Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

What a nice, snowy, quiet day on the mountain. Everything is wrapped in about three inches of soft, fluffy white stuff. The house smells of chocolate. I made two different kinds of brownies to take to our party tonight. The turtle has a fresh clean tank for 2010. The children are napping, so as to be fresh and rested for the long night of festivity. I am getting ready to go stand in a hot shower for a ridiculously long period of time. Happy New Year to all my friends and family...those I see face to face, and those who live in my computer. May God bless you with an adventure or two in the next twelve months.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why Bother?

I have a lot of thoughts kicking around in my head today. It has been an uneventful holiday season so far. This is a biggie, as this time of year is usually a signal to some of my children to self destruct, crash and burn, and try to take all of us down with them as they spiral into the frozen dirt. Imagine my surprise when so much of the holiday hoopla has passed, and no fireworks...yet. I am well aware that we are not out of the woods yet. I am also fully anticipating at least one child to tank as soon as school vacation is over. But it has been nice while it has lasted, and I am going to keep on basking in the glow as long as I can.

Yesterday I was pondering how well Lala has done over vacation. She has about a week and a half off, and the first third was spent in the bustle of preparing for Christmas, celebrating, and cleaning up. Then camp got into gear on Sunday, and she has (unwillingly) been going to work at the kitchen with her Dad, helping out as she can, and learning some of the jobs her older siblings usually do. She has been "early to bed and early to rise", with lots of structured activity in between. She has whined, and even wept over her lot, as she would prefer to lay on the couch and watch TV until her eyeballs fall out, or even just sleep all day, rather than WORK. Not that anyone else around here does such things, but she always thinks of herself as a special case. Today I watched her bustle about the kitchen, helping her Dad assemble some sandwiches in a hurry, and although she still gets in the way a bit, she is clearly trying to be helpful, and feels like she is doing something that matters. Tomorrow our campers will leave after lunch, and we will slip back into party and relaxation mode. The final third of vacation will wrap up with a typical Sunday at church and quiet winding down to school on Monday. I don't foresee any major bumps in the road.

Yesterday I was hanging out in the camp kitchen with beloved husband and Lala. It was between meals, and we had a few quiet moments to chat. Lala had made herself a bag of microwave popcorn, and was angrily stuffing it into her mouth piece by piece, to show me how peeved she was because she was grounded and couldn't go off with her sisters and a friend. I asked her why she was angry. She couldn't tell me. I asked her why she was grounded. She couldn't tell me. I asked her how long she was grounded for. She couldn't tell me. I felt so bad for her in her chronic state of confusion, that I decided to GO OVER IT ALL AGAIN. Slowly, painfully, excruciatingly, we went over the series of bad choices that had landed her on extreme grounding. Then we went over the string of bad choices she made that had further compounded and extended her grounding. We reviewed the rules, and discussed the warnings that had been issued. We talked over her debts, and why she owed money (restitution for damages), and how she would pay them.

When all was said and done, she admitted that none of it really mattered to her because:
  • She was never going to get off grounding because she would never make good choices.
  • She was never going to pay off her debts because she would just keep making new ones.
  • She thought we were all really mean, and she wished she had gotten a nicer family.
She did concede that her sisters didn't find themselves in a similar predicament, that they actually seemed pretty happy. Her explanation? We like them better, and we are much nicer to them. Though she did concede that they had to obey the same rules, and pay restitution when they destroyed things. Hmmm. Makes perfect sense to me.

At one point, when we were discussing her desire for a nicer family, I just broke into a monologue, in my sweetest, kindest Mom voice. I told her that when she laid down in her bed at night, she should thank God for giving her the most perfect Mom for her. That she was so lucky to get such a stubborn, ornery Mom like me, that WOULD NEVER GIVE UP ON HER, no matter how silly she might be. I also told her HOW LUCKY I am, to have her for my daughter, because she always makes my life so INTERESTING. I thanked her for giving me so many interesting things to do, like emailing her teachers, and scouring school websites for missing assignments. Like watching her every minute, to be sure she wasn't doing anything too..."interesting". And all the while, she was shaking her head back and forth harder and harder, trying not to grin. As I rattled on and on, she kept saying "No! You would LIKE it if I stopped! You would be HAPPY if I stopped." And yet again, I realize that this child never, ever wants me to like anything about her, and never, ever wants to make me happy in any way, shape, or form.

Right on cue, Boo galloped into the kitchen and demanded to know what was so funny, and what were we laughing about? I didn't even have time to come up with an answer, when she went on in an accusatory and suspicious tone. "You and Dad are so weird. You're so HAPPY all the time lately. It's not normal...but I like it!" And with that, she galloped back out the door, leaving her father and me laughing, and Lala huffing indignantly, and declaring, "I think you LIKE it when I'm in trouble!"

Last night I was laying in my bed, listening to the wind rip the roof and the tree branches off, and turned on the TV to keep me company, since beloved was snoring already. There was this horrible show on about hoarders. I say horrible in regard to the subject matter, not about the show itself. There was this horrible woman living in a hell hole of her own making. They actually found two of her missing cats, dead, in the piles of refuse. Her son and daughter had arranged the whole intervention because they couldn't stand to see their aging mother living like this, plus her house was going to be condemned. It had been going on for years and years. The daughter had actually raised her brother, because child services had removed him from the house when he was a child. The mother had never cleaned up the house and gotten him back. The whole time everyone was working, the mother sat out on the porch in a rocking chair and *itched about how this was all someone else's fault, namely the daughter, who seemed to have done a great deal for her ungrateful, mean mother. The clinical psychologist on the case said something to the effect of, "As long as she blames other people for her situation, she will never have the impetus to change."

When I heard that, it dropped like a stone into my brain. Lala wakes up every day and blames everyone else for her situation. She doesn't even care if her accusations and blame casting make sense. She really believes we are a mean family. She believes we like her sisters better, and treat them nicer. She wishes she could have gotten lucky, and gotten a "better" family. She thinks her teachers at school are mean too. She thinks they like the other students better. She thinks her classmates' grades are higher and they get along with one another, because they are "lucky". Why would a girl like her even bother to try? Her family hates her, her teachers hate her...everyone hates her.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Caution...whining ahead!

Yup. I just got back from a week of vacation, and I'm already whining. Hard to believe isn't it? Oh, I'm not whining about vacation. Vacation was divine. It's been more than eighteen years since beloved husband and I have done such a rash thing as leave the old homestead for an entire week, without our entourage. I think we need to do it again much sooner than eighteen years in the future. took me the better part of four days to simply unwind enough to relax and enjoy myself. Not that I wasn't having fun, but creeping, gnawing dread had taken hold of me prior to departure, and it would not let go. The phone calls home didn't help either. The children did a good job trying to convince me to relax and not worry, but I knew there were problems. I had enough quick access to email to know. So just when I had begun to relax, and purpose to not worry and overdiscuss my problem child (or two)...poof, vacation was over. It was time to pack up our honeymoon cottage (new tent) and fly home. I needed another week. Now I'm home digging out from under the Mount Everest of laundry, restocking empty shelves, coaxing my shy cat to love me again. I'm dealing with clingy children, lazy children, naughty children. The aftermath of one child is particularly spectacular. I'm tired, and my sinuses hurt from flying, and I have a mild stomach bug...which might be related to the sinus pressure/headache, or might just be a stomach bug. It's keeping me awake at night, which makes me feel more tired, and more impatient. It makes me want another vacation.

On the one hand, I wonder why I would want to put myself through this, all for the sake of some peaceful time with my good husband. I haven't even whined about what a horrible time we had trying to get ready to go. That week was so challenging I entertained thoughts of canceling. If it would not have cost me cold hard cash to do so, I don't doubt I would have. But then I was there, and it was too far to run back home. I had to stay. Now I'm back, and I have to dig my way back out of this hole. I think I spent the first half of the week resenting the week before, and the last bit resenting what I knew awaited me when I returned. The perfect solution is a two week vacation. I figure I would get at least one full week of pure bliss. Or maybe I would have stretched out my worrying and bitterness. It's hard to say. I think it could have gone either way.

So I leave you with a picture of us looking relaxed and happy, celebrating 23 years. Note to self: don't wait until 41rst anniversary to do it all again, though by then all the children should be out of the house and we might be able to unwind a little faster.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

MJ and the Zombie Ballerina

Wow! I really never thought these two would ever start to get along...but I did suspect that the little one would one day be bigger than the big one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cussing Moms and Sticker Charts

Lately I've been taking the time to read at a blog, which may have put me off in the past. Nah...probably not. Well, maybe a little. There has been some discussion there, about her use of cuss words in her blog posts. I'm not writing this post to comment on that, or to agree or disagree with some of her commenters. I'm just writing this post because reading her blog got a few thoughts kicking around in my head, and that's what usually inspires me to write something down. (So thanks Corey, for getting the dendrites moving.)

I am also writing about sticker charts, because I have seldom experienced such a united sentiment of venom and disdain from the adoption community, than when one mentions the words "sticker chart". Someone should definitely warn the mental health community. Apparently I radiate a certain aura which clearly communicates that I am not a woman to be trifled with, and I have never had a sticker chart suggested to me.

Come to think of it, I think the two things might just go hand in hand. First, because the phrase, "Have you thought of trying a sticker chart?" makes most adoptive moms want to let loose a string of profanity, and second, because both the irrational hatred of sticker charts and the desire to cuss, are expressions of the depths of frustration with which we live each day.

First, my thoughts on sticker charts, first thought when I was a small child. Sticker charts are lame. What is so cool about having to do something HARD, and then "getting" to mark this labor with a sticker? Just give me candy or cash, and maybe we can talk. Yet... sticker charts can be mildly satisfying to an overachiever, because one does understand that a sea of stickers on one's chart, does signify superiority over lowly children with only a neat, modest row of stickers. Of course there is my son, who had his own thoughts on sticker charts. To him, each unfilled blank spot represented an absolute necessity to do a chore, or memorize a verse. Call it an obsession. It ate at him into the night, and he would move heaven and earth, and run over the top of you to get the job done, and get the last sticker neatly seated in its little box. And then he would be done and never think of it again.

Sticker charts make my adopted children yawn, as well they should. They made me yawn when I was a child. Rewarding them with stickers for doing things they DO NOT WANT TO DO seems, well, ridiculous. And telling them that if they accumulate a number of stickers, qualifies them for a reward? Yawn. Unless the reward is I NEVER HAVE TO DO WHAT I DON'T WANT TO DO, don't call me...I'll call you.

Here's how it works in my world. I don't need a sticker chart to remember whether my children are behaving themselves. I am a Mom with a memory like a steel trap. When you do good things that please me, it's like all these shiny star stickers are scattered in my mind. And when you do things that tick me off, it's like someone is digging the shiny stars off with their fingernails. When I look at you I generally see a combination of shiny stars and messy spots where you have been ripping the stars off. Your reward is often tied to how I feel about this state of affairs. Sorry, child of mine, if you don't like it, but that's the way it works with human beings. In fact, it has been proven that my ability to form the word y-e-s, is directly related to the shiny stars and scratchy spots. So maybe I do believe in sticker charts after all.

On to the cussing. I don't generally do it. I don't do it when I blog, or when I write, for that matter. First and foremost, I am completely against using words that are offensive to the awesomeness and beauty of God. But most cuss words don't fall in this category. They are in fact, simply vulgarities. The way they are used in a sentence often seems to defy all rules of grammar or even their generally accepted definitions. Really when you think of it, the way most people commonly swear is downright comical if you translate the statements into non-swear words. My personal opinion about these sorts of swear words, are that they are like exclamation marks. I don't generally use them all that much either, when I write. As my children will testify, this homeschool mom does not allow the use of them. Use words to convey strong emotion, not a string of exclamation marks. In our house, the use of vulgarity will likely result in the same sort of chastisement as the excessive use of exclamation marks; that is to say, you will receive a poor grade, which may result in undesirable consequences.

And now I must confess. Sometimes I have a potty mouth. Sometimes the stuff I deal with is the stuff that elicits strong emotion. But I can't use words to express that, because it would tear down a lot of what I am working so hard to build up. It would make people who don't deal with this sort of stuff stare at me aghast, even if I used the most eloquent words and my best punctuation. So sometimes, not on my blog, and generally not in front of my children or in polite company, I use a cuss word to express my extreme frustration. If I were to write it down here, it would probably have a string of exclamation marks after it. I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I don't lose sleep over it either.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"...gently in Thy fire I will lie burning;
On Thy potter's wheel I will whirl patient..."

George MacDonald

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time...

I remember a television commercial, back in the days when my homegrown children were small and precious. It played the Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," while parents frolicked and rode carts through a store, gleefully throwing school supplies into their carts, and the children trudged miserably behind them. I thought it was horrible. I couldn't understand why any parent would be happy to see their little ones depart the nest. I just knew I would never feel that way.

And now I find myself humming the same little tune, counting days, and thinking about riding on my shopping cart. Yes, the girlies are going to school this year, and yes, I am happy about it. Well, kind of. I'm sad because I would prefer to have them at home, but I would also prefer a whole lot of other things that definitely aren't going to happen. My first choice definitely is to homeschool, but after almost three years of enormous effort, I have concluded that my girls do not want to be homeschooled. They demonstrate this by their complete disregard for us as their parents...and quite frankly, if your child does not regard you as their parent, and respect your authority, I do not recommend trying to homeschool them. Not unless you enjoy activities like beating your head against walls.

So we are sending them off to school this week, two to the public school, and one to the little private school she went to a year ago. Again...not my first choice, or even my second for that matter, since I would love to send all three to the private school. But alas, Boo is too old for the private school which only goes to grade eight, and LaLa has burned her bridges there, shall we say. They really can't, and shouldn't have to try, to manage her special needs and her not so special behaviors. So it is what it is, and these are the choices we are left with.

To be fair, the folks at the public school have been very kind, and are scrambling to come up with a good plan for both girls. I am hopeful that we will find this to be a positive experience. Of course Boo is getting nervous, so her angry behaviors are ramping up, but she is a smart girl with limitless potential. The school was impressed with her work samples, and feels she can be an excellent student. LaLa is delighted at the new and endless opportunities school will offer her to make bad choices. I tried not to laugh, or even snort when they gave her the pep talk about how she would have to be responsible for herself...behaving, getting to class, writing down assignments, doing her homework. But we'll see. Maybe for once, she'll take the help offered and run with it. Of course we'll have to be careful not to get run down by any of those flying pigs on the way to the bus stop.

'Tater, on the other hand, is thrilled to be going back to her little school, her beloved teacher, her familiar classmates. This time, she will return a grade level ahead, all caught up, having worked very hard to accomplish it. I am happy for her. I am also happy she is going alone, unencumbered and unembarrassed by her sisters' endless behaviors. 'Tater is a quiet girl with a quirky sense of humor, a good student and very eager to please. I suspect she will do very well.

The first day of school comes even before the last days of camp wind down. At the end of it all, the camp gifts us with two weeks of "Stillness", which is really comp time for the crazy hours of the summer season. It will be less than still, since I have a LIST, but I won't start school with the boys until it's over. We'll see the girls off to school in the mornings, and then we'll work and play hard for a few weeks. It will give us time to reconnect with the boys, get caught up on a million things that get neglected all summer, and maybe even slip away by ourselves for a night.

By the end of Stillness I plan to:
  • Get the girls settled into their school routine
  • Reconnect with the boys
  • Finish the LIST
  • Be ready to begin the school year with the boys
  • Have a few laughs with my darling husband
It seems like a good plan, and I'm going to work hard to make it happen. We are also employing some new behavioral strategies with the girls, which I may report on later. So far the results have been interesting to say the least. I'll save that for another day.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Lardlump Tookus

To whom it may concern, my tookus (thanks Queen B) is still laying around because my back is not cooperating with getting back to business as usual. I was gradually up and about for about ten days, but everything began going south, so my doctor restricted me again. Grrr! I plan to have a remarkable recovery in the next week, since we have dance recital, and family coming to visit, and then all the B's coming. I'm definitely not taking all of that laying down!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out of Order...or something like that.

Okay. I'm going to warn you, this is going to be a whining blog. The non-whining, bummer free portion of this tale may crop up later on my other blog, but this post is going to have the full sized portion of bummer. Over a month ago, actually the day before Easter, I pulled something in my lower back. I wasn't doing anything ridiculous...really, and I resent you for being skeptical. I was in fact being slightly lazy. I had decided to get out some bins of summer clothing for the children, and said bins were stored behind another row of bins. So instead of moving the first row, I tried to reach over it and extract some rather bulky containers. To make matters worse, it was a tight space, and I had turned my hips sideways while trying to lift up and over. Dumb move. My hip started burning and paining me almost right away. I thought I was being good. I even skipped Easter services and rested up the next day. By Monday it was sore, but I was able to push through the pain and get on with things...until I repopped it out by mid afternoon. Repeat on Tuesday. But after three days or so, I just laid off the lifting and it seemed to get better. So much better that I forgot about the whole annoying episode.

Forgot, that is, until the night before Mother's day. Do you notice a pattern with holidays that fall on Sunday? I was merrily cleaning my bathroom when I bent ever so slightly to reach for a sponge, and I felt my entire lower back shift in a kind of unhealthy, sickening way. Not that it hurt, but somehow I instinctively knew I would not be going to church in the morning. What I did not know, was that I would not being going anywhere but the doctor's office for the better part of two weeks. It seems I had managed to give myself a nice variety pack of lower back trouble, and the pain would take me down quite handily for some time.

And lest you think this post is just about my bum back, oh no! The moral to this story goes much deeper than "lift with your knees". This is a situation we high energy, super organized, "bite off more than we can chew" adoptive Moms must be confronted with. Ask yourself, what will you do when (not if) you are laid flat by whatever it is that you did not see coming? How will you care for your special needs child/children? How will you provide the level of supervision necessary to be sure everyone is safe and cared for?

Let me answer for you. You won't. If you have to call for help to simply get up off the toilet, then you cannot do it. You must have help, and you must be willing to take it. I am incredibly blessed in that my wonderful husband works a minute away, can run home as needed, and can take the children to work with him, where they are fed and kept busy. I have two teen children who are sweet and reliable, who became my hands and feet. My husband can cook. In addition, my husband's employer is gracious in allowing him to take time to drive me to the doctor, and keep the children. Radiating out from my dear husband and children, are a circle of family and friends who are concerned and lifting me up in prayer.

This is all good stuff...great stuff in fact. But the harsh reality is that many adoptive families are not in this boat. The harsh reality is that even my darling girls would not hesitate to use this moment of weakness to take a dive into the deep end once more. A moment of weakness or inattention on my part usually signals at least one of them to engage in some unhealthy, unsafe, outrageous behavior. They don't have you play role play games at adoption preparation classes, but shall we?

Here's the scenario: You are down flat with a debilitating illness or injury. Forget getting up. You can't. Your older adopted child is prone to injuring the family pets, or playing with matches, or sexually aggressing towards a sibling. Take your pick. How will you care for that child, and keep everyone safe? Is it your FASD child's fault that you cannot provide line of sight supervision? It is your healthy child's responsibility to manage the unhealthy one? How will you clean up the mess when you begin to feel better? Can you?

We need to think about these things, because we are not invincible, but often we think we are. And as all of us in these trenches know, we can become terribly isolated, so that when we are in need, we find that we have nowhere to turn. This is why we keep putting ourselves out there, wearing our crazy lives on our sleeves, always trying to speak the truth. I admit, I hate being truthful at this point. I am darned tired of the truth, and would love to hide behind a little picturesque illusion for awhile. But picturesque illusion does not serve when we are truly in need, and no one even understands the need. I don't have to destroy anybody's dignity either. I can say, "I need you to watch this child. Don't let them out of your sight or hearing. They are darling, but dangerously impulsive. And check the bathroom when they're done." When they ask, just let them know how hazardous bathrooms can be....toilets to stuff, meds, toiletries, razors. Sometimes the temptation is just overwhelming.

The good news is, I'm feeling better. It goes far too slowly for me, but I have ample time to ponder the lessons to be learned. And the children are being stretched and growing too. They are learning that they can survive without Mom's watchful eye on them every minute of every hour; without testing every boundary just to see if Mom will rein them back in. Maybe.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless. We cast off certain restraints from activities we know are wrong. We set prayer aside as well and cease having God’s vision in the little things of life. We simply begin to act on our own initiative. If we are eating only out of our own hand, and doing things solely on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on a downward path. We have lost the vision. Is our attitude today an attitude that flows from our vision of God? Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done before?"

My Utmost For His Highest-- Oswald Chambers

Monday, April 20, 2009


This is a short apology to the handful of kind readers who have contacted me and expressed concern over my blog silence. I know it has been quiet around here for awhile, and it may continue to be. It is not that I have dropped off the earth, or ceased to do what I do. It is not that I am buried in some crisis, though there is never any shortage of them, if you must know.

It is because I have reached some sort of saturation point. I have absorbed as much information as I can find, and although a fresh perspective is sometimes helpful, I am turning up nothing new. Likewise, I have lain awake enough nights thinking, crafted enough blog posts and emails, that again I feel saturated. Like if you squeeze me, the same old stuff will come trickling out.

There are no new ideas in my head, only unexpressed ones, because they are just too private, or painful, or "unPC" that I would hardly dare speak them to my sister, much less air them on a public blog. We have some sayings in our house, that we try to teach to the children, and put into practice ourselves. Sayings like, "Every thought that goes through your head does not need to come out your mouth," or "If you haven't got anything nice to say..." Well, you get my drift. And the same applies to my blogs.

The only fresh topics of discussion in my brain are not particularly upbeat, entertaining, or uplifting. Recently I have encountered blog posts written by veterans in the adoption world, who question if the adoption community on the Internet is helping or hurting adoptions in general. True, it is easy to reach out and find support, but are we scaring people away from adoption with our brutal honesty? Yet, on the flip side, are we leading good families down the road to destruction by censoring our accounts, and focusing on the heartwarming?

I admit to having no answers, but I am fearful of erring in either way. And I am tired. At the end of the day, I am really bone tired...too tired to try and put my experiences into words. What I am doing, does not leave much energy for the telling of it. And maybe that is right after all. Maybe the telling comes much later, when I can see the forest more clearly.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

Baby Boy: Mom, I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna get a sword, and chain mail. The government's not gonna stop me. I'm gonna be a knight.

(Wait, it gets better)

'Tater: But Baby Boy, I thought you wanted to be on a squat team!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comment Question

Mama Temple,
I know you follow this blog so maybe you will see this. I was reading at your blog and wanted to contact you but I can't for the life of me figure out how to comment. And you don't have a contact in your profile. So I will ask here and maybe I will hear from you. Thanks!

Everyone else, just carry on.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ghetto Dog

'Tater: Jazzy, you need a Tic Tac, cuz yo' breff stank!!!

Me: 'Tater, don't talk ghetto to the dog please.

'Tater: Yes Mom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


WE often make our duties harder by thinking them hard. We dwell on the things we do not like till they grow before our eyes, and, at last, perhaps shut out heaven itself. But this is not following our Master, and He, we may be sure, will value little the obedience of a discontented heart. The moment we see that anything to be done is a plain duty, we must resolutely trample out every rising impulse of discontent. We must not merely prevent our discontent from interfering, with the duty itself; we must not merely prevent it from breaking out into murmuring; we must get rid of the discontent itself. Cheerfulness in the service of Christ is one of the first requisites to make that service Christian.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Check out the new blog. It's kind of like my New Year resolution... which I generally don't make.