Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day is Done

It's late. I'll be heading to bed soon.

Well, it's not really that late here ... 9:30.. but it feels like 11:30 to me and i'm tired.

By the time I finish the second day of a 3 day stretch I'm starting to feel the exhaustion. The commute is over an hour in the morning and the evening and then I train for about 7 hours (with a break for lunch). Makes for a long day.

And this is one of those trips where things are NOT fine at home.

Two children have gotten in trouble at school. One "child" did something I shouldn't blog that may severely impact her future and the future of her child. One "child" got caught doing something he wasn't supposed to at home. A few kids aren't doing their dishes or chores, and I'm tired just thinking about going home to deal with all that.

But in a few minutes I'm going to hop in bed and fall into a blissful uninterrupted sleep. it's fun to know that I"m not going to be interrupted once I crawl in that bed. I'll turn my phone off and slip into a night of blissful sleep.

Whine alert (so if you want to stop reading now you can).

I'm not sure what the deal is with me and Seattle, but for some reason here my ankles turn into elephant ankles. I could take a picture of them and post them here, but that might just gross you out and there's no need for that. So you can look at the picture above instead. Now this water retention is while I am taking a water pill every day. I have a doctor's appointment set up, but tomorrow I may have to wear a more casual outfit than planned because I won't be able to fit into the shoes I brought.

I have a lot of pain in my left shoulder which is really bugging me. I'm not sure if it's from the bed last night or from the driving in rush hour, or what, but it's not pleasant at all.

OK, done whining. For now.

Not Easy Issues

This week I am spending three full days, one in each of three Cities in Washington, talking with a group of people about disruption.

Disruption as you most likely know is when parents take a child into their home with the intent to adopt the child but change their mind before heading to court to finalize the adoption. It differs from adoption dissolution which is a family voluntarily terminating parental rights and "giving the kid back" to the state after an adoption in finalized.

I have a unique perspective in dealing with this difficult topic because I have seen it from many different sides very personally. I have been a social worker when a disruption takes place. I have been friends with people who have had to disrupt. And I have been a parent who has had to make the decision not to disrupt or dissolve a disruption when not doing so meant facing investigations and charges by the county we were living in. And so I don't just get up and talk to professionals from one angle.

DIsruption is probably the most difficult piece of the adoption puzzle. There are a myriad of issues that are wrong with "the system" that aren't solvable in a days conversation. Some kids are simply not able to live in family settings but they are placed there anyway. That doesn't mean that it has to disrupt, but those kids should be given services, including residential, offered to the family throughout their childhood.

Workers fear disrupting to the point that they won't place kids and then kids don't have a chance to even try. States, fearing disruption, either won't approve ICPC or won't allow placements to occur. Many children are placed in a home with several professionals not believing that the kid will make it, and thus the parents don't believe it either. And then there are times when some foster parents can sabotage placements.

So today I get to wrestle with these issues and get people talking about them. I need to have them own their own feelings about the topic, to see why things happen, and then to accept responsibility to be the one that makes things happen.

The biggest problem with the system is that there is always someone else to blame. Until each person assumes full responsibility for the success of a placement, we aren't going to make much progress.

I am not sure that the messages I deliver are ones that people want to hear, but I attempt to do them compassionately and with integrity. I try to look at each situation from the perspective of all involved. There are a large number of social workers who do invest countless hours in doing the best they can with the resources they have available to them to make a placement work and yet it doesn't. There are parents in the same boat. And it's hard stuff.

I ended yesterday feeling fairly energized though. Am hoping that lasts through the week. It's tough, heart wrenching stuff with great emotional undertones and it can make everyone exhausted. But we need to talk about it. And so we will.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


So what's the word on Kari?

I agreed to pass on messages to Kari so if you would like to email her send it to me at and I will forward your email on to her so she can get back to you.



I'm sleepy. I shouldn't be, because I slept for 8 and a half hours, but it's only 6 a.m. and still dark here in Seattle. I don't have to leave this morning until almost 7:30 but I was really tired yesterday when I arrived and spent the evening relaxing, playing online scrabble with Bart and later listening to him talk bout the frustrating night he had at home. I thus ignored most of my email and tweaking my presentation so here I am, up at 6. But it's 8 at home. ;-)

Yesterday's shuttle ride was really annoying. Bart dropped me off at 6:20 for a 6:30 ride that is supposed to take about 75-90 minutes. The roads were closed, we had to make two ridiculous unnecessary stops, and so I didn't get to the airport until about 8:25 instead of 7:55. They were boarding very full plane at 9:05. I barely skidded in not having time to eat.

When I arrived i stopped for breakfast at 1 p.m. which would have been 3 in MN. Pretty hungry by then. Met one of my favorite people in Washington for an hour or so to prepare for this weeks presentations and then spent the evening trying to do follow up from last week as well as relax a bit.

Today I'll spend the day with adoption workers -- both on the private adoption side and on the state side -- workers of both families and kids. We are goign to talk about Disruption Prevention and spend the day with me sharing some ideas and then having a dialogue about how to make a good plan to support parents when the kids arrive so that there is a less likelihood of disruption.

When we finish a few of the workers are hopefully going to stick around and we are going to do some matching -- one of my favorite things to do.

I've never done this particular training this way before and I'm excited to see how it goes.

SOrry for being such a pathetic blogger of late...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Safe in Seattle...

but not sleepless. Sleepy is more like it.

Trip took forever.

And I'm really mad because I prepared this whole blog post yesterday about who won the contest and it didn't get published, and my blog post yesterday morning went on the wrong blog and I'm all confused.

I'll fix it when I get to the hotel.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Say What?

I totally just got an AARP membership kit. I just turned 47. Woah.... I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable with that.

A Sunday Morning Like most Sunday MOrnings

at least so far. Things have been pretty uneventful here this weekend. I'm till pushing to get my stuff done for my next trip, but the kids have been pretty mellow. I had to consequence Sadie yesterday and afterwards was very impressed with her maturity in accepting her consequences without arguing or begging. I made sure to tell her so. What could have been an unpleasant conversation with Salinda was received well too, so we are making some progress.

We had water in our basement.... which caused a bit of a stir, but it's been cleaned up. Laundry is done for the trip -- just emptied the suitcase into the washer, then dryer, then folded it and put it right back in.

Now it's time for me to wake everyone up. Church, then Sunday School, then Church, then lunch out....

Busy morning ahead.....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Exodus

Apparently the new pattern is a mass exodus by almost everyone on weekends. Thursday night we had 14 people here overnight. Last night it was 7. Everyone is off at friends doing what appears to be legitimate things. Henry, Salinda and Gabby are going to his house on weekends now and spending the weekends here. WHich reminds me. I haven't posted a picture of Gabby on the blog for a while, so there you go...

So this morning I got up and exercised, fields are too wet for football, so no game for Wilson and I am sitting at my desk with a list of projects that must be finished before I head to Seattle on Monday. I would love to come back to a clean desk, which would require cleaning it off before I leave. On my desks are the tacky giveaway books that i need to declare winners for and get in the mail. Sorry for the delay on that one.

There are a long list of reasons for me to be crabby this morning but I'm trying to ignore them all and focus on what needs to be done. I am having a very low motivation morning.....

But the world keeps on spinning around and I can't exactly get off right now... so onward ho!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Trainings in MN

Here is a list of Adoption Related Trainings in MN in October.

Quick Follow Up

It wasn't Ricardo. He was home by 10 last night according to his siblings and he said he knocked on our door.

HOWEVER, just so you know i"m not completely nuts... on the way to school today we saw the same guy and all six kids in the van agreed (even Ricardo) that the guy looked just like him.

So cut me some slack, people! ;-)

Funny Story Alert

So Kari and I are going to the Y at 5 this morning. It's dark outside and we're heading down the hill from our house when Kari says, "Isn't that Ricardo?" Sure enough, there's my son. And since he hadn't let us know that he made it home last night (something he was on the road to being grounded for) I wasn't completely surprised that he was out at that hour.

So I simply rolled down my window (except that I have automatic ones so they didn't really roll -- what DO you call it when you push that button -- I buttoned down the window? I pushed down the window? I automatically put down the window?).... anyway, I digress.

The window was opened by me and I yelled, "Get over here, NOW! True to Ricardos' personality, he just kept walking. I said "NOW!" He kept walking. I then said, "RICARDO!" He turned and said, "No Speak English."

Now at this point it suddenly occurred to me that it was very possible that there could be another young Guatemalan immigrant in our town and that maybe Ricardo was home in bed. I apologized then, in Spanish, that I was sorry and that he looked just like my son. He shrugged, and started walking back up the hill.

Now, one of two things just happened. Either Ricardo is, as Kari said, the next Ferris Bueler, and fooled me, OR there is a very confused guy in town wondering why a big white girl in a van was out at five a.m., why she thought he looked like her son, and why she was suddenly speaking Spanish. It very well may be that he is asking himself how much he actually had to drink tonight.... and vowing he needs to cut back. ;-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm in the AIrport and You're Still Asleep

Had to get up at 4:15 this morning. Even earlier than on Y days. I'm feeling it too. And while the small size of the Abilene airport made check in and security very easy, the fact that there is no food to buy this side of security is fairly annoying. I really should eat something. But I suppose if I have to wait until 7:15 when I arrive in Dallas to eat, I probably won't die. I just always feel nauseous when I get up really early.

So nobody cared to guess why I had beer things on my blog? The building I spoke in on Tuesday was actually the Budweiser distribution center.... and all day long I stood behind a beer podium and didn't realize it. Apparently the beer people are very generous in letting non-profits use their hospitality room... as in they let them use it for free... and so that is where the training was.

The training went very well. I presented all four sessions and mentally and emotionally I stayed charged all day long. Physically, however, my body gets a little crabby with me when I push myself that hard -- standing for 8 hours when I usually don't stand for more than an hour a day. But I survived and so did everyone else.

I had a couple dinners out with some really fun people who work for CPS in adoptions. T, S, and K are a lot of fun and we had lots of interesting conversations. T and S made me stop by the chicken place to take their picture, which explains that one, and then T ordered food for dinner that weighed more than she did.....

Yesterday after what I hope will be a very productive matching meeting, I had lunch for the first time ever with a Regional Director! Also in attendance were a Program Administrator and three Program Directors and an Intensive Adoption Coordinator. Now tell me I wasn't feeling a little impressed with my company.

However, it's a little hard to take anybody seriously when you're sitting underneath a huge taxidermied cow. I mean in MN we put hunting trophies on the wall, but not big huge cows with realistic looking eyes and eye lashes. There's something just a little wrong about sitting underneath the shadow of the animal you're eating, if you know what I'm saying.

However, the food at Joe Allen's was seriously some of the best BBQ I've ever had and let me just say this -- I've NEVER had a better glass of Iced Tea in my life. I had to order it unsweetened, but it was SO good. In fact, all of the tea I have had here has been awesome.

Very few people in MN know how to brew tea and serve it at the right time. Either they make instant, squirt some Brisk LIpton crap out of a fountain machine, or serve it when it's a day old and tastes awful. But the tea I had down here was really good, and Joe Allen's was the best.

Last night I had wonderful Mexican food with a blog reader who has a great story of how their daughter is healing as she grows up in their home. I was pretty out of it and tired, but it was great to meet her. Thanks, J!

And now I head home for the weekend and then Monday take off for Seattle again. I don't like back to back trips, but i have tried to clear October so that I'm home when Isaac comes. I know you can't schedule a baby but I figured a month long opportunity would be a good one.

I'm leaving feeling like I have done good work. I got excellent feedback, developed good relationships, and had a really good time. But now, back to reality.....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Running Out of Time

I didn't leave myself enough time this morning to adequately blog about yesterday. I'll try to write more this afternoon.

But I had to post these pictures to give you a taste of how my day and evening went.

I think I will wait until later today to explain them. That should leave you curious and coming back for more.

Anybody who wasn't with me yesterday want to attempt a guess as to why any of these pictures are on my blog?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Women Don't Treat you Mean in Abilene

DId you know that there are several country songs written about this town?

Got in about 6:30 last night and was welcomed by three very fun adoption professionals who work for DFPS (the Department of Family and Protective Services) who still refer to themselves as CPS even though the name has been changed for years. We had good Mexican food together and I learned something about language.

Did you know that y'all isn't where it stops? You can actually combine words -- I'm not sure how you would spell them but you can say y'all's -- as the waiter did last night -- "I'll bring y'all's check in a minute."

Or apparently you can say y'all'd as in "y'all'd like to come over for supper right?"

Today there are going to be close to 100 people who are going to get a mighty hefty dose of Claudia. I am presenting four topics: Preventing Disruption, Why Large Families are an excellent resource for waiting kids, the Myths of Matching, and Foster Parents as Barriers to Permanency. I will literally be up front from 8:30 to 11:30 and from 1:00 until 4:45. Fortunately I slept well last night and am feeling refreshed. I hope the audience did too.

That's a whole lot of Claudia for one day.

Hopefully Jimmy Dean was right when he sang:

Abilene Abilene prettiest town that I've ever seen
The women there don't treat you mean in Abilene my Abilene

Old empty boxcars standin' all alone the wheels're all rusted boys so we'd home
But what I have to do till I get back to Abilene
(Abilene) that's my home (Abilene) my home sweet home
(Prettiest town that I've ever seen
The women there won't treat you mean in Abilene my Abilene)

I've been to Chicago San Francisco too old New York City none of them will do
I'm just a waitin' till I get to Abilene (my Abilene)
Abilene Abilene...
No women there won't treat you mean in Abilene (my Abilene)
The women there won't treat you mean in Abilene (my Abilene)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Can You Tell My Life's Been Crazy?

Obviously when I almost stop blogging altogether it is because life is just NUTS. I really do try to remember to blog every day, and there are few days I have missed, but it is when I am so overwhelmed I don't even remember to log on.

Yesterday must have been one of those days.

Right now I'm sitting at the MSP airport recovering from the very irritating shuttle ride and breakfast experience. IT seems taht there has been a conspiracy this morning and nothing has gone very smoothly. We arrived here late and then the line for breakfast was just ridiculous.

Yesterday's baby shower for John's GF went well but it was stressful and took a big chunk of time. It's nice that it's over though.

I didn't sleep well at all last night and woke up anxious as could be. Over the past few months I have gotten very good at realizing that I can't control things when I"m not home so I try to let them go. But for some reason this morning I couldn't shake them. I'm working on it though.

According to his Facebook we have a son heading back to jail but I'm pretty sure I heard him last night and his picture isn't on the website. I resisted the urge to write "promises, promises" as a comment on his status update. He tells us every week he is going back to jail but he never does.

The sleeping patterns of those who are living in our home and not going to school is quite different than it is for the rest of us who have to get up in the morning. This is causing me stress in addition to about 320 other things.

But I'm going to simply let them slip away and begin to transition to focus on doing my best with the tasks at hand this week. Hopefully they will keep their stress there. I know Bart can handle it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Miss me?

Crazy Morning. Was going to work out on the Wii Fit this morning but the kids had stolen the balance board batteries so I ended up going to the Y at the last minute (I missed a day this week) and thus missed Wilson's game. He was not happy with me. And I hate disappointing Wilson because he is such a gentle soul and rarely does anything to cause a problem. I then had to get ready for John's GF's baby shower tomorrow.

Shopping, out to lunch, more shopping and now i'm trying to download videos for church tomorrow...

It's been a really hectic day and no end seems to be in site..... Lots to do still to get ready for the trip...

Friday, September 17, 2010


Last night I made a home visit and of course, because of confidentiality I can't tell you specifics, but I can tell you that this is one of the most satisfying placements I have ever made. Here is why.

1) When I met the parents they were convinced they wanted an infant or toddler. After getting to know them, I could tell that they were definitely equipped and passionate enough about kids to handle older kids and I knew that they would be excellent. As they went through the training they concluded the same thing and decided to adopt an older sib group.

2) They paid attention in training, read extra material, and then applied everything they learned to parenting their kids when they arrived.

3) The kids are thriving because they are living with people who get that it is going to take a long time for them to bond and act like "normal" kids. It's so cool to see how well they are doing.

The oldest in the group is a teenager and he came from a foster home where the foster mom could find very little good to say about him. He is now in a home where his new parents think he is amazing. Guess how much his behavior has changed?

My jobs are HARD sometimes. The work load lately is especially high, which is a good thing, but it gets tiring. However, nights like last night when I can see a great placement working well are wonderful!

Sometimes you can get some satisfaction.... but it requires work!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three Community Forums about FASD in MN

My Own Secrets Aren't Safe with Me

If I cry it means I am sleep deprived. And yesterday I cried. A lot. For some reason this year I'm just not able to get to bed. The kids are up later and so I can't get us all settled before 10:30 or 10:45. Waking up at 4:45 then is just not working for me and I'm not sure what to do. For me, fitting exercise in later in the day doesn't happen, and so I kept pushing myself to be at the Y. Three days after that and I was a sobbing mess. It just comes with the sleep deprivation thing and I can't do anything about it. And i hardly ever cry. Of course, I didn't let anyone SEE me cry! So, if I was a normal person my own secrets would be safe with me. BUt instead I'm sharing it with the world.

So I skipped this morning. It gave me 90 minutes of sleep and now I'm still dragging. And now I have to figure out how to fit some exercise into the day. Can't anyone just figure out a way to give me about 4 or 5 more hours in every 24.

Today we have an appointment with the accountant (we really like her, though, so that's a plus) and then tonight I have a homestudy visit. Courtney (gf to John and mother to unborn Isaac) has a baby shower Sunday. I leave Monday for a few days of speaking and matching in Abilene, TX. After my return, I head to Seattle on the following MOnday for a week of trainings. My days are so swamped getting ready for it all that I am not sure where the exercise piece comes in.

Guess I'm just going to have to get in bed and let the world whirl around me tonight and get up again by 4:45....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me is Over

And it wasn't a bad day. I wimped out though. I scheduled a home visit and was gone from home from after a great lunch with Mike and Kari until about 8 at night. It kept me from being too disobedient by the disregard of my birthday by my children.

My online friends were awesome though and my husband always is. So it was a good day...

Now today I need to jump back into work, but the great trip down memory lane by my Facebook birthday wishes yesterday, your wishes here, and the constant support of a great husband made my day wonderful.

Maybe even so good that I'll be brave enough to attempt a celebration with the kids this weekend.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Focusing on What Is

This morning at the Y I gave myself a talking to about focusing on what is instead of what it WOULD be like, what it SHOULD be, what COULD be, or what MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Getting caught in the trap of focusing on those things can make a person downright miserable. Trust me, I've done it. More than once. A day.

Here are some examples:

I can focus on what it would be like if all my kids were straight A students who loved to read OR I can focus on the fact that for the first time in years all of my kids who have not yet finished High School are working towards that goal.

I can focus on the fact that half of my kids are overweight and should eat better, or I can focus on the fact that everyone is alive, fairly healthy, and able to be active.

I can focus on my own health and how it stinks to suddenly be taking multiple pills every day and what a pain it is having to go to the doctor every week to try and keep my blood thickness levels on target, or I can focus on the fact that I survived a very dangerous health scare six months ago, that my prognosis is good, and that i'm feeling better every day.

I can focus on the fact that my daughter has chosen a very hard life for herself in having a child at 17, or I can focus on how much fun I had watching Gabby interact with Gizmo our dog last night and seeing it make Salinda smile.

I can focus on the unwise choice John made in getting a girl pregnant within weeks of knowing her, or I can focus on how much we love her and how excited we are that their baby is growing, healthy, and coming in a month.

I can focus on the fact that many of my friends whose blogs I read live so far away and how much I would love it if they lived closer to me, or I can focus on and great it is that they post every day and that they are only a free cell phone call or an email away.

I can focus on the horrible faults of the Child Welfare system, or I can focus on the one-life-at-a-time impact I have had as I have seen one child after another find a permanent loving home with parents who have claimed them.

The list of ways I can shift my focus is endless. But your'e getting the picture.

So just for today I'm going to start focusing on what is AND rejoicing and being grateful for it. The what ifs, the might have beens, the woulds, shoulds, coulds, are all debilitating to say the least.

There are a million and one blessings for me to count today. So I think I'll lay the rest of the junk aside and just focus on them.

Do you have a need to reshift your focus? Want to share?

Monday, September 13, 2010

We May Finally Have Reached a Milestone

Dominyk is in eighth grade. He is 14.5 years old. So far this school year he has been able to get dressed by himself. For the first. time. ever.

Last year he was obsessed with having a very tight belt. So he needed help finding it. And he needed help putting it on. And he needed help getting it tight enough. And he couldn't find his shoes, or his backpack, or his socks, or clothes to wear. But suddenly this year all of that seems to be gone. Last night I even heard him say "Don't turn the light off! I'm getting things ready for school tomorrow....

This means that we are now officially to the point where everyone can bathe and get dressed without parental help. Such a relief... even though it take a very long time to get here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm sorry to say so but...

sometimes I look at my son and I say to myself, THAT is the most beautiful child I have ever seen.

Even if they were all "typical" teenagers

my life would be annoying, you know what I'm saying?

Teenagers tend to have this bubble they live in, even if they don't have special needs, that surrounds them at all times and prevents them from seeing outside of themselves. Their lives are all about them and they have no desire nor inclination to consider how their behavior is affecting anyone around them, especially not their stupid parents or siblings. They make their plans and suddenly come up for a moment of recognition -- "OH, yeah, I have parents!" when they need cash or a ride somewhere. And suddenly they are texting or on the phone.

At present the count is seven teenagers living here on a regular basis. Then add 1 preteen and the myriad of "adults" that are in and out, and we have ourselves a less than "typical" life. But even if they were all healthily attached, birth children, that many teens would make Sunday mornings a challenge.

So far I have only given up on getting Mike to church. The rest go willingly most of the time, though there are days when it's hard to get them out of bed. Then we have to get them out the door on time, wearing something fairly decent.....

I used to have a long list of rules about church but as I look around me and see how many people are even able to GET their kids there, I've relaxed a bit on where they sit, if they have a piece of gum, if they whisper occasionally.

The kids think we go to church because their dad is the pastor, but we would be going this much or more if he wasn't. This story from 2005 is hilarious -- you may or may not remember it, but it's worth a click over.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday and all is Well

It's a beautiful fall day in Minnesota and I"m in m office, bombarded by the tasks I have to complete by the time I leave for Abilene on the 20th. Courtney, John's gf, has a shower coming up next weekend and I've done nothing so far but send out invitations. We have an appointment with our accountant on Thursday that will require me to actually finish up our bookkeeping. I have two home visits out of town this week, and tomorrow I have many things to do for the worship service.

For that reason I spent this morning at the computer getting those things done. I like that stuff though, so it's a nice break for me. Allows me to use the other side of my brain.

Thursday night 14 people slept here. Last night it was only 7. Salinda and her little "family" have headed to his mom's for the weekend. They did a good job here this week. And we had 3 people spend the night at friends' houses. So today we had Mexican food out at my favorite Mexican food place in town. It was nice to get away. I then attempted to help Dominyk and WIlson clean their room but got frustrated and decided I'd rather be in my office.

I also wanted to put in a few minutes of exercise today since I skipped the Y yesterday.

This is a very boring blog post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Finally Some Good News in the U.S. News about Foster Care

This is the source of the article.

But since many people are too lazy to click, I"ll post it here.

New data: many fewer US kids are in foster care

By DAVID CRARY (AP) – Aug 31, 2010

NEW YORK — New federal figures show that the number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped 8 percent in just one year, and more than 20 percent in the past decade.

The drop, welcomed by child-welfare advocates, is due largely to a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many of them have been reducing stays in foster care, speeding up adoptions and expanding preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed in the first place.

The new federal figures show there were 423,773 children in foster care as of Sept. 30. That's down from about 460,000 a year earlier and down from more than 540,000 a decade ago.

Such a Calm Night Last Night

Not sure if it is just the relief of everyone being back in routine, or the addition of more "adult children" around, but we have had a couple of pretty calm nights.

Salinda's boyfriend (and Gabby's daddy of course) has been working as a PCA with Tony and he has really been doing an amazing job with him. He is able to get him to do things with a quiet reminder that I can't get him to do for hours. His head shake of disapproval or the word no can stop him in mid-sentence. He does homework with him and gets cooperation. And they are developing a habit of spending a couple of hours in the evenings at the YMCA getting some much needed exercise for Tony.

Salinda starts school on Monday to prepare for her GED. I think she will feel much better about herself if she can reach this goal.

John has enrolled himself back in school without me even suggesting it (contrast that to last year when I busted my butt to get him there just so he would skip all his classes anyway -- so frustrating) and is also picking up several shifts at Taco Bell where he worked before he went back to jail. His girlfriend spends her days here while he is in school and often hangs out here when he is at work as well. When they are here for a meal the trouble makers seem to be a bit more respectful.

Rand is living at home but being much more mature about the household chores assigned to him and very good about running errands and giving rides, a HUGE responsibility around here. He's much less motivational and has also decided weight loss is something he is motivated to do which is wonderful and something I could never impress upon was necessary.

Mike is still sleeping here sometimes and in and out with different friends each week, but he isn't bothering the family system much, doesn't ask for anything, and hasn't stolen anything of major value, so for him that's good.

And the rest of the kids are in school. So, after sending 7 kids off to school in the morning, there are still three of my kids home at this point plus two significant others and the grandbaby. I go other places to work now so that I don't have to be stressed by their laziness (I mean seriously, how much TV can a person watch in a day, or how can a person sleep until 3).

Another nice thing is that they all know that I don't hand out cash. So anytime they need something they have to earn money and so now even Courtney and Henry are part of the work crew that is keeping the house clean and the yard mowed.

Last night Bart was out of town and we had two missing at football practice and still had 11 around the table (for chicken patty sandwiches and chips -- yeah, we only eat good when Bart is around). The meal was positive though and I then spent about an hour signing papers and helping with homework. I was so tired I ended up going to bed at 8:40 and actually slept pretty well with few interruptions. Amazing.

Well, my blogging time is up. Time to wake up the only two that now need to be awakened. Henry takes care of Tony (who used to cuss me every single morning when I woke him up) and the rest get up on their own.

Sometimes it can be calm around here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Quotes to Ponder

Here are two great quotes from the book "Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson. The first one you have probably heard before.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

The second I just found tonight and it is something I really needed to read in regards to my kids.

Surrendering means, by definition, giving up attachment to results. When we surrender to God, we let go of our attachment to how things happen on the outside and we become more concerned with what happens on the inside.

When we love, we are automatically placing ourselves within an attitudinal and behavioral context that leads to an unfoldment of events at the highest level of good for everyone involved. We don't always know what that unfoldment would look like, but we don't need to. God will do his part if we do ours. Our only job in every situation is to merely let go our our resistance to love.

Relationships are assignments. They are part of a vast plan for our enlightment, the Holy Spirit's blueprint by which each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love. He brings together people who have the maximal opportunity for mutual growth. No meetings are accidental.

FASD Training in Hutchinson

First Day of School for the Second Time

The children are all now in school. I just dropped them off and they are safely there.

However, the weather did not cooperate this morning for me to have matching back to school pictures for everyone. It was raining pretty hard. So if it is nice tomorrow we'll just have to fake it.

It feels good for them to be back in school, just because THEY needed routine and structure and less electronic stimulation. However, it's been our easiest summer ever.

And even though 8 kids are in school there are still going to be five kids 17 and over at my house today and the baby. So it isn't like it's anywhere close to me being alone like I was several years ago while they were all still in school.

Yesterday I took Dominyk to his conference. His latest obsession, if I have failed to mention it, is making BB guns out of pens and pencils. I was going to warn the teacher about this, but before I had a chance he had taken her pen apart right there at the conference.

Scenes like that are why we would make good reality TV. In fact, the kids were so disappointed that I didn't ask for information that I"m goign to call the person today and at least see what she has to say. Who knows, it might be something fun for us to do together that could at least pay us enough money that we could have furniture in the living room again. And we really need a new dining room table that will sit more than 12. What do the rest of you do that have meals together with more than 12 people?

New Support Group for Adoptive Parents of Children Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Time for an Attitude/Gratitude Check

Last night I just plain got whiney. And there was no real reason. Teenagers not doing their chores? Oh, come on. That happens every day in this country.... since when is that life altering?

I need a kick in the butt. And since nobody is here to do it, I'm going to do it myself.

I am going to list things I am grateful for and ask those of you who are feeling whiney (or even if you aren't) to add a comment of something you are grateful for.

1) All of our 12 children, and their significant others, and our grandchildren, one born, and one unborn, are healthy.

2) There have been no major episodes of aggression in our house all week. (OK, now putting that in writing is just inviting trouble, but hey, wait, this is a gratitude post).

3) I have an amazing husband who does way more than most husbands do and then steps in whenever things are hard for me or I'm feeling down and does even more.

4) I have a few really good friends in our town and in our church who put up with me, even when I'm just not quite like everyone else.

5) I have a great team of online friends who support me by their writing, their blogs, their comments, their emails. All kinds of encouraging words to read daily.

6) I have more than enough food to eat, clean water to use and drink that I don't have to haul, a place to sleep that is temperature controlled, several choices of clothing to wear each morning -- and those things combined have me living in the top 10% of the world's population for sure.

7) I am living my dream of speaking and writing, even if it isn't full time.

8) I have jobs that allow me to make a difference in the world doing something that I love AND get paid for it.

9) I have incredible parents who have loved me, nurtured me, prayed for me and offered their support for all of my near 47 years.

10) I have a God who is awesome, amazing, personal and who has the power to do ANYTHING. He has given me the gift of His grace and He never lets me down. He is always there to catch me when I'm falling and set me back on a firm place so I can keep going.

Anybody else wanna add something?

Wednesdays Rambling Thoughts

Here are 1st day of school pictures for 5 of the high-schoolers. Great looking kids, eh?


I also got the same invitation Cindy did about a casting call for a pilot large family program. I looked into it to see how much it would pay. $500 to shoot the pilot. Are you kidding me? No way I would disrupt everyone that much for $500. I turned down Wife Swap at $10,000 a few years ago. Now, you start talking $50,000 or $100,000 and MAYBE i'd be willing to allow a people to put my kids on national TV telling everyone what a horrible mother they have but $500? Nope.


Bart and I have an article in the Fostering Families magazine that arrived yesterday. Anybody see it?


Yesterday seemed to go well for everyone and I think I got all of the paper's signed last night. They all seem motivated and report to having a good day. Unfortunately, their good day at school did not translate into remembering to do what they were supposed to at home, and so when I arrived at 8:15 p.m. and found undone chores, after so little sleep Monday night, I was less than positive. I went to bed exhausted but was up at 4:45 and off to the Y. I gained weight this week so I'm crabby about the whole experience, but I'm not going to quit.


Dominyk has a conference this morning and then by tomorrow he and Wilson will be in school and I can finally get organized I hope. It's amazing how much I manage to manage ... even amazes me sometimes.


Today's goals include catching up on email, finalizing presentations for the trip to Abilene, TX in two weeks, and working on taxes. ON Monday I got everything organized, now today/tonight just need to get it all on spreadsheets.


I also plan at some point to pick winners for the Tackiest Blog Give Away Ever. But since I haven't done it yet, I guess you can still enter -- make sure you leave your comments there instead of here or I may not see them.


Off to live my day.... Hope yours is a good one!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Looks LIke Summer is Over -- at least for most of the kids

This year we have 6 kids in H.S. (if you count Salinda who is going to enroll in GED classes). Five of them go back to school this morning. yes, yes indeed. We made it through one more summer. While this has been probably our calmest summer ever, my kids have never been lazier and have gotten very lax in their habits. Probably not as lax as many of their peers, but they are really out of sync. The transition back to going to bed on time, etc. is going to be a difficult one for them., I'm afraid.

I got up at 4:45 to make it to the Y a little after 5 for my workout. I really wanted to turn around and leave when the scale said I had gained five pounds this week. I worked out more than I have in a long time AND watched my food intake AND drank 2 liters of water a day. So what in the world is going on with that?

I have several items on my agenda today including two home visits that require being in the van for several hours and an appointment to take the van to get the lights fixed before I go. I slept horribly last night with several interesting/weird/funny dreams that wouldn't make sense to you unless you knew the people in them.

For those of you who are in MN and have survived the long long summer, congratulations. They ARE going back to school today... or tomorrow... or Thursday.

Who's throwing the party?

Who's the Creeper?

OK, let's just say it's dark outside and you're inside your office and a car parks outside on your street. The lights in the car are dark and nobody gets out of the car. For minutes. Maybe 15-20. And you look out there and try to figure out who is in the car looking in at you.

Who is the creeper?

Last night this happened to me and an adult child, presumably one of the people in the car, texts me saying "What you you looking at creeper?"

I responded, "Isn't the person in the dark car looking in the house the creeper, not the other way around?"

Monday, September 06, 2010

I Needed This Today

Cindy's post today, which linked to this devotional, was so needed to day. Bart and I have been having some similar questions lately in regards to why we did what we did. Are we really going to make a difference?

But as Cindy, quoting the devotional, points out, we don't know where the river will lead. In addition, the suggestion is made that we don't even need to KNOW where the outflow will lead.

I'm a control freak. I want to know what is going to happen. I want some kind of guarantee that what I'm doing is making a difference. But we must leave the results to God. And we must overcome the obstacles that come our way. To totally copy (or re-emphasize) Cindy's thought, the devotional continues

A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it.

I have to hold on to that as we begin a school year with a house full of children/adults who I often see as making it impossible for me to live a life of joy or blessing. They are simply making my river stronger as they block my path and I must find new ways beyond the struggles of today.

Thanks, Cindy. And Oswald Chambers. I really needed that today.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Anticipatory Stress

My day yesterday was filled with anticipatory stress. DId you notice I didn't even blog?

My first assignment of the day was to get WIlson to his football game by 7:45. It was 46 degrees when we arrived... not quite what I was planning and I was alone -- Bart wasn't feeling well. I sat in the van until almost second half when it was warm enough to sit on the sidelines and take pictures. He was pretty cute -- he's awfully small out there compared to everyone else and has already declared that next year he's sticking with just wrestling and baseball. I will hopefully have time to post pictures later.

When we returned I visited with Bart and matched socks for 50 minutes (got through half the basket -- yes, we have that many unmatched socks) and then it was time to take off for the lake to meet MIke and Kari. Bart wasn't feeling so well still, so I headed out with five of the seven kids who were at home at the time. When we got there, on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and had the lake to ourselves I realized it must really be too cold to be there. But it was too late.

We had a windy chilly picnic and then the brave kids went out on the boat with Mike. The braver kids went on more than one trip and the bravest of them all even got on the tube. The water was apparently warm, but the air was quite cold, especially when the wind was blowing. The kids ended the day by throwing large piles of algae one each other. Did you know we had rednecks in the north?

Came home and a little while later we welcome the Karis back over for dinner and following dinner I sat and beat my husband in online scrabble. Went to bed early.

The whole day I was anticipating stress when Salinda and bf and Gabby were going to arrive. It didn't begin last night because I was in bed when they came, but the stress I was dreading is certainly present this morning.

I guess the question I wish I could understand is why if this is our house and we are paying the bills, why we can't make the rules. And when you have such a large array of people with varying capacities and abilities, kicking someone out because they don't follow rules is nuts -- if we did that there wouldn't be anyone living here.

Why did I ever think that we were going to be parenting until the kids were 18? What naive ridiculous notion filled my head to think that kids were going to be able to transition into adulthood and make it in society when they could never function as minors in the world around them...

and if the average age in our country for children to be financially independent for neuro-typical birth children is 27, what in the world is the average age of kids with issues? 54??? That means we'll have kids at home until I'm well over 100.

And that, my friends, is my positive and cheery word for you this morning. Hope your day is grand!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Somebody Finally Gets It

Today Bart was home until noon and I stayed home to spend some time with him. We ended up slipping out for breakfast, which was nice, but when we came home several of the kids came up to be follow the Pied Piper around our small bedroom. Dominyk was more incessant as he usually is and Tony was provoking him as Wilson lay next to Bart quietly. When Bart had to get up it had become evident that I was near boiling point with the endless nonsense between Dominyk and Tony so Wilson climbed up onto my lap, and without a word, put his hands over my ears.

There really isn't anything you can do but love a kid like that.

(Photo courtesy of my sister-in-law and was taken on the trip to New York that Bart, Leon and Wilson took this summer. Hi "Aunt T")

More Mature Than I Want to Be but Not That Mature

So I see this status update on my 21 year old unemployed non-contributing member of the family who does nothing at all at the house and barely speaks to us but still sleeps and eats here when he pleases:

Why is my mom a pathological argument starter?

and that was followed up by:

Cant even say s*** then shes raises her temper and when she makes her point...she has to do it 6 more times 6 different ways

That is his version of this conversation:

Did you move the bed back like I asked you to?

You know he isn't even going to stay here more than a couple days.

That's not the point. He needs to have a bed and you didn't have permission to take it in the first place.

Well then can you give me the bed that I had when I moved in? (He was eight and long ago destroyed that bed). Can you you give me ANYTHING?

You do not do anything here at all. Everyone else in the house has responsibilities and they contribute. You don't even speak to us unless you want something.

So, i wanted to put as a comment on his Facebook status, "Is the bed moved yet?"

Or I thought about writing as my status, "Why do my children view my request to complete a task I asked them to do 24 hours ago as an argument starter?"

or even something like, "Why are there unemployed 21 year olds in this world who think it's OK to wake up in the middle of the day and plop on their parents' couches and write disparaging things about them on Facebook?"

but instead I just let him have his world of facebook unadulterated by me. Isn't that mature of me? Now if I was really mature I wouldn't have the need to retaliate through my blog though, would i?

Last NIght's Game

Ricardo played Goalie last night for the first half and only touched the ball twice. He then played forward and had some awesome moves. It started to rain and like a wimp I got up to find shelter and ended up missing the goal he scored at the end of the game

Have I mentioned how much I love my telephoto lens? I was quite far away from him when I took these pictures.

Having a bit of trouble Getting Going Right Now

I woke up at 4:45 and got up at 5:30 and went and had one of the best workouts I've had in quite some time. I picked up Leon at a friends and then headed home with the plan of sitting in my bedroom to work since it is Bart's day off and he is leaving for most of the day. I haven't seen him a lot this week and figured we could at least work in the same room. HOwever, sitting in the recliner seems to have made me a bit sleepy and I need to kick it in gear!

Word has it that Salinda, her boyfriend, and the baby are going to be moving in with us for the fall. Should be interesting. They may be coming today. I'm trying not to let my PTSD about their situation make me completely anxious but i need less stress in my life, not more.

This house is so quiet... good thing I have a full bladder and need to get up ;-) Otherwise I might just fall asleep right here and now.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

How Fun is This?

Rand and Jimmy went to the Twins game last night and while they were there, our new MInister of Outreach took this picture and sent it to me. We had discovered a couple months ago that the guy in the middle is his wife's cousin and also is someone I worked with way back in 1995....

Small world, eh?

Late Start in the Summer?

During the school year they have "late starts" every month on Tuesdays. But today I had a late start and it's Thursday! I got a text from Kari today saying that she had had a rough night and couldn't make it to the Y at about 4:45 so I went back to sleep until 7:30. Then tried to get to the Y, workout, shower, and make it to a 9:00 meeting -- which I didn't do -- was 15 minutes late. Now I'm at the office starting my day at 10:30. Not liking that at all.

Things were pretty mellow in our world last night. Today of course could change completely and we could head into a wild swirl of emotional tornados, but for this moment all is well.

It's really time for the kids to get back in school. Have I mentioned that yet? My friend at Little Wonders (who I have actually met in real life) has a counter on her blog counting down until the start of school.

I'm really excited about a lot of new stuff that is coming up at church. It's too bad I love so many different things. Can someone just add about 10 hours to my days?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Minnesota Adoptive, Foster and Kinship Care Mom's Retreat

Here's information about a retreat for adoptive and kinship mothers, where you will receive training and have time just to relax and renew. Use the time to take a break from your children/family and rejuvenate and enjoy new and old friends. Nurture yourself, so that you can then continue to nurture your family.


Camp Courage
8046 83rd Street NW
Maple Lake, MN 55358


October 1-3, 2010


Adoptive and kinship moms from Minnesota


$50 per person (includes training, lodging and three meals on Saturday and
Sunday breakfast)


* Deflecting Mother Blame
* Parenting Traumatized Children
* Compassion Fatigue
* New Responses to Old Behaviors
* Realistic Expectations
* Looking at Values and Belief Systems
* Knowing Yourself and Self Care
* Taking Care of Relationships
* The Long


Diane Martin-Hushman - adoptive, foster, kinship mom and North American
Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) Parent Group Coordinator


Ginny Blade - adoptive mom and North American Council on Adoptable Children
(NACAC) Minnesota Post-Adoption Coordinator

For questions, please contact Ginny Blade at 651-646-5082 or

Webinar: Adolescence, RAD and Attachment: Guiding the Adopted Teen Towards Adulthood

Click here for more information.

You Still Bring me Flowers....

Just in case you were wondering -- it is ok to try to win each part of the Tackiest Blog Give Away Ever. So you can post on your facebook, tell me a joke for wilson to judge, and put it on your blog and you'll have three chances to win.

Busy day ahead -- lots of office work this morning, and several practices and HIgh School Orientation this afternoon. Bart, Tony and Wilson are going to the State Fair today, and Jimmy and Rand are going to the Twins game tonight with the church group. Sadie is babysitting. Looks like I"ll only have about 3 or 4 kids home tonight!

I'm looking forward to having everyone back in school, but probably not as much as they need and want to be back.... This has been a very lazy unproductive summer for most of them and I haven't had time or energy to push them to do more. School and routine will be good for them.

You may want to pray for Tony if you are a person who prays. He and Jimmy were friends with this girl and Tony had especially been spending quite a bit of time on the phone with her. In fact, he had talked to her at length on Saturday night. All day yesterday he was in denial, but last night it hit him pretty hard.

And finally -- see the flowers in this post? Bart has purchased a bouquet like that for me and for the family every single Saturday he has been home. Anybody else had flowers every week from their spouse/partner this summer?

Just one of the 500 reasons why he is an amazing husband!