Friday, September 30, 2011

Not Funny, Interesting, or Cool

When I accidentally deleted the blog format that I had been perfecting for 6 years, this one was one of the best options I could find so I selected it. It automatically adds the little boxes you can check that say that my post was funny, interesting, or cool. SO now, when nobody checks any of them, does that mean that I'm none of those things? I am going to have to get over THAT.

My life has been nuts and I found out yesterday that my thyroid is off and I'm waiting for a new prescription. I haven't needed an adjustment in that medication in a while, but it seems that I now do, which explains the fog I've been walking around under, the exhaustion and the fatigue. But somewhere in the midst of it all I think I remember an email or a comment asking about how to use the coupons to purchase books.

All you have to do is to go to our online store and when it is time to check out you can use the coupon PREORDER -- you just type it in in the coupon blank -- and you'll save $4.00 on the next book. Or you can use the coupon Blogreader to save $3.00 on one of the older books. Make sure you click on the products section if you want to buy more than one book because the package deals aren't on the front page as "featured items" but are in the category about special items you can save on.

Today I have a meeting with the co-teacher of the class that I went to Baltimore to be trained to teach back in May. The course starts next Friday and we have 25 therapists and social workers signed up -- a very good, experienced group of people. It should be a great class full of rich conversation and learning.

But now I must awaken my sleeping children and get them off to school before heading up to the Twin Cities. Fortunately I can manage to drive wtihout falling asleep so hopefully that will work out fine for me.

Too bad there isn't a little box to check below that says, "boring", huh?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Much Energy on Things that Don't Matter

My daughter has been investing so much energy in school stuff this week that I would be very pleased if the school stuff wasn't what outfit she was wearing the next day for Homecoming Spirit week. Last night she recruited Ricardo, our family artist, to help her design a t-shirt and they were up until after midnight. Meanwhile, she has only two grades that don't fall below a C.

I said this to her today, "It's amazing how much energy you spend on things that don't ultimately matter, and so little energy on the things that do."

But that sentence kept coming back to haunt me as I recognize that in myself, especially as a parent. I focus so much energy on the little things -- things that in 10 years won't matter at all.... like bedtimes, and chores, and haircuts and baggy pants, and even, to some extent homework. The things that really matter, my relationship with my kids, the fact that they are kind and generous and compassionate, often get ignored in the midst of my need to prepare them for their futures by teaching them life skills.

I have often said over the years, "I don't care what people think" A wise man once told me, "It doesn't matter what people think, but it does matter how you make them feel." And I am challenged with my kids that I need to work harder on making them feel good about themselves.

Another wise man, C.S. Lewis, said,
Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you already have it.
He talks about how if you don't feel loving towards someone, do loving things. Kind of a fake it until you make it approach.

But there is a trick in this. It's not just faking it -- it's being genuine and finding good things and suddenly the good feelings follow. If I do something loving for someone, I love them more. It's weird but true.

I'm not sure who needed to read this today -- but I'm convinced that all of us as parents could use a look at the things that we are focusing on and possibly, in a metaphorical sense, put away the t-shirt markers and pick up a text book.... asking ourselves what will matter most ten years from now...

(and I realized that I'm just not posting enough pictures, so here is one of Isaac yesterday, preparing to be a chef like his grandpa ;-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Except We Don't Play Instruments

This morning I was in Bart's car -- long story -- I"ll shorten it - he's sick, Wilson had 7:30 ortho appointment, Rand took other kids to school in van... thus, me in Bart's car at 7:45 a.m. I chose one of his radio presets that the children had set and was listen to jibber jabber by local DJs. And I heard them say this:

We're on visit three of a 13 small town tour to tell kids about music and how important it is for them to be involved in the music programs at their schools. We really want to promote band.

Then one DJ says to the other, and I paraphrase, "But the only instrument I play is the radio and you're kind of in the same boat."

This immediately reminded me of the reason that I started to speak and write for adoptive parents. The first time I went to NACAC back in wow... must have been 2001 or 2002, I was so impressed with the conference and the really famous people who spoke at them. But at least 3/4 of the sessions were by people who didn't "play an instrument!" They were specialists in their field but they didn't have any adopted children and I couldn't help but find that disconcerting.

Back then I thought they paid people to do seminars at the conference when in actuality all the people who are presenting are people who can afford to pay their own expenses to get their (conference registration is free). So this explains why there aren't as many parents who present. And I believe that there are more and more of us who are parents as well as professionals who have been selected to speak.

I never set out to do all this to make money (and it's a good thing I didn't, because it's not the money maker that people think it is). I did it because I wanted to encourage people to join band or to hang in there and not quit band while I was continuing to play my instruments -- practicing and working hard to be the best I could be.

And of course I can't help but point out that this next book is the one that I think will be the book that most does this. It is so practical and the clear demonstration of how both Matt and Krista and Bart and I have applied them in very different families I believe will be an incredible help to those of us who are playing are hearts out and still not finding much improvement in how the band sounds.

So... preorder it today using the coupon preorder and save some money. It's really not about me getting lots of money... it's about you as a parent -- foster, adoptive, or just one of those "normal" birth parents -- getting some encouragement and help along the way, as well as a chuckle or two.

I hate self promotion -- it wears me out -- but hopefully this simple reminder will get me to encourage others to purchase the book.

Because I've learned a bit from practicing the instrument that I happen to play, and I really want to share what I've learned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Overslept by only 15 minutes this morning but it is kind of throwing everything off. Several of us don't feel well... in fact, I am feeling very much not like myself. I have a lab appointment scheduled for this morning to try to figure out why.

Things are busy busy busy in my world... lots of things happening at my jobs and with book sales. It would be nice if I could have the energy to keep up with them.

It's Homecoming week at the school as well -- meaning the kids minds are everywhere but their school work, meaning that the upward energy of the beginning of the school year has dissipated and we are now hitting a slump already during week 3. Sometimes I wonder about all the "special things" schools plan and how much they mess up not just "special kids" but all kids. It's kind of hard for anyone to keep completely focused on school work when they are trying to remember if they are supposed to wear a toga or a cowboy hat...

This morning Leon is truly sick and he is going to school anyway... he has a cold. Tony has a headache and he is refusing to get up. It's funny how character is demonstrated even at the age of 16.

So am I being way too cynical when I say that special activities at school are nothing but a pointless distraction?

Monday, September 26, 2011


I'm not sure that my kids are making progress, I suppose they are, slowly but surely, but I am for sure.

Yesterday at lunch I got this text from our daughter who lives an hour away with her daughter with her boyfriend's family: Mom. My Bf broke up with me. idk why. Can I come live at home? Then we can talk.

Now, in the past I would have put things into high gear, wondering how I was going to have time to drive up and get her and bring her home and how this would affect things if we really did get a call saying they wanted us to adopt the teenager in the Cities, and have given myself a wild crazy anxious day. Except for the 24 hour rule. Before she turned 18 I felt I had a legal responsibility to get her and bring her home .. but, if you've read my blog long enough, you know that when I did that it wouldn't be more than a day or two before he would be back to get her. So, the 24 hour rule now says that I must wait 24 hours before responding emotionally to her drama.

I simply wrote back, "You are always welcome at home." I haven't heard a word since.


Dominyk's new perseveration is that I am a crybaby who always gets my way. He also has started to do one of two things. If he says, something and I respond with anything he doesn't like, he tells me to shut up. But, if I don't respond to him when he asks a question, he repeats it until I do, so I really am stuck in a conundrum as to whether to answer or not. I had told him all last week that each night he had to clean his room, do his chore, and do homework and he refused. So I simply said that this weekend we would play catchup and we would go nowhere until he had finished those three things.

He got the first two done but the homework was still pending so he asked me if he could go to the Y. I said, "When you're homework is done." He started screaming at me to shut up because I was retarded and a crybaby and that I always had to have my way. I stopped talked.

Bart is usually very good at stepping in to help out in these moments, so I was grateful to have him take over. Trying to distract him and get him thinking down another road he simply said, "So, Dominyk, what did you learn from your conversation with Mom?" To which he responded, "that she's a crybaby who always has to have her way."


Have I shared our good news that our daughter-in-law got a half time teaching job? It is at the same school where our oldest son teaches 6th grade, so that will be great for them. It's a big answer to prayer.


John has been working for two weeks steady at a construction job he likes. That also is good news. We were out for dinner to celebrate Kari's birthday Friday night and lo and behold the absolute cutest baby in the world and his parents were eating out. They had both gotten paid and were so excited to have some money. And of course, Isaac wasn't at all disappointed to receive several grandma and grandpa kisses.

I'm on my way to a staffing at an RTC for work today -- make my day and vote in the poll and pre-order a book so when I come back to check my blog I'll smile.

Because even though yesterday I suggested that it's all about you, it's probably still about me. At least a little bit. ;-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's All About YOU!

I figured out something today about blogs. For blog writers, the blog really starts out to be all about me. It's a way to be able to dump feelings out on paper and process them and for some reason having the whole world have access to them makes a writer more accountable to actually journal. Web Log is where the term came from -- a personal log for people to journal their lives.

But along the way somewhere, when you start to acquire some readers, it becomes all about them somehow. They read the blog and follow it if they are amused, entertained, challenged, or can feel "normal." Another reason is to feel good about your own life by reading about someone's who is worse than yours. But the bottom line is that it is all about the people who read the blog.

And so, for example, yesterday when I posted my exciting achievements -- getting the book cover and the website done, and asking people to preorder -- that was all about me. And, typically, I was just waiting to hear rave reviews and people get all excited when really, the whole thing was about me.... not them.... People only get excited about a blog post if it meets a need they have. I'm the same way.

I have chosen, however, over the years, to try to not think much about who might be reading my blog because that will make me censor things that might be helpful to others. And that means that when I'm not thinking about you, and not making this about you, then my life may not be exciting enough for some of you. ;-)

A wonderful friend and mentor of mine who is a college professor and preacher (he actually married us) sent me an email this week about how his life has been going and he said this ... which cracked me up.

"Wow, this email is all about me. Let's talk about you now. So, how do YOU feel about me?"

Keep reminding me in subtle or not so sublte ways that I need to write things that are helpful to my readers because even though my blog is all about me, it's really all about you.

And now, because it is tradition, let me remind you that is my task in the next 30 minutes to get 7 kids ages 12-17 out the door for church. At this point, none of them are awake.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It Really Is Going to be a good one!

So, the website is done for the new book and you can find it here. I'm excited. I really do think it is going to be a great book.

I've been thinking back and the adoption and foster care books I have read in the past. They are informational. They tend to be quite serious. There are a few that might provide a small giggle or a whimsical smile, but how many books about Parenting tough kids make you laugh until you snort? I'm pretty convinced that you will do so at least once as you work your way through this book.

You can preorder it starting now and save $4.00 -- And, if you haven't already purchased my other books you can do so and save ...

Looking forward to your reaction -- books should be shipped by October 20th!

Why Arguing with a Not Completely Formed Frontal Lobe is Pointless

(in order to completely understand this story you have to have some backgrond details. We have to lock our bedroom and my office. Thus I have a huge set of keys that I can't hand to a person who is using a vehicle because then I will be locked out of places I need to get into. So I take the key off the ring. We also cannot trust our kids to give them their own vehicle key because we did that a few years ago and had one of our vehicles stolen by two of our children in the same night -- because they snuck in and took the key off their older brother's dresser. So that's the background).

I happened to wake up at 11:55 last night which was a mistake because I had let our daughter take the van and her curfew was 12:00. I had already been awakened at 11:30 by Tony, who as is typical, wakes me up almost every single night to ask me a couple questions, one of them being why he couldn't have the diet caffeine free pop on my dresser, but I had fallen back asleep. However, I have a small bladder, which probably isn't significant here, except that it explains why I was up at 11:55.

At 12:10 I called her. She didn't pick up. I texted her expressing my disappointment that she hadn't called. She didn't respond. I called again at 12:15, no response. I began to imagine bloody teenagers in the ditch.

I got a text at 12:20 saying that she was now coming home ... that she hadn't been able to find her key. We live in a fairly small down -- everything is about 10-15 minutes away.

At 12:40 she finally shows up. We have the following conversation:

Mother: It would have been nice if you would have texted me when you first misplaced the key so I wouldn't have been worried about you getting in an accident or something.

Daughter: Well OBVIOUSLY (said in a tone that makes a mothers heart pump 3 times it's normal rhythhm) I'm fine and nothing happened.

Mother: True. But I didn't KNOW that from midnight until 12:20.

Daughter: Well it's a very tiny little key.

Mother: Well, maybe if you can't be trusted with a tiny little key, you shouldn't be trusted with a big old minivan.

Daughter: Well you're the one who took it off the key chain.

Mother: You cause me to worry for 45 minutes in the middle of the night and the best you can do is say it's my fault because I took the key off the key ring?

Needless to say I didn't fall back to sleep very quickly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

So.... I'm thinking my first webinar might be called....

Anger and Arguing: How to Avoid Both while Parenting Tough Kids.

Thoughts? Feedback?

I Guess We're Supposed to Assume...

Since we haven't heard anything for a week I'm assuming we aren't adding to our family. And I'm fine with it. I am just surprised that we never heard back.

I feel good about the progress that I made at work yesterday. I finished three projects that I had been working on for weeks, one of them for months, and it felt good. I also spent a bit of time working on the book, which is getting nearer and nearer completion. In fact, by Sunday evening we may even be taking pre-orders!

Meanwhile, life continues to go on.... I receive emails and calls from teachers every day about how my kids won't do their home work or how they talk back and refuse to listen in class. I almost prefer them being here watching TV all day -- at least then I'm not having to be made to feel like a bad parent for not "making them" get homework done.

One of the interesting pieces of parenting kids like ours is that a "normal" kid, whatever that is, who doesn't have attachment issues, will do things to please a parent that they love and trust even if they don't want to do it. But if a kid doesn't have that kind of connection by the time they are too big to pick up and put somewhere, you can't really MAKE a kid do anything.

Dominyk is now pushing 6'1 and weighs nearly 250 pounds. I can't "MAKE" him do anything, especially not Geometry. I can't get him to do his chore or clean his room without threatening the most severe of consequences -- nothing to drink but water for several days.

They are getting natural consequences at school this year for not having assignments done. And they have natural consequences for life if they don't graduate. But the bottom line is that getting involved in the control battle of homework is no longer on my agenda once they hit high school.

So I guess I'd rather get the calls than fight the homework battle... my "natural consequences" for being a bad parent :->

Did you know that :-> is the emoticon for sarcasm? See, you learned something new today.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's that Time Again

That time when my house is buzzing with teeenagers getting ready to go to school. In just 3 short months we will no longer have "children" in our home. We will only have teenagers and "adults" as Wilson turns 13.

Still no news... I even broke the "rules" and sent an email and got no response which could mean one of 100 different things, including that the worker died but nobody bothered to tell me which is kind of morbid, but true.

Thank you to those of you who voted in my poll. It's good to see this kind of information as I make plans to do a webinar. The only thing that challenges me about the concept is that I am a speaker who often relies on audience feedback, particularly laughter and that "lightbulb moment" that I can read on people's faces, to spur me onward, and I"m not sure that someone typing hahahahaha in the little chat box is going to quite have the same affect. Which means that those of you who are less enthused about paying for attendance might end up coming to the first one which will most likely be awkward.

OK, some of you are sickos and are thinking that you'd like to PAY to find me in an awkward position :-)

The Final Title of the next book is going to be "Okay, Which One of You Took My Sanity? A Fun Guide to Foster, Adoptive, and Other Kinds of Parenting. We are in the final proofing stages and the cover is done, though I'm not going to ask you to give me feedback because with the last book cover that was kind of a nutty thing to do because you all have not only different but contradictory opinions! :-)

The book though is the one that most people who have heard me speak and read my blog have been hoping for ever since I started publishing. Here is the blurb about it:

Okay, Which One of You Took My Sanity? – A Fun Guide to Foster, Adoptive, and Other Kinds of Parenting is a humorous he-said/she-said breakdown of parenting strategies. Hilarious true-to-life stories reveal common threads between two families facing unique challenges and even more unique children. Together the stories encourage other parents to embrace change rather than “fix” family dynamics. Matt and Claudia, both adoptive parents, each exhibit distinctive parenting styles within their own adoptive families. Still, both apply the same principles to pilot the demands of special needs parenting. Fun and laughter might be the primary intention of this “Dr. Phil meets Erma Bombeck” concoction, but it ruptures with insightful parenting techniques. In between laughs, you might discover that there is something very profound about being a parent… but probably not.

So, look forward to an October publish date.

Also, in case you haven't heard, I've got several speaking engagements coming up.... Let me give you a teaser and when I have final details I will be putting them on the web:

October 14-16 -- Possibly speaking in Central, SC;

October 17 -- Speaking in Athens, GA -- for workers in the afternoon and for parents in the evening;

November 12 -- Adoption forum in Rock Island, Illinois at Heritage Wesleyan;

Sometime in November there is a possibility for a book signing in Toledo, Ohio as well as a speaking engagement in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

January 27th -- Refresh conference in Redmond, Washington;

February 4 -- Speaking at a Women's event at Crossview Covenant here in Mankato.

So, anybody live near any of those places who is planning to come?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yes, You're in the Right Place

So ... I've been thinking about a Webinar before my next book comes out and am wondering if people would have an interest. So I was setting up the poll and decided I wanted a different background so it was easier to read and suddenly everything before is gone, including the header that I made years ago. I'm sure it is on some old hard drive that I can somehow find but at this moment I'm annoyed with myself.

So make me feel better and vote in the poll :-)

Still No News

Yesterday was an emotionally heavy day -- several situations that I can't blog about that don't pertain to my family -- after a horrible morning of defiance from Tony and a huge fight between He and Dominyk.... followed by calls from school because a child called a teacher the B word but of course it's the teachers fault because "I don't like her." AAAUGH.

I went to bed completely exhausted and then didn't sleep well.... I'm glad that yesterday is over.

We still haven't heard anything about the possible addition to our family so I had to email this morning whether that was appropriate or not. I had forgotten how frustrating this situation is and I realized why last night.... we haven't had to wait for a decision since 1999. Since then the kids have been matched with us without any competition or question.... and sometimes before we even had an update started. So waiting to find out if we "win the lottery" is something we have only had to do a couple times in our lives. If you will recall from our book, our first two were foster care placements and the next two (a sibling group) we were matched with 3 hours after our homestudy was completed. So... I'm not used to this!

Anybody else in this stage with me right now?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Standing at the Starting Gate

I feel like a horse getting ready for a big race. I'm in the starting gate waiting to kick things into high gear. But the thing is, the whole race could be cancelled any minute.

I'm really completely OK with not being selected to parent another child. It would be wonderful if we could, the social workers described him in such a way that we are already loving him, but if the answer is no, it is no.

Except that, if the answer is yes, we have a LOT of work to do in order to get things ready (with the house, not emotionally) and so I need to get things moving in that direction -- except that, if it isn't happening I sure don't need to add that to my plate right now when we're trying to get the book published etc. So the idea of doing it anyway, which I might recommend to other families, just doesn't seem like a good plan at he moment.

And so I stand, at the starting gate, my feet stomping like a horses, waiting for the call or email that will either begin or end the race. And standing here in the gate is driving me crazier by the minute.

But I'm sure all the rest of you would be just fine with it. Except for Tubaville who may even be more anxious than I am about it. :-)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Upcoming Parenting Retreat

October 15 conference in Wisconsin

Check out details here

Zero Kids Waiting September 2011

Click here for this great resource -- lots of article links that affect everyone -- not just families in MN.

What to Wish For?

I'm trying to prepare myself for an email or call saying another child has been chosen for the potential son we are hoping to adopt. I think I might be able to compare my feelings to that of a mom of four or five kids already who wasn't necessarily planning on or hoping to getting pregnant but thinks she might be. I know that I would love to be his mom... and yet I know the work that is involved in transitioning a child into our home. So even though it will totally be worth it, if we get the email or call (the pee stick), I will be thrilled if it is positive but if it is negative I just might be able to convince myself that it is a good thing because I am already happy with what I have.

But I'll still be disappointed.

Yesterday I was completely exhausted from after church until I went to bed at 8:45 and I am not feeling all that rested this morning. I think maybe some of my medication must be off so I will be having labs done and see if that is why I'm so sluggish. I feel like I could go back to bed already!

We have Isaac here today -- so I guess I'll have to wait until his nap time to take mine :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

To Catch You Up

The last two days I did the 16 hour pre-adopt training in my office, an hour from here. It was a great group and we had a really good time together, but I have found that when I train for 8 hours straight and drive an hour before and an hour after that by the time I get back home I am just shot. Mentally I have very little left. So I just chilled for both evenings.

To catch you up:

The secret meeting, in case you didn't guess, was about adding a child to our family which we weren't seeking to do or planning for. I am not breaking my promises to myself to never parent another girl and to never go through puberty again, so that should give you a hint as to some details.

They spent two hours and 15 minutes with Bart and I and we were pretty sure it was a done deal until the next day when they mentioned that they were going to interview another family on Monday. That was a surprise.

Now don't get me wrong. If this is not something God wants us to do, I'm fine with someone else being selected. He is a NEAT kid and another family would be blessed to have him. But there is still a little bit of that sense of possible rejection that gets to me.... even after all these years.

Other news: Mike apparently is back in jail as of Wednesday (which was my birthday). We had forgotten to check the internet for a couple days because Bart had seen him last week and he was doing so well that we anticipated he'd be out a while (He got out on August 27).

John has made it through a full week of work at a construction job that he really likes -- it is near where he lives and they give him a ride which is idea. We are praying this will continue.

Salinda has an interview at Target on Monday, has talked to a school about taking her remaining GED tests, and is talking about starting college classes.

Dominyk's first three days of football practice seem to be going well.

Ricardo has been grounded all week but his attitude is improving and he seems to be realizing his need for cooperation.

Tony is still in football -- a record for him, and Leon, of course is still playing. Wilson is as well -- so we now have 5 kids in football on 3 different teams which is fairly crazy.

Today we have a full day ahead -- church, Sunday School, church and then Sadie is taking me to a movie for my birthday. Should be a good day.

And I've come up with an idea for my next book and am exploring webinars.... so life just keeps going on....

Hopefully by tomorrow night we will have an answer ... it's a Minnesota kid and they are talking about a quick transition if it is going to happen -- he would love to play football as well and the season is half over.

Now it's time for me to wake everyone up.

So, how many of you guessed the secret?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A secret....

We are going to a meeting today. It's a secret. Here's a hint:

I don’t know you, you don’t know me
But that don’t mean there's no responsibility

If you’re cold and I walk by
If you’re hungry and I just say “hi”

If you’re spirit’s worn and you’re bodies tired
And I say “Pray, and you’ll be inspired”

If I don’t hold you close until you’re body’s warm
If I don’t feed you ‘til you’re belly’s full
If I don’t welcome you into my home
Then my faith is dead and you’re all alone

Like a body with no spirit, or a candle with no flame
Like a window painted over or the help that never came
Like a storm without a rainbow or a bird that never sings
Faith without action dies, it’s a bell that never rings.

People walk by, people don’t care
They’re headed to their limousine to go somewhere instead
People are comfy, people are cozy
People are rich and their cheeks are rozy
Lexus, BMW, Mercedes Benz
Baluga caviar and plated pens
Capitalistic oppression, systemic sin
The rich get richer and the poor never win
They're building their walls higher and higher
with the money that extinguishes hunger’s fire

Like a body with no spirit, or a candle with no flame
Like a window painted over or the help that never came
Like a storm without a rainbow or a bird that never sings
Faith without action dies, it’s a bell that never rings.

If I know God and the golden rule
Then I’ve got no business ignoring you

Hello mother, father, or my best friend
brother, sister can I help you mend
Can I hold you close and never let go,
and there’s something else that you ought to know
Oh you’ve got a spirit, your candle a flame
and after the rainbow there might be more rain
After the healing come their might be some pain
But you’ll never be alone again.

Like a body with no spirit, or a candle with no flame
Like a window painted over or the help that never came
Like a storm without a rainbow or a bird that never sings
Faith without action dies, it’s a bell that never rings.

I don’t know you, you don’t know me
But that don’t mean there's no responsibility.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Glutton for Good Wishes ;-)

Happy Birthday to me. So far the day has started uneventfully with at least three of my kids my husband, and 54 Facebook friends wishing me a happy birthday, along with 4 who sent texts, and a couple more who emailed. Grateful for a wonderful family, for great friends, and even for Facebook acquaintances who are always good about saying Happy Birthday.

But now I must get to work... After an update or two for oyu:

Things continue to go the wrong direction for Ricardo - hoping he'll turn things around.

Jimmy is doing a great job of keeping up with housework in exchange for his room and board while everyone else is at school. The house hasn't been this clean in years. I know he really wants to start work... but....

Isaac's first birthday party and Gabby's baptism are coming up in October...

Dominyk thinks he is starting football today. I know all the coach sees is "6'1, 240 lbs" but he is going to be an organizational nightmare and has NO idea the rules of football....

The next book -- which is the one everyone has been waiting to read for years -- the one that is going to include lots of my quirky sense of humor -- should be out by mid-october.

I have so much work to do!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Doesn't Happen Often...

I woke up feeling awful. My stomach is bugging me. I was all motivated to go to the Y alone because Kari Coffee was ditching me and I felt really bad. So I decided to sleep a bit more. I ate something healthy and still don't feel great. I have to leave for a doctor's appointment in a few minutes and am not sure what I will do after that. A sick day is something I don't take often because I simply have too much to do to be sick.

if you think of it, you may want to pray for Ricardo today if you are a praying person. He is months away from 18 and has always idolized the guys who have moved out of our house, unemployed, the couch surf and mooch off other people. I'm worried he is heading in that direction. He quit soccer last night without telling us, went to someone's house without us knowing where he was, came home and refused to do his chore or dishes -- which is very unusual for him. He apparently didn't get up this morning and ended up walking to school -- if he made it there. He is skipping classes and heading down the wrong path here.

The challenge is that he is a very very naive kid who has NO CLUE how the world works. He was in orphanages until he was 10 and since he has been here has done very little outside of our home and the home of one of his friends. He doesn't have any idea what it means to have a job or what it costs to live on ones own. He will be biologically 18 but as far as knowledge of the world he is about 5.

He may have to learn the hard way because he is a very stubborn kid. So maybe I should be asking you to pray for me that I can endure yet another round of watching a teen make horrible mistakes and not be able to do much about it.

OK. Now I'm off to the doctor to get my INR checked. If you are new to my blog and have never read about my hospital stay in Feb of 2010 when I had blood clots, you might want to do that for a good laugh. This particular post is a photo essay that I dictated to Kari from my hospital bed.

Memories.... light the corners of my mind....

not to be confused with Mammories, which I had chopped of in a breast reduction in 2003, before I started blogging, which is really too bad because I was rejoicing that when I projectile vomited it hit my feet instead of my boobs for the first time since I was 21.

And the above paragraph is proof that this blog is not intended for publicity or promotional purposes of my writing career.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming Training in New Ulm, MN

Grace for the Ungrateful

If you have some ungrateful people in your life, my Scripture blog talks about what I was reminded this morning I should do for them.

Check it out if you wish.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And now, back to the typical Sunday Morning

The routine is back today. Bart leaves before the younger kids get up with the oldest two who are here at home. I wake up the others. We have struggles about what they think they are going to wear (I'm not that picky, but the clothes do need to be clean and fairly unwrinkled, and I prefer dress pants over jeans and don't want t-shirts with print on them. All but a couple comply most of the time, but the couple who don't always provide me with a struggle).

Then we'll have traditional worship, Sunday school, and our new relational worship. I teach adult Sunday School and will lead a portion of our new worship service today --

I'd be excited except that I woke up with a horrible headache after a very strange dream about speaking from a skyscraper in Australia to a large crowd down below (think Pope on Christmas Day kind of crowd). But I was preparing to speak for ages while they kept adjusting sound and telling me it wasn't time yet. Very frustrating... and to top it off, a fight broke out between two Hispanic men who were wanting to use the electricity we needed for the sound system. Yes, I must have some psychological challenges if I dream all this stuff, huh?

So now i'm facing a long morning with a headache. Funny how I always seem to survive though.

The Block Party at church last night was fun and it was especially encouraging to see how helpful my sons were being. Even Dominyk was very helpful -- helping from about 1:30 to 9:30 -- setting up, helping during it, and then cleaning up. Rand was there that long too.... Tony and Leon there for several hours, and we dragged Jimmy there for a few as well. It makes me feel like we're doing something right when I see all my guys helping out like that.

And now it's time to begin to wake them up..... but it's so quiet here... maybe i'll wait a few minutes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Really? 5 p.m.?

So I usually blog in the morning but this morning it was time to head to Best Buy! Nothing better than opening something with an Apple Logo on the box. We finally got our tax credit and we haven't had any computers the kids could use for months without bothering one of us we decided to upgrade. Since the tax credit is because of the kids we wanted part of it to go to things that they would see as valuable. New flooring just really isn't doing it for them.

So most of my day has been spent configuring computers, and also finishing up a website for our new worship service that starts tomorrow at the church. If you're curious it is

I'm also finishing up some of the final edits for the next book "Okay, Which One of You Took My Sanity? A Fun Twelve Step Guide for Foster, Adoptive and Other Kinds of Parents" This is the book that adoptive parents have been waiting for I think and I"m excited. I'm cowriting it with Matt Hoffman. It's going to be funny as well as informative. I'm excited.

Also went out to lunch and are now heading to our churches block party....

So I wasn't just lying around... although I did have a delicious mid-afternoon nap with Bart. ;-)

Last night we had a real date with the Coffees -- just us adults, dinner and the movie Help. Great night. At least in our opinion. Apparently not in Kari's though. She told you we were going but she never said it was fun. :-)

Friday, September 09, 2011

At Least I'm Recognizing My life a Bit More

Yesterday was one of those Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Days, the kind Alexander had. Nothing too tragic, but a series of dumb icky things

-like me forgetting to take Wilson's first day of school picture yesterday...

-and me making another typo that sent mail in the wrong place -- since I started my new job in January this has happened 3 times after never happening at all the previous 8 years I've done this work...

-- and me getting hit by a soccer ball at Ricardo's game and breaking my expensive zoom list on my camera

-- and Dominyk having a huge meltdown right after school where chairs were turned over, walls were punched, and I was threatened... and after all that the homework still didn't get done

-- and me waiting for an hour longer than planned for Sadie to give her a ride home from work only to find out that she had texted me that a friend was coming to pick her up, except that my phone had died and I didn't get the text,

- and having to warm up a delicious meal of London Broil steak and baked potatoes and eat it by myself at 9 p.m. even though Bart did come and sit with me for a few minutes, I missed family time

- and my lap band deciding to work so that the London Broil got lodged somewhere in my esophogus or other body tube and I won't finish that sentence

... and so I really was wanting to move to Australia by the end of the night, kind of, except that I'm so incredibly fat that I would probably not survive on a plane for 21 hours, and that's a whole other story....

So... I was really happy when that day was over and I could say goodbye to it.

And now, today, it's a new day.

And that's a beautiful thing. Kind of like my daughter...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Graphic Memoirs Event for Adoptees

Our Own Words is seeking participants

Where am I?

All of my kids are up and getting ready for school. It seems other than Wilson who got taken out to breakfast by Bart for his first day of school, the rest woke up with alarm clocks. They are all standing here peacefully, without an argument, waiting for it to be 7:30 so that they can leave.... they seem eager to go to school. They are being nice to me. They are being nice to each other.

Isaac has been here since before six and he is happily rolling around in his walker while I sit at the kitchen table babbling like a baby, which he is. Bart is at his office so that he can come and spend time with Isaac while I head to Dunn's for my annual first day of school time with Kari and then lunch with friends.

I don't recognize this as being my life. It seems so foreign but I'm grabbing on to it and rejoicing.

And now, on to the todo list.... although multitasking an 11 month old is tricky!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding & Appreciating Their Journey

Register now for MN ADOPT’s September webinar Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding & Appreciating Their Journey with Dr. Gregory C. Keck, founder of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio on Thursday, September 22, 2011.

Presentation: Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding & Appreciating Their Journey. Dr. Gregory Keck, PhD., founder of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio offers parenting strategies, tips, suggestions, and insights to manage tough situations in your family. Dr. Keck, adoptive parent, psychologist and adoption expert helps you understand and appreciate the complicated journey that adopted adolescents face. And once you understand your role in the journey, you will be more effective as your role as a parent.

When: Thursday, September 22 from 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (CDT)

Where: Online webinar. All you need is internet access and a telephone.

Fee: $15 for webinar only; $25 for webinar + CD. CEUs are now available for webinars for an additional $30 per person.

To Register: Please go here to register online
CDs are available online here.


Watching my grandkids together and with their aunts and uncles gives me such joy. I am amazed at how much fun it is to have them with us, especially when they can both be together. And so, since I can't trap you in the corner at church with a brag book like grnadparents did 50 years ago, here are some pictures that you can choose to view ... or not view...

Gabby cracks me up -- she was more than willing to let Isaac who is almost a year younger than she is -- give her a ride on his walker ;-) They had a blast on the boat at the lake Monday, and it she loves to feed her cousin. Watching them does my heart good!


Within the last few months my life has seemed easy, if not pleasant. I have been more connected to my kids than I have been in years and the fog of bitterness and anger and anxiety and depression under which I was living for so long seems to be clearing. I have asked myself why. I don't really have answers.

Looking at the circumstances, the past months haven't been the greatest. We have a son who was in jail for most of the summer and who called a few times simply to spew anger on us. We have an adult son who is doing very well but we haven't heard from him more than a couple times all summer and he only lives a couple hours away. We have another adult son who is living off of his girlfriend's family and while he got a job, it only lasted for a week. We have a beautiful daughter and a precious granddaughter that we have only seen two or three times all summer. We have a daughter who nearly crossed over to the wrong side of life this summer -- a very close call -- drinking, hanging out with the worst crowd ever. We have a son who was arrested for shoplifting and who smoked pot for the first time. I was knocked to the floor and bruised both of my arms by one of my sons. Doesn't that sound like a great summer?

But the reality is that something has changed in me. I am daring to believe that through all of this I have experienced that progression -- the suffering - perseverance - character - hope idea from Romans 5 where we get through tough things and come out stronger and more resilient.

In reading the stories of some of my friends, I almost feel guilty for being positive and determined to live victoriously. I know that I do not have their lives, but I am convinced that they, too, because they are strong and are doing what God called them to do, will come to a point -- or have seasons of their journey -- where they can feel this sense of confidence. It is an assurance that God is going to see us through and that there WILL be days where we can feel that all is well.

If you want to read the rest of this "sermon" you can head to my Scripture blog to read about how the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

I am hanging on to the hope, not just for me, but for all of us, that if we persevere to the end .... whatever that end looks like... we will have days of joy and contentment that are unexplainable.

Tomorrow I may have to report that I am not feeling that things are easier. Everything could fall apart with a phone call or a text right now -- of that I am well aware. But I am not attempting to hang on to facts or the reality of past experience, but to hold on to hope because it has no data.

The past couple days the atmosphere in our home has been amazing. There is a calm sense of cooperation. The kids are busy and involved in positive things and I am so glad and happy to be a part of it.

Maybe this suffering - perseverance - character - hope progression isn't a progression after all. Maybe it is a cycle. If so, I'm determined to be thankful and happy during the days when I am at the hope part. And while I am here and I am feeling strongest, I'm going to use any extra energy I have to pray that YOU will get there. And I truly, truly believe you will.... whoever you are....wherever you find yourself on that continuum today -- whether it be suffering, persevering, or developing character. One of these days you are going to round the bend and there it will be, sure as day. Hope.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Last Day/First Day

We ended summer with a bang -- three of us families getting together to equal over 50 people and we had some missing! It was a lot of fun. The Coffees and Brian and Jill and their kids -- and grandkids and parents, etc. all got together at the lake. We were there for hours -- Salinda and Gabby were with us as were John, Courtney and Isaac. Then our family all came back here for dinner. It was the first time we have let John come into the house since March -- and he was very respectful. We had a nice time watching the cousins play together.

Today was the first day of school for the 6 high schoolers currently living here. It was a really calm morning and Bart made them breakfast -- our tradition -- and I took the above pictures.

I'll try and post pictures of Wilson's football game and of our picnic and time at home yesterday in other posts and on facebook.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

I Updated the Scripture As I See it Blog Today

This afternoon, as a follow up to my earlier post about hope, I updated that blog. Trying to keep things separate for those who might not be interested in the spiritual side of things and don't want this blog to contain that. So, if you are so inclined to hear about insights from Romans 8 -- it's here in a post called "Hope has no Data"

In the Home Stretch

School starts for everyone but Wilson on Tuesday and for their sake it needs to start. They are ready for structure, rhythm, and having someone tell them what to do all day long. They are ready to be back with their friends.

All in all we have had the best summer we have ever had. Tony had a PCA (his hours aren't over until October .. and now there is hope for a few more) and Dominyk was in the habit of spending every single afternoon at the YMCA... or at least that is what we thought he was doing. Some of the kids (Sadie in particular) seemed to turn a corner in regards to maturity and is making some very good choices right now. Ricardo has begun to hang out at a Martial Arts gym in town where he is doing submission wrestling and some other things that he loves -- he really wants to start boxing. This is keeping him from making bad choices.

I have a bit of hope that grades will go up this year. It might be false hope, but it seems to me that some of the maturity that has happened over the summer might translate into their school work, and I am more committed than I have been in the past to helping them because, at least for now, they are wanting my help. It looks like we're going to be off to a good start... now if we can all just keep the commitments we're making... me included.

Dominyk's IEP manager has agreed to let us scan and email his assignments to himself and to the IEP manager once they are done. Last year he failed 3 classses after doing ALL of the homework because it couldn't get turned in. We want to help him be more organized, but it is a life skill to teach people with severe ADHD to have a backup plan and the scanning will be his backpack. His PCA was trying to help him keep organized with that, but now I am his PCA...

I wonder if it would make a difference to anyone to know that when Dominyk had a PCA he completely stayed out of trouble but that this summer when dropped off at the Y every day -- he wasn't staying there. He has been caught shoplifting this summer and apparently the past two days has tried a little marijuana. When I picked him up from his supposed afternoon at the Y, he came home, did everything he was supposed to do, was not at all agitated and laid down for a late nap after supper. When he woke up he confessed to having smoked pot. The sad thing about that is that he told us that it was the first time in his life he had ever felt calm. Wow. To me that is tragic that the only thing that has made him feel that way is illegal when everything that is legal doesn't work.

Now before you go off on me, I am not advocating the legalization nor am I advocating illegal drug use and we are going to do everything we can to keep Dominyk away from it... but it just struck me as sad.

Fortunately school is starting in 2 days, the Y is closed tomorrow, and I don't think that he has any access at all to these guys unless he hooks up with them at the Y. Ironically this new smoking buddy is the kid who bullied him and bunched him in the face a few weeks ago.... But he doesn't go to Dominyk's school and I don't even think he knows his last name.

So now we are back to Dominyk pacing around the house chanting endlessly about how bored he is, but that sure beats breaking the law.

And to think that after all this I'm still reporting to you how optimistic I feel! My world is really warped.

Here's pics from Leons game as promised. Wilson played yesterday morning -- I should have those uploaded soon.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Yesterday I Was a Machine

You should have seen me yesterday. I cranked out tons of work. I was exhausted by the time I went to bed.

Today I haven't accomplished as many things off my to-do list but have had a couple great conversations and spent time with my adorable grandson.

Tonight we are hoping to have a family movie but one by one the members of hte family are finding things they would rather do.... the price of having so many teenagers I guess.

Last night Leon had a football game... I'll post pictures later

Thursday, September 01, 2011

My Work Style

I am recognizing more than ever that I have a very crazy work style and I am very oddly motivated. I get a lot more done if I just sit behind my computer and am compelled from one thing to another. I hop from project to project, often guided by emails that come in, and crank out the work. If I am forced to focus on one task I have a hard time getting motivated, but I get a ton done when I jump from thing to thing.

I know the experts will tell you that multitasking is not efficient, but they should hang out with me for a day and see what all gets done. I have often said that if people were sitting behind me watching what I do on the computer they would go nuts! It would be mindboggling how I can start one task and then be off on something else only to come back and finish it later. It's very strange but it works for me. It builds my momentum somehow.

Lots going on today but I love this time of year. It reminds me of the college year starting up back in the day when I was a Dean of Students. I loved that job - wouldn't have energy for it now... that was in my 20s... but the enthusiasm was amazingly contagious that time of year. We still don't start school until Tuesday.... the lastest in the nation again I suppose. At least we only have one left in Elementary -- he doesn't start until next Thursday but I"m not thinking the house will be noisy with only Wilson home.

I hardly ever post pictures any more. Is that why I have less readers?

Can you see all his curls???