Monday, April 30, 2012

What to do when you can't MAKE them do anything...

I wrote a status update on Facebook yesterday "In case there are people out there who have not yet learned this, if a child is too big to physically move you really can't MAKE them do something...."

My sarcastic friends offered structured parenting and sticker charts. Sigh :-)

But down to the last few years of parenting 12 kids (7 are over 18 and three get to 18 in the next 10 months) I've learned a bit about "MAKING" kids do something.

Here are some suggestions because one commenter asked me seriously to explain what to do:

1) Let go of your own emotional ties to the success of your children. Whether it is rooted in pride (not wanting to be embarrassed) or the societal misconception that bad children are raised by bad parents, it's important to remove yourself from the picture in regards to your connection to their behavior. When my kids are refusing to do what I say, it's not because I'm being a bad parent.

2) Assume can't, not won't. A child with ODD may not be able to do what you say because of the disability -- and often we forget that ODD is a mental health diagnosis. Concluding that they are simply being noncompliant to annoy us may not be accurate. And it is quite possible that they can't do what you are asking them to do for whatever reason.

3) Realize that no child internally really wants to have parents and siblings and teachers angry with them all the time. Bart often tells me, "Do you think he WANTS to be like that? If he had a choice, don't you think he'd be different."

4) Pick your battles. There are a lot of things that I get very worked up about on a daily basis that are stupid control issues on my part. Do my kids HAVE to clean clothes EVERY day when they are 17 or 20 or 23? Sure, I want them to smell nice and I want their teachers to think that we do laundry around here, but eventually other people say things to them and they figure it out. Other examples include going to every class (like I can control that when they are at school and I'm at home) or turning in homework (I can make them do it, but I can't make them turn it in).

5) Recognize that there are things that life will teach your kids that they aren't going to learn from you. Several of my kids act differently away from home than at home and (fingers crossed) eventually all of them are going to be living away from home. That means that they will probably be able to do better than I think they will. And the lessons they need to learn -- such as being horribly mouthy can get you beat up -- will be better taught somewhere else...

6) Determine which things make your home unbearable and then change the definition of unbearable. I hate swearing and disrespectful behavior. I hate some of the music my kids listen to. There are several things that in the past we labeled unbearable. But because of our experience with residential treatment we now have a shorter list. If children are under 18, the only things that would force us to seek an out of home placement would be if we felt we were unsafe or others in the home were truly unsafe. I have a son who threatens to kill me about three times a week, but I know he isn't going to. I don't feel any lack of safety. He's not going to do it. He's been saying that for years. However, 6 years ago I had a son who did the same thing and I never felt safe. He ended up having to be in residential treatment. I think you're getting the picture.... make your list of things that you can't stand or handle smaller.

Parenting teens is like teaching them to drive. You can't be in control -- so realize it and relax as much as you can.

So once again it's a message none of us want to hear -- it's not about making our kids do anything -- it's about making ourselves change by changing our expectations, getting rid of our control-freak tendencies, and thinking differently about our kids.

Ugh. I hate it that I'm the one who always has to change!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Daughters, a Grandaughter, Girlfriends and Grand-baby-mamas

Yesterday's shower was fun. It was relaxing as Tessa's mom was in charge of most of it and it was also a wonderful reminder of how much I love the women around me.

My daughters are so beautiful. Salinda is in a difficult situation right now but she is plugging away. She's been in school full time, has been working full time, and has her own place though she and Henry don't always see eye to eye and go from sharing the place to not sharing it on a daily (hourly?) basis. She is a very patient and loving mom to Gabby. Our relationship has healed and even though we aren't as close as I would have hoped, she is kind to me and not overly dependent on us. She takes pride in taking care of herself and I applaud that kind of determination.

I just blogged about Mercedes who is rushing toward adulthood now with what seems like great speed. Even though she's only a sophomore she'll be 18 in November and testing those independent wings. But she can be absolutely delightful if you catch her at the right moment.

Courtney, Isaac's mom, who I have now decided to call my grandbabymama, but only ocassionally, is just so much fun. She and I get along great and I love her sense of humor. She actually likes me, respects me and thinks I'm smart so what's not to like about that??? She and I have a super great time together and as you know, my love for Isaac is overwhelming sometimes.




Tessa, Mike's girlfriend, and mom to yet-to-be-born AJ (Aiden Jay), and I get along well also. She is smart, fun, and reminds me of me in some ways because she is who she is. She isn't pretentious at all and I love hanging out with her, even though there have been conflicts in the past between she and Mike that have made things awkward. She is taking excellent care of herself and is going to give AJ the best start she can.



I also was surrounded by my friends Kari (showed you her butt so you can see how she is no longer my BFF (Big Fat Fanny) but my LFF (Less Fat Fanny) and her daughter Anna, Sue, and Lois who have been there for me through 3 baby showers in the past 3 years ... as well as many other ups and downs in my life.









I'm so blessed....

Glimpses of Light: When You Can See Your Values Reflected...



OK, so this morning I was pretty crabby ... and eventually they all got up and made it to church and my blood pressure didn't put me into cardiac arrest, even though it was close. I don't know why I let myself get so worked up.

I thought maybe it was time for me to blog a positive story about my daughter Mercedes who is quickly approaching 18 and thus challenging my patience on her roller coaster ride to adulthood...

Sadie and her best friend work at McDonald's and have a coworker who recently had her hours cut. She was very upset and expressed to the girls how much she would love to have a different career. If she only had money to get her CNA...

So, two weeks ago at youth group Sadie and her friend mentioned this need to our youth group. They came up with a plan to use some of the bake sale money and ask the church specifically to give a little extra. They had a goal of raising $400 to pay for a CNA class for this woman.

So last weekend Sadie and Allison baked and baked and baked and so did several others at the church. That morning they shared with the church the need and what they planned to do with the money. And as our church often does, they came through and raised over $700.

Last night Sadie and Allison took the woman out to dinner. They presented her with the check and the woman was speechless. She then began to repeat again and again how grateful she was and how she felt unworthy but how awesome the people of the church must be. She asked lots of questions about church.

This morning Sadie was able to share the story with the congregation and I couldn't help but be pleased that some of our values seem to be being passed down to our kids. This is a plan Bart and I would have come up with and yet we didn't -- our daughter did. A plan that involved the church being Jesus to someone they didn't know and a gift that empowered someone to change their lives, not just be a temporarily solution to a problem.

So in the midst of the teenage crazy dark tunnel to adulthood there are these glimpses of light that keep us getting up every morning.

My daughter is an amazing person with so many gifts and she is going to be a world-changer, I just know it. Thanks, Lord, for a glimpse of the future to get me through the annoyances of today....


You Can't Make me, You Can't Make Me, You Can't Make Me

Remember that episode from Gilligans Island? Well, in my world it doesn't work that way -- because after Gilligan said those things three times he still did it in the end.

Here it's not always true. With this large group of teenagers I am in a world where I can't make anyone do anything. There are two that pick mornings as their battleground. I have finally given up and let my daughter ride to school with a friend so that she can be tardy almost every day. And the son who won't get up walks several times a month because I just leave him.

But when it comes to church on Sundays there really isn't much I can do. If they don't come to church they don't get our usual trip out to eat, but that isn't motivating to them any more. So they need to come simply because they are supposed to ... and it isn't easy. I know that there are many of you who would say that we shouldn't FORCE our kids to go to church, but it's a family value and obviously we can't force them. But it is an expectation -- not that they believe like we do, but that we go as a family once a week.

The interesting thing is that the two who refuse to get up are the ones who are most vocal about sharing our faith. Go figure.

The trick is me keeping myself sane with the weekly battles in my head. Do i wake them up or leave them to sleep and let the people at church express concerns about their absence? Well, this morning I might have done that but one of them is supposed to make an announcement in church this particular morning....

should I leave when it is time to leave or wait the extra five ... or ten... minutes and have us all be late? Or should I take the others and come back for the ones who don't or won't get up on time?

And by the time this 30 minutes of my Sunday is over each week I NEED church just to calm myself down.

I'm not necessarily asking for advice... it's just the same decisions I have to make every Sunday. However, there is always that hope, that some day things will click... or they will move out...

At least there is one thing to be grateful for. The two adults we have living at home love to go and are up and gone with Bart before I wake up the others.... unless one of them is working because they schedule him even though he supposedly has told them 30 times that he can't work until 10 on Sundays. But that's another blog post, another rant, for another day.

I'm off to wait and see if they get up... oh, one is screaming at me.... guess I've only got one to worry about...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Over-Committed and Over-Eager Syndrome?

You've heard of commitment-phobia right? Where people are hesitant to jump in and make a commitment and so they sit on the fence and don't quite ever plunge in?

Well I have the opposite of that -- whatever it might be called. Today I came up with OCOES (Pronounced Oh-Koze) which stands for Over-Committed and Over-Eager Syndrome. This has been demonstrated often in my life, but most recently with the house stuff it's driving me nuts.

First there was the complete jumping into the "perfect" rental with all of my enthusiasm and not ever giving a thought to the fact that it would fall through. And now we have decided we might be wanting to buy and I am feeling bad about every realtor and mortgage banker we don't choose because after every conversation I genuinely like most of them and would love to commit my business to all of them.

I'm wondering after thinking about this for a few days, how this has historically combined with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant/Conduct Disorder in my children. I have a feeling it's not a good mix. I want engagement, commitment, connection immediately and my kids are not interested at all, especially when they first move in .... and definitely not as teenagers. I have had to train myself to pull back and not overwhelm them, which I succeed at about half of the time.

Anybody else have OCOES?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ugh....

The last 24 hours have not been all that wonderful, even though I slept for about 17 of them.

I worked hard all morning (except for a quick doctors apopintment) trying to figure out the housing thing.... and then had lunch out with my husband to discuss the various options I could find. Everything was going quite well -- I had plenty of energy and the doctor said that my heart rate was at a steady 68 which is a first in months. So I was feeling great....

But about 30 minutes after lunch I suddenly became attacked violently by a stomach crisis -- must have been food poisoning -- because I haven't felt that sick in years. The stomach pain was intense and I won't go into details about all the other things I was forced to do over the next eight hours. Fortunately I slept through most of it, between trips to the bathroom, but it was awful. It completely took me out of commission. I couldn't even sit up for about 8 hours.

So this morning I'm feeling a bit better. Had some toast this morning and so far no repercussions but there is a bit of pain. We're supposed to have mexican food for lunch -- I may not eat much.

And we have made no progress on the whole housing issue other than to find out that financing is going to be really tricky if we can't sell this house soon....

Sharing the Journey Panel of Adoptees


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blessed be the Name of the Landlady???

I feel like a girl who got asked to the senior prom by someone really cute .. super cute, the perfect date. And then told everyone -- posted pictures of him on my Facebook and blog, carried pictures of him on my phone and showed everyone, and then, a couple weeks later, he changes his mind. All those visions about what prom with him was going to be like suddenly vanished, and now I have to go tell everyone. Time is running out for me to find another date and I'm pretty sure he isn't going to be nearly as good as the first guy....

The landlady for the perfect house emailed last night and told me she had decided to rent to someone else. We had already made what I considered to be a verbal agreement and had filled out the application. I was waiting back ... for almost a week ... to hear when and where we were going to meet to sign the lease and the check for the deposit. Never ONCE did it occur to me that I she would change her mind. But apparently a few of the things that I said about our family, jokingly, made her nervous about having such a large family move in (we are probably only moving with 4 or 5 kids, so to us that is a small family!) She found someone else and we are back to square one with less than 2 months before the moving van is scheduled to arrive.

I am needing to forgive her and pray blessings on her even though it is hard. But more than anything I need to forgive myself for being so chatty, for being so honest, for being so transparent, for being so trusting when it obviously was a bad idea. I had all my kids and my husband so excited about this perfect house and it is no doubt my big mouth that lost it for us.

So I cried last night -- like a teenager whose prom date had backed out -- no doubt all the accumulated tears of weeks of stress -- but I don't do it often. Fortunately Bart is the only one who had to witness it. And don't worry, I'm not a disgusting crier... like I don't blow snot all over everything, or heave in sobs, or anything like that. I mean it's not pretty or anything, but it's not super disgusting.. but I digress

And now we are back to square one. In my head I KNOW that God has a plan and that He knows why this house wasn't best for us. I also know that the plan and situation out there that is perfect for us -- but I want it to feel perfect as well. And I just can't see how it could feel more perfect than the first house I fell in love with.

But I'm going to choose forgiveness and move on, though sometimes, as a commenter pointed out the other day, forgiving ourselves is much more difficult than forgiving others. And sometimes forgiving ONE big thing is harder than forgiving 490 smaller things.

Anybody know of a house for rent in Robbinsdale, Crystal or New Hope with 4 or more bedrooms and more than 2000 Square feet? Sigh.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MNAdopt May Trainings

You can see the list here.

What's Love Got to Do ... Got to do With it

What's love but a second hand emotion? and the music continues....



Now that I have that song stuck in your head today (which may or may not prove to be helpful) I want to apply it to adoption.

If love, as Tina Turner suggests, is simply an emotion, then love really has nothing to do with it at all. If you were completely honest, you might admit that you don't FEEL loving feelings towards your child or children 24/7/365. In fact, there may be days where the emotions that you have are far from loving....

But, if love is a decision and a commitment, then it has everything to do with adoption. In fact, it is at the heart of all that we do as adoptive parents. It's that claiming, that CHOOSING to love even when we don't feel like it or don't want to or when the person we are choosing to love doesn't "deserve it."

I have firmly believed for as long as I could comprehend the concept, that love is a decision. In my book "A Glimpse of God's Heart, How Trying to Change my Kids Changed Me" I talked about how much I learned about this unconditional claiming decision-type love by adopting my kids.

Unconditional decision-type love is an amazing gift that we can give our kids. But sometimes we are stretched and stretched to the point that we just don't think we can do it any more. Their behaviors and the unloving ways in which they treat us, lead us to have VERY unloving feelings. But does that mean we don't love them? Not if love is a decision.



So, Have you Lost that Loving Feeling? And if so, what can you do about it?

CS Lewis has the answer:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

I have found this to be true so many times. The day that I feel like I love my children isn't the same day that I choose to love them. Sometimes the feeling has come much later and often it comes and goes. But I find that when I am behaving as if I loved someone, the feelings follow.

If you've never tried this, I recommend it. You may be surprised at how the "glow" you feel when you love someone comes over you as you practice the discipline of behaving in loving ways. It's almost miraculous. Your kids may never notice the difference, but I can guarantee it will change YOU.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Meets Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

MN ADOPT Announces “The Mosaic: When Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Meets Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)” with Deena McMahon, LICSW, MSW in collaboration with Mille Lacs Band Family Services in Isle, MN

Presentation: Two of the most often seen diagnoses in adoption are Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This training examines these conditions and how they overlap. Both are disorders of circumstance that play out in behavior. Join Deena McMahon as she shares how these diagnoses affect your family, while taking a closer look at what the long term picture looks like and what can ultimately be done to help these children have positive outcomes.. See attached flyer for more information.

When: Thursday, May 10, 2012
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM is open to all social workers, tribal and county child welfare staff
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM is open to all foster, adoptive and kinship parents and
Professionals.

Where: Chiminising Community Center
2500 Chiminising Drive
Isle, MN 56342

Fee: $20 per person; $35 per parenting couple (fee is the same whether you attend afternoon or evening session or both)

CEUs are available for an additional $30. Certificates of Attendance will be distributed following the presentation.

Social Skills for Children with Neurological DIfferences -- right here in Mankato!

MN ADOPT Announces “Using Creative Techniques to Develop Social Skills for Children with Neurological Differences” with Nicole Ross in Mankato, MN

Presentation: Please join Nicole Ross as she provides an interactive workshop that offers creative techniques to assist in the development of social skills among children with neurological differences (Eg. Autism Spectrum Disorder, FASD, trauma/attachment, etc). Each technique can easily be implemented into a child’s daily living across a variety of situations. Parents will learn how to use the techniques through a hands on approach. See attached flyer for more information.

When: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Bethany Lutheran College
700 Luther Drive
Honsey Hall-Room #129
Take elevator to lower level once inside building
Mankato, MN 56001
*Free Parking

Fee: $20 per person; $35 per parenting 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.
I read this poem this morning and wanted to share not only the poem but the blog with you, so I'm not going to cut and paste like I did in FB, but will just let you click over. The poem is totally worth it.

Seventy Times Seven

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my sons about all the times his older brothers have stolen from him. He was saying that he was done being nice to them and that he was tired of forgiving them. I said, "Do you know how many times Jesus said were supposed to forgive?" He just stared ahead because acting like he was interested would be out of character. I said, "Jesus was asked by the disciples how many times they should forgive someone. Maybe seven? And Jesus responded "seventy times seven."

Quickly my child, adept in math, said, "That's 490. Well I've already done that. My PSP was worth $225, my Ipod was worth ...." and he went on as I laughed. I explained to him that it isn't one episode of forgiveness for every dollar....

Yesterday one of my children regressed by several months (or years) to the "If you punish me, I'll punish you" approach. I yelled at said person for not getting out of bed to go to school and therefore they didn't go all day long. I grabbed their phone (had to do it very quickly otherwise I would never have succeeded) and said, "I'll give it back on your way to school" which I figured would really do the trick. There was then refusal to go to school all day because I took the phone. And then when we tried to talk about it, and I pointed out the immaturity in the logic of blaming all of it on me for "yelling", they left the house without permission and were gone all night. Thankfully Facebook allows me to connect via messages to anyone there without being their friend, so I was able to figure things out and so I'm not in a panic about the whereabouts, which was the intention.

In the midst of the argument that i thought we were way past, I had strong feelings of not wanting to forgive. I'm very very bored with the cycle and I'm also annoyed that when we seem to make so much progress we have to take so many steps back. I also wonder if our forgiveness policy hasn't made the younger kids realize that we aren't ever going to give up on them -- so they use it as license to do even more stuff and push us farther.

When I was a kid I had incredible parents (they are still living at almost 83 and 90 and still amazing people). But I never wanted to know what would happen if I pushed them over the edge so I tried hard NOT to. I didn't want to disappoint them. But our kids think there is no limit, no edge, and thus they cross what should be our line again and again and again.

In addition to last night's argument, I also had a really hard time with the unforgiving one who I started this blogpost about. He is the family's stress lightning rod and so when things are crazy here he is the one who is most anxious, and when most anxious incredibly rude and defiant to everyone. So I was struggling with forgiving him as well.

But I woke up this morning ready to forgive. And you might be thinking "how can she forgive so quickly and get over all the anger and frustration just a day later?"

You might guess that it is because of my amazing resilience and outstanding personality. Well, there is that. (Kidding). But it has nothing to do with me or my personality ... it's something anyone can do.

Another possibility might be my relationship with God and the fact that He tells us to forgive. And while that is partially a motivator, it isn't the central part of it.

There could also be the theory that I'm a compassionate person who can always see things through the eyes of my children and put myself in their shoes and that that leads me to further understanding and forgiveness. But if you know me, you ruled that out before we started theorizing.

So, why do I forgive 70 times 7? Because unforgiveness hurts the person who refuses to forgive way more than the one who doesn't get forgiven. It lies inside us, not as a dormant nagging presence, but as a force that slowly consumes us and turns us into resentful hateful beings who not only hate others but hate ourselves.

So in a twisted sort of way, forgiveness is self-serving. And as an adoptive parent, I have daily many opportunities to serve myself in this way! I choose to forgive because it is the right thing for me to do in order for me to keep going and live the life I've been called to live.

Sometimes it takes me a while to "get er done" and remove the resentment and bitterness that springs up over a situation, but I work on it because a forgiving heart feels better inside my body than an unforgiving one.

If you've been reading this post and been thinking about a person -- your child or someone else -- who you haven't been able to forgive, then do something nice for yourself and forgive them today. You'll feel so much better and you'll really be glad you did.

Monday, April 23, 2012

OK, so Elton John was Amazing..





I don't really like concerts. They are loud and inconvenient and take a lot of energy because you have to walk up stairs and such. And my bladder never lasts through the concert so then I have to worry about interrupting everyone. Basically I am too old for concerts. But when you're BFF buys you tickets and her sexy husband is turning 40 something, you gotta go with em. And I'm actually glad I did.

Because even though I am WAY too old to go to concerts, Elton John has me by 16 years and he performed. Seriously, he PERFORMED. That man can sing and wow, can he play that piano. Straight through, no intermission from 8:00 til almost eleven. Simply amazing... the stamina was incredible. He didn't even say more than few words between songs. It was just one hit after another for nearly 3 straight hours.

Fortunately the seats weren't horribly uncomfortable, Mike dropped us off so my back survived, and my bladder lasted through the concert (a true miracle).

The seats weren't the best and the music was loud, but you just can't argue with that kinda talent. And we made memories....

Stages of Grief for Adoptive Parents of Hurt Kids

Grief. It hits hard and it hits often. We can be having a nice day and then something triggers it and suddenly we are lost in it again. It takes a few minutes, or sometimes even a few hours or days, to get back on track. Adoption, which the outside world sees as such a happy thing, has a lot of grief mixed in for all members of the Adoptive Kinship Network (formerly known as the adoption triad).

Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross developed a model of grief commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief that she talked in her book "On Death and Dying" that was published in 1997. I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks, and it seems to me that adoptive parents go through these stages. Here is what it looks like for us:

Shock and Denial Shock can happen the day your child arrives or several months or years later. Many adopted children don't have issues that arise until they are in their early teens, and if they arrive at birth, that's a lot of years where things are going well. For us it was about the fourth day after the first two of our older kids moved in. We thought we were completely prepared and that we could handle anything. And suddenly we realized we were in over our heads. For most of us there is a day, somewhere along the line, where we are shocked that things aren't going to go as planned. It could be the day that our child is diagnosed with something we said we couldn't or wouldn't ever parent... or the day that we found out that they have been in contact with a birthparent on Facebook. But we head into a period of shock where we almost feel numb and aren't sure what to do next which we turn into denial. "This diagnosis isn't accurate." "The kids are going to get better." "This isn't happening to me." "I just have to wait it out." "I am sure that I'll find the answer really soon and everything is going to be fine."

Anger Once we pass through the shock and realize that we have a situation to deal with, then we can become angry. Thoughts like this come across our minds or even come out of our mouths: "This is NOT what we signed up for!" "I am beyond angry at the county for not telling us everything." "There is NO way that I can do this." And we seethe. Unfortunately, for some people this is where they get stuck and kids suffer because of it, as do they. All of us are here at some points, I think, but the trick is to get beyond it quickly.

Bargaining This is the stage that I call "Looking for the key." Once we realize that we do have the situation to deal with we begin to frantically search for THE answer. We run from conference to conference and from professional to professional trying to figure out how we can best fix our kid. We try something for a few weeks and when it doesn't work we try something else until we exhaust ourselves trying everything we can find. Sometimes we promise God things in order for him to want to reward us by healing our kids. Whatever it takes, we are willing to do it AS LONG AS the result is that our kids are going to be fixed when we're done.

DepressionThis can happen when we realize that nothing is working. The intense energy that we have spent seeking the perfect solution has us exhausted and emotionally frazzled and we figuratively land in a heap on the floor, exhausted and despondent. Again, sometimes this stage can last for a very long time, years even, and if we get stuck in this stage we and our families suffer.

Acceptance This is the place where we can say, "It's all going to be OK. I can't fix it, I can't change it, but even so I'm going to be OK and we're going to be OK." I think this comes for everyone who realizes that they can only change themselves and not their kids. It's a willingness to stop trying to control anyone but ourselves and to accept our kids as is, whether or not they ever change. It's a peace that is hard to explain until you get there.

The interesting thing about the five stages of grief is that the book was written to suggest that they are linear -- in other words, they fall into place, one after the other. The idea is that you pass through then one at a time and never go back once they are done. However, since then, many theorists have suggested that people jump in and out of the stages and don't always do them in order.

It's my theory (and probably not mine alone) that adoptive parents live with all of these jumbling around in their hearts and heads. We go through a few days of acceptance and then suddenly something happens and we are back at shock and denial. Or we take a brief swim in a pool of angry, or nap in the sewer of depression for a while. But there are ways of surviving all these stages of grief, whatever order they come in.

The first is faith -- possibly in God or a higher power, or maybe just faith in ourselves that we ARE going to not only survive but thrive in the chaos of parenting hurt neuro-atypical children. And the second thing is to have a sense of humor. Be willing to laugh at yourself and the things that your kids do. See humor in the weirdest places. Share your story with others in humorous ways. And finally, surround yourself with people who get it.... support groups, online folks, good friends are all ways to maneuver in and out of denial bargaining, anger, and depression, but having your baseline be acceptance -- a place that we can all learn to live with MOST of the time.

Whatever place you find yourself today, acceptance can be just around the corner. Strive for it... it's a good place to be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Mentorless Movement

The older I get the more I realize that the world of adoption is cyclical. People start out young, naive, and fairly normal. They decide they want to do something positive for the world or they want kids or more kids or whatever their motivation. Then they get their kids and things are harder than they thought. In fact, they are super-duper unbelievably hard. The parents get more and more frustrated and crabbier and crabbier until they can hardly stand themselves and then at some point or other, they realize that the key is to change themselves and not their kids and things start to get better. They seek ways to do that and they look for people to tell them the "secrets" of surviving the crazy journey they've unknowingly jumped into. And then sometimes they get to the point where they want to share what they have learned with others and so they speak, or write, or blog, or join support groups, or just go out for coffee with the people who are starting the journey or are in the first phases of it.

The next years are spent surviving, sometimes thriving, working things out in their own heads and hearts as they watch their kids battle those crazy teenage years and then they come to the transition to adulthood, which I think is the hardest phase of the journey. By the time that they are done with that part they are TIRED. As in super-duper unbelievably tired. And they recognize that they have done something that took way more energy, time and money than they ever anticipated and they want to just STOP. So they do. They stop writing, and speaking, and blogging, and going to support groups, because after all, they are done needing support in the intense ways in which they have over the last years.

But here is the problem: If everyone does that, adoption becomes a mentorless movement. And I'm not talking about mentorless for those who are raising toddlers, or preschoolers, or elementary school kids, or even adolescents, because they still have mentors. But for those of us in the trenches of maneuvering that transition to adulthood are looking for those who have wisdom from the perspective of someone who has survived this part and have gotten to the point that their kids are out of the house and on their own.

So as a mom of 8 of 12 who have been arrested, two who are in jail/prison, three unexpected grandchildren, one estranged son, etc. etc. etc., who do I turn to for mentoring? Sure, there are still people out there who are older than I who are theorists or educators or writers, but they typically didn't adopt hurting kids. They just studied about it all -- and that's way different.

I have been very tempted in the past year or two to just be done with it all -- to step away from the adoption world and just enjoy my grandkids, find a job that isn't as emotionally taxing, and escape. And people have said to me, "Isn't that typical of people in every field -- that desire to do something else after a while?" to which I respond, "yes, but it is very different if you are LIVING 24/7 at home and then living it at work as well."

But I'm not going to give into the temptation. I don't want to leave the adoption community like many others have had to do and perpetuate what I've been calling "a mentorless movement." Maybe I'll still be speaking at NACAC when I'm 75. In some ways I hope so. Let me share one reason why (and then I promise I'm almost done).

Twice this year I have talked to women who have reported to me that they have sons who have done very well since they hit 40. It took them that long to find their place in this world and to get themselves into a good place. THAT is a message I need to hear. And that is a message I hope to share 20 years from now, when my kids are all in their 30s and 40s.

Of course there are exceptions to this dearth of mentors ... but all too often we disappear once our in-the-trenches parenting is done. I still have a few years yet before I am done parenting children (by legal definition)... but when they are all over 18 I hope I have the strength to hang around.

I hope that you'll have examples that prove my theory wrong -- I know that I can think of five or six off the top of my head -- but the numbers sure do dwindle, and understandably so. But for now this concept is what is keeping me plugged in and trying to do what I can.

The Blogging Phenomenon

Blogging is an interesting phenomenon. There are various approaches to blogging and I have never really had an approach other than to sit down and write whatever comes to my head. The last several months I have gone from posting two or three or more times a day to not even getting around to it every day. I have mainly used my blog as a journal -- to get my thoughts on paper and to be a place where I can look through my past and find the things that I need to know. For example, if I want to know when someone was arrested or the exact date when we found out someone was pregnant, I can go back to my blog and read between the lines to discover those things. I have used it to share my feelings, but I haven't been one to rely on comments to get me through the day, even though I don't mind encouragement. :-)

I have found that blogging makes things seem funnier than they sometimes are and this is a place where I have an intended audience -- it's supposed to be a place where people get it. Sometimes when I post on Facebook, people aren't really sure how to take my post. I now have almost 1200 friends and many of them are people who have 1.6 "normal" birthkids... so some of the stuff I write confuses them. They try to give me advice or indicate that I have offended them.

For example, yesterday I wanted to write in my status update, "My Day has been like a Rated R (for language) episode of the Three Stooges." But I'm sure I would have gotten comments about how I needed to try washing their mouths out with soap, or possibly time-outs, or grounding them. AS IF I HAVEN'T TRIED EVERTHING!?!? (oops, sorry for yelling. Kinda). But yesterday when there were only four kids home -- Tony, Dom, Jimmy and Wilson (and Wilson spent the day in hiding), the other three were "helping" pack, but mostly arguing and swearing at each other to the point that Bart and I were more exhausted than if we would have just done the work ourselves.

But also share my experiences because I think I've learned a thing or two in the last 15 years of pretty intense parenting. I have made a zillion mistakes that I don't want other adoptive parents to make and so I feel that if I blog my way through my journey that others might read this and say "Wow, I'm not going to do THAT." Lately I have used my blog to get some ideas and to network about our move and trying to sell the house and find a place for Rand to live. Those things haven't happened yet, but I"m still hoping...

But I also recognize that people read something that benefits them. There is nothing else that compels people on the internet to read something -- they aren't being watched or monitored and there is no monetary reward. So either as a blogger they get drawn into your story and want to follow your life, they care at you because they know you in real life, or they are getting something out of it. Or you crack them up with your bizarre sense of humor (i.e. the Bloggess, that I confess to reading occasionally even though she has a filthy mouth. But of course, I live in an R-rated house).

I recognize lately that the blog has been way too much about me and I must warn you that it may be like this for a while yet. The move is completely encompassing me and between keeping up with my four jobs (two very part time, for FYI) and getting everyone settled into a good plan for next year, and packing, and trying to find out what to do with this house, I've been overwhelmed.

So, all of that to say that today I am going to share something that may or may not benefit you, but for once, is not all about me. And I'm going to put it in a new blog post so that I can link it to a few places and not make those who might not understand me wade through all of this stuff. But I want to talk about the fact that adoption is a Mentorless Movement....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Minnesota Zero Kids Waiting April 2012

Can be found by clicking here.

ADHD: Let's Just Get Along

THE 2012 SPEAKER SERIES
With Special Thanks to Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) State of Minnesota Anoka County
Saturday, May 12, 2012 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Speakers 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch and New Friendships
Location: Coon Rapids Middle School 11600 Raven Street NW, Coon Rapids, MN

ADHD: "Let's Just Get Along!"

Parenting children and teens with ADHD presents unique challenges. Developmental delays and /or deficits in executive function, emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, language processing, and social skills can undermine a child's/teen's ability to solve problems, be flexible, or tolerate frustration. Using Ross Greene's "collaborative problem-solving" approach to parenting and communication, this session will present an effective way for parents of children/teens with ADHD to approach and resolve recurring difficulties. Parents will learn methods for developing realistic behavioral objectives and strategies for handling conflicts with greater success.

PRESENTER: Marcia Mayo, Psychotherapist, ADHD Specialist, Educator Marcia owns River's Edge Consulting in Excelsior, MN. Marcia Mayo, M.A., is a psychotherapist, educator, and ADHD specialist. She has been in private practice for twenty years, working with children, teens, adults, and families, and has specialized in ADHD and related issues for the past twelve years. Marcia also facilitates workshops on ADHD and on parenting issues at Learning Disabilities Association (LDA), and in the community. She has been married for twenty-six years, parenting a blended family of five children.

TRBI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) Training

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 16th Dominyk!

He turned 16 yesterday. Hard to believe. And hard to describe Dominyk. But he is so endearing even amidst all of his special needs and difficult behaviors that you can't help but love him.

Check out what he did at 18 months -- the video is not high quality, but it captures who he has always been.



Love you Dom!

What are your thoughts?

As we transition to a new congregation in a very kind of neighborhood than we have ever ministered in before, whenever I have time to think (which isn't often lately) my mind is spinning about the intentionality that I want to have as we move. One of the areas is hopefully helping Bart with the development of a couple new ministries at the church. Based on the meeting that we had with the Staff Parish Relations Committee in our new church they are eager to reach their communities.

I made a list of all of my ideas and it is so long I'd have to live 4 more lives to carry them out. But I've been drawn to a couple ideas based on conversations that we had with the current pastor. I want to focus on one of those ideas in this blog post and I want to seek your input.

The church already has some experience in welcoming people with special needs and as an adoptive parent and former foster parents we have met several people who have stopped going to church because it is not a good fit for their family any more and they can't find a place that is. It makes me very sad to know that families feel that they have to give up church because of their kids.

Yesterday I had breakfast with two amazing women who may not want to be named here, but they are inspirations to me in the ways that they parent their challenging children and the ways that they have actively done things to share their expertise and gifts with the adoption community. We had a conversation about church that convinced me of the importance of a ministry to families like ours and others who have children by birth who have special needs.

So today I'd love to have lots of comments talking to me about church. Not necessarily denominations, or doctrine, or even religion, but the concept of attending a church. If you want to write a blog entry about it (or have ever written one) and would like to share the link that would be awesome too.

So, if you don't go to church:

Why don't you go? Have you ever gone? Would you go again?

If you are thinking about going to church:

What would you look for in a church? How would you know you had found what you were looking for?

If you are heavily involved in church, what do you love about your church? What do you feel it does best? Why is this important to you?

Would love your feedback!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Upcoming Basketball Game for Adoptive Families

FREE! Join the Minnesota Lynx and
MARN / MN ADOPT
for Adoption Awareness Night

WBNA Champions support MARN
in finding families for Minnesota Children

Sunday, June 3, 2012

6:00 to 8:00 PM

Lynx vs. San Antonio Silver Stars

Foster and adopted youth with workers and their families will fill the bleachers on Sunday, June 3, 2012, 6pm at the Target Center as the Minnesota Lynx take on the San Antonio Silver Stars. Half-time will air an adoption recruitment PSA featuring Lynx player, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Minnesota waiting kids.

To inquire about attending the game FREE, call Anne Johnson at 612-746-5122. Come help fill the stands and support adoption, especially of older youth!

Workers, if you have waiting children and youth who are basketball fans and wish to appear in the PSA to be filmed in early May, call 612-746-5122.

And Today Includes....

Job Corp orientation and interview for Mercedes. I hope she makes the right decision for her. That will be the trick -- not doing things because her parents or her friends think it is good or bad, but because she knows it's what she needs to do. Pray for her that she will be able to do that.

Having breakfast with some really fun and "cool" adoptive moms in the Cities during the orientation (but no, Kari, nobody else will be the BFF you used to be (until you got skinnier) and then in the afternoon I have a training meeting Sadie will go to with me. So I'll be gone over 12 hours today... working between things at places with WiFi.

but I need to shut up and get a couple things done in the next 10 minutes before we take off...

g'day everyone and top of the morning to you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moving Sale

No, we are not having a garage-salish thing because they are wayyyyyyyyy too much work for the amount of free time we have. We have a ton of stuff we could sell at one I suppose, but this woman is not putting little price tags on things and putting them outside the house in the yard for people to dig through and make comments about how stupid I was to buy the stuff in the first place. No way. Definitely not my thing.

However, we have a closet that has several stacks of books that we wrote that we need to sell!

So, if you haven't bought yours yet you can save $4.00 on your total purchase -- the biggest sale I've ever done.

I figure if Bart has 3,000 books he has bought that we have to move, the last thing we need to do is to pack books that we should have sold by now...

So, you can read about all three books here and then go from there or by clicking here to our online store and order one, two or all three of the books and save some $. And help me have a few less things to pack. Because really, when it comes right down to it, it's all about me.

:-)

If you don't want me to tell people you did something stupid...

then don't do something stupid!

Jimmy was fired from his job and arrested ticketed for shoplifting yesterday. The whole thing makes me very sad for him as he was an excellent employee. And the whole thing makes no sense. He was stealing, over a period of time, several little food items. But it doesn't make any sense because he has plenty of money saved and they give him free meals though. It's been a habit of his over the years to just pilfer small items... and it never makes sense. For example, he has stolen our cash while he has money in his account and all he would have to do is take the cash and say to bart or I "I'm grabbing a ten -- can you take it off my account."

I'm not sure how it all relates to his developmental disabilities or low IQ, but it's one of those things employers just don't put up with. So now we are challenged with helping him find another job after having been fired and arrested. As if the challenge wasn't going to be great otherwise.

At least he is going to be around to help pack.

An hour after he was ticketed and fired yesterday, we got notification in the mail that Ricardo had been ticketed for underage consumption. I really can't put into words how frustrated I am that he has chosen (and been enabled to choose) to leave our family. His school attendance has gotten horrible and now he has been arrested. Sigh.

2/3 of our children have been arrested at least once. That's not good statistics. Another sigh.

I could have done without all this...

I Like New Things, But.....

I am a fan of change. Change tends to uproot us from old patterns and habits that might not be healthy. It takes us from one emotional place to another. Moves are especially good for that -- fresh starts, new surroundings, etc. So when it comes time for us to change churches, and thus towns, schools, doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, dentists, grocery stores, etc. etc. etc. I am often excited about the going part.

But as I keep saying, going is awesome, but leaving is awful ... but you can't have one without the other. And so the leaving and the grieving get intermixed with the excitement of change and I find myself emotionally all over the place.

We are getting ready to start a new phase of our lives. We may be moving with as few as four but no more than 7 children. Most of them are quite independent and while they need our time and energy, they don't so as much as they did several years ago. It looks like Bart and I may be able to shift our focus a bit onto something else. I'm excited to see how things evolve and what that focus might be.

But I am sad as well. So many amazing people that we have met in the past 6 years who have become such good friends. I sit in church and look around and tear up as I look around at those who have enriched our lives. And the adoption community, and the friends we have met through that here in Mankato, well, let's just say it will be hard to replace.

So I have mixed feelings -- and way too much to do to even have time to process them. so thanks for letting me take a minute to do that here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two Miracles Down, Two to Go



>

Bart spent 4 hours with the current pastor of our new church and it was a great meeting. I had told Bart back in November or December that the only way God would ask us to move away from the people we love here in Mankato was if he had a place that really needed us... that was lined up and ready for exactly what he (and our family) would bring to the table, so to speak, in regards to ministry and mission. Every hour that went by yesterday I was convinced that this was the truth. The church is right at the point of wanting to do the kind of ministry that Bart and I have wanted to do for years -- urban ministry in a multicultural environment. We met a couple of the staff people and everything seems lined up ... it's like a launching pad for a rocketship heading to new heights. I have to keep reminding myself that we will need to take things slowly and that it's my church, but not my job, but it's still an obvious God-thing. And that's Miracle Number One.

We also are signing a lease to rent the perfect house for us! The landlords are accidental ones and the house is meticulous -- yet they still plan to redo flooring in some rooms and repaint. It is spacious with an open floor plan and they are even throwing in the family room furniture for free (they can't get it up the stairs -- it's what is seen in the picture below). When I had scoured (and I mean thoroughly gone through every possibility within 5 miles of the church) the web, this is the only one that stood out to me. I was afraid that someone else was going to get it first, or that Bart wasn't going to like it, but once we were inside we knew it was our place.. at least for now to rent... possibly to buy in the future. I'm not sure if it is OK to do this, so if it isn't someone please let me know, but our new address is going to be DELETED FROM THIS POST BECAUSE of what happened here and these are the pictures of the house :-) I won't show you bathrooms or bedrooms, or the backyard and garage -- you'll have to come over to see that. And there you have it -- huge Miracle Number Two. Of course this is all pending that the renter doesn't change her mind, but she won't. She liked Bart and I and she didn't meet the kids :-)

Two more left and I'll stop asking God for miracles for us and let Him do some for you :-) We need to sell or rent this house -- which will be the biggest miracle of all -- and we need an ideal living situation for Rand. I know if God can do the two above, he can do the remaining two!

Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Complex Trauma Parenting In Action: Tools for Healing in Daily Life

THE 2012 SPEAKER SERIES
With Special Thanks to
Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS)
State of Minnesota
Anoka County
Saturday, April 14, 2012
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Speakers
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch and New Friendships
Location: Coon Rapids Middle School
11600 Raven Street NW, Coon Rapids, MN

Complex Trauma Parenting In Action: Tools for Healing in Daily Life

“Can Consequence Me All You Like But Stealing Just Makes Me Feel Better”
A trauma informed approach to help children act and relate differently when stressed in daily life. Learn what causes these reactions, how and why the brain is wired differently and how you can help your child. When working with your child with complex trauma, cognitive tools that try to shift how your child may think don’t go far enough to help a child meet emotional and relational needs. This workshop will address behaviors, relational engagement, creating safety, and self regulation with hands-on parenting techniques.

PRESENTER: KRISTA NELSON, MA, LICSW, LMFT, Project Coord.—Wilder Foundation Center for Children with RAD

Krista has over twenty-five years of therapy and social work experience working with children and families going through difficult life transitions. In addition to her work with Wilder, she is in independent practice as a family therapist to adoptive parents and children. Krista specializes in working with survivors of abuse and trauma, children and families in the child protection system and youth in residential, foster and adoption placements with attachment disorder. Krista provides multiple professional and parent focused trainings across Minnesota each year on how to understand, effectively treat or manage daily family life when raising an attachment disordered child.

PLEASE RSVP
NANCY LE at (763)422-7104, nancy.le@co.anoka.mn.us
MARY WALKER at mneebwalker@yahoo.com

Profundities (toward the end of the post) ;-)



I saw this cartoon in Sunday's paper and was hoping to find it online -- one of my FB friends had done it for me!)

Saturday was one long day. I have pictures so I can blog the definition of ODD in story form, but I don't have time to do that this morning.

Dominyk, Jimmy, Wilson and I left at about 3:30 to go to the Cities. Up until then it was a constant battle from the time the kids got up until we left. I did get to spend a couple hours with Isaac which is always a highlight... But my back was in horrible shape! It was really bugging me to the point that I needed help getting up and out of the van. Dominyk for some reason was feeling very sensitive to my pain and asked me every time we got out of the van if I needed an escort. Then he would come over and help me get out. Not until yesterday did I tell him that an escort also meant a male prostitute. He just said, "Ew mom." I love shocking teenage boys. It's not easy to do. But for some reason that was less than appealing to him. LOL.

Sunday was a good day. Lunch with friends, lots of time to talk with the kids, the packing of a bookshelf of books, dinner date with my husband, time to get some work emails caught up, etc. My back was still bugging me but it seems to be improving by the day. I slept horribly last night, my mind just racing. I was awake from 3:45 to 5:15 with thoughts just spinning round my head.

This morning we are heading to the Cities so Bart can meet with the current pastor of the church and so that we can look at a couple of rental properties. We prefer one over the other from pictures and driving by.... (as Wilson says, we did a drive by Saturday) but we'll see what it looks like.

I realized something Saturday that really stood out to me since I had taught a class on Transracial Adoption the day before. A few of my kids really don't see themselves as kids of color and the media has freaked them out about living in a diverse city. I'm sure I"ll write more about this as we transition, but I am hoping that we can build some bridges that will help them to see that they don't need to be afraid.

I grew up in the inner city. My dad was a pastor in Denver in a very Hispanic neighborhood growing up where drunk guys fell asleep on the church steps (by preschool aged brother always referring to them as the junk men). I grew up knowing the rules of the city -- to keep to yourself, mind your own business, don't draw attention to yourself, leave people alone, don't stare, etc. etc. When I was 16 I was riding the city bus (transferring once) in the evenings to and from work alone and never experienced fear. I've lived in Mexico and gone alone, as an early 30s white woman, on subways in the biggest city in the world, thought then to have about 27,000,000 people, believing that each day I traveled there I had seen a million of them, and really didn't have fear there either.

So I need to work hard to understand my children's fear and help them to adjust to life in the city. Cities are a multi-ethnic hodgepodge of different people of different socio-economic groups and can be a wonderfully rich environment once we get beyond fear....

but isn't that true of any place or any group of people? Life can be wonderfully rich once we get beyond fear.

Wow, that was profound. Speaking of profound, yesterday I was talking to fellow adoptive parents and very cool people at church who mentioned that their young adult daughter hasn't been home in a few days. I remember these times well as they have happened in our home many times. Teenagers avoiding parents and how it feels to be shunned and avoided them. But I told them to take heart (Ok, so I didn't use those words, but you get the idea). I said, "People who love you are like mirrors. When you don't feel good about yourself you want to stay away from them because when you look at them you see yourself."

Profound I'd say. I think I'll put it on Facebook. Might be more brilliant than some of the other things I"ve written there lately.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nutritional interventions for children with FASD

Kari wrote a great article about this topic if you'd like to read it on my Everything About Adoption blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh What a Week! My Kids are awesome!

Bart is coming home tonight and I"m so glad. It's been a very productive week and I"m super grateful that I've had the strength to do what needed to be done. Let me rehash it for you... and for the record..

Left Monday morning at 5 with Bart, Leon and Sadie. We drove to the airport and dropped off Bart, had breakfast, and then drove up to the see the outside of a house we might rent, the outside of the house, and the outside of the two schools in the district where we hope to move. I brought them home and took them back to school by 11 so that I could get a nap and some hours in for work. I am trying to make myself available to the kids to talk about stuff so I spend Monday night during supper and afterwords. Rand made dinner.

Tuesday morning I left at 8 with Tony after dropping kids off for school. We were gone until 4:00. The Job Corp interview took 2.5 hours. We came home, his decision made that he's going to Wisconsin either before June 1 or on July 18th. He's pleased with his decision and was so excited about it that he now has Sadie interested. Again, evening spent frantically putting work hours in, having dinner with the kids (that Rand prepared) and trying to keep them on an even keel.

Wednesday morning I left at 8 and drove to my office, an hour from here, spending the morning working on files and the afternoon at 3 separate home visits. I got home around 7:30 and then had pie with Sadie after she got off work where she solidified her decision to pursue Job Corp. The kids got their own dinner.

Thursday I actually spent the day at home, working on job stuff and then babysitting Isaac and making sure there was dinner on the table with the help of Rand and Jimmy.

Yesterday I left at 6:30 a.m., drove 2.5 hours, taught for 6.75 hours, left for a meeting that ended at 5:45 and was home by 7:30. The kids got their own dinner. I was in bed by 8:45 completely exhausted. I was not feeling well at all last night.

I slept almost 12 hours... which is a lot, but woke up with a back ache (too much driving? too much sleeping? too much stress?) a headache (too much everything) and a a full day ahead. Isaac is coming for 2 hours after which we are leaving at 2 to head to my office (I have to get things ready for a day of coordinating files with a bunch of volunteers on Tuesday) and then up to the Cities for the fourth time this week. Jimmy and Dominyk (and possibly Wilson) will be coming to see the neighborhood, the church, and the school Dominyk is interested in (You can see it here and if you aren't on my facebook where you've seen the answer you can guess what he is most excited about (and if I've told you the story you are disqualified as well, KARI).

We will have dinner out and then pick up Bart at 9:00 p.m. to drive home and fall in bed exhausted again.

I feel really good about much of what we have accomplished this week. Several of the kids feel good about plans for next year. We have gotten some sorting and decluttering done in the midst of everything. The kids were able to get themselves off to work and school without me three days this week. Now THAT is amazing. They have helped with meals all week long. They have kept the house fairly clean and not argued much. There is only one broken window after all the hours they have spent unsupervised.

This might not be a huge accomplishment for most groups of 7 teenagers/young adults ages 13-23... or maybe it is ... but it is awesome for my group. They have stepped up to the plate and I'm proud of them.

Now back to the paperwork and emails that need to be done before I leave today. If only this head would stop pounding....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Piece to My Puzzle -- Any ideas?

I mentioned a couple posts ago that our son Rand was wanting to stay in Mankato and needing a place to live. While he has made tons of progress and is a really neat kid, he's not quite ready to move in with just anyone who advertises on Craig's list. He will still need our help managing his money, but if he had a stable person to room with who wasn't the kind of person who might take advantage of him, he would do great.

Mankato is the place in his life that Rand has felt the most stable and it took him about five years to be established here. He currently volunteers with Young Life and is very involved in that group and he has made good friends there and is on their leadership team. He is very connected to several people in our church and has good friends there as well.

Rand has been with us since he was 11 and has made so much progress. He graduated from High School on time with a fairly decent GPA. He has never been involved in any kind of partying and has no addictions (other than the food addiction he shares with his parents I suppose). He is kind and very helpful and loves to please people (except his mother sometimes). He has an easy going personality and everyone who meets him likes him. He has a contagious belly laugh and loves to have a good time.

He has completed a year of college, works full time, is in the process of purchasing a car, and he is doing a good job of not spending more than he makes, even though finances are tight for him. He is completely independent as far as getting himself up and ready for things and helps out with his younger siblings. His degree is in culinary arts and he has a lot of experience with grocery shopping and meal preparation and loves to cook for others. He takes initiative with snow shoveling ;-) I could even see him living in the basement of an elderly couple helping them with lawn care, snow shoveling, heavy lifting, etc.

An ideal situation for Rand would be one or two other guys in a Mankato apartment or a room or more in another family's home where he could help out. If you know anybody who is currently wanting to rent an apartment with someone, or a family or couple who would have a room or more to spare, please email me at maeflye at mac dot com.

Feeling stressed? Spend 5 minutes on Facebook

I was coming here to report to you that I am incredibly stressed out -- so much so that I don't have time to tell you all the reasons why. Let's just say the last 90 minutes have been out of this world stressful....

at least I thought so until I looked at facebook for about 3 minutes and saw things that my friends are going through.

I'm saying prayers for many of my friends whose lives are harder than mine at the moment... and since I can't be that for you -- go check out facebook for 5 minutes. You might end up being grateful. Of course, if you have all kinds of friends who don't have anything bad happening to them today -- or if you have, God forbid, friends who aren't ON facebook or who don't post all their trials there, then maybe you shouldn't try it. You might feel worse.

:-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

if You're Worried about me...

don't be. I got distracted and forgot to blubber. I did sit by the oven for a bit. Now I'm in my warm office trying to get work done.

Just so you know, I can never blubber for long even when I do start to cry. It bores me and so I tire of it quickly and move on.

I'm sure I'll have many more blubbering moments, but I know that good things and people lie ahead and that I will add them to my life-long list of wonderful friendships while still retaining the ones with folks we're leaving behind.

It's just the tunnel that gets us from here to there -- all the work, all the goodbyes, and yes, all the tears that I dread.

Once I'm to the other side it will all be okay.

wow.... that's a great metaphor for life too, isn't it?

Chattering teeth

My house is frrrrrreeeeeezzzzing. It seemed cold a couple days ago but I figured it was because we hadn't used the heater. So last night I cranked it and we got a big fat nothing.

It's 25 degrees out there and doesn't feel much warmer in here.

Kaaaaaaaaari!!!!!!!! Please ask mike to come over. I have to be gone all day but I don't want to come home to this.

I am suddenly in a panic about this one seemingly small but actually huge part of our move and now I'm tearing up. I don't think Kari's going to let mike move with us. What are we going to do???? We are losing our faithful and free maintenance guy. I think we are going to be perpetually surrounded by broken things and probably be cold forever.

. And. I miss my very faithful electric blanket who currently is in sunny Florida. (that would be Bart not Mike)

Now I'm almost blubbering That's what four cold hours of restless sleep will get you I'm going to go open the oven door and sit there and blubber until the kids get up.

Sound fun?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Details Details, my brain is overwhelmed with details...

and I HATE DETAILS.

Let me categorize them for myself and for you, in order of what might be interesting to you.

1) The House. This is a great, solid house, structurally very sturdy and has tons of space. However, the realtors looked at it yesterday and are recommending a great deal of work before we list or sell it, mostly painting and a couple areas of flooring. There is no way that we can simultaneously pack, move, and paint. I would love to sell it as is or at least find out what someone else wanted it to look like so we didn't do the stupidest thing in the world that everyone does -- which is completely redo it so that the buyer can come in and completely redo it. So, the question is this: Do I take pictures and show everyone what it looks like with our crap all in it and the painting not done? We live in Mankato, by the way, to answer a comment question, a town of about 45,000 about 80 miles SW of the Twin Cities. I could easily take pictures, but it's going to look like a place nobody wants to live with all our junk in it I fear. What would YOU do?

2) Rand. Our son Rand wants to stay in Mankato and really he should. It has taken him his whole life to feel as settled as he does right now. He has become, at his own initiative, involved in Young Life Leadership with a great group of guys his age and he loves it. He is also employed, in school, and has a lot of friends at our church here. We would love to have him stay but he really can't afford his own place. I've talked to a couple people about some options, so I won't give more details yet in case they are interested, but those details are spinning.

3) Schools for everyone. This coming school year I was supposed to have EVERYONE in the same school (Jr. High and HS are connected here) for the first time since 1999. But no. Now they are going to be everywhere. I took Leon and Sadie with me yesterday to go to the airport and look at schools and they are convinced that the high school in the district that is farthest away from the church is better. So if anyone knows anything about either Robbinsdale or Cooper High School and how they compare to each other? Also, a good charter school option for Dominyk? Lionsgate has fifteen on their waiting list for his grade so that isn't going to happen even though I hear they are awesome.

4) Job Corp. Thanks for all your input about it. I don't think that he will meet anyone who is a worse influence than his older brothers have been and so far he's been able to be his own person. I really thought in the orientation that it was a good program. Tony has his interview today and of course I cannot find his birth certificate. I've looked everywhere. I can find almost everyone elses but his. I cannot find his court paperwork for his adoption. I have every other piece of paperwork regarding him and several of his drawings from kindergarten filed neatly, but no important stuff. UGH.... So I'm taking some other stuff with me that hopefully will work.

5) Mike. He was supposed to live with us for 30 days in order to be released from prison. He was there executing time for old offenses. His discharge date is June 4, we are supposed to be ready to roll in Crystal on the 24th, and his baby is due on the 12th. I need to talk to his PO and try to figure that out.

SO.... there you have it. The top five "details" of the day that are spinning in my brain along with TONS of work related things.

Anybody have any input?

Monday, April 09, 2012

Wanna be part of a miracle?


It's 3 p.m. and I am going to have to work for the rest of the night just to get caught up on things. Bart is out of town so I might as well work, but the morning was spent on move stuff. The house situation is overwhelming.

We are literally praying for a miracle. The stress of trying to come out of this without a huge loss is weighing heavily on Bart and he is literally sick to his stomach over it. I told him to give me a week to worry about it while he is away at his spiritual formation academy.

So I'm asking those of you who believe in the power of prayer to pray pray pray that we can find a buyer for our house that would be willing to meet us half way in order to get a really good deal. Our house is the only one we could find for under $200K six years ago that we could all fit in. It has tons of square feet -- I'm thinking over 3K. We haven't done much upkeep as far as paint and flooring, but it's got great solid construction and it's in a wonderful neighborhood.

If you don't believe in prayer than get the word out for us! Larger families especially would really find the place ideal. Right now we have it configured to be an 8 bedroom home with 6 of those bedrooms being up to foster care standards. Then there is also an office. Electrical stuff was replaced six years ago, we have brand new flooring in the kitchen, dining room, and huge living room, and we had our beloved friend Mike completely redo the downstairs bathroom and laundry area. (the outside has been touched up with paint as well where it was flaking in this picture a couple years ago).

I would love to be able to tell Bart that we had some good leads. Gotta get the pastor to have a bit more faith that God is EVEN bigger than the current real estate crisis.

Thanks for helping us find the right buyers for this house quickly. I am anticipating a miracle. Wouldn't you like to be a part of it?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

P.S.

For those of you who are wondering... I forgot to say that my jobs aren't changing so those of you who know me in a professional capacity... be assured you are stuck with me. :-)

Easter at the Fletchers

So, because we had this big news pending, I decided to give myself a break in regards to Easter for us this year.

I decided that our multi-year traditon of white shirts and ties for all the boys was just stressing me out to a whole new level of stress. Two of the boys had fairly new dress shirts that weren't white. I didn't feel like ironing multiple shirts. And so, I just let that go.

Then there is the whole "everyone needs to be here on holidays" feeling that I get as a mom. You know it if you're a mom, but I have 2 boys in jail this Easter, so that wasn't going to happen no matter what. Courtney, Isaac's mom, had decided to have Easter dinner with her family. So I let that part go. It was Kyle and Christy's year to go to her mom and dads (and since within a few months we will be living only 20 minutes from them (see this post if you missed the news) it wasn't that important that they be here. Ricardo isn't really talking to us, and Salinda wasn't sure she was coming cuz she had to work. So I let that whole "large family MUST be together" idealism go.

Then there was the "I must take family pictures" expectation. This one causes a mass amount of stress for me. But i didn't really want pictures this year because I didn't want to have to look back and say "oh that was the year that Ricky wasn't speaking to us and Mike and John were in jail." So I let that go too.

Then I have the "I love to sit with all my kids in church on easter" feeling. But I was singing in the choir this year. So that meant that everyone being at the same service wasn't significant. I required those living at home to be at the 7, but everyone could choose if they wanted to go to the 9:00 or the 10:30 or both. That meant that I didn't have to be frustrated when Salinda and Gabby, who did make it up, didn't end up in church with me.

Suddenly everything was much more manageable without all of those "musts." Bart had most of the dinner prepared last night, so today I enjoyed a great service (with one of his best sermon's ever). The cutest baby in the world was here for about 10 wonderful hours yesterday, Apparently we should have watched him more closely, but he had a lot of fun...



and fell asleep in Bart's lap after a bath.



I felt so much more peaceful this weekend than I ever have on Easter weekend than ever before. Maybe not as peaceful as angelic Isaac when he is asleep, but pretty dang peaceful. I think I'm going to let go of some of my huge expectations again next year. Or maybe not. But this year it was nice to take a break. We needed to use our emotional energy elsewhere.

The Unbloggable Becomes Bloggable

I have kept a big secret for two weeks. Actually it was a possible secret for about four months. But I am a verbal processor and I like to talk and talk and TALK about what is going on in my head, so keeping a secret has been difficult.

In this blog post I will simply attempt to provide you with the facts and then in later posts we can talk about my feelings, Bart's feelings, the kids feelings, your feelings, our friends feelings and all the feelings of everyone who has feelings about it.

But for today, the facts ma'am. nothing but the facts.

The United Methodist Church practices an Ecclesiastical form of church government. This means that ordained elders are appointed by the bishop and his/her cabinet to the church where they will serve as pastor. It's a complex procedure each year when this group of people meets to determine who will go to the places where there is a vacancy because the pastor retired, who will move to the spot where the person replacing the retiring person will go, and on and on like dominoes until all of the pieces of the puzzle are fit together.

Each year pastors are allowed to express to the cabinet one of three things: 1) We have to move; 2) We are open to a move if there is a good match; and 3) We really really want to stay. This year, back in December I believe, we met and chose option 2.

Bart has made a lot of good progress here and yet he was wondering if he had done all he could in this situation. We have great friends here, both in our church and within the adoption community, and especially are connected to our friends Mike and Kari who have been our BFsF since we moved here. But this is getting past the facts stage. We really didn't want to move, but we knew that if a good opportunity came up we should probably be open to take it.

Most of the decisions about where people are moving take place in January or February. By the time March 1st rolled around we were pretty sure we were staying here for the next year and were relieved and feeling quite settled about that option.

Two weeks ago about this time Bart got a call. It was March 25th so by this time we had stopped even thinking about moving as being a possibility. But he got the call. We had already planned to be in the twin Cities that week, so going to the meeting to talk about the opportunity was easy to disguise.

For a full week, until last Sunday afternoon, it was not official. We had to meet with the church Staff Parish Relations committee and the district superintendent. That happened last Sunday and it was such a very great meeting that it was clear that it was a perfect "missional match" and we became very excited about going. However, in order to go, you have to leave, and that's the hard part.

We decided to tell our kids on Monday night and ask them not to tell their friends because it was confidential until it was announced this morning. They seem to have done a pretty good job. There were a few people that we felt would be incredibly hurt to hear about it in a letter or in a formal announcement so we told a few of them. We have shed a lot of tears and watched others shed them over the past week.

This morning, after a wonderful Easter service surrounded by many many people who love us and whom we love, the announcement was made the the bishop was appointing Bart to serve at the Brunswick United Methodist Church in Crystal, Minnesota, a first ring suburb of Minneapolis.

So that's the news. Those are the facts.

The overwhelming piece of it all is that we have to move our family, find a house to either rent or sell, and figure out what to do with our house, not necessarily in that order.

Maybe I should offer MIke and Kari as being friends that come with the house, though they might not like that. It sure makes the deal more sweet.

Want to buy a house?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

These are the Days of Our Lives


So.... I have a few minutes this morning to blog and I'll fill you in on a few things that matter.

1) Isaac is adorable. But you knew that. He was here on Thursday and will be back today. He is at a really cute stage and learns new tricks and words every day. For example, when I say "Who's cute?" he says, "Iiiiiiiisaac." The other day Bart started this thing where he says one......two.....three..... GOTCHA and grabs him. Bart holds up one finger, then two, then three... you get the idea, you're bright. When Isaac wants him to do it again he holds up his hand trying to make three fingers and says "Treeeee." Beyond cute. He also can say Grandma now, not quite as clearly as his scratchy low voice "Grandpa" but pretty close. He's very fun to have around and I'm counting the hours until he is back today.

2) Last night Wilson had two friends over and they decided to take a 12:30 a.m. walk "two blocks" to one of the two friends' house which was really more like a mile and a half away. Fortunately, his mother heard them sneaking into her house even though I didn't hear them sneaking out of mine and kept her son at home and brought the other two back here. She called me at 12:30 but I didn't get the message until 2:45, which lead to 90 minutes of no sleep for me thinking about how sneaky he was and what consequences would help him learn (he does learn from them) and all the horrible things that could have happened. I got the other friend up early this morning and gave him a ride home and he got a very lengthy lecture. Now Wilson is in the shower -- and has been for quite a long time. I think he might be avoiding a conversation with me which I understand.

3) Job Corp. Orientation Thursday was interesting. If the program is what they say it is, it might be a very good option for a lot of our kids. They have a NO tolerance policy for a lot of things as there are people wanting the slots and it's all funded by the federal government. On top of all of that, if they get arrested on that property it's a federal crime.

Anyway, the program makes kids toe the line. Most finish the program in a year, but they have 2 years to complete it. Some finish in 8 months. They leave with a diploma or GED (only the diploma option if you are a true senior) and a certification in a trade. Examples include painting and wallpapering, CNA, Medical Secretary. Carpentry, Auto Mechanics, etc. They also have an Advanced Career Training option for the very motivated where they can attend college. The kids get a small stipend every two weeks (25-50) and have all their meals, transportation and entertainment covered. They have two weeks off for Christmas and two weeks off in the summer where transportation home is paid for. Transportation is also paid to get them to the program and home if they complete the program. According to the people we have talked to, it is income based, but having an IEP qualifies kids as their own financial case. In addition anyone who is receiving Medical Assistance qualifies (if I understood correctly).

Tony is a verbal processor and so he talked it out on the way home... and talked it out and talked it out. I think he changed his mind 8 times about what he wants to do during the 2 hour ride home. I'm not sure that he has arrived at a conclusion but we have an interview in a couple days to further clarify what he is going to do.

Today is wedding shower plannning day and we are having the Coffees over for dinner -- YAY....

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

Another long day with several ups and downs. Lots of details and things to deal with between work and home and the kids.... just haven't been at my computer much, which is weird for me.

Holy week is a busy time for the "pastor's family" so we are going to church nightly and getting ready for the big day. Tomorrow will involve a lot of organization and possibly some shopping to get everyone dressed for Sunday.

Also, it's baby shower planning time for Mike's baby with his girlfriend and her mom... so that is coming up as well.

busy days, busy days...