Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Get our your Kleenex -- Bart Blogged Again

To Dream Again

Yesterday Afternoon: The Three Hours that Seemed Like 30

I'm going to try and recount this to you with all the details but the whole thing was kind of in a whirl, so I may leave something out.

School got over and Tony came home right after I got an email from his special ed teacher saying that he and Ricardo were disrupting study hall. She was pretty upset by their behavior and they had earned a visit to the principal and in school suspension. Tony had been the culprit, egging Ricardo on. I was reading the email to him while he was doing his chore (with the supervision of his new PCA) and he got hung up on the fact that the teacher was reporting that he said the F word when he really had only said the S word. In the middle of the conversation, the phone rang and it was the principal. I mouthed to him to be quiet because it was Mr.*****, but as soon as I said hello Tony says, very loudly, "Oh, is that Mr. ******. Because if it is you can tell him that Mrs. ******* is retarded. I did NOT say the F word, I said the S word." At which point the principal started cracking up, making me laugh as well at the craziness of Tony focusing on that as the only issue. He and I talked a bit and he finally stopped laughing to say, "I hate to tell you this, but I'm not calling about Tony or Ricardo. I needed to tell you about Mercedes!" Yikes.

It was a cell phone issue -- probably her biggest problem at school -- but it won't be a problem for her in the next few days. ;-)

During this whole time, our unnamed son was preparing for his field trip to jail. He was bouncing around packing up his stuff (so that nobody would mess with it), giving us instructions about how and what to do, what he needed done for him before he left and while he was there, and acting as if he was a beloved son heading off to college after not speaking a civil word to us in months. He then finally lets us know he needs a ride to work (he did get a job a couple weeks ago) and from there will go to jail. His time at work includes a few more texts of things he'd like us to do for him, like put money into Inmate Canteen.com so he has money for snacks. Yeah, seriously, it exists.

So that buzz is going on the the background while Tony's PCA is trying to get him to do his chore, and Dominyk's PCA is watching him clean his room, and then Bart decides that because Rand didn't clean up the kitchen he's not going to cook today... so we're going out for pizza. Except that..... WIlson all the sudden has wrestling signups and practice at 6:15, Dom won't be home til six, Tony not until 5:15, Ricardo and Lean not out of practice until 5:30, and Jimmy needing to be somewhere by 7. We hurry up and try to make it work. Meanwhile John is texting asking if he and Courtney and Isaac can join us for dinner and then all spend the night. We head out to eat and Dominyk has a huge meltdown because he used too much garlic cheese bread sauce and everyone got mad at him. While I'm trying to order pizza, Kari texts to tell me she's sick with the stomach flu, meaning I won't have a Y partner AND that we have to feel guilty for having her over for dinner while Bart was obviously still contagious or something.

We were also informed during this time that John has decided to quit school and try to get his GED, and that he is most likely going to be living with us, signifying another one or two adults watching TV in my house while they try to get a job. Rand filled out a new application yesterday. Pray.

So, things finally settle down at about 8 and John begins to rearrange Mike's room already. I texted John to remind him that that was actually unnamed son's bed and so he needed to use one of ours. John texts back "he says I can use it." I said, "When did he say that?" John said, "Just now. He's here. They didn't have his paperwork ready so he can't go to jail til tomorrow." Seriously?

And there you have it. A day (well, three hours or so) in the life of the Fletchers. And this is following up on the weekend.

And idiot that I am I keep asking Bart, "I wonder why I feel so exhausted?"

But in the midst of it all, there was those moments of joy I talk about... the ones that if you can find one a day the next day's worth living? Just look at those pictures and understand how I can go to bed thinking, "Life doesn't get much better than this."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finally Over

Thanksgiving weekend -- the weirdest we've ever had, is over. It was strange in so many ways.

Wednesday night ecumenical services, which were to feature my husband preaching, were cancelled because of a snow storm. Then on Thursday we were surprisingly invited to friends for lunch, which was awesome....

Then Thursday afternoon we had major meltdowns.

Friday we woke up to a sick cook and postponed Thanksgiving one MORE day.

Saturday we woke up to a sick cook and so I had to cook. :-(

Saunday we woke up to a sick pastor and I had to preach.

Last night we had a meltdown from Dominyk unlike I've ever seen from him. He was crazed and out of control. We were seriously thinking about admitting him. We had a new plan and if there isn't improvement then we may have to.

Today the son I have that doesn't want me to blog about him is going back to jail. Interesting how he perceives that me blogging the facts about his life gives you a bad impression of him.... not the facts themselves. You don't like him because I blog about him. Interesting.

I was back at the Y this morning and I just have to say this: I LOVE WATER PILLS! I had run out and got a refill and let me just say that losing 12 pounds the week of Thanksgiving has a high all it's own, even if there is a logical explanation.

I'm ready to get back into a routine. The past few days have been crazy --even for the Fletchers....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving is Finally Over

We actually planned well. Method to our madness, and decided for the 3rd year in a row to have Thanksgiving on a Friday so that people with significant others could celebrate with them.

When we woke up yesterday, Bart was too sick to cook, so we put it all off a day. By this time Kyle and his wife had already let us know that they were going to alternate Easter and Thanksgiving (Easter here, Thanksgiving at her place) and so they weren't coming. John ended up not having Thanksgiving with Courtney. And Salinda said she was planning to come, but I had texted her to tell her we had moved it ahead a day and she didn't even respond to my text until it would have been too late to make it.

Bart felt better yesterday and made more pies and we were excited about having dinner together today. The Fletchers were free still, so they had planned to come. We were ready to wake up and have a good day.

Bart woke up even sicker and I became in charge of the meal. I. Hate. Cooking. But, I bucked up and got it done. Bart felt well enough to get the turkeys in the oven this morning and to make the rolls and stuffing, but everything else was my job. Rand and JImmy and Sadie and her friend Sara were a big help and it all ended up fine... Except that Bart couldn't join us for dinner he was feeling so poorly.

Now I'm getting the powerpoint done for church today, and, if he's still sick in the morning, guess who will fill in and preach?

I can bring home the bacon......

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving until Four

We had a wonderful day -- nearly flawless until about 4:00 p.m. when I opened my big mouth to comment to the one person who chose not to go to have dinner with us and then put on his Facebook how sad it was to spend Thanksgiving alone. That lit his fire which was the meanest burst of hateful words that have ever come from his mouth. Some of them included that I should never blog about him and how I always do and how everyone thinks less of him because I blog negatively about him. I guess I should be excited that everyone is reading my blog. I have blocked him from my Facebook and unfriended him hoping to save myself from temptation.

After than things went downhill with Dominyk having a particularly bad night. Our Thanksiging celebration was supposed to be today, with other people joining us, but Bart caught a horrible 24 hour stomach flu -- or maybe even 12 hour, because he seems fine now. We have postponed our dinner until tomorrow giving me a full day to do pretty much what I want.

And I can guarantee you this body will not be in any store today.

Sometimes being the one who is blamed consistently for being responsible for the issues of children I've attempted to love for years can get very very draining. If we didn't love them, why would we continue to put up with the things they say sometimes?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving has been saved ;-)

WE have an invitation to go to an early lunch with another adoptive family today -- and we're going to have the Coffee family over for dinner tomorrow. So, regardless of what our kids decide to do and how they decide to act, we'll be around friends.

And you can't beat that!

Hopefully I'll have pictures to post later.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why i'm not Making a Gratitude List This Year

Even though I'm not making a gratitude list, I am grateful for those of you who have emailed me privately to tell me that your Thanksgiving will be worse than mine. It puts things into perspective. ;-)

ANd thanks for the encouragement. I'm not really feeling ungrateful, just not interested in drama, which holidays often bring.

Kari posted her gratitude list yesterday. She didn't mention by name her own mother, who carried her for 9 long months in her own womb and who gave birth to her, painfully and arduously. Nor did she mention me, her BFF, who gets up every morning to take her to work out but she mentioned my husband by name who continues to fatten her up. So yes, her mom and I have been giving her crap.

She's trying to say that I was included in the first bullet point that included nearly everyone she knows and that her mother is supposed to be happy with being included as one of the 25 people coming to her house for Thanksgiving Dinner. WE aren't buying it or accepting it.

ANd for that reason I'm not going to write a list. I'll leave someone out and then they'll be rude like me and give me crap and ... yeah... not worth the effort.

But I am grateful for lots of stuff.

And by the way. Kari's story about this morning? A complete lie. I don't know where she comes up with this stuff.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feeling a Bit Numb

Thanksgiving is a couple of days away and I'm having a hard time getting excited about it. We have moved our Thanksgiving to Friday to accommodate those with significant others, but it may be that none of them come. We haven't decided how we are going to spend Thanksgiving Day I hear McDonalds and Pizza Hut are open. :-(

It would be really nice if I had the energy to pull together something really fun, but I'm kind of feeling numb about holidays. I guess it is because there is this fantasy out there that everyone else has great holidays except for us. Now I am smart enough to realize that lots of families have bad holidays -- but sometimes holidays just make me wish for something "normal" -- you know, the family with two kids who both love their parents and bring home spouses for the holidays who like their parents too and we all have a lovely time.

Guess I have some work to do to get to a thankful Thanksgiving, huh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude: It's Not Just for Thanksgiving

i have to remind myself to be grateful. Sometimes I get so whiny. I bug myself when i start to mentally list all the negative stuff in my life.... it needs to be replaced with positive.

I have a full day ahead but I am taking a few minutes to be very thankful for several things.... the typical things we are usually thankful for when we remember to be....

And taking time to pray for Preston as well!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


So sorry for not blogging this weekend. I just called Kari to make sure she was coming to the Y in the morning and she asked why I hadn't blogged this weekend. I didn't realize I hadn't! Guess my mind has been elsewhere.

I finished the first draft of my next book in 18 days. That's really amazing, even for me. I am on a roll so I'm going to start another one -- if i can keep writing a chapter a day I can really get it done! i have suprirsed myself at how easy the book has come from within me -- and I've had some good feedback. The target audience is not just adoptive parents so it makes me a bit nervous as that is usually my audience, but I think it may have some potential.

We have also had a series of minor disappointments -- Kyle and Christy announcing they won't make it for Thanksgiving, John and Courtney not coming by with Isaac yesterday as promised, and a few other minor things that our children have done that just pile up sometiems if you know what I mean. After a while it just seems like life is disappointint.

I'm tired tonight... but I'll bounce back. ;-) And hopefully I won't forget to blog!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My New 24 Hour Rule

Yesterday my facebook status said:
Claudia Flye Fletcher is trying to remain invested in my children without investing too much emotional energy in their drama. Not easy.

I had people ask me if I had learned the trick to doing that.

Well, after fretting my way through yesterday morning, i came up with one idea of how to do that. I'm going to call it the 24 hour rule.

I think I should wait an entire 24 hours to think about or emotionally invest in a situation with my kids, especially my "adult" children. Because really, within 24 hours the whole situation may have changed.

So that's my new advice. I'm going to wait 24 hours next time. Will probably save me a lot of time!

Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota Conference

It's at the end of March in St. Paul, MN. Check out details here.

I Like Routines

The main reason that I loved being single was that I could control my whole day. I am a planner. I like to plan things days, weeks, months in advance. If I had my way, every day would be exactly the same -- a nice routine that didn't get messed up by anyone or anything.

SO yeah, adopting 12 kids, most with special needs, probably wasn't really a smart move on my part. But it's a bit late to worry about that.

This morning I overslept and didn't make it to the Y. Knowing that Kari wouldn't be going, I am not quite as diligent I guess. And then my laptop was in the bedroom instead of the office and Bart was up and home ... and all the sudden I'm 90 minutes behind on my routine.

I like to have things very regimented. My husband, the cook in our home, decides what we are having based on what he feels like eating on that particular day. On weeks when he is not home, a couple of the kids and I sit down on the day before he leaves and we make a list of everything we are going to eat for the number of days he is gone. We make one grocery list and we go to the store and buy everything and then I print out a menu and each night we eat whatever is on the menu no matter what. That's how I roll...

I have been having so much fun writing this new book -- I decided that the only way I could have more time in my schedule is to sleep 30 minutes less and that is what I am doing. And those 30 minutes get dedicated to writing. And the book has flowed. The frist draft is almost done and I have only been working on it for 2 weeks. It's been so fun.

But it has worked because I have had a strict routine.... and today I'm way off... and it didn't start this morning. It started last night with two grandchildren being home at the same time (which hardly ever happens) and me having to play with them and hold them. Gabby doesn't know me very well, but I could watch her from afar and Isaac -- well I have gotten to see him at least 2 or three times a week since he was born and he loves to cuddle with me. In fact, tomorrow Bart and I have offered to watch him for several hours to give Courtney a break. She really hasn't had a minute away from him in the five and a half weeks since he was born.

I guess breaks in routine aren't all that bad. Sometimes they can be pretty fun.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resentment turning into confusion...

Sometimes resentment can fuel us into holding a firm line. But when our kids are confused and hurting, grace kicks in. And then it gets all muddled up.

If i can let the resentment go, if I can stop asking how it makes me feel, and start to focus on them and how I can help them, they have such messes that I can't even sort them out.

The problem is that once I put forth a bunch of energy to figure out how to help, they often change their minds and head off in a direction different than one I can recommend.

Today I wrote another chapter of my book (which may explain why I am not blogging as much). I decided that maybe I should start sharing a snippet of the book in my blog posts so that I can at least give you something to read....

So here is a quick segment from the chapter called "Tell Yourself the Truth" In fact, in writing that chapter I've decided to expand that topic for my next book. I am finding writing pretty fun lately.

It’s not about me. I have had to remind myself of this every day as a parent, wife, and friend. The moment that I begin to focus on myself and why things aren’t going my way is the moment things start to unravel. Feelings like irritation, frustration, annoyance, bitterness and resentment begin to trickle in and they slowly poison me until my heart starts to harden.

I am not advocating a mindset that says that I am not worth any of my own attention or that taking care of myself is not important. But I am saying that recognizing that it isn’t all about me keeps my head on straight.

Most of us put others first naturally as a result of our love for them. We might give a piggy back ride to a toddler even if our back hurts, or a ride to a teenager even though we have a deadline on a project. We cook meals when we have upset stomachs and don’t feel like eating. We attend band concerts of 7th graders whose instruments are screeching with errors and smile and clap even though on the inside (which we would never confess to anyone) we are bored senseless after the third number and the music is giving us a headache. This is just what we do because we love our kids.

But when we begin to focus on ourselves life becomes an incredible burden. When we begin to perform acts of love from another part of us they become acts of duty or acts of fear (if I don’t do this, will my family leave me). At this turning point, when what we do stops being about our love for others, and we start to dwell on our own needs, we start to lose our ability to cope.

If your focus is a bit off today, it’s easy to realign it. Remind yourself that love is selfless. It’s not about you. Love is about giving without expecting to receive in return. C.S. Lewis taught that we should not wait until we felt like loving before we began to act lovingly, because the loving acts would bring about loving feelings. Try it sometime and see if it doesn’t turn things around.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This morning I confess to feeling quite resentful. Setting boundaries with our adult children is such a very hard thing. And their assumptions that we are the place where there are interest free loans that really won't be paid back are getting on my last nerve. Three of our adult kids in the last 3 weeks have needed money for something and while being gracious seems like the right thing to do sometimes, after a while I start to get really frustrated.

I know what I should do. I should cut them all off and let them sink or swim. But when there are grandkids involved, it gets to be a bit different. And when the economy doesn't even have jobs for grown men with college degrees, expecting my felons to find steady work is a bit tricky.

And yet it is there decisions that got them where they are. In fact, it is doing the exact opposite of what I recommended that got them to the tough spot they are in.

I hate wrestling with these questions because I used to have such wonderful answers in my own head about how this was going to work. But each situation is different.

I think I'm going to have to develop a contract for one kid in particular about what the expectations are for them and what the limits are to what we will do.

the whole thing is quite ironic actually, because we spent their childhoods teaching them that they had to earn everything and now that they are adults they don't believe they do. Weird.

Can you tell I"m sick of battling this issue? And it's not even like I need advice. I already know what we should do... it's just doing it that's hard.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Funny Wilson story

Wilson had acolyte training last week. The woman doing the training told Bart that Wilson had really surprised her with his sense of humor. Weighing all of 70 pounds soaking wet, he had asked if he could try on the robe that the acolytes where during the service. After he had it on, he turned to her and said, “Do you think this makes my butt look big?”

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Week

I am so weird. I mean, seriously. But Monday is my favorite day of the week. I am one of those weird people who really like to work. And I am getting paid to do what I am passionate about, so that doesn't hurt. I literally go to work excited about the things I get to do and looking forward to the fun I will have seeing how much I can get done and how fast I can get it done. I look forward to Mondays.

In addition, Monday is the day when I get to have my office to myself. All day long, just me in a neat, tidy, quiet room, cranking through my to do list. I have so much fun making the list and then putting down the times when I accomplish the task.

It doesn't hurt, either, that by 7 a.m. when I wake the kids up I've already been to the Y, exercised, showered, and written a chapter of the book.

However, it is not good that I woke up at 3:20 and never went back to sleep. Too excited to start my Monday. Yeah, I know, I'm sick. I was also trying to decide the title of the book.

I really wanted to call it "God Change My Kids, but Leave me the H*** Alone" but I really don't think it would fit the "Woman of Faith" Genre.

So, what do you think of this: Seeing God's Heart: How Trying to Change my 12 Kids Changed Me

Too long, too bulky?

Feedback appreciated if it is done kindly. ;-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Controlling What I Can Control

It was a good morning. It wasn't a perfect morning. It was just a good morning. But I did everything I could to make it good and I have to relax and let it go.

The weather messed up plans for Bart's mom and sisters to come for the confirmation and baptism. It also deterred Kyle and Christy. We never heard from Salinda. Mike texted Courtney that we never woke him up and that is why he didn't come, even though he never asked us to wake him up.

John and Courtney got into a squabble and there were tears... but otherwise it was a nice morning. We had lunch together and things went smoothly.

They went smoothly for me because I only controlled what I could control and let the rest go.

How special a day is it when my husband gets to confirm two sons and baptize a grandchild? The awesomeness of that fact covers for the weather and those that were missing. Everyone did great.

My pictures didn't turn out all that well, but at least I remembered to bring a camera! That's better than I do some days!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Basking in God's Grace and Love

Writing this new book about what I've learned about God has certainly drawing me deeper and deeper into His love and grace. It's been amazing.

I posted a mediocre picture of my front yard, but Kari posted a much prettier one Just go look at hers ;-)

I took my picture right before two huge branches collapsed under the weight of the snow in our front yard. It's still coming down and while it is beautiful, it's a lot, early in the season, and we may not be able to get out and get the things we need for our big celebration tomorrow. But I'm taking one minute at a time.

Time to get the powerpoints done for tomorrow, help kids with confirmation projects, and then help Bart get ready with the food and shopping for tomorrow.

Busy day, but a good one.

Friday, November 12, 2010

having a lovely morning so far...

I slept in. I mean I really slept it. And it felt SO good. And then I had a shower and got dressed. (No School today and Bart's day off). And then I walked out of the bathroom up to the kitchen where my husband handed me eggs, bacon and toast prepared exactly like I liked them and I sat down to breakfast with four of the kids and a friend and we chatted while my husband began preparing our feast for "THE GREAT CELEBRATION."

On Sunday my husband will be confirming two of our sons (Leon and Tony) and baptizing our grandson Isaac. And it's going to have a great day. If Mike makes it to church we will have all 12 kids there (assuming nothing unforeseen happens) and both grandkids. A large number of Courtney (John's gfs) family will join us, along with Bart's mom and aunt or aunts we hope and we will be serving lunch at the church afterwards. It's going to be a grand day!

Celebrations in our home often create challenging behaviors, but I am taking the same approach I took at Kyle's wedding. That was an event that I decided I was not going to allow anyone to ruin for me. It was going to be what it was supposed to me-- a celebration and a joy. And I managed my emotions so that it was.

ANd I can feel myself doing the same thing this time. Instead of adding to the stress by being tense and stressed, I'm going to enjoy it, take one minute at a time, and decide to have a nice time regardless of what everyone else does...

So today I'm going to get things done at the desk and then tomorrow I'm going to help Bart as he prepares the feast (It looks like we'll be serving lunch to about 50 people) and getting the house clean in case we have people stop by. (In between working on the powerpoints for SUnday).

And today I get to surprise the heck out of Sadie and her friend Sarah. I'll tell you about that later....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fastest Day Ruiner Ever

I think I set a world record for ruining someone's day the fastest ever. Dominyk's first words out of his mouth this morning was, "Thank's a lot Mom. You' just ruined my day." All i had done was sing him a few opening lines of a happy "Good morning to you" song....

So there you have it. I have accomplished yet one more great thing in my life. I have now achieved the status of the fastest day ruiner ever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Calm in the Midst of the Storm

Things aren't as calm around here as my blog might indicate. In fact, they still have their intense moments. I'm not sure if it is because I am bored with the drama, or because the stuff gets more and more personal for the kids and they are now teens and don't want it shared, or because I'm so used to it? Or is it because I have really learned how to let God give me peace in the midst of the calm.

I have kids fighting some pretty big things. I won't be specific, but between the twelve of them we have those who are battling (or choosing not to battle) addictions: alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, food. We have some who are drowning in anxiety and others who are depressed. We have some that are unemployed and are struggling to find ways to survive financially. We have those who struggle in school because of learning disabilities.

It seems that some of our kids grow up and out of their dysfunctions and mental health issues, and that there are others who grow up and grow deeper into them. There are some who seem to think more clearly every day as they age... and others whose thinking seems to get more cloudy.

I am not sure what my role is in helping some of my children. Certainly I can pray for them, and offer some guidance, but I can only do that when I can distance myself enough to not get involved emotionally in their stuff. I have to be able to look at them apart from their relationship with me and how their behavior affects me in order for me to be helpful.

And that, as you well know, isn't easy to do.

A conundrum

So this morning I woke up with an idea in my head for the next chapter of the book and I was very happy, because last night I had no idea what I was going to write this morning. But I told God, 'Hey, this is great! If you give me one idea for the book every morning, and I write a chapter a day, I'll be done soon...."

But then while I was at the Y on the treadmill, I had another idea. And then at the shower at the Y I had yet another.

Does that mean I"m supposed to write three chapters today because God gave me three ideas? Or does it mean I'm not going to hear from him again until day 4 -- so I should space them out?

Isn't it fun serving a God that we can't put into a box that easily?

But seriously, what do you think? Three chapters today -- or just one a day to go along with the original plan that I made with God?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Attachment Disorder with God

I have been working on my next book -- only for about 45 minutes a day, often first thing in the morning -- either right before, or right after the Y (right before when I go later than 5!!!) And in writing one of the chapters yesterday I had a revelation.

I think many people have an attachment disorder when it comes to God. God had this plan God's people would be hands and feet, representative of God on earth. Problem? God's people are sinful, busted, broken, and messed up. It's sin that does that to people. And yet people look to them as they try to understand God.

And that's where the attachment disorder comes from. As children, teens, young adults we see that PEOPLE cannot be trusted. And these people are people who call themselves Christians. People who are supposed to know better. And so, like babies who are taken care of by inconsistent caregivers as infants, we conclude that we cannot trust. Problem? We conclude that we cannot trust GOD when really, it's just the people who have messed up. God is absolutely trustworthy, but somehow we've transferred our feelings of uncertainty about how they have behaved and what that means to conclude that God is who God claims to be.

If you are an adoptive parent you know all about attachment disorder. Do you see any of the same symptoms when it comes to your relationship with God? How much does the way that people have let us down affect how much we allow ourselves to trust God?

I know, I know, I could be opening a can of worms. But I really wonder if there isn't something to be pondered here...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Paying attention to the Speaker, even when it's me...

I came home in a very good mood. I had a great flight, a good ride on the shuttle, finished a big project I was working on, and was generally just feeling good. That helps. Because the kids were who they typically are all day and evening.

As in most family systems, we have instigators and we have responders. Dominyk is the classic responder to everyone. Tony is also a responder, but is most often an instigator. Rand is a responder, but sometimes and instigator, and Jimmy is an instigator. Ricardo, Wilson, Sadie, and Leon often serve as the bored audience to repetitive behaviors, like arguments about who is most "retardeder." But they can also be tempted to instigate and, once and a while, respond.

So yesterday, everyone bored, and their parents somewhat preoccupied in reconnecting, there was a lot of instigating and a whole lot more responding. But in the midst of it, I found myself fairly calm, which always helps not to amp things up.

You know, it always works better when I pay attention my own advice -- be authentically more calm than your child, don't engage in arguments, focus on relationship rather than behavior, yada yada yada.

But when I do those things, stuff goes better. So maybe my message does make sense. ;-)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Perfect Flight

I think I just came off of the perfect flight. It was a two-hour, non stop flight from Indianapolis to Minneapolis. I was in seat 37D -- right in the middle seat way in the back, but I changed it to 13C on the aisle, a few seats from first class. The plain was nearly full but the middle seat in MY seat was empty, thus I didn't have to snuggle with a stranger.

I was able to have a snack because i could use the middle tray table, and since the snack cart had just passed me, he let me go to the first class bathroom. I got off the plane and it was only at gate C-2, so I didn't have to walk past 20 gates to get to the baggage claim. When I arrived at baggage, my bag came off first. And there is a full internet single at the coffee place with a table and chair across from the very carousel my bags came on. And I have just enough battery to last me to the 11:00 shuttle....

Maybe that's God's way of saying that He's with me even if I can't be in church. I'm going to listen to a sermon or two -- Bart's sermons are online and he has been preaching so well lately....

So that will be my church as I work on a couple fun projects and wait to take that shuttle home to my family...

The Night Before the Early Flight

I never sleep all that well before an early flight and last night was no exception. I'm glad I had that extra daylight savings time hour to give me a bit more time to toss and turn.

Had a great week but excited to return home to my family. Whenever I am away talking to people about my kids, I start to feel better about my kids -- more gracious and understanding I guess -- as I try to convince parents that sometimes the kids are doing the best they can.

Still sad about missing church this morning, but I have a few projects to keep me busy and hopefully the time will go by quickly.

Happy SUnday everyone!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

One of My Favorite Things

I just had an amazing day. One of my favorite things ever is to speak to parents. And today nearly 300 people listened to me as I shared survival tips for foster and adoptive parents in a keynote speech and then presented two seminars. It was a long, full day, but I was energized because the people were so amazingly receptive. I love it when connections are made, when there is a lot of laughter, and when there are tears. Being a foster parent is a VERY HARD THING. Sometimes it's even harder than being an adoptive parent. And so having intimate conversations about important things that matter with a large group of people all at the same time is so very cool. The Indiana Foster Care and Adoption Association is a great organization full of good people who are having to fight some pretty tough battles.

So even though I am COMPLETELY bummed about not being in church tomorrow -- it's been SO GOOD lately -- it's been worth it.

And in honor of the great foster and adoptive parents of Indiana, if you go to our store to order our book and type in the word indiana as your coupon, you can save $3.00.

Not a bad deal eh?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Running Late

Heading down to registration and a morning session....

I"m going to attempt to tweet some quotes from the speakers this morning, so if you would like to follow them head over to the 3rdegreeparent twiter site.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Oh to Be More Like HIm

My amazing husband had me crying in the back seat of a Taxi on the way to the hotel from the airport as I read his blog post from my Iphone.

He is so incredible and I must add that it is because God's Spirit truly does live in him.

From the MSP Airport

I know this airport fairly well. I know the routine. This morning I did pretty well, but I really need to pay attention. I do dumb things sometimes -- like get in the wrong line, etc.

My morning was uneventful and it's good to be on my way. Sometimes traditions are tricky at our house.

Mike has court again today. He had a hearing yesterday as well. He has been really getting on my nerves lately with the things that he says to others in the family. I try to remind myself that he may not be able to help it, but his refusal to be anything but a leech in our family system is a bit draining. And ever since June whenever I bring up the fact that he isn't contributing anything he has said, "It doesn't matter anyway because I"ll be going to jail soon." I reminded him yesterday, when he said the same thing, that he had been saying that for months. (This was after he insisted I needed to give him a ride to court without any planning, had me get Tony and Dominyk up early for therapy, jumped in the shower ahead of Tony and took 25 minutes, and then, after all that, having a ride show up to take him to court and telling me he didn't need one after all).

There was a two hour period last night where I was ready to pull out my hair. Four of our kids ages 14-22 were acting like they were preschoolers and arguing and fighting with each other. ANd the night ended with two kids leaving the church building to take a walk and share a cigarette.

So it's a good thing I'm getting a mini break from all this. I think I need it.

ANd I'm looking forward to the conference. I love speaking to parents!

So it's going to be a good week!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Shaking Things Up a Bit

Dominyk and Tony both have therapy this morning, so I asked Bart if he could take the kids to school this morning and I laid in bed a while. Finding myself exhausted last night almost to the point of tears, I made a decision not to get up at 4:45 and suddenly felt much better about life.

Yesterday was a very productive day for me! I was able to get email very low -- although announcing this usually spurs on the defiant group of you who wants to comment just to fill it back up -- and I made good progress on the book I'm going to write. I am going to combine funny and serious and tackle it from the idea of what I have learned about God by parenting my children. I'm thinking of four or five sections: God's love, God's guidance, God's grace, God's joy, and God's peace. And then I will stick in some funny stories in sections called, "Something funny happened on the way...." -- things that were written for the last book but never made it. I actually got the introduction done!

Tomorrow I leave for Indianapolis. I learned during my last trip to Texas that trying to combine business with pleasure doesn't work so well -- I get very tired and emotionally exhausted when I speak and don't have enough energy to socialize well. However, I am going to have dinner with two very special people on Thursday night and won't be speaking until Saturday. It hink I can handle that.

Heading into my 40 minutes to get things done before I get the boys up and head to Therapy.....

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Bart Blogged!

Don't faint, click!


OK, OK, So a couple people pointed out that I made a mistake on our new website and typed the title of my OWN BOOK incorrectly, saying we only claimed ten children instead of 12. Both people -- one a commenter and one by email -- asked which two I was subconsciously leaving out. And I definitely know who they are. But I'm not telling you. ;-) I'm going to fix the error today.


Went to the Y for a mediocre workout this morning, but I'm continuing to lose a bit of weight, very slowly, so that is good.


Today is Election Day. I might have forgotten if I were married to anyone else. But I'm not. So I'll be voting.


Last night we had a very calm evening until about 8 when things started to go downhill. I've been trying to take breaks from the computer and work, but when I do it seems to invite a couple of the kids to sabotage things. Going to have to work on that.


I'm thinking of entering a Christian Writing Contest. The Deadline is January 15th. MInimum 10,000 words. Wondering if I should try to be funny or more serious? Any thoughts?

Monday, November 01, 2010

More Improvements to the Third Degree Parenting Site

New pages that include blog entries from the past (which will continue to grow) and a family page with pictures.

Check it out!

Boo Humbug!

I'm the scrooge of Halloween. Seriously. The day makes me crabby. It probably didn't help that I was reading "The Hole in Our Gospel" by World Vision director Richard Stearns while people were trick-or-traeating. But in a world where women and children spend 8-10 hours a day hauling polluted water so that they don't die that day, living in a country that was predicted to spend 6 billion dollars yesterday for a holiday that is pointless makes no sense whatsoever to me. It makes my head spin.

So we downplay it as much as possible, try not to spend the average amount spent in US households which is about $80, and this year is the last year we will invest anything in this holiday. Our family rule is that 5th grade is "graduation year" from trick-or-treating so Wilson breathed the last of Halloween. And don't even say that you think I'm going to buy costumes for my grandchildren because I won't. If their parents want to, that's their business, and apparently they have found that to be a priority already. (Both the pictures of my grandkids were texted to me, although I did get to see Isaac for a long time yesterday but not in costume)

But I was impressed that Wilson is so self-differentiated as an almost 12 year old boy that he chose to be an orange fairy. And must confess that while Gabby looks a bit confused, she makes a pretty cute pumpkin. And Isaac, well I'm pretty sure his cow costume was a bit big for his 2.5 week old self, but ... Happy Halloween, I guess. Not like I'm going to be able to singlehanded stop Halloween.

So I might as well enjoy what I can and share the cute pictures with you.

But I still say Boo Humbug!