Friday, December 31, 2010

I don't know if you are into stuff like this....

But I just entered all my goals into Lifetick. I'm excited. I will get email reminders of my goals and I even paid the $20 so it can sync with my calendar.

how fun is this??? (and no, I didn't get paid to endorse them.

Looking Towards 2011

I tend to go a little overboard on goal setting and planning, but it comforts me and gives me direction. I have spent the last 30 minutes writing my goals for 2011. There is one goal for each of Six Categories: Spiritual Life, Family, Health, my Downey Side job, my Adopt America job, and Third Degree Parenting. I have written a few objectives for each one as well. Objectives, you know, are measurable things you can do to reach a goal. For example, my family goal is to spend intentional time of positive interraction with members of my family. But the objectives include spending time alone with each of the children who live at home once a month, having a weekly date with Bart, and planning a weekly family activity. Get it?

I think it would be fun to do our monthly resolutions again. Anyone remember them? Back in 2008 we used to set monthly goals together and then evaluate at the end of the month.

So, my monthly measurable objectives to share with you will be the ones I listed above. Date with Bart once a week, Family activity once a week, and spend time alone with each of the children who live at home this month.

What are yours? We'll talk about them again at the end of January. Come on, this will be fun. And for those of you who have been lurking, lurking, lurking...... maybe you should unlurk and participate with us! I can't wait to hear what your'e all going to do!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Heading back into it....

Next week, as I am heading into a new job but back into the same work, I'll be thinking a lot about some of our recent conversations here regarding adoption and if people should do it or not. I know I did this once before, but I think it is time for some positive stories.

Does anyone who reads my blog have a happy adoption story? A situation where you adopted kids who have leveled out and NOT caused as much heartache and grief as some of us have shared here?

Or are those people off reading happier blogs?

For those of you who have large families, don't you have a few who are fairly cooperative and doing well?

How about ending our year with some positive stories .... I think they will help those contemplating adoption as well as me as I head into recruiting and training new families.....

So what's the GOOD word?

Family Movie Night.

Last night we had a family movie night with required attendance at the request of my mother, who though they haven't seen her often, my children love and respect. She and my dad had sent "Letters to God" as a Christmas gift and asked that we watch it together. Everyone did very well watching it together and there wasn't much stress at all for that 90 minutes. Before the movie we had a family meeting where I announced my new job and explained the need for cooperation teamwork and shared responsibility. After the movie I had immediate refusal to cooperate and lost it, having a lovely little embarrassing meltdown. I just don't understand the ones who are not battling mental health issues and why they can't simply do the one thing requested of them each day.

There are actually two of our kids, Leon and Ricardo, who have it figured out. It you just do what you are supposed to do Mom will shut up. She will say nice things to you. She will like being with you. So Leon 99% of the time does what he is supposed to do. Ricardo, about 90% of the time when he is home... without asking.

The rest of the kids make everything such a huge battle! I'm probably going to stop fighting it once I am back to working two jobs. It seems to be counter-productive when I try.

But anyway, we had a nice movie night, followed by a classic mom fit, and then bed. This morning, back at the Y and at my office for the next to the last time. Trying to wrap up a few things for PFRC before starting with Downey Side next week.....

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Remember this? Well, unexpectedly, as a gift for our family at Christmas, we received a box of Australian goodies last night. A calendar, a story book, several koala keychains, and then chocolate of various kinds, shortbread cookies, and even some special cooking sauce for Bart. The kids had fun opening it and we were able to share it with StarBUCK (????) and Kari last night before we had dinner.

SO it was a real good night, interspersed with some not good nights.....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


As of this morning, I am officially able to announce that I have accepted a position with Downey Side Families for Youth. Remember when I blogged that when I asked God what I should be doing, He said nothing? Well, here's how that went.

Another woman in our church is looking for a job and she sent a link to Bart of a list of jobs that are for non-profits in MN. On that list was the position with Downey Side. The deadline was the next day. I asked Bart, "Does do nothing mean not applying?" He said, no, I think that pretty much fell into your lap. So I zipped a resume to them that I had prepared a year or so ago when another job was out there....

Had the interview and was offered the job today. I will be working at Downey Side Families for Youth in their southern office which is located about 40 miles from my house. There are a lot of really good things about this.

1) I can continue to work most of my hours from home.

2) I can continue to have a flexible schedule.

3) I can continue to get paid to live out my passion -- finding permanent families for older kids.

4) I love the mission and history of the organization. Preventing Homeless through Relationships. The agency was started in New York City over 40 years ago with the goal of finding homes for children before they ended up on the streets after aging out of foster care. They recruit families who will take children over 10.

5) I feel like I'm returning to our routes. If you read our book you will see that Downey Side was OUR agency and that they helped us with the adoptions of Tony, Kyle, Mike, John, Salinda, Sadie and Rand. The guy who was our first social worker is still involved and is a unique and wonderful character! I got to talk to him today..... and will get to see him in January.

6) In this economy I didn't have to look for a job and the timing is such that because of unused paid leave etc, it will be as though I haven't missed a paycheck.

7) I still get to work part time with Adopt America and match kids!

I will miss PFRC. They are a great group of people and a wonderful agency. But as I often say, it's about the kids out there who need homes. So my attempt always is to focus on the mission -- not the agency or the state or the workers -- but on those kids who wait.....

At the Y--- MCA

SIng it with me now.....

Kari and I went back to the Y this morning for the first time in about a week. Here's a sampling of our conversation as we were leaving the Y. It's going to make you wonder why she wants to be my friend.

The conversation started with me saying: You know, you and people like you are are defying God's law, so you get what you get.

She responded: What?

I contineud: Well, In about 10 years you and I are going to be sitting at Dunn Brothers having breakfast and you're going to say, "wow, you'e hair is grey." And you'll never have noticed that it happened. It's going to happen gradually the way God intended. But for you, NOOOOOO. You had to start dying your hair. So now, you're going to have to make the decision.

What do you mean?

Well, you're going to have to decide how and when you're going to go grey. I mean are you going to do the skunk thing? Or maybe shave it off with the Susan Powter look, or you could do that thing we talked about and I could buy you scarves and we could pretend you were having chemo....


But I don't get it. Why would women put themselves through this big decision WHILE going through menopause? Isn't THE CHANGE bad enough without having to decide when or how to go grey? You shouldn't have died it.

Fifty. I'll do it when I'm fifty.

Just like that? You've made the decision to do it at fifty?

Yup, when I'm fifty.

OK, I'm SOOO going to hold you to that. Fifty it is. It's not that far away you know.

Shut up. (OK, OK, so maybe she didn't say shut up. But she should have). But I have to lose weight first. I can't be fat AND grey. (WHAT?????)))

I just left that hanging in the air. You can't be fat AND grey? Who says? Like skinny and grey is qualitatively different?

So, when she's 50, what do you think we should do? Fake chemo? Shave it? Or the skunk thing? We have a few years.

I'm going for the Susan Powter option. Don't you think she'd look great bald?

(Kari's photo used without permission. Susan's too. ;-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting to the Computer Later than Usual

This morning I focused on getting some things organized and then fed Isaac (this picture was when we were at brunch on Sunday -- he's looking up at his mama ;-)

Then Bart and I (accompanied by chatty but fairly respectful Dominyk) went to buy a few storage containers for me to do some organizing in the kids' rooms and then went to Best Buy to get a new wireless router to speed up our network at home. I have come home and fixed it to work on my computer so far, but others aren't cooperating.

Every time I change anything it seems like it takes a day for everything to work right. Sigh,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Up and back in it.... kinda

Bart and I got up before the kids did and had breakfast out and hit some after Christmas sales. I"m motivated to get a few things organized around here. Doing things like ordering pictures to redo our wall of pictures that has broken frames, etc. to include new family members....

We were amazed at the beauty around us as we drove around town today. Our city has many trees and they all look gorgeous!

Have a court hearing today to finish up a great adoption with a family I've been working with for a bit over a year. Then maybe a movie at the cheap theatre is in store for us tonight.....

Here's hoping that the coming of the new year will come with renewed ferver to blog about things that matter.....

Thrilled to have Salinda 18 now. And nice to have a house full of kids who at least do something to contribute to the family system and who occasionally admit to loving us and demonstrate varying degrees of attachment....

Life may just be looking up...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finding Myself Ready to Exhale

Church this morning and going out to breakfast afterwards almost signals the end of our Christmas festivities and hopefully the stress of the holidays. it seems to get a bit better every year as the kids get older. I feel like I have been holding my breath for the longest time and now might be able to exhale.

Am thinking ahead and hoping to have a better grip on reality over the next few weeks -- tryign tog et a lot done and not get overwhelmed. I have been really off my game for the last month -- some short term memory loss, not feeling great physically, unsettled emotions. I'm sure it's probably aging, but I've been attempting to live in denial about that.

Maybe I just need to sleep more ;-) Hope everyone has had a great Chrsistmas and that you'll all not only survive but enjoy having the kids home!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day and All is Well

We had the loveliest of Christmas Eve Services last night. It was so awesome to have everyone there (except MIke, who chose not to be here. If you talked to him you'd know he would say he had no ride, but Kyle had offered to pick him up.

So I sat next to a very great couple at our church (I try not to use words like favorite, because we love all of our parishioners in different ways) and to my right was Salinda holding Gabby, followed by Henry, then Sadie, Tony, John Courtney and Isaac. Everyone else sat a couple rows back with Kyle and Christy. My husband sang a beautiful duet with one of the women from our church and preached a sermon that very much spoke to my life.

Afterwards we had dinner out -- Chinese -- a tradition that began when we lived in Luverne and nothing else was open on Christmas Eve -- and which reminds me of that very funny scene in "A Christmas Story." Kyle and Christy and Henry, Salinda and Isaac opened their gifts as well as those who were to receive "Secret Santa SIbling Gifts" from those people. We had MIkes gift with us, but he didn't come. Again, he will tell you he had no ride.

Kyle and Christy and Salinda et al left to go to the other side of the family for Christmas. We came home, wated around for about an hour and then headed back to chruch for the 10:00 p.m. service. Bart and I headed to bed around midnight feeling better than we have ever felt at the end of a Christmas eve.

This morning we started opening gifts later than usual and John and Courtney then left with Isaac for her family's Christmas. Gift opening was typical for us -- but not horrible. We enjoyed the time we had together and there were no major meltdowns.

Now I'm helping people set up electronics. I'm going to stop now before something happens that messes up the day.

Here are a few pictures to give you a taste... I may put some more on facebook later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Oh wait, it's REALITY, not a dream. More snow falling toay on the mountains of snow already here...

I"m assuming some of my readers have no idea what this looks like and have no way of relating to this song. But we in MInnesota certainly do...

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

There are a couple of verses in between that talk of the Christmas story. But before I moved to this part of the country I had never experienced the "snow had fallen snow on snow, snow on snow" concept in all my life. Now it is a part of who I am. Especially this winter.

By the way, Isaac therapy is still doing wonders. I try to hold him at least 45 minuets a day. He knows my voice, he smiles at me, I can calm him when others can't. It's a very nice feeling.

Kyle and Christy arrived last night, delighting the other kids who were here. They love it when he comes -- he is sort of a hero to them for some reason, and of course we all adore Christy, so it's fun to have them here.

Salinda and Henry are supposed to be here this morning with Gabby. But the snow may keep them away.

But regardless of any of this it is my intention to enjoy my day and remember what it's about.

The last verse of the song I started above are the words in my heart today:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Leaving You Hanging

I keep leaving you hanging don't I? So much going on trying to get ready for everyone to come and getting last minute things done.

Job interview went well. Have another interview next week and then I can tell you what is going on.

Kyle and Christy coming tonight. Henry and Salinda and Gabby coming tomorrow. WE have invited Mike to join us for church and dinner out and a gift opening for those leaving early.

Finally got packages out the door to relatives. They will be late. I hate that.

Feeling a bit less depressed, but still not quite back to myself. A new year might make the difference huh?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

heading out....

I actually have an interview for a part time adoption job today. I didn't want to publicize it, but why should I hold back now. If I get it is going to be very limited as far as hours go.... and I'm certainly not one to try and be something I'm not.

I'll pretty much go in and say "Here's who I am, strengths and weaknesses. If you think I'm a good fit, then hire me. If you don't, don't set yourself up for a hassle."

We'll see how that goes for me. I'm not even wearing makeup. Because I never wear makeup. DOn't want them to think I'm going to start now ;-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Until I'm Happy Anywhere I Won't be Happy Anywhere

I just made up this pithy little sentence when I was talking to a professional about one of my kids. In fact, it is probably going to be come a chapter in my next book.

The idea is this - and you can challenge me if you think I"m off base. Wherever we go we take oursevles with us. Salinda especially has had this problem for years -- if she can just get to the next thing, then she will be happy.

But is'nt it true that If I can't be happy no matter where I am -- I won't really be happy anywhere?


I wrote a long blog post this morning about our son who was discharged from Jail this morning, but I have deleted it. We haven't heard from him.

He says that he reads this blog sometimes and that because of what I write I make people hate him. The idea that if people "hate him" might have somethiing to do with his actions, not my reporting him, never crosses his mind.

Thanks to those who have blogged and emailed encouragement. If you've gone through something like this you know it is very hard to do. But sometimes there are no choices.

When a person has a verbally abusive spouse there are tons of resources out there for them. They have people who will rescue them. They can leave that spouse, divorce them, and move forward. Parents cannot divorce their children. They can refuse to have contact with them, but they will always belong to them.

I wrote a book chapter last week that applies to my life right now. I could be very anxious about what is going to happen with this particular son over the next few weeks. But let me share with you the advice I give in my book so that I can remind myself of it:

One study showed that 40 percent of things most people worry about never happen; 30 percent of what we worry about has already happened and cannot be changed; 22 percent of what we worry about regards problems which are beyond our control; only eight percent of what we worry about are situations over which we have any influence.

What if we were able to ask ourselves these questions when we were stuck in a mental cycle of worry:

Do I know for sure this is going to happen?

Can I control this situation?

Is this something that has already happened that I can do nothing about?

I have a feeling that if we were able to do so, we might find ourselves being able to cancel out most of our worries.

My life is full to overflowing with things to be “concerned” about. Right now we have a son who just got out of jail, two adult sons who are unemployed, two grandchildren who have parents who aren’t married and don’t have jobs, and a couple of kids whose mental illness seems to be getting more serious by the day.

Multiple times a day I find myself saying. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Borrowing stress and trouble from the future isn’t going to help me today. All I need to do is live from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour, and occasionally from minute to minute. It has been a deliberate action on my part to replace the nagging worry-filled thoughts with these kinds of sentences:

Don’t get ahead of yourself!

Today has enough trouble of it’s own.

God has it all under control.

All I have to do is get through today (or this hour, or this minute).

And, when I am having trouble falling asleep, I imagine myself resting in God’s arms and I say to myself, “In this moment, at this time, all is well.”

On one of those days when you’re feeling most stable, make a list of things you can say to yourself when you hear those anxious thoughts come busting into your brain. Grab one and repeat it to yourself each time and you’ll be surprised at how this can become a habit that leads to a more peaceful existence. Trust me, it works.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Yesterday I woke up sad. I hardly ever wake up sad. But for some reason all of the thnigs that have been happening with me physically and in our family caught up with me and took me down. I wondered if I was clinically depressed and couldn't shake it for several hours.

But by bedtime I was back to an even keel and could move forward.

We have of course been struggling ever since the unnamed one went to jail about whether or not we should let him move back in when he got out of jail. We both battle so much the idea of not having homeless children that we were having a very hard time making up our mind. But we could not think of a single reason to let him move back in other than that we love him and that we don't want him without a place to go.

The irony though is that on Thanksgiving Day he announced, after living here for eight months and not obeying our rules, continuing to be rude to us and blaming us, and taking advantage of us every day, he said, "I wish I would have adopted by loving and caring parents." This was right after he announced to all of his siblings that they were "F**** up because they had S**** parents. And that was preceeded by his refusing to come have dinner with us and then posting on his facebook that he had to spend Thanksgiving alone. Sad face.

So, he took away the only reason for us to let him move back in. The fact that we are loving and caring people is the only reason we give him chance after chance after chance. We have had to make the decision to not let him live here over and over again. Every time he promises that things will change, and each time his behavior is worse. So, being the "unloving uncaring people" that we apparently are, it's time for us to say no again.

I know there are many of you who have had to make the same choices. They are not easy ones to make. But having made the decision last night, I am feeling better. Not because I like either decision, but because the decision is made.

I want to write him a very long letter explain it all to him, but with his combination of RAD and FASD I'm not sure it would make a bit of difference. But the gist of it is this:

We have two choices.

We have a son who we love who hates us, blames us for everything, uses us, and has no emotional connection to us. We can say he can't stay here and the feel guilty.


We have a son who we love who hates us, blames us for everything, uses us, and has no emotional connection to us. We can let him move back in and have him completely disregard all of our rules, tell us what bad parents we are in front of our siblings, make his siblings anxious and nervous, have him tatooing them, piercing them, and supplying them cigarettes, and have constant battles with stuff that goes missing. We can hear about how horrible we are every time we confront him about something, and we can be told we aren't loving and caring. On a daily basis we can have strangers in our home without our permission, we can have "inscence" burning in our basement, and we can have things going missing. We can be blamed verbally for every mistake he has ever made as he recites "facts" which are completely untrue. WE can be begged and begged to loan him money that he never pays back.

I wish there was a third option. But over and over again for 7 and a half years he has proven that there isn't. No matter what we do we can't get him to respect our rules, appreciate anything we do for him, or even comply with the basics of what we ask.

So we only have two options. We hate both of them with all of our being. But I am not sure that anyone, giving those two options who has a house full of other impressionable kids, could choose the latter.

Should I feel like a hypocrite when I talk about "relationship vs behavior?"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Waiting til the Last Minute

Am spending my day at the computer working on getting stuff done that needs to be mailed in Christmas packages Monday at the latest....

So that and parenting will take up my day... In fact, not really even finding time to blog.... :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Minnesota Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter

Available here.

Sorry to Leave you Hanging

Kari called me about noon to remind me that I hadn't blogged and to mention that I left you all hanging wondering if I had done bodily harm to any of my children. The answer is no. They actually had a better day. Several of them, even the "adult" kids, made a huge snow fort in the back yard. I may even take a picture of it for you sometime.

Bart and I finally started our Christmas shopping this morning. We actually don't Christmas SHop -- we Christmas buy. And we did a lot of it!

Tonight we are having the Coffees over for dinner and to celebrate some birthdays -- homemade pizza here we come.

ANd I am finally getting a few things done this afternoon.

So the answer is no, I didn't kill anyone. In fact, today the adult kids around here have been working hard to not make me angry -- so it's been a fairly good day so far. Of course, we did have school today and nobody has returned from there yet ;-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Wonderland?

WE woke up to news of a two hour late start. Tony and Dominyk were schedule to have therapy. Bart had to be at all all day staff retreat. So he went to work and later Rand and I drove over to get the car so that I could take the boys to therapy and Rand could take the others to school. On the way back from that adventure, I got stuck going up the steepest hill in our town -- as did many others -- we were all sliding everywhere. It was nuts.

When I finally got home the boys ran out to tell me therapy was cancelled... and I proceeded to get stuck in the driveway and when Tony would not shut up an I yelled at him he got out of the van screamed at the top of his lungs that he hoped I F'in Died and called me a b****. It's so nice when all the neighbors are out snow blowing their driveways that they can hear such lovely things coming from my children's lips. This is one of the very few ways I envy Cindy. At least she's out in the middle of nowhere -- I've been there -- and at least there are no neighbors but her wonderful daughters to observe the crap.

Word just in.... school is cancelled for the day.

A Winter Wonderland? Not exactly my word for it.

Now you can hop on over to Kari's blog today and she'll probably have some post about how they are knitting blankets or making creme brule together -- and then hop back over to mine later and find out if I managed to keep from murdering someone.

Just kidding. I actually am thinking about doing something somewhat creative today. But we'll see how things go...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Relationship, not Behavior

I received this email. I've changed the names and I'm sharing it with permission. I am sharing it not because I think I'm wonderful, but because maybe if we all parent a little more like this we'll be glad we did.

It’s been a while since we spoke, but I wanted to share a story with you that I think will warm your heart an make you give yourself a big hug. It’s kind of long, but I think you need the full context.

I was in Ontario twice this fall, in September and October doing training and parent advocacy organizing, both times with a very good friend who is one of the smartest non-adoptive-parent people I know when it comes to adoption issues).

The September trip was fun and pretty easy, but the October one was very emotional for me. I had just returned from 10 days in Italy on a business trip with my husband and was very worried about our youngest son, Mark, 19 who was spiraling out of control. We knew he’d been smoking and doing some prescription drugs off and on, wasn’t showing up at work, just falling apart.

The friend I was with happened to have some of your flyers in her car. I picked one up and started going on about how funny and smart you are, then started reading the flyer, being struck by the “12 tips for parents” -- especially #3 – focus on the attachment, not the behavior. I came home with a renewed confidence in my gut feeling that his adoption, attachment and racial and emotional identity were behind all the behaviors and convinced my husband that we had to change our focus. We had to make it impossible for him not to want to be around us by making his environment warm and welcoming and by consistently being loving and concerned for him, rather than angry and reproachful for all his f-ups.

On November 5 I found him in the driveway, in his car, sobbing, and was led to believe he was drunk and had broken up with his girlfriend. Instead of yelling, I told him I was worried that he could have hurt himself driving like that, asked how I could help, told him I loved him, and sent him to bed. His last words to me that night were “I appreciate it.”

Pre-Claudia-inspired, I would have gotten up the next day and left him sleeping until 9:30, when I would have started waking him up, nagging that he’d be late for work again and to get out of bed. Instead, Buddy and I went to bed worried about him and went in to check on him before leaving to drive Buddy to work at 7:30. I found him in bed, unresponsive, not breathing, in a coma. It turns out that my worries about him in October were well-founded – he had started experimenting with heroin – and on the night of the 4th he had allowed another boy to shoot him up multiple times. He had overdosed on heroin during the night and aspirated vomit, suffering a serious anoxic brain injury.

For several days the docs and nurses tried to prepare us for his death or severely impaired (physically and mentally) future. It’s been just over 4 weeks now and Mark was discharged from the rehabilitation hospital, last Friday – weeks or months ahead of anyone’s best predictions. He’s walking, talking, thinking, laughing and... Loving in a way that he was not able to before. He doesn’t remember much about his ten days in intensive care, but knows we were there around the clock with him. He has more recovery to go and is connected to a community rehabilitation program for OT, PT, speech; then on to sub abuse program, but for sure will be making a complete or almost complete recovery. I am convinced that without our shift in thinking and relationship with him he would be dead now. Instead he knows, without a doubt, that our love for him is unconditional.

Thank you for your unknown inspiration. Have a wonderful holiday with your family.

While getting an email like this was very encouraging to me, knowing that I had made a difference in a families life, I pass it on to encourage all of us, no matter how hard it is, to remember that relationship comes before behavior. Always.

Anybody else have some feedback?

Travis' wife left a comment that certainly has some valid questions. I'm not sure I'm in the best place at the moment to respond. Is anyone else?

Check out the post and comments here.

Focus on The Baby

I always knew that teenage pregnancies weren't a good idea. But i'm learning more about that every day. Two people, neither employed, with no money, who have a hard time getting along on a good day, really shouldn't have a baby. But if they do, then everyone figures out a way to deal with it and the drama never ends.

I won't go through details, and to their credit, John and Courtney are doing an excellent job of caring for Isaac, but there is often stuff happening that causes stress. Sometimes it is just the stress of all kinds of little things, but they build up and it can cause frustration and resentment all over the place. But in the midst of it, I've found the key.... I focus on the baby.

Isaac is a little snuggler. He just burrows his little head into my neck and falls asleep there, rested and relaxed and breathing his warm baby air down my shirt. He smells so good -- the way a baby should smell, and when i feed him and he fixes his eyes on mine, I just melt. As long as I can keep my focus on the baby, all the rest of the irritation and resentment and frustration and drama just seems to disappear into the background.

What an excellent message for all of us this Christmas season! What if we could take time to look straight into the eyes of the baby Jesus during the craziness that surrounds us?

I have absolutely no Christmas spirit this year. We are way behind with everything. Since Thanksgiving I've been really off kilter. I haven't felt that great, I haven't been motivated with the job loss to spend money, I haven't felt energetic -- especially after last week's colonoscopy x 2 with the anesthesia. Dominyk is the worst he has ever been. And I could go on and on and on. And I just don't seem to have what it takes to pull myself out of the slump I'm in.

Maybe you're having a similar experience this Christmas. But if we make the baby our focus, we may just find that everything else seems more bearable.

Remember this old song:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will go strangely dim
in the light of his glory and grace.

Let's focus on the baby this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moments Like This

Last night several of the kids opted to come with us to Sadie's Christmas Concert. Ever since they were in kindergarten (or whatever grade they were in the first year they came to live with us) the tradition has been that after a concert of any kind there is a trip to the restaurant of their choice for a treat. This is one of the traditions that no matter how old they get, never seems to get forgotten.

So last night it was Sadie's turn and Baker's Square is her favorite. We each had a piece of pie except for Ricardo who is determined to make weight for a wrestling match this week. He also is determined to never let me get a good picture. And Tony had just had a blue sucker, providing us with some laughs as his lips remained very very blue.

But moments like last night are some of those that make the rest of it all -- the process, the system, and the kids and their issues -- worth it.

Aren't they gorgeous!!!!??!!

The Process May be a Testing Ground

I woke up this morning, unable to sleep in which was the plan (we have yet another late start this morning -- this time a scheduled one and not weather related). When I found the comment that Travis had made on the blog, I was very frustrated that I hadn't responded to him earlier and that he had interpreted what I wrote to conclude that they shouldn't adopt. Sometimes just a blog isn't enough and I hope that he will email me privately so that I can answer his questions.

But his post got me thinking about something. I wonder if maybe the long drawn-out, often difficult process of getting matched with the right child and getting the child home doesn't serve a purpose. It requires tenacity, it requires research, advocacy, engaging in tough things, struggling with "the system" and navigating through some not so fun things. But hey? What does that sound like? Does that sound like life once the kids are home?

There is a very fine line between preparing people well and scaring them away. But maybe the process is there to toughen us up so that when we finally have a child in our home, we are prepared for what we will face. Or at least better prepared than if we just walked into Walmart and picked up a sibling group with a voucher we had earned from taking the classes and having a completed homestudy.

This life isn't an easy one, but it is so worth it. Sometimes when I am caught up in the drama of it all I forget how glad I am that we have adopted our kids. The process wasn't easy and, honestly, raising them isn't a piece of cake, but there is a definite sense of fulfillment in what we do.

A couple of post that I have written explain this in further detail. Hopefully they will help Travis to reconsider -- or at least give him a more balanced view, or maybe they will help someone else. The first is about why I never talk anyone out of adopting,

This post explains why each day I get up again the next. It's something I wrote to conclude a conference called "Tomorrow" And the last is why I'd do it again if I had the choice.

Yeah, the process can be a nightmare. And sometimes there are nightmares involved in parenting tough kids. But the truth is, there are kids out there that need parents. One or two or a few of them might need YOU. And so we trudge through it all because it is worth it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crazy Day

Today we had a 2 hour late start and only one vehicle and I had to go to the doctor and by the time i had sat down to the compute rit was 11 and tjhen I had to give a ride... and you can tel how this is all going.

Good thing I am down to one job right now -- Don't have time for two!

This last weekend was longest two days of my life and today isn't going so well either.

Maybe I'll get out of this slump and stop whining. I doubt you show up on my blog just to read more pathetic complaints!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hoping for a Better Day

Yesterday wasn't a good day around here. The snow kept falling, the kids kept getting more agitated, and I really just wanted to run away. But today is a new day. Church is cancelled (something that hardly ever happens) and it is finally still outside. The snow has stopped falling and blowing. But it looks like there are feet of snow in the yard. I know feet didn't fall, but the drifting, etc. has it piled pretty high. It's zero out though, making it really too cold to play out there for very long. Thus we will have another day of all of us here. It looks as though the road got plowed, so maybe a few people can leave for a while today anyway.

I have come up with a few projects I'd like to try and get done and I think I'm just going to have no expectations for the kids and let them lie around all day. At least it will be a day with minimal conflict that way.

I definitely had my Sabbath yesterday, so I'm not feeling too guilty about trying to get things done today....

If you've been snowed in with your children and had a lovely day, please don't tell me about it. ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is Emotional Instability Contagious?

I slept a long time last night. Anesthesia might have been lodged in my system. I wish I would have stayed in bed.

We are completely snowed in. As in street not plowed, Mall closed, completely snowed in. Sadie and Ricardo can't get home. Kari and the Coffees can't get here for dinner. And I have become the target of Dominyk's obsession and it is not nice. He has been repeating horrible things to me now for about 2 hours. Tony is defiant, he, Rand and Jimmy started the day arguing with me and each other... it's not fun being trapped inside a home with people who are emotionally unstable...

Bart has been able to sleep and rest in the midst of it all. I cannot. I just endure. I realize that in some families this might be a fun adventure. Today, in ours, it's not.

I'm feeling a bit emotionally unstable myself at the moment, but the nice piece is that i have the resources necessary to turn things around.... when I'm ready.


Friday, December 10, 2010

It's all done....

I survived another 1/2 gallon of "cocktail" mixed with White Grape Juice concentrate -- even better than the minute maid. And I got lots of time with Isaac, something I plan to do again today.

Procedure took a couple hours and there was more pain than expected. Court happened over the phone and the case was suspended until Salinda turns 18, which is how it should have been in the first place. They stopped by and picked up some stuff and then headed out with Henry's Mom and Aunt. Bart and I decided to go out for breakfast and ended up at the table next to them. Interesting situation, but I'm at peace with it.

As Salinda turns 18 and is "on her own" it will be nice to know that our relationship is optional from both sides Does that make any sense to any of you? No requirements or expectations put on us by the law. And she only will be around us when she wants to be, not because she has to be. Her official address will change and she will have the freedom she has been begging for for years.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Loopy My Butt

Oh, maybe that isn't the best phrase to use but I'm anything but loopy. I am completely coherent which isn't really unfortunate since because I found out bad news....

it's not horrific news..... but it is annoying.

I have a polyp and a I misunderstood or didn't write down the instructions correctly and gave myself a shot this morning of hte blood thinner, so he couldn't remove it.

So I'm back home, I can't eat until tomorrow AND i have to drink another 1/2 gallon of the stuff tonight. But it beats the alternative -- which was to do the whole thing over again in six months and have a polyp in my colon for the next six months.

And I will only be appearing for the hearing tomorrow by phone instead of having to go in.

So.... maybe this is all going to be ok.

THe Worst is Over... or so they Say

I just read through what is going to happen to me in an hour and it doesn't sound all that wonderful, but the drinking thing was pretty bad. Thanks to everyone for your advice!

The first glass I tried a flavor packet in and it was awful. But the nurse had told me to mix it with minute maid frozen concentrate and that made it taste much much better, though it was still hard to get down. And i think it had a bit of pulp so now I am worried that they are going to tell me 'no no, you had pulp, gotta do this again next week." If they do I will cry. I swear.

I had one 20 minute period that was completely awful when I was vomiting and retching (I know, I know, TMI) but other than that the whole thing was survivable. It was a very long day. It's interesting when you have 10 full hours with the only thing on your to-do list being drinking and pooping.

Surprisingly I'm not feeling that hungry. I didn't plan for this well and so I didn't eat much on Tuesday and then of course nothing from Wednesday evening until now......

I will be glad when this is all over. I can't imagine it's going to be very fun. But I am relieved to have survived the preparation....

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Poopy Today, Loopy Tomorrow

According to my buddy at the Y whose friend's dad had a colonoscopy, I am going to be a bit loopy tomorrow. But first, today, I get to be poopy. I am not allowed to have any solid foods all day today and beginning at 1 I will drink the gallon of stuff. It's going to be quite a long day.

Especially since it started at 3:50 again. I think I'm going to sleep for part of the day -- somewhere before I have to start pooping for 10 hours. Has anyone done this? Is the prep as bad as it sounds? I guess in 24 hours I'll know.

On Friday I have court with Salinda -- what could very well be a routine child support hearing -- but the potential for drama is always high with her, so I planned this colonoscopy on Thursday on purpose. I figure I'd have something to focus on for this week that would take my mind off it, and then on Thursday, I'll be nice and relaxed and loopy all day while I recover.

If this works I'm going to patent the idea: Colonoscopy as Anxiety Reduction Therapy.

But first, the day ahead. The hungry, annoying, poopy day. All so that tomorrow I can be loopy.

(And yes, the story about the shower door at the Y that Kari is going to blog today is true.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Quick Glimpse

In preparing for Thursdays colonoscopy which is required because of the health ordeal with blood clots back in February I'm having to give myself stomach injections at 4:30 a.m. And so I got up and Kari and I did the YMCA at 5. In preparation for the injection, my body woke itself up at 3:50 and wouldn't go back to sleep, so I am anticipating needing a nap around 2, which, I can do, because, I. only. have. one. job.

Last night Bart and I volunteered to watch Isaac while Courtney and John helped her Dad move. What an amazing little guy! We had him for almost 6 hours and he didn't cry once! I fed him once, Bart fed him once, I changed him... he slept snugged up against my neck for hours. But not one peep other than contented little snores the whole evening. What a joy!

I thought I'd give you a quick glimpse of the book I'm working on by sharing a few paragraphs here . General feedback is welcome as long as it is good. (just kidding)

The name of the book is "Telling Myself the Truth: How I've remained sane while parenting 12 kids" or something like that. This chapter is about telling myself that I should not be the focus. Here's the conclusion:

Telling ourselves the truth and reminding ourselves to change our focus involves a great deal of discipline and doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some practical suggestions about how to find life more fulfilling by moving the focus from ourselves.

As mentioned above, put yourself in the shoes of the people closest to you. Pay attention to how your words and actions are affecting your best friends, family members and work associates, those people you deal with every day. When you do so you will find yourself making changes that will improve not only their lives but yours as well.

Listen to someone else’s story. Take time in your life to connect with someone you don’t know very well and listen to them share their story with you. It may very well be that you leave the conversation realizing that the life you have may be easier than you thought in the first place. Becoming engaged in someone else’s life not only gives them a chance to share with someone who can listen and bring comfort, but it also can give you a change in focus.

Get involved in the story of a stranger. When we look to the needs of others and attempt to fill them, suddenly our own needs and don’t seem to matter quite as much. You should try it. I guarantee you that if you’re serving a meal in a soup kitchen you won’t be muttering to yourself about how you can’t afford to go out to eat as much as you used to. If you’re at a homeless shelter handing out blankets, you won’t be complaining about how your five year old mattress needs replacing. Spend a day selling clothes to the poor at thrift store, and suddenly your wardrobe will begin to look huge.

In order to tell ourselves the truth sometimes we need to recognize and remember the truth and if our focus is continually on ourselves, it becomes more and more difficult to do so. Phrases like “it’s not about me” and “it’s time to shift my focus” and “I wonder what it’s like to be in their shoes” can turn around negative attitudes, soften bitterness, and erase resentment. Because when we begin to see the world as a place where we live to serve others, our lives are suddenly richer, fuller and more meaningful. After all, our own lives, minds, and problems are quite small in the scheme of things.

If you find yourself stuck in a negative pattern, turn things around by focusing on others. It’s a sure way to change things up and get you pointed in the right direction.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Changing it up a bit

I realized suddenly, last night, that if I wasn't working 50-70 hours a week any more that maybe I didn't have to get up at 4:30. So I tried something different. I got up at 6:30 and wrote a chapter for my next book. And now I'm going to wake the kids up and take them to school and then pick up Kari and her son and head to the YMCA.

In the past when I have done it this way I have felt like half my day was over by the time I got into the office. But I have spent the weekend praying about my future and it's really surprising the answer I've been getting. I wish it was different, I really do.

Whenever I ask God, "So, what's next? How do you want me to find a job? Who should I be contacting? What's my next step? I'm ready to do whatever you want me to do. What's the plan? What do you want me to do?"

ANd His response has been "nothing."


NOTHING? Seriously? I"m not good at doing nothing.

I've heard some other equally disturbing words. Words like "wait" and "relax" and "focus on being, not doing" and "do the things you've always wanted to do but never had time to do."

I keep hoping for another message... In fact I've been at times begging for one, searching for one, but "nothing" is all I'm getting.

In fact, when my mouse starts to click over to a new tab in my browser with the intent to search for jobs, I get the same message loud and clear. It's pretty frightening.

But I'm attempting to obey as much as I can until I get further instructions. But I would have rather had a to-do list with 100 things on it than to get the message to do nothing and wait.

This is going to be a very interesting journey....

Sunday, December 05, 2010

What Did I Do Yesterday?

So, are you curious?

Well, I got my office very clean. For the first time in several months I had Jimmy and Sadie help me and we got it done really well. And then I went with Bart on a 5 hour journey to take Jimmy up to Kyle's so they could go to a VIking's game today for Jimmy's birthday present.

We have so many birthdays in November and December that I forgot to even mention that Jimmy turned 19 this week. Ricardo will turn 17 this week coming up and Wilson and Salinda are the 24th and 25th of December, yes, Christmas eve and Christmas Day, and will be 12 and 18. We already had Sadie turn 16 and Kyle turn 24 in November. Crazy huh? Plus Courtney (John's Girlfriend) and Christy (Kyle's wife) have November birthdays and Gabby will be one on the 29th.

After we got home I finished the powerpoint for church in record time and then had planned to take the girls -- Sadie and her friend Sara and Courtney -- to a movie, but there as a major event downtown by the cheap theatre and absolutely nowhere to park.... So we went out for pie instead. Came home, held Isaac until bedtime, and that was my day.

So much for the list of projects I started ... but making hte list of projects as I cleaned off my desk reminded me that I have so much to do I'll never be bored....

I came home

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Moving into a Land with Too Many Choices

I woke up this morning and had a hard time getting out of bed. I used to pop out on Saturdays so excited about the one day a week where I could do something different than work. But today I don't get to work at one of my jobs. And there is a cap on the hours that I can work for the other and so.....

What the heck am I going to do with all my time????


I realized today that our family system is used to me working almost all the time. They are used to me being at the computer -- even if it is on my lap in the same room as they are -- about 14-15 hours a day. And so my role has been to make money. That's what I do. But now I have limited capacity to do that and I'm really feeling a bit lost.

Now I know that I could just dive into other stuff at the computer -- more writing -- more online marketing of books and speaking -- that sort of thing, but for some reason I am feeling compelled to spend more time doing the things that I felt I "should" be doing over the past several years -- more housecleaning (which I hate) more down time with the kids (which they don't know how to handle now, because it's not my role).

SO over the past few days I have attempted to get back involved in a family system where my role was to be a bit distant and it isn't going well. The kids seem to only want to push my buttons and see if they can make me angry. Bart's not sure what to do with me when suddenly I'm showing up in places and situations where I used to be non-existent. And I'm not sure where to fit in.

So while I'm looking for another job maybe I'm safest to just stay put. Maybe it's easiest for me just to remain where they are used to me being. I wrote a book last month to enter into a writing contest. If it doesn't win we'll publish it. I'm working on a second book.

It's not like I don't have plenty to keep me busy in front of the computer. It seems to be working for us. Maybe the "if it's broke don't fix it" idea is best here.

Maybe all the things I thought I should be doing, I really don't need to be doing. But these thoughts rolling around in my head are most likely going to make me nuts.

However, I have found one thing that I know for sure that I like doing that I didn't used to have time to do. Hold this baby. And so that is definitely something I'm going to add to my agenda. Last night he sat in front of the fire with me, arms on my chest tickling my neck, snuggled in the crook of my arm.. and it was pretty close to heaven.

So I think I"ll make a habit of that.

I know I"ll come out of this funk I'm in. I always do. But readjusting things after they have been pretty consistent for three or four years wont' be easy. Unless I don't readjust.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Last Day

For the last two weeks I have known that I this my last day of employment at Permanent Family Resource Center. The decision was made entirely because of budgeting issues and there are no hard feelings in either direction. I would still highly recommend the agency. My families are disappointed to not have me as their direct worker, but those in the matching process can still register with Adopt America as I remain employed there.

I found out about this on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Surprisingly I was very much at peace when I heard the news. In fact, I was comforting my boss when she was having to break the news to me! The funny thing is, I have no idea how we are going to replace the income. I would love to think that I would get enough speaking engagements or make enough money from book sales to offset my salary from there, but it is wishful thinking. So I am interested to see how God is going to provide for us. It certainly will be an adventure.

So I have mixed feelings today. I have done this kind of up-close-and-personal adoption work for 8 years on a part-time and sometimes full-time basis. I have placed about 88 kids (don't have the exact number) and 81 of those kids I have or will see finalized in court. I have had the joy of placing a sibling group of 6, a sibling group of 7, a 17 year old and his brother, a medically fragile child, and several other groups of various sizes and kids of various ages into permanent homes. It's been a good run. Families were made and I got to be a part of it.

And I've worked with some amazing people in my job as well. I won't mention any by name, but know that there are some wonderful people there....

And I know that I'm not going to stop talking to any of these people. Just because I'm no longer employed doesn't mean that I am not going to be alive. These people have become my friends and will remain so.

And while I am sad to be closing this chapter of my life, I am very excited to find out what God has in store. I'm a little bit nervous that the waiting time between now and when I find out what that is is going to be stressful, but I truly believe that God "knows the plans He has for me... to give me a future and a hope." I'm so much at peace and so very confident of that right now.

This song has been one of my favorites since it came out many years ago. I'm just smiling and enjoying my Great Adventure. I see myself at this juncture as a person looking up at God, ready and waiting, and shouting, "Bring it ON!"

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Continuance of a Very Strange Week

Again, unnamed son came out of the bathroom at 10:30 last night as I was heading in, me a bit shocked to see someone who is supposed to be in jail....

Third night in a row to have John, Courtney, and Isaac here, but no complaints on my end. I love spending time with the little guy every day. I'm so glad to know that, unlike Gabby, he will be able to know me, my voice, my hugs, from the very beginning of his days. He is such a snuggler too and it's just very peaceful to hold him.

Last night Courtney, John, Wilson, and Sadie were all in our bedroom while I was holding him and Dominyk and Tony were in there doing their own version of what I can the "Two Stooges" and what John has renamed "Stepbrothers" (I haven't seen the movie so I don't know if that is accurate, but two stooges fits!) Courtney finds them to be hilarious -- probably the same way that I find it particularly amusing when Isaac has a very loose bowel movement that crawls up his back. She doesn't have to deal with it so it can be really funny to her.

But little Isaac just sleeps through it all. Last night he was lying on my chest with his hand gripping the collar of my shirt and I could feel his little fingernails against my skin. He is just such a calm little guy.

Today Tony and DOminyk have therapy which is always an interesting morning for us. ...

Taking one day at a time for sure....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What's Bugging YOU today?

If you asked me that, I could tell you three totally unrelated things.

My beloved Mac Mail program which has been serving me well for many many years (I save every email so it takes some doing to store the 150,000 I have or whatever.... well, it's not showing my quoted text and I can't figure out why. It's driving me nuts and I'm not sure what to do. 99% of the time I have a computer problem I can fix it (which means you Windows users better not go mocking me right now) but this time I'm baffled... oh wait, maybe not that baffled, I just had an idea. BRB.

Hey, i fixed it! But in the process I messed up something else which will take me a while to fix. Oh well....

Unemployed young adults. But you knew that. And apparently the jail won't let our unnamed son in. He went in again last night and they told him he had to pick up his paperwork at the courthouse. This reminds me of August with the whole Terminator thing with the girl.

And the third thing is the kids. All the kids who wait. Yesterday I sent out 48 situations. I have not gotten a single response yet. I may not get one. Most of them are teens. It's really sad to me that all these kids will age out without bottom paddles to rescue them in the pinball game of life. But we sure don't have room for any more. Courtney and Isaac were back again last night. We love having them, but there is just no more space for another teen, no matter how many of them I see that I think "I could parent him!" (notice the pronoun)?