Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo Humbug!

Robyn had asked if I could comment on Halloween and usually I like to please my readers, but let me just say this.




I see no purpose in it. I find it annnoying. I hate the disruption in schedule. I hate the expectation for parents -- to be all into it and cheery and happy and cooperative and supportive of something that has. no. purpose.

ANd really? Should I feel guilty for hating a holiday like Halloween?

Four Years Ago Yesterday

Two of the most amazing young men moved into our home -- I guess they were boys then, 12 and 8, but now they are almost 13 and 16. They have brought us so much joy. Yesterday we braved the Sunday Viking's Football fans to have lunch at BWW -- their favorite -- something I'm not sure we would have been willing to do for anyone else ;-)

How many of you remember that day? If you'd like you can relive it with me here in the October 2007 archives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings here have always been tricky. My husband, the minister, has quietly left the house early each Sunday morning that he has had to preach, before most of the children, if not all, are out of bed. At that point in time I get up everyone -- whether they were ages 1, 2, 9 and 12 13 years ago, or ages 12-23 as they are now, and get everyone, dressed appropriately (trickier as the years go by) to church. Often there has been yelling involved, always lots of stress, and not really very fun for me. There are exceptions to this, but not often.

SO a few years ago we are driving along in the van and this song comes to mind and I begin to sing it. And Sadie pipes up, "WHAT is so EASY about Sunday morning?"

Well today it is even more complex than usual but you have probably been bored by this same song different verse theme for years on the blog so I'll skip it.

Bart is HOME! I took Tony and Jimmy with me last night to pick him up at the airport and treated them to Italian at the Mall of America, something unheard of for me. There was extra time for them to walk around and it seems they had a good time.

Will be nice to get back into a routine of some sort ... until Wednesday when I leave again.


But meanwhile.... "because I"m easy..... easy like Sunday morning...." come on, sing it with me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Too much to update ;-)

On a positive note, Tony, who started his day off horribly just made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Am I a bad parent if my secondary (if not primary thought) is what the kitchen must look like right now? I'm trying to focus on how good the pancakes are because I can't see the kitchen.

Dominyk delivered them to me and the two of them are the only ones awake and neither of them has screamed or threatened each other or cussed loud enough for me to hear them. I think this must be a record. They've both been awake at the same time for 30 minutes.

My day yesterday was really good. I love teaching the course I am teaching. The curriculum is excellent (not my creation) and the people in the class are really bright with tons of awesome experience. I bet the group has a total of over 500 years of professional experience. The group discussions bring a lot of richness to it and the whole day six hours is awesome.

However, when I applied for the job I was being a typical "ignore the details" person and forgot that I would be having a twelve hour day. I forgot about the commute in Friday rush hour traffic, the walk from the parking garage to the building, the making my own lunch to lug around so I didn't have to walk blocks on campus .. all those details... that are killing me. Yesterday I left home at 6:15 and I got home at almost 7 p.m.

By the time I drug my tired out of shape butt up to my room I sat there in the recliner fielding questions from the kids, and then couldn't even make myself get up to head to bed early.

But I slept a solid ten hours and though I'm a bit weary, I'm not dead! This has been a crazy week -- one I don't want to repeat. Two kids have gotten suspended. John started work and made multiple phone calls to me to help make decisions (one about stock investments for his IRA or something, a conversation with the HR person at his the dairy farm which I had to work hard not to laugh at because he hasn't kept a job for more than 6 weeks in his life).

Salinda has moved in, left, come back, left, come back, and left again all in one week. I have had multiple kids skip classes, made a trip to Owatonna and one to another town to do a post-placement visit, and had 3 very stressful (to me) meetings. I have also done it all with my husband in Orlando and not accessible much as his Spiritual Formation Academy has a really full daily schedule.

And I have taken a few minutes each day to whine to you.

The week ahead I wrap things up and then head to Toledo? Anyone close to there that might come to the comedy club and hear us? It's going to be so fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's all a blur....

Salinda woke me at 5 saying Gabby needed to go into the doctor. I asked if it could wait until urgent care opened and she said no, so I got up and showered. By then she had fallen asleep, so Salinda decided we could wait. Good thing we did because it turns out she isn't currently insured which I had somehow not been told. So I ended up not really sleeping much after 5, going to the doctor at 8:30, and now trying to get ready to teach tomorrow as well as get my work done.

When Bart is here it seems like I do a ton of stuff. When he is not here I realize what a ton of stuff HE does. Yikes it's hard being both of us. I don't think it is so hard for him when I am gone because he is always responsible for meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking.... but when I add that plus all the rides he usually gives to my schedule I feel like I"m living in a blur....

But it's not a bad blur. Last night Gabby gave me a very long hug -- a first -- and suddenly it all seemed to make better sense....

Onward and upward....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Isn't Technology the Coolest

Isaac could take 2-3 steps last Friday.

Look at him go today!

Bart Speaking in Mankato, November 7th!

The blurb being sent out says this (and no, I didn't write it).

Please make plans to join the Mankato area adoption and foster parent support groups on Monday, November 7 to hear Rev. Bart Fletcher (accompanied by his lovely wife Claudia) share their experiences as parents of 12 children, all adopted, many having challenging behaviors. This 2 hour presentation is funded by a grant through the Adoption Support Network. Training hour certificates will be available for those who need them.

Where? Nicollet County Satelite Offices, 2070 Howard Drive, North Mankato

When? Monday, Nov. 7 from 6:30-8:30pm

So..... a few updates for those interested...

The son caught on security camera is not going to have legal charges against him because between he and his buddy they only took a total of $2.46 to buy pop.

The son who said he might kill himself was joking and does not appear to be suicidal.

Salinda turned in one application and is filling out others. If she can manage to get a job before John looses his, I will be able to say for the first time in my life that all my adult children are employed (because I count Mike's self-employment as a tattoo artist because he charges $40 an hour and makes enough to pay someone rent). That would be really nice.

Ricardo's meeting went quite well and I feel like we came up with a compromise that both helped the adults in the room feel like we were requiring something of him and making him feel like he was heard. He has to buck up and do what he is supposed to do to finish the quarter and then we will taking him out of the work program. He is promising to work hard and try to catch up so he can consider college. I have no doubt that he is smart enough but his expressive language issues, his English learning issues, and his reading disability hinder him, as well as his incredibly stubborn personality. BUT, there is hope here, I think we have him back on track and his life is going to improve substantially.

Jimmy is proud as can be -- He got "Employee of the Week" his first week on the job. He is working through an adults with DDs program, and so he complains that everyone else is SO slow. He's doing dishes at one of the University's residence hall kitchens and says, "Mom, there's a LOT of dishes!" But he is going out of his way to be a good employee, is very excited to pick up his first check Friday (even though it's only for 3 days work) and seems to be charming everyone there into loving him. This is such a cool thing for him because the supervisor at this program says that MSU works very well with employing adults like him and that many people have kept jobs there for 10+ years.

I looked up the place John started working today -- it's a facility that has a capacity to milk 4500 cows a day. That's a LOT of cows.

Bart had the opportunity to preach yesterday at his Spiritual Formation Academy and did wonderfully. They LOVED him, as they should. He's a very gifted communicator. And I'm the only person in the universe who gets to be married to him. I am so incredibly blessed and unworthy on so many levels.

Speaking of Bart, he is speaking (with my company) at the Adoption Support Group in Mankato. I'll write a separate entry about that.

And, just so you know what it is like to be me, as soon as I typed the paragraph about Ricardo, I got a text from his friend advocating for him to switch to the alternative school. UGH.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If you haven't seen this... it's well worth the 8 minutes IMHO

But it will make you cry.

Wisconsin ARW Happenings October Newsletter

Can be found here.

Adoption Expo in Washington DC

ADOPTION EXPO: Saturday, November 12, Washington, DC

ATTEND A FREE ADOPTION EXPO for prospective and current adoptive parents. The Freddie Mac Foundation’s Adoption Expo will showcase dozens of adoption agencies and services in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., as well as national and international adoption resources. This is an ideal opportunity to learn about every stage of the adoption process, including:
~ How to know when you’re ready to adopt,
~ What to expect during key process steps,
~ What to expect after you bring your child home, and
~ When and how to obtain post-adoption support to strengthen your family.

Free Admission

WHEN: Saturday, November 12, 2011, 11 am to 3 pm

WHERE: Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H Street, NW, Washington, DC
Metro Accessible (Metro Center, exit into hotel)

~ Anyone considering or currently pursuing adoption, whether domestic or international
~ Adoptive parents interested in learning about post-adoption resources

~ Adoption Agencies and Service Providers
~ Domestic, International, Public and Private Adoptions
~ Pre- and Post-Adoption Services and Resources

~ Workshops for prospective and current adoptive parents
~ Parent-to-parent discussion groups
~ Resource materials for every stage of the adoption process
~ Opportunities to meet authors of books about adoption and adoption experiences
~ Welcome remarks by Barbara Harrison, NBC4 anchor and host of
Freddie Mac Foundation's Wednesday's Child.

Children are also welcome to attend. Children’s entertainment will be provided throughout the afternoon. (Child care not provided.)

Visit and click on the Adoption Expo banner to learn more and download a flyer to share in your community.

The Freddie Mac Foundation Adoption Expo is offered in partnership with NBC4 and the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments.

Adoption Support Network’s Transracial Adoptive Family Day

Understanding the Medical & Mental Health Needs of Children Finding a Forever Family through International Adoption

REGISTER NOW FOR NOVEMBER WEBINAR: Understanding the Medical & Mental Health Needs of Children Finding a Forever Family through International Adoption with Dr. Julie Keck and Dr. Heike Minnich from The Riley Adoption Clinic at Indiana University School of Medicine

Presentation: Children who are internationally adopted are at risk for experiencing fear, grief, loss, stress and trauma. These experiences can affect the brain architecture over time and increase the risk of mental health issues or disorders, and may also affect health outcomes in adulthood. Join Dr. Julie Keck and Dr. Heike Minnich of the Riley International Adoption Clinic at Indiana University School of Medicine as they help parents understand these issues and guide them through therapeutic interventions. See attached flyer for more information.

When: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (CST)

Where: Online Webinar

Fee: $15 webinar only; $25 webinar + CD (CDs are sold separately for $15)
CEUs are available for an additional $30. Certificates of Attendance will be distributed following the presentation.

To Register: Please go to to register online.

A Day in the Life -- Wanna Be Me?

I had to spend another day gone from home, leaving before the kids left for school. By the time I had gotten home after a long day the following had happened.

1) I had gotten a call from the school that one of the kids had broken into the school last week after a football game and gone through lockers with a friend. It's caught on camera. His friend stole, he didn't, and so now the whole thing is his friend's fault. He's not getting that going into the school and going through the lockers is a crime whether or not he stole anything is against the law. The school is deciding tomorrow if they will press charges.

2) I got an email from the school saying that one of my kids off-handledly said, "I should kill myself...." resulting in a hefty counseling session. He doesn't get why it was a big deal to say that.

3) One of my kids missed the first three hours of class today.

4) Two of my kids spent at least 1/2 a day in ISS. (In School Suspension).

5) I received word that two of my kids have some kind of rash or skin infection that requires them to go to the doctor before they can go back to school.

In addition, Salinda and Gabby are here -- Salinda is getting applications tonight. Pray that she will get a fast job as this would keep her here where she is happier.

Also, if you want to pray, you can pray for our meeting about Ricardo tomorrow. I'm really not sure what to do with him. If he refuses to do work in the classroom, and refuses to go to the work program for the kids who can't succeed academically, then I'm not really sure what to do -- and he has no suggestions.

John got another job, he reports, at a dairy that I googled and he will be working at a facility that milks 4500 cows. Didn't even know that was possible. But he works 6-6 tomorrow. This is his 3rd job in about 5 months, so hopefully he can keep this one for more than a few weeks. He's very excited about all the benefits.

Bart remains in Orlando, but I'm hanging in there. It was a long day, but for some reason I'm handling things ok.

Sometimes though, I smile inside at all I am able to handle. Is that arrogant?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Too Much Going On

Ricardo decided to shut down at school while we were gone and now they are trying to schedule a meeting for us to figure out what to do. Except that I am completely booked the next two days and Bart is in Orlando. I took him to the airport this morning, leaving at six, so I've been up since 5:30 and in the middle of some things that HAVE to be done by tomorrow morning when I again leave early to head to a meeting.

Have I mentioned that I really have got to find a way to slow down?

Interested in Hearing Feedback

A person I greatly respect found some things in the book I just wrote that he vehemently disagreed with. And I'm not upset by that, in fact, in part, I agree with his disagreement.

I'm interesting in hearing if anyone who has read it found anything you'd like to share.... am wondering if anyone picked up on the same things he did.

Let me know....

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coming and Going and Not Wanting to Leave

Salinda was here all weekend with Gabby and it was fun to have them there. Apparently she has changed her mind again about where she will live and is now back there. I'm glad I had recently told her Salinda that we would have "the talk" about expectations once she was living here for two weeks. Saved my time and emotional energy.

Gabby is getting more and more fun and communicative every day. She's a smart little thing and very well aware of what is going on around her. Today when Salinda said it was time to go she did NOT want to leave. So Salinda tried the fake "I'm going to leave you" trick. Gabby simply said, "Bye bye." So that kind of backfired. it's fun that she doesn't want to leave.

I'm not all that excited about Bart leaving this coming week either. But we'll make it... we always do. There are a lot of single moms out there who do this every day, so I think i can do it for 6 days. But dangit, on top of all the stuff he does -- the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping kinds of things, the reality of it is that he's my very best friend and I just love being with him.

He used this story in his sermon today -- twice, once in each service, and I cried both times.

I'm sure we'll be fine being a part for the week but being inseparable for 72 years like that couple doesn't sound like a bad thing these days...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Why Do You Do it? Because The Next One Could be a Yolie

For those of you who read my blog and think "Wow, I wish I could travel like she does" -- well, you do, and you don't. I had an amazing time being away. Time with Bart in Nashville was fun. The time I spent with Cindy was awesome -- really good food, great conversation, a ton to learn and share. And then being in Central, SC always centers and settles me... being with people who I know beyond the shadow of a doubt have, and have always been, on my team of supporters since I was in my early 20s. We have had deep, authentic, encouraging, mutually beneficial (I hope) relationships for all of my adult life. Just being there provides me with a great deal of peace.

But when I come back the re-entry is so hard -- I have work to catch up on, things in the house need attention, the kids are wanting more attention than usual AND I have to clean up all the messes that were created while I was gone. So many things from so many different directions make me feel overwhelmed and it takes a few days for me to recover. When I travel back to back without enough time in between then I'm really messed up.

So, you ask, why do you do it? Why do you work in adoption? Why do you keep traveling around speaking when it's so exhausting? Why do you keep encouraging people to do this when it is hard?

If you have these questions you should meet Yolie. She explained to others in my training on Monday afternoon that she came to Georgia with her younger "Kicking and screaming" not wanting to be adopted AT ALL. Fast forward almost a couple decades and there she is, beautiful, super smart, wife to a great guy, mom to two adorable kids. a huge support to her mom Cindy, and a Master's Level Social worker who works for All God's Children. Her transition to adulthood was not smooth. Her life as a teen was not pretty for her mom. But she made it through.

Each time that I support a parent or write a book that helps someone decide to stick with a child or adopt one int he first place, I could be part of a story like Yolie's Those are the stories that keep me going. But you know what? I could plug in the name of a whole bunch of other kids who haven't yet "Turned out good" like Yolie and the fact is that they need parents too. They need to have someone in their corner as a child and as an adult as they figure things out.

And even the worst possible case scenario - the horror stories you read about -- do we really know what might have happened had those parents not adopted those kids?

I realize it's risky. But as Cindy pointed out, 1/4 of her kids are incredible young adults, contributing to society and living well. I have to believe that those kids would not be where they are as adults had Cindy not been their mom. It gave them the chance they need.

I believe it was Regina Kupecky who posted this on an online message board a while back. She said something to the effect that love alone does not heal children but that someone who loves them they cannot begin to heal.

More on this soon ...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Home Again Home Again

Dinner with Kyle and Christy was fun. Being with him as a 24 year old shows me that a lot of what I was trying to "fix" about him when he first moved in with us is simply his personality. Obviously at 11 it needed some maturity and refining, but it was really just him. But we were parents trained in how kids "SHOULD" be and that behavior modification was the way to get them to be who they should be. Kyle did well with Love and Logic parenting and I'm incredibly proud of the person he is becoming...

I then picked up Bart and we got home at 10 and had a bit of a communication breakdown over who was turning on the heat that goes to our bedroom. And since neither of us did AND both of us assumed the other had did it, we concluded that the heater was broken and had a very cold night.

Poor Bart has come home to a long list of things he has to do including a funeral before leaving on Monday for a week. I'm also swamped and we are having a guest over for dinner tonight who has never been here, so we have to get the house cleaned as well.

I have a full inbox and a lot of things to do myself so we're attempting to the avoid the "Why do I always have to do EVERYTHING?" argument. Anybody else ever have those with a spouse?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whew. Could someone please stop the world for minute so I can rest?

And I'm not even home yet. There has been no good wifi all day for me to use to update you.... but the day has been uneventful, though annoying. I am at a restaurant in Coon Rapids waiting to have dinner with Kyle and his wife, Christy and then I am going to go pick up Bart and we are finally heading home. Our journey began at 4:25 a.m.... it will end at 10:00 p.m. But I'm doing surprisingly well considering how much sleep I got after driving 7 hours yesterday in the rain.

I feel very refreshed by spending time with my friends. But now I have to go home to my kids who, as a group, did the following while I was gone:

Skipped many classes (as if the school doesn't notify us)
Stole from each other.
Stole from a stranger at the Y who I have to call tomorrow so we can pay him back.
Went to the crisis center for new medication (John)
Allowed herself and daughter to be picked back up and taken to her ex boyfriend's and now isn't coming back;
Went to a friends not only without permission but after told NOT to;
Stopped working his work job at school;
One decided they could choose not to come to church on Sunday;
and I'm sure there were no chores done and no dishes done, etc.

ANd now Kyle is here so bye ;-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Million Different Directions

Limited time at the computer this morning -- at a very cool coffee shop which is a Nazarene church on Sunday. Free wifi and Christian music and delicious food. Can't really beat that.

I am having such an amazing time with my old friends. In fact, I encourage you to find an old friend out there and reconnect -- it can be very soul-enriching.

Last night had dinner with the highly esteemed Rev. Dr. Robert Black, religion professor, church historian, author, and all around great guy and his family. However, seeing him in the roll of grandfather to a very interesting 3 year old was super fun. After having him wear the crown, this child announced during the meal, "I do not like adults!" She calls her grandpa B-O-B Bob. She is hilarious. I've known her mom since her mom was 7 or 8 and the whole full circle things is really cool.

Then I had time with Pete and Kim, my very good friends who I love so much, whose son passed away this summer. It was so good to see them and their daughter Ashley and their two new granddaughters that I had not yet met. Amazing to hear from them of their journey and how God has been with them through a very rough time.

I am richly, richly blessed with a lifetime of good friends.

Tonight I get to see my husband! He has been contemplating his mortality and we still haven't received more info about his possible brain tumor or whatever. I'm glad he's choosing to spend the night with me before he finishes up tomorrow and we both fly out at different times tomorrow.

But now my head is everywhere. I have 147 emails that need a response and am feeling quite buried... and I have 75 minutes until I head for lunch.

So some of my brilliant blog posts must be postponed again...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Late Breaking News

My beautiful daughter Salinda found out today that she passed her GED! I'm so proud of her! That means that 5 of our 6 who could have graduated or have a GED have done so!

And Jimmy who has done such a great job of helping out at home since school started has been waiting since June to start a job at the university. He has had many false starts but he just called me to let me know that he is supposed to show up at 7:15 in the morning to get his uniform. He's so proud of himself and we're so proud of him.

Even in the midst of lots of stuff that isn't perfect there is still SO ... MUCH... JOY!

I Think I'm Finally Here

So just to catch you up on where I am physically at the moment -- I am in a coffee shop in Central, South Carolina. I had an amazing day yesterday. Had breakfast with Cindy and the stuff we covered will take multiple blog entries. In fact, I should be jotting down thoughts of things that I learned from being with her so that I can turn them into future blog entries.

the opportunity to share matching tips with adoption professionals in the afternoon and then had some of the best Mexican food I've had in years at a tiny dive in Athens called El Zol de Zacatecaz. Oh. My. Goodness. It was exactly like I remember my Tacos de Carne Asada that I ordered at tiny taco stands when I lived in Mexico. It was SOOO good.

Besides that, I had a chance to talk with Emily Bailey, who is the director of All God's Children. Yes, this THE Emily that Cindy so often raves about. A super intelligent woman who totally gets it -- she is also Yolie's boss. For those of you who don't read Cindy's blog, Yolie is Cindy's daughter who was in the audience when I spoke in the afternoon. People like Yolie are why I remain passionate about what I do. More on that in another blog entry.

Emily and I had great conversation and then headed back to an evening with about 15 adoptive and foster parents. A great group -- very engaged, insightful, and with me the whole 90 minutes... a very fulfilling evening. I've developed a new presentation about Attachment, Anger and Arguing and I think it's a good one. There is so much that we need to do about OUR anger as parents and this has been neglected for a long time. Sure, we get it that the kids are angry, but what about us? We didn't sign up for this and now basically, we're mad. Maybe not all of us, but a lot of us. And mad is just the outside word to describe bitterness, frustration, disappointment, grief, loss, and a whole bunch of other junk that is buried way beneath the surface.

I then hopped in the car and drove 90 minutes to arrive at the home of my favorite professor from college and his wife. He married Bart and I and we have been friends now for almost 30 years. I have intentionally remained a part of their lives because they are incredible people. We talked until almost midnight and then I had a great nights rest.

For lunch today I met with very dear friends who I have known for over 20 years. Dan used to work with me when I was Dean of Students -- he was the Athletic Director and Men's Residence Life Coordinator at then Bartlesville Wesleyan College. I held their daughter, who is is a senior in college, the week she was born. He is now the Executive Director of the National Christian College Athletic Association and he and his wife continue to be amazing people and wonderful friends. Their nephew passed away this summer which motivated me to plan this trip -- and I will see his brother and wife tonight.

Being back with people who have known me through the stages of my life got me thinking a lot -- plus I've been driving a lot -- and that always gets me thinking. Which leads me to the title of this blog post. I think I'm finally "here" emotionally. The place I've been trying to get for 10 years. Sorry this is going so long, but I think it has a point that you may be interested in ;-)

Ten years ago we were finishing up our first five years as foster and adoptive parents. We had nine children. I was a disaster. I had lost my sense of humor. I was angry. I was bitter. I felt hopeless. I realized that the fun, energetic, happy, optimistic person that I had always been had morphed into someone I didn't recognize. I didn't like myself any more, I didn't like my kids at all, and I resented the heck out of my life.

I mean seriously. All I was trying to do was to be a good Christian, a good member of society -- someone who was taking care of legal orphans and doing my part. And I had become the victim of consistent verbal, emotional abuse by a group of kids who couldn't care less about me, were not grateful, and were not giving back. I committed myself at that time to wholeness and healing, no matter how long it took.

And then it got worse. The kids turned into teenagers and they made choices, and did things that made their lives harder for themselves and for us. Our safetly was in jeapordy. I became more of a victim. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

But I kept plowing through. I didn't give up that I would some day move beyond it and find myself. I made some poor choices in my journey, not looking in the right places always, but continuing to press forward.

I realized as I was driving today that I am finally where I wanted to be. No, I'm not perfect, and I still struggle. But I am settled in who I am. I am learning to manage my own emotions so that the choices of my children don't devastate me. I have been able, with the help of God and many other great people, to put myself back together again.

And one of my passions is helping adoptive parents do the same thing. My dream is to prevent them from having to go so far away from themselves like I did. And if I don't catch them before they do, I want to assure them that it is possible to get through some really hard stuff and still come out the other side healthy and whole.

I know that I will continue to have difficult things come my way. But I think I'm where I have been striving to be emotional for years. Now maybe I should head towards being where I need to be physically....

As soon as I finish this delicious blueberry/cherry smoothie.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Night -- Great Day Ahead

Cindy said I look great -- that I looked like I had lost weight -- etc. etc. and all I can say is that woman has a BAD MEMORY! ;-) However, SHE looks phenomenal -- she still looks 29, could outrun most of my sons, and has enough energy for 4 people -- which she needs raising those almost 40 kids.

As we talked I was thinking about how we started blogs -- it will be seven years in March -- and how I used to read her to be encouraged about how good her kids were turning out. Kids like Yolie and Daniel and Jesse are such an inspiration to me. However, the next several years have not gone so well for many of her kids because of their choices, and it has taken it's toll.

But if in reading your blog you can see the frustration, dismay, discouragement, and bitterness that has to nip at her heels 24/7, you need to know that in person she's still doing it. Sure, she's got some negative to say about the hell she's lived through, but she still gets up every day and does it for another day. She's still knowing that what she's doing matters to many of her kids -- and I see a future where she will find healing.

In fact, I see a future where we all will find that place for ourselves. I don't claim to know what your life is like or to say that mine is easier or more difficult than yours, but I do know that there is hope out there for us to put all of this junk together and make some sense of it some day. Isn't there an old hymn that says, "We'll understand it better when the mists have rolled away."?

Cindy cracked me up with a truly "DUH" moment last night when she said, "Well, you don't seem nearly as burned out or tired of it all as I do?" And I responded, "Ya think? I've been doing this with 12 kids for 15 years and you've parented 39 and been doing it for 38 years. You SHOULD be more tired than me!"

This evening I get to do a new presentation for parents that I'm calling Understanding Attachment, Anger and Arguing: How to Parent Teens with Humor. In fact, I better go finish it.

I am driving on to Central, South Carolina after I speak tonight to visit some of my favorite people, so if I don't ....

(note, Cindy called at this very moment and I left -- without hitting publish... and then this morning there was no signal for me to blog.... and so this -- written on Monday morning -- never go to you! So sorry!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm in Athens

I'm in Athens and Bart is in Nashville and a couple of my kids think they can do whatever they want while I"m out of town and they are really frustrating me. So for those of you who think all this travel sounds freeing and glamorous -- the truth is it's tiring and the kids' drama follows you.

I guess I should have known better.... but they did so well in August even not being in school. I suppose that if I leave 8 kids in town, 7 of htem at home, and 5 of them are doing very well I should be pleased with that and not focus on the two who think that they don't have to do anything that I say.

Salinda and Gabby went back up to Henry's for a visit. I guess I can't expect her to stay home when I'm not there but she seemed like she was really happy being home. Who knows.

Courtney is asking Bart and I to supervise visits between John and Isaac for her. John isn't allowed to come to the house so we will have to figure something out. But he has really burned a lot of bridges with both us and her....

Tomorrow afternoon I present to social workers, and tomorrow night to parents and then I'm off to my see my friends in Central.

Still have to finish my presentation at some point and I'm getting ready to take care of installing new software on my phone and computer so that I, too, can have a "cloud." Do you have a cloud yet?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Addressing Adoption Identity Formation -- Oct 29th in Plymouth

REGISTER NOW, SPACE IS LIMITED! “Addressing Adoption Identity Formation” in collaboration with Bethany Adoption in Plymouth, MN with Ted Thompson

Presentation: Adoption is a unique experience which often crosses familial, genetic and cultural lines. Whether a child is adopted within family or beyond family, there are milestones of awareness that adolescents face as they navigate their role within the new family structure. This training will explore some of the challenges both adolescents and adult adoptees face as they journey through the stages of their “new identity” formation. See attached flyer for more information.

When: Saturday, October 29, 2011 from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM

Where: Bethany Adoption
3025 Harbor Lane North, #316
Plymouth, MN 55447

Fee: $20 per person; $35 per couple;
CEUs are available for an additional $30. Certificates of Attendance will be given at the end of the training.

To Register: Please go to to register online.

First Full Day in Nashville

As you know, vacationing for me is tricky, but we had a good day yesterday. We spent the morning in the hotel reading (Bart) and working on my presentation. Then we had some decent Mexican food and he went to tour the Hermitage, home of the late President Andrew Jackson. That is the kind of thing he loves but it costs $ to get in and I would have been annoying and bored, so I stayed in the car and worked on my presentation. He had a great time.

We then headed for a Gigi's Cupcake, recommended by a Facebook friend. They were delicious -- I had a Carrot Cake Cupcake and Bart had an Italiam Cream Cake Cupcake and let's just say they were not on the approved list for diabetic food exchanges.

I then needed a very specific adapter before the presentation on Monday, so like an idiot we drove to the mall and to the Apple store where 4,247 people were standing in line for an Iphone 4S. Ok, maybe I exaggerated a bit, and I didn't count them, but there were a lot. We got the adapter, and then headed to Ri'Chards for dinner. I had looked it up on the internet and it sounded fun. I wanted live music without huge crowds and a lot of noise and lines and -- you know, the kind of stuff that you usually find when you get live music. And we found it.

Ri'chard himself performed for a bit, then another guy whose name nobody said, and then we heard the following two artists -- even heard these particular songs. Isn't technology cool? I looked them up while they were singing on my Iphone and then emailed the link to myself to share with you ;-)

We had yummy cajun food and listened to the first set (Danni Nichols) and the first half hour of the second set (Adam Pope) and then we were ready to go -- just as the place was getting crowded and wild ;-) So it was perfect.

Today we have a few plans -- not sure exactly what they will entail -- but for now I'm cleaning up email (it's really getting bad) and going to finish up my presentation. It's just fun to not be interrupted for a few hours.

Tomorrow I'm off to see Cindy!!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zero Kids Waiting October 2011

Can be found here.

Gonna Be Anywhere Near Toledo on November 5th?

This is going to be SOOOO fun!

Nashville, Tennessee

I'm here with my husband for two days in Nashville, but as is consistent with my personality, I just keep thinking of all the things I need to get done. I'm HORRIBLE at vacationing. I sort of have a twinge of Obsessive Personality Disorder and my current obsession is marketing this new book. I'm sure, as a reader of my blog or as a facebook friend, you haven't picked up on that. :-> (Did you know that is the emoticon for a sarcastic smile?)

I have installed Pay Pal on my Iphone and so when someone places an online order I get a text and that just makes me smile. It's so fun to be interrupted with good news like that.

One of the reasons I'm committed to marketing is that I really think this book is going can be life changing for a lot of parents. All of the really funny stuff in it keeps people reading, but the twelve tips are ones I've used in speeches for years and they really resonate with adoptive parents who have been trying long and hard for a long time.

There is a lot of stuff out there written for the new adoptive parent that is serious and provides all kinds of research, etc. And then there is the methodology stuff out there -- the how to get your kids to improve stuff. But this is a book from a completely different angle. This book is for the parent who has btdt for several years and NOTHING is working. It's for those who have become bitter and angry and resentful and sad and just need a different idea of how to take care of situations so they can take care of there kids. So it's not just about the paypal texts and a few extra bucks coming our way -- it's that I'm convinced that it can change the lives of parents whose children are not going to change much....

I also need to write up a "Parenting Teens with Humor" powerpoint for Monday night.....

I'd love some feedback if you have a sec.

First, what is something that I must do or see or eat in Nashville before we leave?

And, anything YOU would put into a presentation about Parenting Teens with Humor?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Did I Leave You Hanging?

Yesterday was just completely nuts nuts nuts trying to get everything done that we had to do before leaving town. I didn't take a minute to do anything but what I had to do -- so blogging wasn't something I did. We left at 7:30 p.m. and drove to St Paul to spend the night because my plane left this morning at 6.

Then this morning there wasn't enough time to blog between when I woke at 3:30 and when I got on the plane (can you believe the lines where uber long at 4:30 a.m.!?!?!) and then in Chicago when I had my layover blogger wasn't working.

Got to Nashville around 11:30 and then waited for Bart until he arrived on a different plane at 12:09 (we saved $100 this way). We then had delicious lunch at Darfons. I had a most incredible baked potato, completely loaded, for just $3.00 and we split an amazing chocolate cobbler that was to die for -- complete with Vanilla Bean ice-cream. It was beyond amazing.

We haven't heard a word about Bart's test results -- so we're trying not to think of it. He has had some moments where he has felt really horrible the past few days -- but he is fine now. I've been up since 3:30 though (I know I already said that but it bears repeating if it induces any sympathy at all) so we are going to take a nap.

And just so you know -- there are only 35 books left from the first printing. We have sold a lot as preorders. Twenty five of them are waiting for me to sell in Athens, GA on Monday. But there is an error in the first book that I will be correcting for the second printing -- so when I am really famous and those first editions are worth millions, you will have wished you were one of the people who had ordered one. (Coupon PREORDER is good for $4.00 until the 15th of October. That's in 2 days).

So just do it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


2 hour late start today. I slept 10 hours and still am doing the coughing, sneezing, runny nose exhaustion thing. fun.

Salinda is still here. Gabby still isn't. Salinda and I had a great talk yesterday over lunch and I feel I know a little bit about where she is coming from. She is maturing.

John has apparently found a place to stay for a while which is a relief.

Bart had further tests done this morning. We still don't know anything.

The books should be arriving today. You might want to use that PREORDER coupon at our online store and you'll save $4.00 for the next couple days.

Jimmy starts work on Monday! Yay for him. He was told back in April that the University wanted him to work there full time after he graduated in one of their residence hall kitchens. But a big remodeling project this summer got put on hold by the state shut down and so they are just now getting around to it. He has done a SUPER job of helping out around here which we will miss, but he has a great schedule -- 7:30 - 3:30, M-F, no weekends. He is working with a program for adults with special needs and he will be one of the best workers ever! I'm really proud of him for being patient and waiting this long. He was in the school work program for two years. He is very excited to be earning money.

We leave tomorrow night after confirmation for the Cities -- I fly out at 6:00 Thursday morning -- Bart a bit later ... we have a couple days in Nashville just relaxing before I head to Athens, GA to speak and Central, SC to visit friends while Bart attends a conference.

Now if I can just get healthy enough to enjoy it all!!!

Thanks for your concern and prayers expressed in emails and comments! They are appreciated.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Legal Aspects of FASD Training

We Survived...

the weekend is officially over and we survived, although there were several challenging moments. I now seem to have come down with a head cold -- did I whine about that yet?

Leaving in a couple days for Nashville, Athens, GA, and Central, SC where I will get to see Cindy and the lovely Sarah and Yolie as well as many many others who do not have blogs.... people that I have known and loved for years and years -- some of them as many as 30 years. Wow.

But between now and then there is a ton of stuff that needs to be done as always and several issues that need to be sorted out.

I'm sure that he probably isn't wanting this on my blog, but he announced it in church yesterday and he never reads my blog so I'm going to tell you. Bart had some blood test results on Friday that are requiring more tests. The doctor haphazardly mentioned that the last guy with numbers like that had a brain tumor -- a very treatable one, but non-the-less a brain tumor. Not exactly what Bart wanted to hear. So he goes back in for those tests tomorrow. As you can imagine there is a temptation to have great anxiety...

I stop my mind before it goes completely down that road or I know that I will lose it and fall in to a heap of messy slobbering snotty tears, and I just don't do that. Crying bores me.

There are times when I ask myself, "How can we possibly deal with one more thing" and then one more thing comes along.

I thought I had shared this YouTube with you guys, but I'm looking back and not seeing it. If so, it's worth a repeat. Hope it encourages some of you -- the song is "Strong Enough" by Matthew West.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Whew..... Today

Wow. What a day it has been. The Baptism was fine although Gabby was not wanting it to happen -- demonstrating her sinful nature I suppose. :-)

A bit of hisotry. Salinda had had Henry's mom bring her back here with all their stuff last night. They moved it all in. We thought it was a done deal, except we never really think that...

After lunch out with everyone today (both families), Henry and his sister and brother drove Salinda back here. And then they stood and argued until finally Salinda gave in and let Gabby go with him to his house. Unfortunately we have a trip coming up -- so I'm not sure how this all is going to go. We were so close to having things be drama free for a while.

John joined us this morning but is still homeless. We are not rescuing him.

Funny how life can be such a mix of ups and downs at the same time. It was great to have Kyle home and see him. It was very fun to have people together. It is not fun for us to watch the ramifications of our kids choices and how much pain they have to go through.

I have a headache. I wonder why.

Again many more pics on Facebook, but here are a few.. ANd so you know, my boys are so oppositional lately about having pictures taken I just decided it wasn't worth the extra stress. I know I'll regret it some day, but today I just had to get through....

Whew...... Yesterday

Yesterday was a long day. I was at the birthday party for a full 7 hours by the time we set up and had the party and cleaned up. It was totally worth it though as Isaac had a great time. Can you tell?

The day ended with his dad, our son, being homeless again and in a lot of trouble. Not sure what to do about it but the tears and the manipulation and the sad stories don't really move me much any more. Hope that doesn't sound callous. It's the whole "we didn't adopt kids to make them homeless" philosophy as it has to be balanced with the other kids in the home and what they have to go through.

But Isaac is by far the cutest baby in the world. I will share with you a few of the 200 pictures I took. 101 of them are on facebook if you want more ;-)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Crazy Days

Yesterday I left home at 6:30 a.m. I taught from 9-4. I drove home. I was TIRED. The class is great though -- lots of very cool people with tons of expertise exploring together a great curriculum to help them become more "adoption competent."

Today is Isaac's birthday party along with several other details. Salinda never did come home -- we had a plan to get her Thursday but she backed out. Because I'm never sure who is reading this I can't say much more about her situation. If you are a person who prays, you may want to pray for her though that she will know what the right thing is to do for her and Gabby and that she will have the courage to do it. I cannot step in and help her if she doesn't want me to. I've tried that and it's disastrous.

Kyle is going to be coming home -- his wife can't make it because she has her own family celebration today -- but it will be good to see him.

You may also want to pray for the birthday party today and baptism tomorrow -- if you're praying people -- that everyone can keep personal feelings aside and focus on Isaac today and Gabby tomorrow -- because it's supposed to be about them.

Time to move on to the myriad of events of this crazy day.... deep breath.....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Avoiding Drama

I'm still doing my best to not get drug into drama, but yesterday, once again, Salinda texts asking me to come get her, which I couldn't. Told her I might be able to try to come today but she said no - it needed to be yesterday and that she would find another ride. She promised to let me know if she was going to want me to come today.... but I heard nothing after that.

Got a call from John from one of his friend's mom's phone from a long time ago -- not sure who but that is how it was marked in my Iphone -- "John's Friends' Mom." He had a couple strange questions and offered no information. I asked no questions.

Right now I'm looking at the "cutest baby in the world" -- he's with us for the day. In two days we will be celebrating his first birthday!

So, we never did hear back from the social worker for the 16 year old boy and it has been three weeks today. I was thinking about sending this email to her. Let me know what you think.

Dear _______,

My email has not been reliable for the past few weeks, so please forgive me if you have contacted me and I have not responded.

I thought maybe you would appreciate this joke.

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who need closure and...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I didn't take a nap yesterday

So, since when is that big news? Well lately it is. I think my new medication is finally kicking in and I was able to stay up ALL DAY LONG. Huge accomplishment. ;-)

Hope I can do the same today as I"m heading to St. Paul for a staff meeting and have to leave early this morning.

Still not sure where John is. He is supposed to be a sponsor for Gabby's baptism Sunday but didn't show up for the meeting yesterday -- Salinda and her bf and his bro and sis all came down and were in town for an hour or so -- had the meeting, came by to see me, and then hung out a bit and left. Facebook status is back to single for both John and Courtney... I can't keep up! Our weekend should be nice and full of drama.

Bart is making swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes for about sixty people for Wednesday night supper at church tonight... so he was up until 12:30 working on that. I went to bed at 10:30 -- was just to tired to stay up and keep vigil...

I ordered the actual paper books that you can touch and hold in your hand yesterday. They should be here by Monday of next week or a bit after. Remember, coupon preorder here and save $4.00 If you've been meaning to do it soon -- just do it now!

Tony is here for his argument of the morning. He tries to make sure we have at least 6 a day about nothing. And if you think I can just ignore him, you're nuts. He badgers me for a reaction until I finally give him one.

Now I must awaken Dominyk who often the first words out of his mouth are, "Thanks a lot mom for ruining my day!"

Ah the joys....

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Contiuous Flurry of Activity

Was getting ready to come to my office this morning --- I only come here once a week and typically work from home -- but today was go to the office day so I was collecting my stuff and sorting through it during my normal blogging time.

Salinda is supposedly going to be here with her boyfriend to talk with Bart about the baptism on Sunday even though they are supposedly not together. Not sure if she's stay or not. She hasn't spoken to me or texted since the text on Saturday.

We don't know where John is. His gf texted yesterday that her dad had dropped his stuff off at our house, that she didn't know where he was, and that she was too stressed out to talk about it. We haven't heard from him. The birthday party for Isaac is supposed to be this weekend too.

Drama drama drama. I hate it and I'm not one to create it -- but it seems that it comes to me now.

I was telling Bart the other day that we probably better get used to being calm in the midst of a tornado because in 3 years we will have 11 adult children -- and many of them will probably be having drama.

I think the thing that annoys me more than anything is that my adult kids kind of have a remote for us. When they need us they grab the remote, flip us on and suddenly we exist. This is usually during times of stress or when they need something. The rest of the time we apparently do not exist, especially when things are going well.

Now I just have to get used to turning off my thoughts about them when they turn me off. Anybody mastered that yet?

Monday, October 03, 2011

The New Book is out on the Kindle!

In case you missed it buried in a post somewhere, I thought I should tell you here.

As I have said multiple times -- this is the book you guys have all been wanting me to write!

Has anyone downloaded it yet and started it? I'd love your feedback.

If not you can download it here.

Or, if you'd rather pre-order it, you can save by doing so at our online store. Check out the fun website about the book too! I love feedback!

Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center (FCARC) E-Newsletter

This is from Wisconsin and always has a lot of great resources. Check it out here.

Adoptees Have Answers Support Groups

Several Support Groups around Minnesota are for adult adoptees. Check them out here.

Everyone's Dragging this Morning

ON Saturday night four of our kids did an all night fund raiser to support teen homeless shelters. They built a "tent city" and then slept in cardboard boxes. This was the night after their high school homecoming... so they were TIRED. Last night a couple of them had reached the end of their endurance and it was not a pretty site. So this morning they are dragging and tired.

Still no word from Salinda though she did text Sadie about 5 last night asking, "Do you think Mom will still come get me" to which Sadie replied, "I don't know, text her." But she didn't.

I'm still dragging too. I sleep long and hard but wake up as tired as when I went to bed. Bart is tired of hearing me say how tired I am so I thought maybe I'd just tell you once again.

Today is clean my office day here at home -- to be followed by clean my office day at the office tomorrow. Jimmy is a great help with this project and there is a bit of hope that he actually may finally be starting a job soon, so I better get it done before he's off doing his own thing and not here to help me!

Dominyk may be playing his first football game tonight so I really need to get that camera lens replaced and now I've waited to long to get one online. Ugh.

Maybe Bart was right -- this blog kind of is like barf on a page sometimes.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

False Alarm?

As of Thursday night, I was going to pick up Salinda on Saturday morning. On Friday night she texted me that her bf's mom was going to bring her home on Saturday. At 4 on Saturday she texted that they weren't going to bring her after all that that she didn't know what was going on. I texted back asking if she was packed. Nothing. I texted back telling her that if I was going to be going up there that i needed to leave pretty soon. Nothing. I texted saying if I didn't hear from her by 5:30 that I would assume that she didn't need me to come there. Still nothing. In fact, I've heard nothing since.

I should know better than to get stressed about anything until it actually happens!

Today has been fine -- church, and then I rested, and I've been at the computer for a while this afternoon trying to get a few things done.

I do have new medication for my thyroid but it doesn't seem to be helping as much as I hoped. I guess it takes time to get regulated.

Yawn. Boring post. My life is annoying sometimes. This morning a couple of the boys were acting so nutty that I turned to the person next to me and said, "Have you ever felt like you were trapped inside a Dumb and Dumber movie?"

Welcome to my world.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Training in New Ulm

CSP9312: Caring for Children who have Experienced Trauma

October 22, 2011 (Pt. 1)
November 5, 2011 ( Pt. 2)
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Brown County Family Services
1117 Center Street
New Ulm, MN 56073

Many children in the foster care system have lived through traumatic experiences. Understanding how trauma affects children can help you to make sense of their baffling behavior, feelings, and attitudes. The workshop will offer skills and techniques to help you respond appropriately to children’s behavior and support them in developing healthy attachments and coping strategies. We will also learn ways to reduce the stress of parenting a traumatized child.

Barbara Jochum, M.S.W., L.G.S.W.
Ms. Jochum has been a foster care provider since 1996 for teenage boys and girls. She has her Master’s Degree in social work, and is a clinical social worker with Adult Mental Health at the St. Cloud Hospital. Ms. Jochum is also a certified facilitator for Family Group Decision Making.

Upcoming Trainings -- Minnesota

You may want to check these out.

Breaking News

We have news. First of all, Salinda is moving home with Gabby today. This brings about many feelings in me because this has happened before and it never seems to last more than a few days. She comes and stays a while, but then she is gone. So I have a dilemma. ANd while she is here she is not doing the things that I think are important for her to meld into our family system, but since it never lasts long, I don't deal with it all.

So I am asking myself if I should her the whole thing and have a long, emotionally difficult conversation to really explain what I think needs to happen if she moves in and potentially waste all that emotional energy because she is back out the door in another 4 days? Henry has broken up with her before, but when she and Gabby actually are away from him, then he wants them back.

But this time is a bit different. She has taken the last of her GED tests. She probably passed. She would like to go to college. SO maybe she will stay.

So if I put off "the conversation" thinking she might leave and then she develops habits of living here that I don't intend to continue, will it then become even more difficult to have the conversation.

I think I have decided that I am going to tell her tonight that in a couple weeks if she is still here we will start to talk about the future and that she can be a guest here for those two weeks. In the past she always acts like a guest here -- as if she shouldn't contribute much but expects to be included in everything the family does.

During this two weeks I would really like to focus on getting to know her as an adult and hearing about what she wants from life. So that is my approach for now. But to say that the whole idea doesn't add anxiety to my life would be a lie.

I am sure that I am not the only one who goes through all this. Lately Brenda, the Adoption Counselor (who I happen to have met in person and I think is a genius as well as just an all round wonderful person (and no, she didn't pay me to write that) has been writing about how parents who have survived trauma need to recover. So I know that there are now people out there writing about those years when things get really tricky -- the years where you have to help each adult child decide what is best for them while still deciding what is best for the kids still at home.

Bart and I were discussing this and talking about how Mike and John had multiple multiple chances at home. They stole from us, they lied to us, and in Mike's case, they refused to obey our rules. Making final decisions after giving them "one last chance" more than once was what was best for our family.

But Salinda hasn't had her chances as an adult yet. And just because we are tired now, and feel a bit abused by her older siblings, doesn't mean that she shouldn't have parents giving her the same chances we gave them. And in fact, the times that she has lived with us she hasn't done anything bad to us. She just hasn't done anything.

So, it's time for me to open my heart and our home once again to an adult child and see how things play out. It makes me nervous -- because the way of life she is accustomed too is very very different from the value system in our home.

But I need to take my own advice and, as one of the chapters in my new book says, I need to break things down into manageable pieces.

Speaking of that new book this is our new news. Not only can you preorder it at our online store (use the coupon preorder to save), you can now download it for the kindle! Also, if you're curious, there is a preview on the kindle site of the first few pages so you can see if you like it. I can't imagine how people wouldn't want to be a book that starts with having everyone join the author in repeating the words, "Morbidly Obese."

SO.... download it or order it today. And if you download it and want to write a review that would be awesome. My other books are also available for the Kindle. A Glimpse of God's Heart: How Trying to Change My Kids Changed Me and the first book, that I wrote with Bart, called "Out of Many One Family: How Two Adults Claimed Twelve Children Through Adoption." There are little sneak previews of each book if you click on the "look inside" feature over the graphic of the front page.

And one more thing. We never did hear a word back about the 16 year old. It's been over 2 weeks since our interview. I'm annoyed that there has been no contact. I expected better practice than that.

But maybe God knew that Salinda was going to be coming home to stay... who knows. I'm just going to try to take all this one step at a time.