love sitting at my desk on a Saturday. This may sound weird to those of you who know that I sit at my desk M-F, probably 14-16 hours a day. But on Saturday I tell myself I can do whatever I want to at my desk. I can work if I choose, but I don't have to. Often, I get more done on Saturdays when I give myself permission not to do it.

Our anonymous friends cancelled on dinner tonight. WE're hoping they can come tonight instead because Bart decided he didn't want to cook something really good for just us and we ended up with LIttle Ceasar's $5.00 specials for supper. We'll try again tonight.

If you haven't voted in my poll, there are only 5 hours left to vote. Please do so. I will then report the findings here on the blog. I promise it won't jinx you. ;-)

Hope everybody's Saturday is like mine -- that you get to do what YOU want to do (at least for a little while).

Friday, April 16, 2010


I picked up Salinda and the baby and was sitting at my computer tonight and realized that Salinda was in her room with Gabby and that nobody was talking to her. Sadie, Ricky, and Leon were over at our friends, WIlson has a friend over, and the other boys were busy watching TV. I wanted to spend some time with her if, for no other reason, to validate the fact that we are glad she's home.

Nothing got too deep but the conversation was good and besides, LOOK AT THE CUTE BABY!

Be Careful What You Pray

On the way home from getting Salinda the van was quiet. Salinda drove the first half because I was quite tired but she couldn't stay awake either so I drove the last 20 minutes. We don't talk much. Talking hasn't really helped us much in the past few years. She is an introvert and doesn't like to talk, and I'm convinced the mere sound of my voice makes her hairs stand on end -- that is the extent of negative emotion she has had. I used to think that if we could communicate and I could really tell her how I felt... that if she could understand me that maybe her behavior would change. Until I realized that she really didn't care. Typical for teenagers for sure, but teenage girls with attachment issues ... forget it.

But today I was tempted again to tell her how I felt, to help her understand what I was going through in regards to her and her choices, but I kept my mouth shut. And this line popped into my head.

Lord grant that I may not so much seek ..... to be understood as to understand.

And I remembered back to our wedding day in 1996 when a quartet of some of my favorite people in the world sang this song:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Maybe it is that prayer that led us to the life we are living. Maybe God took us seriously. Maybe God heard us and knew that in the adoption of our children we would be required to do all of the things above. That there would be hatred and a need for love, injury and a need for forgiveness, doubt, and a need for faith, despair, and a need for hope, darkness, and a need for light, sadness and a need for joy.

And perhaps he knew that we would want to be consoled, but have a need to console our children instead. That we would wish for others to understand us, but that we should focus on understanding them, and that when we would not be loved, it was crucial for us to learn to love anyone.

And now, with tears in my eyes I am reminded that as we give we receive, when we offer forgiveness, we are forgiven, and all of this helps us die to ourselves -- the key to our eternal life.


I was contemplating at the YMCA this morning (click here if you want to join us for some life-improvement action) how most of my life is about reframing something.

A man who, ironically, I do not remember fondly, actually gave me a great piece of advise once. He was talking to me as a college student about rules. He said, "If the rules say that you should be in the dorm by midnight, tell yourself that you need to be there by 11:45. Then you are obeying your own rules and not the rules of someone else. Less chance you'll rebel against yourself." That stuck with me because I realized that self-discipline is often more effective than the discipline from an outside source, so if I set my own expectations higher than what is expected of me by others, I can't help but succeed, feel good about myself, and avoid the pain that comes with my oppositional personality type.

Anyway that tidbit of advise was free, but was simply an example of reframing, which is what my life is all about. Whereas my body remains more sedentary than it should, my brain is doing gymnastics all day long, trying to wrap itself around the issues that face me each day as I attempt to walk through the field of land mines called mental illness, attachment disorders, and organic brain damage due to prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol. I have to constantly reframe things.

A lot of my reframing lately has to do with doing favors for children who are demanding, manipulative, non-contributing individuals who have stolen from me, lied to me, in some cases physically hurt me, and have consistently verbally abused me and/or told me of their hatred of me for years. If I see them in that light and bring back all those memories, it is very difficult for me to want to do anything they ask.

However, if I can reframe it to say that it will be fun to see their reaction when I do something nice for them, or that it will be nice to spend some positive time with them, or that I could have a decent conversation with them, and I initiate things before they demand them, it can actually be a fun experience.

Another example of reframing is when I have to remind myself that the facts aren't in their heads the way that they are in mine. I happen to be blessed (cursed) with an incredible memory. So when someone has recently stolen a large sum of money from me and they are asking for something they don't need two weeks later (especially if it was something I bought them for Christmas that they've already managed to lose) all those facts come pouring into my head. And most definitely, when a child cusses me out and throws something at me on the way out the door in the morning, I still have that memory when they bebop in from school that afternoon asking me how my day was and wanting to know if I'd like to buy them a snack. When they make their requests there are no memories in the head like the ones that fill mine.

Today I'm struggling to reframe things in several areas. I guess I'm going to pick up Salinda and Gabby and bring them home for.... who knows how long. And while I"ll be happy to see them, the sporadic and unexpected demands are difficult for me to accommodate into an already impossible schedule. I am never kept in the loop as to what is going on until my service is needed and well, you can fill in the next three paragraphs about how all this makes me feel.

But I enjoy my daughter and my granddaughter if I can just accept things on her terms. I'll do my best to provide non-anxious responses to statements which I have a different internal response. I'll do what I've been asked to do and try to enjoy what I can.

I also have two doctor's appointments today -- one to check the thickness of my blood and the other with the cardiologist about the blood clot in my heart. Between that and the trip up to get Salinda, most of my day is shot.

Sure is a good thing that I kicked BUTT yesterday. I got so much done. Things are a rockin and a rollin in my work world as we are moving forward with all kinds of projects. It felt good to have tons of energy.

I literally went into the office, sat down at 7:40 and did not leave that desk except to go to the bathroom until 4:30. I had very little conversation and just plunged through lots of things i needed to get done. It felt good.

Today, i'll get some more done hopefully, around all my other distractions.... now how can I reframe that?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back from the Y

If you would like to read about today's workout or if you would like to join Coffee Chick and I on our journey to weight loss, click on over to my Steps blog.

Yesterday was a much better day for me. I accomplished more, had more energy, a better attitude, and generally just coped better. I wasn't even as tired as I thought I would be. Eating right, exercising, and setting and reaching manageable goals really helps me.

Today my schedule is completely open.... no meetings or appointments. So I will be enjoying at least some flexibility and will hopefully get lots done.

Who knows, maybe I"ll even blog a decent entry...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can they Really?

I'm not sure they can.

That's the part that has continued to bug me for many years when it comes to the whole thing about my kids.

In my world view, it's all so very simple. It makes sense to me. Things like scheduling and decision making and putting two and two together and getting four every time.

Or what about managing emotions? To me it is simple to make a decision and stick to it. Or to make a selfless choice. Or to not obviously use someone over and over again. Or to not manipulate.

But apparently they really can't. And if they really can't then when I expect them to I'm not very smart.....

I still feel like I'm getting punched in the gut.....

Whenever this happens.

I got an email asking me to recruit for a 15 year old girl who needs a family. The name seemed familiar so I searched my emails.

The first time I tried to find a family for her was April 21, 2004.





Got a Call -- Ricardo will get the services he needs

Got a call from the school psychologist. They are going to do a new evaluation and then use the lack of progress to qualify him for an IEP. Thanks for all your help, comments, etc.

Adoptees Have Answers Webinar

Click here to learn more.

More on the ESL/Special Ed issue

I've been loving your help on the ESL issue and I still need some more insight.

Here's the situation.

Our son has been here 6 years. His spoken and receptive language are fine. But he really cannot read or write. We are pretty convinced that he is dyslexic and that he has a reading and a learning disability.

However, because he ONLY tests at a 2.5 on the Woodcock Johnson Muñoz test the conclusion is that it is his English that is the problem. However, I conclude that if he has had ESl services for 6 years and is still testing just beyond what a newcomer to the country would test, that it is a LEARNING disability that is affecting his reading and writing.

What' I'm hoping to find is a journal article that would tell me what the average Woodcock Johnson Muñoz test score would be after 5 or 6 years in the country.

All of your insight has been helpful. Keep it coming.

Some Really Bad News

One of my commenters asked what the best way is to handle the stress of the children indicating that respite is sometimes even more stressful than keeping them at home.

I have some really bad news. There is really only one way -- and that is to take care of yourself. And, most unfortunately, this includes a balanced diet and exercise. These two things, if you are anything like me, are the very last things I feel like incorporating into my life when things are going bad. Instead I get more sedentary and eat all the wrong things.

This morning I went back to the Y with some chick that names her family members after items from the coffee shop. I had to go back. I had nearly killed myself the past month and gained a lot of weight. You'll have to click over to the link to read more about that.

My number one point when I talk to people is that we have to take care of ourselves. The positive mental energy that comes self-care is the only thing that will allow us to survive our children when the times aren't good. Conquering small exercise goals for me has become a very important way for me to feel in control of my life historically. Knowing that by 6:30 a.m. I have already done a very good thing for myself puts me in a frame of mind that allows me to interact more positively with my children.

If you follow Cindy's blog you'll know that she parents 39 kids, some of whom make mine look like really easy kids. And if you read her blog more you will see that she gets more exercise than me and 10 of my friends combined, eats nothing but good pure vegetables without pesticides and no meat, and is constantly looking for ways to improve her health. If she was as unhealthy as I am she most certainly would not be alive today.

So after spending the last three weeks getting as close to suicide by food as possible, it's now time for me to hop back on the bandwagon. I'm tied of feeling like my life is controlling me... now it's time for me to be in charge again. And unfortunately, this is the only way I know how to do it.

Hopefully you won't be reading soon that I have given up again, but even if I do, at least I'll have a few days where I'm heading in the right direction.

Anyone else in need of a complete health overhaul?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Boy Scouts of America

Last Sunday as Boy Scout Sunday. Tony and Dominyk have each had their try at Boy Scouts, and have failed. Their special needs are too great for them to function in that kind of a program. But our church sponsors an excellent troop and once a year they have a worship service.

There are 12 boy scout laws and they recite them at least twice during the service. During the first part of the service they read through them and Dominyk was sitting next to me.

They recited:
a Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

and Dominyk, after each word, turned to me, giggled, and said, "nope, nope, nope, nope...." all twelve times.

Later in the service, they did the Boy Scout Laws again, this time lighting a candle for each of the 12 laws. The reader would say, "A boy scout is trustworthy." And a candle was lit. "A boy scout is loyal" Second candle. "A boy scout is helpful" Third candle. Getting the picture?

Since Bart didn't have to preach he sat next to me, directly behind by far, the BEST Scout Master a troop could ask for. The scout lighting the candle, I think somewhere between courteous and kind, dropped the candle and my husband whispered, a bit too loudly, "A boy scout is clumsy." We were in the third pew and I got the giggles so bad I'm sure half the church saw me.

The final cause for laughter in the service wasn't caused by a Fletcher, but was so cute. The scout who was reading the scripture finished the scripture and said, "The Word of the Lord" and the congregation responded, "Thanks be to God." He then turned back to his sheet and read, "The congregation will say, "Thanks be to God" and you can go sit down."

Needing Some Research

Has anyone else had trouble getting a child into Special Ed because they are in ESL?

I'm needing some data that says how long an average child is in ESL before they have "mastered" the language, especially if the research includes scores from the Woodcock Johnson Muñoz test.

If this sounds at all familiar, let me know....

Answering a Reader's Question

Suzy asked:

I am curious how you differentiate punishment for those who have FASD and those who don't, when both participate in the crime. And do the ones who don't have brain disorders resent the other's punishment (which I am assuming is less since they won't get it anyway)?

What we have done is to keep the consequences the same for both. We realize that the ones who do not have brain or attachment disorders will feel guilty, pay the consequences, learn and move on. The ones who have FASD probably won't be able to fully pay the consequences but certainly won't learn. We do this because society doesn't give anybody an excuse. When you sit before the judge he isn't going to say, unfortunately, "Oh, you have FASD. I guess you won't be going to jail."

An example is that we make our kids pay back what they have stolen. The conversations between those who get it and those who don't are much different.

Our attached kids with healthy brains will be solemn. They will look down, feel guilt, feel sorry for disappointing us and hurry up and pay back the money. They do not argue or defend themselves. They apologize. We will eventually recover the money.

The kids with RAD and FASD argue about the exact amount of the theivery. They try to make us feel guilty for the way we are handling the situation. They promise to pay it back but do nothing to head in that direction. They will cuss and cry and scream about how mean we are to punish them. We probably won't recover the money.

To make a long story short, we do not modify consequences based no disability, but we do modify our expectations. We might modify the way it is to be done or the time frame they have. But the consequences are the same.

How do other people handle situations like this?

This is Going to Crack You Up

By far the most pathetic marketing technique you will ever hear.

But if any of you have been planning to order the book and just haven't gotten around to it.... Mike has given me cash and I ordered somethign for him on ebay, but they only accept PayPal (which is where the book income for the store comes in) and i'm a few bucks short. He needs the item ASAP (it's actually legitimate as he uses it for a side business -- not drugs ;-). But I'm a few dollars short in Paypal and it would take me a few days to transfer money.

One book order would take care of it.


(If Bart reads this he is going to cringe and roll his eyes).

Even Though It's Not about Me, It's All About Me

One of the paradoxes of the life of an adoptive parent who has kids with issues such as RAD and FASD is that while it's not about us, it really is all about us.

It's not about me in the sense that I cannot focus on what I am getting out of the relationship, nor can I assume that my parenting is what is making the kids act the way they do. It's about the kids and their issues and we have to love them regardless of what they give us in return.

However, when it comes to what we need to do and change, it's all about us. We have to change ourselves because we can't change the kids and we have to control our own emotions.

I realized lately that a majority of my day is planning my thoughts -- what I will allow myself to think about and dwell on -- and in controlling my own emotions... my stress, my anxiety, my anger, my resentment. I give myself a talking to all day long about what I should be thinking about and feeling.

Today I have a couple meetings plus I may be asked to go get Salinda. She wanted me to yesterday, but since I had just made a special trip there on Saturday to take her her stuff so that she could stay there another week and I figured she was in the middle of a fight that she wanted to run away from, so I decided that I would wait a day and see if it cleared up. I haven't heard from her yet this morning.

There are days when I can just feel my own anxiety getting the best of me. I'm going to work hard today because in that respect, it's all about me....

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Good News

Leon has had a particularly good few months. Getting the coaches award for wrestling, and then getting through driver's ed.... this past week he passed his permit test on the first try, drove himself back to school with Bart in the front seat, and we just got his grades and he had at least a B average this past quarter!

He remains the most compliant wonderful obedient mother-loving boy. I just smile at him all the time and often want to squeeze the life out of him, which he almost always lets me try to do, even in public. What a honey!

Engaging Little Wilson

Wilson is little. And he really doesn't much like being called little. He's 11 and quite smart and thus being called anything little bugs him. But he really is so charming and cute. This picture is of him going out with Bart and I during Youth Group last night. He's the only one who is too young to go, so we take him. He does his own hair by the way.... all his own style.

He announced that he had scheduled daydreaming for monday during school. We asked what he daydreams about. He shared that he daydreams about almost everything..... except pooping.

Ten days ago I blogged about how I had tried to get away with calling him peanut. On Saturday he offered me this option: He said, "I like almonds better. If you call me almond instead of peanut, I'll take you down to a mini-van."

FASD Presentation on May 3rd in Morton, MN

FAS Presentation
Joining Hands; A Community Responds to FASD
Kari Fletcher & Angie Colwell

Kari worked previously as a trainer for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and now works to support adoptive families in the Adoption Support Network managed by the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Kari is passionate about providing families living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), many of them foster and adoptive families, with support and education about this often misunderstood disability. Audiences have found Kari's message to be both informative and inspiring.

Angie Colwell will share her story of raising their daughter with FAS, and the challenges they face during her transitional phase of life.

We wish to establish a support group & discuss the possibilities of an FAS facility.

When: Monday May 3rd
Time: 6:00 ~ 9:00 pm
Location: Old Morton School ~ 280 N. Centennial Dr. (meet in building directly behind the school)

Helping Adults with Neurological Developmental Disabilities Succeed

Sponsored by: Cornerstone Christian Church of Redwood Falls, Morton Chamber of Commerce, Morton Lions Club ~ Free to the public
Contact: Angie Colwell (507)697-6436 or

I Always Listen to My Mother

I think that one of the reasons why it has been so difficult for me to adjust to the way my kids treat me is that I was one of those kids who was devastated if i disappointed my parents. I still don't like to do something that makes them unhappy with me. My mother got after me a year or so ago about how much I was offending her by my horrible new habit of saying "oh my gosh." I was raised better than that. Gosh is just a substitute for God you know. And I felt awful and I try hard no to say those words when I talk to her any more -- you know, those bad words like heck and dang and geez.

So on Saturday night when my mother said, "I sure hope you remember to put some good things on your blog, I decided I should probably get busy and do so.

The international festival yesterday was really a lot of fun. Everyone currently living at home went except Mike and Rand and we sampled several kinds of foods and then sat for almost 3 hours watching various dances, songs, etc. We were waiting for Sadie's group to dance, and when they did it was well worth the wait.

She is an amazing dancer. She has a huge energetic smile on her face the whole time she dances and, as I told her, because she looks like she is having so much fun, the people watching her do too. Her moves are smooth and perfect when need be and energetic and full of life when it comes to that part of the dance. It was a great event.

Stay tuned for some more good things later today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Welcome to Sunday Morning

The kids are getting ready and squabbling around me as I sit at the computer attempting to avoid getting directly involved as it really never seems to help when they are this age. I offer my verbal input but it doesn't usually make much difference... but at least I feel like I'm doing some parenting. And right now their "Mom, Tony said this" and "Mom, Dominyk did this" statements really aren't intended to get any response.

Today we are off to church, minus a couple adult kids who apparently care very little about what we expect, and then to the International Festival at the high school to have some ethnic food for lunch and watch Sadie dance. It is a very well done event that many of the international students from the university participate in and our kids enjoy it. Maybe I"ll actually remember my camera.

While our lives carry some stress, I continue to be relieved that we are passed uncontrollable rages and dangerous behavior. The hours like Cindy described this morning are vivid memories for us and they really take life to an unbearably stressful place. Here we have stressors -- the financial pressure, the emotions of being continuously taken advantage of, the ingratitude, the disrespect, the foul language, the continual fighting between siblings, etc. -- but it is all now at a level when I'm not wondering continuously if someone is going to get killed.

So today I just have to be stressed about non-life-threatening things. LIke info I just found out about from Bart that our kids stole from one of our parishiners. However you spell it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Please Vote Again

Sorry, I messed up the poll

I had intended to let you select multiple answers.

So please vote again. I really want to see how other people's lives compare to mine.

Home Again....

Back from taking the trip up to take things to Salinda so she can stay at boyfriends another week, or probably more. The day did NOT start well here. Defiance and arguing and fighting all just moments before it was time to leave made me not feel like leaving and made Bart not really want me to go.....

The trip was fine enough. Sadie was mad silent for most of the ride up there and I was resentful about the whole experience, but the hour and a half we were all together was fun enough.

Apparently the coffee shop might be able to come for dinner tonight instead so Bart is making a great dinner.

ANd I got to see a beautiful baby even though I couldn't hold or touch her. And that's worth the trip.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Use Me Baby One More Time

We discovered another robbery -- apparently something that happened a couple weeks ago -- of all hte gift cards that were left from Christmas and my hospitalization. It is just so annoying. Added another person to the list of people who have stolen from us in 2010. It brought back all the crappy feelings of last weekend again. THere is really nothing to stop them except us being very careful. ANd I really am not interested in doing much with or for them right now.

There is another unbloggable situation that is also making me feel used and manipulated and sorry for myself. But my degree of frustration is much lower than it has been in the past. I think I just have unfortunately gotten used to being used and mistreated. I look at other families like ours who have it so much worse and I am reluctant to whine.

We talked about planning an event for those who have never stolen from us and we think the number is down to two or three kids who have never stolen from us, depending on your definition of stealing. The list of those who have directly taken money from us is long enough, but if you consider those who have spent money others have stolen, etc.,, it's a really small list of those kids we can trust.

Bart and I both hate living like this and we want to run away. Unfortunately that isn't a possibility right now.

I'm wondering what percentage of kids who are adopted as older children steal from their parents, so I'm doing an anonymous poll on my blog to get an idea. Please participate.


Lots of Good Resources Here

The Community Champions Network set up by NACAC has a Post Adopt Website.

This training is for everyone, wherever you are

Join Us on April 15 for a Webinar on the Adoption Provisions of the Fostering Connections Act

The North American Council on Adoptable Children and the Fostering Connections Resource Center invite you to join us for a free webinar on the adoption provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. In implementing the new adoption policies, state leaders may be faced with a number of basic and technical questions.

During this webinar, NACAC will describe the adoption provisions and share considerations that states must make in implementing the new provisions related to adoption, including adoption tax credit notification, use of adoption incentive awards and expanded eligibility for adoption assistance.


Fostering Connections through Adoptions


Thursday, April 15, 2010


2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP, 2003 Server or 2000

Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

My Unique Husband

I am most probably the only woman who went to bed last night with her husband making comments about her fetlocks. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

But he is so fun and has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh and cooks and does laundry and irons and grocery shops and is a great dad. And so he can talk about my fetlocks and my shelf and even call me a filthy wildebeest, but all only in jest of course.

And that is why I am not squawking this morning when on his day off he is leaving the house for whatever reason before the kids get up. This means that I will need to get Mike to work as well as five kids to school alone in one vehicle, but I am sending him on his way to enjoy himself. Fortunately, our neighbor across the street takes Jimmy and Tony to school and because of this even though we don't spend a lot of time together, she is one of my very best friends :-).

Tonight we will have Coffee Catharsis and StarBUCK over for dinner along with Java and Bean... I'm not sure Venti will come, he's getting a bit too cool for us. But we will have good food, thanks to above-mentioned husband, and maybe even a bit of fun.

And this morning, the same unidentified woman and I are going to go to our favorite coffee shop and work together, something we haven't done this week yet......

So I'm off and running. Time to wake em up. Are you impressed that I can get 8 people up and out the door in 30 minutes? Yup, you should be. ;-)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fostering Families Today

If you happen to get the magazine, I have an article in it this issue

And apparently our book will be reviewed in the May June issue.

I've been trying to find it online but I can't........ but thought you'd like to know.

One More Conference and it's Free

Another MN Conference

Free Mental Health Conference in St. Paul

Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church
Pilgrim Baptist Church, The Stairstep Foundation and NAMI Minnesota

5thAnnual Mental Health Awareness Conference
Saturday, April 17, 2010

Register Now!

Mental Health and Self Image of the African American People
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come

This free conference will take place Saturday, April 17, 2010, 9:00am-1:00pm at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 451 Central Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55103.

Speakers include mental health professionals, family and adolescent counselors and youth workers. Family participation is strongly encouraged. This conference seeks to create an environment where youth, their parents, other family members and caring adults can come together for open and honest dialogue about the joys and challenges of family life. They will discuss how mentally and emotionally healthy individuals help to build healthy families and healthy communities.

Conference participants will leave with some tips, strategies, tools and resources that will help them to Focus on Family Values.

Interested individuals and/or groups should register promptly. To request additional information, questions, or concerns, please contact Loretta Bush, Health Initiative Coordinator, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 651-227-4444, or Juliet Mitchell, Health Initiative Coordinator, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, 651-224-0341.

This is a FREE Conference, however we respectfully request pre-registration to ensure adequate space, resource material, and lunch for all conference participants. RSVP to Juliet Mitchell, or 651-224-0341.

Every Day is a New Day

I'm sorry for dumping my anger and resentment all over y'all (as Cindy would say) yesterday. Some days are like that.

To clarify what I meant by shallow excuses -- I was mostly talking about people who walk completely away from commitment, not those who distance themselves emotionally to allow them to continue to parent a difficult kid. I'm talking about marriages that end because "she's not meeting my needs" or "he doesn't spend enough time with me" or other such excuses I've heard. Obviously this stemmed from a conversation I had with someone and it just got me to thinking about how difficult my life is sometimes and how I never choose to walk away.

The son who refused to do chores yesterday came home from work and actually was asking around to see who had done "his" dishes because he was planning to do them. it was 22 hours after they were used. He then came and without comment did his chore, which took all of 2 minutes. At that point my anger dissipated. All it takes is a very small amount of effort to appease me.

I have several not so nice medical procedures today that I do not look forward to. But at least I'm over yesterday's foul mood. Sometimes I just can't make myself conquer those feelings of anger and resentment.... at least it hasn't taken me more than a day to get back on track.

And now, off for unpleasant medical procedures. Can anyone say pap? mam?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

On a Lighter Note

Ricardo has a very sophisticated, sarcastic, and dry sense of humor -- sort of like his parents. And sometimes he really cracks me up.

The other day on the way to church he said something about how he can walk on water. I told him that nobody can walk on water -- in fact, only two people in history have ever walked on water -- Jesus, and Peter.

Coincidentally, a few days later we heard that story either in church or on the radio or something and I asked, "Did you listenRicky?"

He responded, "You mean the one where Jesus, Peter and Ricardo walked on the water?"

Lower Your Expectations and Shut Up

I have a bad cough and cold and feel lousy. And I have been a bit discouraged, but I've been trying to be positive. Just don't have the energy to be very energetic. Now that was a brilliant sentence. Whatever.

Last night I finally mentioned to our 21 year old that it was his turn for dishes. He has been home for 11 days and hadn't been asked to do anything. However, I didn't want him to use the excuse that nobody had reminded him, so I tried to be funny and ask if he wanted to be reminded, which resulted in me being called a "smart A**" which didn't go over big with me. He finally, sometime later in the evening, did do half of them, but the kitchen is still a mess. You would think that if 11 people eat, you would be able to figure that you weren't done with dishes if you only washed 6. But what frustrates me is that I'm certain that in his mind I'm supposed to be grateful that he washed the six.

It's not going to help to say anything, but I know how things are around here. People point to the least productive and set their standard. Tonight whoever has dishes will say, "Well last night so and so didn't have to finish them." But saying something will only escalate matters.

I am sure that the fact that he is going to work should be enough. I have really lowered my expectations. The "Guidelines for Adult Children" that I wrote haven't been followed in any way since he got home (I' not sure he even bothered to read them). But for me to be punished if I mention one thing that needs to be done it gets so very annoying.

Keeping my mouth shut is about the only strategy because talking doesn't make a difference.

I suppose that there are many people who have adults with FASD and RAD who are thinking I should be beyond grateful because he has a job and isn't in jail and to my knowledge, isn't breaking the law. And that is the part that is really annoying. Should I really be grateful for takers just because they aren't causing huge problems?

I know the answer, but I resist it with all of my being. I do not want to be grateful for dishes being half done, or for making it to one 35 minute service on Easter while skipping the main service. I do not want to be grateful for the bare minimum.

But lowering my expectations and shutting my mouth may be my only salvation. His future? It won't matter if what my expectations are or whether I talk or not... his life is going to be what it is. But if I don't turn my thinking around it's going to drive me nuts. And that is sometimes that just makes me crazy. I have been talking to others who have been doing a lot of crying. I'm not much of a crier by my brain does spin uncontrollably sometimes with the absolute unfairness of it all....

Do I sound negative? I hate being realistic like this. But sometimes it's just how I feel.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Children's Challenging Behaviors Presentation in Wadena

NAMI Presents:
Children’s Challenging Behaviors

• Are you concerned about your child’s behavior?
• Are you looking for resources and information?
• Are you curious what behavior is” typical” and what isn’t?

Raising a child or adolescent with challenging behaviors can be difficult. Let’s get together and talk about our children’s challenging behaviors, learn five essential tasks to build confidence in our skills including new parenting strategies, ideas for support, self-care and advocacy.
Connect with other parents for encouragement and hope!

May 1st, 2010
8:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Southbrook Baptist Church
1842 2nd St SW
Wadena, MN 56482

The workshop is free of charge, but pre-registration is required. Lunch will be provided. To register please contact Suzette at 1-888-NAMI-HELPS or 651-645-2948, ext. 102.

Late Start Tuesday

It's quiet in my house at 8 a.m. Of course, it usually is because everyone is at school, but today it is because almost everyone is still asleep. I have one of those days where I can't say I'm looking forward to anything... until 7 tonight. Have an IEP meeting and a PCA evaluation today and neither of them sound all that fun. But I will get them done. LIke always.

Last night Bart and I were dreaming about something we'd like to do and realized that we still have several years before what we want even comes on to the radar. There are children and adults to care for -- some who are givers, some who take, and others who do a bit of both -- and so what we need and want just can't be thought of yet.

This is why I am amazed at the reasons that others want out of commitments they make. The shallow excuses for giving up shock me when I hear them. I know that I don't live in other people's worlds or share their lives, but so much of what I hear and see is selfishness. "It's about me!!!" If I don't get what I want, then it's time to move on.

I don't get what I want all the time, but I value the commitments I have made to stick with and love the people that I have committed myself to. I believe that every marriage is 100-100, not 50-50. And sometimes, if one person is not able to fulfill their part, the other person may have to chip in some more and for a time it may be 120-80, or 150-50. But it's always my job to attempt the 100%.

I also am convinced that I can say I'm sorry regardless of whether or not I'm wrong. I can say I'm sorry that we are having a conflict. I can say I'm sorry that things aren't going well. I can be sorry and still not be admitting that I was the root of the problem. And sorry even though it "seems to be the hardest word" is often the most powerful.

Giving 100% or more, saying sorry, putting my needs second -- sounds like a doormat, doesn't it? But nothing could be farther from the truth. If I choose these things, then my life is full of all kinds of adventures and good things, even if I'm not getting exactly what I think I want or need.

Now, please do not ask me how I got off on this tangent, because I have no clue. I'm not even sure it made much sense. But there you have it. A brain dump for Tuesday morning....