Monday, January 31, 2011

Birthday Burger

Apologies for not blogging. I've been busy, distracted, and overwhelmed. I trained 9=5 Saturday and then drove home from there to attend a party at church until almost ten. Yesterday was a blur and today was worse. There was no school and another snow storm. I'm just getting more tired by the minute.

My plan is to go to eed early tonight and hopefully tomorrow I will have some semblance of my groove back.

Did take a break today to go out to lunch with Tony, Bart and one of our assistant pastors to celebrate Tony's birthday early. Neither he nor I will be home this weekend as he has a youth event and I am taking Sadie and her friend Sara on a trip to Revolve in Kansas City.

Tony wanted to have his picture on the wall for eating a double Wildcat Burger. He did it! That's my boy!

Friday, January 28, 2011


Wow, what a long but great day. Preadoptive training. Great crowd. Good conversations. Excellent day.


Going to bed early.

I'm older than I used to be.

But aren't we all!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Home Again... until Tomorrow

Arrived home last night to an interesting array of issues, none of them major -- just the day to day stuff of parenting teens.

Today I may actually head to the coffee shop for a couple hours so that they don't think I"m dead. After going 2-3 times a week for years, I haven't been in 2 weeks... I love going there, but the past couple weeks I've either stayed home on purpose or I've been on the road.... I'm sure they miss me. ;-)

Something has occurred to me lately that I've been using as I am working with my new case load of families and that is how little kids/teens really know what they are doing or what they want. Especially those who have been in the system for a long time become very manipulative and will change their story to please whoever they are talking to. ANd for some reason the system is all about listening to them.

Many teens in the foster care system have a ball with the ways in which they manipulate the people around them. They have teams of people who are getting paid to help them, and they often see it as an opportunity to see what they can get. Thus they repeat information incorrectly and set people up to work against each other. They become masters of manipulation.

One of the things that I have been saying lately is that we almost need to ignore the specifics of what the kids say. Now, I'm not saying that we don't listen to the words, but honoring their requests or acquiescing to their demands probably isn't wise. Most teenagers, for example, don't want to be adopted, but they have no plan for after they age out of foster care. Do we listen to them and say, "oh, ok, no big deal. Just stay where you are?"

These are questions I've asked for years. Yes, independent living programs and those kinds of arrangements are good for some kids, but most kids would do much much better in homes.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

10 Tips for Good Advocates in the Schools

Having trouble with IEPs and school issues? Some great tips here.

More Trainings in MN

MIghty Long Day

Yesterday I was so tired I ended up in a hotel alone and all i could manage to do was go to bed at 8:30! I started off dropping the kids off then drove 2 hours, worked at a Perkins for a couple hours, had two back to back meetings, drove 20 minutes, had a home visit, drove another 90 minutes or so, had another home visit, and then came back to the hotel and worked a bit before heading to bed.

I'm finding the families I'm working with to be great people and the social workers to be wonderful as well but having everyone and so much information thrown at me at the same time can be overwhelming. I continue to have many emails to process which is difficult if I am not at the computer.

Today I get to spend more time at the computer and less driving as I head home. I will head to my office to work a while, pick up some stuff, and make some calls and then I'll head to a home visit, and from there drive about 45 minutes and be home!

As much as I need breaks, I always love coming home as I miss Bart and the kids when I'm off by myself.

Things seem fine at home, I"ve checked in with Bart, so I guess I'll just relax and head on with my day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Miscellaneous Ramblings on a Busy Morning

Some Random Thoughts:

I bought an FM Receiver for my Iphone yesterday. My kids have been very solemn in the mornings lately and often a bit crabby (I know, I know, typical teenage behavior). But I don't want to be crabby in the morning so I have created a happy playlist in my Itunes and in hte morning we are going to be singing happy songs to my playlist which is going to be played through the speakers throughout the van. Well, I'm going to be singing. But they are going to be hearing the words whether they want to or not:

WOrds like:

I'm Sticking With You!


I Don't Wanna Gain the Whole WOrld and Lose my Soul


I'm Diving In (to life)

When they complain about my music I am going to encourage each of them to come up with a playlist of songs they like that will have the same effect -- a positive start to the day.


WE did what the officers asked on Saturday night and Bart texted Mike to let them know that the police were here and there was a warrant out for his arrest. Mike texted back, "And????"

Bart just told him we were doing as we were told. Sigh.


I'm heading out of town today. Won't be back home until tomorrow around supper time. I'm finding I enjoy life more when I'm not at the computer all the time. Driving time gives me time to reflect and thing -- but then I get way behind on the things I'm supposed to do at the computer. Could anyone simply add about 6 hours to each day? I think I'd be able to get caught up with some things then.


I had my lap band filled yesterday and the doctor bent the needle while it was in my stomach after choosing not to use anesthesia. The needle is about 4 inches long. I wanted to take a picture of the needle for you, but that is a bit too socially inappropriate, even for me. But I razzed the doctor and told him I'd blog it. So, he BENT the NEEDLE in my stomach people!


My desk is in shambles. But then again, if I'm not here often....


ANd I'm off....

Monday, January 24, 2011

February Trainings from MNADOPT

Click here for trainings by MNADOPT...

A Great Video

I think this is really powerful and maybe it's something you need to hear today...

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Much Better...

Yesterday was a much better day. Both church services were great and then we had pizza out with lots of cool people and took the kids to a movie after that. That led up to youth group where everyone but Wilson was gone. He, Bart and I had dinner out. Our friend Kendra showed us an Iphone app at lunch that allowed me to warp Wilson's face....

Came home and worked on a fun project for a while at the computer -- something I haven't done for a few weeks. I got all my work hours in this week with time to spare so I was excited about that.

Have been continuing my Isaac therapy -- he's losing some of his hair, but so interactive and smiley! It's not the greatest picture, but it gives you an idea. Every night he sits on my lap and we talk. He coos and gurgles and makes all kinds of baby noises but the expression on his face changes as he talks and it's so cute -- he really believes we're having a conversation. Would be interesting to know what really goes on in that little baby head....

This morning I've already had a great workout and I don't have any meetings today with the exception of one doctor's appointment to have my lap band filled. I haven't had it filled for almost 3 years, so it is a weight loss tool that I haven't been using. Hopefully it's going to help as I have been doing fairly well with this low-carb diet.

Though I have asked myself the question, "Is there life after carbs" many many times. I mean really, carbs are... well.... good. But If I don't think about it I'm fine. I'm not hungry -- if you eat only protein you don't tend to be ... so if I focus on other things it goes well. I believe I lost 3 or 4 pounds this week, but who knows if it will show up on the scale....

I'm all pumped up today -- got those endorphins flowing and lots of energy. We'll see how long I can make it last ;-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well apparently last night was the night everyone who typically breaks rules... not in big ways I guess (except one kid, he might have been partying when he was supposedly at a friends) but ten minutes late here, 15 minutes late there. And while I was up worrying about them the police came by to see if Mike was here. Apparently there is another warrant out for his arrest... It's the same nice police woman who has been here several times. I think about 4 in the past year. It was nice to see her except that this is the second time that she has visited with me in my pajamas after 11....

SO I didn't sleep all that well and now we are all getting up for church.... well, almost all of us. And it's 15 below. Yikes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Criminal Behavior

Last night after I had a fairly decent day, I had to go out in the cold at 9:30 to give rides when I didn't want to. And then, I got a call from a mother indicating that one of our children had stolen her son's Ipod. He of course, had lied about it, and finally admitted to having it and giving it another kid who wasn't home.

I had to go to bed figuring out how to approach the situation and how to get it back so we don't have to come up with money to pay for it.

So this morning it's all about how bad I am and how he's going to kill me. Yeah, that's the answer all right -- you can solve all the problems you have regarding stealing and lying by killing your mother.

He said, "I don't care if I get arrested. I can spend a F**** six months in Juvy. No big deal.

Bright bright future ahead....

i'm simply shaking my head.

Friday, January 21, 2011

For Current and Former Foster Teens

ATTENTION CURRENT and FORMER FOSTER TEENS: We're looking for a few good words! PLUS, you'll have a chance to win an Ipod Shuffle and other prizes by sharing your thoughts with us.

It's simple: just write a short response (100-200 words) to the questions below (answer as many as you like). Then, send your responses to by Jan. 31, 2011 to be entered in the drawing for your chance to win! Winners w...ill be chosen randomly and your response may be included in a new book for foster parents by EMK Press.

1. What has been most challenging about being in foster care?
2. Who has positively impacted your life the most since you entered care?
3. What advice would you give to other kids living in foster care?
4. How has living in foster care changed your life?
5. How can foster parents best help the children they care for?
For more information, visit


Yup, it's cold. It's cold even for Minnesotans. I think Bart said -27. Now folks, that is COLD. My goal is to not leave the house today... Except maybe if Bart coerces me I might head out for lunch. I have a ton of email to catch up on after all my traveling this week.

While sometimes travel is a hassle I find myself much more balanced when I leave town more. Driving gives me thinking time and, in the case of this week, quality time with Jimmy. I'm planning to take one of the kids with me each time I make that trip as otherwise it's a long long drive alone.

This coming week I have to travel a lot as well. I enjoy leaving but I also enjoy being home more when I'm not here ALL the time.

So, today the kids had a late start, now we're getting them up and ready to go. Always so much to do...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A "Seasoned Professional"

Yesterday I attended team meetings for children in residential treatment who I met for the first time. Today I will meet the family who is planning to adopt them. During the half hour with one of the kids I thought at the end... wow, if I could have only had a video of that 30 minutes. I could really have taught a seminar that lasted 6 hours based on the various things that happened in that conversation alone.

I realized at the end of my afternoon that I have become what people would call a "seasoned professional" which is scary on several levels. First of all, it means i'm dang old, which isn't news to you but catches me off-guard sometimes. You can't be one unless you've been around a while, so that must mean that I am old.... It was also a troubling realization because I have become more and more aware of the fact that in order to become the person that I currently am, I had to go through a lot of hard things.

But as I sat in the room I realized that I had a unique perspective -- much different from those that were held by the people around the table. Not only was I a parent of a child with mental health issues, but I was also a social worker. Not only had I parented children very much like the ones I was visiting, but I had visited them in residential treatment and navigated that maze.

I was the family's advocate and adoption worker. That was my role. But I was also a person who could because of the many things we've been through as a family, offer insights and suggestions about all different pieces of the process.

I realize that there is a risk -- I may be biased or side too much on the side of the wrong person, in someone else's opinion. But I had many thoughts and emotions as I sat there yesterday, some of them almost like flashbacks, that caused me to see things differently. I can't help but think that in the long run it is going to be helpful.

I never set out to be a seasoned professional. It wasn't my goal or plan. But I guess I'm here now. And whether it's where I planned to be or not, I am seeing ways that it may actually be helpful to a person or two...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

And home safe and sound

I have a better blog post brewing.... but wanted to let you know that we're back home. Had a productive and very good trip.... Back on the road for a home visit, but then I get to be home for four whole days before another marathon session...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here, Safe and Sound

Jimmy is a great travelling partner. We got to St. Paul on time, had a great meeting, and then headed for Duluth, stopping for supper and arriving at the hotel so I could plunge into my inbox.... I'm starting to get a bit weary but continuing to push myself.

Just got a call that Ricardo isn't feeling well.... Bart has gone to a neighboring town to pick him up from the wrestling meet. He refuses to eat because he wants to make weight -- even though the coaches and his parents tell him continuously he's not doing things right... we are hoping that is all it is.

I was feeling a bit weary so headed down to the fitness center and worked out for 25 minutes. Shocked? So am I....

So You Don't Worry....

Jimmy is going with me on a trip up north for work. We will be leaving in about 20 minutes and get home tomorrow night. I will try to post from the hotel tonight, but if the roads are bad and we are having trouble getting there it may be late and I may not remember....

If I die, though, Bart knows the password to my blog. So if nothing is here, then I'm alive. ;-)

Have a super day everyone. Catch up soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adoption Tax Credit

If you have finalized in the last few years, you need to know that you can apply old tax credits and have a substantial tax refund... if you haven't heard already!

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Jackson Hewitt have partnered to help adoptive families understand the Adoption Tax Credit. For tax tips from the professionals, please view this video produced by Jackson Hewitt.

Jackson Hewitt is also offering a coupon for $25 off tax preparation services. For every coupon redeemed, Jackson Hewitt will make a donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Download your printable coupon at

This year, dramatic changes benefit adoptive parents, so it is important to understand the new tax laws, and to consider consulting a tax professional.

Zero Kids Waiting (MInnesota Adoption Resource Exchange Newsletter)

This has a lot of good stuff in it. Check it out.

Last night

The little guy I blogged about in April of 2009, a friend of Wilsons, moved away but is back in town. They remembered this night so well that when he an another buddy of Wilson's were invited to spend the night last night (no school today) they wanted to replicate the event.

The boys are so cute. I said as we walked in with them, all a different race, that maybe we should make the waitress guess which one of the kids was ours. He said, "I'll tell them it's me and that I'm adopted!"

He also did a little more conjecturing about waitresses. He said, "Look at that one. She looks a little down. I think she needs a man."

I said, "Did it ever occur to you that she might now view you as a man."

He quickly retorted, "Well then, maybe she needs a pre-teen!"

Here, I Am, Lord

Yesterday we had a couple of exceptionally good worship services at church. I am a person of adventure and I love new and exciting things. In fact, I look forward to the idea of change. When I was laid off from PFRC in December, I thought maybe God had an exciting NEW thing planned for me. And while I am very thankful that He so quickly provided me with another job very much like my old one, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't something new.

Grant it, it is a nice confirmation that God wants me doing something that I am very good at and that can help kids and families, but new is so fun! I'd have been thrilled, for example, if He had suddenly found a perfect job for Bart in an African seminary.... yup, I'm that nuts. I just LOVE new things.

Yesterday when I was sitting in church we were singing the song, "Here I am, Lord", one of my very favorites that I first heard at Bart's United Methodist ordination service. The lyrics are powerful, so you should read them before I go on.

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.

I who made the stars and night
I will make the darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

I the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people's pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone
Fill their hearts with love alone
I will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

I will hold your people in my heart...

As I was singing this song I was thinking about all of the things I would LOVE to have time to do. All the needs out there that I would love to form programs and design plans to fill. All the people that I want to influence outside of my job and family.

And then it hit me that I really didn't have the privilege of going out a few times a week to "do ministry." Even though we are both paid to do our jobs, what Bart and I do is a full time ministry. And our children, even though they are OUR children, they are our ministry.

And by the time we do those things marginally well, there isn't time to add anything else. We don't have the luxury of a neat safe home where we can enjoy calm and relaxing times that recharges us to go outside our home and "do ministry." I realized, as I sang, that my entire life is ministry.

It was a sobering thought. And I confess that as I sang those words, and meant them, that tears fell down my cheeks (which happens very seldom to me in public). Because I realized that as I sang, "I will go, Lord, where you lead me" that it wasn't going to mean a new exciting opportunity. It wasn't going to mean a foreign country or a new organization to volunteer with.

When I sang, "I will go Lord" I was singing about heading to places I really have no interest in going.... like upstairs to break up a fight, or down to the school for a meeting for a child who has been suspended, or to court with a son who is heading to jail.

And so I am working today to embrace a calling that isn't quite what I had envisioned. The choices that we have made mean that every minute of our lives is full of meaning and ministry and that I need to be content for that to be all I expect myself to do. It hardly seems enough, with all the needs that are out there, but our 12 kids, Bart's church, and my two adoption jobs just plain take all the time there is.

SO...... (again with tears) I type these words as I sing them in my heart:

Here I Am, Lord,
it is I, Lord
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
where you lead me....
I will hold your people in my heart.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moments LIke These

Last night the Coffees were here for dinner and for some reason it was a very mellow night for all of our kids. We had dinner, visited a while, and even got to play a board game!

We were sitting in the living room and Bart was holding Isaac and Wilson was in there and if you have seen Wilson or picture of him, it's amazing how cute he is. There are times when I catch myself just staring at him because he is truly such a beautiful child. He was in there with his buddy who comes from one of those calm families -- two parents, one son, one daughter, both parents teachers, mellow, organized, etc. He likes to come to our house. He thinks it is exciting.

Isaac loves Wilson and he was smiling at him, and Wilson was smiling back, and I looked at Kari and I said -- these are the moments people don't blog about. Sure, once and a while we remember to stick something positive in there, but in reality there are many many moments in our days when we can feel a great sense of reward in what we do. They vary in when they poke out of the mayhem, and sometimes they even surprise us, but they are there.

Or maybe it is human nature for people to read both positive and negative and only pick up on the negative. Blogs over the past five years -- those adoption blogs that tell scary stories of aggressive kids, danger, and stress -- also have posts of cookie baking, kids success at sports and school, adult adoptees who have become very successful, and all kinds of other good stuff buried in the stress.

Sometimes when I am feeling resentful and frustrated I get stuck in a spot when I forget about the good stuff, and that's a bad place to be. I need to remember the moments and it makes it all worthwhile.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How long does it take to drive 90 miles?

Well apparently five hours. Last night. Yes. Twin Cities. Trying to make it home to be Ricardo and Leon's parents for wrestling night. They are both having pretty good seasons-- Leon's better than last year, Ricardos not as good. I can tell you and them why, but you probably aren't that interested, and they sure aren't interested in my opinions.

Anyway, Bart and I were doing a training yesterday afternoon and left early to be sure and not make it. But we got caught in Friday night rush hour in the middle of a snow storm and it took over 4 hours to get home, five all together after we stopped to eat. We had some awesome friends (thanks Tim and Sue) who were able to pinch hit for us....

There was a brief time when I had Bart's phone in one hand and my phone in the other and I was trying to coordinate everyone who went from one place or another and had all these plans. Several arguments and conversations later we had everyone situated and settled down for a very long drive.

I have an amazingly patient husband though and he handled it all very well, getting us home safely only about 2 hours and 30 minutes after we had planned.

Sometimes we just can't win for losing. We plan so hard to be where we are supposed to do and do what we need to, and things happen. But at least we've been having minor failures consistently for long enough that we are getting accustomed to it ;-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Saying...

Kari and I were talking this morning about how we really thought our whole Y episode and the telling of it was way funnier than y'all did. She says maybe we're wasting our good material on you. I say that it is just that we have set the bar so high that you have come to EXPECT us to be hilarious. (hmmm. Interesting self-image I have, huh? I think my parents overdid it on the self esteem building stuff).

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was out of the house by 7:25 and didn't arrive back home until 9:15. It was a long day, but a good one. I also have started a new diet that is really not fun, but as long as I block it out and don't think about a certain food group I do ok...

Another full day today... Busy busy work stuff but part of my day I get to spend alone in the car with my husband. That's going to be good. We need it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is How MInnesotans (who are former Guatemalans) shovel

Jimmy never wears pants. He did not pose for this picture. This is how I found him shoveling. Short sleeve t-shirt. Shorts. Snow boots. I kid you not.

A Tit for a Tat

Maven's Word of the Day asks and answers this question:

Why is retribution or a fair exchange "tit for tat"?

Both tit and tat are archaic words meaning 'a light blow'. The entire expression thus means 'a blow for a blow', like 'an eye for an eye'. Both words were used as verbs, too: a popular song of the late sixteenth century had a refrain, "Come tit me, come tat me,/Come throw a kiss at me."

These words are probably of imitative origin, with a vowel variation found in other words expressing striking such as tip and tap or pit-a-pat. The tit is not related to other tit words, such as the ones (each of independent origin) meaning 'a small bird' (e.g. "titmouse"), 'a breast', or the first element of "tit-bit" (in America usually euphemized to "tid-bit," but not related to the 'breast' word).

The phrase tit for tat is first found in the sixteenth century. It is probably a variant of tip for tap, of similar origin but found a century earlier. The tip in this earlier phrase is the same word as in the baseball expression "a foul tip."

As you know, I am a loving person and I attempt to always treat my friend Kari with utmost respect. So last week, when something very funny happened at the Y, I chose not to blog it. She, however, decided that she finds it necessary to blog this story today.


Last week we are on the way to the Y and she was telling me about her new work out clothing that she had bought at Sam's club. No, that's not the funny part, except that yeah, it's funny that she shops for clothes at such a classy place. But anyway, I digress already....

So she is telling me about her new yoga pants and her shirt that says "Breathe" (and no, that isn't the funny part either, but yeah, I know, dorky, huh? You wouldn't caught me dead with ANY saying plastered across my chest but she is always decorating that part of her anatomy with things like words or coffee cups or colored splotches or whatever...

So we get into the special needs locker room and she pulls off her jacket, and in Vanna White fashion, moves her hand in front of her chest to display her shirt. But apparently the cold weather had ... ahem.... affected her and she basically was drawing attention to ... let's see ... the affected pieces of anatomy with great enthusiasm.

So this morning when she said she was going to notify y'all about what I did, I simply said, and then I'll tell MY readers about the Breathe shirt.

A tit for a tat.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No Two Are Alike

It's still snowing. It has been snowing since I woke up yesterday morning. There were already feet of snow in our yard when this started falling. It's falling lightly though, so it's not accumulating tons, but there is still quite a bit out there.

I'm sure I have blog readers who don't believe in God so you can ignore this post but at Bible study Thursday the comment was made, "It's amazing to think that God creates each snowflake unique." And to think of how many trillions of snowflakes have fallen on us this winner -- that none of them are alike -- how can I not worship a God who did that? The snow is actually really beautiful, but there is just a lot of it. We're used to it, unlike Cindy who can't even get off her property. We probably got as much snow in the past 24 hours as they did and it has fallen on feet of snow, but we have snow plows, know how to drive in it, and are used to it. They are both thrilled (the kids) and traumatized (everyone else ;-)

Whenever it snows like this, though, Kari can't come to the Y and for some reason lately if she doesn't go I can't make myself go. So I treated myself and stayed in bed way longer than usual....

Now I have to cram more hours into my work day but hopefully I won't be exhausted if I slept this late...

I have finished my book for this contest. The deadline is the 15th....

Monday, January 10, 2011

A different start to my day

Got up at 4:30, headed out to start the van, finding yet more snow had fallen, came in to let the van warm up and got a text from Kari saying her husband had to plow this morning and therefore she couldn't go to the Y. Bart was already up not feeling well and I wasn't feeling the best either. I debated going back to bed, believing I would really regret it if I did, but apparently it is what my body needed because after another 45 minutes of sleep and 3 trips to the bathroom I was feeling a lot better.

I had worked yesterday and don't like doing that... but since I hadn't done much on Saturday, I needed to catch up some. I have a lot to do today as well and need to dive in and do it....

In going back over the first week of my goals, I accomplished many of my objectives for the week. I have spent time with Rand, John, and Courtney alone this month to help them set some of their own goals. Our time together has been very good. Bart and I had 2 lunch dates alone last week. We had a family movie night. I completed my exercise goals.

Now if I can just manage my time a bit better this week so I don't get to the end of the week and have to work a hundred hours in a day (Ok, so that's hyperbole) life will be better.

HOw's everyone else doing with New Year's Resolutions?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

How Long Can We Hold it Together?

Well as a family we managed to get up and out the door for church. We all managed to be appropriate for first service.... then we managed to make it through the Sunday school hour ... we managed to make it through 2nd service (I was holding Isaac - oh my was he cute). Then we went out for Tacos for lunch. Everyone did great there. On the way home I was commenting to Bart how well things went.

Then we got home and within 10 minutes two quite tall, quite over 18, quite big guys decided to start screaming at each other and punching at each other. No thank you. I didn't step between them. If one of the kids were a minor or if they both were, maybe, but if two adults go at it, I'm staying out of the way.

By the time Bart got down there the two of them were done and they'll be buddies in an hour, but good grief the tempers flared and they were acting like very young children who had a toy taken away....

So I guess then answer is 4 hours. That's how long we as a family can hold it together.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Not Quite Succeeding

If you've been reading the past few days you know that I've been trying to do more praying and less talking. Well, last night I didn't quite do that.

We have two daughters. One is eighteen and out of the house. One is 16 and very much here... whenever she has to be. She is a GREAT kid. Seriously. But she has a character flaw. When she screws up, it is NOT her fault and she cannot make herself do what she is supposed to do. I have tried to parent her a bit differently than her sister and to talk more and negotiate more, but sometimes I have to put my foot down. She needs to learn to accept authority.

This past week has been a hard one because she has been stuck in that place where she can't move forward. And I haven't pushed her, I've prayed for her and said little. But last night she wanted something from me so she had to talk to me. And I did well for a while until I realized what was happening and felt I had to explain it.

I figure an apology that is insincere is better than refusing to apologize at all, so I accepted it but then I asked a few follow up questions and could tell she still isn't understanding it.

So I guess now I need to add a prayer for myself when I pray for them. Maybe I should just pray that God shuts my mouth.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Without Commentary

Well, my first day of talking to God instead of my kids about their behavior was an interesting one. it sure made for more peace around here on what could have been quite the day. Three kids had problems in school yesterday, one of them pretty severe, and I have not yet spoken to said person. I have done a lot of praying. Another kid is in the habit of ignoring us. I delivered the news that he would not be doing what he planned tonight because he ignored us without commentary.

Hey, I just realized that that is probably my biggest challenge... the commentary. I do not deliver the facts without commentary. I have so many things to say about everything. For example, the message is this. You need to do your math. But often I can't stop myself with that. It has to have commentary. About their current grade, how if they don't get it up it will affect their GPA, how that is going to mean they can't get into college, and then, of course, it's the flipping burgers for life threat. Really, Claudia? No wonder they stop listening to you. Too. Many. Words.

So this is what I have been doing it. I say to them, "You need to do your math." And then I pray, "God, please help so-and-so to remember that they really need to get their grade up. Help them to see how important it is for them to get a good GPA so they can go to college. Help them to live with the future in mind, not just the present. Change his/her heart, God. Please."

I don't know if it is working -- and that is the hard part. To my knowledge there is no instrument that can measure a change of heart. So that is frustrating for me. But it will be interesting to see what the Creator of the Galaxies can do with them if I can stay out of it and simply ask Him to work.

Day two. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Upcoming MN Trainings and Webinar

I believe Webinars are available to anyone -- even if you don't live in MN.

Check it out here.

An Epiphany on Epiphany

If you google define epiphany there are four definitions

1. a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.

2. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity.

3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

So today, on definition number 1, I had a definition number 3. ;-)

I read one sentence this morning that got me thinking about my kids. I have been so frustrated with the fact that I can't seem to get them to turn the corner where they care more about their future and their life than I do. And some of them are getting a bit old and that needs to happen for them soon. All of our kids but two will be 16 or over by March (can you believe that???) and other than Kyle, who is not living at home, don't seem to be at that point yet. Their day to day comfort (at my expense) seems to be their only preoccupation.

But today it hit me that God is the only one who is going to be able to change these kids. And my words seem to have an opposite affect on them that what I intend. Instead of motivating them, they push them in the other direction. So, here is my epiphany that happened on Epiphany:

What if I talked to God more about my kids behavior and choices than I talked to my kids about them? I wonder if this would make a difference. It actually couldn't hurt, really, because I'm beating my head against the wall. And I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, God might be able to do a bit more than I can. :->

So it's my goal to do two things. One is to come up with a list of specific things that I want to see happen in the lives of my kids -- little things -- one for each -- and I'm going to pray that God works in their lives to make that one change. It's going to be kind of an experiment -- not to test God's ability -- but to boost my own faith.

If you've never tried praying specifically, you should give it a shot. I think we want to make excuses for God to let Him off the hook if He can't handle our requests. Things like "well God can't do it if they don't cooperate" or "why would God care about that little part of my life." So in all of our excuses we help out puny little God who can't handle my requests. God hardened and softened hearts in the Old Testament. Can't he do that in my kids?

I'm joining a book study, not led by me, with some women at church and we are going to read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have read the intro, preface and first chapter this week in preparation for tonight and the first chapter is all about recognizing how powerful God really is. And yet I still find myself making excuses for Him and not wanting to ask Him for things He might not be able to handle. What in the WORLD am I thinking? ;-)

The second thing that I am going to attempt to do -- and I will probably fail more times than I succeed, but if I even do it once a day it will be better than nothing -- is to stop myself from saying something to my children and instead pray asking God to help them. I wonder if asking God to remind them to do their chore or care about their homework or stop spending time with a friend that is a bad influence might be more effective. I'm certainly getting nowhere lately.

Has anyone ever tried this? Anybody want to try it with me?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

When Resentment Rears It's Ugly Head

I know I have blogged about it before. In fact, I've blogged about it more than once. Multiple times even. Because I think that battling down this monster is one of the toughest things I have to do. I battle it all the time and sometimes I'm not successful. Like yesterday. I was beat down by the whole thing.

It started with thinking my kids changed my ITunes Password. Turns out it was a stranger -- they hacked in to steal all my Itunes gift money. I should have just taken the time to spend it. I'm sure Apple will work that out for me, but even when I found out that it wasn't my kids I was resentful because I live in a place where it could have been.

And then I let myself go down a very long road where I list all the reasons why I have every right to be resentful. And that never goes well.

So this morning, on the exercise bike with no earbuds to listen to sermons or songs (yes, this is the 6th pair that has been stolen in as man months), I started to ask myself how to battle resentment and decided to tell myself a few things on my blog and let you read it if you wish.

There are a few good suggestions here but let me add a few more. Most of this you've heard me say when I speak, or read here or in something else I've written, but I need to hear it myself, so let me be repetitive.

When I start to get resentful, here is what I need to do:

1) Remember that I can only control me. I have been trying to find the quote, but I am almost sure it was Deitrick Bonhoeffer who, when in prison, was commenting to his captors who also tormented him. He said something to the effect of how he could not control what they did to him. He could not stop them from mocking him, beating him, etc. But what he could control -- and what they could not -- was his response to what they did to him. And he responded graciously. Sometimes when I am caught in a place where I feel I am being tortured by my children (not a good place to be in by the way) I look to him as my role model and thing to myself, "I cannot control what you do to me. But I can control how I respond to what you do to me."

2) Take the word should out of my vocabulary. My kids should be grateful to us for what we've done to me. My kids should take responsibility for their own actions . My kids should do their part. My kids should acknowledge us as their parents. My kids should be respectful. My kids should care about how I feel. My kids, especially if they are legally adults, should clean up after themselves. ANd I have about 300 more I could list here. And we could all go on, couldn't we? Maybe some of you have spouse issues. My wife should..... My husband should...... or what about friends? pastors? neighbors?

Isn't amazing how we all know what everyone else should be doing? Tony is one of the funniest kids that way. In fact, his special ed teacher referred to him as "missy" because he is such a gossip. He always has his head in everyone else's business and knows what they SHOULD be doing. It's such a stark contrast to the fact that he almost never does what HE should be doing.

Sometimes I catch myself acting like Tony. I wallow in a puddle of self-pity about what everyone else should be doing and forget that my job is to simply do what I should be doing.

3) Focus on the good. Counting my blessings, looking for good things, and being grateful always transform my thinking and make me less resentful. And there is always something good there if I look for it. But often I am filling my head with the bad junk instead of the good. I can dwell on the little things that are bugging me, or I can look at a few of the big things that aren't. And since I have a husband who does all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, his own ironing, and a good share of the laundry and cleaning, I always have one BIG thing to be grateful for.

4) Start speaking the good. I have found that when I start to get resentful I get very negative. It may mean that I get really quiet, but sometimes it can mean that I say negative things to the people around me as well. ANd it spirals. Because you know, people don't respond very well to negative talk, criticism, or even silence. What they respond to is loving and gracious words, praise, and encouragement. If I nurture the very good things in the people around me and can get myself to do that, I often can see them changing in other ways as well. I really have done a horrible job of this lately and I need to get back on track with saying positive things to my kids and making them feel good about the few things (see how resentful I've become) that they do well, instead of harping on them continuously about the things that they aren't doing, or don't do well.

5) Pace myself and start changing things slowly, one thing at a time. One of my biggest challenges as a person is that I see 1,001 things about my very overwhelming life and I decide one morning when I get up that I am going to fix all of them. Instead, I need to take on one little thing a day that is positive. Otherwise I don't get anything done at all because it is all too overwhelming.

Resentment is an awful thing primarily because of what it does to me. It eats away at me and it causes me to stumble in many ways. But the past few weeks I can see how it is affecting those around me as well. It's time to do an about-face and head in the other direction.

I am more and more convinced every day that our lives as adoptive parents -- actually our lives as people anywhere -- is about the internal battle we each face and how we respond to what happens to us. We can and will make a difference in the world if we can allow God to transform us and head us in the right direction.

So this morning I'm not going to tackle the 9,137 things that I need to fix in my life. I'm just going to find one thing that I can do today that will improve what sometimes seems like an impossible situation and I'm going to do that one thing. And while I'm at it I'm going to give everyone, including myself a break by getting rid of some shoulds, remind myself to be grateful, and let go of trying to control everyone else.

If I can do that, I guarantee that today is going to be better than yesterday.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

So much for my theory....

It is possible to be angry before the kids get up.

My apple ID got changed last night. It could be a random hacker. It could be my kids.

But until Apple Customer service opens at 8 a.m. my time, I can't have access to my email.

And that is incredibly frustrating.

The sad thing is that it could be my kids. Most people don't immediately jump to that conclusion when they have been robbed or something like this happens. We always do.

A very insecure way to live.

Monday, January 03, 2011

I Like Routine

I am so glad Christmas break is over. It isn't that I haven't enjoyed having my kids home, because I have. In fact, this has been the best Christmas break we've had ever I think. There was only major drama one night and other than that it has been very calm. In fact, yesterday was so calm I didn't even think I was living at my house. So I'm not looking forward to them being back in school so that they aren't here.

But I do like routine. I like what I like when I like it. I like to have a plan and follow it and I like things to happen the way they are "supposed to". So being back at the Y at five a.m. and back home to my desk having my workout and shower done 30 minutes before the kids are up is definitely the way to go for me. I know that I will be much more productive when things are this way. Too much unscheduled time paralyzes me. Yesterday I had hours and hours of unscheduled time and accomplished very little.

SO I'm grateful to be back in a routine. I am going to have to choose other places to work ... today I think I might join my husband at the church ... because working here with adult children who watch TV all the time just makes me crazy....

But I've begun my day well. And now that momentum has to keep me going......

If you missed my post on goals setting, check it out and let us all know what you're going to do this month/year.

But there is one new thing that I'm going to carry over from Christmas break -- and that's holding Isaac for at least 30 minutes a day. Nothing centers and relaxes me more. Don't you just wanna kiss him?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

This is Why....

Wow, my kids are having a rough time this morning. I am a very strange parent because I require kids to be in their rooms at 10 every night of the week. And I make them get up by 10 in the morning on Saturdays and school holidays. Well, I used to. That way their sleep cycles didn't get messed up and they didn't have mornings like this morning.

But this Christmas break my husband has suggested that I'm too restrictive and that during Christmas break we should allow them to stay up a bit longer. Well we tried that and it resulted in ME being kept up until almost 1:30 this morning because they couldn't settle down. So here we are this morning with some very tired kids.

Last night we watched a very long movie together and it actually went fairly well. I think we're going to try to do it once a week. In the past we have tried and it has been so frustrating with all of hte bickering and ridiculous behavior, but it seems they may be to the point where we can watch a movie together at home and enjoy it. That only took 14 years. SIgh.

SO, we're off to church and lunch and then a day of getting everyone back on track to go back to school tomorrow. I start my new job already tomorrow so I need to be ready and raring to go.....

Hope the new year is starting well for everyone else -- we had a good day yesterday!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

This Speaks for itself....

I'm working on the powerpoint for tomorrow morning and this is song we are going to sing is my prayer for the coming year. I think it speaks especially to those of us raising difficult children -- that someday we may be able to sing these words. Which verse describes you?

Are you feeling the shock of joy because you are seeing seeds spring forth?

Or are you simply hoping that this year it will be your turn?

When God restored our common life
our hope, our liberty
at first it seemed a passing dream, a waking fantasy
A shock of joy swept over us
for we had wept so long;
the seeds we watered once with tears
sprang up into a song.

We went for weeping, sowing seeds
in hard unyielding soil;
with laughing hearts we carry home
the fruit of all our toil.
We praise the one who gave the growth
with voices full and strong
The seeds we watered once with tears
sprang up into a song.

Great liberating God we pray
for all who are oppressed
May those who long for what is right
with justice now be blest.
We pray for those who mourn this day
and all who suffer wrong
may seeds they water now with tears
spring up into a song.