Sunday, January 31, 2010

21st Floor, Relaxation, Dinner....

A nice drive up, dinner with Kyle and Christy, and a chance to relax all before my bus trip tomorrow. It's a very nice room that Bart got on Priceline -- wonderful view, comfy bed.....

My biggest concern about the bus is that i will end up next to a creepy fat person and because I am a creepy not fat person we won't both fit in the bus. I also am concerned that I won't have room to set up my laptop and that the wireless won't work.

However, if I can get in the bus, sit by myself or not next to anybody creepy and fat -- I might just have a very productive day and make it to my destination very cheaply. Has anyone used Megabus? Do I have hope this could be true?

And then there were 15

Today the Fletcher contingency consisted of 2 parents and 15 more -- 10 kids, a grandkid, a boyfriend, two girlfriends, and a best friend. Church was very nice -- having Gabby on my lap for most of the service. After church most of us headed out to eat and more and more of us kept coming in.... it was actually kind of fun to start seeing our family growing -- and envisioning us in the future with more inlawish type people to love -- whoever they are.

I am noticing myself changing as my kids become adults one by one. I am a lot less about thinking I can change their thinking and all about how I can be part of their lives now without causing them more stress than they are already facing. Some of them have chosen (not necessarily intentionally) difficult roads and I used to try to remind them and teach them and all that jazz... now I just offer a listening ear and advice only when asked. If by 18 they didn't get what I was trying to say, repeating it now isn't going to help.

So we are heading out.... hope to fill you in more later.

Plans... Who Needs Them?

Because the baby is hardly ever here -- and because she didn't get here until after 3, we changed our mind about going to the gag gift party and stayed home. Since MIke and Kari hadn't seen her yet, we invited them up and hey -- why not stay for dinner again? They did the MInnesota "You guys really don't HAVE to invite us all the time" thing, but they ended up eating with us anyway. Anna was on a new med, so it was much more pleasant -- sometimes it's nice to have a do-over.

Kari had run to the store to get Best of the 70s Karaoke since we had finished the 4 80s CDs, and we had another rousing night of Karaoke, although I was holding a baby and it wasn't quite as overwhelming with Anna being so calm... but Mike and Bart are never sexier than when they are singing songs to Kari and I like "Brick House" or "Bennie and the Jets". Some of the words to those songs -- have you LISTENED to them? Karaoke proves I was way more involved in culture than I even knew -- I just sang along, not knowing most of the words.

Today I am heading out of town and never did get my haircut, which Bart says will keep the guys from hitting on me -- like, yeah, right, that is the ONLY thing -- my need of a haircut. I was perfectly fine with this whole bus trip until he has given me 143 reasons to be anxious about it. Gotta love being married to a guy whose glass is half full .... or poison! ;-)

Hopefully I"ll have time to blog more thoroughly later...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

And then There Were Three

Three kids home this morning -- that's it. But Salinda, boyfriend and baby are due this afternoon -- the entire morning has been spent with her saying -- we're coming - oh woops, we're not, oh yes, we are, etc. etc. Latest news is that they are coming. I'm excited to see Gabby -- it's been almost 2 weeks. She turned a month old yesterday -- so I haven't seen her for nearly half her life. I'm sure she's changed a lot.

We're trying to figure out a new way to move bedrooms around to make things make more sense in the house -- always a bit of work in planning the best scenario for everyone to fit well in regards to sleeping accommodations and comfortably and still have enough space for relaxing and recreation as well. We have to keep experimenting to get it right. The last arrangement was not a good one, in my opinion -- so we're rearranging -- at least in my mind, once again.

Jimmy asked Bart yesterday if the dog had "Distachment Disorder".... and today we are supposed to bring a Gag Gift to a party at church and he has no idea why we would need to bring a gift that makes people gag.

I have to come up with two ideas -- Bart will make the treats if I come up with the gift. I'm not sure what it will be. Ideas anyone?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attention Deficit Disorder

Kids minds are funny. Last night Dominyk was doing what Dominyk does -- for about an hour. Talking nonsense incessantly, repeating that he was bored, making a gun with his fingers and shooting me over and over again, and asking the same question over and over again. Finally I asked, "Dominyk what do you want me to do?"

ANd he said

I kid you not -- he came up with this all on his own, and of course we later explained his misunderstanding of the term --

but he said

"Mom, you have to give me more attention! You KNOW I have Attention Deficit Disorder!"

Directly Proportional....

My facebook status yesterday said, "Claudia has discovered that the amount of drama in ones life is directly proportional to the number of children one has between the ages of 13 and 25."

What a day yesterday. We talked to all 12 of our children. Six of them -- five of them being five of the oldest six -- had some strange or difficult drama to pull us into. We had phone calls as well -- from a county worker, from a teacher, and from the jail. Drama abounds -- and our lives get more complicated as Bart and I sit and do our jobs day after day, boring, old fat tired middle aged professionals, each with half a doctorate (hey, does that mean that together we have one? Hadn't thought about that).

So we sit and create zero drama while it all falls on our laps. Today and tomorrow are finals, messing up everyones schedule so nobody goes or comes at the same time. We have 3 turning 15 in 4 months, but in our house if you can't afford to pay for Driver's Ed, then we will not pay for it if you have Ds and Fs. We figure if a person can't either get the grades or save money for it, then they can wait to get it when they can. But it looks like Leon may get the grades unless he bombs his finals. Sadie has th money, but hates spending it, so she may choose to wait.

There is a new predicament that I can't blog about, but it should cause some major upheaval and drama after next week. Sigh.

One day at a time....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Chuckle a Day Keeps the Insanity at Bay or Overheard at the Fletchers

On discussing who was smelling up the van, Dominyk stated, "It was I. It was I who fluffed."


Wilson, in a note to the tooth fairy last night, after losing a tooth he felt was particularly large and heavy for his little mouth, wrote, "Tooth Fairy, Could I please keep my tooth AND have the money. Thanks, Tooth Fairy."


The current issue of the United Methodist Reporter for Minnesota has a random picture of our family from Annual Conference where Bart spoke last year. There was no article that seemed remotely close until I saw the opposing page entitled 'Why are our insurance premiums going up?"


Dominyk turned to me in during service Sunday and said, "This choir number is quite catchy mom."


Jimmy came into apologize for accidentlally spending money to download a movie on his Ipod. "I didn't know what I was doing mom" he said. The movie he downloaded, (and I kid you not): Dumb and Dumber.

Did the Girl Like the Muscles Ricky?

Last night we watched our boys wrestle again and it is always fun. Leon didn't get pinned, and if he had had one more minute he coulda beat the guy, but he lost by a couple points. Ricardo had to wrestle a girl for the first time in his wrestling career and he was not about to spend an unnecessary moment doing so. He grabbed her, threw her to the ground, and pinned her in 36 seconds. Leon teased him about making it to second base and we just told him later we could tell he didn't want that to last long (obviously this picture is not from last night-- my battery on my camera was dead).

Ricky told Bart several months ago, "da girls like da muscles Dad" when we were teasing about his weight lifting. I'm not sure the girl last night liked them much...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Early Out, Late Start .... School Anywhere? Anyone?

Yes, out by 12:30 yesterday, not going in until 10:00 this morning -- not exactly convenient when Da Boss was coming. But she rolled with the punches, we got what needed to be done, and she survived supper at our house. Dominyk was with a PCA and Ricardo and John weren't home, and as long as we were all willing to allow Tony to be the center of attention for the evening, things went quite swimmingly for us. We had a nice time.

Even though it is a late start, Tony and Jimmy are both up to argue with each other and me, so kind of them, eh?

I was supposed to meet with da boss this morning at 8:15 but she will once again have to be flexible -- which she always is. We'll meet after the kids go to school...

John has been gone for most of the last week. Mike is getting out of jail again once facing homelessness. It's a bit difficult to justify not letting Mike come home when John is here following few rules. I've been reading blogs of several who have this phenomenon to deal with -- kids in and out, failing and succeeding, back and forth. But in the middle of winter, when we have the space, it's difficult to make a child homeless, especially when they had months of success. So we are again debating what is best for everyone.... John swears he will move out if we let Mike move back in .... but the truth is, Mike was functioning better than John without our help for several months before he went back into jail....

I can imagine there are several of you who will say "DON"T DO IT." But to his credit, he has never been violent and he hasn't been verbally abusive for years. His FASD is prevalent and he is very scattered, but I am certain many of you have more difficult children living in your homes.

it's just so hard to invite someone back in knowing how hard it will be to kick them out if that becomes necessary. But he has finished his GED, has a very level headed girlfriend... and just maybe this one last chance is what he needs. Even though John isn't doing perfectly he is doing a whole lot better than he would have been if we made him homeless......

Decisions. Decisions. We hate them. And there is no easy answer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yesterday -- Slow, and Easy... until the End

Yesterday was a pretty quiet day around here. After lunch people were fairly calm until youth group which was movie night and lasted until 8. Dominyk went to the YMCA before youth group and for some reason everyone was fairly occupied....until bedtime. Of course, then Tony had to suddenly remember that he needed dressclothes for today which began loud incessant argumentation..... sigh.

But we made it to sleep and we are up again today -- well, at least a few of us. Others soon.

Today THE BOSS (the new one from our agency) is coming to visit. This is the first time in my life that I have had a much younger supervisor and it really is a little odd to have someone who could be my daughter telling me what to do. She's not yet thirty, and sometimes I feel like saying, now why don't you just go get your driver's license, or perhaps, change your DIAPER before you tell me what to do. Fortunately she is very good natured and would just laugh and I like her a ton, but it's still a little odd to look up to someone who is so much younger for direction.

It makes me wonder what all my previous supervisees thought back in the day when I was a hall director at 21. One of my custodians in my building was pushing retirement age. He was probably old enough to be my grandfather and yet here I was telling him what to do. Or when I was a college administrator at 24.... yikes. And the funny thing was, back then I really thought I knew a lot more than I do now.

So even though I will not spend a great deal of time a the computer this morning, I'm looking forward to spending the day with the boss. She is going to get to come over to Brian and Jills with me -- friends in town who have more kids than we do -- so that should be an adventure. Bart has a board meeting in the Cities tonight, so we are even going to be brave enough to have her over to dinner with the kids and I (mostly the kids) fixing beans and rice. Hope she survives that experience.

Should be interesting....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's another Sunday morning

Like so many others. Though nobody has screamed yet. They are all up and hopefully getting ready. Rand and Jimmy have gone with Bart and the rest are buzzing around. I will check on them shortly and hopefully they'll be about ready. John isn't here, so that takes a lot of stress off. He is never ready on time and it stresses everyone out because he needs an entire bathroom for 90 minutes just to get ready. He never can get himself up. SO even though he has been gone since Friday without a word, it's better if he is going to be gone on Sunday morning -- then it is his job to get to church, or not -- not mine to get him there.

WE have plans to eat out today and then back to seeing what I can get done here. I really need to design a new website for Third Degree Parenting.....

Dominyk is screaming mom

Like 425 times...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Check out this story about my friends....

I spoke for this group and spent time with these folks in November. It was a great time as I had posted about here and now they are featured on the Adopt Us Kids front page. I had the privelege of meeting a few of their children as well. I hate even showing you her picture as she looks 20 years younger and it's practically the opposite. SIgh.

Upcoming Support Group in New Ulm MN

The foster/adoptive parent support group will meet on Mon, Jan 25 from 6:30-8pm at Christ the King Church in New Ulm (1515 N Garden). Child Care is available.

Friday, January 22, 2010

An Article I Wrote

This article, printed in AdoptTalk, is written by yours truly.

Some Resources

Parenting Your Adopted School-Age Child

Adoption can add layers of complexity to the developmental tasks of children between the ages of 6 and 12. This factsheet will help adoptive parents understand and respond to their school-age child's developmental needs. It provides practical strategies to help them foster healthy development, including approaches for building attachment, talking honestly with the child about adoption, acknowledging his or her adoptive history, using appropriate discipline, and enhancing the child's school experience.

Parenting Your Adopted Teenager

During the teenage years, youth form an identity that is separate from their parents. Adoption complicates the normal developmental tasks of teenagers, even those who were adopted as newborns. This factsheet will help adoptive parents understand their teenager's' needs so they can respond with strategies that foster healthy development. It presents tips for talking about adoption with their adopted teen, strategies for providing guidance, appropriate discipline, and opportunities to master adult tasks as he or she takes on greater independence.

When Nobody Wanted Us

If you read Bart's post last night you know that Leon wrote this note at wrestling parents night to us from him and Ricardo:

Dear Mom and Dad ... Both me [Leon] and Ricardo want to thank you for everything you've done in our lives, like adopting the both of us, when nobody wanted us and giving us a better life.

I haven't had time to do it yet, but I will pull them aside later and I will explain to them that it might have been true that nobody wanted them, but that it was not because there was anything wrong with them. I want to explain to them that people are sometimes confused and that the only reason they didn't want them is because they didn't know them.

These two are by far our easiest children. One came at 10, the other at 12. They are absolutely wonderful young men. I love them just as much as my other kids, but they make it a whole lot easier. They are just beyond words amazing.

I was told by Pat O'Brien years ago that latency kids are some of the hardest to adopt. He said that kids ages 6-10 generally, are young enough to not remember what life was really like with birth family and so they blame their adoptive parents for everything. He said, "Adopt a kid 10 or over and they will end up much more grateful and appreciative eventually.' He couldn't have been more right with these two.

I can write this in my blog 100 times and probably have. I can tell you that Tony, who we started fostering at 19 months and Dominyk, who arrived at 9 months are way more difficult than the others. I can tell you that my sib group of 3 kids, ages 8 6 and 4, were wonderful for their first few years with us, but their adolescence has nearly killed us.

Sure, it depends on the kids, but younger doesn't mean better -- it just means longer. Ricky and Leon are in 9th grade. I dread the day they will move out of my home already.

I'm very grateful that a whole bunch of people had their homestudies written to only adopt kids up to age 9 a few years ago. Because had they been open to age 12, Leon wouldn't be ours, and I can't imagine my life without him. And I'm glad that people flipped right past Ricardo's profile because he was too old as he sat in the orphanage in Guatemala, because my studly 18-2 wrestler wouldn't have been here winning yet another match last night had they stopped and considered him.

The only reason they didn't want you, sons, is because they didn't know you. And I can't help but believe that there is a whole slew of older kids out there that are the same way. Nobody wants them... because nobody knows them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Pictures to go with Bart's post

Bart blogged about tonight.

I know, I know it's 10:38 and I haven't blogged

I guess you could say not much is happening in our world as a family -- as time goes by I don't always post the typical stuff that seems to be daily and draining... as it is just as much a part of life as eating and sleeping. John's deception, Salinda's drama from afar, Sadie's typical teenage girl hormonal confusion, Tony's badgering people, Rand's continual pretending he's working, and Dominyk's unending obsessions...

But there have been good things as well. Progress made. Ricardo is 17-2 for wrestling this year -- i have pictures on my camera that I need to post. Tony is maturing though he goes in cycles -- John is on the top of his game for now. It just all comes and goes.

I haven't slept well lately and need to get back into a regular routine.

This is a boring post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maybe not for everyone, but this is my idea of a fun morning

Even though I don't feel all that great this morning -- my stomach is being weird -- I had a good time making this web page because it turned out good.

And I redid the background for the Permanent Family Resource Center twitter page. And I like it too.

Sometimes I finish something and think it is mediocre at best. But this time I don't. I like them both. Hopefully other people will be drawn to them as well -- and follow us on Twitter -- and, more importantly sign up to attend training to become an adoptive parent.

Of course, most of the twitter adoption world is focusing on adopting from Haiti at the moment. As someone who lives, breathes, thinks, dreams, sleeps with, studies, experiences, tolerates, and celebrates adoption and the issues surrounding it 24/7 the whole rush to help seems .... I'm not sure what the word is ..... it just seems strange. National disasters wake us up to issues I guess. Issues that are always there and suddenly the world is aware of them. Orphans needing parents? An issue that has been prevalent for decades. I won't take time to blog my opinions about this at great length as I will just be one of hundreds doing the same thing.

There will probably be more families wanting to adopt an orphan from Hiati (if they are truly orphans -- many kids in orphanages in third world countries do have living parents) than there are children to adopt. And that is a very good thing. I hope millions sense a call to do this. RIght now we as an agency are trying to find ways to help with this. But beyond this immediate need, my prayer is that once the adoption decisions are settled and the Haitian orphans have homes, that those millions who didn't "get a kid from haiti" will realize that they are still called to adopt.... and that more legal and true orphans, in the U.S. and around the world, will all find homes.

A Night of Dreams...

I slept hard last night but I also dreamed hard. My first dream involved Gabby. I was holding her -- all of 3 weeks old and for some reason I set her down. She then suddenly rolled over and started scooting. She aged right before my eyes and crawled then walked to the closet. By the time I got to the closet she had opened it and low and behold there was a new baby in a car seat that looked just like her. Flash forward seven years and I was talking to someone who said - yup, Gabby ended up with five more sisters. Six girls born in six years. Analyze that one Freud.

Another dream in the night involved a wonderful couple from our church who though in their 70s helped us so much when we moved here. In my dream they had decided that had decided to move in here to take care of Bart and I. They had concluded that we were so busy taking care of the kids that we had no time to take care of ourselves and that would be their job. While they would most likely go nuts here, that thought never crossed my mind in the dream and we let them move in. It was still a wonderful arrangement when my dream ended.

I had a few other dreams, but I can't remember them in detail. But those two were very vivid.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Someone Slipped Something Into my Drink

and I didn't sleep well at all. I am very careful never to have caffeine after about 2 p.m. because I know it will keep me from sleeping. But Dominyk made me a glass of tea last night around 7:30 and told me it was decaf. He was so cute last night -- he's always very careful when the baby is here to be quiet -- when he's thinking about it anyway -- so I was holding her and he thought maybe I would be thirsty. Little did I know that he slilpped caffeine into it unawares...

I've been meaning to blog about Bart and my dinner with Wilson on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon anyone who wanted to could go to the movies with us -- except Wilson -- because there were no PG movies showing at the theatre we wanted to go to. We figure that if the film raters in this less than moral culture say kids of certain ages should not watch certain movies, we certainly shouldn't bypass that ... and thus, we hold to the ratings. But we promised Wilson that we would do something special with him alone that night while everyone else was in youth group.

Usually he sits quietly and listens to Bart and I without saying much, but we were apparently kind of morose in our conversation because he piped up and said, "The world is fun for me." We stopped dead in our tracks and just looked at him -- so incredibly cute and truly still lost in the joy of childhood. We had a few minutes to feel great about providing him with permanency and allowing him to live a carefree life before he went on to explain that when we all went to Valley Fair this summer, he actually went on the rides, while we sat and did nothing because the world wasn't fun for us. But even though the reason he said it was fairly shallow, the fact that he does feel that way is a pretty deep concept in a world of adopting older kids who come from a world that wasn't all that fun.

Later in the conversation I was talking to Bart about something I had done or said and concluded with, "I think I'm funny." Apparently my voice had been a bit over zealous, because Wilson just looked up at me and said, "I think you're loud."

I continue to get in John's girlfriend's face and ask her if I scare her and it gives me inward satisfaction....

Last night Sadie and I had a breakthrough conversation..maybe. We'll see how today goes.

And now, with less than 5 hours of sleep, I'm off to face my day. Thanks Dominyk, for slipping that caffeine into my drink last night!

Monday, January 18, 2010


They stopped by for a while. I took pictures of Salinda's boyfriend's sister. I got to hold this baby. I got to take her picture. I got to do this with it.

Can't find anything more fun than that.

Is Attachment Disorder Contagious?

My kids have a cycle. It starts at the top when life is grand. The motivation to change is high at the top of the circle. Optimism prevails. Life is as good as can be for him/her and she/he has been able to manipulate things and people to get most of what they want. They are loving and appear attached at this point ... wanting life to be as grand for you as it is for them -- and wanting you to feel good about them.

Then trouble comes. They start to slip. Something goes wrong -- a boy or girl doesn't like them any more, they get caught in a lie, or get arrested or something. And then they begin to spiral down.

You can watch things unravel. Life starts to fall apart and suddenly the parent is the enemy once again. The hugs stop, the glares start, and cooperation ceases.

Then they hit bottom. Hard. Major hopelessness and depression. Pure hatred and anger towards parents. Absolute refusal to do anything at all.

And then for some reason the tide turns.... something goes right and suddenly, at the blink of an eye they are back on top again.

Problem is, the top is back to back from the bottom. There is no ladder to climb to get to top after hitting bottom. It's a circle and the line is crossed almost instantly. And since I have executive functioning of the brain and I do have a working memory when they hit bottom TWO DAYS AGO.... and hated my guts.... and wanted me dead... and stole from me and lied to me..... that stays in my mind.

So then when suddenly they are on top of the world, and the "i love you" moms and the hugs are coming at me full force, I understand attachment disorder. I understand a lack of trust. I understand not wanting a person to touch me. Because I remember yesterdays pain.

Attachment Disorder isn't hereditary but it may be contagious. I think you can get it from your children.

Still Recovering

Yesterday I had a couple hours that were just an emotional frenzy of drama that lasted a long time. For two or three hours I was involved in one thing or another. First it was an argument with John, long and senseless as they always are. I will blog more about my attachment issues in another post -- but I inherited them from my kids....

Then there was a long extended culmination of an argument with Sadie that had lasted since Thursday (and still isn't really over), including Salinda's intervention as she tries to "help" Sadie get along with me. This was after she had asked me to not put her in the middle and I told her I would stop talking to her about Sadie. An hour later she was initiating a conversation to interfere in things in a big way. I had to ride it out. It resulted in a temporary reprieve for Sadie and I, but it's not over by any means.

There was a fist fight between Tony and Dominyk that I got in the middle of...Fortunately none of us were hurt.

And then we got a call from one of the kid's birth grandparents who was very upset about his sibling who is now in foster care. A very troubling call as she was sobbing and asking me what to do. It's a very long story and I really couldn't help her much. One of the key lines, I told her "do just have to do what you can and then trust the system." She said, sobbing, "I do not trust the system." It was a very difficult situation and of course, resulted in her suggesting we might be the best family for her grandchild. I could not give her an answer. But if this child is like her sibling only having spent 12 years with the birthmom .... I am really not sure we could handle her... or that anyone can.

So I'm still recovering from all that -- an intense few hours -- and I"m just now finishing this blog entry the following afternoon. Lots of multitasking. But there you have it. Finally.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Riding the Ride

All four generations. ;-)

I got up this morning to find out that there was an argument last night and Salinda's boyfriend left and went home. But she and the baby are still here and I told her that I wasn't giving her a ride back up there. If he wanted her he could come get her. She's fine with that. I'm sure she could use a break from the drama for a bit.

Yesterday wasn't as stressful as I had imagined it would be. There were lots of people in and out -- a couple of Salinda's friends, Bart's family, some of my friends.... and we all seemed to do pretty well. Lots of enjoyable time with the baby.

John is in and out with the new girlfriend who is still scared of me. Yesterday she was timidly knocking at the door and I opened the door and got about 6 inches from her face and said, "I hear you're SCARED of me!" It was pretty funny. She'll get used to me. He says he is going to meet us at church this morning. We will see how that goes. He is funny. If he is good for 3 or 4 days he thinks that erases months of other things and when I try to explain that trust isn't rebuilt in a day or two he is angry with me. Oh for the joys of a bad memory. I'm not going to wish I had one -- because I need mine -- but sometimes it might be nice to have only today.... no recollection of the past .... no concerns about the future. Sigh.

Speaking of today, we have a plan -- which doesn't always happen on Sundays. And hopefully it will include some good moments. But I'm along for the ride -- whatever comes my way, I'll just deal with it.

The alternative is fairly stressful and ineffective anyway.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Things you Just Can't Multitask

I have been holding a baby ... a lot....

and we have had relatives here.

And it's been fun.

And I took pictures.

And I messed with them.

And that is fun.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Irony of it All ....

Yesterday morning Tony, Dominyk and I had to go to therapy together and we had a really nice time, bordering on delightful. For some reason they were cooperative and fun and didn't argue with each other much at all. They were pleasant. It was nice.

This morning and last night, not so much. I have realized that there is a lot of irony in me being a speaker and author when really I'm convinced that I'm not all that great a mother. I am less patient than I should be, and as my husband says, "You can be a bit abrasive sometimes" which I'm sure he means as an understatement. I have a simple message to deliver to me my kids that should take all of two calm minutes and somehow they turn it into 20 minutes of annoying interchange where I'm punished for confronting them.

If a person were to list qualities of a good mother, my personality would immediately disqualify me. I'm not exactly nourishing (If it doesn't bleed, it doesn't need a bandaid -- bandaids are to protect furniture), I am not patient, I speak before I think, and I don't let things go. My expectations are unrealistic sometimes, and I get involved in work and don't pay full attention to my kids. I could go on but then you're going to think that I want you to comment that I'm a good mom, and that isn't my point at all.

All I'm saying is that if anyone could build a case for why they shouldn't adopt kids, I could easily have done it. And you know what? They're still alive and so am I. And I"m a better person than when I started.

I met with a family this week who is reading a case file for the first time. This is definitely one of the most difficult pieces of the process -- to hold information about all the behaviors of kids over the years and make a decision about whether or not they will fit into your family. The case file is not a crystal ball and there is no way to predict what will happen.

But I looked at them and said -- I can't predict what will happen with these kids. All I know is this: In 15 years the kids will have been better off to have been with you and you will be different people by then. You will have grown and learned.

That is the only guarantee I can give them.

And through all we've been through it has proven true for us as well. And if an unlikely mother like me can do it, anybody can.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Tony/Dominyk Fight

Cindy gave good insight to fight differences in her post this morning which was interesting to read because I had decided to respond to a comment asking what a Tony/Dominyk fight was like. I realized after reading Cindy's post, that Tony/Dominyk fights, while extremely annoying, are not nearly to the level of those that Cindy has been dealing with for years.

The scuffle starts when Tony realizes, using his intuition that is very keen, that Dominyk is having an off day and would be easily agitated. I don't know for sure what he does or says -- it is probably a soft whisper of something, or a slight nudge in his general direction, but it causes Dominyk to scream "TOOOOOOOOOOONY!!!!!!!!" in the loudest voice possible, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. At that point, Tony escalates it further making Dominyk scream and cry, beginning a very loud tantrum. Dominyk loses control, smacks Tony, and then Tony hits him back harder. This usually leads to Dominyk sobbing uncontrollably and finding either Bart or I to begin the "you don't care about me" mantra.

Tony slinks off (he can be slinky too), a self-satisfied grin on his face, and sits down to watch TV. Dominyk begins presenting his case. Tony bugged him and that made him cry. Therefore Tony should be punished. We usually remind him that it was mutual and thus neither will be punished, but he insists that we punish only Tony, even if Dominyk initiated the physical part of the fight. He then goes on to explain that because we are not punishing him that we don't care about him ... that nobody cares about him, and that he should not have been born. And then he cries, which clogs his nose, which of course is my fault.

So I guess the actual Tony/Dominyk fight is pretty mild. It's the aftermath that is killer. And while it is annoying that Dominyk who cannot control himself well has completely lost it all over me for a solid hour, there is a special kind of resentment reserved for Tony, you smugly smiles to himself as he watches TV, knowing that he can give himself credit for ruining my evening.


P.S. I must write this because even though it might jinx it, it's still true. Tony is having a very good week. He is starting to care about the little things -- like what shirt he has on, and whether or not his siblings are frustrated with him (Dominyk excluded probably). He has been appointed to be the youth representative to our church council and several people said he did an excellent job on his report to them this week. He is able to laugh at himself a little more when he is out of line and generally he is becoming a bit more endurable for everyone. And I don't think we've had a Dominyk/Tony fight like the one above ... oh wait, one started last night ... but still, he's doing better. Thought I should say that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Grand Central Station

I am exhausted tonight. I woke up this morning at four and I could not really go back to sleep, and thus I started my day tired. And frankly I'm tired of being Grand Central Station.

Conflicts, problems, both by text and phone, come to my Iphone. The conflicts are deep ones, multifaceted, and often the texts and calls are argumentative. After a while I feel like I am at the vortex of many conflicts that are not of my making. The older the kids get, the more complex their network of peeps -- who do not always tell the truth either.

WE had this crazy notion about parenting kids to 18 and then the drama stopping. What idiots we were. It is then that it begins. ANd my kids aren't the most complex of the drama -- it's the people that surround them.

ANd I'm tired of being in the middle of all of that.

Maybe tomrorow it will be a little less grand-central-stationish inside my phone than the last couple days. Here's hoping.

Mouthfuls of Bittersweet

We have a lot of "celebrations" that aren't quite like they are "supposed to be."

To hold my granddaughter for the first time was an amazing moment -- a precious gift of new life and sweet indeed. But to see how young her parents are, how difficult their challenges will be, how convoluted and complicated their lives are now and will be for some time... not so sweet. As I have said to anyone who asks, "the baby is perfect even if the situation isn't." Bittersweet.

Our son Mike finished high school this week. There will be no open house or party.... he is in jail and instead of diploma handed to him as he stands in a black robe ... a piece of paper comes to the house announcing he completed his GED. Bittersweet.

Our oldest son got engaged to a girl we really like, he's a college grad, and a teacher. We are very proud of him. But he seldom calls and visits only on holidays even though they are only 90 minutes away. Bittersweet.

I could go on, but you're getting the picture. There are small joys and victories but they aren't quite like everyone else's. And while we want to truly embrace them, we do so with a bit of apprehension.

But don't you think that her peacefulness is contagious? I even look better and more calm holding her...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slinky has Slunk back around to Stage One

All the sudden he's repentant -- kinda. Cuz he got desperate. C***** needed a ride somewhere. So he comes clean on everything. He stole. He lied. Started telling me everything I already knew while I was at the coffee shop and he was talking to me on the phone. I let him have it and probably entertained the entire establishment. So if you hear rumors, it might be true.

So he's desperate and begging for a fresh start. Like #1,736 of his young life. Which of course, I will give him but knowing that based on history it will last only until he has what he wants and something better comes along. But you know what I think?

I think one of these times maybe, just maybe, it's going to work. You know what I'm saying? Maybe one of these times something will stick. Most rebellious teenagers have a moment when they turn around right?

Maybe if we can hang on long enough, he'll get there. And at least now that things are out in the open he won't be as slinky for a while.

ONe of these times he just has to get it, you know?

A Brief Laugh

Jimmy, not knowing it was a piece of clothing, called Tony a Turtleneck at the table the other night.

I asked him, "Why did you call him a turtleneck?"

"Because he's holding his head and neck just like a turtle."

Sometimes English Language Learners are so fun -- even in their 8th year of language learning...

Now we call him the Slink....

Have you heard the song "They call him the streak" ... well it's been running through my mind all last night and today... except for it's slink ... not streak..... John is a slink.

Do you have a slink? A slink is someone who slips in and slips out, avoiding confrontation, taking what they need without communication. They are unpredictable and they slink around the house .... sneaking in, sneaking out, like a slithery snake.

Last night John somehow slithered in between 5 and 7 and told Bart that when we were both home he wanted to talk to both of us ... in private. So when Bart got home from his meeting at 7:45 (I had come home at 7, and John was slinking around not speaking to me) at 7:45 he told John we were ready. He never bothered to come up so we went to bed and he slinked out around 10:15.

This morning I asked Leon if he had seen John and Leon said no, he didn't spend the night at our house. So I was joking with Leon and telling him that John was sure being slinky, slithering in and out like a serpent. I took a shower and when I got out Leon simply said, "The slink is back." He told me that he and the new girlfriend had gone downstiars.

It was early in the morning on a day when we had a late start and most of the boys were in bed in the room next to where John sleeps. I did not think it would be fair to them to crawl out of bed and be surprised to open their bedroom door and find a girl sitting there. I had had enough. I was not planning to be nice.

I got less nice when I went downstairs to find them in bed together in John's bed in the dark. They were fully clothed, but STILL. I simply said "John, this is NOT OK and obviously you don't know how to communicate the rules to your girlfriend. So C*****, if that's who is here on this particular day, you need to come up and talk to me right now. John put up a fuss and said, "You can't do that." I said YES I CAN. This is MY house and Dad and I are paying the bills and I will do whatever I please in my own house. C*****, come with me."

To her credit, the girl handled it well. I explained to her that we had had no idea where John had been. She said that he had been at her house but that he had slept on the couch. And I explained to her that she should then have no problem understanding why I didn't want her in my son's bed. I told her she was welcome any time IF we knew in advance she was coming, if they hung out in other areas of the house, and if they had to be in his room, the door was left open and the light on.

I got a call from the school yesterday with a sympathetic teacher who was feeling so sorry for John and wondered if I cared enough (insinuation) to attend a meeting about John's poor grades. She said she was worried about him. I gave her some background about how hard I had tried to get him to school and explained he hadn't slept at home since last Tuesday night. I said if he was actually willing to attempt to follow some kind of rules I might be willing to invest a little of my time in his life. I told her he was great at playing the victim and making people feel sorry for him but that he was unwilling to do anything. I assured her he had parents that more than cared.

Calls like this and discussions I had while at the hospital remind me that all of us just need to remember that all we see is the tip of the iceburg. I'm sure that a Master's Level White Professional is not quite how this teacher, or the nurses at the hospital, were picturing poor John and Salinda's mother. And who knows what my kids or other people tell them.

So anyway. The slink is off to school, supposedly, with C*****.... however C***** is not getting along so well with her own mother, so she might see if her dad can pick her up tonight.... and the slink will be back to slinking around our house for a few days.

Can you tell I'm liking the word slink?

(and if you are new to this blog and don't know the history, please don't leave a comment about name-calling or how I don't love my son. I do. After a while, though, a 19 year old who is failing his 2nd year of 12th grade and not only unemployed, but doesn't have time to do a household chore, who sneaks in and out unannounced, can't complain to much if his only consequence is his mother calling him a slink on her blog).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quick Call From Paula

I just got a quick call from Paula. She and her family have a bunch of court hearings this coming week and she asked me to ask those of you who pray to do so. If you've been following the story privately you know details. If not, just pray. Thanks.

Just Five Minutes

... before I have to wake up the kids this morning. Today I am going to begin supervising interns at my job so I will be going straight to the office this morning. I'm excited about helping them learn things and even more excited to have someone to delegate to!

Our visit yesterday with Salinda was nice. She is stressed out and upset because she is having trouble controlling things and her boyfriend isn't living up to her or his own mother's expectations, but she is hanging in there. Gabby is growing -- her hair is getting curly, her skin is getting more tan and she is simply beautiful. She remains a very good baby, seldom bothered by the things around her, waking only 2 or three times in teh night to eat, and resting peacefully almost all the time. Her routine is simple. She sleeps for about three hours, immediately wants to eat, burb, pee or poop, be changed, and go back to sleep. The eat, burb, pee/poop/changing thing takes less than 1/2 hour and then it's time for another 3 hour nap. They plan to come down this coming weekend and I'm excited to have some of my friends meet her and to have more time with her, and hopefully Salinda.

John came by with the same girl yesterday. Apparently the non-girlfriend and he were hanging all over each other as they hung out here, a flat tire in her car preventing her from leaving until her mother came to pick both of them up. They live in a town 20 minutes from here, so I am guessing he considers himself to have dropped out of school. She doesn't look 18, but hopefully she is. He'll stay until he can't chmooze them into letting him live with them without contributing anything any longer -- he's very charming with middle aged women, especially if they are single and no men are involved -- and then he'll be back here, assuming he can move right back in without any conversation. Or maybe she'll break up with him. Or maybe he'll get arrested. Or maybe he'll be back tonight with all his stuff wondering why I thought he was moving out. Predictable unpredictability.

Off to wake up the children.....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A few Humerous Snippets from Today (and a Picture or two)

This morning I gave an announcement in church and Warren, my elderly friend (he's not really elderly but I had to put that in here in case he hears that I am giving him a hard time in my blog), had to give me grief. In fact, he gave me grief all during sunday school. I was telling Jimmy about how he always teases me and Jimmy says, "I think he likes you. .... but only as a friend." I explained to Jimmy that when you were talking about old married people you didn't have to say "only as a friend."


Quotes from my meal with Bart and Wilson:

Chiwawas make lots of babies. They are the rabbits of the dog world. (Bart).

Pointing to any part of your wife's body and saying "what is that lump of unsavory flesh" is never OK. (Claudia).


I have been singing that "Meatballs stuck on my Plate" song all day and come to find out it's the # One Song of the week according to the new Casey Kasem... whatever his name is.

We had a nice time visiting hte baby .. and John continues to be strange.

More on that tomorrow.

Stopping By to Tell A Lie or Two

John arrived yesterday in someone else's car with a hot blonde driving it. He came in and immediately started to lie to me. His slippery manipulative ways. This is when we haven't seen him since Wednesday and we have $ missing and he caused the big texting drama on Friday night.

So he walks in and says, "So what's this thing about all the texting?" I said, " "please don't even start with the lies." He said, "I was in (a neighboring town) with my girlfriend. I said, "You may want to do a better job of teaching your friends to lie for you -- or at least tell me the same lies your telling me." He said, "I don't have time to argue right now." I mentioned the missing money, and he told me yet another lie.

He went downstairs, packed a few more clothes, and came back up with this girl in his arm to introduce me. I said, "I thought your girlfriends name was A***. He said, "no, she's just a friend to and so is this girl." I said, "Ok, whatever." He said he would talk to me sometime.

I almost said, "Yup, as soon as everyone gets tired of paying your bills." But I held my tongue. One of the worst parts of these adults coming in and out is their unpredictable predictability or their predictable unpredictability.

Bart and I were supposed to head up to see the baby today, but now Bart has another commitment and I'm going alone. It will be fun to see her, but it's always a drama filled adventure.

But first, off to church and to Sunday School -- I'm resuming teaching my adult class today and I"m looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Waking Up to Reality

Last night I had a long detailed dream. A social worker was calling me (a worker who I have met in Washington state) asking me to consider a sibling group of 5 Hispanic kids under 10. She had a long story to tell me about how we would be the perfect family for them and how convinced she was that we were perfect for them. It was a group of five, four boys and a girl, and the youngest was a 2 year old girl named Lupita who, the worker pointed out, would be a perfect playmate for Gabby growing up. (Apparently she was a blog reader).

THe problem was during the phone call nobody would leave my office, regardless of the threats. I had to keep putting the worker on hold trying to make them leave, but the kids were so interested in the conversation that i couldn't get them to go. I ended up very frustrated.

THe dream moved on and suddenly the worker was here and had pictures to show me. It turned out she had "Forgotten" three of the kids and it was really a group of 8. She was looking around the house and suggested to me that she would convince her state to remodel our home to accommodate the kids. There were 3 boys and 5 girls all under 12. She was begging me to ask Bart to consider it. When I finally got her to agree to throw in a 15 passenger van, I was ready to present my case.

UNTIL I was awakened by a majorly stupid but very loud argument between Dominyk and Tony. And immediately the warm fuzzy feelings of a dreamed about possibility turned into reality and I did not want even one more child....

A Tony/Dominyk argument is a definite wake up call.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Some of the events of the past few months have tempted me to become bitter. However, I am a resilient person and thus I have not been overcome by it. But I asked myself this morning how I am able to refrain from falling into that trap, and I came up with a few things.

1) Self-talk. When I was working on my master's degree in counseling, I had to study the various theories of counseling. The only one that made sense to me was Albert' Ellis Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy which has as the fundamental premise that humans, in most cases, do not merely get upset by unfortunate adversities, but also by how they construct their views of reality through their language, evaluative beliefs, meanings and philosophies about the world, themselves and others. (Wickepedia) His basic idea was that the thoughts we have about something and the things that we repeat to ourselves in our head are what follow our emotions, not the other way around. In other words, I think and therefore I feel -- not I feel and therefore I think. Our emotions are coming from our heads because of how we are interpreting our reality.

So how does this relate to bitterness? Well if the actions of my kids around me having me repeating to myself in my head, "I can't take this another day. They are really going to drive me crazy? What in the world was I thinking? This is NOT a life I can endure much longer" my emotions are going to follow and I"m going to be all wrapped up in a pity part or an anxious frenzy that can't help but lead to bitterness. However, if I am saying things to myself like, "Wow, it's amazing to me how well I am handling my stress today. These behaviors aren't going to effect me today because I'm strong and it is the behaviors that irritate me, not the children. I love my kids" and other such things, I will remain more calm and positive. And so I do a lot of lecturing myself in my head.

2) I count my blessings. I find myself frequently looking for the good and being thankful. In the past I have used a grateful journal, or blogged about gratitude and making lists of things I am glad are part of my life. Doing this keeps me from focusing on the negative when I realize just how many good things are happening to me.

3) I find joy in the small things. One of my Twelve Survival Tips that I share when I speak is "Look for one moment of joy each day." I can always find one -- the hug of a child who loves me, the smile of a teenage boy when I call him sexy, the way one of my kids beams when I praise them, and now just a picture of my granddaughter -- and each of those can bring me a great deal of joy. I tell myself that the joy of that one moment was worth living the rest of the day for and that changes my perspective.

4) I realize who I can change and who I can't. You've read the anonymous "revised serenity prayer" on my blog before -- it is this

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change
the courage to change the person I can
and the wisdom to know it's me.

I say this to myself several times a week. I cannot change the people around me, but I can change the way I respond to them. I am continuously working to figure out how I can change the way I do things to make things better for my children, my husband, my coworkers, and my friends. If there is a conflict, I only spend a little while now obsessing about all the ways that that person is wrong and how they should change before I move into a mode where I'm asking what I can do to fix me and my response to them. Over twenty years ago one of my mentors used to say that when it comes to relationships, the ball is always in your court. And that is how I view it. It's always my turn to fix things, to initiate things, to maintain the relationship.

and finally;

5) I have faith in a big God and I have things to do. My motto has always been "the bigger the mountain, the better the climb." I had another mentor as a college student who remains my friend today. He used to say "When God wants to do something big, he starts with a problem. When he wants to do something spectacular, he starts with an impossibility."

As a teenager I had a poem that I cut out of a magazine somewhere and glued in my scrapbook. I can still see the small piece of paper. I have the first part sort of memorized, but it is not anywhere on the internet, so it obviously impacted me more than other people. But it goes something like this:

Why should I trip over pebbles of pettiness
boulders of bitterness
there just isn't time...

So onward I'll march
to sights oh so glorious
to heights where victorious
for God bids me climb.

I just don't have time to be bitter. Life is short -- and I've got "places to go, people to see, and butts to kick." And so regardless of how difficult my life may become, I hope that I can always keep myself away from those pebbles of pettiness, and especially boulders of bitterness.... because I've got great big mountains to climb, impossible situations to watch God turn into amazing victories, and a future that simply has to get better.

And if I use that kind of self talk, it's pretty hard to have a bad day.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Living the Vida Loca

And it's not local because it's crazy as in fun crazy -- it's crazy as in stressful crazy. There has been constant arguing at the boyfriends and so I am getting texts from both of them -- and sometimes calls from his mom -- all about whatever issue they are arguing about. While it is stressful via text -- it isn't nearly as stressful as being there. Every time there is an argument Salinda texts me and says she wants to come home and the boyfriend texts to ask if I'm coming to pick her up and we text bck and forth a while and then suddenly the texting stops. And then a few hours later everything is ok I guess because I don't hear anything more.

We have not seen John since yesterday morning when he left for school. After school one of his friends texted me to say he was with him and we didn't hear anything until a few minutes ago when he texted to find out if the shoes we got him for Christmas had arrived. He made a point to have his friend let me know via that school got out early today (like I didn't know that when i have 7 other kids in the district). Ironically the school website says he skipped the first five periods today anyway so why he bothered to mention it I'll never know.

And so we have stress via text in our world tonight. Sigh.

Some tidbits from today..... or My life is not Normal

* A stack of books, a Bible on top, was planted right in front of the downstairs toilet this morning.... it looked more like a stepping stool than reading material...

* Last night Dominyk slept with me. He decided he liked the way the word photosynthesis sounded. And so he said it. About 231 times in different voices with different accents and different emphases.

* An after school snack has to be eaten at 1:00 even if you have lunch at noon even if school is usually out at 3:00 and today is out at 12:30.

* I am the reason that Dominyk can't stop crying... the reason his nose is plugged.... the reason his stomach hurts....the reason his nose is plugged....the reason he can't breathe.

* I am mean because the things that are requested of me that are never allowed are still not being allowed even though there is no school this afternoon.

* There are more blankets in the living room than there are in anyone's bedroom.

* Fires are started here (in the fireplace fortunately) even though everyone claims to not have a lighter.

* A change in routine means a lot more than minor discomfort.

* I am never ever nice to Dominyk. If I were nicer he wouldn't cry all the time like he does. He asked me why I was never nice. I told him it's not my nature.

* I am at a loss as to how to answer the question, "Why do you have to be so mean to me? I have never done ANYTHING to you, but you are always so mean to me."

* Tony made brownies without permission last night. Dominyk had 8 brownies without permission last night. He has a stomach ache today but it is "horrible parenting" that I can't make his stomach feel better. His stomach hurts. and I quote. It hurts. It hurts. It huuuuuurts. It hurts very badly. It huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurts. It hurts Mom, very very very badly.

I think you're getting the picture....

Anyone Need a PCA in Mankato or Hutchinson?

I have contacts with a couple of people who are experienced PCAs who would like to work in the Hutchinson area or in the Mankato area.

Email me privately if you would like contact information.

It's About The Peers You Pick

We have several children who have a habit of choosing peers and situations where they can always be the best of the group by doing very little. They have consistently hung around kids who are "beneath" them socially so that they can be the smartest, or the cutest, or the coolest without having to try. If you can stay sober and all your friends are drunk, you're above them. If you have two parents and a house and the friends you hang out with don't, then you are the coolest of the bunch. If you can manage to get Cs or Ds while all your friends are flunking then you're doing great compared to them.

It frustrates me because I think that some of them could compete in any crowd. They are smart, handsome, beautiful -- could be the best if they chose to -- but THEY don't believe that. And so they can't.

But I realized this morning that we adoptive parents do the same thing in a way (please hear me out). We often start our journey as adoptive parents with a group of friends who all fit nicely into society. Some of us are fortunate to be smack dab in the middle of middle class and while we are not wealthy by any means, we can "keep up with the Jones'" if we choose. We are educated, intelligent, employed, often homeowners who have done OK for ourselves. And then we adopt challenging kids.

All the sudden we are thrown into our own league entirely. Immediately we discover that we can no longer keep up. Our kids won't be able to compete, and thus we as a family will not be like everyone else. Honor role bumper stickers and shirts full of boy scout badges are completely out of reach. Instead we are concerned with things like keeping other family members safe, protecting our important items and certainly any of our cash from thieves, and getting services or the right psychotropic medications for our children.

So what do we do? We find our peer group. We find people whose lives are like ours. We read each others blogs and we look for support wherever we can get it. And inwardly we find ourselves chuckling, "Wow. And least my day wasn't THAT bad." We feel fortunate in comparison to some of our new friends and a week where the police don't come becomes a thing to brag about in our new circle. We have found a place where we can feel comfortable because even though our former friends believe we COULD be good parents if we tried hard enough, we know that isn't what it's about and that we can't.

Lately I have reconnected with a few old friends that I met years ago who have adopted tough kids. I was thinking the other day that compared to almost everyone we met at the beginning of our journey, our lives are turning out easier than most of theirs. It's not because we are better people or because we did things right and they didn't, or even because of our faith because most of them share ours -- it's just the luck of the draw, the way things have gone. MIke and Kari have lives about equal to ours and we hang out for an evening and they go home thinking "Wow, I'm glad we aren't them" and we watch them walk out the door and think, "Wow, I'm glad we aren't them" and it works out well for us.

We do have some "normal friends" who are very patient and put up with us and understand our predicament and don't expect us to measure up, but for the most part we just hang out with those who have lives like us. And so maybe I should be a little more patient with my teenagers choice of friends. It could very well be that I've chosen mine the same way they choose theirs.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I'm sure you've heard this before but if you haven't....

A Prayer for the Children… by Ina J. Hughes

We pray for the children
who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak Popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who’ve never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers,
who never had crayons to count,
who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
who give hugs in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
who never get dessert,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
who never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the school,
who squirm in church or temple or mosque
and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried,
and for those who must.
For those we never give up on,
and for those who never get a chance.
For those we smother with our love,
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
kind enough to offer it.

Just 10 Minutes to Blog

I woke up at 5 and went to the bathroom, intended to then get my stuff, shower, and get to work. But our house is really cold. I won't go into details about our financial situation, but right now we really need new windows in the house -- the heat cannot keep up with them -- and so it is really cold in the house. It's annoying because it's a constant reminder of the devaluation of the house, the situation with our credit, and all kinds of things that my husband I'm sure doesn't want me posting on the blog. But every minute I feel the cold my mind goes down a long resentful road of some of the things that our children have done in the past (and a few choices we have made) that have had us arrive at this very cold moment in time.

Anyway, I was so cold I went back to bed. But I couldn't fall back to sleep so it was a very long battle with myself that finally resulted in me getting out of bed at six. I then saw an email from an old friend that ended up resulting in a very long response and here we are, it's 10 minutes from time to awaken the world.

John yesterday declared himself wanting to go to jail because he will never make it in the "real world." He was suggesting turning himself in even though he hasn't violated his probation, just because the stress of it is too hard. I didn't want to explain to him that with the economy the way it is and the fact that he hasn't paid his last bill for being in jail (did you know that some jails bill you a daily amount after you are discharges -- seems like a pretty discouraging thing to do if you want to rehabilitate -- but that's another story) and the fact that the jails are overcrowded that his P.O. probably wouldn't just put him there. And so instead I talked to him about registered sex offenders and what that would mean for the rest of his life and how choosing that would not be a good option.

So he laid in bed for most of the day and then by 4 was up, happy, doing his chore and talking about possibly trying to get a job in case he did flunk everything in school like he thinks he is. SIgh. I don't know why I bother to get emotionally involved in the whole thing.

On the docket today: Orthodontist with Wilson, lunch with my friend Jill, and then a conference call with one of my bosses about an exciting new program. Then church tonight -- with supper included -- so I dont' have to worry about cooking. Hopefully in between those things I will get a lot done -- yesterday was a pretty productive day.

The stealing has begun again and that really bothers me. I hate trying to track down who is taking what and I had a couple situations earlier where I was dead wrong so I hate to assume....

Ten minutes are more than up... ;-)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It's A Good Thing I got Up at 5

and had two hours of nice quiet time before I went upstairs to find that John indeed sneak back in in the night and is now refusing to get up for school.

What do other people do who have kids who refuse to go to school, don't have jobs, and want to lie around all the time? Kicking someone out when it is .... let me check. .. -17 regular temperature seems a little more cruel than simple love and logic..... and threats and warnings are doing no good. He is failing most of his classes so he doesn't want to bother to go. We found out a while back, too, that if an adult child is living with you you have to go through the eviction process in order to make them leave.


And I just fixed my AOL account -- and I now have 852 emails to go through. Good thing most of them are junk.

Just 30 Minutes

Have you ever had a work project that nagged at the back of your head for several weeks that you thought was going to require hours to complete it? Next time you do, get up early in the morning and tackle it right away before your kids get up. It might not take that long.

I did that this morning with something and it only took 30 minutes. It feels great to have that off my mind finally and I'm finished by 6 a.m.

John went to school finally at 1:30 yesterday afternoon and never came home. He kind of does this merry-go-round thing where he stays home and goes NOWHERE for several days and then gets crabby because of his siblings and his overbearing mother who accepts no responsibility for all of the problems that she creates in the household (when she corrects her children's behavior). So then he takes off and does nothing that he is supposed to do for several days and then starts over again. But this pattern isn't going to get him anywhere. Fortunately for him, I have learned to keep my mouth shut as much as I have and let the chips fall as they may. I'm not the one who is going to end up with the worst of the consequences.

There has been a little conflict with Salinda in her situation the past day or so, details that I won't blog, but I am very much the recipient of phone calls hearing people's sides of the story. We are also caught in an insurance situation which may force her to make a final decision about where she will spent her final year as a child (she just turned 17) Declaring their house her permanent place of residence has many repercussions. I am concerned that she feels she really isn't free to make the decision. Unfortunately she has to make it quickly as well and she is still pretty tired and not in a position to make a good one. If she even is allowed to make it (we of course, give her freedom to make her own choices).

So all that drama yesterday between John and Salinda was fairly exhausting. Dominyk has been having horrible rages in the evenings lately and I'm not sure why all the sudden they are getting so bad. Almost every night he is having meltdowns where he is attempting to break things in the midst of his screaming, yelling and threatening. It's an exhausting 30-45 minutes.

Bart leaves today so I'll be flying solo until Thursday afternoon. He's heading to Duluth, where it is warmer than it is here. And that's just not right.

Monday, January 04, 2010

More Uncle Pictures

New Ulm Support Group

If your'e looking for a support group in SW MInnesota, this one is off to a great start. You should check them out. Fun people there.


The support group will continue meeting the 4th Monday of each month from 6:30-8pm at Christ the King Church. The meetings will take place on Jan 25, Feb 22, March 22, April 26 and May 24. Child care will be provided as long as it is needed.

Biting My Tongue -- The Hardest Part of Having Adult Children at Home

John blew off everything today. He said he had a psych eval that was court ordered. He told me that he had asked me to put it on the calendar. There was nothing there and I have no recollection of him asking me too. I told him he should get up adn call her first thing this morning and I left for the office.

Not only didn't he call her, he didn't go to school either.

I called and couldn't help but loudly express my dissatisfaction. Then I called back to apologize.

I hate standing back and watching kids make poor choices, but I hate enabling more than anything. He continuously tries to make me feel guilty for not doing something or other when it is all his responsibility. I told him to man up today.

I told him that if he wasn't going to be in school he couldn't be home. Told him he couldn't lie on my couch all day. I still don't think he got up.

Makes my blood boil. I know what is best is for me to be a non-anxious presence who parents with love and logic and doesn't even remind him and lets him experience natural consequences.

But I'm no good at that.

Could someone please just shut me up?

On being a Grandma When It's Too Early to Be One

On May 15th we found out that our 16 year old daughter was pregnant. The way we found out was not pleasant and while we were not shocked, we initially experienced a range of emotions that I must confess were almost entirely negative. We immediately began to grieve the fact that the rest of her life would be irrevocably altered by her decision. The dreams that we had for her (an intelligent, beautiful woman with unlimited potential) suddenly seemed like an impossibility.

I remember also feeling a great deal of anger and resentment that we as parents had worked so hard to prevent something all to no avail. Our daughter, who came to us at 6, received every kind of teenage pregnancy prevention advice possible. I took her out for girl talks on her seventh and ninth birthdays to thoroughly explain the facts of life. On her twelfth birthday her father and I bought her a ring, took her out to dinner, and talked about a covenant. As she was older when we assumed she might be sexually, even though our strong belief in waiting until marriage made us cringe to do so, I discussed birth control with her. And suddenly we are hearing the words that were something that no parent of a teenage ever wants to hear, blurted out in tears, "I'm Pregnant!"

A second set of emotions that I ran into was finding my mind going into overdrive, thinking I had to have answers immediately. Once they decided to keep the baby and raise her, which took them less than a week, my mind was buzzing with questions: Where would she live? What would she do about school? How would she support herself? The questions were constantly buzzing in my head until I thought I'd drive myself crazy.

One of the best pieces of advice I received during that first week I received via email from the Adoption Counselor. She said
I have found with pregnancy that after the intitial crisis phase - things begin to sort themselves out. Focus on the knowledge that God wanted this new little life on the Earth for a reason and He has provided a good, stable grandma for this little one to hang onto.

It then dawned on me that I had several months to get my head around the idea and make plans. I stopped being frantic and thinking that we needed to decide everything right away and decided to let the details wait until later. Eight months is a long time for things, as Brenda had pointed out, for things to sort out.

I decided then to keep things simple and I really began to focus on three main ideas:

1) Every baby is a gift to be celebrated. Our grandchild did not choose the circumstances surrounding her birth and deserved every chance in the world to be successful. Unlike our children, all adopted from foster care, this baby was going to come into the world with grandparents who were able and willing to support her and and her young mother. We began to wonder if maybe this next generation was one of the reasons we were called to parent the first.

2) Every decision that was made needed to be our daughter's decision. Knowing her as well as we did, there really wasn't any way to force her and the more we attempted to guide her in one direction for past decisions, the more it had backfired. I knew that these were decisions she would have to live with. My only advice to her all along was that she needed to do what she felt was best for the baby and best for her.

3) Forgetting the past and building on the future. There was nothing we could do about the years of rebellion that had led up to this event. The baby was coming, and we couldn't change or stop that. It was time to focus on our relationship with our daughter and being there for her in the future. There was an increased motivation on our part to focus on our attachment with her and overlook her behaviors.

The eight months that came later have not all been easy ones. For some reason, in our case, our relationship with our daughter improved greatly. Letting her do what she had wanted to do for years -- make all her own decisions -- actually helped our relationship. She made many decisions that I did not agree with, but she seemed to do better when she did that because she then had to live with the consequences. I was careful to never state an opinion -- and in doing so she could not blame me when things didn't go well.

Now that the baby is born I must say that I am surprised that I am seeing how maybe some of the decisions she has made might have been better for her and most of them have, ironically, turned out to be better for me. The baby is not yet a week old, but even though they are young, they are doing very well with her. The baby's father is a very nurturing and kind kid who has been doing a great deal of the care as Salinda recovers from a c-section and kidney infection. Watching him with her is an amazing thing.

Was "16 and pregnant" the script I would have chosen for the drama of my daughter's life? Of course not. But as one of Sadie's friends said several months ago -- "I think this new baby is a miracle. Before Salinda got pregnant she was fighting with your mom and dad all the time and now she gets along better with everyone."

And even though everyone prepared me that it would be amazing, I am a bit surprised at how fast the circumstances surrounding her birth fly away from my mind when that precious, peaceful baby is in my arms. She looks up at me and I know that she is my granddaughter. Spending time holding her is my new favorite hobby. She entered the world exactly the way a child should -- surrounded by lots and lots of people who love her, way more "stuff" than she can ever use, and more arms wanting to hold her than can possibly ever be satisfied with enough "Gabby time."

So if you or someone you know is in the midst of those initial weeks or months of stress after discovering that they have a pregnant teenage daughter, you can let them know that Brenda was right -- things have a way of sorting them out. The baby is a gift, and there is nothing like being connected to a beautiful new life in such a meaningful way.

There will be struggles ahead for all of us, but the bottom line is this: Once that life is created -- even if it is only a month from conception -- it's everyones job to make sure that the unborn child has the best life possible. And now, only a short six days after her birth, I cannot imagine my life without her -- nor would I want to.

Being a grandma isn't something I had on my agenda for 2010, but it is something I am attempting to do well. I am still allowing my daughter to make all her decisions, I'm attempting to step back and let them learn, I'm biting my tongue and sitting on my hands not to overcompensate, and I'm a non-anxious supporting presence whenever possible.

And it's my plan to someday explain to my Gabby that even though sometimes there is an "unwanted pregnancy" she was never an unwanted baby. From the day we knew she existed we loved her and wanted the best for her.

So even though circumstances aren't always as we wish, it only takes a few minutes of having her in my arms, looking her in the eye, feeling her peace and beauty, to know that somehow, someway, it's all going to be OK.

Happy New Year

Come on now, can a New Year really begin on a Friday? Of course not. New things always begin on Mondays. And so this is my official New Year. I am not going to make a bunch of resolutions this year as I am finding that lately I have big plans that just don't work out right, but I am trying to find a way to reschedule my day that will be productive and beneficial.

My original plan was to wake up at 5, work until 7, get the kids up and off to school and then go to the Y after I dropped them off. However, this morning John needs a ride to an appointment so I am going to have Rand drop me off at my office and then work. But I was up at 5.

Unfortunately, when I know I'm getting up early for the first time I am restless the night before. I toss and turn and plan my next moves and don't sleep much. But I did it and I'm awake.

It is my goal to spend the first hour of my morning blogging and writing -- and hopefully be able to concentrate more. In addition, I would like to revise my goals each day and work on them. For a while I was doing this and it was very helpful to me.

As things progress I am hoping to add some other good habits. But for now I"m just happy to be up. That's the first step.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Am I Really Supposed to Think for Everyone?

The six people who went with me today were for the most part appropriate. Jimmy, Tony, Rand, Ricky, Wilson and Sadie piled in the van after church and we headed to where Salinda is living with her boyfriend's parents. We stopped at a KFC/Taco Bell combo store for lunch and I let the kids order, paying not much attention. I noticed teh bill was a bit high, but I hadn't given the kids any limits, so sometimes that means that they get a bit wild. However, it wasn't until we were on the road eating in the van that Wilson had ordered $17.46 worth of Chicken strips in a meal. Five of his siblings, raging in age from 14-21 heard him order, the woman behind the register took the order, and not one person thought that was a bit weird. Sigh. No that it won't get eatin, but really, doesn't anyone else engage their brain when I'm not paying attention?

We had a nice visit with Salinda. Her boyfriend's family is really a lot of fun and of course, characteristic of Hispanic culture, we had to remain until we had some food. And even though we had eaten a few hours before, it was really tasty. We stayed longer than planned but everyone seemed happy with the visit. I got a lot of good time with my granddaughter and some good pictures, which of course, is the most important thing. ;-)

When I got home I decided to have the boys make a fire in the living room and move the extra table in so I could do Christmas cards. The boys, usually fairly calm in the evenings when they watch TV, were bouncing off the walls because I was up there. Don't want to mess up the routine I guess.

Tomorrow there will be routine. And at least there will be some paras and teachers thinking for my kids -- instead of me thinking for all of them!