Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time for you to talk to me...

I was thinking of doing this last week and never got around to it...but I would love to know a couple of things from you all:

1) Where are you from?

2) What's your connection to adoption and foster care/

3) Do you have a blog;

4) How long have you been reading mine; and

5) Have you read either or both of my books?


(Thanks to Cody Lee and Nancy who caught my stupid error asking "how long have you been a reader) and got me to fix it!

Quick Family Update

Thought I'd update everyone who is curious for the next eight minutes.... as to how everyone is doing.

Kyle and Christy are doing well. Saw them Sunday. Christy has a summer job and Kyle is hoping to get his job back though, as has happened every year, he got a pink slip at the school where he teaches. Hopefully he'll get his job back in the fall.

Rand is still working full time at the Garden Center at Lowe's. They will most likely be cutting his hours soon, but hopefully he will have help finding somethign else.

Mike texts us occasionally but seems to be doing OK -- able to pay his rent and, apparently, staying out of jail.

John got out of jail yesterday. I have told him that he will not be allowed to come to the house. I don't want to live with the anxiety that causes any more. We'll see how that goes.

Jimmy is graduating in about 10 days! June 9th and he'll be finishing High School. Everyone is glad. He is supposedly going to start a job at the University come fall in their kitchen -- he worked there during his High School Special Education work program and they requested to have him back. Hopefully that will work out.

Henry is beginning his 3rd week of work. He has put in 110 hours in two weeks, which includes a bunch of overtime so he's looking forward to that first check. So far things have been ok with them living with us during the week.

Ricardo seems to be stuck right now -- he says he has had an attitude change at school, which I hope is true. His attitude at home comes and goes. Right now he just chose to be grounded for a week as opposed to do his dishes, something I don't understand.

Mercedes is struggling to "figure things out" as she says -- which involves her not liking me a whole lot lately and her making some stubborn and dumb choices. Fortunately it is nothing severe to our knowledge. But she is digging herself in a hole academically which she may not be able to climb out of which is her plan... she is always going to do better ... next quarter.

Speaking of holes, Tony seems to be failing several classes again and will have to go to summer school. He is saying he won't go.

Leon is doing OK -- a big traffic ticket has impacted his world, but he is being very responsible with it. Hopefully he's going to be able to pull up one bad grade before the end of the quarter.

Dominyk seems to be a bit more stable lately mood wise, but school is also hard for him. He will be attending summer school. He is down to one medication though, and maintaining much better than he ever has with his behaviors.

Wilson's broken arm is healing nicely. He will get a new cast soon. He temporarily has his braces off so we are struggling with retainer wearing.

And there you have it for now. I'm heading to wake everyone up.....

Another day begins....


Well, I haven't been to the Y for over a month and wasn't watching what I was eating at all and actually lost a few pounds from the last time I weighed in. What's with that?

And now Kari is AVERAGING 75 more readers a day than I have. Now what is up with that??? Could it possibly be that I'm a pathetic blogger lately.

Let me hypothesize as to why:

1) It's all about me. I'm so enmeshed in my whole busy frantic life that I am blogging a lot lately about myself and not much about parenting or my kids.

2) I don't have the time I used to have to blog... and thus when I do have time I spend it blogging about how I don't have time.

3) My kids are becoming adults and so many of them are connected to other people who might be reading the blog that I've become much more vague.

4) Some of the things that really used to get under my skin don't any more, and so I tend not to blog as intensely.

5) I used to focus on building up the blog and gathering readers and keeping them. Now I have to have that all as a lower part of my priority list.

6) I have been attempting to spend less time at the computer when I'm not working. I used to spend 13-16 hours a day at the computer and now when I'm done working I step away from it...

SO.... that could explain it huh? ;-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Heading to the Lake

I'm in the middle of a book that is surprisingly hilarious. Matt Hoffman had contacted me saying he'd read our first book and I have been meaning to get his for a couple weeks. Well I finally downloaded it onto my Ipad and not only does it provide lots of insight into the foster care system but his sense of humor is just like mine and I keep laughing out loud as I read which I never do.

So, if you enjoy my sense of humor, I think this book will be one you definitely want to read. check it out!

Pictures from the Weekend So Far...

If you aren't my friend on facebook, you haven't seen these yet....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Latest News from NACAC

This issue includes info about Tax Credit as well as info about grants to help people adopt and can be found here

So, How Was the "Normal Family" Weekend?

Well, we were so prepared and so well planned. We bought Twins Tickets ahead of time and also bought some gift certificates on Restaurants.com and got a really good deal. Spend $4.00 on a $50 gift card -- spend $100 and get $50 off. It was such a sweet deal.

So we drove up to the Cities to a the Hilton, checked in, and then I read a while while Bart and some of the boys explored downtown. Then we decided to walk to the restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner. It was raining but we were committed to walking, so we walked there in the rain. We got there and discovered that they were closed until 5... but we were 2 miles away from Target Field, and it was already 4:15....game starting at six. It seems that we have this jinx that follows us and the more that I plan the less progress I make...

We decided to walk toward the baseball field and find something to eat ... except everything was super expensive or super CLOSED. Apparently in the downtown area.... EVERYTHING is closed. We finally found an Asian restaurant... a very pricy one... so we had dinner and then walked to the game.

WOw, those seats are HIGH! Made me downright nervous -- felt like I was going to fall right onto the fielder....

But the Twins pulled it out in the 10th inning and we then walked back to the hotel.

This morning we went to church at Park Avenue this morning. Kyle and Christy joined us and the service was awesome -- in both Spanish and English simultaneously, which was so cool, and also with a gospel number from the choir. Definitely multicultural and inner-city and uplifting and awesome. Then we had authentic Mexican in A Mpls suburb with Kyle and Christy and headed home.

I didn't touch my computer at all the whole time we were gone -- left it home.

In many ways I guess we were normal, but the behavior of a couple of our kids was just not fun. One of them tripped and landed on my foot, which hurt, and he spent the whole weekend cursing and yelling about how stupid I was to have been in his way. A couple others just had ridiculous comments to make nad the language was terrible.

In addition, even though most of the group was betwen 15 and 19, they still had to be watched like toddlers so they wouldn't get distracted and walk away from us....

So, we were normal in many ways. We were normal in that we spent a lot of money. We were normal in that there were both really fun times and some not so fun times.

But in other ways... it wasn't all that normal. But we're home, the kids have some memories and we survived (and now I get to work through almost 250 emails. There's a reason that I don't leave my computer often). ;-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Attempting to be "Normal" This Weekend

For the past 16 years I have not been able to "Go away for the weekend" like most families in Minnesota do regularly. Being engaged and then married to a pastor means staying home on weekends. Always. And on holiday weekends I not only stayed home, but stayed home with a husband who bordered on crabby all weekend because church attendance was low and we couldn't go away too!

But this weekend, with Bart on Sabbatical, we are heading away for the weekend. We are planning to go to up to Minneapolis and spend the night. Bart got us a great last minute deal at a 4 star hotel for less $ than we would have paid for a Super 8. We'll be right down town and may do some other stuff too (surprises to be announced to kids later).

Sadie and Ricardo had plans with friends and Rand has to work. Salinda and her little family headed to his parents for the weekend. So Dom, Tony, Jimmy, Wilson and Leon will climb in the van with Bart and I and we'll head up there.

I'm even considering not taking my computer. I know, I know. Don't faint.

We will attend Park Avenue tomorrow morning where we will be joined by Kyle and Christy for church and lunch or brunch out and then head home. And on Monday, weather permitting, we're going boating with the Coffees.

Now, does that sound like a "normal family" weekend in Minnesota or what?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Yesterday Didn't Turn Out Quite Like I Expected

I was planning a day of travel and I got a day of travel. But it wasn't the day I planned.

I got to the airport and was told that the next flight getting me home wasn't leaving until 7 p.m. on Saturday night! It was Thursday morning at 9. There were no options. Hail damage to planes in Dallas meant that there were NO flights.

I looked on my phone and the estimated time to drive it was 12 hours and 45 minutes. It was 9:15. I calculated that and thought -- oh, good. I can be home by around 10 tonight if i leave now.

Except that I couldn't leave now. the FOURTH rental place I found had a choice of two cars -- a Mustang and a Mercury Marquis. I couldn't imagine getting in and out of the Mustang... so I paid a whole ton of money to spend not 12 hours 45 minutes but 14 hours 40 minutes in and out of a very large car to get myself home last night.

Now this morning I'm having to have it 75 miles from here by 10 a.m. or pay for another day.

I really wanted to get home... figured my kids needed me to be here more, so I made that sacrifice for them. But based on their happiness to see me this morning, I'm not sure it meant much to them. (everything seems to be my fault today).

I'm a bit tired and really not looking forward to getting back into the granny car. But hey, I'm a granny.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There's no place like home

Today I met some amazing people. I did the opening for Michael Patrick MacDonald this morning. Talk about a fascinating guy. And what we each had to say worked well together and it appeared to have a big impact.

I also was able to meet many of the amazing people at the state level -- the Commissioner of Health and Human Services, an articulate and passionate woman -- the first woman to ever hold the position -- who is under 40 and looks 25.... and several department heads -- the important folks who make big decisions. And of course some of the other speakers -- the man who is in charge of the entire criminal justice system for the state of Kentucky, for example.

It is sort of fun to pretend to be in the league of these people -- because if they fly you in you are an expert who knows everything -- thus you are allowed to sit with this kind of people and are expected to converse with them as one of them. It's a rush for sure.

There are also great perks like a king suite at the hotel and having people offer to help you do things... it's just a great time.

Of course, there are the hassles of travel -- the guy from kentucky had to spend 24 hours on planes and airports to get here because of the tornados, and my flight for today apparently has been cancelled but the automated message makes no sense and the wait time for American is over 60 minutes to talk to them on the phone plus their website is messed up.... sooooo that part isn't so fun.

And my high schoolers had their pops concert last night -- the best event of the year musically, and I had to miss it for the second year in a row. Last year I got to watch it on DVD and am hoping to this year as well, but it was sad to be alone in a hotel room while my husband had to sit alone at this event.

Last night I was instant messaging Bart from the hotel after the concert and told him that I wished there was a way to just make a living speaking at conferences. He's always so wise, and i'm not even being sarcasm for FYI (as Jimmy would say). He reminded me that people don't want to listen to people speak who only do conferences. Because all they would have to talk about was the conferences they speak at.

I'm happy to have been here. I'm happy to be heading home. There's something both powerful and wonderful about being away doing this kind of stuff, but it's really true... there's no place like home.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leaving Home

Sometimes when I leave home, I get to leave home. This time, not so much. So far in the past 24 hours since my kid got up:

one has been threatened on Facebook,
one has refused to stop a behavior that is not good no matter how much we insist;
a cell phone has been dropped in the toilet;
another kid didn't get up yesterday and was late to school again;
another kid slept through their school day yesterday;
another "kid" is complaining about something we did for them years ago that we did in good faith and was actually a huge savings for them,

ok, ok. You get the picture. And they are texting and calling and IMing me -- so that I don't miss out on any of it.

Yesterday was such a nutty day! I left home at 3:30, got to the airport and on the plane fine, had breakfast, and then got ready to bored. Got my first class seat (from the fiasco of the flight change -- they upgraded me) and got all settled. Then they made us get off the plane. Waited an hour. Got back on the plaine. Was over an hour late making it to OKC. Hadn't eaten. Grabbed trail mix to eat a quick lunch before resting. Trail mix fell out in hotel shuttle.

Couldn't rest. Was supposed to have dinner with one of the conference people who had invited me to eat out. But there were tornado warnings, so she asked me to join her in the hospitality room for leftover box lunches so she could be by the TV. (I teased them that I was going to tell the blog world that that is their idea of taking someone out to eat in Oklahoma).

Except that before we ate the tornado sirens sounded and we had to go to the stairwell and wait an hour before we could go back and have supper, meaning I went 11 hours without food, which, of course you know, didn't emaciate me, but I was a tad hungry.

One of my FB friends says maybe God has been plans for me here. :-)

I'm doing the opening part of the plenary session this morning to be followed by Michael Patrick Macdonald this morning. Amazed to be in such great company.

Then will sign and sell books (hopefully) and do two sessions this afternoon. It will be a full day and I have a headache that doesn't want to go away, but otherwise I'm fairly well prepared.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Would you forgive American Airlines?

So last night at 10:05 I get this call from American airlines. I had just booked myself on the 5:00 a.m. shuttle to arrive here for an 8:40 flight. But no.... they called at 10 to tell me that the 8:40 was cancelled and I was booked on the 5:50 a.m. flight. Then they asked if I would accept this change... say yes, if not say no. I started to say no and then said, "Thank you -- you are now confirmed on this flight." It was automated and there was nothign I could do. When I tried to call the airline they said the wait time to talk to someone was 62 minutes.

of course, there is no shuttle at that time so... poor Bart had to get up with me at 3:10 and drive me to the airport. When I checked in it turned out they had me booked for tomorrow not today. So the helper guy wisked me up to the front of the line. I told the lady my sob story and she felt bad enough for me that she didn't charge me to check my baggage and booked me in first class for the 2nd flight.

i was thinking about that... I'm 47 years old and have flown at least that many times and I have NEVER sat in a first class seat....

So should I forgive American for making me get up an hour earlier? Maybe I should. I enjoyed my husbands company on the fastest ride ever from our house to the airport (not much traffic at 3:30 and we didn't have a single red light). I am in Chicago having breakfast -- a couple of the items are quite tasty -- and I will get in earleir to the hotel. Now if I can just get a shuttle ride at the right time and they will let me check into the airport early -- I'll be doing well.

Hope your day started later than mine!

It's only 7:30 and I'm already in Chicago and will be on a 9:00 flight.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Foster Care and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin May Newsletter

Great links to tip sheets about Sibling Conflict in Adoption and knowing whether or not adoption is a correct choice for a family can be found in this newsletter.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


The play the kids did today was called J-Force and it was quite cute. Sadie and Wilson did a great job.

There were a few pretty funny moments....

One when Wilson was playing the part of the man whose friends took him to Jesus and he jumped up healed -- except for the broken arm....

Another when Sadie was playing the Father who welcomed home the prodigal son, played by Wilson. He was quite apprehensive about Sadie's enthusiastic hug.

And then Wilson was a wayward sheep, getting pulled back to the fold by shepherd Sadie...

and finally Wilson caught me with the camera and made this threatening gesture....

Bottom line though -- these two are talented VERY CUTE kids!

This Doesn't Happen Very Often

Bart is here to listen to the mayhem of Sunday morning. For some reason Dominyk seems to swear more on Sundays and today is no exception. And we are quite tired as Tony's cast party turned into drama among some of the cast members over some traumatic event while they were out celebrating (traumatic in the eyes of the girls he was with) and he rolled in at 2:20 after Bart had been out looking for him for 30 minutes. We had a hard time going back to sleep.

We are also giving the kids a choice today as to whether they will go to church with me for Jimmy's Senior Recognition and Sadie and Wilson's Musical or with Bart to his chosen place of worship which he finally selected about 15 minutes ago after trying to decide all week. So many choices and so few Sundays of his sabbatical to visit other places... it's been hard for him to choose.

I on, the other hand, did not contribute since I would not be going along. However, I'm going to hope for a decision by Thursday of this week as to next week's plan....

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Our kids don't adjust easy -- and Bart and I being gone for three days, followed by him being gone for two more ... and then everyone getting back together again caused a bit of an implosion this morning that has left me exhausted....

But.... Dominyk decided that he would rather go out to eat with Bart and I than go to his 8th grade graduation last night.... so we had a nice time .. just the three of us. And then I saw Tony perform twice today in a one act play that was parody of High School Musical that was hilarious. He did such a great job....

Ironically, he had this line (he played the father of the basketball player turned singer) when the kid said, "Dad -- don't put me in a box." His line was, "I never put you in a box... not since Child Protective Services came by that one time...."

14 years ago we had two sons in foster care that we did not know if we could keep. One of them was 2 year old tony, the other was Dominyk who had just turned one. People often asked us if they were twins and we would chuckle, knowing that they were 14 months apart and shared no genes. Now they are both ours and have really given us a run for our money. Tony weighs as much as I do and Dominyk is about six feet tall at 15!

Sometimes we wonder what life would have been like had we stopped at two... but not for long. These guys have made our lives interesting, but we couldn't live very long without all the others!

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Husband the Writer

Check out his latest online book review here. He's SUCH a good writer!

Or, if you'd like to hear about Wilson's surgery you can read all about that on his clergy renewal leave blog.

Positive Things (and a hilarious Gabby story)

Sometimes blogs get kinda negative -- at least this one does. I am not masterful nor articulate when blogging most of the time -- I do it on the fly when all kinds of thoughts are pouring through my head and it all just lands there -- Bart refers to my blog as vomit on a page.

But there are a few positive things happening here. Rand seems to be doing very well now that he is employed. He enjoys his job and seems to feel a big sense of satisfaction in having something worthwhile to do with his time. In addition, on his days off, he has been quite helpful around here. It's interesting that when he was having to work for me to earn money for his cell phone and insurance that it was almost impossible to get him to do anything. But now, when I'm not paying him at all he will do favors for me endlessly without complaining. Isn't the human psychy interesting?

Yesterday I had a list way too long for one person. So I had Rand take care of several errands. He also completely prepared dinner (rice and black beans...mmmm). He worked steadily for hours getting things done for me. Leon got home from practice and volunteered to help Rand finish dinner and Salinda did Wilson's chore (his broken arm has him a bit incapacitated at the moment). She also has been helping keep laundry going when I'm busy working.

Henry is finishing up his first week of work tomorrow and is pleased with himself. He is working hard and getting compliments. He's been working from 6 until about 4:30 all week and today had to go in at 5. But he's learning the work (assembly line window production) and seems to be impressing the management -- or at least not making them angry. He comes home tired but in a good mood and goes to bed early, thus fitting into our schedule better than when he wasn't working.

Having Salinda and Gabby here during the day for some reason has become fun for me and not stressful. Salinda is more settled and Gabby is just a little chatterbox. I told Salinda she should count how many times in one day Gabby says Mommy. She might break a world record.

One cute story and then it's time for me to get the kids off to school. Gabby was sitting in my lap facing me yesterday and she touched the mole on my mouth and said, "Icky?" Then she pointed at her own diaper and convincingly said, with confidence, "Icky." Her finger came back to my mole and she nodded and concluded, "Icky."

Isn't she something?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

So How Cool is This?

Adoption Guru Brenda McCreight has a new blog about writing and she interviewed me and put it on her new blog.

I'm feeling a bit like a high school kid who gets invited to play basketball with Michael Jordan.....

Want to read the interview: It's here.

Info from NACAC about the Tax Credit

Adoption Tax Credit Update

The good news: We have finally begun to hear from people who are receiving their full refunds after the IRS reviewed the adoption tax credit. It’s great to see that the process is beginning to work.

The not-so-good news: Some people are being turned down improperly, often because their adoption subsidy agreement does not specifically state that the child has special needs. If you have been turned down, we recommend that you write back, include the adoption subsidy agreement, and explain that a child cannot receive adoption subsidy/adoption assistance unless the state has determined the child has special needs. Therefore, your adoption subsidy/adoption assistance agreement is documentation of the special needs adoption. If you were asked to verify expenses, you can add that because it is a special needs adoption, you are are not required to have or verify expenses. We are working with the IRS to ensure that examiners understand this, and soon hope to be able to share written clarification issued by the IRS.

Although NACAC cannot help speed up the process, we can help if you were improperly denied the credit. Please contact us at taxcredit@nacac.org or call us at 651-644-3036.

Just Keep Moving....

Again Last Night "Dynamic Duo" posted in a comment something that I have heard many many times over the years -- "I don't know how you do it." Well, let me tell you how I do it. I just keep moving.

When I look at other people's lives I think the same thing. For example, Cindy. I tried gardening for three hours once and I couldn't stand it. And a much as I can't imagine spending my day cleaning and gardening, she would rather have her arm chopped off than sit inside at a computer all day.

Or I look at Kari who is now spending hours dedicating herself to cooking GFCF and I literally feel sick to my stomach thinking about being in the kitchen more than long enough to fill a glass of water.

Or I think about what it must be like to be Sherific to work in a preschool setting and find joy in painting things. Either of those options make me hyperventilate.

And I could go on and on. Everyone has their own lives filled with their own routines, their own passions, their own responsibilities. And we just keep moving.

My husband is on a sabbatical and he is asking himself the question, "Soul, what do you want today?" I am so not like that. If I asked my soul, "What do you want today?" my soul would probably say, "Who are you and why are you talking to me for the first time ever?"

Regardless of what I attempt, I am not a be-er, but I am a do-er. And so I talk to my brain instead of my soul, and I say, "Ok, what is it we have to do today?" And my brain always has a response....

I used to try to plan my days ... now I simply keep moving. Whatever of the list of a million things that pops into my head next I do... and I just keep moving.

So that is how I do it -- that's how I hold down a full time and 3 part time jobs, parent 12 kids, 3 significant others, 2 grandchildren, share in managing the house, and volunteer for stuff at church... oh yeah, and write books and articles and travel to otehr places to speak -- and... and....

It's simple. I just keep moving.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quite the Night...

Last night I worked steady for 7 straight hours cleaning up email and posting kids and taking care of details. I didn't get completely caught up but I feel better.

I started to blog this this morning, but got distracted and then had two meetings and a five hour drive home. Wilson is recovering from his bone repositioning and Bart has headed back to his conference. I am home and things seem to be fine though the house is a disaster. But they didn't kill each other so that's good....

And I am now home working through my emails that I missed while on the road and in meetings all day.

have had some interesting thoughts that I may just get around to blogging one of these days....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For those of you who Love My Husband

Here's a whole website about his Clergy Renewal Leave which he started yesterday. He will be blogging regularly with his wonderful insightful stuff and you most likely will get lost in his ocean of articulate prose.

He and I do not share the same personality.

But check it out!

Mental Health first Aid in Anoka, MN

A "Heart of the Matter" Seminar

information about this seminar called "Talking to your Child about Adoption" can be found here.

I am not Dead

Wow. How can I possibly catch up on the past 48 hours..... Let's see... Sunday afternoon, late, Wilson fell at the skatepark and broke his wrist. At urgent care they told us that he was going to have to have it repositioned on Monday. Dominyk and Tony both had therapy on Monday and Bart was planning to leave for a conference.

I tend to tell too many details.... so I'll leave a bunch out, but the bottom line is that we were both supposed to be out of town this week...

Monday morning Bart took Wilson in to find out that he needed to have this procedure done under anesthesia on Wednesday at noon, the one day that was not negotiable for me. So I had to do a ton of reorganizing in order for us to figure out how to get everyone where they needed to be with both vehicles gone.... we figured it out and left only an hour later than planned But it was a wild day. Got to the conference hotel, after getting lost several times, just in time to meet up with an old very good friend for dinner. I then went with Bart to the service and lecture (very good stuff) and then fell into bed exhausted.

This morning I have been to our main office in St. Paul, Driven to Cloquet, had lunch with Tubaville which was awesome and energizing, and driven to the hotel. Now I have two days of work to catch up on before I sleep for a while and then have meetings tomorrow and head home to recovering Wilson and the other kids.... next week I have a conference in Oklahoma City... but after that I will be home for a few weeks. I need to get organized. I've been gone way too much.

So, now for an evening of emails, etc....... It will be good to get things done....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yesterday was a Blur....

Unfortuately Sadie had a very hard day yesterday and thus so did I. Spewing all kinds of venom all over me, she finally recovered about 5 in order to have dinner and family movie night with us. But in the midst of dealing with her and trying to take care of all of the many things on my desk as well as in my inbox, there wasn't even time for me to think, much less blog.

We are going to have Isaac today while Courtney goes to visit John -- and the teenagers have a picnic tonight.... All Music Sunday in church this morning.

But now I must get the children up for church and get myself ready.... hopefully this week will be more settled and there will be more blogging time....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Building Better Children's Programs... and Public Confidence

A conference in DC or via webinar. Details here.

Adoptees Have Answers Newsletter for May 2011

Can be found here.

Our Own Words Panel on May 17th in St. Paul

Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter May 2011

Can be found here.


Blogger has been down and I have felt like a non-person. People weren't commenting, and I couldn't post.

Right now I finished babysitting both Gabby and Isaac at the same time and Gabby was NOT happy to be left. Salinda had an interview and Henry has a job here in Mankato starting MOnday -- found out at noon. So it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of them. It's great that Henry has this chance -- I know the guy is tough -- Mike worked for him -- but he is willing to hire guys who are having trouble finding work and then see how they do. He starts orientation on Monday morning at 6 a.m.! I guess that's one way to find out if a guy is serious about work.

Henry is a hard worker. When he can find a job he works hard -- has done combining 14-16 hours a day for a few harvest seasons, etc. SO hopefully he'll be able to find a rhythm and do well there.

I woke up exhausted this morning. It's been kind of a strange week here. The weather has gone from one extreme to the other, the kids are restless, some of the kids have been fairly disobedient and it's time for me to crack down on some things. That's never easy.

It's also May which means that every Saturday morning we can take our junk down to the dump and not have to pay to leave it there so we need to get some work done around here.

those are my random thoughts .... I know, not brilliant.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pacer Symposium

The Sixth Annual National Symposium about Children and Young Adults with Mental Health and Learning Disabilities will be held on August 9, 2011 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.. More information here.

Dragging them Through to the End

We still have a month of school. Yes, a whole month. SO those of you who are counting the days... well, imagine my life. I feel like I am literally dragging these kids to the end of the year. They won't turn things in. They won't get out of bed... which means I simply leave them here. It appears that we are having a contest to see who can get the worst grades. I'm very tired of the stress of school -- to the point that I am almost looking forward to summer. I say almost because when school gets out there will be nothing for them to do. At this point Rand is the only one with a job and the rest are saying they aren't interested in sports or other activities. I'm bound and determined to have electronic free hours around here each day, but there are many days with our jobs that neither Bart and I are here.... and Dominyk looses PCA hours on June 30th.

So am I whining or what?

What about you? Dreading or looking forward to sumemr?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interesting Article...

US: The Root: Helping Kids After Foster Care Ends

NPR May 10, 2011

Of the 30,000 foster-care youths who age out each year and suddenly find themselves on their own at age 18, most lack a high school diploma, and only 6 percent go on to earn college degrees. Unemployment and poverty-level wages are common, and an astounding 40 percent of young people aging out of foster care will at some point be homeless.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adoptees Have Answers Webinar

Activists, Authors and Academics: Adoptees Changing the Discourse on Adoption....

A big plus on this one is that I know the presenter -- She is the new program director for the training I was at last week -- she's awesome.

Click here for more information

Pathways to Positive Futures Newsletter

From the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures in Portland, Oregon


Wow, getting back into the swing of things has been very tough for me this week. I'm just drowning in paperwork and emails, trying hard to catch back up.... Salinda and Henry both have interviews in our town this week, so they are coming back for a few days, adding an additional layer of stress, but also joy, as Gabby is really fun....

Jimmy is very anxious about graduation and being a huge pill! He's driving his teachers nuts and trying hard to push us over the edge.

Tony and Dominyk are having a contest to see who can fail the most classes this semester. It appears that Tony is squeaking ahead to take the lead...

When I am needing more energy than ever it seems my kids are heading the other direction, being lazier by the day.

But today I'm reframing everything and charging ahead with renewed vigor to depend on God for strength, control only what I can control (me) and enjoy moments of joy.

Isaac is coming for a couple hours today -- so that will bring me some for sure... and Gabby and her parents should arrive soon after he leaves.

But right now I'm on a mission to find a piece of paper on my desk, so a brilliant blog post doesn't seem to be in the realm of possible at the moment....

Note to would-be authors: Self-publishing is a great idea if you have time to do marketing. Otherwise, not so much.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Wisconsin Post Adoption Resource Center News

Can be viewed here.

14 People Who Were Adopted

The writer of this blog entry emailed me to say she thought my readers might find it interesting. I found it interesting so I'm passing it on.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Either/Or or Both/And?

I have a very good friend who tells me often that he is a "both/and" kinda guy. I am also married to a both/and kinda guy. Unfortunately, I'm an either/or kinda girl. For some reason I have always been a black white thinker who divides people and ideas into two opposing groups.

This morning as I was thinking about the training I had last week about issues of grief and loss and thinking about things that my children do and say, I had a bit of an epiphany. What if my kids are living in a both/and world when I am reading them as either/or?

What if my kids both love and hate me? What if they both disdain and respect me? What if they both take me for granted and appreciate me? What if they both reject me and accept me? What if they both resent and admire me? What if I've been wrong all these years to make those things mutually exclusive?

I think that I have in some ways become bitter because I have such a hard time accepting the nice things that my kids say when they are surrounded my the hateful things. I tend to disbelieve them when they are affirming and kind because their constant behavior is more mean and critical. It is though in my head I think things like you can't possibly appreciate me if you complain so much. You can't respect me at all if you are so disdainful. And if you hate me so much, you can't possibly love me. And through all this anything positive they do has made me suspect.

But today I am attempting to give my children the gift of allowing them to have both/and kind of feelings. I'm not trapping them into the corners of either/or, but instead allowing myself to be comfortable in the world of adoption where life is complex and people are forced to have both/and kind of feelings.

And so as I began my Mother's Day with that forgiving spirit I have found myself more at peace. Salinda and Sadie each had gifts and cards for me -- Salinda's very meaningful as it described her having a better understanding of my feelings as a mother now that she was one herself. And Wilson, our youngest, now 12, made a homemade card that said this (OK, go ahead and shed a tear as he melts your heart like he did mine):

There is always a little boy to say he's moving on but really he's always there for you.

I'm feeling blessed today to have the children and grandchildren God has given me even after we've all we've been through. Because after all, being an adoptive parent doesn't mean joy or pain, happiness or sorrow, challenge or reward..... but instead, it's a both/and kind of world.

Happy Mother's Day

I decided this morning that I was going to focus on making sure that the mothers of my grandchildren had a nice day. I am not going to write this morning about how I feel about my own Mother's Day -- but will say this: My husband bought me the most wonderful card and he truly is an amazing man. I'm so very very happy to be on this wild ride with him. He makes it all worth while.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

It's interesting isn't it....

How one little thing can bug you and make you internally sigh. I was taking time to do the paperwork online to get my second book up to be sold on Amazon and found that I had a review entitled "Disappointing" for my first book.

Only six people of the hundreds who have bought a copy have taken time to write a review, so if you have nothing else to do today, maybe writing a quick review would lift my spirits a bit. Unless you found the book disappointing as well, then maybe you should keep your opinions to yourself.

You can do it straight from this link I believe and it would sure be appreciated.

Why you shouldn't take your phone to the bathroom in the middle of the night....

So... about 5:30 this morning I went to the bathroom and grabbed my Iphone ... something I often do as it is my primary form of entertainment. I have books on it even, so you get the picture.

But I happened to glance at my email and see that one of the birth moms in our lives who I have never met was asking if she could tag herself in a picture of one of my kids. That led me to realize that my child is her friend on Facebook and as you can imagine I haven't slept since.

What a great weekend for all this to happen, huh? You see, it's been an emotionally exhausting week for me. In the training I was in this week, which was very very intense, so many issues were raised. The training is to help therapists become "adoption competent" and the content is excellent. But we talked a LOT about grief and loss issues for adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. We talked a lot about the identity formation in children, about brain trauma and neurobiology, about race, ethnicity and culture and how it impacts adoptees. We also spent a morning discussing the Adoption Kinship Network, which is the current correct language to use replacing the "adoption triad."

So I was very much put in touch with feelings that birth parents have and the issues that surround loss for my children and for myself. So having this startling reminder, in the middle of Mother's Day weekend, was jarring...

It was most jarring because it reminded me that I am not always sensitive to birth parents when I write. I write with my intended audience being my close friends and some family as well as the adoption community. Since my children have been acquiring significant others, I have tried to be aware that those people might occasionally read my blog. But I have never paid attention to the possibility that the birth parents of my children could be reading my blog and might misunderstand my humor.

For example, if I put on my blog that my kids look just like me that is a complete joke. It's sarcasm. It's supposed to make people laugh. I am homely at best and my children are BEAUTIFUL. They obviously have gorgeous birth parents who past on wonderful genes to them. But would a birth parent reading my blog pick up on that sarcasm?

So I thought, in case the birth parents of my children are out there, that I would mention a few things I may not have blogged that might indicate that I'm not nearly as insensitive as it may appear.

Bart and I often mention to our children how fortunate they are to have had attractive birth parents. Most of the kids that we have we have seen pictures of their birth family members, so we can say, "Wow, you have eyes just like your birth dad. Or your smile is SO much like your birth moms" These conversations happen around here often.

And in case I've never mentioned it, on Mother's Day we pray for the birth moms of each of our children, out loud, by name if we know their names. We recognize that our children are thinking about them and we acknowledge that it is OK.

We are grateful to the birth parents of our children. We know that they are important to our children and we work hard to navigate the bests ways for them to have contact with them in ways that cause our children the least amount of stress and the most amount of emotional growth.

Bart has blogged some very emotional and I think sensitive blog posts about birth parents including on he wrote on Tony's twelfth birthday and a beautiful letter to Salinda's birth mom on the day Salinda's daughter Gabby was born. We have done our best to be respectful, honest, and verbally supportive of birth parents to our children.

But this morning I was a bit off guard and not sure how to respond. I think I made the right choice. I didn't allow her to tag herself on the photo of her child, but I did make a comment that the child looked just like birth family and was thus beautiful.

It will be a difficult weekend here. We are in the process of concluding that one of our sons will not be able to return home after his stay in jail because of the many things he stole from us before he left. We have one of our daughters and her bf and child here with us for the weekend and she is not at all happy with us at the moment which is really confusing. She doesn't really speak to us for months, then suggests they want to stop by for a day, stay for 9 and counting, and then complain about how bad we are while they are here.

Mother's Day is the one day of the year that I think is most difficult for our children. But this year I'm finding it is also difficult for me in a more real way. Because I'm recognizing that even though I have claimed twelve children, many of them difficult, and done my best to provide for them daily and navigate the complicated world they create for themselves, they still blame me at the end and use words to hurt me like "you're not really my mom."

But the other layer of sadness is that there a whole lot of people in this world who would join with them in making the statement that I am not their real mom and it makes me wonder what that makes me.

So my advice to you is this. If you are an adoptive parent who would like to sleep in on a Saturday, don't take your Iphone to the bathroom. Especially on Mother's Day weekend. It's really not a smart move.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Feeling the Toll

Very long days this week and emotionally I'm feeling the toll of the exhaustion that comes from cramming so much information into a brain at one time. I'm also having some "Grief and Loss" issues in regards to wondering how things would have turned out had I done things differently as a parent, which hasn't happened for a long time.

Great dinner out with fellow trainers, and then a troubling conversation with Bart online before bed about a couple of the kids.

I'm packing up to head out the door -- more meetings until 4 then the airport, a 7:15 flight, a 1.5 hour shuttle ride and I should be home by midnight. Then it's back to getting work done and babysitting Isaac tomorrow, as well as a conference call and an orthodontist appointment for Wilson.....

I always have to hit the ground running -- but fortunately I'm not gone for another hotel night until May 17th....

I feel out of the loop -- haven't even had time to read blogs this week so I'm trusting I'm not missing anything horribly significant!

Hope everyone is well...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Another Really Full Day

Yesterday I learned a ton, and you'd be surprised to hear that if you really knew me and how much of a reluctant learner I am. But I keep being impressed by the idea that some of my kids might be in a better spot had they had a therapist ten years ago who was trained the way we are learning to train. Yesterday we covered Identity, Brain Development and Neurobiology, and Attachment and I'm seeing ways in which I can apply what I'm learning both personally and professionally.

After a full day of training we went to Debbie Riley's beautiful home for a lovely dinner together. Debbie is the author of Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens, a book I definitely intend to buy and read soon. Her insights into identity formation have been presented as part of the curriculum (she actually has had a huge part in writing it and is teaching it to us this week) and I'm excited to read her book. She's also pretty dang nice, but don't tell her I said that. It would ruin my image.

So we were gone from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. and then I came home and pushed to catch up with work again, falling into bed happy but exhausted at about 11:30.

Today we go again all day long, focusing more on the adoptive and foster families and looking at things from that end.

Bart reports that things are going fairly well at home although I did have a troubling dream about texting Sadie.

Who has nightmares about texting teenage girls? Oh wait, maybe everyone!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

MOFAS newsletter for May

Can be found here.

Full Days

Sunday I worked hard in the airport. Arrived to the hotel around 8:30 and caught up with Bart, cleaned up my email and then went to bed. Didn't sleep well -- was up with a headache -- but yesterday I had to up and raring to go. And I wasn't exactly raring.

The morning of the training was very intense and overwhelming but by afternoon I was a bit more relaxed with how things will go during the week ahead. The material we are being trained to present is excellent and I think that it will have a big impact on the professionals we will train.

To give you a quick glimpse, after this training is over, I will be qualified to teach a course for an Adoption Competency Certificate for clinicians -- therapists and psychologists -- that will help them to understand adoption issues in depth. The curriculum is based and partially written by greats like Bruce Perry (don't salivate Kari), Dan Hughes and others. They have spent four years writing it and it involves 13 six hour modules. Lots of great material that should really help therapists to understand the specific needs of adopted individuals.

After the full day of training (we finished at 5:30) I came to the hotel where one of my favorite people in the world, Dr. Paul Mills. He had driven a couple hours to take me out to dinner -- and had made reservations for Italian. We had a wonderful time where I got to hear all about his new wife.

I then came back to the hotel at eight determined to catch up on all my emails, which I did and then fell into bed at 11. Now I'm up ready to do it all over again.

It is supposed to be 85 here and green, green green, with many blooming flowers. We have a gathering tonight with all of the other trainers and mingling is not my strength but I slept well and maybe I can at least pretend to be personable and fun.

Bart reports things are going very well at home so I can relax about that.

Jimmy has one more month of school and just might manage to drive his special education teachers to a nervous breakdown before he does so. Is it possible to be truly naughty at 19?

Ok, need to brush my teeth and head out. Won't be back to the computer again until probably about 9:30 tonight....

Sunday, May 01, 2011

From the MSP Airport once again

Seems I've blogged many times from this airport. Today I have a new spot though -- as I'm not flying out of my favorite gate.

Shuttle ride was very long and annoying this morning but since I don't have a flight until 3 p.m, it didn't matter much. I have an Ipad. Need I say more?

I board in four hours. I have plenty of work to do so I'll not be bored.

I feel quite out of sync when I am only home for a day or two at a time. I still manage to keep up with my work but it makes for very long days and I'm not fun to be around when I'm sleep deprived -- especially when kids who watch a lot of TV and sleep for many many hours more than I do are suggesting that I should give them MORE money for the chores they do. I ended up leaving the room in a teary huff after a conversation about that yesterday.

I am feeling fairly whiney -- but I got a big book order for Amazon -- the biggest so far -- for our first book so that has cheered me some.

I'm sure I"ll get a good attitude going at some point....

And pictures of my grandkids always make me smile. Maybe they will you too.