Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yesterday I was surrounded by my children... possibly because of what I wrote yesterday. Maybe God was giving me a chance to work on the redemption of relationship after what I posted yesterday.

Isaac spent seven hours with us and still feeling a bit less like himself because of his recent illness, was very cuddly and sweet. He charmed me for most of those hours, spending much of the last two on my lap. But everyone loves to be around him, so during the day, while the kids were home from school for staff inservice, they surrounded me and him doing the things they do.

I was also surrounded by phone and text from the girlfriends of the jailed ones and from Salinda who wanted to know what was going on. It was a long and hard day, but I was pleased with my ability to handle it. Things always go much better when I am able to break it down and take things one at a time.

So that's my goal for today as well. One step at a time, one issue at a time, until the day is over, enjoying the positive moments along the way.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Live near St. Cloud MN?

Check this out. Come if you can.

It's Ready!!!

My friend Brenda's new book is ready for download.

It's called Recovery from Hazardous Parenting: How to Reclaim Your Life After Raising Children with Behavior Disorders

I am looking forward to reading it. I think you should read it too. Brenda is a wonderful writer who has walked the walk!

Do It Now

If there was one statement that hit home more than anything else at Refresh this weekend, it was one said by Debra Gray, author of Nurturing Adoptions: Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma and Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents.

She was talking to an audience of people who were raising younger children adopted either internationally or from foster care. I don't have a direct quote, but the general idea that she was trying to get across was that if children do not attach to you when they are younger, there is no motivation for them to obey you when they are teenagers. And if you end up with teenagers who have no motivation to obey you, your lives are going to suck. Except she didn't say suck because it was a Christian conference. And she also didn't say suck because she is much more professional than I am and knows that you don't say suck on your blog or when you are speaking if you want to sell books. Which is why her books sell and mine take up space in Bart's walk-in closet... which actually is really fair because how many couples do you know that have a master bedroom with two closets and the guy gets the walk in ... just sayin ... but I digress. A lot.

Anyway her point is so valid. I am living with several semi-attached children. It is not because we made a choice NOT to put into practice what we learned -- it's simply that when our kids were under 12 we didn't know any of this stuff. There weren't books about how to help kids attach or recover from brain trauma. There weren't Ten Tips listed that you could read with just a click. And so we did what every well meaning person did and we attempted to parent our kids with love and logic and apply consequences. And the result is that we have at least one adult now who defines his younger years by saying he was punished for things he didn't do -- spending his childhood in his room. Of course, it's an exaggeration, but it is what he remembers.

I'm not one who spends a lot of time regretting. It's a fairly wasted emotion because there is nothing that I can do to undo the past. I can't change what has happened. But it became clear to me on Saturday that I can help to spread the message. I can be like the poster child for what not to do. I can use the hard lessons we have learned to explain to parents that it is worth doing the hard work now, so that your future will be a better one.

So when you read about being Playful, Loving, Attentive, Curious, Empathetic and how you need to spend lots of time loving on kids in spite of their behavior, you can conclude that that is way too much work -- that you don't have the emotional energy for it. Or you can look ahead and think about the future benefits of parenting that way and do it no matter how tired you are.

I don't know that things would be different if we had had all this information back then, but I do know that we would have more positive memories with some of our kids and I would feel better about what I had attempted to do. I don't beat myself up about it... no point in that ... but I do see areas where I failed.

I shared some tidbits about my family this weekend with the people at the Refresh conference. If I was superstitious I would conclude that I had jinxed it. I proudly told some women that we had one son who had stayed out of prison since August and then found out later he had just gone back in. And then Saturday I mentioned how well John had been doing, only to find out that that night he had been arrested on some pretty serious charges and for the first time in history both he and his brother are listed on the jail website together.

So... my words to you are pay attention to what you're being told about attachment. Learn about it and apply it. Learn to truly enjoy and love your kids, despite their behavior.

And one more thing that occurred to me today: Make sure that you do attachment work with your compliant children as well as the ones who act out. Ricardo is now couch surfing apparently, refusing to come home, and we are realizing that even though he has never caused any real problems and is very calm and compliant generally, that his attachment issues have to be much more severe than we realized.

I think that's enough and I don't have time to proof this today so if there are some serious typos just remember that I never said I was a great self-marketer!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I only have about 25 minutes before I need to leave on the shuttle back to Mankato, but I wanted to take time to let you know just how amazing my day was yesterday.

I must confess (and those of you who read my blog and have for a while) that I have been running low on the passion department lately. I've been doing adoption work for 12 years now, and the last several months I have just been tired. Tired of the system, tired of the time it takes kids to end up in permanent homes, tired of families not getting support.

But going to Refresh renewed that passion -- the passion to find homes for kids who need parents. And meeting people like Andrew and Michele, hearing speakers like Deborah Grey and Ron Ruthruff, and meeting tons of parents like Tracy who has read my blog for years was amazing. Then there was seeing Karen, Karen, and Jeannie .... how fun was THAT ... and just being surrounded by people who were saying how much my words had impacted them -- the whole thing was overwhelming.

The evening ended with dinner out and a conversation with Johnston Moore and Andrew Schneider that was so thought provoking -- regarding the purpose of the church in regards to the orphan challenge. Got me really doing some serious thinking and I want to discuss that further on my blog in the weeks to come.

But now I need to go catch that shuttle and head back to reality. Sigh.

Next year's REFRESH conference is going to be on February 8-9th and rumor has it they are going to have me back -- and maybe even Bart too!

Great great event. I'm really glad I went.

Refresh: WOW

Having to blog from my phone this morning. It's 5:50 and in moments I'm boarding my flight.

Just wanted to report that Refresh was beyond awesome and I'll be telling you more later ....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hope Does Not Disappoint Us

About 10 hours and I couldn't sleep any more! I was awake by 4:30 this time, which is 6:30 MN time and laid in bed another hour to think, which isn't always a good idea.

Mercedes is about to push me over the edge. I rarely ground anyone, but I decided it was necessary and she is refusing to be grounded. So I have got to figure out the next step. That got me going around and around the track in my head this morning.

I'm trying to switch gears now to decide exactly what I want to say in my keynote this afternoon. The conference is going to be made up primarily of Christians who have adopted over the past several years as part of the adoption and orphan care initiatives that many churches have started over the past ten years. I believe that they, like all of us, were fairly naive as to the kinds of behaviors and challenges that the kids would face and now, 4, 6, 8 years later life is HARD. This conference is to realign their thinking and to help them realize that they CAN do it. My keynote is called, "Hope, Humor and Healing: The Journey to a New Tomorrow" and I am feeling a lot of responsibility to do it well.

My dear friend Kari texted last night to let me know that she saw that Mike is back in jail (because she's like that -- creeping on the jail roster website). I had just told people last night that I was proud he hadn't been in since August. Maybe I jinxed it. I'm really hoping it is for a probation violation so it's only for the weekend and he can still hang in there and stay in school. But as he has said, how can he be expected to have a job, go to school, and follow probation without a place to live. And I know he expects us to provide that for him, but that's a line I won't cross. Financially we can't afford to get him a place and he can't live at our house. You who have followed my blog know that.

I don't blame him for being angry with me. But I'm not going to be angry with him. He didn't make the choices that were made for him before birth about how his brain would be developed. He didn't choose to be unattached to caregivers. It is now his lot to navigate that combination and our lot to do what we can without putting others in danger -- whether it is physical, financial, or emotional. But I'm grieving again this morning.

Isn't it interesting how grieving in adoption really doesn't stop? There is grieving when a child comes already walking and we know we've missed seeing those first steps. There is grieving when a 6 year old can't make friends in 1st grade. There's grieving when a 10 year old can't stay on a little league team. There's grief when middle schoolers are being typically torturous and won't stop bullying. There is grief when everyone else goes to dances, when their classmates graduate and they don't, when they are arrested, have children they can't take care of, and on and on and on.

But today my keynote is going to talk about the hope cycle that I have mentioned many times on my blog that comes from Romans Chapter five. I'm quoting from memory (yeah, too lazy to even google it), but says, "We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. But not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings. For we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us. For God has poured out His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit He has given us."

That's what we have to hold on to. It's carried Bart and I so far... and it will carry us through.

So today, even though health-wise I am finally having to conclude that I am compromised, I am hoping and praying that today that message of hope -- not in me, or anything I have to say -- but in God -- will permeate each person there and send them home with the knowledge that they CAN and WILL survive.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Almost 6:30 -- time for bed!

Today has been a LONG day.... Was up at 5:30 on the Shuttle by 6:20, at MSP by 8:15, on the plane by 10:30 ... very quick -- like five minute quick -- layover in Denver, and arrived about 2:45 Seattle time, which is 4:45 Minnesota time.

Had dinner with some amazing women who are doing an excellent job of raising tough kids. One is the author of this incredible blog.. Good stuff in there.

The second is the wife of Pastor Dan on this church staff and the other lives in Denver but knows one of my friends!

So we had a nice time together.... I'm way too tired to attend the conference tonight -- I'm learning to define a new normal for myself based on health issues -- so I'm going to be going to bed fairly soon. It's 8:30 at home, so I think I'll be in bed by 7 here. Typical of my trips to Seattle.

Hope that things are going well for all of you.... have had some insights but will wait until morning before I blog them.

Blame boingo

At the airport waiting to fly to Seattle. Was going to write a long entry but boingo won't work so I don't have Internet and am thumb typing this into my iPhone.

Yesterday was a long day but I got done what I needed to and actually had some energy!

Anybody going to be at the conference in Redmond this weekend?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If Anyone in Minnesota is thinking of starting the adoption process...

I have just scheduled another adoption training for Downey Side on March 2nd and 3rd. It transfers to any PPAI agency in the state so even people from other areas could come down to Owatonna and participate in the training. We usually have great conversations, learn lots, and have a good time.

So if you or anyone you know are thinking about starting the process to adopt a waiting child, have them call me!

Miss Me?

Yesterday was nuts. I left at 6:45.. I drove to the Cities. I had meetings until 12:30. I drove to my office, having an important conversation on the way. I worked hard there for the full time I was there to finish a project that had to be put in the mail. I went to the post office and mailed it. I drove straight to the wrestling match here in our home town and spent exactly 3 hours and 4 minutes on bleachers so that I could see Ricardo and Leon wrestle for a total, between them, of 2 minutes and 35 seconds. They each won one by forfeit and then Ricardo pinned his guy in about a minute and a half and Leon was really going to beat his guy -- until he got disqualified because the other guy was injured in what apparently was an illegal move -- although Leon wasn't trying to do it. So I wasn't home all day.

After I got home Sadie apologized, taking us to the top of the teen attachment cycle ready for another round. (if you have teens that's a link to a pretty decent post I wrote. In fact, even if you don't have teens it's still a decent post.

Today I have a pretty full day as well to include a perm which I really need before I go to Seattle this weekend. By the way, Karen and Karen, you know who you are. You guys are NUTS for going all the way from Missouri to Seattle for that conference! But I hope it is really really good and you think it was worth the trip.

I need to go drive everyone this morning -- our neighbor, who usually takes some of the kids, is taking a vacation day.

Oh, and Salinda put Henry's car in the ditch on her way to class yesterday... that's newsworthy I guess -- but she was the only one in the vehicle and she is OK.

Oh, and I might be getting my hours cut in another job. Seems like Bart and I receive bad financial news almost daily lately. Good thing I'm one of those followers of the guy who "owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine, the rivers, and the rocks and rills, the sun and stars that shine" -- anyone know that song?

Have a great day y'all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

in a Super Big Hurry....

But this is where I'm going tomorrow. I'm sure there is still room for latecomers!

One step forward 5 steps back..

If things start looking up, you may want to remember that they may not stay that way.

I have noticed that for my kids there seems to be a rule that if they make one step forward they will take three... four... five steps back. So if they are headed in the right direction then something will happen.

I spent part of my morning making a lot of headway into financial aid issues for one of my kids only to find out they skipped class this morning. And now I'm getting text messages about what a bad and unhelpful parent I am. Sigh.

I'm willing to do what I can to help my kids. But I have had to put boundaries as to what I can't do. It's sad that the only things that count seem to be the things we can't do.... they don't see the value in anything else.

Tough stuff. but we seem to keep going, one day at a time. And I refuse to allow myself to get bitter... I'm going to keep loving them, seeing the good I can in them, and moving forward if at all possible. So many parents get stuck in negativity.... i just can't let that happen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This Little Piggy...

Yesterday afternoon Gabby, Salinda, and her boyfriend's sister made the trip down to help Sadie and her friends with their hair and makeup. While we were waiting for finishing touches before pictures, Gabby wanted me to see that she had her toenails painted. Salinda then began to do the "this little piggy" rhyme with her toes.

Gabby then insisted on taking Salinda's socks off so she could return the favor. She could say piggy... and Weee Weee Weee. One of those precious moments.......

As Promised...

To show off my beautiful daughter....

and my photoshopping abilities. ;-)

Jobs is a Sadie Hawkins kind of dance that we have here in our town... it was last night. Her date is a great kid -- very nice family. It appears they had fun!


Over the last 3 days I have prepared 37 emails that I have sent out to a long list of families who are wanting to adopt.

It just so happens that these 37 emails are all boys. In fact, they are all boys ages 12-17.

I will be surprised if I get one response because that isn't who everyone wants to adopt.

Whenever I do this it makes me sad. So many of these guys won't find a home and will age out.

But I'm running out of ideas on how to convince people that they should do this.... even though I still think they should...

It Could Be Worse

I find myself complaining a lot lately, and I'm not sure why exactly. My life seems a bit more difficult to navigage when I'm not feeling physically up to par, but I have to remind myself that things could be so much worse -- and they have been. I think maybe when they were REALLY bad I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't process them. And now they just slowly creep up one at a time, not in an overwhelming group... so I have time to dwell on them.

I was going to add some pictures here hoping they would make me feel better about my daughter who didn't even let us know she was home last night and refused to get up for church this morning, but someone seems to have stolen my digital card reader-- I htink this is the 5th one I've owned, so I can't even do that right now.

Hopefully I'll find it because she really is gorgeous and you'll like the pictures... maybe when she wakes up (It's 1:30 p.m. so possibly soon) she'll know where it is.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Adoptees Have Answers January Newsletter

Can be found here.

Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Beginning to My Day

If you've ever read the book about Alexander you'll know that happened to him in the book was that horrible, just a bunch of little things.

So... here are my little things.

I woke up a bit later than typical because I was going to go to the Y later, but that made things a bit off for everyone. Wilson decided to ask for a ride to school for the first time this year, but waiting until later to tell me and so i had to quickly budget in that time for the morning. Tony argued about shower times incessantly, including many bad words hurled in my direction. Dominyk was threatening not to go to school. My earbuds and my water bottle, necessities for the Y were locked in my office but the keys were already out warming up the van. Sadie returned my space heater, not to where she borrowed it from, but to my room, so my office is freezing.

On the way to school I slid down a hill, ran over a curb, and almost hit a brick wall. Kari texted me saying she wasn't going to go to the Y even though I had my bag packed and ready (minus water bottle and earbuds. Roads were horrible so I decided just to come back home.

It's still snowing, I'm not showered, my office is a disaster, I don't feel well, and the yummy yogurt that I thought I was eating for 14 carbs did that thing where they said that the container had two servings in it so I spent 28 carbs before I knew it.

I am not feeling very motivated nor very inspired.

Yesterday was a bit better day I guess. Had lunch with one of our children who doesn't live at home who tried his best to push my buttons, but I found that if I ignored his attempts to make me feel bad and just moved on, he would keep going and find something new to say. I was emotionally exhuasted and had several craters in my tongue by the time it was over, but I succeeded in surviving a meal with him without making him angry.

Last night we went to see Joyful Noise and enjoyed it despite it's bad reviews. The music is awesome.

Hopefully I will be able to overcome the lousy beginning of my day today and make some progress.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reliving the Painful Past

Mike needed a couple of documents for financial aid that required me to get out the file called "Mike - Legal." It's a very unpleasant file filled with sad memories. I try to stay away from the file because it reminds me of how it feels to sit in a hearing where as parents we had to "admit or deny" that our child was in need of "protection or services." It reminds me of the way the judge would look at us and the way that Mike would send hateful glances our way. It reminds me of how horrible it felt to knew that the only way we could keep him safe (because he ran away all the time) was to try to get him help in a more secure environment.

If you ask Mike today about his teenage years he will tell you "my parents locked me up for my entire adolescence." That is how he remembers it. It was actually a total of 20 months, but facts don't matter when he is recalling his own memories. He insists that his legal trouble as an adult is a result of being institutionalized to the point that the only place he felt comfortable was jail.

It was not a good time in our lives. If I had known then what I do now, I might not have done it the way we did. We anticipated that our county would be less accusatory and more helpful. We anticipated that "treatment facilities" would be able to be helpful instead of punitive (At one point our son with RAD and FASD was three days away from hitting level three and coming on a home visit when he impulsively saw a bottle of conditioner in a staff members office and took it. He then lost a level and when became frustrated by that was placed back at level zero, where it would require him 3 months to get back to level 3).

I wish we didn't have the file.. because it tells a nasty story. But it is part of our story. And today we are going to have lunch with Mike and give him the papers he needs and I am sure that he is going to become angry all over again and I won't blame him. I had the same response.

Today we have two kids who our therapist says would be in residential treatment if they were living in anyone else's home. However, they stay home, and they don't run away, so we try to ignore the behaviors that we can and take things one day at a time. Their files -- though full of detention slips, suspension letters, and other things demonstrating their severe disabilities, they don't have files marked "Legal." I'm not sure that it will change their destinies, but it will change the way we feel when we look back at the files and hopefully, though our present is challenging, will not be ones that cause us to relive as much pain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tips for Raising Hurt Kids with Deena Mcmahon

Last Chance to Register for “Tough Questions, No Easy Answers: Tips for Raising Hurt Kids” with Deena McMahon, MSW, LICSW in collaboration with Children’s Home Society & Family Services

Presentation: Please join Deena McMahon as she shares affirmations and practical suggestions about how to care for children who have been hurt and how parents can provide a safe and calm environment for these children in a home. This presentation will also address sibling conflict, parental ambivalence, relationship stress, grief and loss issues and of course, some of the challenging behaviors that children present. See attached flyer for more information.

When: Monday, January 23, 2012 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CST)

Where: Children’s Home Society & Family Services
1605 Eustis Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108

Fee: $20 per person; $35 per couple
CEUs are available for an additional $30. Certificates of Attendance will be distributed following the presentation.

To Register: Please go to http://www.mnadopt.org/calendar.php to register online.

People Near Mankato... am I worth 7 bucks?

Crossview Covenant on February 4th.

Details here.

Spiritual Warfare

It has crossed my mind a few times -- though I'm sure it's not very "United Methodist" of me -- that possibly, as a commenter shared, we might be facing some kind of spiritual warfare situation in our family. The past several months have seemed kind of tough.

Interestingly enough, though, the events that have transpired have not been nearly as stressful as some other periods of our lives. However, I'm finding that with my health issues, I have less ability to deal with them.

Yesterday, I rescheduled an appointment and just went back to bed. I still put in over 8 hours of work, but in the morning I slept a while because I was feeling so exhausted.

So maybe the combination leads us to be tempted to give the enemy the upper hand, but so far we are still hanging in there. And it could be that I'm not sharing everything positive because I'm so wrapped up in the negative. So let me try to be positive in the 5 minutes I have remaining:

Bart's health had a big turnaround the past 2 months when he was prescribed a new medication that is making him feel so much better. In fact, he says he hasn't felt this good physically in years. It's great to see him so energetic!

My BFF (doesn't stand for what you think it does) let me borrow her husband again (doesn't stand for what you think it does) and he finished tiling our laundry room floor and walls. It looks awesome!

Mike, Courtney and Salinda are all in college -- at least they were the last time I checked. This is a huge accomplishment for each of them.

I have been able to throw away a LOT of paper (to make room for more paper). That feels good.

My hours being cut is giving me more time to recover and relax. Still working 40+ but it beats 60+.

So maybe my life isn't what's so negative -- but simply my view of it.

I need to get myself in gear!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blogging Crabby

I am really feeling quite crabby last night. reasons why:

1) I have several kids who are having a hard time getting up this morning. Because they make stupid sleeping choices when they go to a friend's house and then they can't get up. Or because they sneak off and nap during the day when I'm getting stuff done so they aren't tired at night. By the time kids are 16 they should be working. Just sayin.

2) Physically i don't feel well. Even after going to the Y at 5 a.m... and that is unusual.

3) I started a project yesterday in my office and got half done and now it's a horrible mess. Things are everywhere and I don't have time to finish the project. Annoying to myself.

4) I have an endless day scheduled and one of our unbloggable situations has us full of anxiety this week and when I'm feeling anxious I like to be near Bart, not out of town where I can't talk to him.

5) Some days I'm just crabby. Today is one of them.

But one of the nice things about being me is that my crabby moods don't last that long..

Monday, January 16, 2012

I just can't keep up with it all..... but I'm trying!

yesterday we had great services in the morning and then a wonderful family dinner afterwards. The seven (yes, seven, first time since 1999) that are currently living at home were there plus John, Courtney and Isaac. We had Isaac down at our end of the table and it was really really fun. He is just the cutest baby in the world. Have I mentioned that?

Then I read a book. yes, I read a novel. Fiction. Believe it?

At night Bart and I were able to have a nice dinner out alone together talking about a couple of unbloggable situations. It was great to spend time with him.

This morning has been a series of stupid things one after another. I am getting worn out...

Maybe this afternoon I'll transfer some files. It's something I've been needing to do...

Hope everyone is enjoying their day off -- if this is one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Zero Kids Waiting January 2012

Always good stuff in here.

I wish there was some way that I could convince many more people that providing a home for a teenager was a good idea....

Maybe my blog is working against that whole idea.... but I'm still plotting as to how we can do it again. I still think a 16 or 17 year old might not be a bad idea, if I can get a couple kids here more stable. They've been doing better lately.

Or maybe we should return to fostering? That way they don't know they are getting "adopted" but we can do it in our hearts and eventually who knows.... but they wouldn't have to play the "I don't want to get adopted" game.

Anyone who reads my blog fostering teen boys? How is that these days?

Friday was a long day....

Up at 6, out of the house by 6:30, arrived to teach at 8:30. Taught 9-4. Immediately came home. Got home at 6:15. Peed. Left at 6:20 to the staff Holiday Party that Bart and I host for the church. Got home at 9. Went to bed very tired.

Yesterday was a good day, focusing on Daniel Hughes and his Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, which is Attachment Focused Treatment for Childhood Trauma and Abuse. I can see how his therapy is effective, though it is confrontational and is hard work. His practice involves him as a therapist incorporating PLAYFULNESS * LOVE * ACCEPTANCE * CURIOSITY * EMPATHY. And he then asks parents to practice the same thing.

We watched three of his sessions and it is obvious that at least during the sessions progress was made -- even in one segment where he made some progress with an 11 year old girl who did not say one word for the first 45 minutes of the hour session.

Sometimes I wonder if things would have turned out differently for a couple of our kids if we would have had therapy like this back when they were kids. It kind of makes me sad that we didn't. :-(

Has anyone else had experience with a therapist who uses DDP?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's the Drama that Never Ends....

Yesterday I had agreed to help out my older kids by:

1.Babysitting Gabby for a plasma appointment;

2. Setting up a Meeting for Salinda at the local college so she could start school in February;

3. Babysitting Isaac while Courtney was in class;

4. Finding paperwork Mike needed for financial aid and meeting with him; and

5. Giving Mike rides to classes.

Mid morning I texted Salinda who was with Gabby and Henry in Hutchinson and hadn't come back asking if I was going to be babysitting or not. She texted back, "No, but I'm on my way back there soon. An hour later she texted saying, "so I started college up here today." I texted back, "oh." She came, got some of her stuff, had some supper with us, and left again. Apparently she is staying with a friend.

Mike didn't need a ride after all and cancelled our meeting though I did find the stuff.

And I took care of Isaac. Courtney came between classes and so now our home is not only a day care but a library because she did homework while she was there. Isaac (on her watch) got into the dogs water and was completely soaked so he had to wear Gabby's pink pants and flowered shirt for a while. Think he's damaged for life? He was just adorable and fell asleep on my lap. Nothing beats that.

And so another day came and went. I think we had a couple of really crazy ideas when we started adopting. The first is that the kids would be grateful. The second is that they would need us less after they turned 18. It's actually turning out to be the opposite. Suddenly after 18 most of them are deciding that they do love us and can trust us and we are busier than ever being parents and grandparents.

The interesting thing is that if I reframe this and see how the kids need a lot more time to mature and heal, I'm actually able to enjoy the time that I have with them!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This morning... x 2

Yesterday happened and we made it through. I had Isaac for several hours, Tony was home suspended to he helped with him, we had dinner together Tony and Dominyk were in full blown "Jerk" mode -- just trying their hardest to be the most awful. Bart never lets things get to that point because he can't stand it, but I've found intervening does very little good so I try to ignore it, but I didn't do a very good job of it last night. So we endured the evening.

Then this morning I got up and a lot of very weird things happened. I woke everyone up, they started to get ready and then strange things started to occur. I couldn't find my clothes. I ended up having to ride my bike up to Bethany (local collete) to find something I'd left there, and I fell off a wall. I came back to find the kids not cooperating at all and refusing to go to school. Ricardo came home and said nothing... as if he had not been gone at all but wanted us to pay for a bunch of wrestling stuff for him.

And then I woke up. ANd I had to do it all again. Although i wish Ricky was back, he isn't... and everyone else is pretty much behaving like the dream, except I have found my clothes, my bike (which is broken anyway) will not be going to Bethany, and hopefully we'll get these kids off to school so I can go to the Y.

I have dreams like this often. Do any of you? They are very discouraging because the mornings around here can be daunting and when I've lived through one before I even get up it makes for a long day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Well Look at This Would You

Interesting huh? The Child Injury Law people have decided that my blog is one of the Ten Great Websites For Children Facing Difficulties With Adoption Or Foster Care System

Slow, Slow, Slow

I'm finding myself having to take things slower and deliberately think about things that used to be kind of on auto-pilot. My brain has always allowed me to multitask quite a bit and I have never had too much trouble keeping lots going at a time. But lately, i have to make myself think about every step or I make very careless errors. It's annoying.

No word from Ricardo or the family he "moved in with." I really don't understand that kind of mentality -- people who want to have an extra mouth to feed without hearing the whole story. When Ivan lived with us we had more than one conversation with his mom about it to make sure it was helpful to her and what she wanted. Ricardo is there to avoid the discipline, rules, and expectations of our family and the consequences of his previous actions. He skipped a class yesterday ... something he has done here, but not without consequence.

Funny thing is, I miss the kid. Other kids who have stormed out of here have left after being so awful for so long, that when they finally were gone it was a huge relief. Ricardo isn't like that. He's pretty compliant and good to have around. I worry about him too, because he is really naive!

Mike started school yesterday without needing help from me. Courtney did as well. Salinda and Gabby went to spend some time with Henry. Often they don't return, but hopefully they will.

See why I have to take things slowly? Otherwise I can't keep up with the ever changing drama. I had been to see our therapist Thursday with Sadie and yesterday I went with Leon and Wilson. I gave her hte family update and she said, "That all happened since Thursday????"

Monday, January 09, 2012

Adoption Resources of Wisconsin Newsletter - January 2012

Can be found here.

Just Ten Minutes...

I have ten minutes to update you on my life And then I'm off for a full day of running here and there.

OK. Sadie had a good week and I was very pleased with her until the weekend, and the little things are starting up again -- not doing dishes, not waking up on time, etc. etc. I'm hoping the big things don't start as well.

Ricardo (18) decided to sneak out on Saturday night to meet the new just-turned-15-year old girlfriend to go to a movie. I felt that her mother should know about this (we've been connected with this family since back in the Salinda stole our car days when she was 15). He came home (sneaking back in) but by 3:00 a.m. the girl was texting Salinda asking her if she could break up with Ricardo for her. Ha.

So Ricardo gets up this morning and I told him what i thought were reasonable consequences. Before he could leave the house again or watch TV he needed to work off there hours of his debt for the car accident. I also told him if he did it again (sneak out for hours) that I would have him move his stuff into the basement with the other kids over 18.

He moved out in a huff with some people he has been threatening to move in with for months. They have sworn they won't let him do it -- so maybe it won't last long -- but he's gone. And it's a very bad move on his part. He's only a junior in H.S. and i'm not sure why they would want to take on financial responsibility for him. He has no job, refuses to get one, etc. etc. And he's so stubborn that he is going to learn the hard way.

In the meantime, Mike is supposed to start college today and he is homeless once again. It is so hard for me not to offer him a place here, but anyone who has followed our story knows that that just is a bad idea every time. But I'm supposed to give him a ride this morning -- if he texts me -- and help him get some school supplies. He is storing his stuff in Bart's office -- which we arranged for last night.

It's so ironic that Ricardo is giving up security on the same day Mike would love to have it.

My husband is coming home today and I am going to be very happy to see him. He is only home tonight and leaves tomorrow. I did several things to please him while he was gone though so hopefully he will be pleased.

OK. I'm heading off to take kids to therapy and college. By the way Courtney, John's girlfriend and Isaac's mom, starts college today as well.

I am not sure Sadie even got up for school, but with her GPA the way it is, I am pretty sure the only thing she really misses out on is the social piece. I absolutely cannot comprehend how anyone can get grades as low as some of my kids. I would have had to try my hardest to answer things wrong to come up with those grades.

But apparently I'm weird and not like everyone else.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

According to my blog records

I had an empty email in box in January of 2009 and haven't since. Because I always blog it when I do. That's three years.

But I am caught up for the moment! :-)

It's What They Do

Really? Because it isn't what I did.

Apparently I was an usual teenager. I told my parents the truth. I was where I said I was going to be. I worked two jobs, went to school, got As and Bs, saved money for college. The friends I chose were good ones. I knew if I never had my first ... cig, drink, pill, or joint that I would never get addicted so I didn't have one. I knew that saving myself sexually for marriage was the best choice, so I did it. i got along well with my parents, my siblings (well for the most part, they WERE my brothers), and most friends. I was involved in my youth group. I had Christian friends at school. I viewed high school as a stepping stone for life and knew that if I did what I was supposed to there, I could get to college where real life began.

But as I said, folks are telling me that wasn't typical. "Typical teenagers" sneak out. They lie to their parents. They have to experiment with all the bad stuff just to see what it's like. They do things specifically because their parents tell them not to.

So if I have seven of them living in my house, then my life is going to include that stuff and I need to get used to it.

And young adults -- what do they do? They ignore their parents until they need something for the most part. They ask for money, they take advantage of their parents, and they are short sited. Their lives are very small and they focus only on themselves.

And so if I have 5 of those, I can expect them to be doing that stuff as well.

And kids with kids? They ask their moms questions. They have needs that they can't meet for kids and they want grandparents to do something about that. They need free babysitting.

And so if I have 2 of those, I can expect that as well.

So it's no wonder that as the kids get older I'm getting busier. By the time they are all grown I will be holding the record for the most texts received by a 53 year old woman. Guaranteed.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Yesterday I Saw Glimpses of Me

After my morning responsibilities I headed to a meeting with families, made several phone calls, and heard good news. A lot of the situations at work that were "stuck" (and if you work in the Child Welfare System you know what I mean) got unstuck and I was able to deliver good news. I felt somewhat energetic and alive.

Headed home to pick up Sadie for "pie" -- one of the things we often do together, but got a call from school saying that Tony had gotten into a fight so I had to go into the school and have an unpleasant meeting with the Asst. Principal who is slowly becoming more than an acquaintance (as in we see each other too much for that, not as in potential lover material). Geez I should not have said that, but my filter is a little off and this is my blog and in it I don't represent anyone but myself so maybe just this once I'll cross a line and ... well, let's just say it's Saturday and most of you don't even read my blog on Saturdays so maybe nobody in cyber space will even see that I made an inappropriate comment. It may just sit here unread for centuries to come. I was going to say Millenia to come but I don't know how to spell it and I"m too lazy to google it).

So anyway, I digress. Had a meeting which wasn't horribly unpleasant even though Tony was attempting to make it so and we went out for pie. When I got home I had the wildest couple hours ever. Courtney and John came for dinner with Isaac -- they each have interviews next week for new jobs and Courtney has started college. I was texting Mike frantically about his financial aid and some paperwork I need to find for him so he can start school on Monday. Tony was arguing with me incessantly about going out when he is suspended and I wasn't about to be bullied, resulting in some unpleasant situations that I won't bother to blog about. Dominyk was obsessing about wanting money when he doesn't have any, and again I wasn't going to be badgered into complying. Sometimes we do that to shut him up and I see that that has not been a good thing. That doesn't mean that if we never gave in he would be able to shut up, but I feel better about myself when I stand ground. I was also having a lenghty text conversation with someone about one of our unbloggable situations.

Dinner was a crazy time -- everyone was here for the first time in I don't know how long (except Bart of course who is enjoying chilly but a bit warmer than here Florida). Everyone was kind of manic around here and the testosterone in the air was almost visible.

Fortunately after dinner several people had plans and cleared out but not before Mike, kari's husband, came over to work on a project to surprise Bart who also never reads my blog so this won't give it away. WHen he arrived John suggested maybe it was my booty call when Bart's out of town -- but if you saw Mike's new beard you would know THAT ain't true. ;-)

So... I dealt with all that stuff, plus put in several hours of work day and night, got a ton or projects finished and slept really well.

I have been feeling so crappy the last few months that I've been dragging my butt around her like a 300 pound 90 year old, which I've never seen, but trust me, that is what I was like. So it's nice to have myself back, even if it were just for a day.

Who knows, maybe I'm making a come back!!!

Friday, January 06, 2012


Today's schedule involves me going to the Y after taking Jimmy to work, getting everyone up and off to school... and then going to a meeting and then to my office, so I won't be back online for several hours. So if I don't remember to blog anything then don't panic that I'm dead.

More than likely I won't be.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

MNAdopt January 2012 Training Schedule

You can find that here.

MOFAS January Newsletter

From the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a newsletter for January.

Days Start Well This Way

I really love going to the Y at five. I know this sounds nuts to a lot of people, but it really helps my day start well. I work out and shower there and am home with some time to blog before I wake the kids up.

But i have realized the past few months, that it isn't very sustainable for me to go every day when I have health issues. So I am changing up my routine a little bit and Kari is willing to do so as well (actually I'm sure she's pretty happy I've finally realize there is another time of day one can go to the Y).

So on days that I have morning meetings I go at 5. On days that I don't, I go at 8. It seems this makes it a little more reasonable over the long hall. Yesterday I had one of the most productive days I have had in months and it started with me at the Y by 8 and home by 9:30. I sat and worked until 5:30 without standing up except to go to the bathroom and then had a home visit after supper. I was really pleased with how much I got done and if I can keep going today I may just get to a point where I feel sort of caught up with work. That would be a relief because there are some things I wanted to do around here to surprise Bart when he gets home on Monday.

My daughters both had a really good night last night (in my opinion of good). Salinda and Gabby and I spent some time together that was really good -- just talking and hanging out. She is talking about going to college here and has decided for sure not to go to school up near her boyfriends parents. That whole scene is not a good one but she needs to come to her own decisions or they won't stick. Salinda did dishes without complaining. Sadie was home for the second night in a row doing HOMEWORK.

I'm feeling much better now that I'm trying to eat better and have been going back to the Y. It's amazing how just a couple weeks can make such a difference. If you want to join the weight loss journey and share progress, that can be done on my Shrinking Slob blog.

There are still unbloggable things going on -- but none of them, in case you are worried, are catastrophic.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

if you have challenge with health...

I'm trying to keep up with what I'm doing on my "shrinking slob" blog which I just updated.

Big News :-)

I was thrilled to see this morning that I have been given a blogging award by "Looney Tunes" or LT. I have linked to her before and while I don't know her personally and we have never spoken, I have a great deal of respect for her. Her blog stirs up tons of emotions but I need to read it. I need her to keep me real, to keep me careful about how I talk about my kids, and to keep my passion fueled to continue to work tirelessly to find homes for kids before they age out of foster care and find themselves in her situation.

Many times I have wished that I could offer her my family as hers. However, I have recently come to an interesting conclusion. At this time we should not adopt again. In the fall, when we inquired on the 16 year old and were not chosen, I forced myself to take a close look at myself and our family and to realize that we are probably not a good therapeutic place for healing at this time. Tony and Dominyk are so volatile and Rand and Jimmy both still engaged in creating and maintaining loud conflict with them, that this no place for anyone who has anxiety issues, PTSD, attachment disorder, or any of the other diagnosis that kids in care have. The drama of our older kids and their kids sucks up our emotional energy to the point we don't have much more to give. I hate to get to this point, but we're here, and it's just the way it is.

But back to LT. She is an amazingly articulate writer. Her blog is well done, always complete with pictures that graphically (or sometimes humorously) illustrate her points. She is beyond intelligent and insightful and I'm sure she doesn't realize the extent of her contribution to the world of foster care and adoption... but in my opinion it's invaluable.

I am beyond honored that she feels my blog is worthy of an award. I may or may not have time to pass the award on to others, but I am highly affirmed that someone who has been there has read through what Bart calls my "barf on a page" and personally finds it to be worth recommending to others.

Thanks, LT. Your bravery astounds me. Even though I never join the hosts of those who comment on your blog, I read every entry. Thanks for keeping me real.

I've gotten a bit lost...

Bart left town and I got lost in all of the things that need to happen around here.

So ... I forgot to blog.

On Monday I started to be very thorough, updating my Baby Steps Out blog (which some of you might be ready to start now that it is the new year) and even my weight loss blog Steps, formerly known as the Shrinking Slob. But I never got around to posting here. Yesterday I had several goals I was trying to reach and never got around to blogging in any of hte three.

I'm getting the kids off to school and then going to the Y -- after that it's my plan to update you on something cool that happened.

Some not so cool things that happened are more drama with Salinda which may mean she doesn't end up starting college (she is here again) and my discovery that 18 year old innocent Ricardo has a new girlfriend who just turned 15. Been down that road, dont wnat to go down it again, but can't really do much. The more I say the more they will be drawn together, and as he says, "I'm not doing nothing mom."

Just keep doing nothing, little man.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Why does less and less control make me feel a need to be more and more controlling?

I've been going bonkers internally lately. I've always been a control freak, but as all the kids get older and older and my husband has a greater need for peace, it seems like I'm having less control by the minute. I don't know that there is anything wrong with me wanting to know who is in my home when, in begin able to enforce a "be in your rooms by a certain time at night" rule, etc. But lately it's nearly impossible. A couple of our kids are certainly immovable.

I wish that I could relax and simply let it be, but the less control I have the more controlling I become and internally I'm getting more anxious by the day.

I understand the "pick your battles" philosophy and I attempt to avoid that, and I write and talk about not trying to control the uncontrollable, so why can't I follow my own advice.