Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Contest Results for Part One


I think it is fair to say that there is a winner for the free book I offered to give away to the best comment. Heidi Ho won, in my opinion, because she not only is promoting the purchase of ONE of my books, but CRATES of them. And her line "nobody reads salt bags" made me laugh out loud.

Here is her comment:

You should get these books. Even people who don't read, cannot read, or have an irrational fear of reading should have these books. There are many reasons to own books.

If, for example, you owned an 1880s house in Minnesota, built by people with Inuit genes who never had the insight that some people's feet will never be warm, or they just had a mean-spirited sense of humor, you could line floor-to-ceiling bookcases with books to insulate. Home schoolers figured this out long ago. Of course, this doesn't solve your heat loss through the roof, but I am not here to solve ALL your problems.

If you own a rear-wheel drive vehicle and live in Minnesota, you could put cases of books in the back of the vehicle to provide traction. Some people you salt bags, but books can ALSO be read. Nobody reads salt bags.

If you own lots of books, you may present yourself as intelligent. This has not yet helped me, but maybe I just need more books.

If you scatter books all over your household, you may appear busy to the people who show up unannounced to chat. Unfortunately, the ones who show up unannounced are either blind, don't notice details like books scattered all over, or haven't figured out that is how to look busy. My children, however, seem to enjoy that excuse.

Books make excellent weights to secure blankets on tables when making blanket tents. In fact, if you own crates of Claudia's books, you could have tent parties. Just remember to have everybody bring their own blankets.

Or, if you want to do it the easy way, you could just read the books. could buy crates of her books, keep one of each title for reading, and do the above-mentioned ideas with the rest.

Yeah, that will work.

Now, I'm not absolutely positive who Heido Ho is -- but I'm guessing it someone I know who home schools, lives in a very old house, and has kids who make blankets out of tents. But you'll have to email me to confirm. ;-)

Remember, the rest of the contest lasts all through December and is for all three books. All you have to do to enter the drawing is to write a short blog post about one or more of my books and then give me the link to your blog post.... So far only one entry and she's hoping nobody else enters. So give the woman some competition already!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Extending Cyber Monday by a day

I have gotten some emails this morning extending Cyber Monday sales -- so I am extending that and my contest for one more day -- see details below!

Happy shopping!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thank You for Making My Black Friday Sale...

the least successful sale in the history of Black Friday.

Nobody bought anything.

So you not buying anything helped me break the all time low profit on Black Friday record.


Apparently, having a Black Friday sale that is successful requires a lot of advertising or something, because I made zero money on Black Friday? Who does that? Me apparently.

So, just so I can do better -- or break a record by having two failures in a row....

ANNOUNCING a CYBER MONDAY sale -- beginning now until 17 hours from now at our online store. (I forgot to set it early and a coupon has to be available for at least 17 hours, so you could actually participate in part of cyber tuesday, which doesn't exist). Use the coupon CYBERMONDAY even if it's Tuesday when you order it.

So, if you have any of the following people on your Christmas list, then you might want to buy one of my books:

1) A person who knows Bart (or me) and wants to hear about how we aquired twelve kids in twelve years. Our first book will tell them the story. We will autograph the book for them and say whatever you want us to say. I will pretend to love anyone for a buck.

2) A Christian woman. My second book is written for Christian women and I think it can hit the mark for nearly every Christian woman you might know. It's a nice touchy-feely book that talks about God's heart and it is so nice that Bart said he couldn't read it because it made him puke. Now that is brilliant marketing if I ever saw it.

3) A parent of any kind. The third book is about parenting -- all kinds of parenting. It is funny. Funnier than me. Maybe not funnier than me in person, but funnier than me on paper because it also includes my co-author Matt on paper, and he is funny too. I didn't say funnier than me. I said that he and I together are funnier than me alone. But he is not funnier than me. Just saying.

4) A person with a sense of humor. If you know anyone who likes to laugh, see above. Matt is funny. I am funny. Have I said something about being funny? I am funny. But at least I'm not repetitious or redundant and I never repeat myself.

5) A person who can read. If you have a person on your Christmas list who can read, then they should be reading more and watching less TV, but they can't do that if you don't give them a book, and if you have to give them a book, you might as well buy one of mine and help give my children a good Christmas. (OK, OK, so that went a bit too far. My kids will have a good Christmas whether you buy a book or not).

AND now, for those of you who have gotten this far.... here is a contest for you. If you can come up with the best (or funniest) reason why someone should order one of my books and put it in a comment, I will send you a free book of your choice.

And one more thing... Everyone who writes a post about my books on their blog during the month of December and links it here will be entered into a drawing for a package of all three books. I can't really believe I"m offering this, but hey, it's Christmas.

Oh wait, one more final final thing. If you don't have anyone on your list in one of the five categories above, you really need more friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Very Calm Sunday

Today has been a very calm day. We had what we call "cheap chinese" -- the cheapest good all-you-can-eat China Buffet has free drinks on Sunday. So for $5.65 each we can eat -- cheaper than fast food. We do it on days when we are wanting something fast and cheap.... today was one of those days.

Everyone was pretty mellow today -- we rested and then five of the kids went to a movie night at youth group -- leaving three very quiet ones here for a very mellow evening.

I sound like a frog and have not done much today but I'm trying to kick myself in gear to get back into the swing of things tomorrow.

We had our friends Mike and Kari over for dinner last night -- I wasn't as entertaining as usual but it was good to see them again. Their son is allergic to us though -- he always feels sick here and can't wait to go home.

I wonder how many of our other friends feel that way and just don't say anything. Wait. Do we have any other friends that we consider family enough to invite into our not so clean home? maybe not...

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Our thanksgiving meal was great. All twelve of our kids were at the house yesterday, just not all at the same time. But we did get a couple pictures. I lined those up hwo don't always live here for a picture alone so that I can take a picture today or tomorrow of those who do live here and use the two together to put in a Christmas letter.

Here are a couple shots of everyone trying to get food as well and one of Isaac, who sat next to me and shared my food -- and his mom's, and his dad's, and anyone else that would throw him something. Then we started to ignore him so he had to begin to disrobe to get attention.

it was a fun day.... tiring. Bart made an immense amount of food and the cleanup was perpetual for 3 days. But the kids had a great time reminiscing together. It was the first time all of the older kids had been home together in forever.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Good Thanksgiving that Hasn't Started Yet

Yesterday, all in all, was a pretty good day. All but two of the kids who live at home were very helpful for a few hours in the morning, getting the house ready for company. Kyle (our oldest --25) and his wonderful wife Christy arrived about 3. We hung out and talked a while, played a game, and then had an amazing lasagna Bart made. After supper we watched a movie together and then a second movie for those that were interested while the rest of us visited. Salinda and Gabby showed up around 8 and we had fun catching. Bart and I tried to go to bed about 11 but the kids were having a great time together interacting and playing with Gabby who certainly was wide awake. We didn't go to sleep right away but I figured letting them all stay up one night of the year wouldn't kill me.

Rand was at work by 5 this morning, Sadie went in at 7, and Leon goes in by 12, meaning that even if John and Mike show up today, we won't get a full family picture. :-( Not sure what it will take to actually get all 12 of my kids in the same place at the same time. Hasn't happened for years.

Jimmy is the only one up right now and he is being very helpful. He is a good hard worker, earning him accolades at work and a lot of positive affirmation at home.

I certainly needed more sleep than I got, but I think today may just be a good day. It's my plan to take several pictures to share with you at least!

Oh ... one more thing. For those of you who HATE shopping -- here's a Black Friday special that you don't even have to stand up to participate in. Save $5.00 on any order from our online store today -- order any of our books or a combination thereof and save big! Coupon: BLACKFRIDAY :-) Our online store is here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Claudia the Spirit Lifter

I got this email yesterday:

Next Task Force (Dec. 8th)

Will be a Potluck and Claudia Fletcher will talk about her experience as an adoptive parent of twelve, lift our spirits and make us laugh.

Pressure, pressure!

Do any of you attend Task Force Regularly?

I guess I'm going to lift your spirits and make you laugh!

Turning Things Around

I was still in a slump all day yesterday, though I was keeping most of my opinions to myself and wasn't as edgy. I still wasn't feeling great about my life but it was getting better.

And then my husband spoke at the ecumenical Thanksgiving service after some great praise and worship music. He told the congregation made up of Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists and Covenants (Is that what they are called? :-) about this Thanksgiving in 2005. The picture of the event and the results are here.

The story brought tears to my eyes because the kids rose to the occasion. It made me realize that my kids are able to pick up some of our values and express them.

Right now there are several who are on board with helping get the house ready for Kyle and Christy and anyone else who shows up for our Thankgsiving dinner tomorrow.

I'm having to let go of some of my resentment that there are kids who will not help at all and rejoicing that so many will.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oh Holy NIght

Today there is no school, which used to mean a horrible day for us, but now just means a lot of teenagers either working, lying around, or off with friends. It also means I get to sleep in, something rare now that Bart has started going to bed way too early (in his mind) when I am tired and getting up at 5 or 5:15 to head off to work. That means that I have to do the early morning driving which starts at 7. But today, I was going to sleep in...

So this morning, my sleeping in was only interrupted by one trip at 7 and then I went back to bed. But somehow -- he has no idea how and neither do I -- Bart's computer suddenly started playing "Oh Holy Night" at full volume at 8:15. Guess it was time for me to get up! 8:15 is almost unheard of but so is the exhaustion I've felt the past few weeks. I certainly hope that the doctors can figure it out.

I have had a hard couple days. I'm feeling invisible, unnecessary and though I am contributing to the problems of my kids. I'm usually way more resilient than this and it's bugging me.

Guess I'll just keep going. I'm sure at some point things will turn around.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As Promised -- The Link to the Radio Show

Sunday night's radio show can be found here.

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days. I haven't had one for a while and I'm not sure it's completely over. But it was one of those days where I fell into the trap of believing that these kids ARE going to do what I say. It's not a fun place to be.

For some reason yesterday must have been National Defiance Day... maybe that is two days after National Adoption Day for a reason . . . but it wasn't fun for anyone around here. Literally the first thing I dealt with within 10 minutes of waking up was a defiant young adult and I ended my night going to bed an hour after my preferred bedtime because I was dealing with the repercussions of the defiant choices of a teenager. In the middle there were four or five others who simply decided that yesterday they weren't going to do what I said.

On Sunday night the interview on the radio had me talking about how I had grown beyond this -- that I realized the kids weren't going to change and so I was focusing on changing me -- but it turns out I hadn't grown completely out of it based on my behavior yesterday.

I also lied to you yesterday, but it wasn't really a lie but simply a mistake. I do have to leave town this afternoon for a home visit -- but it is less than an hour away and won't take very long. This morning Dominyk goes to the dentist, completing the long list of kids who have been there this past two months.

I have insurance issues to sort out, financial aid for Rand and possibly Salinda, and a hoard of work stuff to do.

Now if I can just remind myself that the only person I can change is me, I might have a better day than I did yesterday. I guess the choice is mine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Confirmation Pictures as Promised

hard to believe that this little boy who came to us at 9 months is now six one and confirmed!

How Do You Know if You're Child is Ready for a Cell Phone

I was asked to share this link with you that answers that question.

Here's the link

Learning the Hard Way

The Radio Interview last night was fun. Other than Pat calling me Gloria and me beginning to spell my email address as "M as in Frank" everything went pretty well. It was a fun gig.

Did anyone else have a chance to see it?

Afterwards we had cake to celebrate Dominyk's confirmation as a family -- everyone except Ricardo who is currently on strike. I refer to it as that when he pulls back from every family activity because he is being stubborn and refusing to comply with the simplest of family expectations. He is almost 18 and I think has always seen this as freedom day -- except that he has no job, no money, is in debt to us because of the car accident, and has no where to go.

Mind you, this won't mean that he doesn't try to go anyway -- but wrestling season is just starting, not to mention a Minnesota winter, so it wouldn't be a good idea for him to venture out on his own penniless and homeless. But, as I just said, that won't mean he doesn't try it anyway. The beauty of it though is that once he finds out he can't make it on his own, he will be back -- and hopefully appreciate us more. He is a very naive kid who has only been in the country for 7 years and has not ventured out to explore anything about the world except for one friend's home in the trailer park, where he dreams of living. However, I've been in communication with that family and they have said repeatedly that they are not planning to allow him to move in at 18. I guess we'll just see what happens. December 10th is his 18th birthday.

You know it is interesting how some personalities simply have to learn the hard way. I was the kind of kid who was given lots of advice as a pre-teen and early teenager about life and I simply listened to that advice and made choices accordingly. By the time I was 16 I had two jobs where I worked until I left for college, knowing I had to pay for it by myself. I had a goal, I listened to people smarter and more experienced than me, and I reached it.

We have a few kids like that. They listen to our advice and slowly make progress. However, we have some that absolutely have to learn the hard way. They can't seem to heed the wisdom of others and have to make their own mistakes. The challenging part of parenting them is to watch it all happen, knowing full well that nothing we say is going to make much of a difference....


Time to go wake them up and head into another Monday. I'm thrilled that I don't have any appointments out of town this week. It will be nice to stay home.

Anyone have a chance to listen to the radio last night? If not, the archive should be available soon and I'll link to it when it is.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tonight's Radio Show

Wendy’s Wonderful Kid's New Research Study
conducted by Child Trends.

Rita Soronen,
Executive Director

Since 2005, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program has grown from seven pilot site grants to 122 active sites across the U.S., the District of Columbia and five provinces in Canada dedicated to evidence-based strategies that aggressively and effectively move children from foster care to permanent families. More than 3,400 children have been adopted or placed in pre-adoptive homes as a direct result of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.

Claudia Fletcher
Claudia Fletcher and her husband are the adoptive parents of 12 children, 10 adopted from the U.S. foster care system and two from a Guatemalan orphanage. She is a Family Life Advocate for Downey Side Families for Youth and an Adoption Specialist for the Adopt America Network. Claudia is a former college administrator who has a B.A. in Behavioral Science and an M. Ed in Guidance and Counseling. She has spoken nationally about adoption issues and has had many articles published relating to permanency for children and supporting adoptive parents.

Visit our archive of Radio gems:

Join us for an inspirational talk about commitment and family building.

To share your suggestions or have your questions answered live over the air! You can email your questions to Call in live 631-888-8811
Join us every Sunday at WGBB 1240 AM OR LIVE STREAM OVER THE INTERNET!

Watch "The Adopting Teens & Tweens Show" every Thursday at Noon and 8pm on Brooklyn Community Access Television cable television Channel 68 - Time Warner Channel 35 or watch a live stream of the program by logging on to and click on Television #2.

The Adopted Teen's Prayer: "May you Love me the most ... When I deserve it the least …Because that's when I need it the most.

Confirmation Sunday

Today Dominyk was confirmed ... a really big deal if you ask me. The reason it is a big deal is because he had to take initiative for it to happen. There were requirements he had to follow and it was on him to do them. We don't push when it comes to confirmation. Ricardo will be 18 soon and he still is not confirmed. We want our kids to feel like they are ready.

So he did it! He took it very seriously and got the stuff done. I have several pictures to share with you except someone has escaped with the cord that transfers pictures to the computer so until I find that they are stored safely on my camera.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

So where are you going today?

St. Cloud, That's where. Very cool event by an organization called Hope Blooms that will reconnect me with an old college friend who is now a state senator. I will do the keynote and hopefully sell a few books. Details can be found that the link.

After today I have a week with no speaking engagements or trainings! Of course we do have Thanksgiving, Kyle and Christy spending it with us, and hopefully the others who don't live here will join us as well. Salinda has indeed applied for college, but is not necessarily planning to live with us. Mike texted Bart last night -- he has a job as an apprentice at a Tattoo place, something we have encouraged him to do for years. He says he even bought some furniture. He seems to be doing quite well and at one point was thinking of going to school to get a degree in business. I am very proud of him, but I know that simply telling him that will bring back some nasty response, so I may keep my pride to myself. We aren't really sure where John is -- not sure if he still has his job. He and Courtney currently aren't together and he hasn't contacted us since he spent part of last weekend in detox after Bart took him to get his paycheck and he spent the whole trip talking about how he wasn't drinking anymore. Yup, welcome to my world.

Jimmy has paid back all of his debts and has cash in the bank, something he is thrilled about. He is going with me today to help me sell books and carry things. It's something he enjoys and he is quite appropriate and people like meeting him.

The others seem to be doing well this weekend. Bart and I had a big date last night with Tim and Sue -- dinner at a nice restaurant and then a play at the State University. The kids were at a lockin at church and it all worked out very well.

I had a burst of energy last night before we left and got a lot done


Once again I got distracted and forgot to hit "publish post."

Ended up spending the entire day NOT getting to the event. It was decided to postpone my portion as the roads were horrible so I spent 6 hours getting nowhere but back home.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Adopt America Network

Adopt America has been matching kids with families for years and years. My association with them is what led us to Leon and Wilson and I have been a part of helping match over 500 kids with families as I have worked with them. It is also how I met Cindy and several other awesome adoptive moms.

We are having an online auction as a fundraiser this week and would love to have you bid -- or spread the word. It's a great way to support an incredible organization.

Check it out here

On the Radio in NYC -- But YOU can hear it on the Internet

Sunday night, November 20th, about 8:30 Pat O'Brien from You Gotta Believe will be interviewing me about my book, "A Glimpse of God's Heart: How Trying to Change my Kids Changed Me."

If you want to listen you can do so by going here. In fact, you may be able to watch Pat interviewing me on video, but I'm staying right in my office in Minnesota so you won't see me (which some of you, I'm sure, are happy about).

Anybody have the evening free?


Ever felt like you had been cursed? The last several months it seems that everything I touch in one of my jobs goes bad. Errors all over the place. It's just not like me. Other things in my life seem fine, but this one part of it is just nuts. Careless mistakes, most of them, but it's just not like me. I am starting to drive myself crazy.

Here are some updates from our unusual world for those of you who have been following our story and know all the characters.

Heard from Salinda yesterday. She is applying to a couple technical colleges in order to get good grades and prove she can handle a four year (she just finished her GED this fall). She is interested in pursuing a degree in criminal justice or law enforcement and has ambitions of being a jail guard, a probation officer, or an investigator like on CSI.

Courtney lost her job over a conflict with a coworker yesterday. Very unfortunate.

Leon is enjoying his new job. One of his best friends and his girlfriend both work at the same grocery store so it is a good match for him.

Jimmy continues to enjoy his job. He has to work very hard because there are a LOT of dishes, but I am sure he's doing a great job there.

And I am so scattered I forgot to finish this and hit publish.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just in case you were wondering...

Remember the 16 year old back in September.... the one that we submitted our names for?

We heard back today that they have chosen another family.

We wish him the best and are realizing this is probably for the best.

But for those of you who were wondering whatever happened with all that -- that's what happened with all that.


My biggest challenge as an adoptive parent

If people were to guess what my biggest challenge is an adoptive parent they might guess something about my kids -- something about watching them make mistakes, enduring their rages, forgiving them when they screw up, or the frustration of them making so little progress.

Or they might think about the people around me -- enduring the stares and criticism of people I don't know, putting up with comments from those I do know that think they can give me unsolicited advice or make observations about what I need to do. (For example, "Have you tried time outs?" Uh, yeah, duh, like a hundred times).

Or they might wonder if it was my relationship with Bart that was most challenging as we have kids who are triangulating and as we deal with the blows that come to us day after day.

However, I would say my biggest challenge is my own emotional management. Sure, it involves all the things above, but it is more about trying to keep myself on an even keel. Here are some of the emotions that I battle:

Anger, resentment unforgiveness and bitterness. The why questions of life that can plague me -- Why did God call me to do something so hard? Why did my children's birthparents give them such a horrible start? Why aren't things getting better when I am trying so hard?

Worry, Anxiety and Fear: Sometimes my anxiety goes haywire and I start to fixate on all the things that could be happening or might happen in the future with my kids. I have to convince myself that I can function in the midst of all of it.

Despair, Hopelessness, Resignation: Sometimes when I assess what is happening in my family I don't see much good. I forget how far the kids have come and I let myself believe that there is no hope -- that there is nothing more that I can do.

Every day I must battle, in some way or another, these three themes: Anger, Anxiety, and Despair. I have to realign my thinking, pray, talk to others, make good choices that affect my own well-being, and constantly adjust how I'm feeling and thinking.

The other night as I was talking to my mom, I thanked her for giving me such a great start in life... I told her that she and my dad gave me a brain that was undamaged by drugs or alcohol in utero and attached to me in very healthy ways. This resiliency is why I can continue to manage my own emotions.

She responded, "Yes, it's too bad that your kids couldn't have that same start." to which I commented, "But if they had, they wouldn't be my kids."

It's a constant process of reframing, recharging, getting things settled in my own mind and heart in what ever ways I can. Every day, every hour, managing negative emotions and turning them into positive ones.

I'd love to hear which of those 9 things I mentioned is the most difficult for you. I realize that my Minnesota readers probably can't be that open and candid (smile) but maybe the rest of you would like to share...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zero Kids Waiting November 2011

Can be found here.

Energy anyone?

If you have some, can you email it to me please?

Yikes, I'm tired of complaining and whining. But I'm even more tired of having something to complain and whine about. I am at a different restaurant this morning having breakfast and attempting to use the "change of scenery" to motivate me forward.


I am speaking in Minnesota a bunch of times in the next few weeks. This Saturday in St. Cloud, here in Mankato on Dec 2nd, in St. Paul at Task Force on Dec 8th, and then doing pre-adopt training on the 9th and 10th.... So those of you who are Minnesotan's -- would be fun to connect.

I am reordering a 2nd edition of "Okay, Which One of You Took My Sanity" today -- the first edition had some errors and some sections that were proving to be a bit controversial, so they have been removed.

Anybody read it that wants to leave some feedback? Anybody want to order it? You can here. If you use the coupon BLOGREADER you can save $3.00.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm speaking in St. Cloud on Saturday...

Check out the details here. Would love to see you there!

Hopefully I'm back!

Had a great time in the Quad Cities. We had a great day Sunday spending time with more friends. Then yesterday we spent the day getting back home. By the time we arrived I was too tired to do anything! I was really wiped out. Finished a book and then just sat and waited until bedtime.

This morning Dominyk had a pych appointment and now I"m trying to get the book ready for a 2nd edition printing. Also am scrambling through emails as fast as I can. Have a lunch meeting at 12:30.

I was realizing this morning that during the past six months, I have been able to see nearly all of the most important people in my life. If I had a list of my top 20 most significant people, I have been able to see about fifteen of those people this summer and it has been so good to do so. It feeds my soul.

Now I just have to give my body the rest it needs to maneuver all these silly health conditions that I don't have time for. I have three more speaking engagements in the next couple weeks and then I'll be able to relax... as much as anyone can who has Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 9 birthdays to celebrate in November/December!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Circle of Life

This is so cool. I wish I had pictures of the actual event I am about to describe, but I didn't know that it was happening until after it was over.

19 years ago I lived in Valles, SLP, Mexico as a lay missionary and Ben and Faith and their 4 children were there at the same time. We spent time together daily - and we had a great time ... so many memories and stories.

One of our favorites is me reading to their then three year old, Benji, who was adorable (and still is). If You know the book you will recognize these two sections:

Not one of them is like the other
I don't know why, go ask your mother.

and later in the book

Why are they sad, and glad, and bad?
I do not know, go ask your Dad.

Benji and I had a favorite thing to do with the books he new best. I would read through the first parts of a page and he would finish it for me.

A family legend was created when every single time that I read this section, Benji would finish it this way.

Why are they sad and glad and bad?
I do not know, go ask your......


Every time he would get it wrong and we would laugh. His sisters tell me that he now owns a One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish t-shirt as an adult.

Benji is off being important working at MIT after graduating from there, so he isn't here. I snagged a couple pictures off his Facebook to show you (sorry not that clear him as a little boy and him now).

Yesterday my sons were over at Benji's sisters house with me and were taking turns reading books to the kids.

My Jimmy, now almost 20, is named after Ben, Benji's Dad, who he is also named after. And yesterday Jimmy read the same exact book to Benji's niece and nephew, 19 years after I read it to Benji.

Can't you just hear Elton John sing the Lion King Theme song as you read this story?

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Time to Talk about It.

A very busy two days they have been but I promised I'd fill you in when I had time to talk about it -- so I have some time before church this morning to do just that.

I left at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning, arriving early because I forgot that it was Veteran's Day and there would be no rush hour. Class went great -- what a phenomenal bunch of women and a guy. Love being with them as they are bright, experienced, and have great insights to share. Some of the things we come up with as a group are nothing less than brilliant.

As soon as I was done teaching at 4 I got in the van and drove ninety minutes to meet Bart who was delivering Jimmy, Tony and Wilson to me to come with me to this weekend's speaking engagement and stay with the friends we visited in August. Leon started his job yesterday at the grocery store, so he could come with us which was disappointing to me.

WE drove to the hotel in Des Moines, spent the night, and then drove into the Quad Cities around noon to have lunch. We then headed over to see Danielle's brand new baby, born on Tuesday. It was so fun holding her -- tiny and perfect, their third. I first met Danielle when she was eight so it is so fun seeing her as a mom and the beautiful woman that she is now.

Jimmy then headed with me to do the Adoption Forum using the Prezi that you see here. It's just my outline, but isn't the technology great! So much better than a Powerpoint. And for all you people who are like Bart out there, I know that it should be its and not it's, but I can't figure out how to change it and it's only in the title not in the presentation. And for those of you who are really concerned about what I present -- my twist on the word rescuing was much different than you might imagine. I talked about how often we head into adoption thinking we are rescuing kids, but often God uses the process to rescue us from our former selves. And oh yeah, one more thing, the focus of the next to last section is the belt buckle in case any of your minds went elsewhere.

We didn't finish until about 9 last night with the forum at Heritage Church, but it was a great event....

Good nights sleep and now we are up and heading for church. Driving back the 7 hours tomorrow as I'm just way too tired to put in 7 hours tonight. I'm getting a bit too old and unhealthy for some of the things I used to do in the past.

But I love talking to people about adoption knowing that each time I do I might have a part in seeing a child -- either in another country or here in the U.S. find a home. It remains my passion and they can't all fit into my home. :-)

Friday, November 11, 2011

End of a Long But Good Day

I left at 6 this morning and drove to the U to teach the Adoption Competency Class which I taught from 9-4 and then drove to pick up Jimmy, Tony and Wilson to drive to Des Moines to spend the night. Tomorrow we are heading to the Quad Cities and tomorrow night I get to do an Adoption Forum at Heritage. I will also get to see some of my very good friends again and I am excited about that.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully have more energy to talk about it. ;-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011


As is typical in our home, when one misdeed is discovered, it leads to the discovering of several that resulted in one of the most emotionally exhausting days I have had in a very very long time.

From start to finish, between getting work done, I was dealing with all kinds of drama based on things I was discovering our teenagers have been doing and keeping for us. The whole thing resulted in something that has never before happened in our home.

Bart called a family meeting and spoke first -- and the entire meeting not a single person at the table besides Bart and I said a single word. I think they could tell that both of us were at our wits end with their choices.

I don't know if it will make a difference. I sure hope it will. Because we need them to start living up to their potential. We aren't asking for more.

But it was once again an opportunity for us to re-emphasize our "We live, we love, we forgive and we never give up" philosophy. That's been the ring tone on my phone for years because I need to remember it as the calls come in that provide me with one more thing to forgive.

I was having a conversation with a teenager who is not mine last night but who was involved in the drama. I explained to her that resentment, anger, and refusal to forgive hurt the person who is harboring those feelings a lot more than they hurt those they are directed towards.

We communicated our disappointment and hurt to our children. We explained to them the importance of them finding new ways to live and make better decisions. But we also told them we loved them. We told them "tomorrow is a new day." And we told them that we forgave them.

And we were right. Today is a new day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

Kari just picked me up from the parking lot of the psychiatrist office. Mercedes has an appointment there at 12:30. She had a dentist appointment and refused to get out of the vehicle to go to school afterwards. She is very unhappy because I confiscated her phone after an accusation was made with the intention of proving the accuser wrong, but that didn't happen. So, instead of sitting being berated by her for hours in the van, I decided that I should drive to the psychiatrist office instead just to get her that far. She was supposed to just have a routine visit about ADD....

So Kari came and rescued and gave me a ride. I was in tears (not something that happens, but lately more common because I don't have the stamina) and couldn't imagine sitting trapped in a vehicle with a vehement angry teenage girl. Kari drove me to the restaurant where I planned to work until meeting up with Bart for lunch. Having her phone has shown me many things.

One of the things that it is very difficult to get through the heads of this generation is that if you put something in writing it is out there. Even if she remembers to delete things, other people don't have to delete them. We had to take away Jimmy's texting because he was borderline harassing girls and setting up fake deals to buy pot and then not showing up. All this is this idea that if you text it it disappears just like words. But it doesn't.

I'm tempted to tell you all the whole story, but that would just involve me implicating people in writing without ever being able to explain the whole thing. Let's just say that all of us should be careful of putting our words in writing....

Thanks, Kari. I feel better already.... just because I'm not there!

In good times, in bad times, I'll be by your side forever more....

No Need to Fret

The text from Cindy (defining me as normal because I do turn my alerts off) was asking about Bart and my health and as I told her, I'm not fretting, so no need for you to either.

I do feel quite lethargic and tired, moving very slowly, and less patient with the nonsense that is constantly going on in our home. Teenage boys are loud, obnoxious, and defiant and they build on each other and I just sit wondering if I have the energy to intervene and ask for more appropriate behavior or if I should just ignore it since I have intervened nearly every day for 15 years and not seen all that much change in their inappropriate behavior. With some it has even gotten worse.

Right now Tony and Dominyk are almost to blows, cussing and going nuts, arguing over football cleats when football has been over for a month and Tony quit before the season was over with -- so they are dragging these dirty cleats into my spotless bedroom (OK, the spotless part is a huge lie), demanding me to read the size to help one of them win the argument.

This morning I have two appointments with Sadie, one at the psychiatrist. She is convinced that her poor performance at school is because she has ADD -- I'm not so convinced although it would be nice to think that some of what I have interpreted to be purposeful ignoring of what I have asked could be related to something other than her own choices.

So another day begins at the Fletchers.... and I have, as I mention nearly every day, a lot to do. Thing is, I love my work ... I just need some of those Americans who watch 4.2 hours of TV per day to give me a couple of their wasted hours. I could do something productive with them!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

All day long I've been planning to...

write a long blog post.

Except that when I went in for my routine blood thickness level (INR) check and suddenly found myself on the bed, naked from the waste down hooked up to an EKG machine to find out that my heart is now in what they call A-Fib. This is new for me. I will be taking yet another medication.

Apparently it makes me tireder than normal (hey -- if my kids can argue about who is more retardeder, I can talk about being tireder). I sure do feel tired. In fact, I didn't have the energy to type much today -- just keeping up with work was enough.

Now I'm going to do something I hardly ever do and watch TV.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more energy to tell you more.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Foster Care and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin November Newsletter

Can be found here.

Routine Begins Again

Here I am back in the saddle so to speak, waking kids up for school, asking why they made the choices they did while I was gone, congratulating them (Wilson, a 70 pound sixth grader won the Ice Cream Eating Contest at the state wide church middle school weekend (JUMYS) and was quite pleased with him self), and asking questions about homework, chores, room cleaning, etc. The ENFORCER is back and that whole part of me has kicked in full force this morning, though last night I tried to make my re-entry as peaceful as possible.

Breaking news is that Leon has a job! He's very excited about it -- at the grocery store -- and will find out today when he starts working.

Henry, Salinda and Gabby are now here as Henry is working 15 miles away and working long hours, which helps with the situation of them staying up way later than anyone else because he is too tired to do so.

If you haven't heard, tonight Bart is speaking for an adoption support group in North Mankato -- with a little help from his wife -- but not much. Details are here.

I realized that my link to Kevin Hoffman's blog yesterday didn't work so I fixed it in that post but wanted to call your attention to it. If you are the parent of a child of color, it's a must read. I almost finished his book yesterday, White in Black, and it is a very insightful memoir.

Time to move on to the next phase of my morning and take the kids to school.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Greetings from Chicago

Wow. How in the world can I write a blog post that talks adequately about the last 24 hours of my life?

WE left for The Funny Bone and got ready for the authors even that went really well. It was a great experience. I don't usually get told to be funny -- so there was some pressure there -- but it went well. Matt was great to speak with and the event was good.

We ended up having dinner afterwards with Kevin Hoffman and his wife and with Rhonda Roorda, author of In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Story. We had a fabulous time, having authentic conversation about things that really matter.

During my time in Toledo I stayed with my boss from the Adopt America Network and got to know some of her family. We had lots of great conversations -- and her husband, Steve is a great cook! That's Wendy. I also got to poke fun at their 16 year old daughter which was awesome.

This morning has been spent in airports and on an airplane reading Kevin's book -- which I'm enjoying. I am now going ot work a couple hours before getting on another plane to head home.

Some of the kids haven't done well while I'm gone. I'm thinking of putting some of my speaking on hold after I finish the gigs I have already set up. We'll see I guess.

I don't get back on a plane for almost three months and I am going to lose some weight before I do this again!!!!

Friday, November 04, 2011

I am alive, really I am

I'm alive and well. Very busy last couple days. A huge project on Thursday that I'm only half done with and then yesterday was a strategic planning meeting that lasted all day long. We left the office at 5:00 and went to the airport to pick up Matt. Fortunately, he is not a chain-saw murderer but seems like a (fairly) normal guy. I'm looking forward to speaking with him today at the Adopt America Author's Event at Funny Bones, a Toledo comedy club. It should be a good day.

Things are OK at home though I'm annoyed by some little things, one of them being how freely one of my children feels it is appropriate to be in sharing the details of the car accident and how Bart felt about it without even asking him. Also have kids skipping the occasional class because they know that I am the enforcer of consequences for that and I'm not home.

Apparently Salinda, Henry and Gabby are back home because Henry started working at the same place where John is working in St. Peter (about 10 miles from us -- 40 miles from his folks). We'll see how long they stay.

I am going to work a bit before we go out to brunch and then go DO THIS THING! ;-)

Hope everyone's week has been good.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Super Busy Day ahead .. but about last night....

This picture was on FB this morning, posted by new owner of brand new blue car. Apparently one of my driving children allowed one of my unlicensed, obviously clueless about driving children to have the keys to go sit in the car. The white vehicle is the one he drove. A very gracious member of our congregation who had just purchased the blue car three days ago has been very kind to the guilty parties. Last night I was here Toledo and got a similar picture from Bart in my email with no details so I had to wait up to hear them.

Bart handled it surprisingly well and both of those involved feel very bad. He pointed out our love for them... I'm not sure I would have been quite as careful not to lecture.

So while we are very grateful that nobody was hurt, we are also very distressed about Bart having only one vehicle to navigate a difficult week and how much this is all going to cost us. Things were tight before this...

Salinda and Henry are now back together and I think back at his house. She was really close this time.

And Sadie decided not to go to school yesterday, explaining that she had slept in. I let her know that at some point before 3 she woke up and decided to ditch, hiding from her dad so he didn't even know she was home.

So, even when I run away from the drama, it follows me.

I suppose that this picture will look great on future powerpoints when I speak about parenting teens.....

just can't forget the sense of humor part!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Taking off for the airport soon -- flying into Detroit, then heading to Toledo.... Strategic planning at Adopt America this week and then I'll be speaking on Saturday at a fun event to promote the book.

I"ll be meeting Matt, my co-author, for the first time. Pray for me.

Actually, maybe you should be praying for him!

I may have some airport time to blog more today but wanted to keep you updated as to my whereabouts.

Last thing we need is people panicking. ;-)

All seems fine here. Mr. Suspendo goes back to school today...

and get this! Tony, who failed 5 classes last year, has finally decided to care about school. As of right now his quarter grades don't include a D or an F, finally qualifying him for Driver's Ed, which in and of itself is a bit alarming, but I'm actually very pleased that he is working so hard.

Oh, and Salinda, Gabby AND Henry are currently here. Henry is going to look for jobs in Mankato again I guess.

But as I say, if you don't like what is happening in their relationship, hang around for a few hours and it will change :-)

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

OK, so I admit it

Since her blog is private, I can't link to it any more I guess, but Kari did some research that is actually practical and pertains to my life, and so for once I'm admitting that possibly there are some times when a little research might help.

So, since this isn't a private matter I'm sure she won't care if I quote her as she quotes some researcher.

Many studies suggest that the brain processes swearing in the lower regions, along with emotion and instinct. Scientists theorize that instead of processing a swearword as a series of phonemes, or units of sound that must be combined to form a word, the brain stores swear words as whole units [ref]. So, the brain doesn’t need the left hemisphere’s help to process them.

The limbic system, which also houses memory, emotion and basic behavior. The limbic system also seems to govern vocalizations in primates and other animals, and some researchers have interpreted some primate vocalizations as swearing.

The basal ganglia, which play a large role in impulse control and motor functions.

Why does this matter? Because if this is true, then it isn't nearly as personal as I've taken it over the years. And possibly not nearly as sinful as we have categorized it to be.

Even knowing that it is difficult not to have the adrenaline start pumping when a kid has both middle fingers up and is screaming, "I hope you burn in F**** hell you F**** fat A*** B****." But maybe a bit of research will help me to remember that it's all about the limbic system and basal ganglia.

OK, so I admit it -- i won't remember those details -- but if I just say -- brain issue to myself it might save undo stress. ;-)