Monday, May 31, 2010

Just a Taste

Hopefully I'll have a few minutes tomorrow to post some more pictures. We were at the lake from 11:30 to 6:15. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day and I even got on the boat -- just to get some awesome pictures.

Five Minutes

Something like this used to take me a long time to do. Now with online collage makers, five minutes. Fun, huh?


It's Memorial Day and I'm in my office with my door shut. One of our "adult" children has to work today and I am hiding in my office with my door shut because my goal with him is to keep my mouth shut but if I see him I can't trust myself to do so. So I'm pretending I'm not here until he goes to work.

Today we are heading back out to the lake. I'm really wanting to get some pictures of the kids tubing, but that would require me to actually get in the boat, and I'm not really sure I can do that. My body is just not cooperating with me much lately.

I need to get back to the project I started Saturday -- which was cleaning my desk. But there are only a couple hours before we leave for the lake, so maybe I won't finish it.

And by the way. How in the world does one get on a mailing list for viagra that is always addressed to Mr. Claudia. Good grief. I get 3-4 emails a day telling me all about how to please my woman for hours. Mr. Claudia. Hmpf.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Photo Essay of our day at the Lake Yesterday

Early in the evening, Tony broke a chair. I just have to say one word. Karma.

Sadie was more than happy to pose for any picture she could.

Sarah, Leon's friend, didn't try to pose, but I LOVE this picture (even though I did take it)

This picture is literally Dominyk forming the word "pop" which he asked for several times. Yes, he did have a couple, but no, we didn't let him drink them steadily all night long.

This is not my child. But he is buff isn't he? He's one of the coffee kids.

This is what Mike did all day long.

This is our youngest child who, as you know, is beyond cute.

This is a cool picture of several of our kids making bead necklaces. They are getting older now and have changed the activities they do together since we moved here four years ago, but they still enjoy each other.

I don't think I will make a comment about this picture. ;-)

Somebody just beat somebody. ;-)

This is how MIke's face looked most of the day but he reported he was having a blast. Looks like it, doesn't it?

Leon looks like he is having fun though, doesn't he?

And Kari, away from the boat and all the unruly children on it, looks happiest of all.

Promises Promises

I have found myself promising to write good motivating blog posts often lately and not seeming to get them done. I always have some idea brewing, but never the time to sit down and do it on paper.

Last night's trip to the lake was fun. Mike and Kari did most of the work, and Bart and I sat a lot, and the kids had fun. Sounds like a good time to me. ;-) I'll post some of my 145 pictures later. See? More promises.

I am going to be writing an article within the next couple weeks for a national magazine directed at foster parent's about how adoption IS a different commitment than foster care and promising kids "you can stay here as long as you like." I'm wanting it to be edgy but not overwhelmingly so. I realize there may be some situations where not adopting a teenager in foster care is a best, but I am a believer that kids who want an adoptive family should have one and that foster parents who are saying "we won't adopt but we'll keep you here and love you" is not very fair on the part of foster parents.

What are your thoughts? You can disagree with me and I promise to be kinda fairly open minded. Maybe. :-) jk, as my kids would say.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm Fine Thanks

When my meltdowns are over they are over. I headed downstairs to clean my office, had some help from a couple people t more done, and then headed to be an extra tube for our trip to the lake with the Coffee Shop Gang. Since, as you may know, StarBUCK got a boat. So now we have to go hang out at the lake. It will be fun. i"m going to try to remember to bring my camera.

So my bad morning has turned into an ok day and hopefully it will get better....

Timing my Meltdowns

Because of some information I received last night, we are probably going to need to give Ricardo a drug test, which would explain his mood changes, sleeping all day, etc. But the whole idea of this happening and me having to confront it is making me stressed. Not to mention then the question as to whether or not one of his older siblings is providing him with whatever he is using, which takes me into another level of stress.

The vehicle purchased by one of our adult children who has no license or insurance is already making me crazy. It's here when he's not. It's not here when he is. And if I assume that it's not here so he isn't, I"m stupid and should have woken him up for work. Apparently he was already pulled over once and then had the car impounded for something unrelated all within the first 48 hours of owning it. I knew it wasn't going to be a good plan, but of course, as Jimmy would say, "That's not rocket science." I think you probably would have been able to figure that out too, dear blog reader.

For the past 12 years, we have had a "clean your room quick on Saturday morning before you turn on electronics" rule. It's worked sometimes very well and sometimes not so well. But our two children who have been here all of those twelve years, decided it didn't apply to them, resulting in the exclamation, "Thanks a lot, mom, you've ruined my GDMF day." And the other "child" when I turned off the TV and took away the food he was eating in the living room, punched me and spit in my face and then kept declaring that he didn't "mean to."

I went out to the garage to get away from escalating him and to have a crying meltdown of my own. I could count the number of times I cried between the ages of 18 and 32 on one hand. I'm just not one for crying. It's a huge time waster if you ask me. So when I got out to the van and sat and cried I started getting impatient with myself. I gave myself a time limit as to how much time would be wasted by me crying. Bart came out to talk with me for a bit and by the deadline I was done.

I kind of laughed at myself though. I mean who puts time limits on their own meltdowns?

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's not Bias

This IS a very cute baby. Only Bart seems to be able to get this smile.

8th Grade "Graduation"

Sadie has been looking forward to this night all year long. It's the night that she gets to dress up and look pretty and have her parents come sit for an hour and have sandwiches and frozen yogurt and watch a short video some students put together. The girls dress like it's prom. Most of the boys don't dress up much. It's kind of funny to see the difference between the two.

Sadie has had this outfit planned .. it's all about the shoes I guess. She stood out and I htink that was her goal.

Gabby and Salinda went with us and Gabby was delightful. It was a fun hour. And now we're headed to take Salinda, Gabby, and her bf back to his house so they can help get ready for bf's sister's graduation from H.S. party tomorrow.

I'm going to sleep in tomorrow. IT's been a long week.

Turning the Corner

There comes a point where you have to stop regretting, realize it is what it is, turn that corner, and make the best of things. I have done that for me, and now i have to do it for my kids.

We acquired a lot of children quickly. And they were all children. And things were OK. There were lots and lots of days where things were really good. The kids went to the park and they played well with each other and we watched them climb and throw sand at each other at the lake and look cute and innocent and fun.

And then they started, one by one, to become teenagers, and then somewhere along the line there were more teenagers than kids, and then all the sudden they weren't being cute and innocent and fun anymore and they started making bad decisions and getting arrested and heading into murky waters. And we began to go through a phase where we kept looking at each other and saying, "this isn't what we signed up for."

And so we went through the regretting and the anger and frustration of what was and the realization that we were there because of the choices we had made. And we pouted and regretted for a while and moaned and whined and wished things were different. But eventually we had to stop blaming ourself for the past choices that had led us to our current situation and move on. We had to embrace what was and make the best of it.

Two or three of my children are currently in that position and I seemed to have gone through the same thing with them as I have gone through regret and anger and frustration and what is.. I see what has become of their young lives due to the choices they have made. And I inwardly have been pouting and regretting and moaning and whining and and wishing things were different for them. But today I'm going to stop blaming them for their past choices that have led them to their current situation and move on. I'm going to help them embrace what is and make the best of it.

I think it's time.

Light at the End of the Tunnel... but the Tunnel seems kinda long

A week from today will be the end of what I predicted would be some of the hardest weeks of our life as a family. They haven't been as hard as I predicted, but they haven't been easy. We have sometimes had 11 kids, a boyfriend, and a baby living here and that is a lot of bodies (2 parents were here too). There have been minor crisis and some difficult days.

Obviously the crises haven't all gone away, but the number of people is about to dwindle. A week from today I take Tony to spend most of the summer with Bart's mom. He loves it there and she enjoys having him. He works hard, gets plenty of attention, doesn't have to compete with anyone, and he actually makes some money -- usually that he has to use to pay us back for money he has stolen or borrowed, but he is faithful to do so. It's a good arrangement for everyone.

Rand is heading to work at a camp this summer. A United Mehtodist Church camp, he will live there for almost 3 months and work in the kitchen. He will love it. It perfectly fits his personality. Working and sitting around talking, plenty of people to meet. He will have a wonderful time, will not have to deal with me constantly harassing him, and will be making money to pay us back what he owes us as well. (Knowing he had the job we've been paying for his car insurance and cell phone bill because he agreed to pay us back this summer).

While I will miss them, they are responsible, between the two of them, for about half of the noise in the house. They are consistently bickering with each other and everyone else, often very loudly. Not having them here will provide a great deal of relief in regards to noise in the house, in addition to the alleviation of conflict. And since Rand seldom goes anywhere but church and errands he runs for us, not having him consistently sitting around with nothing to do will be nice. Even on days when I have him work in exchnage for his room and board, he is still usually in front of the TV for 5-7 hours of the day.

When school gets out Dominyk will have PCA hours for most of the day. He is responsible for 25% of the noise level in the house. Wow, i'm going to be down to only 25% if my math is correct, of the noise I am accustomed to.

Those things will allow for some calm times here and I need them. I am frazzled lately with all the demands. I am attempting to do too much, and I realize that. Most of the things I chose: jobs, travel, writing, speaking, and parenting children. What I didn't realize was how emotionally exhausting parenting "adults" can be -- and how much they need. Their drama level in their lives is really high and they are starting to ask me for support in various ways, which is a good sign, but it is exhausting.

I love school more than most people, but I will not miss having to get everyone up and out the door every morning. I iwll not miss the 30 minutes it takes to get them where they need to be each day. I will not miss the very half hour that I'm about to begin.

It's going to be a long week. Sadie graduates from 8th grade tonight. Salinda has a court hearing next week that I have to give her a ride too. We have a church directory picture (yes, that will be as bad as it sounds). There are end of the year parties and picnics and field trips and special events requiring cash for this person one day and that person the next. But there is light and the end of the long tunnel and we're all gonna get there.

Now many of you are already done and school is out for you.... but we have one more week.... Four more days after today. And then life will change considerably. I think we'll all be doing better and feeling like we have some psychic space. I sure hope so.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Choosing Hard Things

Hard things happen in life. Things nobody chooses. I was reminded of this this morning when I read Kari's friend Angie's blog. Angie and her husband said goodbye to their baby daughter when she was 4 days old when she died from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Her baby was born only a couple weeks after Gabby and they are still grieving. Angie is blogging her journey and her words are beautiful. She quoted a poem today that says "I didn't ask for the things I was given, I didn't choose this road I have taken. Walk a mile with me hand in hand, then perhaps you will understand."

It struck me that so many of life's hard things are things we don't choose. We are taught in our society to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But perseverance is developed through hard things. And people who are in the midst of grieving don't want to think about how they are changing and growing, but years later they will see their own depth of character because of the hard times. Angie is helping people already because of her grief and her strength and empathy will impact lives for the rest of hers and beyond.

One of the most amazing families in our church recently lost a daughter who lived with them for sixteen years after having surgery for a rare heart defect as an infant that caused severe complications. Though nonverbal she communicated so much love over those years and her family was forever changed. The funeral, which happened when I was out of town a couple months ago, was one of the most powerful things Bart said he had ever been a part of. And the family, the parents and their three other daughters, were the ones doing the ministry. They would never have chosen the road they were given, but the road has made them who they are has allowed them to touch so many lives.

It may look as though Bart and I chose the road we were on. We chose to adopt older kids. Lots of them. But we had no idea how things were going to go. We were prepared well, but we just didn't think that training applied to us. The kids would be fine once they moved in, we assumed.

Today with the number of blogs that are out there and the number of horror stories about RAD and FASD, families are not heading into things so blindly. We are basically asking them to choose hard things. My job as a recruiter and trainer of pre-adoptive families is to show them how hard the road could be and then to encourage them to take it.

I had a rough few minutes this morning. I talked when I promised myself I would shut up. I was frustrated and angry. And then I read Angie's post. And I was touched by the depth of her character at such a young age. And I was reminded of the person I have become and the people I have helped through my journey so far and all of the things I have to be grateful for.

We have no idea how much we can handle as individuals. But we see people around us who handle what life throws at them with such grace and it makes me wonder, with God's help, how much any human is capable of.

I didn't choose today's challenges or today's pain even though i chose to adopt. But we did do what we believed God asked of us and I must remind myself of that today. My annoyances and pain are nothing compared to many of the people around me who are suffering much bigger things and it's time for me to be grateful and move on.

The book of Romans teaches us that hardship produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope, and that hope does not disappoint us. It's a progression that anyone who experiences hardship must go through. But welcoming hardship? Who wants to do that?

When I recruit families I think not about the family but about the child. I know children need homes and so I think about what is best for them as I know that the family will endure hardship. But I am also aware that there are benefits for those of us who do choose this road -- and one of the benefits is the hardship itself. Suffering, as one version states, is what begins the journey that leads to hope.

So this morning I'm going to allow my minor annoyances to lead me down that road. The road that ultimately leads in hope.

At the risk of sounding trite, I can't come up with a better conclusion that these words from Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A Hodgepodge of Thoughts

Dominyk keeps saying "Bite Me" which really isn't appropriate. But now when he says it to me, I say, "You don't taste good." To which he says, "Why do you keep saying that?" To which I respond, "Why do you keep telling me to bite you?" ANd he says, "It's my catch-phrase."


Last night Leon was on a roll of being a story teller. Using a slow Native-Americanish elderly storyteller voice he would say, "There once was a father who had a son. And that son really wanted a Frappe at McDonalds. But the father would not take the son to McDonalds and the son was very sad." To which Bart would reply, "Sorry, Leon, we already ate out tonight. I'm not going to get anyone a snack." To which Leon would say, "I did not say which father or which son. I was simply telling a story." and then he would go on. "There once was a mother who had a son....."


One of our adults sons has purchased a car. He doesn't have a license. He doesn't have insurance. The car may get 15 miles to a gallon on a good day. He doesn't understand why we don't think it was a good plan to buy the vehicle.


Last night I was trying to remind Tony of something and Dominyk looked at me and he said, "Short Term Memory Loss." See if you can understand this. Short. Term. Memory. Loss.


I usually don't ask for prayers often, but Salinda's boyfriend's family is going through some pretty hard times right now. They could use your prayers. And John and his girlfriend and I have a special doctor's appointment on June 7th to find out the gender of the baby, but also for some testing to be done because there are some concerns. My kids lives are turning out to be way harder than mine and it's difficult to watch. And continue to pray for Ricky. He remains fairly depressed and we're not sure how to reach him.


I went to the Y for the fourth day in a row today with Kari. The going is slow but I do a little more every day and every day I feel a tiny bit less exhausted. It's slow slow slow going.


Dominyk has hit puberty and his sensory issues combined with his OCD and ADHD make for interesting conversations. He currently is a bit obsessed with what he refers to as his "ball sack" and how it itches and hangs funny and everything down there is uneven now. I keep reminding him that I don't have one so I have no advice and he has to talk to his Dad, but if Bart isn't home, i have to hear it over and over again. Oh, my ball sack. It itches. It's so very itchy. And it hangs funny. Really funny. You get the picture. Kari has a story about her daughter and puberty. She is afraid to post it. I agreed to post this if she posted that. SO far no luck.


My granddaughter is here and yesterday I was holding her when I went to pick her up. She babbled on like she was telling me all about her week, changing the tone of her voice and the inflection and the look on her face. It was really cute. I just wish I knew what she was saying. ;-)


I am taking John and his girlfriend out to lunch today to help them set up a budget. He is working one job at minimum wage. She is not working at all. They want to try to get their own place. I'm not thinking that I am going to be able to come up with a budget that will work. But I'll at least show them why it won't work.


Lots of schedules to coordinate today. Better get busy doing them. Hope you enjoyed the random thoughts of my brain. Isn't it an interesting place?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Has the Mission become Self-Preservation?

Disclaimer: None of the organizations with whom I currently work or are associated with fall into this category. I am a clear proponent of making sure that they do not fall away from the mission and always clarify decisions that we make. The following is a culmination of my experience being involved with lots of non-profits, private agencies, educational institutions, and churches. Any reference to any particular agency or situation is unintentional.

Most organizations are initially formed to fulfill a mission. Whether it be an adoption agency who seeks to find homes for children who wait, a church who intends to make disciples of Jesus Christ or an educational institution desiring to provide a holistic education that deals with mind, body and spirit, the initial idea is a good one. Even government institutions have a mission. That is why they are formed.

As an organization develops, grows, and changes, there comes a time when a shift, which experts are now calling a "missions shift" or "missional drift," takes place. The needs of the organization become more pressing than the needs of those it serves, and the mission becomes self-preservation. I have been pondering this shift recently, and have developed five questions that we can all ask ourselves about the organizations in which we are involved that will help us to see whether or mission remains what it was when the organization was begun or if self-preservation has, without anyone noticing, become the mission.

1. Are there more conversations taking place about the organization itself (its employees, finances, and future prospects) than about the clients, members, or others served? Pay attention to the kind of formal and informal conversations within the walls of the office. Do they revolve around the mission and the people being served or on how to pay bills, how to advance the organization, how to increase the visibility and popularity of the organization or its leader, or how to get the next big grant?

2. Are decisions about who to hire made on missional compatibility? Too often, a desire to propel the agency further may lead people to hire those who have a big name regardless of whether or not it is a missional match. Connections to the right people becomes more important than the embrace of the same ideals.

3. Are decisions consistently being made based on money? In many non-profits seeking grant dollars, how things are done and what happens next is determined by the next RFP or the next granting opportunity. In some instances this can enhance the mission, but in many situations it dilutes it instead. Other examples of making decisions based on finances include serving "marginal clients" because they can pay, adding programs that don't fit the mission because they allow for the charging of fees, or becoming focused on development more than on programming.

4. Are individuals in the organization becoming territorial? How much time is spent monitoring others to make sure that there are no competitors for an upcoming grant? Are employees so busy worrying about the competition that they can't get their jobs done? Are employees seeing invitations to collaborate as threats and walking away from opportunities to further the mission because it might eventually cost the organization a contract?

5. How much time each day is spent feeling and reminding one another of the initial passion and energy that founded the organization? Is there any of that passion left amongst current employees? What will it take to renew that sense of urgency and passion amongst employees, board members, and constituents?

The Church was founded over 2000 years ago. Denominations have been around for centuries. Some individual congregations have been around for over 200 or more years. Many colleges and universities in our country have been around for at least two centuries. And a majority of organizations and non-profits have moved beyond their initial founders and on to next generation.

Because we are years removed from our origins, it's imperative for all of us to take a good solid look at the places where we work and worship. We need to ask ourselves the above questions and push ourselves away from the lull of self-preservation and back to the passion and mission-driven work upon which our schools, churches and organizations were formed.

Ask yourself this: Do you really want to dedicate your time, energy and money for the preservation of an organization, or do you want to be part of a thriving mission-driven entity that changes the world?

"You're Not Like Everybody Else"

My husband says that to me often. And I don't disagree. I don't WANT to be like everybody else. In fact, I want to be unforgettable.

A wonderful little girl who has turned into a lovely young woman (I spent time daily with her when she was 12 and 13) was trying to explain me to her husband and she said, "Claudia isn't a person. She is an experience." I want that on my tombstone.

Anyway, being me allows me to enjoy my husband's sense of humor. For example, he often complains about how much I jar the bed when I roll over. He refers to me often as walrus-like in that context. Last night he sent himself into gales of laughter by remarking, "You know, if you were in the arctic, you'd have to be worried about getting hit in the head with a hammer and drug off to be skinned."

Being like me also makes me committed to the concept of being unforgettable. Take Justin at the Y, for example. He is a cute little college student who works MWF in the early shift and so I see him often and have for a couple years now. I love to give Justin a hard time.

This morning, in front of a lobby full of people, I said something to the effect of, 'You know, Justin, I tell my kids that you think I'm hot." He replied, "I know you do. They asked me the other day and I told them that I do." And I said, "Yup you just don't see a body like this every day."

Monday I asked him if he could carry me to my car after my workout. He said it wasn't in his job duties.

Friday I think I'm going to ask him if he thinks I'm a cougar.

Last night there was a big ordeal that involved lying about going to a park that has a lake with no lifeguards. I was trying to explain why that was dangerous to Tony and ended up doing an impersonation of a person lying on a table, unable to talk or move because of a near drowning accident. It was hilarious to me. But I know it is completely inappropriate and would have traumatized someone who had that happen to someone someone close to them. But for some reason those really inappropriate things make me laugh so hard when I am in a certain mood.

I'm heading to pick up my daughter, granddaughter, and the baby's father for a couple days today. Sadie took the picture above last week. I can't believe how fast she is growing up.

Going to be a long day. Plenty of potential stressors. But I CAN curb my anxiety. I AM in control of my emotions. I can do this, as Cindy says, one day at a time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Complexity of it All

Adult children are kinda complex. Some of my kids seem to gravitate to overly complex situations and thus I am somehow connected to them as well.

We are realizing that Kyle's wedding is just 2 months from yesterday, and while his situation isn't all that complex, getting everyone there will be. If people want to invite their significant others we don't have enough space, so we may have to rent a vehicle -- but people will be various places needing to be picked up. Attempting to juggle it all is going to be quite crazy.

Another one of our adult sons currently isn't dating, but we are still someone connected to his girlfriend and that whole thing is complex.

John isn't living her much any more -- usually at gf's house helping her through the pregnancy and working full time -- but he has many things he wants my advice about and when he doesn't like the facts, he blames them on me. Because some how I'm the reason that if you have a license you need insurance, and other such things about life which are completely my responsibility.

Salinda's bf's car broke down and she is trying to get back and forth from here to there, but never quite sure when or how. She has appointments and Sadie's 8th grade graduation Friday night and bf's sisters HS graduation Saturday, and it's all so complex but when I try to get advance planning I can't, so I know I'll end up wtih requests all over the place that I can't satisfy.

And sometimes it all just kinda crashes in at the same time when suddenly emails and texts are coming in and people are asking to talk to me, and calling, and all kinds of stuff. But if I can self-differentiate and control my own anxiety, things usually go fairly well.

But that's a big IFFFFFFFFF.... ;-)

The Concerts

Last week Tony and Leon had their pops concert with the HIgh School choirs. I missed it but heard that it was an incredible performance. Tony had a rap solo and he really loves music... and the loud applause were a big boost to his self-image I'm sure. Leon, as always, was a solid performer. He has a really good voice.

Then last night it was the Jr. High Pops Concert, featuring the very enthusiastic Mercedes. In fact, she was so energetic that she drew the attention of almost everyone in the room with her unbridled zest for life. Her huge smile and her constant movement was quite impressive. Of course, nobody knew she was our daughter.... but it was very fun watching her enjoy herself so much. None of these pictures do my kids justice.... they are really adorable children... all three of them.

At this moment I'm liking my routine

Getting up at 4:37, making it to the Y by 5, and getting in what is, at this point a pathetic workout, still seems to be my best bet. i can get rid of some of my anxiety, come home and have a few minutes to plan the day before everyone wakes up, and I feel better until about lunch time when I get pretty tired. But if I push my way through the day I sleep very well at night.

I'm still feeling a bit wiped out by all my travels, just emotionally a little off. Last night at the Jr. High Pops Concert, where Sadie was definitely a star (pictures to come) I started to worry that something had happened to Bart. He is usually very prompt and so, when he was 15 minutes late, I of course assumed he was dead. This is highly unlike me, to worry or panic, so I know I must be tired. I was very sad at the thought of his death and realized how much I would miss him. He was calling me porcine again yesterday when we went out to lunch, but attempting to do so in Spanish. He's just so cute. So I'm sitting there tearing up thinking about how I would miss all that. But he showed up. It just goes to show I'm overtired though.

We had a nice night at the concert and afterwards we had pie ... just Bart, Tony, Sadie and I. Tony was pointing out that he wondered if maybe people thought he was out with his parents and his really hot girlfriend. ;-) He's becoming a bit more tolerable, almost enjoyable, as he's getting older. Maybe he'll surprise us and actually turn out to be a fairly well-functioning adult. He sure has been difficult to raise though.

Enough rambling. I'll post pictures in a few minutes.... or maybe later this morning from Dunn Brothers, where I am heading with Kari. Fun times....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just Saw This Quote

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. --Albert Einstein

Wow. That is so my life sometimes. I stole it from a friend's facebook update but it is so good.

We had a good time at DQ. Everyone but Ricky. You may want to say a quick prayer for him. He's really been defiant, quite, sullen and angry lately and I'm not sure why. He declares again and again that it isn't because he wishes he wouldn't have chosen to take a break from soccer. Maybe it's because he's given up because school is too hard. I don't know, but it would be nice to see him smile....

Thank you Washington State

I just read through the evaluations for one of my trainings last week and I am humbled and awed and my heart is warmed. Only one of them had even a bit of negative in it and the rest were stellar. One person even said, "The instructor for this training was one of the best I have ever had for any training topic." Wow.

I worked hard last week. I delivered what I felt was organized material that I had developed and enhanced for over 7 years. The audiences, as I mentioned, were very welcoming, enthusiastic, and asked lots of great questions.

I'm thinking my trip was well worth the effort and I look forward to continued work with these great folks.

Thanks for a great week, Washington State!

So What Did i do with it?

If you saw my facebook status, I was given 6 hours today that I didn't expect to have. My need to ride up to the Twin Cities changed and I got to stay home.

Well, first I had lunch with my favorite person (my husband) and it was nice. Then i took a nap. Yes, I actually slept. I know that is bothering some of you and surprising others, but the schedule I'm keeping lately has just been nuts and that, added to the fact that I didn't sleep much last night and got up at 4:30 to head to the Y, was just too much. I laid down for a quick rest and 90 minutes later awakened. I'm not saying I was refreshed, but the nap sure felt good while it was happening.

I've been back at the office working for a while since then, but I'm going to do something very uncharacteristic of me very soon. I'm going to take an hour away from my desk and I"m going to pick up the kids from school. They usually ride home with the neighbor and they think that I am going to send Rand to get them because I'm supposed to be out of town. But instead, it's going to be me and we're going to have ice cream. I know, not really on the diet plan, but certain to surprise them.

I am forcing myself to be a bit more balanced from now on. We'll see how it goes.

Tonight is Sadie's pops concert which I will attend. I also, of course, will make up for the time I wasn't working this afternoon (in case either of my employers are scanning my blog).

Only 2 weeks of school left. Seems hard to believe. The year went by so fast.

I better pack up to go get the kids.

Should a person blog when they have nothing to do but pout and whine?

Even an exhausting trip to the Y this morning didn't energize me like usual. I had a horrible night's sleep last night and I have a long day ahead with way more to do than I am interested in doing. But enough of that.

Dominyk is really in the midst of puberty which, combined with OCD and ADHD is interesting to say the least. It's very interesting to hear a conversation like this: I can't put my belt on. Moooom. Mooooom. You have to help me. Cry cry, whine whine, sob sob. And then, a few minutes later, he recovers, walks by the mirror, and then says, "oh wow. I need to shave again." Ugh.

I'm trying to get people to do what they are supposed to around here, but it isn't exactly easy. There doesn't seem to be any motivation to do something simply because it's the right thing to do..... there have to be some external pressures. And I am the external pressure.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Feeling Like a Hypocrite

Wow, re-entry is not going all that well. I am anxious, did not sleep well, and am frustrated that my children think they don't have to do anything when I'm gone. I think that it shows disrespect for their Dad and that he shouldn't have to follow them around making them do what they know they are supposed to do.

I spend a lot of time teaching workers how to tell parents to do nice things like disengage, self-differentiate, not escalate behaviors, ignore the small stuff and all kinds of wonderful techniques. Truth is, some days I just can't practice them.

i didn't sleep well last night and this morning i'm just dragging. I'm certainly not cheerfully beepopping around singing little happy ditties and inviting the kids to join in. Of course I never do that.

I guess that I would just expect my "neuro-typical" kids to be able to at least think to themselves, if they hadn't done their chores all week long, "Hey, Mom is coming home. She's going to notice. I should do them quick." Then at least they wouldn't have me coming home annoyed.

So sometimes I feel like a hypocrite..... but it's not really that. IT's just that some days I don't have what it takes to practice what I preach. My sermons are accurate, but I need to apply them consistently. And sometimes, I just don't have it in me.

But there's always another day to try.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

When Selfishness Isn't a Choice

More than ever before, giving presentations this past week has resulted in a lot of learning for me. The questions that were asked and the comments made were very insightful and required me to ponder a lot of different issues. One of them is just a single thought that gives me new perspective into my children.

I have been incredible shocked at how "selfish" my children have always been. From the time they moved in, the majority of them have been clearly focused on themselves and their world, not seeming to have the ability to consider how their actions were impacting someone else or how the people around them felt. This one issue has irritated and plagued me for years and it seems that the older the kids get the worse it is, especially those entering adulthood.

It occurred to me this week, and I'm not sure why, that maybe I have some kids who ONLY have the ability to manage their own life and that anything else is more than they can handle. If my brain was disorganized and cells were missing, I might only have the mental capacity to take care of myself. The things that I think are simple things, like planning my unstructured time, organizing my social life (though that isn't too complex because we don't have many friends), making sure my clothes and body are clean... all the things that just happen naturally for me, may consume much more energy for my kids.

Maybe they aren't choosing to be selfish, maybe they simply do not have any more room in their brains to care or worry about the people around them. My feelings are not even registering in their minds. Sometimes a few them even act like they are surprised to see me -- as if they have forgotten they have parents sometimes.

This is one more reason why I really need to get my feelings out of the picture and realize their own success based on that which they are capable.

Could it be that there are children and adults out there who because of mental illness, organic brain damage due to prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol, or a history of abuse, trauma, neglect and attachment issues, simply CANNOT be anything but what we as society view as selfish?

And if that is the case, is it fair for me to expect more?

Very TIred of My Own Company

I am not a person who has a need to be alone. Being alone tends to make me think too much and I would much prefer to be around people, getting energized by making people laugh, or motivating people by sharing my passion. I do this in my social life as well as my professional life.

But this week I have had several evenings alone. I have had lunch and dinner companions for every meal but two but I have spent a great portion of time just with me and my computer, working my other job into my free hours and focusing on the tasks at hand. I'm getting tired of my ownself, as they say in the south.

So far nothing has happened at home to cause alarm, but that doesn't mean I've not been anxious expecting it. But they have done very well. It makes me wonder if I'm even needed, ya know? They seem very fine without me.

Last night I had several weird dreams that included me being single but dating Dwight from The Office. Interesting, believe me. I also had a dream that I was in a house that was being entirely flooded with water that had instant mashed potato flakes floating in it and somehow it was my fault.

I need to get back to my husband who provides me with balance and my kids who, even with all their issues I love very much. It's time for things to get back to normal.... even though our normal isn't like anybody elses.

Friday, May 21, 2010

PTSD. Contagious?

I swear I have some PTSD. I have been gone from home for nearly two straight weeks -- with the exception of that 36 hours that I was home last weekend. I have been functioning as a knowledgeable professional giving valuable insight to over 100 caseworkers and adoption homestudy workers all week long. I have talked about how to parent tough kids by self-differentiation and not taking things personally.

Yet I confess to consistently dreading every bit of news from home, just sure that it is going to make me anxious and upset. There is nothing I can do about it from here, but the knowledge that at any moment things could go awry is nerve wracking. Funny thing is, things haven't really gone awry. I just keep worrying they will.

Part of my issue is that I am tired. Exhausted is probably a better word. I've been going full blast all week long and for some reason my ankles and Seattle do not mix well. I swear they are triple their size after training four days in a row (this morning went very well by the way). So I end up more anxious because I'm tired.

But I feel like I have some kind of post traumatic stress anxiety. Because so many things could go wrong, I am waiting for the shoe to drop all the time. And even when things go really well for days or even weeks at a time I'm still waiting for the stress that is due to come at some point.

I have slept a lot this week attempting to stay physically strong enough to deal with my schedule here. Unfortunately, the bed is hard and I wake up with a backache if I sleep too long.

I think it's time for me to go home.

But first? A nice meal out with someone I really like. And then I'll sleep, pack, and be on my way for a long day of travel...

Loving the Early Morning

I love early mornings. I was up by 5:30 this morning, showered, and sitting here plugging away at a quite full inbox, getting emails sent to the people I met this week, reading blogs, remembering to blog myself, and planning for a final day of training and a couple meals with some truly amazing people. I'm excited.

I found myself quite sat and lonely last night as my husband got to go to a very good concert... one he described as excellent... while I sat here missing everyone....

But I'm going home tomorrow and then I'll be home for most of the summer, leaving the house, as far as I know, only once a month and the rest of the time spending time with our kids and getting things done.

On June 4th both Rand and Tony will be leaving for the summer, which will make a much different dymanic here. Jimmy has been told that since he is 18 he will be taking over Rand's responsibilities this summer which he can do well (except that he won't be able to drive). I have told the kids they are going to have to plan well this summer as I am not providing rides every 30 minutes all day long.... bikes, walking, and a couple of scheduled rides a day and you better plan it out.

John has practically moved in with his girlfriend supporting her as the baby grows (ultrasound to tell us gender is on June 7). Salinda will most likely spend most of her summer with her boyfriends family. Mike is hardly ever home. So really it will seem more like we have six kids at home this summer -- about half of what we have had the last several weeks. Dominyk has PCA services for about 7 hours every weekday.... I'm thinking this could be a very calm summer.

of course, I just jinxed it....

Better get back to work. I have another blog entry brewing... maybe I'll have time this afternoon to put my thoughts on paper... er I mean screen. :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If the evaluations are accurate....

I did a pretty good job this week of communicating with workers.

If you know me in person you might be surprised. I"m really fairly obnoxious. I don't really care what people think, have no desire to impress anyone, seldom wear makeup, am borderline inappropriate most the time and generally am just annoying.

But apparently people find that refreshing in a trainer and I got great reviews this week.

I survived three straight days of training from 9-4, with lunch and dinner meetings the first two days. This was preceded by a twelve hour travel day. I'm feeling surprisingly good at the moment considering how exhausting my days have been.

I'm really pretty sad tonight because my kids 9th grade Pops concert is tonight. Leon and TOny are both in choir and do a great job and tonight Tony even has a rap solo that I'm going to miss. The pops concert is my favorite of the year, and I'm really bummed to be missing it.

And figuring I"d be exhausted tonight I didn't plan anything but now I"m all pouty that I'm sitting here alone. Sigh.

Oh well. If one more kid finds a home because of today, it's all worth it.

Tomorrow I train in the morning and then I'm done. I want to finish a project tonight before going to bed early again. We'll see how far I get before I fall over exhausted.....

The Opposite of "Wasted Days and Wasted NIghts"

My days have been very full the last couple days. I get up very early because I have gone to bed very early, and I drive to my training, train from 9-noon, have lunch with other professionals (still requiring mental energy) training from 1-4, and then heading to dinner with other professionals.

Yesterday we had lunch and this was our view. Pretty cool huh?

I then come home and try to get email cleaned up, but am so tired by then that I fall into bed very early and then get up very early the next day to do it again.

Today I have the same routine except that it is a 75 minute commute to the training instead of a 15 minute one..... I'm heading down to Tumwater, which I understand is by Olympia.

I am having the silly water retention problem that I've been having since surgery and being on my feet isn't helping. However, I think I am almost done coughing....

I have one more important thing to take care of before I go back up and get back in the car.... Hope everyone's day is a little less intense than mine. ;-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dinner Out

It seems to work pretty well for me to pretend i'm still in MN, though last night I didn't fall asleep until 11:15 MN time. Probably because I was still eating supper at 8:45 MN time.

My day of training was great. A good audience -- enthusiastic and engaged, smart and most of them getting my sense of humor. Some good connections for the future and more people motivated to find permanency for kids.

And then a few of the people from around here invited me to an amazing restaurant for dinner where I had the view from my chair that is shown in the poor picture above and the delicious seafood pasta that is shown as well. Christie, who founded this organization is also a mother of twelve and one of her daughter's, Molly, joined us. In addition, Laurie and Paulette who I have known for years, joined us. The night was even more fun because of our very good natured van shuttle driver from the restaurant who was late picking us up and, for some reason, was so young and cute that I had to tease him mercilessly the whole ride. He reminded me of Leon, though he is Korean, and he even gave me a nice hug or two, something that wouldn't have happened in MN. A recent college grad, he is dreading his move to Montana. ;-)

Anyway, I had a lot of good conversations yesterday with people who are making a difference and I'm excited about the ways that my knowledge is broadened and I learn more each time I present. It's kinda supposed to be the other way around, isn't it?

We had a good night and I resisted the urge to work and headed to bed early, knowing I'd work better if I was up this morning by 5:30 or 6, which I was.....

Today I'm going to be presenting the same training to a different group at the same place. I look forward to it.........

Adoption is for Adulthood

One of the ideas that has really struck me over the past two weeks is that children do not need to be adopted for the sake of their childhood. Many foster homes can provide a great environment for a child... and teenagers are going to be teenagers regardless of where they are. They are going to test and fuss and talk back and make poor choices and go from one disaster to another in their own growing up years.

But adoption is for adulthood. It's when a child turns 18 and thinks they know everything and can do it all on their own that the need for parents kicks in. Actually it's a few weeks or months after that when they suddenly realize that they can't make it without their parents. It's then that kids need parents.

And so if the goal of caseworkers is to get the child to 18 we are doing them a great disservice. The goal should be that we need to find adults committed to them so that when they are 28 they will be ok.

I'm especially impressed with some of the casework being done for 16 and 17 year olds whose parental rights are not terminated. Workers, instead of saying "You are not allowed to see your birthfamily until you turn 18" are actually going with them to reconnect with healthy members of their birth family. They are introducing them to people who they might connect with who can be positive role models for the kids as the years go by.

In our own family we have seen that the need for family and support gets greater as the kids become adults. They hate to admit it, but they do need our support sometimes..... and as I've said many times, "An adult who has a parent to call from jail is better off than an adult in jail with nobody to call."

So I'm challenging workers to keep this in mind as we work towards permanency. It certainly matters where they are right now and that they are OK, but it is more important that they will continue to be OK after adulthood.

As parents it wouldn't hurt us to remember that too. All the challenges and stupid choices of the teenage years, if we can weather the storms and deal with the disappointments, can lead to them making better choices as adults. And that's what we're holding on to...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

10 Hours...

of sleep really can't hurt. I needed it as it has been an exhausting week. I actually was in bed by 8 here, which is 10 at home and slept until 6. It felt good.

Busy day today -- presenting all day and then having dinner with some very fun people from out here who work for DSHS in adoption and an adoptive parent they want me to meet. They have selected a great seafood and steakhouse for our meal that even has a shuttle....

If you've ever been to Seattle you know how hilly it is. I am finding it strange to not be able to see what's around the bend. I'm at an out of the way place tucked under an interstate and from here it looks like there is nothing for miles around because of the trees and hills. But I discovered last night that I'm less than a mile from a huge mall and a very busy street. Not that I'm going to the mall. Get real people. How un-me is that?

I am very energized by what I am doing this week. I love spending time with workers and helping them get motivated to match children. I enjoy the interaction with the group, watching them re-energize, eating meals with them, and trying to thoroughly understand the other side.

It's gonna be a great day.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Not a Single Soul

For the past nearly 14 hours I ahve not spoken to anyone in person that I know. it's very weird to travel completely alone and not even be meeting anyone. Sure, I will be seeing people all week that I know and be joined for meals, etc., but tonight I showed up at the airport, rented my car, and drove the Extended Stay place where I"ll be for the week. It's a beautiful night in Seattle, sunny, warm, with a nice breeze.

My husband would tell you that it is a good thing that nobody that I new saw me today. I made the mistake of equating the body wash in the shower as the same kind they have at the Y where if you are desperate it can be shampoo too, but, it really can't. My hair feels and looks quite gross and has all day.

I had no issues whatsoever on my flight. Everything went smoothly. I had worked steadily at the airport in Mpls to work through email, but I now have 76 in my inbox, and that doesn't count the ones I've been deleting from my phone as the day went on...

I am going to pretend like I"m still on MN time and try to go to bed at 8:00 or 8:30 here, which would be 10 or 10:30 at home, since I"ve been up since 3:15 this time. WE'll see how that goes.

Bart reports things are fine at home via text and I'm off to train again tomorrow.

I have a decent, hopefully thought provoking blog post brewing. I know it isn't as good as actually posting a decent and worthy post, but having one brewing is better than nothing....

So far, so very good...

I slipped out of the house as my husband took me to the shuttle before anyone awakened. The shuttle ride was uneventful. I arrived and check in and security was uneventful, my gate is one of the closest to the terminal, and I found a place for breakfast that has a plug in. My wi-fi is working and I'm cranking through emails.

I will board in about 30 minutes and head to Seattle via Phoenix, which makes oh so much sense.....

So far, so very good..

On the Road Again... and in the air... and on the road...

This week's destination is Seattle. For 4 days I get to train staff about the urgency to find permanency for waiting kids. This week I will talk with both private agency workers who are writing homestudies and state adoption workers who are finding homes for kids.

I could NOT fall asleep last night, meaning I start a very long day with only 5 hours of sleep. I will leave my town on the 6:30 shuttle and exactly 12 hours later (if everything goes perfectly) arrive in Seattle (and yes, I've considered the time difference). I then will get luggage, rent a car, and head to my hotel.

Of course, while I am gone Salinda and her bf and the baby will be here so I won't get to see them, but I did get in some baby time last night. SHe's growing so fast. She demonstrated that she can now roll over, and she hates to not be sitting up.

John called last night and June 7th we find out if he and his girlfriend are having a boy or girl. He has been spending most of his time spending the night wherever she is -- either her mom's or dad's. He reports to continue to work full time and he has had his court hearing pushed back until the end of June.

I will have several hours at the airport this morning, so I will try to take some time to blog from there....

Hope everyone's day begins well...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Four Totally Unrelated Things... or Maybe Not

I really should be doing work emails to follow up on this weeks visits, or an expense report, or my itinerary, but a few things have moved me lately to the point that I need to blog about them even though they are kinda unrelated. And if you see the length of this and decide to skip it be my guest. Nobody is REQUIRED to read EVERY word I write. (But you should be reading most of them).

I am a passionate person. And no, we aren't talking about passion as in what happens in the bedroom, but passion about an issue. My first passion was Christian Higher Education. I LOVED working with young adults who were on that brink of adulthood and who were so able to be influenced. I liked the idea that maybe I was making a difference in the lives of people.

My second passion was Mexico and her people. Or maybe this was my first passion as I grew up in a Mexican-American neighborhood in Denver, surrounded by that culture. When I returned from Mexico where I served as a missionary, I attended La Puerta Abierta, a church in St. Paul. I then founded a program, after we were married, to help migrant farm workers. I was reminded of this passion after spending time with my friend Bob at lunch yesterday who works at the New America School and I was reminded of my passion for immigrants and their unique issues.

My third passion, that I discovered almost 14 years ago, is getting kids adopted from foster care. I'm also beginning, after this trip, to consider those kids who will not or cannot be adopted because they are not legally free. I am anxious to develop some new presentations and learn some more about this group this morning.

And finally, I am wondering if some day I might transiiton to a fourth passion after hearing the Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir sing at our church this morning. Obviously I am a bit emotionally drained and tired, but I teared up over every song. A choir of about 40 people who had been addicts or alcoholics stood in front of me for an hour, telling their stories and singing four very powerful songs.

The first one, a Chris Tomlin rendition of Amazing Grace, has these words:

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace.

The tears were rolling down my face as I saw these people sing this song ... people who were fresh and alive with hope for the first time because they finally believed that God could change their lives.

The second song, I'll Never Be The Same Again, has these words:

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I've closed the door.
I will walk apart, I'll run the race
And I will never be the same again.

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I've closed the door.
I will walk apart, I'll run the race
And I will never be the same again.

Fall like fire, soak like rain,
Flow like mighty waters, again and again.
Sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff,
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name.

There are higher heights, there are deeper seas,
Whatever you need to do, Lord do in me.
The Glory of God fills my life,
And I will never be the same again.

Fall like fire, soak like rain,
Flow like mighty waters, again and again.
Sweep aways the darkness, burn away the chaff
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name.

Fall like fire, soak like rain,
Flow like mighty waters, again and again.
Sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff,
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name.

I will never be the same again,
I can never return, I've closed the door.
I will walk the path, I will run the race
And I will never be the same again.
And I will never be the same again.
And I will never be the same again.

The third song, "Mighty to Save" has a chorus saying

My Saviour, you can move the mountains,
You are mighty to save,
You are mighty to save.
Forever, Author of Salvation,
You rose and conquered the grave,
Yes you conquered the grave.....

And finally, they sang the old Ray Boltz Song, "Thank you, for Giving to the Lord, I was a life that was changed...."

OK, so now, if you share my faith, you're bawling your eyes out at the thought just like I was....

So I share all that to say this.

Maybe my passions aren't all that different. Maybe my passion is stepping into messy worlds, getting my hands dirty, asking God to "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God." Maybe my passion is to meet people where they are and help them to move beyond where they are. Maybe all the things fit together.

The Teen Challenge choir stayed afterwards to eat and then to visit with us. I was nearly intoxicated by their enthusiasm and hope for their futures and their immense faith is a big God. Maybe someday I'll find myself directly working with people in that capacity.... but maybe now I am working to prevent people needing to end up in that kind of treatment program by finding them homes.

You didn't need to read through my rambling, but if you did you'll see my progression or maybe not. But the morning was so powerful I needed to share with with someone who wasn't here. So there you have it.

Now, back to the things I SHOULD have been doing.

Sunday Morning seems to come around very quickly

and here we are again, in the midst of the mayhem of getting kids up and either to church or listening to reasons why one particular person can't go. Sigh.

It's time to get everyone going this morning and I haven't been home all week so things aren't quite where they are supposed to be ... and it isn't Bart's responsibility either, mind you, but apparently when I'm not here there are CERTAIN people who don't THINK they need to do ANYTHING. But that's the price we pay.

So things are a bit more chaotic this morning than usual.

We're going to have special speakers this morning which is good because Bart has some issues with a tooth that is cutting his tongue and the idea of preaching this morning wasn't too appealing to him.

Oops.... ran out of time. More later maybe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Uneventful Day, Fairly Uneventful Night

My day went smoothly today. Flights all connected well and I got to have lunch with one of my very favorite people in the world. We have known each other for about 35 years now.... yikes.... and have been friends a good portion of that time. I could tell you a zillion stories about him and the good times we've had, but i'm sure they would embarrass him. Well, maybe not, but you don't know him anyway so I'll just skip the trip down memory lane.

We had a good conversation and a good time catching up... he is currently working at a school that helps immigrant teenagers get their diploma. We discussed many similarities between some of his students and kids who are in the system. It was of course educational and informative... and we packed a lot into 67 minutes.

I then arrived in Minneapolis to find that Bart had brought 5 kids with him to pick me up. We had a typical ride home and now everyone is dispersing to do the things they do ... either to go out and have fun or to stay home and torture each other and us.

Bart is resting, I am trying to catch up on a few things. I'm definitely going to need to go to bed early. I could tell when the novel I was reading on the way home kept making me cry that I really need some sleep.

Thanks to anyone who has prayed for me and sent me positive thoughts this week. They worked. It was an amazing trip.

Time to do laundry and pack to leave Monday again. I usually don't do back to back trips, but scheduling necessitated it this time. And Bart is amazing. Seriously.

Seven More MInutes

I'm up, showered, have my suitcase packed, and am ready to head out the door.... Need to clean out the rental of my drive through trash and then I'm ready to head to the airport. My flight is at 9.

I will attempt to blog again from the airport, but if I don't have time, please don't conclude that I am dead.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Minnesota's Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter for May

Click here for it

Another Good Day

Well, it didn't start out great. I typed the wrong address into my Iphone and ended up in a seedy part of town on a dead end road. Ended up getting there 5 minutes after it started.... my voice is almost gone, my ankles are the side of most people's thighs, and I'm tired, but it as a great day of presenting to social workers.

Tomorrow I fly back home and things seem fine there.

I have heard a lot of horror stories this week. A lot of things that make me cringe and wonder how I can possibly work in such a flawed system. But I have also seen glimpses of hope as well that things are changing and improving and that we are making progress.

I will be glad to be home for a while. I"m tired, I miss my kids and especially my husband, and I just want to sleep in my own bed. Plus, I'm so far behind with regular work that I have been working each night trying to catch up.

But, if one more kid gets home because of this trip, it will all be worth it!

Three in a Row

I"m leaving in 10 minutes to drive from Austin up to Killeen, TX where I will be presenting to workers all day. I love doing that. Have i mentioned that?

Yesterday we were able to meet with the staff for TARE and the AFN in Texas. This was a great meeting and we are very excited about some of the things we discussed.

I mentioned that I am doing a lot of training, but I am also doing a lot of learning.

ANd things at home are going well.

Or Bart's lying.

Naw, I don't think he'd do that.

But now I must put on pantyhose. Think about that for a minute. On second thought, don't.

Hope you all have as great a day as I'm fixin ta have. (See, I am learning to speak Texan)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adoptees Have Answers Monthly Newsletter

Click here to see the newsletter.

One of Those Kind of Days

Yesterday was one of those days my mama told me I'd have. I'm still flying high and it's the next morning.

The room was full -- 92 people were there -- and the room was just big enough to hold them. The group laughed when they were supposed to laugh, cried when they were supposed to cry, all the technology worked, the messages got across, and I got excellent evaluations. Several people asked me to come back.

I felt like myself again as far as emotional and mental energy and I loved the great feedback. And, of course, the topics were ones I was very passionate about.

Everything went fine on the home front as well, which always helps.

Days like yesterday are my favorite thing to do. I know that I made a difference in how workers do their jobs yesterday, and I know that this will make a difference in finding homes for children.

And it doesn't hurt that we had amazing authentic Mexican food for lunch and very tasty TX barbeque for supper.

God is good .... all the time .... but some days He chooses to let us see some of His very best stuff.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All is Groovy

Woke up today excited about presenting. Emotionally and mentally I am back up to about 90%... physically, probably at about 80% of where I was before surgery, but it's a huge step up from where I have been while presenting in days past.

Yesterday we met with THE people from the San Antonio region of DFPS (Department of Families and Protective Services). The Program Administrator and several Program Directors who have such huge responsibilities I can't even imagine being them. Imagine having a unit where 700 children at any given time needed your staff to match them with families and get them into permanent homes. I won't share lots of details with you, but I was very impressed with the people we met with and with some of the bold changes they have made over the past year or so to speed up the time it takes to get kids home. They are still plugging away at other challenges as well, fighting one battle at a time through the state bureaucracy that is as big as the state is. And you know, everything's bigger in Texas.

If you know me personally you know that I would not mention this if I wasn't sincere and felt that they were amazing people. I'd just keep my mouth shut if they were jerks. :-)

We then had dinner with a private agency program director who I greatly admire who is doing great work in recruiting and preparing families to adopt older kids. We had an energizing conversation.

I believe this is my 4th trip to San Antonio in the past 7 years to speak to staff and have matching events. There are several people who have been in their jobs these whole seven years and it is really fun to meet with them again and catch up. I also am able to meet more people each time who are doing very hard work and doing it well, despite great odds sometimes.

Today I get to give 4 presentations all crammed into one day. The first is called Disruption Prevention and it is a modification of the 12 Parenting Tips I learned from Parenting 12 kids in 12 years. The second is Developmental Stages in Foster and Adopted Children. This afternoon I get to give my favorite presentation of all the ones I give called the Myths of Matching, followed by the Methods of Matching which is a system of selecting a family that I created to help workers make a more factually related decision for children.

I'm very excited today. It's going to be a great crowd of people -- they have invited many people to be here -- AND the people we met with yesterday -- the administration, are also going to be there to hear me all day. It will be a fun group who are eager to learn.

And, most importantly of all, one more kid might get a home because of something I say today. I'll never know it, and I realize that, but if one worker here's one sentence that motivates her not to give up on a waiting teen .... it will be worth the trip.

Finally, Bart talked to our young smoker who chose not come home last night, causing me a great deal of stress as I tracked him down from here. He finally did come home and Bart and he have talked and things are back to the equilibrium that allows me to relax.

So, life I love ya -- all is groovy........

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Sun Comes Up Wherever You Are

And it did here this morning. Had a great meeting today, fast food for lunch, and am now working on e-mail.

Nothing new from the home front today. Bart and I had an IM conversation this morning that we seriously should just make a recording of and play it.... because we have it often. Is our parenting making a difference? Why do we try so hard when they are just going to head down the wrong path anyway? (His questions). ANd my response? A little to early to determine success or failure when the oldest is only 23. There's still hope.

BUT it is very frustrating to poor hours and hours of time into kids who refuse to accept guidance.... or into those who absolutely cannot comprehend it. So we just keep counting on making it through another day. And as my title says, the sun comes up wherever you are.

Managing emotions of frustration and failure are part of the game when adopting older kids. It's a constant struggle. And let me tell you, it's a bit easier when you're over 1000 miles away.

Hang in there Bart! You're a great dad, regardless of whether or not they listen to you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Almost Made it Through

I was minutes away from going to bed when Bart sent me an instant message saying that a couple of our kids -- one over 18, one under, were out smoking in the garage. Of course, we are furious with the poor example of the older and the deception of the younger one following along blindly.

And the frustration of them pulling this crap when i'm out of town and Bart has to deal with alone and I can't do anything about it....


Safe and Sound

Made it to Austin and then drove to San Antonio. I'm with Da Boss and we're ordering pizza for supper. I'm planning to head to bed fairly early but there are many emails to respond to in my in box so I'm going to attempt to do that for a while.

The day was uneventful. Smooth travelling the whole way through. And I've heard nothing negative from the home front.

I didn't sleep well last night, though so I'm planning on an early bedtime tonight.....

Statistically Speaking...

I guess statistically speaking, I didn't have that great of a Mother's Day. 33% of my children didn't even speak to me in person. Only 1 of my twelve children got me a card and it was addressed to Claudia. Salinda is the only one who gave me a gift and a couple other's insinuated they might get me something. My husband and mother gave me nice cards, but I'm not their mother.

But you know what? It wasn't a bad day. Only one long meltdown and there were so many curse words in it that I started laughing right in the middle of it. I hadn't heard the F word that many times in a long time. It was some soliloquy about how this particular child had had his life ruined by Bart and I and he wished every day he'd never been adopted into this GDMF family.

Only a couple other kids were intentionally mean to me, and some even attempted to be nice. So all in all, a good day.

This morning I am leaving for Austin and San Antonio TX. I have already had a coughing spell that resulted in me puking all over my pants and sweatshirt and the bedspread... Dang I love this lung stuff....

Have to go for now.... have to finish packing and head to the shuttle....

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Lovely Visit

We had a very nice time with Salinda and Gabby this afternoon. Salinda has made me very proud lately. She is getting up and getting Gabby ready and going to church even if just the two of them go. Gabby is SO Cute. Oh my. And Salinda was very loving and appropriate and even bought me a plant.

Bart, WIlson, Leon, Dominyk, Sadie and a I all went and met her half way and I'm so glad we did.

Now I need to pack. Sigh. But I wanted to share these pictures.

The Day So Far

We had a nice church service and 9 of my children had dinner with Bart, me and a friend from church. The kids were very appropriate, the food and service were good, and a few of the kids even were willing to allow themselves to be photographed cooperatively.

Today's Strategy

Cindy blogged this morning that her kids' behaviors are nuts and linking to Corey's blog with a cute video and I was suddenly fairly grateful that even though the kids were making snide remarks yesterday and have barely mentioned the day, they aren't being really obnoxious.

I have decided that I will simply accept any positive expression to me today for what it's worth and be grateful for it, and that I will not allow myself to respond cynically inwardly. I don't know if any of you ever do that, but I have plenty of cynical responses to words my kids tell me that seem empty considering their behaviors. But today I'm going to squelch them and accept them for what they are.

After church we are going to go out to eat where I want to go. Fortunately it is a place that most of them like, and we will go early enough to beat the rush, so hopefully that will be a decent experience.

At 3:30 I'm driving half way to meet Salinda and Gabby and possibly Salinda's boyfriend. Salinda initiated the idea and I really would like to see her and my granddaughter on Mother's Day. I had originally accepted the idea that I might not see them, so this is a nice surprise. I had sent her a Mother's Day card and had heard nothing from her until late yesterday afternoon when we planned todays afternoon meeting. This morning at 6:58 she texted me "happy mother's day. I love you." And I'm just going to accept that for what it is....

Low expectations. Ignoring my own cynicism. Accepting positive comments for what they are. Happy Mother's Day to me.