Sunday, October 31, 2010


Crazy day. Bart's mom and two sisters here -- FUN -- but for some reason the drama with some of our adult kids was hamped up. Mike decided to stick around most of the day which is quite unusual. And John and his gf had an argument and John and I had an argument and MIke and I had an argument and Tony and Mike had an argument and ... yeah, you're getting the picture. But it all was worth it because I got THESE pictures.




is he a great baby!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Trip Over to my Right Brain

I tend to spend a lot of time in my Left Brain. I like logic. I like things to line up. I like things to make sense. My jobs often require a great deal of right brain thinking even though it might not seem like they do.

But there are times when I NEED to head over to my right brain and create -- to let that part of myself go and to see what I come up with. Whenever I have a chance to do that I find myself energized by the project.

And so this morning, while the kids are still sleeping, I'm going to wander over to my right brain and work on the powerpoint for tomorrow's worship -- I have a cool idea for the layout, Install ILife 11 and mess with it, and then work on our family page for the 3˚P website.

Later today Bart's mom and aunt are coming to see Isaac but I got a text this morning that he was up all night and his parents are tired. In addition, we had several children stretching rules last night again, and I'm going to have to put my foot down....I'm trying not to think about anything except for my lovely trip into my right brain until I absolutely have to jump back into the real world...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Doing a training all day

Am in St paul doing a training and typing this from my very cool IPhone 4. But typing with my thumb is still too annoying for me to type much. All is well though. Hopeful have a great day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TA DA!!!!!! Announcing....

The new 3rd Degree Parenting Website that is being made public this very moment....

You guys are my people. I never intended for this blog to be one for self-promotion, but rather one where we could all just be us. Many times it has been suggested that I take down this blog and do something neater and cleaner..... but I can't make myself do it. Cuz you guys are my peeps ... just sayin.. (can you tell I'm constantly surrounded by teenagers?)

And so, I have an idea....

I'm thinking that maybe I'll create another blog and have two running simultaneously. But I may copy and paste some of my better blog entries into the new blog to give it a history. But I'm not going to close this one down... I don't care what "They" say.....

So I could use your help. Is there an entry that has been particularly meaningful to you that you think would be worth proofreading and putting on a new "professional" blog?

And one more thing... if you haven't done so yet and you have a Facebook account, come on over and join that new group. Introduce yourself too!

And if I don't say it often enough, thanks for being those who have been on the roller coaster ride with me, especially since the beginning?

How many of you started reading me before 2007 before we wrote a book and before I started doing national speakIng?

Lying, Stealing and Running Away.. Oh My (Training at 5 MN locations)


I am a very intense person. If you know me in person it may come out sometimes, but it is buried and well hidden. If you know me well, this comes as no surprise. However, very few people know how internally intense I really am. I sometimes nearly drive myself crazy with it all.

And that's why I have 12 kids. And that's why I have two jobs. And that's why I do a few other things on the side. I'm sure there are times when my husband wishes I had 3 or four husbands as well because I am really a LOT. If I had a child who was an only child I think they would die. Seriously.

Last night I had several unpleasant interactions with several different children who live under my roof. Part of it was my mood, but part of it is what Kari explained in her blog post yesterday about the lowest barometric pressure reading on record in our state and how, and I quote
acts of violence and emergency psychiatry visits, as well as impulsive behaviors, are significantly associated with low barometric pressure.

So my internal intensity colliding with the intensity of barometric pressure and the behaviors it caused in my children was not a pretty picture.

It must have somehow affected my daughter Salinda as well because without a word of explanation her bfs mom came and got her and Gabby again last night. She had stayed home 10 days. I think it was a record for 2010. But the longer they stay the harder it is to say goodbye. I keep trying not to get attached..... but look at her!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


SO, I'm trying to get a little bit smarter when it comes to self promotion and make things consistent.

So if you want to be one of the first to "like" our company on Facebook, head over there now!

Would love to have all of your help in building that as a helpful site for people....

Trying to Figure Out Why

Biorythms? Cicyle? Hormones? Certainly not circumstances.

Some days I'm just more anxious than others. If you knew me before marriage and kids which came very close together, you would know that I didn't struggle much with anxiety. Or anger. Or resentment. Or a whole lot of things. Did struggle with obesity, so I can't blame the kids for everything. But I digress.

But now I just have all this anxiety some days. Something triggers it -- this morning, me noticing a vehicle which more than likely indicates a girl spent the night without our permission in MIke's room AGAIN. The car was there at 5, gone by 6:30. I'm sure you are probably wondering why we don't kick him out. The Adoption Counselor explains it better than I.

But even after the YMCA (which I have been faithfully attending at least 4 times a week (except when travelling) for several months) and working out I am still anxious. And usually that does the trick. But not today.

So I'm not sure what it is today -- what it is that is making me so anxious. But I'm going to plow through my day anyway.

Anyone else have answers as to why anxiety creeps up somedays and other days it doesn't?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avoiding The Pain of Giving

I used to LOVE to give people things. I couldn't wait until Christmas as a kid, not because I was going to get cool stuff, but because I was going to give people cool stuff. But I recognized this morning that I had stopped being that person.

This discovery happened as I was plotting how to most efficiently package jello. Here's the story.

I am preparing a care package to send to Australia of all places. A friend there who I have been helping with some graphic stuff for his church had me order some postcards and they have to be shipped. Since the box isn't full and shipping will already be paid up to 20 pounds, I'm having fun thinking of things to go in the package. His wife, who is undergoing chemo, selected a few head scarves and bandanas. And then I discovered a list of things that people cannot buy in Australia. These people actually have grandchildren who have never had Jello Jigglers or Knox Blox because you can't buy Jello in Oz!!!!

Can you imagine childhood without Jello Jigglers? Can kids actually grow up without having them? And you can't get Koolaid, or Ranch Dressing mix, or Reeses Peanut Butter Cups! The horror.

So I have been having a lot of fun putting together this package! I have found little lightweight things to stick in there and have enjoyed the shopping and the idea of how much they will enjoy it.

But this morning I had to honestly ask myself why I don't find as much joy in doing this kind of thing for my own family, church members, or friends. Well, let me share some reasons why.

Historically, both of my girls have found ways to sabotage a good day whenever we plan one -- even when they were little. If I scheduled anything for a "girls day out" it was met with drama.... and as you know, the situation with Gabby -- who has been back and forth from her dad's to here several times in the last week -- is not exactly one where I feel comfortable having fun.

I also have two children who have a habit of having an incredibly huge fit if I do anything for or with anyone else. They scream "unfair, unfair" and have such meltdowns that the joy is taken away. And even if I can do it in secret, the fear of them finding out makes the whole event less than fun.

And then there are other people in my community. Why don't I do things for them? Well, as a pastor's wife, if I were to do something for one person, then next time the expectation would be that I do it for them as well. And if I didn't, well, I think you know how that would go!

This whole experience of preparing the package has been fun because nobody expects me to do it. Nobody has asked me to, and the response will simply be gratitude. I will get to hear about the experience of two cute little girls experiencing their first jello jigglers -- without having to be there for the meltdown that happens before nap time when they get worn out. I can imagine in my mind the lovely time they are having without having to clean up the sticky jello. I will be able to provide an experience and vicariously enjoy the good things while not having to deal with the bad.

So maybe this isn't really about me being a nice person and doing something good for someone else. Maybe this is about me having done so many good things for my own kids over the years without the result being what I imagined, that I would like the opportunity to skip all the nasty parts of doing something nice and just enjoy the good parts.

Maybe none of us are completely altruistic. Maybe all of us have a need to have what we do for others simply be enjoyed, no strings attached with drama free gratitude. But if you are the parent of children with mental health issues or adoption issues -- or sometimes just a parent period -- then you know that there are often negative things that happen that almost punish us for doing something good.

But this whole experience has taught me a few things.

1) Every once and a while it's OK to practice a not-so-random act of kindness not only because it makes someone else feel good, but because it makes me feel good as well.

2) My life has gotten pretty sad if I have stopped doing fun things for or with my children because the price to pay is too high.

3) I need to discover some ways to bring joy back into giving. My resolve has weakened and I have become kind of a wimp. I need to buck up and stop being pathetic when it comes to avoiding the pain of giving and stop being afraid of the reaction it will cause.

4) We are heading into heavy birthday season around here. Six of our 12 kids have birthdays between November 15 and Christmas Day and Gabby's is the 29th. I need to discover some ways as the holidays come up that I can turn things around mentally so that I can give joyfully once again. Maybe shopping with a friend or doing something out of the ordinary would help.

More than likely half of my life is already over. It's good to have a wakeup call once and a while and to realize when I need to do an about face about something and do things differently. And it looks like Jello will now be a memory trigger that the joy of giving, when it's done with the right attitude and correct expectations, will always outweigh the pain.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Get Down... But He Lifts Me Up

Last night our kids participated in a youth worship service for the three churches of our denomination in town. They did an awesome job. Sadie did a lot of the upfront MC type stuff and was really enthusiastic and fun. She's getting better every day.

And they had so much fun with this song! My kids can DANCE!

When Plan B (or C or D or E) seems to be OK

MEA weekend is over (Minnesota Educator's Association -- if you don't live here and don't know that) and everyone is heading back to school today. It will be nice to have them back there and to get back to work. I have plenty to do.

One of the things I've been trying to do is to just relax in the idea that sometimes Plan B isn't a bad idea. Or plan C, or D, or E. Sometimes whatever plan we're on has to be ok.

Yesterday John, Courtney and Isaac were here for a few hours. They were watching TV and I went up to hold the baby. And it was OK. It wouldn't be our first choice to have our 20 year old son be unemployed, possibly failing his senior year for the 3rd time, and a dad already, but right now he's doing a pretty good job being a boyfriend and a great job of being a dad. They are making things work for them, and the baby is beautiful. He is no longer diagnosed bipolar, he is stable, he is not aggressive or threatening, his anger issues are under control, and he's functioning very well. So things are good. It's not Plan A, but things are OK.

Mike is here. He isn't in jail. He can't follow our rules, when he even remembers them, but he isn't causing anyone else any problems. He doesn't seem to be using. He isn't stealing any big ticket items from his parents. He still frustrates us when he isn't doing what he is supposed to be, but he's not bothering his siblings (except for an occasional theft, which may or may not be him. He's not the only person here who can't remember what belongs to them and what doesn't). So while he has gone through Plan A, B, C, D, E ... this one seems to be ok for now. He's supposed to have a sentencing hearing in a week because of some stuff he did, so we'll see how that goes. But for now, it's OK.

Salinda and Gabby are here. Salinda is working on finishing her GED. She is not combative nor is she making anyone miserable. She sticks to herself most of the time, and I would be much less frustrated if she could find time in her fairly easy schedule to help out a bit more, but it's not worth an argument. She seems to be handling her situation fairly well. Gabby is doing well, and we enjoy having her here. It's not Plan A, but for now it's ok.

I could go down the list. For each of the kids life isn't a perfect plan A. For some it is better than for others, but for the most part, everyone is OK.

Or maybe the difference is me. Maybe the real reason that things, in my opinion, are now OK is because I have changed my definition of OK. It's OK that I have 3 kids getting Fs. It's OK that I open an envelope with a discipline slip in it at least weekly. It's OK that I have six kids over 16 who are unemployed (Rand does have an interview tomorrow though -- crossing fingers). It's OK that I have two kids who simply cannot hold it together and will fight and argue with the least provocation. It's OK that I get cussed out every morning, that I have three or four kids who absolutely cannot get their chores or dishes done. It's OK that some of my kids think this is the last place they want to be at any given moment.

Because really I can't change much of the above. I spent years trying. And so I was continually frustrated.

While I don't agree with this definitioni theologically, I understand what this commenter on another blog was saying:

Acceptance with a smile to any situation in life without blaming anybody else is heaven and rejection of any situation by constantly whining about it and/or blaming anybody else but your own self is Hell.

With acceptance comes love, kindness, generosity, higher self-esteem, self-love and apathy for people around you. With rejection comes hatred, jealousy, envy and self-rejection.

Somewhere in the past year I have gotten towards the acceptance that this talks about. And I have finally understood the meaning of this quote that I have loved for years, realizing it's depth and truth, but not grasping it:

There are two things, the actual and the ideal.
To be mature is to see the ideal and live with the actual.
To fail is to accept the actual and reject the ideal,
and to accept only that which is ideal,
and refuse the actual is to be immature.

Do not criticize the actual because you have seen the ideal.
Do not reject the ideal because you see the actual.
Maturity is to live with the actual but hold on to the ideal.

And that, folks, is what I'm attempting to do...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


John and Courtney joined us for lunch. Something was up with them that they don't want to share with us. I tried to enjoy my time with Isaac and not get too stressed or upset. but knowing that things are brewing and tension is under the surface raises my anxiety. I'm just trying to worry about me and not carry all the stuff they are dealing with.

Salinda was without Gabby for 24 hours. Gabby's back now so that's great, but for a while I think we were all worried.

I try not to get too involved in everyones stuff, but it's tough to keep my anxiety level down.

However, this baby helps ;-)

Cuss Words on a Sunday Morning

I was raised in a home where "gee" "gosh" "dang" "heck" etc. were prohibited. Jimmy Crickett was prohibited because it stood for Jesus Christ. And so having two of my children who will not stop swearing -- and I mean all the words there are -- really bugs me. Especially on Sunday morning.

This is something we have worked with with a therapist. It's something we have consequenced. It's something we have tried to stop for years to no avail. I've tried ignoring, avoiding, correcting, getting angry, explaining my frustrating, even joining in, and nothing seems to work. And on Sunday mornings it's a real button for them to push.

These two boys will swear at me every single morning. I just bribed one of them. Hopefully that will work..... to get us through the rest of the day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Facing a Testosteroneless Day

Busy day yesterday and then a night in a hotel waiting to attend Women of Faith all day long. I have spent most of my life preferring to with men. I still prefer it actually. Not to say that I don't enjoy my friends who are women, it's just that I don't fit in all that well with people who go get their hair died or get pedicures or want to talk about knitting or shopping or cooking ... or pretty much, you name it, if it is stereotypically female it doesn't appeal to me.

But the people I am here with are fun, and I'm planning to have a good day.

And it was time for an upgrade so I have an Iphone 4. I think I can survive if it's with me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sorry for not posting more

I'm not sure if it is just that things have gotten so routine that I can't make myself go into detail any more, or if I am too tired from dealing with stuff to post it, but the bottom line is I"m not blogging as much as I was.

We had both grandkids here the last two nights for supper which adds a new dimension. Our kids have apparently been doing things after we go to bed that we don't know about, and that is stressing me out. I'm old and I need to SLEEP!

I'm heading out of town for a couple days -- meetings and then Women of Faith tomorrow with some ladies from church....

Life is busy but good....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

So the Coffee Chick is Holding me Back

This morning she ditched me and I went to the Y alone.

Funny thing is, I worked out longer than ever. Since she has to be back earlier than I, she must be the one holding me back.

It's a theory anyway.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tears at 6:30 a.m.

I read Cindy's beautiful post about her dad, "Grandpa", who is nearing the last hours of his life and remembered well the two hours or so I spent in his presence when I visited Cindy a few years ago. Gracious, gentle, smart, wise, energetic, full of life... such an amazing person. Because I am married to a United Methodist minister, knowing he had lived that life brought us an additional connection -- as well as the fact that his daughter, even more nuts than we are, was raising the same kind of kids.

My tears are for Cindy and her family as they say goodbye to him, but they were selfishly for me as well because my children have never gotten to know my father. Our choices, both my parents' and mine, to serve God where he planted us leave us 1420 miles apart and we only see each other once a year. A godly former minister himself, my dad recently turned 88. My parents, married when they were 33 and 40, never dreamed they might see their 50th, but their 48th anniversary was a few weeks ago and my Dad on the phone told me, "Well, we've talked it over, and we've decided to go for 49." WE both laughed as never once has divorce been an option for them. I remember an argument when I was in 3rd grade with a friend who said, "you don't KNOW that your parents will never get divorced." And I, with fire in my eyes, said, "Yes I DO." I was THAT confident.

I love the way that Cindy and her family are both grieving saying goodbye but grateful for the years that they have had together. Please pray for them as there will be rough weeks ahead as kids process their grief and it triggers all kinds of icky stuff that lies inside their hearts. And pray for Cindy as she handles it on a day to day basis.

And, since I've now moved into the mode of telling you what to do, I hope that you will take time to appreciate the people in your life who are around you every day. Sometimes we need reminders to do that, don't we?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Day When I Have More than 22 Minutes

I'm going to further develop my ideas on this subject. But I am realizing one of the huge disconnects between my children and I is their moral development. Now grant it, this is a disconnect for ALL parents, but as children grow older they typically progress through the initial stages, whereas our children with histories of abuse and neglect who are dealing with issues of grief and loss get stuck.

Kohlberg wrote about 6 stages of Moral Development. You can read all about it here if you are interested. I studied it both as an undergrad and in grad school, but I have been revisiting it the past couple days. I'm cutting and pasting parts of that website here.

Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation. : The child assumes that powerful authorities hand down a fixed set of rules which he or she must unquestioningly obey. Kohlberg calls stage 1 thinking "preconventional" because children do not yet speak as members of society. Instead, they see morality as something external to themselves, as that which the big people say they must do.

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints. You might have noticed that children at both stages 1 and 2 talk about punishment. However, they perceive it differently. At stage 1 punishment is tied up in the child's mind with wrongness; punishment "proves" that disobedience is wrong. At stage 2, in contrast, punishment is simply a risk that one naturally wants to avoid.

Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. At this stage children--who are by now usually entering their teens--see morality as more than simple deals. They believe that people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in "good" ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. Stage 3 reasoning works best in two-person relationships with family members or close friends, where one can make a real effort to get to know the other's feelings and needs and try to help. At stage 4, in contrast, the respondent becomes more broadly concerned with society as a whole. Now the emphasis is on obeying laws, respecting authority, and performing one's duties so that the social order is maintained.

Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. At stage 4, people want to keep society functioning. However, a smoothly functioning society is not necessarily a good one. Stage 5 respondents basically believe that a good society is best conceived as a social contract into which people freely enter to work toward the benefit of all They recognize that different social groups within a society will have different values, but they believe that all rational people would agree on two points.

Stage 6: Universal Principles. Stage 5 respondents are working toward a conception of the good society. They suggest that we need to (a) protect certain individual rights and (b) settle disputes through democratic processes. Theoretically, one issue that distinguishes stage 5 from stage 6 is civil disobedience.

Now, I realize that is a lot of heavy stuff for an early Tuesday morning, but I have a few simple points to make. First of all, did you notice what stage one consists of? It consists of the one thing that kids with FASD cannot do. Their brains do not allow them to make a connection between action and consequence. So I'm wondering if that very beginning moral stage is impossible for them.

The next thought I have is that most adoptive parents are at least at Stage 4, if not 5 or 6 or we would not take on the responsibility of raising "other people's children" as the naysayers of adoption would call them. And thus the frustration as our kids, as they are growing up, live at stage one or two while we are viewing them from stage 5 or 6 is profoundly frustrating.

Bart read to be from a book called "Everything Belongs" by Richard Rohr that spartked on my thoughts. Rohr said this,
"‘Lawrence Kohlberg wrote some excellent material on levels of moral development… Jesus… is a sixth-level person. Many people have not done their first-, second- and third-level work… They’re really not bad-willed; they just can’t understand a higher, more complex moral understanding…

‘Our first response to anyone calling us to truth, greatness, goodness or morality at a higher level will be *increased anxiety*. We don’t say “Isn’t this wonderful.” Instead we recoil in terror and say, “I don’t know if I want to go there.” At the edges of medieval maps was frequently penciled the warning: “Here be dragons”. We approach these dragons when we approach the edge of our comfort level. “He must be wrong. That’s not true”. That’s our usual response when we’re called to a higher level…

So the whole dynamic works both ways. We as parents are frustrated that our children are stuck at level one or pre-level one. We want them to consider our needs, our wishes, our feelings -- or if not ours, at least those of their siblings, peers, teachers, etc. But they simply cannot.

And as we by our example and words try to "call them to a higher level of morality" they cannot understand or comprehend what we are asking them to. They see us as threatening and they become anxious and they "recoil in terror."

I don't have answers... but I am seeing a definite struggle here between what I want for my children and their ability to move beyond the very basic levels of moral development. I won't name names but I would say that at least half of the kids and young adults in our family have never made it past level one.

Maybe this is why they look at me with such strange expressions on their faces when I ask them if they have ever considered how someone else feels about something they've said or done.

Interesting stuff, huh? Think it would make a good seminar?

Monday, October 18, 2010

You know I don't Link Often....

But this is good stuff.

So you want to adopt through the foster care system?

Trying to keep up

I could go through all the details as to why Gabby is now here with Salinda when on Saturday night she wasn't, but I would not be able to offer a factual accounting without opinions. And since I no longer know how many people who are involved in the situation are reading my blog I will simply leave out all details.

SOmetimes I can't keep up with the drama around here. And I really hate drama. I managed to avoid it most of my life and now I seem to be drowning in it some days.

But this is the start of a fresh week and I've been to the Y -- had a great workout with Kari -- and am now ready to face the pile of work ahead of me.

But first, Wilson and I are taking everyone to school and heading to the dentist.

As always, so much to do, so little time...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Isaac Pics

John, Courtney and Isaac were in church this morning which was great. In fact, everyone but Kyle (who lives in the Cities) and Mike (who was actually out of town) was with us in church today. I love having my kids there. ALmost always everyone who is at home comes (except MIke) but usually John and Courtney go to her church and Salinda isn't here on weekends.

WE also had 3 college students join us for church -- one of whom we knew in Luverne years ago. They came out to eat with us afterwards. And then John and Courtney and the baby came over and have been here for hours. I got to hold Isaac for over thirty minutes while he was awake. It was so very fun. He fits nicely in my lap, is very cuddly and calm, and looked up at me as if he had so much to say....

We took pictures for birth announcements which I have been working on. Very tricky to get a good picture of a baby that age. BUt we got a few.

The Best Laid Plans

Well, now I understand why I never plan anything. I tried to, as you will recall, and things did not go well. Bart and I had planned a date and we got through half of it when Salinda wanted a ride home. I made a wrong choice. Because I get so stressed when she requests something (it's a bad case of Post-Traumatic Stress) I told her we would come get get her, assuming it would be her and Gabby because she had declared her reason for coming home was to see Isaac. I figured she'd only be home a day and would be needing to get back (she had mentioned something about a job up there) and so I told her I'd get her. Bart offered to come with me, but it messed up our fun time and resulted in an argument. We never did end up having dinner after watching a very pointless movie (Eat, Pray, Love). Ugh.

It turns out that Salinda came without Gabby and says she is staying the week here without her. She says she needs to go to school (which is true). But there is more to the story than that, there has to be, but she is here saying she isn't planning on going back til next weekend. Had I known this was the case I would have waited until today to go up and get her.

But now it's time for me to wake everyone up for church... some mornings go very well. Some don't. Guess we'll see which one this is. At least Salinda is already up.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How Many Cuss Words does one get out of "please take off your brothers pants"

I'm getting really annoyed at the disrespect from Dominyk. Of course his special needs do enter in, but he really should choose some other words to get obsessed with.

We finally have new furniture.... Living room looks nice. Waiting on mattress delivery.

Planning the weekend has been a good idea so far.....

But Right now I'm kinda stuck on doing nothing. It is fun... but I can't do it for long.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Planning the Weekend

I love my husband. You all know how much I do. He is amazing! He is a wonderful Dad, does all kinds of stuff around the house that I hate to do (including being an AWESOME chef) and he is hilarious. His sense of humor is sophisticated and sarcastic and I keeps me laughing in spite of myself a lot of the time. He is a wonderful pastor, an incredibly insightful and compassionate man who provides a non-anxious presence which allows people to feel comfortable with him.

But he likes spontaneity. He has always hated my incredible urge to plan everything. I am an obsessive planner. There are days when I nearly put "have a bowel movement" on my to do list before I decide that that is taking things a bit too far. I LOVE planning. I have intricate to do lists by category that keep me propelling forward.

But my husband likes to leave his options open at all times. He likes to decide what is for dinner at 3 or 4 o'clock - if he were to decide menus a week in advance, he says, then what would happen if that day came and he didn't FEEL like having whatever he planned?

So my endless attempts to plan box him in. And typically I try to respect that and wait for direction from him, but then nothing happens until the last minute when I'm in the middle of something for work and he says "Wanna go?" and I end up saying no.

This weekend we're doing it my way. I've planned stuff for today, tomorrow, and Monday and I'm hoping it's all going to go smoothly. Of course, all that planning has taken me some time, but I think it will help me to be more productive over the weekend...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I suddenly realized why parenting stinks (but I want to use a worse word)

When Salinda texted yesterday asking me if I could come pick her up sometime in the next couple days, I had really good intentions. I wanted to find time in my schedule when I could do that, organize my thoughts, and have a long conversation with her in person. But she had other plans.

Plans that included calling me when I didn't have time to think straight and thus I said too much too fast and in the wrong order. To her credit she didn't hang up on me or leave the conversation. She let me vent and then a couple texts back and forth and a facebook message have brought us to a resolution.

In retrospect I should have been more controlling of her life, but she always pushed things so far down the line to get her way that the price was too great. And so now she is living with the consequences of her own choices, but it all still comes back to my responsibility for making them.

HEY! That's it! That's why parenting sucks! It's because if you make a choice for your child then it's your fault when it goes wrong. But if you stand back and let your kids make the choices themselves, then when it goes wrong it's your fault for letting them make the choice! So no matter what, it's my fault.

Everything, therefore, is my fault. Everything negative in the universe, past and present, that has to do with my children is indirectly my fault in some way. This is a revelation to me! All along I was living in denial.

Can you tell I'm letting this sink in as i type to you? I am at fault for everything bad that has or will ever happen to twelve individuals in this world. Some of them will remind me of it every day while others will just let it brood in them and not mention a word while it slowly sinks in over the years just how much their mother has screwed up their lives.

Maybe the reason that it has taken me so long to figure this out is that I never really blamed my parents for the things that happened to me. But I was one of those very odd kids that only comes along once and a while who actually loved pleasing my parents and while I did argue, tried to make them happy. I was an overachiever and very motivated to build a life for myself. So blaming them never crossed my mind. They were my choices.

With this realization comes some relief though. Because now that I know that no matter what, it's my fault, I can be freed to not get so wrapped up in all of it. I'm going to get blamed anyway. I need to get used to it.

WHile obviously some of this was written "tongue in cheek" today really is the first time I put all that together. As parents, we are going to be the ones to blame forever, no matter what we do.

You'd think that fact would help me to shake it off a bit more... Who knows. Maybe it will.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When You Look For Them, They Will Come

Remember Field of Dreams....

Wow, that ages me.

One of my "Twelve Survival Tips" is "Look for One Moment of Joy Each Day." I have convinced myself that if I can experience one moment of joy each day, then the next day is worth getting up for.

Days like yesterday are full of them. They are the days of joy that come with major events like weddings and births and baptisms and confirmations and sometimes birthdays or Christmases, or occasionally a perfect day when one is unexpected.

But other days it's hard to find them. Days when life is overwhelming and people are crabby and nothing seems to be going right. But on every day where I look back through my day, even the worst days, I can remember a smile, a word, a sentence... something that brought my moment of joy. But there are days when I really have to look for them. But when I look for them, I find them because they are there, waiting to be discovered.

Simple things like Sadie, on a dare from me, walking through the grocery store last night, not only without make-up on but dressed crazy and pulling her shorts way up above her waist. Her friend Sarah took this picture and texted it to me to prove she looked like this the whole time. Or when I was lying in bed last night on my side, back to the door, and there was a very small portion of my skin showing between pajama top and bottom when Wilson walked in to say good night. Without a word he slowly walked over and simply pulled down the top so that he would not, as he has indicated in the past, have nightmares from seeing too much of me.

What was your moment of joy today? What about yesterday? Want to share?

You don't have to share, but look for one. Because when you look for them, they will come...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Heard that word today for the first time.

Yup, it describes me.

Can't have too many pictures on a day like today...

A Lovely Experience

Bart commented to me today that the birth of Isaac was such a calm experience that it didn't even seem like a major event. So true. Let me give you more details.

Last night about 10:00 I headed home from the hospital (which fortunately is all of five minutes from the house. I had gone up about 8 because John was texting that he was anxious and scared and I figured they could use some support. They had been at the hospital since about 5 and nobody could decide if she should be admitted. She was in early labor and dilated three centimeters with contractions about 5-7 minutes apart. So they deliberated for hours.

At 10:00 they were talking of sending her home, at 10:30 they suggested that she stay at the hospital for a couple more hours, and I went to bed.

I woke up to a 5:30 text saying we could come up to the hospital at any time. i didn't know the rest of the story. Apparently she had gone home at 12:30 but her water broke at 2:30 and so they were back at the hospital by 3. I got up at 6:15, woke up Sadie, and she and I were at the hospital by 7:30 in the waiting area with Courtney's parents (who are no longer married by get along fine). By 8:40 Isaac had entered the world. Courtney had said she didn't want anyone in the room but John for the delivery and we respected her wishes.

At 9 Bart came up with Tony and Dominyk (it was late start this morning) but they had to stitch Courtney, weigh and measure the baby, and then clean him up. Next she wanted to nurse him with only John in the room, so that took a while. John then came down to see us. He came into the room to hug me and all the stress and tension of the whole ordeal (along with fatigue) suddenly overtook him and he sobbed. He hugged me for a long time, telling me how much he loved me. Then he gave Bart an equally long hug, saying the same things.

Bart then took Tony and Dominyk and the boys at home to school, and then headed back about 10:15. By 10:45 we were allowed to see him.

The hours in the waiting room with both sets of parents there were relaxed and fun. John and Courtney handled the whole thing maturely and without drama. Everyone got along famously.

This is the way it should be...

Right now I am sitting in the room with this new family. John wanted me to be in here because he wanted to hold Isaac but didn't want the nurse to "yell at him." I explained he was the father and he could hold his son.

It's so peaceful in here. ALl three of them are asleep, Isaac in John's arms. Sometimes things just go ok. ANd it's awesome when they do!

Welcome to the World, Isaac John Fletcher

He's HERE!

Isaac John Fletcher, born 10-12-10 at 8:40 a.m., 7 pounds 13.8 oz, 21.5 inches long. Mom, Dad, baby all very healthy. He has SO much hair!

She came back to the hospital at 3 this morning and I got here with Sadie at about 7:30. Bart came later. We didn't get a chance to see him until 10:45, but it was worth the wait. Rest of the kids will get to see him tonight and tomorrow we hope!

From the OB wing at the hospital

Yup. Apparently Isaac John Fletcher, son of our son John and his girlfriend Courtney, has chosen October 12 as his day to enter the world. Last night I was up here at the hospital from about 8:00 until around 10:15 and they were deciding whether to admit her or to let her go home.

By 5:30 this morning John was texting to say he'd be a Daddy by noon. I couldn't exactly sleep after that, so Bart and I made a plan and I got Sadie up and we headed to the hospital. Looks like it will be a while but I'm not missing it. If there is internet, which the hospital has for its guests) I can work anywhere.

I was so proud of John last night. If you have read our blog you know he had a really rough adolescence. But he was so patient and loving last night. He had texted me that he was anxious and scared but he was being strong for Courtney, right by her side every 5-7 minutes to hold her hand and help her breathe through her contractions, with plenty of support and affection. He's so excited to be a Dad.

I'll keep you posted ;-) Hopefully they'll be pictures on the blog today!

Monday, October 11, 2010

When There's Nothing More You Can Do

On Wednesday Salinda and I had an argument via phone and text. I was attempting to lead her through a conversation that basically said that she couldn't continue take and not give back if she expected to live here. Half way through the conversation she hung up on me. If she would have listened to the rest of what i was going to say -- in fact, there were compliments a few seconds down the road, she might have been able to understand what I was saying. But she wasn't open to that. She then asked for my permission to do something that at this point in time could be quite risky for all kinds of people and would not listen to any of the reasons behind it.

Last night she texted that she was going to stop by to pick up a couple things. I thanked her for letting me know and told her I loved her. She asked me if I wanted to see Gabby. I said of course.

Our interchange was simple enough. I told her I loved her. I told her I was sorry she felt like she couldn't discuss things with me and that I would be here whenever she was ready. I spent a bit of time with Gabby, hugged them both, and let them go.

Salinda will be 18 2 months and 9 days. She doesn't have my permission to be where she is. She doesn't ask for it. Her absence might last a week ... it might last years. But I had come to the conclusion this week that there was nothing more I could do. I have spent the past 4 years doing all I can to help her make good choices, but the bottom line is that she doesn't value me or us or our opinions at this point. She has made her own choices and they have led her into some really hard times. But instead of coming to us for guidance she has run away from us.

I have found that we have several kids who stop talking to us when they aren't interested in hearing about truth or reality. When they want to live in a world of fantasy where they ignore the law or the guidelines of counties, or whatever it might be, they don't want to be around us because we will remind them of what is true.

And so I feel like I've done everything I can do. Of course I am sad that she is choosing to make the choices she is, but I believe I have done way more than most people would having been treated the way I have.

Sorry for being vague, but there are way too many players in this game now who could read the blog that I can't articulate everything.

It's not about love. It's about realizing how much of a 17 year old's choices parents can control and knowing when to give myself a break emotionally from the burden of it all.

Each person is different in their approaches to things. Maybe you are reading this and thinking "I would handle this SO much differently." I would hope so. I've been far from perfect.

But at this point I can tell you there's nothing more that I, me, the person I am right now, can do.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Finally... ... WEdding pictures

The New Monasticism (kind of off topic but not really)

After the kids made it safely to school I immediately headed out of town and straight up to my husband's hotel room in the Cities where we immediately began a fascinating conversation about Spiritual formation and the New Monastic Communities movement. OK, so that's not what SOME people might do in a hotel room after being a part for a week, but there are certainly a large percentage of people who take advantage of quiet hotel rooms for the purpose of discussing these kinds of concepts. Smile.

it was actually a very amazing thing. And let me tell you why. For those of you who haven't read the book, you may not know how our relationship has transpired -- how we got together, etc.

In 1982 Bart came to the college I was attending as a freshman. I was already a sophomore (sophisticated moron?) who knew my way around. We were certainly not enemies for the next three years ago, I had quite a bit of respect for him and he tolerated me, though found me to be way too intense and outspoken and unrefined. I graduated in 85, he graduated a year later, and we kept in touch over the next several years.

In late September of 1992, when I was getting ready to leave for Mexico for a 2 year stint as an educational consultant at a Bible College, we found ourselves working on a convention together. We ended up splitting away from the other guys on the Executive Steering Committee and spent time catching up in my hotel room. The subject came up as to why neither of us had married (we were both approaching 30).

The conclusion we arrived at was that we wanted to do such risky and edgy things that we weren't sure we would find someone game for the lifestyle we were envisioning. ONe huge component of that was foster care. But another component was our desire to live a place where there were marginalized people and minister authentically among them. LIke maybe a place like Harlem. Or Africa. Or ... who knew? But that understanding even then that the "church" cannot expect to reach people from inside it's walls... that it has to happen in the context of authentic community where people touch people in very real and deep ways. This conversation was the springboard for a unique dating relationship that culminated in our marriage in 96.

Well, the foster care piece has come to fruition as you know. Twelve kids and a myriad of experiences later we have been-there-done-that with many many things that are part of that journey. And this past summer, as more of our children enter adulthood, we have been asking ourselves what we will do when they are all adults...

Bart was away at a spiritual retreat center last week and came back with great enthusiasm for someday (not any time soon for those of you who might read this and go to our church and start freaking out) exploring the idea of living in or creating a "New Monastic Community." In case you aren't a link clinker, Monastic communities involve people who see a particular need and then intentionally work together, sometimes living together, in order to meet that need.

I was a little puzzled for a bit as Bart talked and I attempted to understand the concept, but he handed me a book that listed the 12 marks of New Monastism.

1) Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.

2) Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.

3) Hospitality to the stranger

4) Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

5) Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.

6) Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.

7) Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

8) Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9) Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

10) Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.

11) Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

12) Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

It struck with me such force as I read over what we had discussed in very raw form 18 years ago. These are the things that we had envisioned. But 18 years ago we were young. We were naive. We THOUGHT we had experienced life, but really at least I had experienced life in the "salt-shaker" of the church. The past 14 years of foster care and adoption (we actually had our first placement 14 years ago on October 7 when Tony moved in) have thrown us into society with all of it's unpleasantries. We have lived, breathed, and experienced in first person much of the pain associated with marginalized people.

And so in another hotel room, a little over 18 years since our first conversation, we were facing each other rethinking something that then we were not experientially mature enough to endeavor.

The conversation in 1992 led to our marriage in 1996. I wonder what this hotel conversation will lead to. it will be exciting to see!

Friday, October 08, 2010

I'm Off to see My Husband...

I'm off for a day with Bart today (and a home visit). He flew in late late last night to the Cities, and I'm heading up to have lunch with him. Then doing my visit and having dinner with Kyle.

Last night was a blur of activity including a soccer game with pictures to post at a later time. Ricardo joined back up a week after he quit but last night I could see why he had been frustrated with his team.

Not a word from our oldest daughter since she hung up on me Wednesday afternoon.... I'm living with the unresolved conflict... As soon as I'm feeling good for the way I've dealt with it, then she'll call again. But I'll deal with that again.

Baby Isaac could show up any time.... but I think I said that yesterday.

Off to enjoy my day...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Because I can't resist

I don't have permission yet to post these yet, but it is all over Christy's Facebook. Callie V Photography is the one who gets the credit. The pictures of the wedding are amazing!

This picture of Kyle as he caught a glimpse of his bride walking down the aisle is priceless.

And can't you see why? Isn't she beautiful?

A couple other things....

Bart got an email from Kyle this week that was very encouraging... I won't put its contents here but it was very affirming of Bart and his influence in Kyle's life. We are going to have dinner with him tomorrow night.

John's gf Courtney went to the doctor yesterday. She's a centimeter dilated and the doctor apparently saw Isaac's little head and they are reporting that he as "dropped" though he isn't due for 2 more weeks. All seems to be well though and I'm excited to meet the little guy.

So we have a couple of good things to look forward to.

If you are feeling that there are no big positive things happening in the lives of one of your kids the answer is simple.

You don't have enough kids.

Unresolved Conflict

I hate it. I hate having something hang over my head. It kicks my anxiety into high gear. My husband, however, can fall asleep no matter what is happening, and so when he is home sometimes his sleeping and peacefulness can calm me.

But he's not home.

And yesterday a child of mine who -- hough thinking she is an adult, is not acting like one at all, though wanting the privileges of being one a few months early -- started a conversation . A conversation by phone that really needs to take about an hour to have because the complexities of her requests and questions are just that deep. But about 3 minutes into the conversation she didn't want to have to "listen to it" and hung up on me. She wanted to finish this conversation by text and I refused, so I have heard nothing. Except that there is another text to come -- I don't know for sure when -- that will start the whole thing up again.

i did a fairly decent job by the time I went to bed of laying the whole thing to rest, having finished talking to Bart late last night online. But I woke up with it churning again.

I was raised in a place where conflict was lovingly brought out into the open and discussed, fairly patiently, by godly people until it was resolved. That's not to say I was never rude or mouthy, but I loved and respected my parents and our goal was always to understand and communicate. I have tried to resolve things that way in my relationships throughout my life and have found that 95% of the population are able to do that.

However, there are 5% of the people I have met who have to have drama, have to hang up, or walk out, or avoid, or manipulate, or scream and fuss.... and resolution to conflict is extended way longer than I want to extend it. And because I"m not used to this, it causes me stress. And I'm having to learn to deal with the stress in this situation because there isn't nothing i can do to change the way she does things.

I love my kids. It hurts me to see them make choices that are damaging. I want them to understand the repercussions of their decisions. But if they refuse to speak to me, it's kinda tricky. So my other choice is to simply wait it out. And I stink at it.

Bart will be home tomorrow! Yay....

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Homecoming Color Day

Aren't they adorable?

And they are MINE!

Things are OK

I'm not sure if less is happening here, if I am just choosing not to post drama, or if my definition of OK is changing, but things are OK. There seems to be less drama at the moment, and other than the fact that I'm finding myself to be incredibly busy life is fairly routine these days.

The kids have found their groove back in school and the sudden drama ups and downs of Salinda's life aren't a daily issue when she isn't home. She is, for some reason, not talking to us and I'm just waiting to see how long it lasts. She's too close to 18 for me to continue to track her down and when I start doing that everything escalates. So I'll just patiently wait until she needs me and then she'll be calling or texting.

It's Homecoming week at the high school, so the high school kids are heavily involved in planning their outfits and getting each other ready. It's fun to see how the ones who get along well really support each other. Sadie helped Leon and his friend Ivan (remember him? he lived with us for a while) make shirts for today. The tie-dyed them and then she was ironing them for them. It is fun to have high schoolers who are doing normal things. When Kyle was in High School he did all the normal stuff, and Rand did some of it, but we've had a huge break in that as MIke and JOhn were in out of home placement and Salinda dropped out of School. Jimmy has never really been into the typical high school stuff much.

Must dive back into my inbox. I have a good blog post brewing in my mind called "And when the subsidy ends...." Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


and that is pronounced Ti eeerrrrrrrrd. Wow.

I went to bed way too late to get up at 4:30 but did anyway and worked out. Now I'm back home facing a long day. I'm trying to find a window somewhere in there for a nap.

Last night was uneventful other than a very long annoying meltdown by Dominyk. I had a hard time falling to sleep -- the dog was barking at Mike nad his friends who were out in the front yard way past my bedtime.

Tony has therapy this morning. I like our therapist. She spends time talking with me about how to survive the kids, which I need. Tony has been slightly improving but the things that arent improving have been issues for years. NOt the therapist fault though -- I'm less than consistent with our attendance.

Bart is having a great time being away and I'm glad he has the chance to do that.

So much to do, so little sleep, so little time...

Monday, October 04, 2010

And the Winners ARE...

Finally, a month later, I have the winners for the Tackiest Book Giveaway Ever. I actually did this a couple weeks ago and my blog post disolved into cyberspace somehow so here we go.

Beth H wins the blog-link copy of the book.

Randi wins the facebook link copy...

and the Joke?

Well Wilson loved "Little Wonders" " Horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why the Long Face" joke but she already has a copy of my book and made it clear that the goo covered books would not be welcome in her home.

So, "I Now Drive a People Mover" won the 3rd copy with this joke:

"What do you say to a cow on the roof? Get down."

So get me your addresses by sending me an email at maeflye at mac dot com and I will get those books to you and then maybe be inspired to get the rest of my desk cleaned off!

Facing the Week Alone

Bart did a stellar job of handling things while I was gone. Last week, for me would have been incredibly stressful had I been here, but he did a good job of dealing with the things that came up in ways that were rational and calm, something I may not have been. Now it is my turn to deal with the stress and so far, so good. But he's only been gone since last night. ;-)

Decided to go to the Y after taking the kids to school instead of getting up early this morning. We'll see how much of my day this sucks up and decide about tomorrow. The kids really don't go to sleep very early any more and I have a hard time going to bed at 10:30 or 11:00 and waking up at 4:45 and still making it through the day without some kind of emotional breakdown.

Still no word from Salinda. I've decided to just wait and see how long it takes her to realize that she has parents. She's 3 months away from 18, she's where she's been off and on for the past two years so her safety isn't an issue, so I'm just curious to see how long she'll go without saying a word. I'll be happy to hear from her whenever she is ready, but tracking her down and forcing her the issue is never pleasant. She sort of responds like a cornered animal if she feels in any way that her decisions are being questioned.

I have a new strategy for facing my work responsibilities today. Hopefully I'll be more productive as I have felt less than pleased with my performance the past couple weeks. Travel kind of messes me up and while what I was able to accomplish while gone will have long lasting results, immediate ones aren't as visible.

On a positive note, we got a very encouraging email from our son Kyle this past weekend. He is really a very successful young man whose success has been less than easy to enjoy because of a strained relationship. I'm hoping we can build on this.

OK, I'm off to finish getting the kids off to school and to check my kitchen. Apparently one of my "adult" children's facebook indicates he was supposed to bring a blender to a friends. I sure hope not. It's pretty new, quite nice, and would bother his father a great deal if it were gone.

Is my world weird or what?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Here

Spent yesterday trying to take some time away from the computer. The morning began with Bart and I attending a very cold football game for Wilson and then I spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen with Dominyk. Well, i did the cleaning he did the talking. It had been his turn on Friday night to do the dishes and they hadn't been done and since the last two weekends Bart has been stuck with them, I decided I'd do them this week. About half way through I told Dominyk that if he would dry and put away he would be able to not face the consequences for not doing them.

Wow, was that something! I washed, he talked. He told me to hurry if he got ahead of me. He told me to slow down if he found a spot of food that I missed. He complained, he whined, he pretended to be funny, he did all those things that you would expect him to do as a kid with ADHD and ODD. And then I stepped on his toe by accident. His sore toe. And it "hurt, Mom, really bad, why did you do that, don't you know I can't walk now, you hurt me really bad mom....." for 20 minutes.

After lunch with the kids I did sit at the computer but time seemed to fly away as I for some reason bumbled through a powerpoint I did for Bart for tomorrow and attempted to make sense of my life. That led to supper, quick and tasty, and a couple more hours at the computer, a phone conversation with my mother, and in bed by 10.

Salinda and her bf and Gabby have been gone since Thursday. She is at his house because I talked to the bf, but I have not heard a word from her. I'm just holding out to see how long she will go. She never told either Bart nor I that she was leaving. Her boyfriend has had to quit his job here, so who knows if/when she will be back.

Today Bart needs a trip to the Cities. So that will be my afternoon and then I'm parenting alone for a week as he heads to San Antonio. But he needs and deserves a break. He's had the kids pretty much by himself for two weeks in a row.

Have I ever mentioned how awesome he is?

Friday, October 01, 2010

I hardly ever do this but...

This is a great opportunity in MN to have dollars matched for a good cause! The Agency I work for, Permanent Family Resource Center, that has placed a LOT of kids into permanent homes, is one of the 50 organizations who will receive matching funs if people give between now and October 5th. You can read all about the agency here. If you want to learn about the program you can click here.

Even if you don't think you'd like to give you should check it out. Give MN is a really cool idea to use technology to raise funds for non-profits....

Leaving on a Jet Plane....

Whew. The week is over and today I fly back home. And what a week it was. Got up early each of three days. Spent at least an hour in Seattle rush hour traffic, sometimes not moving on the freeway, to arrive much later than planned on two of the three days. Navigated my way there alone, presented for 6 hours, and then crawled back in the same rush hour traffic to my room to attempt to get things done. Met lots of really cool people -- some of them pictured above. (these folks are from the King County Adoption Unit and a few of these people have heard me speak several times. One of them is a huge and very encouraging friend -- another is a good friend who I've known professionally for years. Great people and a good day yesterday.

Today I fly out at 11:15 and return home at about 4:30, taking the 6 pm shuttle home to arrive by 7:30. It will be nice to be back, but it's been a good week.

I realize that for some of you public speaking, rush hour traffic, self-navigation, and being away from family sounds like a nightmare, but to me it's WAY less stressful than being at home. Even having Bart tell me what is happening there causes me more stress than everything else I'm doing.

But I'm developing a strategy for dealing with what is happening and heading home with some ideas of how I can change myself to help my kids....

Practicing what I preach I guess.