Saturday, July 30, 2011

So did YOU start to wonder if I Existed

Thank you to those of you who made me feel less invisible. It's been quite a couple days for me. Yesterday wasn't an easy start for me .... I'll blog about that in a minute.... and then I ended up having a confusing day. Today we are in the middle of uncertainty. Tony had made arrangements to go see Bart's mom but he was very unclear about what the plan was. So since we already had planned to spend a couple hours with Salinda and Gabby today, I decided we would go ahead and get started on the trip and made plans as we went.

Wow. Tony is as agitated as the day is long and I'm fairly proud of myself for recognizing his defiance and anger as anxiety. But it has been a long day.

It was really nice to see Salinda and Gabby. She was quite cute... actually both of them are :-) but Gabby has learned some new tricks -- like the itsy bitsy spider than she is learning from Baby Genius or some show on TV.

WE are now in an overpriced understarred hotel that I got on priceline and I will go with the flow as far as the next 24 hours go before we head to the airport to pick up Bart. Hopefully somewhere in that next 24 hours we will get TV where he needs to go.

Here is a couple examples of honest to goodness situations during our drive that might explain to you why I am a bit on the exhausted side from the ride.

We pulled into a town where almost every tree had yellow ribbons. One of the kids asked why. I explained the whole thing -- telling the entire story behind the song so dramatically that I even chocked up, and then, for their listening enjoyment, sang the entire chorus of the song not once but twice. When I finished they were relieved. Jimmy then said, "So what's with all these yellow ribbons anyway?"

At lunch we were talking about breast cancer and mastectomies. We explained that some women who were breast cancer survivors only ended up having a breast, or sometimes two, removed. One of the boys -- either Tony or Dominyk, responded, "So wait, you mean they don't have two regular boobs so they grow one back in the middle?

Gabby was a little wary of all of her uncles that were loud and surrounding her it seemed. The look on her face is similar to the one I've had on mine all day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Gentle (or Not So Gentle) Reminder

Yesterday morning Mike called. I'm not going to give you lots of details about the conversation, but let's just say he was angry and whenever he is angry he goes to the door alarm and the bucket story.

Many years ago we had two boys who were -- for different reasons -- not safe to leave their rooms. We read on adoption boards and in books about RAD, about putting door alarms on their rooms. Because one of them peed several times in the night, we had a bucket that he could pee in if he needed to and we would empty it in the morning.

This was back in the day when we were somehow convinced that we could control our kids behavior. When parents get in that power struggle everything is ugly. Parents take more and more away, kids defy more and more, and things get really really tense.

Mike recalls this that he lived like this for his entire childhood -- locked in his room with a bucket to pee in. In reality, we tried it for about a month and realized it doesn't work, but with his mind working the way it does it is where he gets stuck. Obviously, we haven't tried it again and we wouldn't do it again. It wasn't the way he made it sound, but it probably wasn't a good choice either.

For the rest of our lives he will bring this up -- as a definition of his childhood. I didn't figure out until a few years after this attempt to be in control (recommended by several RAD writers 8-10 years ago) that it was not the right way to be raising my kids. I needed to focus on the relationship instead of continuing to try and outsmart my kids to prove that I could force them to comply with what I had to say. I'm sure I didn't really understand what I needed to do then, and I'm not sure I do now, but right now I recommend time ins instead of time outs and I recognize that when I sent kids with FASD to their rooms, by the time they got there they had no idea why they were there.

Mike claims that he spent his childhood locked in his bedroom with nothing but a bucket to pee in. He says he spent his adolescence, from 13-18, locked in residential facilities (when it reality it was 20-24 of those months total).

I guess my reminder to you is this: Ask yourself when you are parenting your kids if ten years from now you want to be reminded of what you are doing today. Look at it from the memory picture of a child -- when they look back -- if they only remember bad things -- what are they going to remember?

There were a zillion other ways that Mike spent his childhood. We went to water parks and miniature golfing. They rode golf carts and he did a lot of skateboarding. We had many great meals out, visited friends, and made happy memories that the other kids have no trouble recalling as part of their childhood.

But the next time you come down really hard on your kid -- you may want to ask yourself if you want that defining their childhood. And then love the heck out of that kid. I confess openly that Mike spent a great deal more time in Bart's lap than he did mine because I could not make myself connect very well with a child who was being so rude and defiant to me all the time. And that was my bad.

I'm not saying that a child who has many great memories and spends time on your lap is going to necessarily turn out any differently than a child who is "locked up for their entire childhood." But my guess is that you will turn out differently after choosing the lease controlling option of the two.

I guess I'm just trying to do what most people do -- I'm trying to stop you from having the feelings I did yesterday when he brought up the door alarm. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do that thing in particular or even really trying to get you to do anything other than think twice. I don't want you to have a conversation like I did yesterday. It wasn't fun.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Invisible Me

Bart is out of town and forgot to contact me for almost 24 hours.

I emailed both my BFFs and neither thinks it will work out for their families to have dinner with us tonight.

I emailed me two favorite people to have lunch with and neither has emailed me back, one of them isn't even in town. Maybe the other isn't either.

Even some of my online friends are not in touch.

And I asked a question in my last blog post and not a single person answered it.

Did I become invisible and not recognize that? Do I exist?


If you are my friend on Facebook you will see that I let my fellow alumni from my alma mater know that I was going to create a Google map of to show where we are now.

You (and many others) might be thinking WHY? Doesn't she have ENOUGH to do?

Well, actually, yes, but I do stuff like this because I need a distraction from everything else. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in adoption. I currently have a full time job and 3 other part time jobs -- two that are very part time -- but all of them are related to either mental illness or adoption. So a fun little break that takes a couple hours of my down time is a good distraction.

Besides, I'm learning a new technology. Who knows when I might need to create a google map for some other reason ;-)

I do find that these distractions are crucial. Mind then to be technology related because I love it. What is your favorite distraction when you feel like you're drowning in adoption and mental health issues?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Have We Become?

I didn't argue with Kari when she shut down her blog. In fact, I'm so insensitive that I suggested maybe I would end up getting more readers. ;-) Cuz that's the kind of friend I am.

Last night she and a few of the other coffees came over to watch a movie which turned into a game instead and her husband fixing our lawnmower.... but anyway, StarBUCK and Kari and I ended up talking about what has happened with blogging. Since I have started to become more positive and have been revealing less negative drama about my kids (I am trying to protect their privacy more as they get involved with others in their lives -- gfs and bfs and their families, birth families, etc.) I find that my readership has gone down.

LT wrote some tough words in a recent post that Kari linked to, and I get what she is saying. The adoptive parent blogging world is often so negative that it's no wonder people have no desire to adopt older kids.

I feel almost guilty for reporting that I'm handling all this OK -- that I can still look back and recognize that God's been with us and we're going to make it. I feel like people are going to criticize me and say "Well, if you had MY Kid you wouldn't feel so positive."

Why is it that we are so determined that it is our job to warn people that their lives are going to suck (Sorry, Mom, glad you don't have a computer). I LOVED this post from Becky this morning -- I've never read her blog before this morning -- but I want HER attitude to last throughout the lives of each of my kids.

I have to be be honest with myself and admit that when I read it I was cynical and had to stop myself from wanting to warn her that it might not turn out like she's hoping. I made myself realize that I want to have some of that hope back.

I have brothers who didn't turn out the way my parents expected them to and they are 44 and 46. And every day my mom wakes up and prays, believing, that they will begin to make different choices. Some days her prayers are answered in the ways that she thinks they should be, and some of them aren't, but she has always believed that God isn't through with them.

Do you remember this moment in my history when God gave our family a song for Dominyk?

It now has a great slide show on YouTube...

I want to be realistic when I blog. I want to write from my heart. But I also want to remember that there's hope.


A Peak at the Next Book

I wrote this this morning and it spoke to me. I know that's just weird to think that a writer can write part of a book chapter and have it really hit home with them, but it's amazing how I can figure things out when I start to write about them. This is from the chapter "Focus on Small Accomplishments" from the book with the working title, after much input from you, of "Which One Of You Took My Sanity? A Fun 12-Step-Guide to Foster, Adoptive, and Other Kinds of Parenting."

I'm bringing you in half way through chapter nine....

Another name for this chapter might have been, “Recognizing that Small Accomplishments Might be Huge Victories.” For example, Dominyk started dressing himself completely in the morning without tears at the beginning of eighth grade. It may have been a morning the spring before that made the light bulb come on so that he could recognize that he was not growing up at quite the same pace as other kids his age. I remember the morning well.

It was in May the year he turned fourteen and he was wailing through the house about how he needed help with his shoes. “Mommy! Mommmy! I can’t do this by myself. You have to put on my shoes.” To which I would respond, “Really, Dominyk? You’re 14 and you need my help? I think you can put your shoes on by yourself.” To be followed by, “My belt, my belt. Moooooommmy! You have to put my belt on.” Finally, after he finally got all of his items on alone and dried his tears, he caught a glimpse of himself in my bedroom married and suddenly, in a very deep voice, spoke outloud to himself, “Wow, it looks like I need to shave again.”

Imagine a world where it takes concentrated effort to control your impulses. Think about what it might be like to have life always be a bit puzzling that you never quite understood what was happening around you. What if it took triple the amount of effort for you to focus on the task at hand or if organic brain damage made it impossible for you to connect your actions with potential consequences? Picture what life might be like if the trauma you experienced caused you to be in a constant state of fright, flight or fright.

In a world like that, maybe it is not a small accomplishment to sit through a day at school. Maybe it is not a little thing to be able to wake up, unmedicated when medication is relied upon, and find all the necessary items and get them on a sleepy body. Maybe it is not something that should go unnoticed to keep from punching a brother who is annoying me, not talk back to a mother who is bossy, and to be respectful to a teacher who is being dumb by assigning way too much work.

I’m guessing that the world that each of my children live in is a very different world from mine, but too often I forget this and I hold the bar really high. We all need those reminders now and then that it is a HUGE deal for some of our kids to accomplish a small thing.

Yesterday one of my adult sons saw that the lawn needed to be mowed before I did. I had slept only four hours the night before and was taking a nap, and so he did not wake me up to ask me if he should mow the lawn. When I woke up he was mowing the lawn. He did not ask to be paid for it, he did not complain about how hot it was outside, and he did not stop half way through because he was getting tired. It is possible that many kids could do this at the age of 12 or 13, but many kids do not have a combined diagnosis of FASD, ODD, Pervasive Development Disorder, RAD, PICA, Adjustment Disorder, and PTSD at the age of 11 when they are finally provided with permanency after 15 foster care placements. Did I overdue the praise I gave him for that act of kindness? I tried to, but seriously, could I have?

Sometimes I need to be reminded of things, even though it's me who does the reminding.... it kind of sounds like what happened this morning which I am about ready to post on Facebook as a status update:

Technology is amazing. This morning I was in the van when I heard my own voice in my sons pocket. Suddenly my phone let me know I had a voice mail of my voice telling my son that his pocket must have called me." Mind boggling.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

For the First Time This Weekend

I heard this song and I have listened to it 20 times since then. It is so much how I feel about the past 15 years as an adoptive parent.

A Life that Says....

Whenever I head back to a former home, I am always bombarded with emotion. Emotion about my past and the love people have had and have for me. Conflicting emotions about the person I used to be and the person I am becoming. A bit of sadness about the things in my life that I currently don't have that I had back then -- and a bit of joy about the things in my life that I didn't have then that I have now.

Attending Brookings Wesleyan Church always causes a lot of reflection on my part as well. In my early twenties, this community of believers had huge impact on who I am today. The church his four times as big now as it was then, and it wasn't small then.... and God is doing some very interesting things there.

Staying with my friends Del and Judy is always convicting to me because they are living examples of what it means to BE Christians. I tell people that I surround myself with people who are servants because my spiritual gift is that of being a servee. ;-) And Del and Judy are certainly servants.

But most importantly they have spent years learning to be content. They demonstrate the notion of people who are self-differentiated and integrated within themselves without having a need for more more more that is so prevalent in our culture. And they have the wonderful gift of hospitality.

As I was walking down their stairway I saw a copy of the book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others. They could have written this book. But I started thinking about how different that is from my life.

I think a book about me would be called, "A Life That Says Go Away I'm Busy: Simple Ways to Alienate People through Workaholism." I don't think that the message that I am giving to people is that I want them to be part of my life because I have THINGS TO DO.

When we were with Del and Judy this weekend they were WITH us. Their free moments were spent in conversation with us and our kids, preparing meals for us, and playing games, looking at old pictures, and simply connecting and enjoying being with people. We knew that we were a priority to them.

I never guessed that I would be 47 and just beginning to understand myself. I want to find better ways to be ... instead of simply do. I want to make the next years of my life ones that welcome others instead of pushing them away. And I want to learn how to make other people more of a priority.

But I still have SO MUCH TO DO!!! :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Let Down

All the way home I could feel it starting to slowly land on me -- this sense of dread and malaise. Not really sure anything provoked it.... the boys were fairly well behaved on the trip home and we had a great weekend, we really did (more about that later when I'm in a better mood).

There is a piece of good news that I should share.... our oldest son, Kyle, a teacher in the Twin Cities, had a pink slip for the 3rd year in a row -- and we heard this weekend that he now has his job back for year #4, which I think means tenure. This is very good news.

Yesterday was their first anniversary. Hard to believe a whole year has gone by since the wedding.

Maybe it's the fact that Bart is leaving tomorrow for another week away -- this time in Orlando - that has me feeling negative. Or maybe it's that I'm a bit behind with work after a couple days of not doing any. Or perhaps it is coming home to some of the stupid things that one kid in particular did while I was gone.

I'm sure that a nap will cure some of it, so maybe I'll have time to take one.... and then later I can post a more positive entry....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

WIth a Little Time On My Hands.....

The friends we are staying with (who read my blog) are heading to church with Jimmy. Dominyk and Wilson are still asleep and I just finished reading Cindy's blog post called Lost and Confused. I'm not sure that I have answers for her or for anyone else about what we should do.

If I suggest that I feel grateful that nothing worse has happened to us then something probably will so I'm not going to suggest that. But we have had our share of being victimized, had kids in jail, had grandchildren born way too early in their parent's lives, etc....

Twenty-six years ago I moved here, to Brookings, as a 21 year old who was ready to take on my first job after college. I was a residence hall director at Brown Hall at SDSU while I worked on my Master's degree. Facing a staff of 21 at the age of 21, I was thrown into a lot of responsibility and was fairly immature looking back. The first night I was in town, Del offered to hook me up with the college and career group and even offered to pay for me to head to a movie with the kids who were going. I chose not to go, but his gesture was the beginning of an amazing connection between the Del and Judy and their kids and what would later become the Fletcher family.

I coached their older son Eric in Bible Bowl -- an amazing team of kids who made it to Nationals twice but didn't win. Their daughter, Marin, adopted from Korea as an infant, was about 9 or ten when we met. I spent countless Sundays at their house for delicious Sunday dinners after church and we continued to get to know each other.

As the children got older I moved on and headed to Bartlesville, but I would find myself back in Brookings occasionally and always stayed with them. They were big supporters when I was on the mission field and I would spend a couple weeks of my fundraising summers with them.

When Eric got married, I was here. When Marin married Rob, Bart performed the ceremony and baptized their 9 month old son, Ethan. And since then we pop back into their lives every few years with a child or two or three or five and are always treated so well.

Marin and Rob have since divorced, and Rob is parenting Ethan, but he spends his summers with his grandparents who have had a large part in raising him. They have shown us the importance of this and we try to apply it in the lives of our grand kids as well, though it is easier with Isaac than Gabby due to accessibility.

Ethan is here this summer and it has been fun to get to know him as a 14 year old.

So why am I telling you all this at this point? Because Marin has been the kind of kid that Cindy is talking about in her post -- very difficult and currently 36 and in jail, she told her parents recently, "I'm thinking I might start following the rules"

They still receive calls from prison asking them for things. They occasionally provide them -- being careful not to enable but still remaining loving and supporting. Unlike those of us with large families, they can't talk about protecting children younger or her being a bad role model (Her older brother lives in NY with his wife and kids and is an incredible young man). And so they hang in there. They are very important in the life of their grandson and they do what they can during the ups and downs of Marin's life.

I don't have answers either, but I love hanging out with Del and Judy because they are such incredible examples of unconditional love. They didn't set out to do what those of us with large families did -- they just wanted one more kid and went the "safe route" and adopted internationally.

And yet we have similar lives in some ways. We both sit and wonder if we should

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Safe and Sound in Brookings

Spending great time with some of my favorite people. Dominyk decided to stay with us at the last minute and I love Bart -- so he is exploring North Dakota alone while we enjoy being treated like royalty (Del and Judy are awesome!).

Dominyk and Wilson just went to the pool and I'm cleaning up email. It's been fun to reconnect with people who have known us for years -- their grandson, who Bart baptized as an infant in 1996 -- is here visiting -- so fun to see how he has grown up....

I always feel more centered when I can be with people who have known me throughout the seasons of my life and the consistency of their presence in my life is such a blessing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not My Favorite Ay to Begin the Day

My mail program isn't working this morning. I had gone to bed fairly happy -- or happy enough. Woke up looking forward to a good day -- heading to South Dakota to see some of my favorite people in the world.....


My email program isn't working and I had some things I needed to do this morning before I left. So I'm beyond irritated and stuck in a technology issue which is the worst place for me to get stuck because I just don't give up.

Fortunately, I just resolved it this very second so now I can be on my way to a better day.....

Wilson and Jimmy and I will be dropped off by Bart and he and Dominyk will continue on to explore some South Dakota and possibly North Dakota spiritual geography sites... and I have a meeting on Monday to schedule a couple of speaking engagement..

HOpefully I can get some email caught up.

On another note, has anyone in Minnesota heard anything about PCA's being reinstated for Level 1 Behaviors? If so I'd love to hear more.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Because it Normalizes Us

Today I put on my facebook status that Dominyk had found an Iphone/Ipod/Ipad app that says "That's what She said" 100 different ways. A friend of mine commented, "ha ha. My son found that app a couple of months ago and drove us crazy for a week. I think it was me smashing his ipod that fixed it..."

This Facebook friend is someone I haven't seen since I was probably 13 years old. She is now a librarian at a Christian college but back when we were kids our dads pastored in a very small denomination and we saw each other at our annual "convention." She has a "normal family" and her kid is "normal." So seeing her type that made me realize something.

The reason that many of us enjoy Facebook and Twitter status updates so much is that they normalize us. If we can read that someone else is going through what we are, suddenly we become more settled in being human. We recognize the things that connect us and the ways that we are all heading in a general same direction, though the paths we take are different.

Another thing that social networking can do is to help us to gain perspective. I have a list of things that are annoying me and making me crabby, irritable and anxious today, but if I scroll down my Facebook page and see friends who have a child in surgery today -- or who have lost a parent recently. I see people who are fighting cancer or who have lost their jobs. And suddenly the fact that my kids tell me where they are going instead of asking, or that their language is unacceptable, or that they are disrespectful pales in comparison to what my friends are enduring.

So today I'm thankful for that normalizing comment by my old old friend (old as in we knew each other years ago, NOT old as in she and I are old.... duh!)


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stuck in the Movie "Dumb and Dumber" or "Dropping them off at the Zoo"

Wow. Yesterday sort of felt for a while like I was trapped in a Dumb and Dumber movie. After we had overpriced unexciting not that great Mexican food we went on a ride through Duluth and Superior, checking things out and listening to conversations between Dominyk and Jimmy. Dominyk was doing his "D*** hybrid" thing as well as making disparaging remarks about politicians in our state who had caused this shut down that is closing rest areas and halting construction projects. He also got stuck on a particular word.... ok, I'll tell you, but not because I'm proud of him. He got the word dildo in his head because he thought the peninsula we were driving around looked like one. Why it looked like a dildo as opposed to the authentic body part, I'll never know, but he must have said the word 200 times in less than 30 minutes.

When we got back to the room the clock in the room said 8:10 when it was actually 8:40 so Dominyk explained to Jimmy that it was because we were in different time zones.

The conversations the two of them were having were pretty difficult to follow at times... but Jimmy is convinced that he has a good sense of humor because his IQ is getting higher, so maybe it is because I'm not bright enough to follow his train of thought.

We love these guys -- I'm sure some people who read my blog think that I'm being mean to my kids -- but it is all in good natured fun and the kids don't mind me sharing stuff "if it makes you laugh."

I have not seen Dominyk this hyper in a long time. Fortunately Bart took them both for a walk this morning so I could quickly take care of some emails. I'm also downloading the new Mac OS -- - Lion as we speak.... Nothing more exciting to me than new software. I know, I know, I'm a geek.

I'm trying to get it up so I can look at it before I drop them off at the zoo and head to my 11:00 meeting.

And no, I'm not going to leave them at the zoo....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Somethings Seem to be Jinxed

LIke trips to Duluth. We're not complaining that it's literally nearly 30 degrees cooler here than it is in Mankato where we left this morning, but the fact that it rains when Bart and I come to Duluth is disparaging. It's beautiful here -- but it would be nice to not have it raining. We chose to bring JImmy and Dominyk - actually, we couldn't find anyone to "babysit" a 6 foot tall teenager and he no longer has PCA hours so we brought him with us.

He literally did not stop talking for the entire 5 hour trip. And he has this new tic -- or something -- where he says, "D*** hybrid" every time he sees a Hybrid vehicle. There area a lot of hybrid vehicles between Mankato and Duluth.

I have meetings tomorrow and then on Thursday we will head back, picking up Ricardo to smash him in the back of the Avalon with Jimmy and Dominyk. Poor thing. Of course by then he will be excited about coming home. We hear there is no air conditioning at the U of M where he is at wrestling camp.

It's going to be a long night.... I have meetings for a chunk of the day tomorrow and hopefully

the sun will come up, tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that ... you'll be singing this in your head for the rest of your day....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Parenting Strategies for the Child with Attention Difficulties

Sit Still-Be Quiet: Parenting Strategies for the Child with Attention Difficulties

Deena McMahon in collaboration with North Homes in Grand Rapids, MN

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TIME: 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

WHERE: Blandin Foundation Auditorium; 100 Pokegama Avenue North, Grand Rapids, MN

FEE: $20 per person/$35 per couple; North Homes families please register via North Homes.

CEUS: CEUs are available for an additional $30 per person

REGISTER: Please register online

SYNOPSIS: Please join parent and therapist Deena McMahon as she discusses the difficulties that come with an ADHD, ADD or Other attention-related conditions. Deena McMahon will demonstrate strategies to help you and your child meet the challenges of staying focused, attentive and being still during this informative and helpful evening for parents and professionals.

Let me teach you how to make your bed...

Just to update you on our weekend -- it was a nice one. Jimmy, Leon, Wilson, and Dominyk came with me to pick up Bart and drop of Ricardo for wrestling camp. We had a nice time -- several good meals out, a nice rest in a cool hotel room, and some good conversations as a family. We attended worship at the new church of our beloved former district superintendent. He baptized three of our kids and is an all around great person. He and his wife have been very loving and supportive of us for a long time.

In his sermon he said something I hadn't heard ... ever. All my life I've heard the phrase, "You made your bed so you have to lie in it." He said that phrase but with a different twist. He said that our culture believes that "if you make your bed hard, you have to lie in it." He went on to say that the consequences of those bad choices are sometimes all the punishment that people need -- they don't need the judgment of God or other people.

As I begin thinking about this phrase I realized that we spend our children's childhoods teaching them to make comfortable beds. We teach them about morality and values and education and making good choices. We tell them not to drink or smoke... not to have sex before marriage... to finish school and not drop out ... we have all kinds of suggestions for them that will allow them to make the most comfortable bed possible.

But they ignore us and they make hard hard beds. Beds that include jail time and making babies before they are ready. Beds of addiction and struggle. And we are very tempted to say, "If you make your bed hard, you have to lie in it."

In some ways we have to let them lie in those hard beds. We cant' come along and build them a different bed... we might be able to purchase a pillow now and then, but the consequences of their choices follow them.

I'm going to be talking to my kids who have yet to make major decisions about this idea. I'm going to explain to them that their older siblings have made beds. I'm going to talk to them about how some of them have fairly comfortable beds, while others are trying to rest in very hard beds. And I'm going to remind them that Bart and I and all the things that we say and do are simply to show them how to make a nice, soft comfortable bed.

But in the long run, the choice is theirs.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spending the Money We Saved

Wednesday through Friday we couldn't use the kitchen at all, so wow did we spend the money we saved by not going to the grocery store for five days.

Yesterday Courtney and Isaac stopped by right before lunch so they came along too.

I took the side view picture because I wanted you to see the curls!

It's DONE!

The flooring is done. It really looks nice. And today we are leaving to pick up Bart and take the boy on the couch to wrestling camp where for the first time this summer he won't spend over 5 hours a day in front of the TV. But he's 17.5 and doesn't cause trouble and I'm tired of the battle. He still has two more years of high school left too..... sigh.

Anyway, the flooring is done and we're out of here...... I'm debating not taking my computer.... that would be weird huh?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Minnestoa Zero Kids Waiting Newsletter

Cute sib group of 4 in this newsletter -- but sorry for those outside of the state of MN. Minnesota will have many interested families so they won't go out of state. Newsletter is here.

September 8th Seminar in Mps: The Disappointed Parent: Addressing Parental Grief a s a Normative Crisis

The Disappointed Parent: Addressing Parental Grief a s a Normative Crisis
with Deena McMahon

WHEN: Thursday, September 8, 2011
TIME: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (following Task Force)
WHERE: Lutheran Social Service Center for Changing Lives; 2400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415
FEE: $15.00 per person/$25 per couple
CEUS: CEUs are available for an additional $30 per person
REGISTER: Please register online here

SYNOPSIS: Deena McMahon uncovers the concepts of grief and disappointment as a normative family crisis for parents. Deena McMahon will give suggestions for relationship repair, how to care for oneself and how to extend this care to one’s
partner, family, child and community. Helpful ideas and resources will be shared – offering families a chance to heal and diminish any prolonged or intense emotional impact they may be feeling. (For more information, see attached flyer)

QUESTIONS: Contact Janet Hammer at 612-746-5135 or Anne Johnson at 612-746-5122.

Only 2 hours left to vote on the poll


Yesterday Everything Seemed Funny

As Jimmy has said before, "Mom, I do not know if you are funny. But when you talk, EVERYBODY laughs. So.... I guess you're funny."

For some reason, yesterday the things my kids were saying just made me laugh more than usual.


Then later Dominyk comes out of the YMCA and says, "I just got denied." I asked him what in the world he was talking about. He says, "I just asked out this really hot chick and she denied me."

Maybe I'm not in touch enough with the teenage mind, but I have never heard of a person being turned down after asking someone out on a date as being denied like a credit card.... it still makes me laugh to think of it.


Rand got some shoes yesterday that I had helped him order online. They came in the mail and he holds one up and says, "Mom .. look at these... these are actually THE shoes that make your feet feel comfortable!"


Sadie hasn't been here much this summer and when she is she usually wants to have an argument with me. She was standing the garage SHRIEKING at me and I said, "I'm surprised you aren't embarrassed to have the flooring guys hear you shriek." "I'm not shrieking!" she yells. So I said, "Well, I'm not embarrassed easily, so if you are going to tell me to bring it, I can bring it."

She yells, "I didn't said I wanted you to bring it!"

I burst out laughing and walked away. She stomped behind me but I saw a glimmer of the smile.


This morning on the way to school I was trying to talk to him and Dominyk says, "Shut up Mom before I punch you. God." I said, "I'm not God." He says, "Seriously mom, I need silence. I'm tired."

A full 40 seconds later his ADHD distracted him from his need for silence and he says, "Hey mom, You should buy a Vikings Van." I said, "Seriously, Dom, I need silence, I'm tired!" He says, "Shut up MOm before I punch you. God."


and the best for last....

Yesterday Dominyk (and I do not exaggerate here) spent 1 hour and forty five minutes struggling to finish 6 fill in the blank question on an assignment. He is convinced that he had 19 assignments to turn in in one day and that he couldn't get them done. He said, referring to the special education teacher, "If Mr. Q*** thinks I can get all this work done in one night then he is retarded. HE is the one who should be in special ed!"

Every time I think of that I just crack up. In fact, I just laughed again. Sometimes I just love my life. And I'm not being sarcastic. I have the best husband ever who is coming home tomorrow and every single day my life brings me some reason to laugh hard.

What more could anyone ask for?

(P.S. Isn't Dominyk getting more handsome by the day -- he's over 6 feet tall now!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Count to Ten... or Twenty....or Thirty.... ok, Forty.... Fifty

I have had quite the day of interesting conversations. The kids have nothing to do but talk with me .... so

90 minutes this morning was trying to get the truth out of Jimmy about where he was last night at 11:45. I finally got the truth. Or thought I did. Until I found out I didn't have the whole truth. So I need to start round 2 with him soon.

An hour has been spent having conversation with Sadie about how I dont' really believe that the Free Masons are going to take over the world or that the world is going to end in 2012.

And this afternoon, apparently, is going to be spent listening to Dominyk obsess about how stupid his teacher is. This rant has included statements about the assistant principal's sexual orientation, which I corrected and deemed an inappropriate conversation. We have also discussed each and every one of his teachers and how stupid they are for assigning homework. He has something due tomorrow and he is refusing to do it, leading him to complain about each and every one.

I'm trying to make myself count to ten.... but.... it's taking a bit longer than that and I can't seem to get anything done when I am perpetually counting.....

What a Long Day

Yesterday was a very very long day. I remember thinking about halfway through it that I was beyond tired and I kept thinking it was Thursday or Friday.

The flooring guys were here by 9. I had already gotten 4 kids off to summer school by then and was working on stuff in my office. The guys were thrilled with Buffalo Wild Wings and it was a nice bonus that the U.S. Women won the semi finals.

The charter guys came a day earlier than what I had scheduled and in the process of them changing the internet and the cable they had to go into places that I hadn't been in in a while -- like the attic -- which I had paid both John and Jimmy to clean. Apparently I need to check carefully.

Courtney came needing money for gas.... so she could take John to some appointments today -- so I reluctantly gave her money for gas. But today they got into a fight and now she says she isn't taking him. Whatever. Note to self: A person who hates drama should not adopt a lot of kids who will grow up to be adults. Period. ;-) Response from self: A bit late for that advice don't you think?

Mike called saying he had back problems. Blaming us somehow for it, although it is a genetic condition that is worsened by overtraining -- uh would extreme sports for years qualify, I think so.... but somehow we did that by not getting him good medical care when he was younger or something. He said, "So are you going to go by the pharmacy and get the meds or do you just want me to pick up some cash?" (He was out of jail for a few hours for work release)." I said, "I'm not sure i"m going to do either -- which set me up for several accusational sentences. I told him I would get back to him, but he didn't call back and I didn't call him. Because if I don't go out and get him the prescription, then next week when his friends ask him about his parents he will tell them that we are uncaring and unloving people. But, if I do go out and get him the prescription, then next week when his friends ask him abou this parents he will tell them that we are uncaring and unloving people. SO I have little motivation. He said, "Well, I'm SORRY that when i NEED something I actually call my PARENTS!" To which I responded, "Well, I'm sorry that it's ONLY when you NEED something that you actually call your PARENTS." Yikes no wonder he thinks I"m a b****. But I'm just so done with all of it. For now.

But today if he calls at a time when I can get away I will probably head out and get him the prescription. I love him, he's my son, and I don't want him to be in pain. And if JOhn contacts me, I will drive the 30 miles to get him for his appointments as well.... because I don't want him to end up back in jail or go blind -- which might happen eventually if he misses these appointments. Because I love him.

See why yesterday was exhausting?

On top of that dear little Mercedes has determined that she doesn't have to do much of anything I ask this summer. She's keeping it under the radar enough -- and letting me know where she is as she flits from one firend's place to another -- that I'm not going to over-react, but she is certainly heading in the opposite direction of where she needs to be.

Dominyk has a list of assignments that he has to finish by tomorrow that I completely forgot about last night in the midst of all of the cable guys flooring guys grown son drama.....

And all day long, all I could do was think about my buddy John and his parents and aunt and uncle -- some of my very closest friends. it was so hard knowing of their grief and being so far away. This has been like a shadow over me since Saturday afternoon when I found out.

But like all days, yesterday ended and now tomorrow has begun. I have been to the Y, gotten the 4 kids off to summer school, greeted the flooring guys, and cleaned off my desk. I have several work tasks to complete today as well as getting some other things done. We will be eating out both meals today again, but I'm picking cheaper places! ;-)

I just yawned. And it's only 9:55 a.m. I'm thinking it might be another long day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 6, Flooring, Speaking, and other Stuff.....

Today is day six of not going to the store and so far we have been victorious. I still see a few potential meals out there -- so I'm thinking of trying to make it until we leave to pick Bart up on Saturday. It's getting bleaker by the day.... now if we were STARVING we could make it another month probably.... but that would mean eating a lot of cereal, etc.

The flooring guys are here and so we can't use the kitchen the next two days. The kids are beyond thrilled because it means we get to go out to eat. I have a big surprise for them -- we can't watch TV now because of the flooring and my guys have been following the women's world cup, so today for lunch we are going to BBWangs, or BDubs, or whatever they are calling it these days to eat and watch the semi-finals. It's going to require me to do quite a bit of running (2 kids have summer school that will require me to pick them up a half hour a part an hour after we get there). I then have to run home because the cable guy is coming to switch up our cable and internet, which will most likely cause a lot of struggle... as messing with the internet always does.

I am writing now that I know I am going to regret signing up with Charter, but they gave us an unbeatable deal when we bundled everything. I hope they surprise me, but I have a feeling I'm going to be blogging how much I hate them within the next six months. (I'm trying to use reverse psychology with them here, we'll see if it works).

Last night's speaking engagement was so very fun. The women who planned it were bubbling with enthusiasm and joy and the people I went with -- very fun. Also got to see Jenny again -- who is the area Women of Faith Event Rep who is promising more gigs. Yay!

Right now the flooring guys are here and have run into several glitches. I also am frustrated about the ways that the state shutdown is affecting my job! Ugh. But I will make it through yet another day....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seminars available at a reasonable price

My online friend Kathleen is offering a one-day intensive attachment/adoptive parenting seminar.

She is an experienced bio & adoptive parent. She knows what it's like to try "everything" and still have unsatisfactory results - and knows what it's like to finally find appropriate therapeutic methods and see success!

She has trained with Heather Forbes, Bryan Post (certified Great Behavior Breakdown trainer / coach), and Eric Guy.

Check out her information here.

A Fletcher Ministry Sandwich

This morning my husband, the very right Reverend Bart A. Fletcher, led morning worship for about 475 people at SoulFeast in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. I talked to him write afterwards and he said that it went well. He is enjoying his time -- you can read more from his renewal leave blog here if you are interested.

Tonight I will share for 30 minutes at Friendship Church in Shakoppe at their Girlfriends Night Out event. The crowd won't be 475 -- but it will be a good group of women and I will enjoy sharing our story.

I'm so glad that our kids are at a place where this is possible now -- for both of us to minister on the same day -- and I'm looking forward to hanging out with some fun people as well as selling a few books...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Please Share this with Your Therapist!

I'm so excited about being a trainer for this program.... it's excellent material. Please tell your therapist about it!

Interesting Opportunity for folks on the east coast

Even though the Summer is in full swing, The Fresh Air Fund is still in need of 850 host families. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and homes to children from the city to give them a Fresh Air experience that can change lives. It is only two weeks... but it's an experience that can change their lives forever.

I was hoping you could help by posting a mention, tweet, or by putting up one of our banners on your site. Please let me know if you are able to help or if you have any questions.

This just in...

Kari just texted. She was kinda busy earlier, but I won't tell you what she was doing. Embarrassing.

Here's the Jimmy story. As you know, he gets quite confused sometimes...

Since Bart is out of town I decided some of us would go to church on Saturday night again at the Lutheran church. The last time we went we all got quite confused. We went up to receive communion and there were little cups of white juice in the middle, and cups of red juice around the outside. We all made the wrong assumption - thinking the red stuff would be the grape juice and the white stuff the wine. So for the first time ever our kids had wine....well, at least the kids that were with us that night.

So Saturday night I asked Jimmy if he was coming to church that night with us, or if he wanted to wait and go in the morning. He said, "I'm not going tonight. I don't trust those Lutherans -- trying to slip us beer in those little cups...."

Post Adoption Resource Center (PARC) E-Newsletter

Can be found here.

A Few Miscellaenous Ligtht-Hearted Things (with a heavy paragraph at the end)

I have a couple of really intense topics brewing, but this morning I'm going to share a few funny things that have happened....

Yesterday Tony mistakenly said he and Dominyk were going to the Y to "Lift Out." I mentioned that he had coined a new phrase -- a combination between lifting weights and working out. After I picked them up, he reported that Dominyk's eyes were "Pitch Red" when he got out of the pool.

Jimmy said something completely hilarious this weekend and I swore I wasn't going to forget it and now I have. Grr. And I texted Kari to see if she can remember -- I told her this morning on the way home from the Y -- but she's too busy to respond apparently. Even though I happen to know that she is alone in her house, choosing to be there as opposed to joining me at Dunn Brothers. Sigh.

Isaac has learned a new trick. Except that Courtney forgot to tell me. I went up there to visit him and Courtney yesterday to drop off some pictures (Courtney is currently living with her mom, and John is living with her dad -- and that puts them about 45 miles apart and they have no money for gas, but that's another story). Anyway, Isaac still gives great kisses. But his new trick is making a buzzing noise with his lips and spraying spit everywhere. SO after my nice kiss I suddenly was completely sprayed in the face. And I thought it was adorable. I can't believe I"m this in love with a baby -- he spit in my face and I thought it was cute!

One of the sweetest kids I've ever known, who I've known since he was a toddler, died at the age of 26 on Friday night. His parents and his aunt and uncle are some of my very best friends and I can't stop thinking about them. They live quite far away and I've been praying for them. I'll blog more about that at another time. But their loss -- our loss I should say, because it effects all who knew him, has me feeling a need to connect with my grown kids -- even if it is just by dropping off a hammer at the jail....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

PW I am NOT but I am Stubborn

As any of you who have read my blog for any amount of time know, Bart does the cooking. Period. And he is excellent at it. He makes really good food and does it for less than $10 a day per person, which is pretty good when you're talking about feeding 11 people, 8 of whom are boys ages 12-23. And this is doesn't include precise accounting -- it's just an average -- which means that when there is a friend over, etc., it's even more people eating.

This Wed and Thursday the floors are going to be redone, requiring us to eat out for 4 meals. (I'm sure that it isn't a REQUIREMENT, but I'm just not going to be trying to figure out anything by then). And then this weekend, because of multiple conflicting events, we are going to be in a hotel Saturday night and eat out some meals there.

Besides I love to make a point. Seriously. ANd one of the things that my kids say often around here is, "There's nothing to eat in the house." So, I decided that from Friday to Tuesday -- that's five straight days -- that we are not going out to eat and we are buying nothing from the store except for milk. I may have to break down and buy some butter, but otherwise I think we are going to make it.

Fortunately, Bart stocks up on things and we bought part of a cow with the Coffees so we have food on hand. It's just tricky not running out and grabbing the extras.... if you know what I mean.

So, how have we done so far?

Well, it started on Friday when for lunch the kids rounded up the last frozen pizza from the freezer and had the leftovers from the pasta salad bart had made the day before as well as some beans, eggs and tortillas -- the beans left from when I cooked on Tuesday night when Bart was out of town. Friday night we had spaghetti and made homemade breadsticks in the bread machine. They were fairly tasty actually.. even though we didn't make them quite right.

On Saturday for lunch we were at the parade so we had snacks at our friend's house -- thanks Tom and Chan for providing lunch. For supper I found a bag and a half of frozen honey bbq chicken strips and made mashed potatoes from a box. This morning I made brunch -- pancakes.... and tonight -- I'm throwing together a bunch of leftovers. We have some lasagna that was in the freezer and leftover spaghetti taht I'm combining to make a pasta bake or they can have grilled cheese and soup if they want to get picky -- plus there are a few beans left if someone wants a burrito. They will squeal.... but so what.

Then tomorrow my plan is to make homemade hot dog buns in the bread machine. There was a huge sale on hotdogs before Bart left and he's heading into "extreme couponing territory" so hotdogs abound. Since we have no chips, I dug through and found enough various kinds of serial and some shelled peanuts -- they have been shelled and I'm making a batch of chex mix....

I'll pull out some of that cow for dinner -- possibly hamburger helper -- there are three boxes of the same kind in the cupboard -- and throw together a fruit salad and chop up remaining veggies for a saladish thing I won't eat. Maybe I'll splurge and make a cake or something -- there are mixes for that.

ANd Tuesday? LEt's see. For dinner I'll throw cow butt in the crock pot and I think there are enough potatoes to bake them, though the kids iwll insist it is impossible to eat a baked potato without sour cream. I, however, will show them that it is possible -- unless they want to use the sour cream that is in the fridge that someone turned pink by dipping flaming hot cheetos into it.

Lunch Tuesday will be tricky -- we have one loaf of bread right now -- but if they don't all choose grill cheese tonight there is peanut butter and jelly and there's plenty of soup -- and possibly even some sloppy joe mix.

If I wanted to I could keep going for a few more days with what is here -- but I would definitely have to get eggs and butter to cook from scratch.

I don't mind doing this once and a while. I'm not Pioneer Woman by any strech of the imagination, but it's fun when I'm proving my point. ANd this time, I'm going to prove these kids wrong once and for all. "What do you mean there's NOTHING to eat in this house. Let me SHOW you how much there is to eat.

If ten people can eat 10 meals on nothing, we're doing pretty well. Watch me. ;-)

They are so lucky. Their father is leaving again on the 26th through the 31st and I'm going to do it again. If it does nothing else, it makes my kids miss their dad!

Maybe I Can Only Give them One Gift

LT commented on my post yesterday and I went over to her blog. It's pretty rough, and if foul language offends you you may not want to click over there. However, if foul language offends you you may not want to come to my house either. Some of my kids have some really bad habits and those of you who think you can control it with consequences -- well, let's say if you have success with this then you are my idol.... But wow, I'm off topic already in paragraph one.

When I read blogs like LTs I am so tempted to jump in and attempt to do something, but I don't sense she is asking for that in her blog. I am sure that some of my grown kids have some of the same angst that she does -- they are bitter because we, their adoptive parents, didn't do what they thought we should do. They are angry at our high expectations, or how we dealt with their issues. They are frustrated that we don't understand them, etc. etc. etc.

But it just hit me in reading her blog, and I type this with tears in my eyes, that my kids don't have a whole in their heart because nobody ever wanted them. IN this post, from her own very raw personal experience, she shares about why people don't adopt foster kids. It's powerful.

She says: (and I think it would be OK with her if I shared this, because she and I both want as many foster kids adopted as possible)

Perhaps in some crazy way, i keep continuing the unending quest of figuring out why no-one ever wanted to adopt me. in my mind and my heart, i feel i was never adopted because i was “bad,” “worthless,” “a piece of s***,” “a disgusting stupid slut,” etc…. that is me.

I'm not a perfect parent. Neither is my husband. I make a lot of mistakes. But thinking about my kids with one added layer to their complex set of issues -- the layer of wondering why nobody wanted them -- is something that we did. We wanted them, oh how we wanted them, we searched for them, we filled out tons of paperwork to get them, we waited traveled across the country, and twice to Guatemala to get them.

It's not turning out like we dreamed and we're learning to be OK with that. And when I start to question the Whys of things, I'm going to remember LT.

And if you read her blog and suddenly realize that adopting a kid from foster care is something you need to do -- and you live in MN -- you're in luck. Training to get you started is this Friday and Saturday with yours truly as the trainer.... (just had to stick that in).

Thanks, LT, for commenting on my blog and sharing your story.... it's made all the difference for me today.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Why "Adults" Need Parents

When I speak I often tell people about my passion to get kids adopted before they age out of the system. Nearly 20,000 "adults" age out of foster care at the age of anywhere from 18-21 depending on the state and they are discharged to take care of themselves. And kids that age can't.

I confess that Bart and I were like most naive prospective adoptive parents when we stared this journey. We envisioned being needed after 18 to do things like fill out financial aid papers and send money for college expenses. It's not quite turning out that way.

Yesterday I posted about why Jimmy and Rand have needed me this week. Today the stories are of Mike and John.

Mike is back in jail. We hadn't heard much from him since Easter -- except for a text with an excuse as to why he didn't make it to Jimmy's party and another one as to why he didn't have Father's Day Dinner with the kids. I did get a brief text on Mother's Day. But he got arrested a week ago and now he is in jail. Today he got a job at a lumber company through the jail's work release program so now he is needing a hammer and a holster for that job. Could we please go get him one?

I just got off the phone from that call when Courtney called. She and john had just gotten into a car accident 30 minutes before John's interview. Can we please come get him and take him to his interview. I sent Rand to do that for them.

And John's been wearing disposable contacts -- using someone else's prescription -- for over a year, so I set up an eye exam for him today and we're getting him contacts for his birthday.

No, I didn't envision kids in and out of jail who needed something while in mess of their own fix.... but I do know that having someone to call in those moments -- when there's nobody left to call -- is what it's all about.

Some might not agree that we should go out and spend $50 on a kid who has stolen so much from us, lied to us, and complains about us to us and to everyone who will listen all the time.

But as long as we're safe -- and as long as they aren't hurting anyone... I guess extending a little bit of grace now and then isn't a bad thing.

It's now Saturday afternoon and I just found that I hadn't posted this... we have been to a parade this morning and now I'm getting ready to orchestrate a simple meal before we go to Saturday night church and watch a movie...

Am reeling in the aftermath of a close friend's dead. He was only 26 and I've known him since he was three -- his parents and his aunt and uncle are some of my closest friends... I'm so far away.... not much I can do but pray. so I am....

Friday, July 08, 2011

As with everything else.... it gets complicated

I have survived 6 and a half hours as a single parent. Bart is going to be gone for a whole week. During the coming week we are getting new flooring put in in our living room, dining room, kitchen and foyer. He picked a good week to be gone. Did I tell you this already?

Anyway, THANK YOU to the 40+ people who voted on the four options for the book. Because of this poll and Facebook and people emailing me, we now have some other options. But as Matt said, naming a book is like a naming a baby. You don't have to have the name until it actually pops out -- and we're only half done.

So... if you could please vote again, I'd like that a lot.

Thank you. :-)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Information Overload

We live in a society now where information literally is at our finger tips every second. If you have a question about ANYTHING you can have an answer within seconds. Or I guess I should say I can. I reach into my pocket, grab my Iphone, pull up Safari and type into google whatever I need to know and within seconds I have my answer. Or, for free I can call anyone in the U.S. (if I have minutes on my plan) and they will answer my question. You get the idea.

But with access to so much information we tend to not even look at much of it. For example, when I take time to share links with people, I don't know if they ever read them. Today there is a MOFAS (Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) Newsletter ready for you to read it by clicking here. But are you going to click it?

I'm not THAT old and I can remember 15 years ago really getting excited about an online resource because there just weren't as many then. Now everyone seems to have a newsletter or a website or a blog and because there is so much information there just isn't time to read it all.

In fact, only 15 of you had time to help me choose the name for my next book and all it would take is a three seconds of time to move your eyes over to the column over there -----------------> and read the four choices and click one. I extended the deadline of the poll becuase I really would like some feedback. I'm not sold on any of them...... SO...... help me out, will ya. I can't exactly make a decision like that based on the opinions of 15 anonymous people, can I? So please make it at least 30 anonymous people because THAT would be scientific evidence, wouldn't it? (Don't you love sarcasm?)

If you help me out, you can give me one online way to help you out and I"ll do it.... Or, if you don't want to vote and you'd rather write a book review or order a book or become my friend on Facebook or Linked In or follow me on Twitter or ....

SEE???? information overload. We are going to get hyper-researched like my friend Kari Coffee if we aren't careful.. In fact, the picture above is entitled "Social Media Hyper-Users." I am not even close to being a hyper-user of social media and yet I gave you all the options above.

But in reality, it isn't the internet that is the issue. Bart accidentally ordered two copies of a book entitled, "Book Lust." Now THAT is funny.

So, what can I do for you online today?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

When I Get to Step In -- FUN!

After blogging a whiny blog the other day about having to sit back and do nothing, I figured I should update you that sometimes I get to step in and how much I love it when I can do that without feeling pressured.

Here are a couple of examples. Three years ago I insisted that Jimmy switch from the college track to the Special Ed Vocational Rehabilitation track. Predicting a bleak academic future, I was right on the money. He told me that if you would think it was funny I could tell you all on the blog that he graduated with a 1.4 GPA, but he DID graduate. And he graduated 198th in a class of 204. I guess being the competitor I am, that I would have made it my goal to be last if I was going to be that close, but he's just glad to have graduated on time and have that diploma!

Because I stepped in and had that set up, he has been on a work track for the last two years. Each quarter he worked at a different place to include the grocery store, Hobby Lobby, a thrift store, Shopko, etc. His favorite job though was on campus at our local state university in their dining room. He got to help in the kitchen sometimes as well and he really liked it.

So it was wonderful news to hear that they requested him to return to work for him full time in the fall! A real job and one that he loves. Plus, it will allow him to be around kids his age -- like being in college without going to class! He is a very social person so this will be awesome. So last week I went to his orientation with him and he will start work mid August.

Today I was figuring out Rand's account -- he lives here with the understanding that he will pay rent because he is working full time, and he will get his food and transportation covered by doing a few chores. But the other condition is that we manage his money. Today I realized that he had enough money saved to pay for a college class.

Why would he just take one class? Because in 2007 when he graduated from High School he went to technical college. His HIgh School IEP was sent there, but he never used special services, wanting to do it on his own. He went full time and ended up with a on academic probation. He never failed a class but had pretty consisted line of C- grades. So he was put on academic probation and lost his financial aid.

I got this idea a couple months ago once he had secured a full time job that he probably could get through school. Having a background in higher ed, I figured if he could take a class or two he could get his GPA up enough to finish school. And today was the day that suddenly I was ready to help him get back in school.

Turns out after a few phone calls, that he has a 1.97 and all he needs is a 2.0 to get his GPA high enough to get his financial aid back. One class, for $500, and if he got an A or B in the class he could reapply for financial aid and possibly finish the degree. He's over halfway to a diploma and over 1/3 of the way to an associates already.

So he's picking up an appeal application to get off academic probation, he already has the money saved for the class, and we've even found a 3 credit class that meets one night a week and still has openings. I think within another year and a half he might have a degree and could spend his life doing something he really enjoys. He started the program in culinary arts and he loves being in the kitchen.

So I was feeling pretty good about that hour of time this morning when I got this text from Ivan -- remember him? He lived with us a couple summers ago and he's living with us again this summer. He is in summer school and he texted me (and I type the conversation between he and I below exactly -- typos included)

Hey -- were talking about you guys Fletcher family.

At school?


Bad or good?

Good good


Talking about how nice/kind of you and Bart giving the kids a better/good life. ANd I said oh I'm staying with them for the summer. Teacher said oh lucky you there a good family and I said YES THEY ARE! (:

WOw, that's kinda cool. Wee love you too. :-)

It's so tiring to hear all the negative that gets said about and us and our kids on a regular basis, so to know that the alternative school has teachers that see us as good people feel that way ... Now THAT made my day!

My world is still weird

Two more Tony stories:

On Monday Bart was explaining the whole government shut down to the kids. I'm thankful that my pay is not altered by the shut down like some of my friends, but the shut down is annoying me in many ways as it is holding up several key points to adoptions I'm working on. But I digress...

So Bart is telling Tony, Dominyk and Wilson about the shutdown and about taxes, etc. etc., etc. and how much we as a family have to pay in taxes. Tony pipes up with his solution to the whole state shut down and budget and tax issues, "We should just sell Amway."


I wake my kids up once. Or not at all unless they ask me. Tony was very worried last night that he wouldn't wake up because when Bart wakes him up he will go in there three or four times. So he told me that if he didn't wake up that I needed to pour water on his face. I said, "OK!" (a bit too gleefully). "No wait," he said... and he went and got a cup 1/4 filled with lukewarm water. "THIS is what I want you to use!"

"Seriously," I said. You are preparing a glass of water for me to throw in your face." "Yup" he replied as he headed to bed.

(I suppose you're wanting to know the rest of the story. Well, being the kind and compassionate mom I am, I said to him, "Tony, I'm such a nice person that I'm going to give you a chance. I really want to throw this water in your face but if you'll get up out of bed and stand on your feet before I leave the room I won't have to use it. And he did. Without swearing at me. Which is quite unusual actually.

Think this might be an indicator that I can have a good day! If not, there are a couple other indicators. Having lunch with my other BFF Sue (whose fanny is not quite as fat as.....). And i get to take care of Isaac while Courtney sells her plasma. And, to quote an Australian friend of mine that I talked about in this post, "She's selling plasma? Is anything not for sale in that crazy country of yours?"

Does Critical Thinking Require Being Critical?

One of the things that I have noticed about myself is that I almost always give people the benefit of the doubt and realize that I there are two sides to every story. I also tend to look at the positive no matter what...

I am following a Linked In discussion group and one of the questions was about the movie Kung Fu Panda 2. I had written a simple blog post about some things I gleaned from the movie. I was upbeat and positive.

It seems though, that it is almost a necessity in the blog world, to find the negative and point that out if one is to be a critical thinker. Now that we all have access to everyone's opinions, it is important not to be too positive or enthusiastic about anything or people will think that we aren't thinking it through. A book can't have a five star rating or we're not credible reviewers.

Because of technology everyone now has the opportunity to write in a very public place (the internet) where the whole word has access to our thoughts. If more credibility is given to those who can find the negative in everything, does this mean we will becoming increasingly more negative?

Well, I'm not buying into it. I'm going to continue to find and write about the positive whenever I can. There's enough negativity around us.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I live in an interesting world..

Last night we went and watched fireworks. Our friends the Coffees were with us as were our fun neighbors from across the street and a few of the kids friends who saw us there and decided to join us.

I decided not to take my camera this year because I end up getting obsessed and come home with 400 pictures of fireworks that clog up my hard drive for years. But seeing what I was able to do with my phone (or not do), I'm thinking next year I'm going back to the hard drive clogging plan.

They closed the bridge between Mankato and North Mankato so we could sit on it to watch fireworks. If you are from our area you will know that they are NOT the same city and you probably better not suggest that they are the same because they just aren't. And North Mankato is NOT a suburb of Mankato, nor is it a part of Mankato. Anyway, I digress.

A few guys in lime green vests were walking back and forth across the bridge making sure people left the road open for emergency vehicles and only sat on the sidewalks and medians. I couldn't stop laughing when Dominyk referred to them, and the people on the boats underneath the bridge as "Border Patrol."

And this morning I woke up to the scene in this picture. Somehow Tony has it in his head that these huge 3XXX shirts will be too small for him if they are once put in the dryer, so he air dries them. Last week they were air drying folded into fourths hanging in his closet on hangers (in a room that you couldn't walk through without a shovel). Apparently he took heed to my warnings about mildew, because this morning they were draped across the dirty van in the garage.

Bart is leaving for a couple days and I'm pretty sure it's not going to be too fun for me, but I owe him as I have left a lot lately. I can guarantee you that if one of the people who voted to end the PCA program had to spend ONE day with Dominyk, I guarantee you they would go back and BEG people to reconsider.

This is my first day where I'm supposed to be working that he doesn't have a PCA and I am already ready to do something drastic.....

Lord Have Mercy...

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Hardest Things I Have To Do

I am a fixer. That's what I do. I figure out how to get things done and get them done well. It's all I do. I go through life making a plan. It's all about a plan.

This morning, for the second time in 3 days, my daughter couldn't get herself up for work. On Saturday my whole day was set off by the aftermath of me finally intervening at 7 and waking her up just to be told that I woke her up late.

So I made the point of describing in detail how I would not be waking her up this morning UNLESS she asked. She refused to ask me, and then overslept again. I was fine with her getting natural consequences until she blamed me once again. She then threatened to tell the people at my favorite coffee shop that she was late because I didn't wake her up. You should have seen her eyes when I started to get out of the car -- barefoot, in pajamas, and with my hair flying everywhere -- to go in and set them straight. I didn't do it, but she knew I would have no shame in doing so and so she backed down fairly quickly at that point.

The only thing I needed to do this morning was nothing. I just needed to calmly let her lose her job. But that was so very hard for me. When she finally got up this morning, all I had to do was keep my mouth shut, take her to work, and let her get the consequences naturally without messing up our relationship, but I couldn't do it. I had to say something.

Right now John's girlfriend has lost her job. John is living with her Dad, something I hoped wouldn't happen if we wouldn't let him return here, but of course, that's the easy way out. Her dad is getting tired of the "few days" that have turned into over a month. And of course, I want to get all involved in that mess that those two have created for themselves because we had such a lovely time at my parents this week, but I really just need to back out and shut up.

In parenting my kids as they head into adulthood, I know that the main thing I need to do is step back, stay out of it, and shut up. It's the only task I have sometimes, because I have a few kids who cannot learn any way but the hard way...

But that is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Stay out and shut up. No matter how many times I've practiced it, I still can't get it right because.... well you know why.... because I love them so much!

Look at the picture above and imagine yourself not intervening so they can learn.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Oh what a tangled web.....

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive”. Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott happens to be one of my ancestors..... and this is one of his most famous quotes.

Our lives are kind of funny. We can go a few weeks without anyone getting into trouble, and then, suddenly, one person happens to do something dumb and get caught and then, during their interrogation, we find out all kinds of things....

Today started simply enough with a child using a cell phone in church -- which gets it confiscated and since they are on my cell phone plan, if they are unwise enough to get it confiscated, I get to read the texts.

Let's just say this person had enough stupid stuff in texts to get himself arrested three or four different times by being naive and stupid....

But in the meantime he gets at least three of his brothers in deep doo doo.....

Bart says I should have been a prosecuting attorney. He's right.


Oh what a tangled web we weave....

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Nothing Halfway

Sometimes my personality kind of annoys me. I really can't do anything half way.

About a month ago this 20 year old kid from Uganda who has somehow inherited fourteen disadvantaged children. He is persistent, endearing, and very passionate, but things there are quite hard and he really needs some people in his corner. So I offered to help with his website.

Somehow in my "spare time" I have finished the website but now there are several other questions. If we get people to sponsor him, how can we get money to him? What is his budget going to be (that is done and set up)? What about tax-exempt status? And now I'm knee deep in yet another project.

Sometimes I wish I had another personality -- or that I knew how to do less things. Because for example, there is nothing about this I don't know how to do. So I can't really tell him, "I'm sorry, i can't help you."

I was just telling Kari that I feel bad that I haven't been able to keep my blog readers happy and that my readership is going down because of my lack of time. She tried to tell me that it's not about pleasing readers -- but about expressing my feelings. Yeah right, Ms. SiteMeter Obsessed One.

Don't forget to vote on the poll and help us name our next book -- and if you haven't ordered my books you can save a lot right now.

But really, my blog is about me, not you. Right?

Friday, July 01, 2011

For those of you who can't resist a good deal.

Did you know you can buy both for $20 right now -- and if you use the coupon "blogreader" you can save $3.00.

So, for $17.00 plus shipping you can buy something that is worth $35.00 plus shipping on Amazon. That's not bad, eh? Half price.

So if you're interested you should hop over and get them today, dontcha think?

Can you tell me....

who had the kitchen chore in your house in May of 2009? Or December of 2008? Or last February?

I can tell you that about my family. Because I'm nuts like that.

Each of our kids is required to be responsible for doing basic cleaning of one room of the house every day. They do each chore for a month and then we change them. For this they are compensated in an allowance. Occasionally we have a person who just flat out refuses to do theirs and they go broke for a long time. Right now it appears that Mercedes is shutting down like the MN government but because she has two part time jobs and a driver's license she no longer needs parents. Except that she does -- which is why I hate 16-18 for girls. The guys haven't seemed to be quite as sure that they know everything at that age as my girls have.

Had to confront a couple of icky situations yesterday, so I'm glad those are over. Also, by 7:30 we had heard from two people that Mike was back in jail and he was only booked at 5:10. Of course, it didn't help to slow down gossip when he was arrested at the "pit" -- a swimming hole that teenagers love to frequent that is ... well if you know about Mankato -- not exactly the safest place to be. My kids seldom go -- unless they are in a rebellious stage and go with friends or if they go with a PCA...

It's nice, too, that all our county jail inmates are posted online so we can keep track of him....