Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Definition of Goo and Whether or Not to Call the Cops

For those of you who recoiled at the thought of goo on your free copy of the book that you could have a chance to win at the Tackiest Blog Give Away Ever its' just Gatorade people. The pages all still open and it's really not disgusting at all. Kari is the one who coined the term "Fletcher Goo" and I shouldn't have quoted you. Now all you neat freaks are afraid of the goo. Sigh. But anyway, you can still enter for a few days.... so go for it.

Last night Tony and JImmy got into a fairly scary fight. Bart took Dominyk to his Jr. High Orientation, earning him some big points to be used later (Bart, not Dominyk). Jimmy is pushing 6'3" and weighs about 230. Tony is only 5'9" but must weigh about 260. There was no way I was going to attempt to get in the middle of that. I sat at my desk and told them that they needed to work it out or I would have to call the cops.

Tony was over the edge angry and decided that he wanted the cops called. In his mind he was completely innocent and Jimmy needed to be arrested. So he came down and insisted that I call them. At this point the fight was no longer happening because Tony was downstairs with me so I suggested we might not need them. He then directed his fury at me, throwing the phone at me and punching walls, etc. insisting that I call the cops. I tried to talk him down, but since he could not get it under control he went back up and attacked Jimmy again.

Fortunately Bart came in right about then and was able to get Tony to listen to him and head to his room. I was surprised that this has become so routine that my blood pressure didn't even go up. We have in the past tried the "call the cops" option and it doesn't always result in anything good for the kids or for us, but sometimes we still realize we may have to do it.

What about everyone else? At what point do you call law enforcement? Is it different if two kids of similar size are having it out than if a parent or a younger child is the target? Is the damage to property more important than the stress of the coming months if law enforcement is called and then there is a CHIPS petition or court hearings, meetings, etc.?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Tackiest Blog Giveaway Ever

So.... see these three books? Well, I made the mistake of forgetting them in the van -- a van which is used multiple times a day and is most often filled with teenage boys who really don't have much regard for cleanliness or cleaning up after themselves and so as you can see, something got spilled on the books.

Now, I could throw them away, or I could give you an exciting chance to win them. So here are the rules:

The least damaged book will go to a person who is selected from all those who:

leave a comment on my blog with a link to the blog post where they help me get the word out to folks about the Tackiest Blog Giveaway Ever. The blog post should include a link to this blog post.

You're in luck if you don't have a blog, because the second least damaged book will go to a person who who is selected from all those who:

put a link on their Facebook advertising Tackiest Blog Giveaway Ever and including a link to this post. If you do that and put a comment letting me know that you've done that, you will enter that contest.

And finally, you're still in luck even if you don't have a blog or a Facebook page because the most damaged book will be given to the person who writes a comment including a joke. The jokes will be judged by Wilson as to which is most funny.

The top two category winners will be selected by me assigning numbers to each person and then having one of the kids choose a number.

How's that sound? Confusing enough? Tacky enough?

ANd by the way -- think about it.... these are collector items. Sure, you may have a copy of hte book already, but does it really have Fletcher van goo on it? Noooo. When I am rich and famous you will be selling this copy on ebay for thousands of dollars. Think about that for a minute. ;-)

Ready, set, go....

Gotta Love Feeling LIke This

It was a rough weekend emotionally around here. Several situations were just not pleasant and the constant sense of being unappreciated and taken advantage of takes its toll. However, this morning I'm back from the YMCA and the endorphins and the weight loss have inspired me quite a bit.


OK, so totally not fair. I only got that much written before a text and phone conversation from my oldest daughter sent me into an emotional land mine that no endorphins could rescue me from. After a very intense conversation, however, followed by debriefing that conversation with my husband, I am doing ok again.

Once again, these troubled and confused 17-22 year olds that are buzzing around us can be such a strain. They are needy in a whole new way -- a way that makes us feel consistently disregarded and unappreciated to say the least.

But it's not about me. I keep trying to put myself in their shoes and look at life from their perspective and that helps me a bit. I'm a pretty strong person and I can and will maintain my own self-differentiated love for them without allowing them to cross too many lines.

Good thing I heard this song on the treadmill this morning. ;-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dominyk Uncensored

You know, sometimes the way some of my kids think is quite funny. Sometimes it's quite annoying, but sometimes it's just downright funny.

Like this morning.

I said to Dominyk about 3 minutes before we got to church, after hearing several curse words, "You know, just one Sunday morning I'd like to make it all the way to church without hearing someone cuss."

He asks, "You want me to start cussing when we get in church?"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who Would You Choose?

I think I've been watching too many episodes of The Office on my Ipad. I'm trying to catch up. I'm on season 3.

Anyway, last night I had a very vivid dream. I was heading in to manage that office and I had to decide which person would be Assistant Regional Manager to me -- MIchael, or Dwight.

For those of you who watch the show, who would you want to be your assistant and why?

After I get a few responses I'll let you know who I chose. Or even if I don't I will. But not for a while. ;-)


I like Saturdays. I don't expect myself to go the Y and I let myself sleep in a bit. And then I lie in bed and peruse in my mind through the myriad of things i might be able to do today of all the things I need to do. And when I figure out a plan of attack I get up.

This morning I took a while to come up with the plan but I believe that cleaning my office is going to be my project for the day. I have already addressed the baby shower announcements that Courtney and the girls and I stamped last week and did an expense report from my Birmingham trip last week. I'm planning on having my first ever blog giveaway that I'm hoping to set up today -- more news soon -- and I've developed quite a shopping list for my trip to Walmart this morning with Mercedes who has been asking to go for days.

I also have to stop by Office Max and finish up the high schoolers school supplies and get some stuff for me to finish taxes, which I found out, much to my relief are not due until October 15 as opposed to August 31.

So by the time I head both stores and the post office and finish the tasks above I'm pretty sure that it will be time to head to the Adoption PIcnic this afternoon that Kari is organizing.

And then we'll be talking about bed again. So that's the plan.

I'm trying not to over plan myself and that all seems doable. I think.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Question for Parents

A long time ago I set up an Adoption Think Tank and it has kind of gone by the wayside.

However, an adoptive parent has asked a question and she could sure use some help.

So if you adoptive parents, especially those of you who have parented kids with issues of aggression, could give her some advice that would be great.

Check out her question here.

Endorphins and a World of Possibilities

School shopping with Sadie was fine. She has managed to get herself grounded and so it was a struggle for her to remain upbeat. I was struggling to be upbeat as well since her lack of cooperation and boundary pushing has been getting a bit much lately. But we survived the day. However, we didn't finish in the allotted time -- we still have a couple more places she wants to go, so we'll have to get that taken care of this weekend.

I have been to the Y every day this week and am feeling pretty good. The endorphins are kicking in.

They are defined on one website as Opiate-like hormones that are manufactured in the body and contribute to natural feelings of well-being

Gotta love opiate like. ;-)

Anyway, I have so many things to do today and I like all of them. I'm just having trouble prioritizing. I see so many possibilities of how to spend my time. I am feeling, after the exercise this week, more energy for my jobs, my kids, my church -- I just need more hours in the day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

September Trainings in Bemidji, MN with Deena McMahon

Click here for more details.

School Shopping Update

Yesterday was very easy. Ricardo doesn't talk much and yesterday was no exception He had no idea where he wanted to go or what he wanted to buy, but with some direction from us he ended up quite pleased. We had a very productive, quiet, non argumentative 90 minutes and then we were done. He hates having his picture taken but I snuck this one when he wasn't looking.

Today will be a much different story. We're taking Sadie and she has 8 stores lined up that she wants to hit with a list of things in each one she desperately needs. She will hope that I take 40 pictures of her and post them all and will be full of unbridled enthusiasm.

I will try not to let her behavior of the past couple days get in my way of having a nice day. She has just been so non-compliant.... sigh.

After today we only have Leon left tomorrow, unless Salinda truly does enroll in school. Then we will take her as well. Right now things are up in the air with everything. In fact, in her life, things have been up in the air with everything pretty much non-stop for months.

I'm just trying not to get emotionally involved in the drama. If I get caught up in one idea it changes in a few minutes anyway, so I'm just trying to step back and hang in there, stable and self-differentiated. Not exactly my style.

Easy Questions Aren't That Easy

I spent the early morning after my trip to the Y filling out paperwork for the county. It's a long story as to why I have to fill it out, but I do.

ANd one of the questions is:

Please list all the people living with you in your household.

For most people that's an easy question. I have no idea how to answer it.

Is someone living with me if they sleep here 2 or 3 nights a week and never speak to me? What if they just come home long enough to have an angry meltdown and then leave again?

Is someone living with me if they come for a few days and then leave for 2 weeks, and then move back "to stay" and are gone again in 5 days?

Is someone living with me if they use my address as their legal address but actually live somewhere else?

See how complicated this easy question is?

And then there are questions like -- did anyone start working the last year? Did anyone stop working? Did anyone commit a crime?

ANd my personal favorite, HOw much cash do you have in the bank? How in the world would I know the answer to that when we make 15-20 transactions a day with debit cards plus pay online bills and have automatic deposits and withdrawals?

So I'm heading down to our very nice county worker's office this morning (and I"m not sucking up, I really do like her) and trying to have her help me how to decide to answer certain really tough questions.

like "Who is living in your house?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Salinda had a dentist appointment this morning and so I was left with Gabby who was sleeping but soon woke up. She did fairly well for a while -- I even got the cute pictures above. (See the teeth? Her third one is coming in now, possibly explaining some of the fussiness.) She did great until it sunk in that her mom was nowhere to be found, she spent nearly twenty minutes looking pretty much like this.

When Being the Paddle in the Pinball Game is all you Can Do

I suddenly realized that for my kids with FASD, one in particular, life is like a game of pinball -- and he is the ball.

Contrast him with me just as an example (because I am the exact opposite of the way he lives his life).

If you ask me "What are you going to do today" and you really want to know the answer, I can probably give you a minute by minute description of everything that I am planning to do today. From now until this time I will do this, then this, then this. My day is divided into blocks of time that I have things scheduled in -- whether officially or not -- and I will intentionally plod through my day hoping that nothing gets me off track too badly.

For my son, life is very different from that. He will wake up, wherever he is, probably look around to figure out WHERE that is, and then wait either until someone calls or texts him, or the person he is with suggests something in person, or until he has a thought or an impulse, and he will follow that impulse.

I haven't seen him much for about a week. But every few hours another vehicle with people we have never seen before pulls up in front of the house and he runs in and grabs something. He doesn't say anything to me, he just comes in, sometimes uses the bathroom -- or might take a shower -- and runs back out. The car drives away.

Sometimes he comes here with people and then he leaves and they don't and they are left in the yard. It's all just bouncing from one person to another.

I guess maybe we're like the paddles as parents. Most of the time the ball never gets way down to the bottom where he might slip through to .... jail? addiction? homelessness? danger? ... but when it does we reach over and with our resources, advice or attempts at understanding, manage to give him one more jolt back up into the game where he can begin to bounce from one idea ... person ... plan ... to the next.

I'm not sure that life can be any different than that for him, or that it ever will be. I spent his childhood thinking that I might be able to fix all that, but i was mistaken.

So this is the way life is for him. I'm not sure it will ever be anything different. But we adopted him and so now he has a couple paddles right in front of the hole in the bottom of the game. Kids who age out don't have them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School Shopping Funnies

Yesterday we took Jimmy school shopping and we had a reasonably good time, though he likes to push limits a bit and sometimes just says annoying things. However, I thought this conversation was hilarious.

Jimmy: I have to take Government this year.

Mom: Wow. I heard that can be hard. It's lucky your Dad is really good at government. He can help you.

Dad: Yup, Jimmy, I know a lot about politics and government.

Jimmy: I heard you have to read a lot.

Mom: Yes, and you have to memorize all kinds of stuff. LIke how many people are in the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

Dad: Yeah, Jimmy. For example, each state has two senators.

Jimmy: Does Minnesota have one?

Dad: Jimmy. EACH state has TWO senators.

Jimmy: But does Minnesota have one?

Dad: Jimmy, LISTEN. EACH state has TWO senators.

Jimmy: I know Dad, but does MInnesota have one?

Mom to Dad: Best of luck to you.


Today we took Wilson school shopping. It was one of the most delightful experiences I have ever had. He had already chosen shoes to order online, so we did everything else in one store. 30 minutes and clothes and supplies were purchased and he was happy.

Wilson loves crab, so he chose Red Lobster for his special lunch out with Mom and Dad. He doesn't talk much, but he is very witty. Here are a couple examples of the puns he made while extracting meat from his crab legs:

"Wow, this is hard to get out. I hope it doesn't make me crabby."


"While you guys were talking I just ate a crab-load of food."

Gotta love him.

Feeling Pretty Good ATM

ATM now stands for at the moment instead of the machine where you go to get cash, in case you were wondering.

Yesterday had a huge turn for the better as we had a decent supper together (minus Bart) without anyone being too much of a jerk. And then the kids let me get some things done in the office and Bart and I snuck out and spent some time together. I went to bed feeling incredibly happy and woke up the same way.

Just came back from the YMCA with Kari where I had a good workout and then humiliated myself, but I'm sure she is very excited to tell you all about it so I'll leave it for her to explain. Gotta give her some joy when I can.

The next several hours are full of appointments and places to go and people to see, and then afternoon and evening about work.

ANd for those of you who think I need to slow down. I really do like my life busy.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Quick Update

Our current census is unknown. Because I don't go into Mike's room in the morning -- it stresses me out too much. But he was here yesterday, so assuming he is here, and has no unapproved guests, we were at 14. Ric at a friends, Leon has friend over, Salinda and Gabby back, Salinda has friend over....

I'm back in the mode of trying to figure out how much to expect in regards to rules. I have a few rules that are just picky things -- but they make me feel better. And they don't get obeyed. And I get so frustrated with myself that I don't have the energy to enforce them. Then I feel like I'm being used and manipulated. And y'all know I don't need to be stressed out more than I already am.

Yesterday I worked on our bookkeeping again -- we got an extension for taxes, but the deadline is looming. I lost a folder that is quite important and now I'm going nuts trying to find it. That on top of the fact that there is just no psychic space anywhere in my life is driving me nuts.

I'm trying to calm myself at the moment in order to dive into a lot of work for both my jobs that got held up a bit last week.

Ok, calm soothing thoughts and here I go.....

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I should definitely have not said bad ju ju.

Everyone decided to declare Mutiny within an hour of that last post. Jimmy got "stuck on stupid" and refused to do anything I said. Dominyk had a major cussing screaming throwing things meltdown. Tony got defiant and refused to do anything he was told. Salinda texted me and drew me into a great deal of drama that I didn't need. And all the sudden I'm exhuasted.

BUT, before that, I hung out in my room with my husband and several children and Bart and I were trying to discuss upcoming New Worship at church. We were discussing the possibility of using some YouTube Videos to lead worship with -- praise songs with lyrics. But Bart said, "but we need a worship leader as well" and Wilson said, "What about the Annoying Orange?"

Wilson thinks that the Annoying Orange is a lot like Dominyk.... ;-)

A Reprieve

Our lives are kind of funny. So very unpredictable. In fact, I was in a seminar in Birmingham on Thursday and the presenter was trying to make the point that the people we define as family aren't necessarily the folks that live under our roof. He asked the question, "Who is currently living under your roof" and I had to raise my hand. I said, "I really don't know. Can I call home first?"

It's literally that bad. Just to give you an example. When I left for Birmingham on Wednesday there were 9 of our 12 children and a boyfriend and a grandchild spending the night Tuesday night. By Wednesday night the boyfriend was gone (I still haven't heard that story) and by Thursday night, daughter and baby were gone, we haven't seen Mike since I think Thursday, maybe, and Rand came home yesterday. Thursday night Ricardo spent the night at a friends and Friday night Sadie and Leon were at friends...So, just to make the point, here is our census (kind of like a hospital census really)

Number of People Sleeping in at our House

Tuesday night: 13
Wednesday night: 11
Thursday night: 8
Friday night: 8 (but a different 8 than Thursday night)
Saturday night: 10
Sunday night: Your guess is as good as mine! ;-)

BUT, the nice thing is that there seems to be less drama, sort of, so that's good. In fact, Bart performed a wedding ceremony last night and I went with him and then we went to the reception and we left the kids home alone for 3 1/2 hours and they did fine without a PCA or intervention from anyone. So I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Today after a stormy ride to church, everyone has settled into a routine quickly and all seems good. Now I am going to have to smack myself for typing that because, as Kari said RIGHT before they announced that we were going to have to change planes because of mechanical problems, "that's bad ju-ju".

Of course, someone probably is going to tell me that that isn't how you spell Ju Ju. I could google it, but then that would mean there wasn't any comments correcting me. Have at it. ;-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Seems Like A Million Years Ago

Thanks to Kari for blogging about our trip home. For some reason yesterday really zapped me of energy. We had a great trip to Alabama but it seems like it was weeks ago instead of just the last three days. SHort trips like that are really exhausting. Even though I felt like I did very well speaking, the trip drained me.

This morning I slept longer than I have slept in a very long time. I must have needed it.

My husband is a wonderful man. He lets me travel whenever I have the opportunity and while I am gone he holds down a full time job as a pastor (which often equals more than full time) and takes care of all the kids -- the crisis, the routine, the rides, the schedule, etc. He does what the two of us together barely manage some days.

When I first started to travel I would come home and be very frustrated with him for not making the kids do all the stuff I make them do. He said something very insightful to me that I have tried to remember. "If you want to be able to go, please don't come home and criticize the way I do things." So I try my best not to.

BUT I do get very frustrated by the way that the children take advantage of my husband. One of the kids consistently did his chore while I was gone. I think everyone else took a three day vacay from their responsibilities. This is frustrating to Bart but he doesn't know who has what chore or who has dishes and he'd rather just do them himself instead of the hassle it takes to get the kids to do them.

Bart is gone this morning picking up Rand from his summer camp job. So I took advantage of the opportunity of him being gone to get the kids to do their chores in ways he does not approve of. Very. Loud. Ways.

But you know what? Their rooms are clean, their chores are done, and everything is fairly calm here now.

I spent about three hours this week in my element. I feel most comfortable standing in front of a group of people and sharing with them things that I am passionate about. I love the interaction with the people and the way that we inspire one another both ways. I'm very grateful that i can get paid for doing what I love.

Now I'm back to reality. I am already not following all of my own advise. But I'm hanging in there. And in a day or two maybe I will finally find some equilibrium after all these weeks of upheaval.

But if not, September 9th is coming. And, as you can see in this video. I'm really looking forward to a set routine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Neener Neener

So, Kari and I are rushing through the Charlotte airport and agree that she will pick up pizza nad I iwll carry the bag to the gates to save time. I decide to make a last minute trip to the bathroom, and tell her to go ahead and board without me.

She does, and when she gets there and sits down to have some pizza, they realize that there is a flat tire on the plane. So she writes me this text bragging that there is a delay and she is on the plane and she has the pizza. Ha!

WELL, earlier on our rapid journey towards the gate, we had stopped and experienced the woman in this youtube video. We had a big argument about who was going to get to blog about it first. The woman is incredible, amazing -- the positive energy exudes out of her -- she had already been working for 7.5 hours when we met her and she was still going strong. Very cool way to approach life. I'm inspired by her.

If she would not have texted me about having my pizza on the plane and used the word HA I would not be putting this YouTube on my blog OR telling you about Valarie.

But she did.

so.... Ha!

My Journey to Yesterday

(Me at 28)

I had three significant conversations yesterday that made me got me started thinking about me nearly 20 years ago.... brash, outspoken, confident, still dreaming big about changing the world. My world, however, was pretty small and things were very neat and tidy. I had grown up in a home where I learned about holiness. I had been a Christian who was "radical for Jesus" at my high school, which pretty much meant only spending time with other Christians. I don't regret this -- it kept me away from several pitfalls I could have fallen into, but even in an inner-city Denver public High School, I learned to shelter myself.

I then headed off for four years at a Christian college and learned a lot more about how to be a good Christian. I attended chapel services 3 times a week, church twice on Sunday and had some kind of service on Wednesdays. We had devotions in the dorms at 10:30 on Thursday nights. I was saturated with Scripture, prayer, and the push to do something big with my life. In fact, the motto of the school, then called Bartlesville Wesleyan College, was "Building World Changers" and I knew I was about to become one. I was going to change the world.

I got my master's at a State University, but even there I did my best not to spend too much time with non-believers. My eyes were opened a bit to the messiness of life, but I was busy working steadily to build the College and Career Fellowship at church. My apartment was a hangout for those in Campus Crusade, and InnerVarsity and the Navigators. I had theological debates with my friends, I coached a Bible Bowl team, ingraining Scripture into my head, and I met some of the most wonderful people I had ever known. Again, no regrets, but my life was still so neat and tidy.

I returned to my Alma Mater to be Dean of Students and the same thing kept going in my life. I was immersed in the church. I rarely had contact with those who were not like me. For the most part, we were middle-class, WASP folks trying to be a "light to the world" without going into it. In some ways I think we were the closest thing to a city set on a hill that you could imagine. Bright bright lights all standing together so that we could be seen together from anyone who looked our way, but never going out and being light in the world. (Obviously there were exceptions to this -- but I realized more and more as I was in this environment that possibly I was secluding myself from the rest of the world. I even wrote an editorial about it once in college called "Asleep in the Light." All these years I was getting it and understanding that I was supposed to be out there making a difference in the messy world, but it didn't really seem like I could break away and do so.

And then I went to Mexico - the ultimate, right ? A missionary. Wow. Here I was, heading into a foreign country to spread my faith. My position was as an educational consultant at a Bible College that trained pastors. And while I learned a lot about myself during those years I was still sensing that my work was still with Christians. I am not sure that I had a relationship with one person in Mexico whose life was very messy. I left that up to those who were there with "evangelistic" job descriptions.

So that takes me to about 19 years go, just about, when I was 28 and still had this burning desire to change the world. I wasn't sure how I would go about it, but I had always dreamed of being a writer and a speaker. I wanted to fly around the country and share something important with people that would change lives. But God knew back then that I had very little to share that would truly make a difference in the world. Before I was ready to have the depth of character I would need in order to have something to say, my life would have to get messy. And so far, my simple, tidy Christian life lacked the character that comes from suffering -- that leads to perseverance -- that leads to character -- that leads to hope. (Romans 5).

Five years later my adoption journey began. We had no idea what a hard thing we were choosing to do. We were, like a lot of adoptive parents, naive and silly almost. So sure of ourselves and our communication skills, our intelligence and education, we were ready to take on parenting hurt kids with multiple issues and didn't really even think it would phase us. And we began a journey through messy on steroids. In fact, we are currently living in the midst of so many messy situations, our lives touching many people whose lives have been and continue to be hard, hard hard... and the refining process began.

Speed ahead fourteen years and here I am. Yesterday I was living my dream. I stood before an amazing audience of receptive caseworkers who are deeply entrenched in messy. They don't get the privilege of watching the tough parts of life from far away, they have to get their hands dirty. They walk into homes with police officers to remove children who are being abused. They talk to parents who are sobbing their eyes out battling an addiction who truly love their children and want them back. They take pictures of bruises, dry tears, make their way through filthy apartments to find children hovering in corners. And that is just the beginning.

And as I stood before them and shared the story of our parenting journey, teaching them how to help adoptive parents handle the tough things their kids put them through, I realized that I had become equipped to live out my naive "gonna change the world" dream only through really hard times. Messy, ugly, situations that were painful and debilitating emotionally. Experiences that didn't fit into a tiny box that could be addressed, solved, closed and shelved because they were ongoing struggles with things we had never known we would face.

Back in the day when I was dreaming of being a speaker and a writer, I wanted to skip the 19 years between. I wanted my world to stay neat and clean and without struggle. I liked it that way. It all made sense. It all fit.

And yet today, in a small way, I think that I have been able to achieve my dream of changing the world just a little bit. In the last 14 years, 518 children have been placed into homes and I have a part of that. Twelve of those were placed in my home and while I would like to think I've changed them some, the real truth is that they have changed me. I have spoken to several thousand social workers and parents over the years, encouraging them in their work and in their parenting. Our book has sold over 500 copies (I know, not exactly New York Times Bestseller, but still making a difference). And I have had multitudes of conversations online and in person with parents who are struggling that I hope I have helped in some way.

So this morning, just for a moment, I let myself enjoy the idea that possibly my dream as a college students of "Becoming a World Changer" may actually be coming true. Because we change the world one person at a time.

And I ironically, as I closed my session with last night, the world is changed as we ourselves change:

Everyone wants to change the way the world is.
Everyone wants to see the world happy.
But noone realizes that
to make this world a happy place to live
You have to change yourself - your heart
and not the world.

And while I am all about pushing people to change themselves, I recognize that for me it has been something much different. It has been about God changing me. And he did it through the character that only comes from suffering. He took me to some low places within myself to bring me out a better person. And he did it through my children and the people they have introduced me to -- the side of life I spent years trying to avoid.

And so before I head back into that messy world today, as I sit in my beautiful quiet hotel room, for just a second I'm going to be thankful that God is fulfilling the dreams I had as a twenty-something. It doesn't look anything like I imagined it would look (I didn't imagine myself weighing this much for example ;-) but it's what I dreamed of -- making a difference, one person at a time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The End of a Long, Good Day

Today was a great day. I did a new seminar today about Case Notes that was very well received. It talks about how important case notes are for adoptive parents and for kids when they are older and that workers need to be careful to accurately provide a balanced perspective. It was a seminar I developed in the last week and it really turned out to be a good one. They would like me to come back again.

This afternoon I did my adoption disruption prevention workshop and I had the audience laughing for most of the hour and fifteen minutes that I was there. It was a very hard time frame to do a seminar: 3:45 to 5:15, but I did it and I felt I did it well.

Sold some books, had dinner with Lisa and Kari and now i'm thinking of going to bed early.

i can do anything I want to, can't I? At leats for the next 12 hours or so.

I thikn I'll spend a bit of it sleeping.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Heading off to Bed in Bama

Flight was uneventful. Have been working on email, and played an online game of scrabble with Bart, and hearing about good and bad things at home. I'm enjoying the quiet....

and now I"m off to bed.

Goodnight from Alabama!

I Got My Favorite Gate!

I love Gate E2. It is across from the business center, it is next to a bathroom, and it is by Burger King even! And you don't have to walk far.

Kari and I got on the 6:30 shuttle and arrived at the airport by 8:05. We are now done with security and we are safely at the business center. I am downloading TV shows to watch on my Ipad. On the way up I read half of Lisa's book. Kari and I are going to have dinner with her tomorrow night. Kari has met her, I have not. She says she is expecting big laughs at dinner but no pressure.

Yeah, right. I'm going to give a 90 minute seminar, do a keynote at 3:45 when most people are half asleep and then when that is over be funny at dinner????

By the way, for those who were wondering, shopping with Tony was actually a very good time yesterday. But I'm not going to make any further theological comments ;-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Sin Every Day In Thought Word and Deed ... or do I?

There is a point to me sharing this theological point on the blog -- and that point will lead to humor. So athiests, agnostics, and those of a different face base than I am -- you may choose to wade through the theology to get to the humor or you may simply click on to another blog. Beauty is, I'll never know.

Which reminds me.... I'm REALLY glad there is internet. Cuz you know I just can't show enough pictures of Gabby. But I don't have to... as they did in the old days ... trap someone in a corner and pull out the brag book and force an uninterested friend at church or neighbor on the street - to wade through 100 pictures of a grandchild. I can simply post them on Facebook and the blog and if you want to ignore the most beautiful (yet somber) baby in the world, that's your choice.

Anyway, I was raised a strong Wesleyan-Arminian and was often told that those "Calvinists" who believe that we sin every day in thought, word and deed should be pitied. The poor folks didn't understand Romans 6 that told us that we could be come slaves to righteousness, that God had already fought the battle for us, and that we didn't have to have a daily battle with sin. We could move on, knowing that in Christ we were free from the law of sin and death and could move on to service, taking God's yoke upon us and heading out to change the world.

Lately through reading and some discussions it has been suggested that possibly my theological upbringings lead to self-righteousness and the inability to accept or offer grace. This has been a challenging thought and I am trying to integrate grace into my framework. It is taking a while, as I mentioned yesterday.

In trying to understand the "sin every day in thought, word, and deed" idea, I asked Bart this morning what the point was. If I know I'm going to sin today no matter what, why not just get busy doing it. If it is impossible for me to help myself, I should just go sin. I told him that a lot of days I really don't feel like I sin. Told him I'd been awake for 30 minutes and hadn't sinned yet.

And then reality came pouring into my mind. We have to take Tony school clothes shopping today! I WILL sin in thought, word, and deed today. In fact, taking Tony school shopping will most likely result in me loosing my salvation, my sanctification, and my mind. He is the most argumentative, demanding, disagreeable, button-pushing, manipulative 15 year old on the planet, and remember, I raised Kyle. He's like Kyle on steroids kicked up a notch.

But fortunately for Tony, I survived Kyle and my tolerance level is much higher.

However, even when calling upon Jesus, I have a feeling that at least once today, my thoughts will be murderous, my words harsh, and my deeds ... well let's just hope Christ can control the deeds that my thoughts will be spurring me on to commit. ;-)

I certainly am not writing any of this to do anything but bring out a funny conclusion that came to me this morning -- no offense intended to Calvinists, Arminians, ... nope, not even to LUTHERANS. (Just kidding, Kari).

And maybe, just maybe, the power of God is strong enough to prevent me from sinning today as we take Tony shopping. But that idea is going to take a WHOLE lotta faith.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Regardless of Why I Did...

It's fun to win an award!

Online Schooling
Online Schooling

Healthy Attachment

It is so amazing to see that my daughter and her boyfriend are definitely raising a healthily attached child. This was most clearly evidenced last night when Bart and I were playing with and watching Gabby for an hour. The first half hour Salinda was in the next room. Gabby was fine until Salinda stopped by to see if we wanted her to run to the church and pick up the kids from VBS, which of course we did. As soon as she saw Salinda and remembered that her mom was in the house and we were not she, she started to scream. I suggested to Salinda that she just go ahead and go and that I'm sure that Gabby would be fine.

But nope, she was not fine. She literally screamed the whole 30 minutes Salinda was gone. I figured she'd wear herself out but nope, she just kept crying. She wanted her mother and there was nothing we were going to be able to do to console her. She was MAD and she wanted her MOM.

She's at such a fun age. She has learned to crawl and has her first two teeth. She is busy busy busy, grabbing everything she can find. And she's such a somber thing. She almost always looks like she is pondering the deep thoughts of the universe.

It's really fun having them here....

Every Other Day it Seems...

I have had a cycle this past week of feeling pretty good every other day. The days between I've been an emotional wreck. PMS? Possibly? Early Menopause? Maybe. Too much stress, definitely. But tears and I are not and have not been friends. I've avoided them at all costs.

So yesterday was a crying day. Maybe today won't be. No tears so far any way. I am grappling with an issue that I intend to process on my "Scripture as I See It" blog so as to not annoy folks who aren't here for anything spiritual or for a sermon. But here is my struggle in a nutshell. I started to read The Ragamuffin Gospel on my Ipad with Bart and it is making me realize some things.

One of the things that I realized lately is that I have never had any trouble being a woman of faith. I have extraordinary faith that God is and that He cares and that He is involved in our lives-- that He can work miracles, that ALL things are possible. I have never doubted that He loves me and that he is interested in me and that he can answer my prayers. I have had prayers answered that most people would never be foolish enough to pray.

I also have not had trouble being a woman of obedience. I have, as the rich young ruler said, "obeyed the commandments since I was a child." I have followed all the rules -- never had a drink, never smoked, never danced, was a virgin at 32.... i did all that stuff and I did it right. I have tried to do everything God asked of me. I have sought His will, I have followed His instructions, I have done so much as to sell everything I owned and go to Mexico for two years, leaving behind all my friends and family to be a missionary. I have step by step been led and followed God's leadership.

But I am realizing that I am not a woman of grace. I don't think I fully understand God's grace... which hurts me ... but the hardest thing is I really do not offer grace to others in the way I should. I am internally full of rules and dos and don'ts. I am criticial, judgmental and downright mean (in my thoughts, not necessarily my actions) to those who don't match up I do not extend grace to others ... and maybe it is because I don't think they deserve it. And that means I really don't understand grace.

One of the hardest things about being me is that I like quick solutions to everything. So battling with an issue is not fun for me. And you just can't really give yourself a deadline on stuff like this. The way my personality works I want to tell myself, "OK, you have til Thursday to understand this whole grace thing." SIgh.

So coupled with the stress (and the joys) of plenty of people here, plenty of work to do, and a trip to prepare for, I am wrestling with understanding a theological concept that brilliant men and women have been pondering and debating for centuries and I want to have that taken care of quickly.

It's no wonder I'm in tears.

And do you think it is a bad thing if your doctor laughs out loud when you ask her if she has any recommendations for managing sress?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

So Far So Good

Yesterday actually proved to be a pretty good day. I had made up my mind to set some boundaries for the kids and to start with the people coming back into the family system. I laid down the law pretty firmly (had even prepared notes ahead of time) for Salinda and Henry about my expectations after explaining how stressed out I had been. I basically said, "as a family, we don't have to worry about money. But people need to start worrying bout the money-makers if the family is going to survive."

On the way up I was explaining to Sadie that our family as a team works pretty well because they have strong coaches. But that this summer several of the kids have been acting as if the coaches should be out on the field playing alone while they sit and watch. I told her that if her Dad and I were the only ones trying our hardest, that we probably couldn't win the game. I think she is starting to get it.

Outside of our home she has had the most amazing summer. She has kept her job, made excellent choices of who to spend her time with, went on a Missions Trip, was a volunteer counselor and a church kids camp, babysat for a women's Bible study every week, did some extra babysitting on the side, and prepared some slide shows for church. She also has been a key player in planning for VBS this week and also made a few videos for worship this summer. She has grown spiritually by leaps and bounds and in our family this always comes at the kids initiative. We try to be good role models and support them, but we know better than to try to force kids to love God.

And at home she has been much more mature as well in regards to her siblings and to us as parents. Way less arguments, more connection, etc. But when it has come to doing the few simple things we ask her to do it has been a battle. So I am hoping that making the connections with her yesterday on the trip will help.

I am 5 minutes away from waking everyone up for church. We'll see how well that goes and if my conversations yesterday have made any difference.

Today will be quite a family day -- John and Courtney (and unborn Isaac who will be here in two months!!) are coming to church and then the girls and I are going to work on baby shower announcements before and after spaghetti by Bart. THen tonight starts VBS and Leon has equipment pickup for football. He starts two-a days tomorrow -- Wilson starts his little league football practices, and Ricardo starts soccer.

SO .... we're off and running....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sometimes It Has to Be About Me

Part of the challenge of our family system is that while Bart has a good job we weren't planning on so many of our kids needing so much help after graduation. We now have 5 children over 18 and only one of them is financially independent. Another is semi-independent. There deosn't look like there is much hope for the other three and we have one turning 18 every year now for several years. Because of this I have to work a lot.

I don't mind work. I like it in fact. What I do mind is when I ask for little things to be done that everyone blows me off. They have their hands out for the cash they make, but they don't want to lift a finger to help me out and they complain about the time I spend working.

Lately I have realized that if some things don't change I"m not going to survive and the whole thing could implode or explode. If I have cooperation and set boundaries for myself I can keep up with my frenzied pace of living. If I have everything challenged consistently and a continued lack of cooperation, I am going to have quit something that I'm doing. I don't want to do that, but I have to set boundaries.

I realized something this week about myself. I tend to overcompensate for other people. For example, if the kids need 5 rides in a day, I may not even tell Bart because I know he's really busy. Or, if I know that a PCA is having a hard time, I might offer them a way out instead of having them face the situation. Or if a grown child is struggling, I may figure out what is best and either do it for them or make a way for them to do it without much of their input.

Two problems with this:

1) It is insulting to them to assume that they can't handle it on their own and that I need to step in and rescue them.

2) I can only do it so long before I blow and have a meltdown like I did this week. I put other people first and try not to mess with peace and then all the sudden I'm just at wits end and can't do it any more. I get pushed to a place of anxiety and stress and I'm not fun to be around.

Today I am going to pick up Salinda, Gabby and the BF and they are going to come here for a week. in the past I have been pretty casual about rules when they are here as they really don't go overboard. However, even though they like the freedom, it makes me nervous. So I'm going to explain it from this perspective and hopefully they will understand.

When we get too caught up in the "It's not about me" theory -- we can run ourselves into a very dangerous place. I need to help the family understand that it it has to be about "us" as a family and the role I play in that -- and that if it is never about me, the "us" as we now know it cannot continue.

Is this making any sense at all?

Friday, August 13, 2010

School Shopping: Child 1

Dominyk was the first to be chosen to go school shopping with Bart and I. We knew it would be rough so we started with him. it was a very long hour and 40 minutes. We had budgeted much more time but he was already quite agitated at the end of that time. Everything else was purchased in 20, lunch took 20, and the rest were in search of the perfect shoe. With his sensory issues and the sudden desire to be cool, this was no easy task.

However, it is now over. He is going to get school supplies with his PCA next week and then he'll be done. Having Bart along helped me maintain my cool as everything was my fault throughout the entire shopping trip.... it's nice to have it done.

ONe down, 6 to go.

Above is a picture we took on a happier -- but not necessarily less stressful day.

Reminding Myself to Breathe

I have realized lately that every other day my anxiety is just off the charts. And I think that I really don't have reason to be anxious. But I probably do.

Part of my stress is that I am not feeling as comfortable blogging as I used to because there are so many extraneous people involved in our lives now that might read the blog. Birthparents, found without our consent, in-laws, boyfriend's families, neighbors, girlfriend's families, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc. This blog started out as a place for me to vent my own feelings about raising the kids, and has never been intended to hurt anyone or cause problems. So far, I don't think it has, but I don't want to start now.

I have tried to be incredibly transparent about my own emotion as I have struggled through tough stuff. In that, I have had to give details about situations in order to process them. But lately I've found myself not wanting to share too much. Blog readership is higher with less comments. I'm not sure I'm meeting the needs of my readers and I'm really convinced I"m not doing a good job of self promotion in regards to my books or my speaking by barfing all over the internet every day. Obviously this isn't a high priority in my life or I'd trash this and start a new blog that was much more professional and careful.

Let me share some glimpses of the past 18 hours, just so you can see why I'm having to remind myself to breathe. Each of them isn't that big of a deal, but put them together and I'm just really stressing.

Dominyk had a super day yesterday. He was very calm all day which was due to medication and possibly the fact that I really watched what he was drinking and tried to control the caffeine. Caffeine used to calm him, but lately I'm wondering if since he hit puberty it is having the opposite affect. But anyway, he had a great day. At 10 we sent him to bed and he began a HUGE meltdown.

His meltdown was due to the fact that Tony, being supervised by his PCA to clean his room, had given Jimmy money to help, and then told JImmy to go get his night stand that he had loaned Dominyk over the summer. So during teh day, while DOminyk was with me JImmy had gone in and taken his night stand covered with all his most important stuff and dumped it on his bed. If you know anything about OCD, having your prized possessions dumped all over the bed is not going to fly. He lost it and for 20-30 of the last minutes of our day, we had to deal with a verbal meltdown that could have been completely avoided. All of this led me to remember that I am 3 weeks away from losing this PCA to a full time job and while I wasn't happy with yesterday's situation, to his credit he has been the one person who can get the most cooperation from Dominyk, so I hate to lose him. But I have to hire someone new, and for those of you who are fortunate enough to have PCAs you know that finding a good one is really hard and that the transition and training piece is stressful. So last nights meltdown led to PCA thoughts preoccupied me quite a bit as I tried to rest.

Further PCA thoughts led to the fact that Salinda and bf (who works for us as a PCA when he is in town) are saying they are coming this weekend and may stay a while. They have been living under an incredible amount of stress since he got out of jail because his mom is sick and the family has very little income and no vehicles can be driven. So, while it will be great to see them, I am going to have to approach things carefully with them as in the past they have never stayed more than a few days and I haven't had to really communicate much. I want their stay here to be pleasant but because of hte situation with Mike and the girl lately, we are going to have to tighten things up.

And that leads to Mike. We have made it clear that none of his friends are welcome in our home because he cannot respect the rules of only having them there when we are home. So now his friend, who is homeless, is parking his car on our street and sleeping in it. I was suspicious of it, but this morning after going to the Y i actually checked and there he was out there in his car just yards away from our home. This causes me several conflicting feelings. Sure, there are homeless people everywhere, but ... dangit ... I feel like a hypocrite for not allowing him to stay with us. We have had many people stay with us in the past, and it isn't even this kids fault. It's the fact that Mike will not obey our rules. The kid probably would.

And finally, yesterday, I had a conversation with one of my sons who recently has connected with a birthparent who is making and breaking promises and being very manipulative. She is saying things like, "you are one and only love of my life" and "how can you possibly have a mother-son relationship with someone who didn't give birth to you."

I am not threatened by her comments nor do I care if my adult kids have birthparent contact. But I hate watching my kids get hurt needlessly by someone who obviously does not have their best interests in mind. He is very confused as to what to do, feeling obligated to take her calls, but feeling both good and bad about the things she says to him. I really think he needs to figure this out -- it's freaking out his gf -- but I am not sure I can fix it for him. I don't feel that based on the kind of things she is saying that she is emotionally ready to reconnect with them. And obviously I'm frustrated that she doesn't have the decency to talk to me about "our" children before talking to them, when two of them are minors.

All this since 4:30 yesterday afternoon. And of course there is more -- like my wonderful to do list that I won't whine about any more.

I'll end on a positive note though. We are trying something new with school shopping. In the past on August 1st the kids start to beg to go get it done. Bombarded by TV advertisements, they are convinced that even though there is still a month to go, we have to go get everything now. Bart and I try to slip trips in, we each take a couple at a time without any planning, and the kids play us one against the other, trying to get the most $ possible by manipulation.

So yesterday I got my husband to agree to a plan. We are blocking off seven lunch time blocks over the next three weeks. We will take one kid at a time and have lunch and then get their school shopping done -- just the three of us. I think having both parents attention, which is very rare, will be fun for them. We won't have any arguing between children, and no playing parents against each other. I also scheduled them in order of dread -- the ones I am dreading most are coming first, leaving the easier kids for last. We start today with Dominyk who I was not dreading more than Tony, but Dominyk has no PCA today. Tony is on Tuesday before I leave on my trip. I'll try to let you know how it goes. I can't imagine that it is going to be worse than it has been the last several years. The nice thing about this is that I made a calendar with everyone's dates on it that explains exactly what we will be spending and what it has to go for. Since then discussions about school shopping have ceased. So if that's the only benefit, it's still huge.

I'm off to a wonderful to do list that I created yesterday. It makes me feel good to have what needs to be done all spelled out, but if you saw the list you'd run in the other direction. Cool thing is, I"ll probably get it all done. ;-)

Thanks for listening. My anxiety level has decreased considerably just sharing this with you. Even if it does mean that a potential book-buyer or conference planner is thinking "no way I'm spending money on that wacko!" :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Upcoming Trainings in MN and Online

Click here to learn about some MInnesota trainings... one of them is the webinar that I believe is available for people outside MN.

Here is another list of trainings provided by MCMHA (Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health) during August.

Only One Big Meltdown All Day Yesterday

And it was mine.

My goodness did I pitch a FIT. Here's how my day went. I literally gave rides at 7:45, 8:40, 9:30, 10:30, 11:15, 11:30, 12:00, 1:15 and 1:30. In between these times I was listening to kids whine and moan about why we couldn't go school shopping yet, and how they were cold (the air conditioning is on too high), and how they needed this that and the other thing. So when I came home at 1:45 eager to do my last drop off before I could go to my office and get something done, I simply freaked out at the fact that they were too busy watching TV and playing XBox that they couldn't get their chores done (they are supposed to do them after lunch, before electronics during the summer). MInd you, two of them had. The rest had not. I had a very ugly meltdown that included things that I usually try to avoid -- like screaming and frothing at the mouth. Ok, I didn't froth. (is frothing a verb?) But I screamed.

I then stomped out in a huge huff and returned 3 hours later to a clean house. So I guess it seemed to work, though I don't like the methodology.

I KNOW teenagers are like this, but when Bart and I are trying to work as hard as we do to provide them with the things they need, and they just sit and whine it pushes this button in me that eventually, after several days of this, leads up to an explosion.

Sports practices all start Monday so we're heading back towards routine. I like routine.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Practical Strategies for Helping Troubled Adopted Children with Complex Histories: Focus On Anger Issues

For more information on this webinar, click here:

Wow what a night

Last night around here was just nuts. Bart made ribs and we ate late and three of the kids were just out of control in regards to noise, rambunctiousness, sick humor, and nasty language. The testosterone in the house was like a time bomb waiting to explode. It was beyond happy reunion type stuff and more like a crazy blast of mental illness. Bart and I were both exhausted by the time the meal was over.

And now we are both facing the onslaught of emails and calls and work related stuff that comes after people truly take a break.

And even though we have a full 27 days left before school starts, informal sports practices and activities are starting this week. So I have plenty of rides to give and things to buy to get everyone ready. And of course they are begging me to take them school shopping which I dread. We don't go overboard.. but we try to get one new outfit and a new pair of shoes for everyone in addition to school supplies.

ANd it looks like my computer needs an upgrade before I can use the touch pad correctly, so I guess I'm going to have to restart.

Here's hoping for a decent blog entry in the near future...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Re-entry Time

Our re-entry time has gone well so far. Last night when we arrived only Wilson and Mercedes were still awake and they gave us lots of hugs and told us nice stories. They were pleasant and very happy to see us.

This morning Sadie and JImmy both had plans -- Sadie is babysitting, and Jimmy is off to Vikings Training Camp to try and get autographs. Dominyk is off to summer school. Leon and Wilson are still asleep and Tony and Ricardo are still at the homes where they stayed while we were gone. Mike is back home for the first time since Bart indicated that he had to leave last week when we were at the conference. It is very quiet here.

I found out yesterday that I'm heading to Alabama next week with Kari. We are both speaking at this conference. It was last minute and unexpected but we're excited to go. I have heard the people down there are amazing and that the food is good, but they are not promising any kind of decent weather. Oh well, there is air conditioning.

I better get busy. Lots to do today. It's nice to be home. There will be challenges over the next day or two, but I'm feeling ready to meet them.

Knock. On. Wood.

Monday, August 09, 2010

One More Day then Back to Reality

Bart and I had a wonderful day yesterday exploring Vermont. We did have worship time together in the car, for those who are looking down their noses about the pastor skipping church (smile). Bart visited the Calvin Coolidge Historical Site (while I watched old Episodes of The Office on my Ipad) and then we both had fun exploring King Arthur Flour. We then drove to meet our friends Bill and Jane at a great Italian place in Northampton, MA.

The night before we had stayed at the Riverside Hotel -- a beautiful hotel on the river. Then last night we arrived in Providence, Rhode Island to stay at the Radisson overlooking the harbor.

Today we plan to take the scenic route along the Connecticut coast to get back to the airport. We've had a lot of great time visiting in the car and seeing things.

I'm going to try hard not to get drawn into the sinking feeling of returning to the stress of our lives. Sometimes I can get downright crabby on our last day away, but I don't want to do that this time.

It will be nice to have some things "back to normal" but for the most part, I'm feeling like Vacation should last forever...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Packing Up and Heading Out

After a wonderful evening in a lovely room overlooking the river between New Hampshire and Vermont, we are off to explore. Yes, for the 15th time since I was conceived I will not be in church this morning. There was no church near here with a website, so I guess they lose out. ;-)

We are having a truly delightful time together and have only been interrupted by these kinds of calls from the children:

JImmy: MOm, I have to talk to Dad. It's a cooking question.

Me: Well, you can't drive and talk on the phone out here, so you'll have to talk to me.

Jimmy: But Mom, it's a COOKING question.

Me: Well, I MIGHT know the answer, or I can ask him. He's right here.

Jimmy: OK, I"m making Rice a Roni. It says 2 Tablespoons of Margarine. I'm going to make 2 boxes. How much margarine is that?

Me: 4 Tablespoons Jimmy.

Jimmy: OK, Thanks Mom.

3 minutes later the phone rings again

Jimmy: Mom, is Dad there?

Me: Jimmy, he can't come to the phone.

Jimmy: OK, but I have another cooking question

Me; Well, try me again.

Jimmy: If it says 2 and a half cups of water for one box, how much is that for two?

Me: Five Jimmy.

Jimmy: OK, Mom. Thanks. Bye.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

From New Hampshire

Lovely hotel room. Great presentation this morning. Very quiet time with my husband.

It just doesn't get any better than this.

More later.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Everything intertwined....

So.... to catch you up.

We hopefully managed to get Mike to leave by threatening quite a bit from here. We haven't heard that he has returned. We finally had to tell him that he was not welcome to be at the house until we returned home on Monday. He and his friends were eating all the food we had gotten for the other boys for the week and were trashing the place. The whole thing was very disconcerting, stressful and exhausting and sort of tainted me for the evening.

However, I did get to meet Brenda McCreight finally, which was a great treat. I'm sure this will not be a surprise to any of you who read your blog but she is delightful. Even after only having one hour of sleep the night before she was fun and engaging. Me, not quite so much after the afternoon of eviction from afar, but it was fun to see her and Pat and some of his staff again, as well as to meet a couple new people. It is fun at NACAC to be able to do so.

One of the blessings of NACAC is perspective. I sat next to a friend from Pat's agency last night who certainly is dealing with stuff much tougher than what we are currently dealing with. While I don't like celebrating other's hard times, it is nice to be able to be grateful as opposed to whiney when our lives compare with others who have it worse.

After dinner last night, which was quite delicious and in a lovely place we headed back to our friends for the evening. I didn't even take my computer into the house (don't faint now) and thus had no time to blog last night or this morning.

Drove back from Amherst to Hartford this morning so I could present with my peeps from Adopt America Network about Technology and Tenacity... it was a fun session. Not a lot of people there, but those who were there were engaged and asked lots of questions.

Following that presentation Bart joined me to attend the annual meeting of Voices for Adoption over lunch. This was followed by an AdoptUsKids presentation on social networking and email mass marketing which I found quite interesting.

I'm now in the lobby of the convention center again, waiting for Bart and catching up my online stuff. He and I are having dinner back at the house with Bill and Jane -- marinated grilled lamb, I understand. A bit of a Greek theme I'm told. Bart and I present tomorrow morning.

So far so good at home -- either things or good or nobody is telling us otherwise. When I have some more emotional energy I'll check on them.

And by the way, Kyle has a teaching job -- for those of you who were praying for him. Same school, same grade as last year. So they will start their marriage with insurance and at least one of them employed which is a huge answer to prayer and a big relief.

And John gets out of jail tomorrow. His girlfriend and her dad will pick him up.

So we have the good and we have the not so good all intertwined. Kinda the way we roll....

Thursday, August 05, 2010

From the Connecticut Convention Center

We just found out that the girl never left. They are back at our house -- the girl, a friend of MIke's, and Mike Making a mess and making the other kids nervous. Leon has texted to tell us and we have tried to kick him out from here but it's pretty difficult. We are in phase one -- and not sure how many phases are available to us. Bart has mentioned going home early, but I really don't want him to.


See? SHe's the terminator....

We Did Arrive Safely by the Way

Perfect trip yesterday. No glitches at all. Nice flight. Arrived at Bill and Janes (friends from my Adopt America connections) and after visiting had a lovely dinner out at Judies here in Amherst, Massachusetts. Then we sat outside and visited until we headed to bed fairly early. SLept well and long and now I"m catching up on email until we head back into Hartford for the conference. We are planing to have time for work and time for play while we are here, hoping to see Vermont and Rhode Island as well as spending time in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The weather is hot and humid, but we are enjoying being away from the constant "mom, mom, mom, dad, dad, dad" for a few days.

One of the keys to going away is learning to mentally go away and I think we've finally achieved that. During the early days of our marriage and parenting we would take time away from the kids each year but then spend most of it not being really away because we worried so much about them. Not so much any more....

Off to the conference -- looking forward to dinner with Brenda and Pat tonight!

And by the way -- did you know this was here? I don't think I did. I found it exploring something else this morning. Funny how that works, huh?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Packing up the Computer

Leaving in 15...

just time for a quick update.

There is nobody in MIke's bed this morning. No girl, no MIke.

Kyle got a teaching job -- the same school as last year so he'll have tenure! A huge answer to prayer.

Ricardo is staying at a friend's while we are gone. I just got a phone message from law enforcement that they were out at 2:00 a.m. riding bike.

I'm going to have to remind myself that there is nothing I can do to control things while I'm gone. Of course, there is nothing I can do to control things when I'm here either, I just THINK I can.

And.... we're off.

Gonna see any of you at NACAC?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Have you ever watched the Terminator? I watched the first one. ANd it drove me crazy how every time that you thought he was finally dead, he just reappeared. It made me nervous.

That's how I felt this past week. She looks nothing like the Terminator, but every time i thought the problem was solved, I woke up again and she was still here.

And so I came to post when they finally went outside to leave for her home, iwth my cash in their pocket for gas, and we just discovered her phone in hte bathroom.

So I changed the title of the post once again because any minute they are going to be coming back to get the phone. I hope. Otherwise they might be back tonight.


Leaving for NACAC tomorrow .. if I'm still sane and alive

If I'm still alive. Deep deep breaths.

Last night adult son had permission to bring girl here to shower and get ready to leave and take her home. I was relieved. I wasn't sure he was going to come back or not, so I went down to find out if he was in his bed. He was. And so was she.

A couple days ago I had told him that his erratic behaviors and refusal to respect the rules here were causing my anxiety to spike. I told him I was having trouble sleeping. He offered me an Ambien that the court psychologist had prescribed for him.

Isn't that just classic FASD? I say, "Your behaviors are causing me not to sleep." He says, "Want a sleeping pill."

So I finally called the girl up here to talk to her. That of course, made him quite nervous and he mentioned that she had anxiety issues and I was making them worse. I didn't even respond to that since I am obviously not the person who brought her here to break the rules and have some high string B**** mother screaming at them all the time. Which actually, I only completely lost it 2 of the 5 mornings I found her there. And I didn't even talk to her the mornings that they weren't both there. I think this morning was morning number 7.

I don't want to leave for Connecticut/Massachusetts with her still in town. Apparently last night they got all ready to go and low and behold they were all packed up but had no money for gas. I have offered to go get them gas money and pay for the trip because I don't want to make the trip myself, which is looking like the only other option.

I certainly know that I could really become tough again and get a restraining order and keep them both out of here if I needed to, but really he is pretty innocuous. He's depressed, barely able to function and having a really tough time wanting to live. I do have compassion for him and I have been about as gracious as I get, and still he disrespects the rules on a daily basis. He appears lost and confused...

I actually took time to listen to the podcast that Kari referred us to about FASD and jail. It so describes our son. Jail has not served him well at all. It has made him worse, though.

So if I can actually get these "adults" out of my house today and feel like things are OK here, I am hoping to be able to enjoy my few days away with my husband.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Vote if You So Desire

My friends at A Family For Every Child just joined a national grant competition. They have submitted a grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project, and your votes determine the winners. Please help them help more children find forever families by casting your vote. We greatly appreciate your help!

You can learn more about their project and vote at: refresheverything.com/foreverfamilies

And you can vote once each day all month long. Anyone 13 and older can vote, so please help us spread the word.

You can also vote by texting: 101552 to 73774(pepsi)

Twenty Two Free Minutes

I slept in this morning because Kari ditched me for the Y again. I really didn't want to go, but knew that I would need it today.

Fortunately, the girl wasn't in the basement bed with the "adult" son, but she was in the bed and he in the couch upstairs. Better, but still not what I want. ANd I picked up Jimmy for summer school to find that his ears had been pierced by this "adult"son who has now assisted 5 of the 9 children younger than him in breaking the rules of the house. I think we are pretty lenient. As soon as you are 13 and have money to have your ears pierced professionally, you may do so. However, if you have it done another way you have to wait until you turn 18 and then you still have to have it done professionally. Tattoos we won't sign for -- when you're 18 you can ruin your own body if you wish. Until then, I'm not giving permission. Of course who needs signing when your older brother will do it illegally? Sigh.

Then I had to take care of a traffic ticket for another child. By "taking care of it" i mean loaning the money, but I still went over there and wrote the check. And that made me feel like a bad parent. I hate getting cornered into things that don't represent my parenting values, but I also have to manage my energy to fight the biggest battles.

Now Tony and Dominyk are both here and fighting like they have since the week DOminyk moved it and 9 months when Tony was 2. Tony decided to read my blog all this summer, which is fine with me, but then has decided to hound his siblings about everything that I blogged about, annoying them to no end. "So, Sadie, I hear you snuck out of your room." Hey, Jimmy, I heard you said some really retarted things." "Hey Dominyk....." You get the idea.

So I told Tony I may have to report everything he does for a while. Told him I might have to start a blog just for him and all the things he does in a week to disobey the rules. I could list them for you since his return on Friday night, but I only have 22 minutes.

I have a busy few hours -- Dr. for a rat poison check (Warfarin, in case you're not following my pathetic health saga), then take Sadie to work, pick up Jimmy from school (he's old enough to have his brother pierce his ears, but can't walk 1.5 miles home from school, an irony I certainly pointed out to him multiple times in my mini fit this morning), and then I'm taking Courtney to lunch to plan the baby shower. I then HAVE to get some hours in at work so if Tony and Dominyk are still alive by then (Dominyk's PCA is on vacation) I may have to bribe Dominyk with pop to get him to spend the afternoon at the Y.

And then, if we are all still alive by 5, I anticipate the arrival of my husband, who though he will be tired, will be HOME. And then maybe I can exhale.

If you spent your time reading this thinking that I'm a pretty sucky mother, then it's probably because I'm feeling like a pretty sucky mother.

And now my 22 minutes are up...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Sunday Morning Different than the Others

Usually on Sunday mornings the man I sleep with gets up and heads to the shower an hour before it's time for me to get up. He has some breakfast and then comes up to iron his clothes. I lie in bed and watch him iron (OK, now THAT probably isn't happening in very many homes in the good old USA -- women lying in bed watching their husband's iron!). We talk about the day ahead and attempt to determine what we will be doing for lunch. Then as he is heading out the door to prepare to preach, I get the kids up and ready for church.

But this morning he's in our car somewhere in New York, heading home with Leon and WIlson. They have had a wonderful time and now they are heading here. So this morning I did not get to wake up and chat with him, but am still doing the rest.

ANd of course, there are things this week that are continuing to make my anxiety spike. It will be nice when he gets home, but I don't want the issues that are here to still be here when he arrives. However, to this point I have not been able to take care of one particular issue and I'm not sure exactly what to do. I really don't want Bart to have to come home to it.

So far everyone seems to be getting up for church and getting ready so I won't have that stress. And hopefully I'll have the energy to deal with the junk after church. Ignoring it hoping it will change or go away hasn't quite done the trick.