The boys got MUCH NEEDED haircuts tonight.

Middle Boy just got his trimmed.  It was really starting to curl up, but only on one side.  It looks a lot better now.

Younger Boy wanted the haircut the boy before him got.  It was basically a buzz cut, but had the hair a bit longer on top.  We needed to blend in the bald spot from the silly putty incident, too.  He and I talked about how if he gets a buzz cut people will be able to see the scar on his head.  It starts at his hairline in the front and goes all the way past the crown of his head and about an inch down the back.  It is the result of something that happened to him as a toddler in his biological home.  I told him people will ask about that scar if it is visible.  We decided to just cut it short and when trim it until the scar was just starting to show.  Felix, the guy doing the cutting, was very patient and helpful.

While we were there Felix kept talking about colored gels.  Thanks a lot Felix.   So we ended up with a $5 package of samples of white, gold, red, green, and blue gels.  We had red last year, but I threw it away after Older Boy put so much in his hair that it looked like his hair was BLEEDING.

I love the new haircuts.  More importantly the boys love the new haircuts.

Praises for a patient hair dresser.
Middle Boy was so excited tonight, because it has been six weeks since he got his ears pierced and he got to take the earrings out tonight.

Let me rephrase...since I got to take the earrings out for him. 

Sometimes I have to wonder what he is thinking.  The asks me to help with the earrings and then he sits directly in front of me facing the same direction.  I asked, "Do you realize that from this angle I can't see your ears?"  It took about three moves to get him sitting at a 90 degree angle.

When I took the first one out you would have thought he got shot.  Then he said "I didn't actually feel it."   So, the overreaction must have been in ANTICIPATION of the earring removal not caused by the earring removal.

I know you won't believe this, but he had to reposition himself FOUR MORE TIMES so I could take out the other earring.  At least this time there wasn't a crazy reaction.

He was able to get one of the earrings back in.

Goodness...this is going to be interesting!!
I am volunteering at camp next week.  I have been working to get everything coordinated for the boys while I am gone.

C will have the boys at her house all week, but there are miscellaneous rides and other things needing to be coordinated.  Probation Officer and Tracker know where Middle Boy is going to be.  Service Coordinators know where both boys are going to be.  Foster Care Specialist has all of the contact informaiton.  The courts have been notified of their change in location.

Younger Boy's birthday is during the week I am gone so I have so surprises in store for him.  He is good with me going to camp, because he has been before and knows that we are celebrating as a family when I get home.

Sophie is taken care of for the week.

Now we just need to get ourselves packed and ready to go.

I'm looking forward to camp.  It is part of why I am a foster parent in the first place.

Prayers for a good week for everyone and that the kiddos at camp have an amazing time.

I can't say anything else about Middle Boy's tracker except that she is a liar.  She told her supervisor and Service Coordinator that she was DENIED ACCESS to our home last night.  Completely untrue.

She was on our front porch last night when we arrived at home.  I pulled into the garage and Charlie went out of the garage and talked to her on the front porch.  At no time did she ask to go in our house.

How can I trust that she will be truthful in her correspondence with the court if she can't be truthful in dealings with our family?
I barely slept last night.  My mind was RACING.  Not about what I needed to do or with worry.  I just couldn't relax.  The same worship song was on repeat in my head...really loud.

I ended up just getting up at 3AM.

For any of you who need to come in contact with me in the next couple of days you might just choose to stay away.  I'm tired.

We still have a little bit of cleaning to do before our house is photographed tomorrow.  Otherwise it is ready to go!!

Prayers for a peaceful day.
I came unglued tonight.  I have had it with Tracker.

I have REPEATEDLY told her NOT to call my cell phone, but to use Middle Boy's cell phone OR our home phone.  I told her I am going to be traveling and calling me WILL NOT get her the status of Middle Boy.  She doesn't get it.

Again tonight....sixth or seventh night in a row since I asked and second night in a row since we MET about it...she called me.

Then she came to our house to see him.  I asked her what is confusing her about the number she is to call.  I asked for her supervisor's information.  She left and "had him call me".  She texted me back and said he tried to call us and that we didn't answer our home phone. call.

So...I called him.  He LIED straight to me about how his cell phone doesn't dial the right numbers and on and on.  Then he told me that the new number wasn't approved.  Wrong again.  There was a meeting on Tuesday.  Then he told me that the evening callers work for another agency.  Wrong.  They told me just last week that the evening callers are interns in their office.  He tried to tell me that it takes 5 - 7 days to get the right number in their system.  Wrong again, because they called Middle Boy's number earlier in the day.

He kept saying I can understand your frustration.  Really?  You can understand that you are falling down on your responsbilities and then LYING to me about it. 

I will be calling his supervisor tomorrow morning and requesting a new tracker with a different supervisor.  I am not going to put up with an agency LYING to me.  I have enough other stuff to put up with.

Prayers for patience with this agency, because I have had it.
Tonight we went over to C's house so the boys could see where they would be staying next week and also to see if Sophie could handle staying with her dog and cat.

Hands down Sophie is going to be the most work next week.  She is unsure how to be social and is pretty aggressive even though she weighs about 20% of what both the cat and the dog do.

We had dinner.  C now knows how much food is consumed in a typical meal at our house. 

Younger Boy sat by me on the couch and wanted to have his head on my shoulder with my arm around him.  He isn't feeling very good and he kept falling asleep.

For Middle Boy the "coolest" part of the whole evening was when the police showed up at the house behind C's to tell them there had been a noise complaint.  In his words "I thought that only really happened on TV".

The boys are excited about staying there.  I think they will have an amazing week and be well cared for.

I can't thank C enough for giving up her week to care for the boys!!
Today I am proud of Middle Boy.  I know it was an agonizing decision for him, but he decided his life would be healthier (for now at least) with no contact from Bio Mom.  He "unfriended" her on Facebook and also blocked her from being able to send him any messages or see his posts. 

When he made the decision and hit the button it was like a weight lifted from him.  Almost instantly he seemed happier.

I'm proud of him for making a healthy decision.

Prayers for no feelings of guilt and for future forgiveness.
I think I mentioned a while ago that Middle Boy's bio mom was sending him messages on Facebook.  Repetetive messages.  Unanswered messages. 

Middle Boy has a lot of anger surrounding bio mom and while that anger is present he still longs to have a relationship with her.  It is really complicated for anyone to handle let alone a 14 year-old boy with a lot of other stuff he is trying to work through.

I decided to just let it run its course.  She was basically saying things like "why won't you call me" and "why won't you talk to me".  He talked to me about it every time he heard from her.  At first he thought it was hurting my feelings to talk to me about her.  Now he knows that I am just going to give him advice as I see it.

Yesterday she asked him to tell her the truth about how he felt.  We talked about it this morning after I dropped off Younger Boy. 

What I told him is that if this is too stressful for him then he has every right to block her from contacting him on Facebook or even tell her to stop contacting him.  I also explained she is an adult and just like he has to live life with the consequences of his actions (and some of hers) she has to accept the consequences for her actions.  I also told him he can just walk away if that is what he needs to do and figure it out later when he is an adult.

He decided to tell her he is angry at her for doing drugs and ruining his life.  He also told her he is angry she chose to relinquish her rights instead of having them terminated.  He told her he hates her for it.

I know over the coming days there is going to be regret and guilt associated with the choice he made, but we will work through it.

I am REALLY lucky in that Middle Boy (actually both boys) choose to talk to me about EVERYTHING.

Prayers for healing for both of them.
I am surprised at the discussions which happen in our house.

For some reason tonight I was asked the following question "Why would someone choose to get breast implants?"  This was followed up by "Why do breast implants have serial numbers?"

I don't know why someone would get implants.  I guess because they think they would be happier. 

I was also asked if they were made out of metal.  I was also asked if I knew what they feel like.

Where?  Why?

I just answered the questions which were asked and moved on.

You have to laugh a little though, because they truly were innocent, honest questions.

Before we can file our adoption paperwork the boys have to decide if they are changing their names or keeping them the same.

Middle Boy has decided on Charlie Fredrick.  This isn't horribly different from his current name.  He is changing his first name, because he was named after his mom's boyfriend who abused him and his mom.  He never new how to spell his middle name correctly so he is changing it to the way he thought you spelled it.

Younger Boy is going with a full change.  He will be known as Asher Pierce following the adoption.  He wants to go by Ash.  I have explained multiple times that MANY people will still know him as his current name and that he can't get mad when that happens.

Done...approved by more talk of being Bruce Lee or Fredrosio or Flame.

Praises for quick decisions.
Today I had both of my subsidy meetings for the adoption.  When you adopt children out of the foster care system who are over the age of 10 you continue to get a federal stipend until they reach age 19.

Of course our state used to not use a form to get your payment, but they would just make your subsidy $1 less than your foster care payment per month.  When they were federally audited (and ranked 48 out of 50) they started to use the federal subsidy form.

Here's the thing.  You and your caseworker fill out the forms for the subsidy.  It gets entered into the federal program, but our state adds a step.  You have to meet with a state worker to justify all of your answers on the subsidy form.  Really, why?  You and your caseworker have to agree on EVERY answer and you have to have legal documentation to back up every answer.  From everything I have heard it is a BATTLE to get even half of the subsidy that the federal program would give.  WHY?

I don't understand why every single step of this has to be so ridiculous and a battle.  I am trying to adopt kids out of the system. 

Prayers I don't get too frustrated with this process.
We just got notification we will be receiving a rate increase for foster care of $3.10 per day per child.  This is taking effect statewide for all foster parents regardless of agency.

It is a nice stipend increase for each kiddo.
I have completely had it with the whole tracking system for Middle Boy.  Completely had it.

I have asked them MULTIPLE times to use either his cell phone or our home phone for his curfew calls.  They insist on using mine.  I am not the one on tracker.  I will be traveling a lot this summer for work and camp.  He will not be with me.  They do NOT get it.

Yet another part of the system which is absurd.
We are in the final struggles of pre-adoption where both boys are fighting with everything they have to PROVE they don't deserve to be in a family.  In fact Middle Boy told me tonight flat out "I don't deserve to have a family.  Never have.  Never will."


Here's how conversations go in our home right now.

I say "I would appreciate it if you would pick up after yourself."
They hear "I am too messy to live here so I'm not going to bother."

I say "Please follow directions."
They hear "I don't ever do what anyone says."

I say "Please stop doing (insert behavior)"
They hear "I'm not perfect so I can't live here."

EVERY NIGHT Middle Boy explodes and tells me everything going wrong is his fault.  There is nothing going wrong.  I ask him to point out what he thinks is going wrong and he says "Everything."  He then turns the tables on how I never accept accountability for anything and I am not perfect and on and on.  Being verbally attacked like that is exhausting.  I KNOW it is just him reflecting his feelings about himself on me, but I am feeling pretty beat down right now.

He went on and on tonight about how this isn't how a family is supposed to be.  I asked him to stop and reflect on what he thinks a family should be.  I emphasized that it ISN'T what you see on TV or in the movies.  People disagree. 

He doesn't think we do enough together.  WE DON'T DO ANYTHING APART except me going to work.  I asked what he wanted to do together.  His reply "Family things."  I don't know what that means to him.  I asked him to explain and it was "stuff together".

Both boys keep telling me "after the adoption.....".  Tonight I explained that we are going to go to a court hearing for the adoption and we are going to come back and we will still be the same people.  It isn't a magic wand waved over us.  He said "I will finally have a family".  Middle ALREADY have a family.

He is incredibly caught up in before the juvenile center and after the juvenile center.  IT ISN'T DIFFERENT.  I DIDN'T LEAVE.  NO MATTER HOW HORRIBLY YOU TREAT ME IN THE NEXT THREE MONTHS YOU AREN'T LEAVING.

Thanks for listening to the venting.  We need prayers for the next couple of months until permanency.
We are starting to wear down in terms of house prep.  We still have a way to go and should be ready for our Friday deadline. 

The following rooms are ready:

Boys bedroom
Boys bathroom
Living Room
Laundry Room

The following are not ready:

Master bedroom
Master bathroom

The garage is probably just going to have to wait until after camp.

The rest...Tuesday night completion date!

Praises for staying on task most of the day.
Before K arrived I told the boys that she was a real drill sargeant.  Part way through the afternoon I couldn't help but laugh when Younger Boy asked her "What did they used to call you when you were a drill sargeant?"
Today we actually got quite a bit done on the house.  K came over and helped us all afternoon since her husband is on a mission trip to Albania.  She was paired with Younger Boy.  They got quite a bit done.  Before they started I gave her the "this should only take XX minutes" strategy to use with him.  I noticed if he was doing something he had done previously she was giving him less time, because he was "already experienced".

We all worked on the kitchen, living room, and hall closet.  There are MANY more boxes going to storage.

Praises for good friends!
We went to church this morning.  It was a good sermon for all of us to hear and it was nice to worship with the boys.

The sermon was on Colossians 3:1-8 and was about what we use as idols above Jesus.  They had big chalkboards at the front of the church and you had the opportunity to use write the following phrase:

Jesus > whatever your idol or trouble is

Middle Boy didn't want to go up front.  He hates drawing attention to himself so I wasn't surprised.  Younger Boy did want to go up.  Also not a surprise.

Younger Boy wrote:  Jesus > my anger

I thought that was pretty profound for him.  I wouldn't say he necessarily idolizes it, but it absolutely controls him quite often.

He told one of the pastors that from now on every time he feels himself getting angry he is going to walk away and pray.  I don't think there is anything else anyone can expect of him.

Praises for a good message with good follow-up discussion.
Today was day one in getting the house ready.

The boys worked on their room and their bathroom.  I worked in the basement and on all of the carpets.

K and her son, E, came over with their truck and helped us move and extra bed and a bunch of boxes to storage.  It didn't take too long to get it done.

We stopped by and looked at the house since it was open.

Afterward we came home and kept working on the house for the remainder of the day.  In some ways it seems like we got a lot done, yet there is still a significant amount left to do.

Prayers for motivation and focus.
I accepted the counteroffer.  I close on our new home July 27, 2012.

I'm super excited about the move and having more space.  I think it will be a good change for us.  The boys will each have their own room and we will have more space.

Now to get our house sold!

Prayers for the sale of our home in a timely manner.
This morning I got a counteroffer from the owner of the house I made an offer on yesterday.

He agreed to the things which were the dealbreakers to me.  He is going to repaint the walls which are currently teal/turquoise/peacock whatever you want to call them.  He is also going to regrade the backyard so there is positive waterflow away from the house.

The counteroffer was to change the closing date two and a half weeks later than I had requested.  It also changed some of the percentages we used for the down payment calculations.

Prayers for wisdom as I make this decision.
Tonight was Girl's Night with some of my favorite women in the world. 

The theme of the night was the oreo.  We had some AMAZING oreo treats.  We had some amazing other treats.

We laughed.  I needed it.

Part way through the evening Babysitter M texted me to tell me Middle Boy was struggling to follow directions.  Is he really that out of control or is it a manipulation technique to get me to come home?

It is so frustrating.

Prayers one day both boys will be able to handle it when I am not home.
This morning when I left I asked the boys to get their room and bathroom "show ready".  We have been to about 20 model homes lately and we discussed how those rooms looked versus how the inside of our house looks. 

We talked about whether or not the understand what I meant.  I asked which rooms they were supposed to take care of.  I explained that it won't be helpful if they just move their stuff to other rooms in the house, because those rooms will be "show ready" by the end of the weekend.

I'm interested in what the end product is going to be when I get home.  Babysitter JP is there and he is aware of the goal, but was not going to instruct them in what to get done.  He is entertaining Sophie so she can't be used as an excuse for not getting done.

Last night the boys couldn't shower, because there was "painting stuff" in their shower.  It kind of makes me wonder how long they were planning to wait to shower.  Since their bathroom was supposed to be "show ready" there should no longer be a reason for not being able to shower.

Prayers for quality work that didn't "require" a lot of arguing.
I just got back from making an offer on the house.  They have until 3pm tomorrow to counteroffer or accept.

Pray we can get our house on the market and sold.  I will have to start making two house payments in September if not!
I'm having a weekend long party.  Not the kind some of you might remember (or not) from college.

This is a weekend long of getting the house packed up and ready to go on the market.  A weekend long of helping keep the boys on task so I can work, too.  Some of you received a special invitation to the event on facebook.  Lucky you!!

My friends are amazing, but I don't want them to feel like they have to help.  It will be good fun and fellowship though...wink, wink.

My goal is to be ready to go by 8pm on Monday night.  Show ready.

Prayers for a productive weekend!  Prayers the boys will stay on task!!  Prayers I will stay on task!!

Pictures to come on Monday.
So...some of you might know that while I am an engineer I am not necessarily conservative by nature.  I take risks quite often.  Never when something makes me feel "sick to my stomach".  While to some my decisions might seem to be on a whim, but they are never things I haven't discussed over and over with God and have a peace about.

So...this morning I am making an offer on a house without having sold mine.  I feel at peace about it.  I am going to negotiate a mid-July closing date, because we can.  That gives us a little bit of room to get it together at our house and God-willing sell our house. 

I'm excited about moving on to the next phase of life.  New house, new family, new life.

Prayers for our home to sell quickly.
We have a new caregiver...Babysitter JP.  I love HIM!!  He is a good friend of Babysitter M, works at Boys Town, coaches wrestling at the local high school and is in college to be a vet.  He has another job in additional to doing childcare for us, but WOW...he is amazing!!

He played basketball with the boys this afternoon.  He's teaching them how to train Sophie.  He had them clean up their room and their bathroom. 

Honestly it is a HUGE relief to have another caregiver.  We miss Babysitter J a lot and Babysitter M needs a break from us.

Praises for an amazing caregiver!!
Realtor "Ricardo" came over tonight to discuss getting the house on the market AND what we wanted to do with finding a new house.  We talked about what is important to me...getting a bigger house or getting full price for this house or a combination or what.

He is going to go and look at the house I have in mind tomorrow to tell me what he thinks in terms of an offer.  Since it is currently a model on the market he suggested we make an offer contingent on the sale of mine if this is the house we really want.  We'll see what he comes back with tomorrow.

The house is completely painted and looks AMAZING.  I can't thank G, J, and N enough for doing it three days after I called and for a good price. 

We got some of the furniture back into place tonight.  We are going to work hard all weekend to be "showing ready" by a week from tomorrow.  YIKES!!  Did I just say that?

It is going to be a crazy ride for the next couple of weeks.  I'm ready!!
Younger Boy had baseball practice tonight.

Once Middle Boy convinced him wearing a HOT PINK bandanna on wrapped around his head and gray camoflauge around his wrists was probably over the top we were on our way.  Painted glove and all.

Younger Boy is really good at baseball.  I am not saying that just because I am his mom.  He is clearly in the top three on this team.  He is the second shortest on the team.  He can throw the ball from center field in to the catcher.  He hit better tonight than I remember from last year.

Middle Boy and I watched the whole practice.  Sophie went too.  It was at a park and she is sure she is ferocious and can take any dog that comes her way.  It was pretty cute.  She made friends with the other team parents.

Younger Boy had a blast.  Six of teammates are the same as last year and he thought it was fun to see them again.

Praises for a hobby he loves.
All night last night Younger Boy talked about how he wanted a new baseball glove.  Probably talked about it for over an hour.

I explained that his current baseball glove is currently fine and that it is broken in.  His hand hasn't really grown either.  I told him we weren't going to get a new baseball glove just to be getting a new glove.

Middle Boy just called and said "we have a dilemma here".  Apparently Younger Boy "accidentally" dropped his current glove in a tray of paint while walking past.  G and J cleaned the paint off of the glove, but it is now wet.  Younger Boy told them he was probably going to just need to get a new glove.

Wrong...if you can't take care of the glove I told you that you would be using again this year there is NO WAY I am buying you a brand spanking new one.  Sorry.

We went to see the psychiatrist today.  Younger Boy was mad he had to go.

His teacher had filled out some forms about him and they are rated from navy to white.  The goal is to be all in the white.  Before we started the new meds we were in a medium blue range.  Now after a month on the meds we are to the sky blue.  There really isn't an easier way to describe it.

We are going to increase the dosage of his ADHD to the maximum dosage.  She said we should be able to see drastic improvements.  Her "at home test" for us was to have him sit down and read a page of a book out loud within the 12 hours since he took his medication.  If he can read the whole thing and tell me what it was about then she considers that in the "sweet spot" of ADHD meds.  We're going to try it next week.

She also said that he doesn't seem as sullen as on our last visit.  He laughed a couple of different times so she thinks the antidepressant is close to where it needs to be right now.

He told her that the crying is happening when he is thinking abou this past.  I would say that the crying occurs in place of the old anger. 

She told him when he is thinking about the past to tell his brain to stop and to start thinking about the new things in his life which are good.  I hope it is that easy.

She also gave me a list of things to talk to the attachment center about regarding his therapy.  She is concerned about PTSD which is one of the things going on with Middle Boy right now.

I thought the appointment went well.  Younger Boy seems to like her.  She is gruff and tell it like it is.  I think she might think I am an idiot, but whatever.  I'm guessing she treats all foster parents like that.

Praises for a good appointment and hopefully a better quality of life for Younger Boy.
I have been battling...literally battling...with Middle Boy's agency about child care for this summer.  He is court ordered to be supervised for the summer and based on foster care rules can't be alone all day BUT...they don't pay for child care for anyone over the age of 13.

I have been arguing that if I am required to send him to a program, because of their policies and Title XX pays for all other daycare that Title XX should cover this.

Of course there was no decision made in a timely manner so I was forced to cover the cost of the deposit to get enrolled. 

Today I found out that they are going to pay for it in its entirety.  I didn't really pay attention to the details of how, because it doesn't matter.  Title XX is going to pay for it and I will be reimbursed.

We have been discussing this since FEBRUARY.  I suspect most people would have just said "forget it I'll just pay".  That's not me.  If the state pays for child care for foster kids they should pay for all child care for all foster kids.

I'm done with my daily rant about care.

Praises for the state paying for this care.  It wasn't going to be cheap.

Younger Boy goes back to the psychiatrist tomorrow to possibly adjust his meds.

I asked him what he thought of the new meds and where he thought they should be changed.  I kept all of my opinions to myself in the beginning.  Younger Boy asked Middle Boy what he thought, too.

The boys thought Younger Boy was doing better on the new dosage of ADHD medication, but that there was still room for improvement.  Younger Boy thought afternoons and evenings were tougher than earlier in the day.  I agree with all of their opinions on this.

Younger Boy said the nighttime meds are making him very tired.  Hallelujah!!  That is what is supposed to be happening.  In the beginning he seemed to have trouble waking up, but that seems to be dwindling.

He is still wetting the bed and having about the same amount of nightmares.

One new thing I have noticed.  He is whining and crying pretty regularly.  This is new.  He rarely (if ever) did it before the last month. 

I have also noticed the picking at the skin on his fingers.  It is hard not to when they are bleeding all of the time.  It may be a nervous reaction, but could also be a side effect of one of the medications.  We'll just have to ask.

He seems generally happier with the exception of the whining/crying thing.  He is nowhere near as angry.

Prayers we can get a good combination of medications to make his quality of life the best it can be until some of the things he needs to work through during therapy are worked through.

The boys were a HUGE help tonight.  We have EIGHT DAYS until the house goes on the market so we are pretty frantically boxing and purging and giving things to the homeless mission.

I think there are 14 large garbage bags of clothes and shoes headed to the mission on Saturday.  We haven't started in the garage.  We'll work on that this weekend.

Over time somehow all of the stuff the boys didn't want INCLUDING AN EXTRA TWIN BED had ended up in the master bedroom.  Tonight when we got it all cleaned out Middle Boy proclaimed "this room is huge".  He also said "how come I didn't know it?"  Hmm...because you two loaded it with your JUNK.

Now it is cleaned out.  The boys were so excited about the space.  Since our house is in complete disarray they asked if they could slumber party on the newly found floor space in my room.  They played chess.  At least a couple of games while I read for a while.  I turned off the light and they played one more game by flashlight.

I love that they can play nicely together and that they were playing CHESS.

Praises for their help and their minds and their attitudes.
There are three rooms in the house left to be painted...the master bedroom and the two bathrooms.  The basement still needs a second coat.

The house looks really good.  Of course I liked the way it was painted previously, but this is good too.

I have learned a lot watching them paint.  I might be am too much of a perfectionist when it comes to painting.  In the new house we might start off slow only painting the boys rooms...which is something I foolishly promised them.

This is coming to fruition.  Now...prayers for the house to sell in a timely manner.
I spent an hour this morning trying to call home.  The boys are there helping the painting crew with whatever they need.

Our phone was BUSY.  Well, since we have call waiting someone must have taken it off the hook.  Generally speaking not a big deal, but Middle Boy is on an electronic monitor and a computer calls randomly to check on his whereabouts.  If the phone is busy for more than 30 minutes they send the police out.

So...I went home over lunch to tell them to put the phone on the hook.  At first the boys had NO IDEA what might have happened.  I had them search all of the phones to see which one it was.  Shockingly it was the one in the room they were in.  In fact the hand piece was mysteriously unplugged. 

I (once again) explained the electronic monitor and asked about the desired outcome of having the police at our home.  Surprisingly it isn't what they wanted.

While I was there I checked their work for the morning.  Hmmmm....

Prayers they would start to act with less impulsivity and more thought.
As I read Anne's parenting post today I was encouraged by it. 


You see my boys don't find some of those things she listed to be very easy.

Her list and my observations of my boys:
  1. Sharing - both boys actually do fairly well at this.
  2. Honesty - both boys are working on this.  It is going to be a really hard one to overcome.  For both of them it is a survival skill.  They will lie about things you can actually verify.  A good example would be last night when Younger Boy was talking in a baby voice in the car.  Three people in the car.  It was a child's voice.  I have a female voice and Middle Boy has a male voice.  When I asked Younger Boy if he was talking like a baby he said no.  Seriously?  I can SEE AND HEAR you.  He insisted it was NOT him.  We have discussions like this all the time.  For them it is survival.
  3. Eye contact - Younger Boy with everyone except me and Middle Boy with no one.
  4. Appropriate physical boundaries - this is something we have worked really hard toward.  Middle Boy does better than Younger Boy, but both could use work.
  5. Respectful language - I need to know what this is!!  I don't often hear it.
  6. Putting forth effort in school - Not a strong suit.
  7. Understanding the sense of a "family" - They loosely understand what a family is, but they are terrified of the concept and what it means to them.
  8. Contributing to chores - We are working on this with the chore chart.
  9. Resolving disputes in a controlled manner -'s getting better.  Becoming enraged over something "minor" doesn't happen nearly as often and things like peeing in the bathtub because you are mad haven't happened in a couple of months.  Progress?
I agree with Anne.  I get comments all the time on this blog about why don't I just punish them for such and such behavior and why I would reward honesty when it should be expected.  Because IT DOESN'T WORK!!  I can have all of the expectations in the world, but I have to adapt them to the kids in front of me.  In many ways I think I am at an advantage, because I don't have biological children.  I have two RADs.  There aren't different methods of parenting needing to be done in my home at the same time.  Just full court press...RAD style.

Praises for my ability to adapt and for people being supportive and working to understand.  Praises for the people in my support system who already "get it", because they are invaluable to us.  Praises for Anne, who every Tuesday makes me feel a little less crazy!

For more than an hour tonight BOTH BOYS stayed focused and on task with boxing things to go to storage for the move.  We are purging a lot of stuff, too. 

I have been proud of the boys, because while it is very hard for kids (and adults) to purge things it is doubly moreso for a foster child.  When you move from home to home and your things dwindle with each move it is hard to get rid of those things you do have.  We have done a lot of talking about how clothes that don't fit can have memories with them, but if we take a picture of the clothing and put it in an album then someone else who NEEDS clothing can make use of it and we will still have the memory.

The boys have boxes of  "special stuff" they can put whatever they want into without question, but it has to be able to fit in the box.  I'm not a scrooge so it isn't like a necklace's a fairly good sized tote.

They have done great.  They have been encouraging each other.  They made a sort of chant talking about "new family, new house, new life".  At one point Middle Boy said, "we don't need junky stuff anymore, because we have everything we need and a whole lot more".  I believe it was in reference to the ONE MILLION kid's meal toys Younger Boy has accumulated during his lifetime.  I am happy to say we are getting rid of them one by one.

Finally excitement is building for the move and they can see this will be a good thing.  For their whole lives moving has had a negative connotation.  I'm thrilled to help put a positive spin on it.

Praises for excitement and focused energy.
Tonight I listened to Middle Boy telling Younger Boy he needs to focus and get things done.  When someone asks him to do (or not do) somehting then he should start (or stop) doing it.

He went on to talk about doing what you say you are going to do and having follow through.  He talked about being trustworthy with your actions.  He talked about truthfulness and motivation. 

He set a timer and had Younger Boy try to focus and stay on task for five minutes and then rewarded him when he did.

I this what I sound like?  Over the years in my career I have been told teaching is the best way to learn.  He wasn't harsh or mean to Younger Boy, but he was direct and straightforward.  He was also an encourager telling him he knew he could do it.

Praises for Middle Boy being a good older brother to Younger Boy.  I don't thank God often enough for the fact that they are best friends and get along AMAZINGLY.
The painting crew for our house consists of a family from church who own a painting company.  Yesterday it was the husband, wife, and their teenage son.  They all know the boys and the boys were in and out "helping" them by keeping Sophie out of the way and also by moving things when asked.

G told me about some lessons over the course of the day with Younger Boy.  At one point Younger Boy said "what would you do if I hit you" and G told him "go ahead and find out".  G told him mulitple times he was waiting to be hit.  Younger Boy just couldn't grasp it so G asked him what he was thinking about and Younger Boy said "I think you might hit me back".  G told him maybe he should take the time to think things through like that in lieu of just doing it.

G and his son, N, also fixed our vacuum which we hadn't been able to fix.  It was clogged with things that NEVER should have been vacuumed up.  His wife, J, did a vacuum certification with the boys.  They were quizzed on what you should and should not vacuum up.  She proclaimed both of them certified to operate the vacuum.  The basic rule is that if you can see it...don't vacuum it up.  Same thing I have told them, but they live with me so surely I am wrong!!

The painting looks AMAZING!!  What is even better is the teachable moments which are accompanying them.

Praises for amazing people coming into our lives and walking alongside us on our journey.
Middle Boy came to me as we were working on the basement and said that he wanted to talk about what had happened that day.

He wanted to tell me why they didn't clean up the basement since it needed to be done for the painters for tomorrow. 

He explained he was tired from the night before because he had chosen to not listen to me when I told him he needed to go to bed.  As a result he had chosen to lay around and not do much all day except for the things interesting to him.  These are all his words not mine.  He went on to apologize for disappointing me and not having follow through on a promise.  He acknowledged this isn't the type of person he wants to be and promises to make an effort going forward.

Am I disappointed Middle Boy didn't do anything all day?  You bet.  Here's the thing though.  Six months ago it would have somehow been my fault, Younger Boy's fault, the painting team's fault, or maybe even Sophie's fault that he didn't get the cleaning done.  He would have went on and on about how I hated him and tried to turn the tables on the whole thing.  That didn't happen.  I didn't have to ask him to take accountability for his actions, he chose to.  In my opinion this is actually something to celebrate.

Prayers for continued accountability for his actions.  Praises for recognition of behaviors and a willingness to confess.
Last night I gave the boys one thing to get accomplished during the day today.

I talked to the boys MULTIPLE times throughout the course of the day to check in on how that single task was going.  It was fairly obvious to me that it hadn't moved from dead center all day, but with each call I chose to trust them that it would get done.  After all they had promised it would and they want to work on my trusting them.

The task was clean up the basement.  Granted it was kind of multi-part task, but when I got home tonight it was a lot LESS CLEAN than when I left in the morning.  I am aware that sometimes to fully clean you have to make a bigger mess than what you started with, but not the case here.

I chose not to say anything, but to just start cleaning up the basement.  It made kind of a powerful statement.

I have lost my patience with both service coordinators...both of them.

I had to call both supervisors today.  We are in jeopardy of not being able to file for adoption on June 21st, because the subsidy meetings have not occured and the collateral information has not been gathered.  The June 21st date shouldn't be a surprise to ANYONE on either team.  We have talked about it for MONTHS.  How am I going to explain to the boys that their adoptions may be delayed because their workers can't get their acts together?

Middle Boy's worker is still working on his summer care subsidy.  School ended last week.  We started doing this in Febraury.  Are you serious?

Younger Boy's worker has finally gotten the message that I will not collect the collateral information for her.  Today she is highly focused on holding his family team meeting...not actually doing anything.  You see the workers are rated on whether or not they have the meetings NOT that they actually do anything they commit to.

Neither worker has answered calls or emails since May 3rd.  If I did that at my job I would be fired, but their clients are kiddos who can't do anything about it.

Enough venting for today....I'm too tired to deal with this.
Everything except the basement and my room is ready to be painted.

At the end of this week we will be fully painted and reorganized.  We were able to get rid of a lot of things over the weekend and box up some other things we absolutely won't need until we get to the new house.

I have hired a high school student to help us move boxes to storage on Saturday and to help us pack up the garage.  He was looking for odd jobs...we have them galore.  Hopefully we can get way ahead of him this week.

This might actually happen.  I talked with the loan officer this morning and in the next few hours I should know the amount I am pre-approved for.

If it is God's will for us to move pray it happens quickly and without much drama associated.  If not pray we will be patient with the process.
What I learned over the course of the weekend is that while Younger Boy and Middle Boy have their own sets of behaviors I am pretty lucky.  They have come a long way in terms of respect and following directions.

Having other kids in your home will do that for you. 

I was proud of my boys.  More than once they tried to correct the other two.  More than once they said things like "it wouldn't hurt you to say please" and "did you ask before you took that".  Middle Boy also came in the house at one point to tell me he wasn't comfortable with the choices one of the other boys was making.  This made me see that they aren't completely followers and they are actually listening even though it doesn't always seem like it.

It also made me pause and think about adding more foster kiddos to our home.  We'll see...once things settle down again.

Praises for perspective.  Sometimes I need to have mine forced upon me.

Praises for Middle Boy and Younger Boy...while they are not perfect I wouldn't trade them for the world.
It took us THREE hours to get out of the house this morning.  EVERYONE was capable of getting themself ready to go.  There is however a difference between capable and executing.  It was like three of them had never gotten themselves ready before...EVER.  Middle Boy showered, dressed, and ate breakfast while the other three wandered aimlessly around the house ignoring the continual promptings and reminders of the task at hand.

Good thing there wasn't a fire!

We finally got out the door at 1pm and I was completely exhausted.  Having never had toddlers I can't honestly say it would have been easier,  but maybe.

Praises we don't have to do this again tomorrow.
We rarely get to spend the majority of the day at home.  Today the only place we went was Middle Boy's therapy.

That was good, because during therapy I took the other three to Walmart.  I would NEVER do that again.  One person followed directions (offender from night before).  The other two...disaster.  One was literally RUNNING through the store and the other was exhibiting his newest behavior...whining and crying.

We got home and the boys played basketball in the driveway for four hours. 

I am thankful they got along...for the most part...and that I got a short break.

Praises for friendships.
This weekend I am doing respite for two additional teenage boys...both age 13.  They will be here Sunday night until about 8pm.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we could do so my home remainded intact for the ENTIRE weekend.  Prayers were answered when some friends offered us six free tickets to the university baseball game with fireworks following.

We went out for dinner before the game.  My boys go out to dinner all of the time.  The other two...not so much.  Pretty obvious.

We went to the game.  We had great seats and my two boys were pretty excited about the game and the atmosphere.  The other two boys...not so much.

Boy C is on an electronic monitor because he is a frequent runaway.  Boy J standardly makes poor decisions.  At the end of the eighth inning I explained what was going to happen after the game.  I had each boy tell me in his own words.  There didn't seem to be confusion.

Boy C took off running immediately after the fireworks were over.  I have friends who tell me I calmly navigate highly stressful situations.  This was one of them.  I knew he had a GPS tracking device attached to his leg.  It wasn't like we wouldn't find him.  Might it take a while?  Absolutely.  So...the other three boys and I walked to the car where I called his tracker.  She gave me his address.  Since traffic was bad I sent all three other boys to walk the block to where he was.  They were instructed to say nothing, but to stay with him until the point where I picked them up.

Once he was in the car we had a discussion that went something like this.  "Right now is when you have to make a choice for the weekend.  You can spend it doing what I ask and being respectful OR you can spend it at the juvenile center.  I honestly don't care, but I need you to make the choice immediately.  The words involved in your choice MUST match your actions for the remainder of the weekend."

He muttered something under his breath.  I said "If you aren't brave enough to say it to me, keep it to yourself."

He decided he would follow directions.

Prayers for the weekend to improve.
Both boys had tears about the end of the school year this year. 

What?  They are both self-proclaimed "school haters".  Why the tears?
The first words Younger Boy said to me when we go to the car was "Mentor R said he would come and he didn't."

Younger Boy tried to call him and didn't reach him.  He called his home and talked to his daughter and didn't get a return call.

Later that evening Younger Boy said "It makes me sad Mentor R forgot about me."  I told him it makes me sad he feels that way.

Prayers that Mentor R will understand Younger Boy's disappointment.  He's been disappointed a lot in life.

This afternoon I attended the sixth grade graduation of Younger Boy.  Honestly there was NO ONE in that room who had their face light up more than when he saw me there.  He was smiling ear to ear through the ENTIRE ceremony.

I got to meet all of his "best friends" and we took their photos together.  He took photos with the guidance counselor and two of his teacher.  The principal gave him the following encouragement "You are a smart, smart boy.  Remember that when you go to middle school."  He was beaming ear to ear.

As we were walking to his classroom to get his book bag he said "You aren't going to believe this, but I am really going to miss this place."  He even got a little bit teary-eyed.

He was so proud and excited.  He dressed up in a dress shirt and tie.  I had suggested nice shorts and a polo, but this was more important to him than that.  He slicked his hair down in the bathroom right before the ceremony.

I am proud of him.  He is smart. 

The part that made my heart smile the most was his excitement and just pure JOY!  Honestly I have never seen him like that and it was AMAZING for me!!

Praises for joy, excitement, and the feeling of accomplishment.
There are two images from Middle Boy's stories last night that keep playing through my head like a continuous reel.  I want them to go away.  I need them to go away.

Father...You have brought Middle Boy to this point in life.  While his healing is just beginning help me to be strong as I walk through this journey with him.  Give me wisdom to ask the right questions and when to just be quiet.  Give me peace as these stories continue to resonate in my mind and in my heart.  Thank you so much for providing your son as an example for me to know how to love this boy.  Amen.
This has been my day...Anne did a guest post on another blog and she linked it to her blog "just for me".  Probably not just for me, but I like to think that.  Indulge me here.

Here is Anne's post.

Parenting the Broken Child

I sit and I think about the questions I would ask if I could just sit and talk to Anne.  I have wondered the same thing.  Can I help these kids heal?  What if what I am doing just isn't enough?  What if it is never enough and what if they can't ever love me?  Is that okay for me?

Just last night in the midst of the horrific stories of abuse Middle Boy said to me "You know...I have a double thick wall around my heart, right?  You also know I don't control the wall anymore and it controls me, right?"

Yes, Middle Boy, I understand.  I also understand maybe one day I will make a crack in that wall.  I think sometimes you are letting me in.  I think last night was a BIG STEP forward in trust.  I also know that today you will pull away.  You will think you have let me know too much and you might not even be fun to be around.  It's the dance we do.  You'll work as hard as you can to push me away.

I'm not leaving.  Didn't leave when you went to the juvenile center.  Didn't leave when you got put on probation.  Don't even complain (to you at least) about how constrained our life is right now, because of your situation.  Like I told you.  It is our situation...ours...not yours...ours.  It is what our life is right now.  It isn't what defines us or our family.  You aren't a bad person, you made a bad choice.

You said yourself last night that it's easy to make bad choices and you are good at it.

Here's the told me yourself yesterday when we were talking that you know right from wrong.  You expect yourself to do wrong. 

You are NOT A FAILURE.  You are an AMAZING kid.  I wish you could see it.  I wish when I told you that you didn't shut down.

In the moment like Anne had with James I think we can just be.

Today Younger Boy had a cognitive exam at the Attachment and Trauma Center.  They confirmed again that he is of above average intelligence.

Today I noticed two things about Younger Boy.
  1. He has a huge chunk of hair missing.  I noticed as we were leaving therapy.  I asked what happened.  Apparently last night during the night he slept with silly putty and this morning it was stuck in his hair.  Instead of coming to me (or even Middle Boy) he just cut it out so he wouldn't get in trouble.  He is BALD above his left ear.  What part of that did he think I might not notice?
  2. He has a new stress behavior.  He picks at the skin of the pads of all of his fingers until they are bleeding.  All 10 of his fingers have been peeled in the past week.  They are all scabbed over and then he picks off the scabs and they bleed all over again.  He was crying this evening, because they were really hurting.  I wish I knew of a way to make them not hurt and for him to stop picking at them.
Middle Boy had therapy tonight.  He came out incredibly distraught telling me Therapist L is sneaky and tricky and that she fooled him into talking about his past in ways he never had before.  Once we got past the fact she needs to do that to help him he calmed down a little.

When we got home he was still kind of lost in his own world.  Kind of in a trance.  I asked him if he wanted to talk and it was like I opened a flood gate.  He told me excerpt after excerpt of past abuse by multiple people...nine in all.  Violent, sadistic abuse.  The kind of story that literally makes you want to throw up, but you can't, because you want to be there and listen.  He just kept talking.  Words and excerpts just coming out of his mouth.  At one point he stopped and said "I don't want to tell you the really bad, really violent stuff."  It was everything I could do not to gasp.  In his mind he hadn't told me the worst yet.  I told him when he was ready I could handle it.

He was exhausted after we talked.  Falling asleep as he just kept talking.  He went to bed.  I went to bed and cried.  Many people have hurt this boy who I love with my whole heart and NO ONE protected him...NO ONE, but God.

Both of these boys have strength beyond any I can imagine.

Prayers for healing.

The Gift of Life

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know,
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you the gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you!!

Author Unknown
Middle Boy and I were just talking about this yesterday.  The conversation started like this.  "If I wouldn't have had to go to the juvenile center where would we be in the adoption process now?"  It made me a little bit sad when I had to tell him TODAY would have been the last possible day it could have happened, because we could have filed on St. Patrick's Day.  He looked at me and said quietly, "Another major thing in my life I have totally screwed up."

I talked to him about it.  I don't see it that way.  You see, as much as it stunk to have him in the juvenile center, the time showed him I will never matter what.  I'm not sure he would have understood without it.  It is a tough way to learn a lesson about trusting your caregiver, but I think the message got through.

Here's where we are in the process...with some corrections and additional steps:
  1. Adoption home study interview - Mom
  2. Adoption home study interview - Middle Boy
  3. Adoption home study interview - family
  4. Fingerprints - Mom
  5. Adoption study paperwork - Foster Care Specialist - waiting for the results of my fingerprinting...which by the way has been done SEVEN TIMES in the last two years.
  6. Determine monthly stipend - Service Coordinator/Mom - This will be done at our FTM in June.  I am going to have to figure out how this works.
  7. File stipend collateral paperwork - Service Coordinator
  8. Select adoption attorney - Mom - I can do this.  I just have to find the paperwork I got from CASA with the recommendations.
  9. Prepare adoption paperwork - Adoption Attorney
  10. File adoption paperwork at courthouse - Adoption Attorney - Ideally this would get done on June 21, 2012, the first available day it can happen.
  11. Wait 30 - 90 days - Everyone  Wait 4 to 8 weeks.  I was wrong about the days.
  12. Adoption hearing - Everyone - There will probably be two of these, because the boys have different judges and are on different court dockets.  The boys really want them to be on the same day, but I don't think we have much control over that.  Ideally they would at least be in the same week.
  13. Big party - Everyone - no details yet, still wondering what this should be.  Younger Boy will want a big party...Middle Boy will want to be a small family celebration, because he doesn't like the attention drawn to him.
Praises for a pretty quickly moving far as governmental processes go.
Middle Boy is fourteen.  If you ask him he has a COMPLETELY horrific case of acne.  COMPLETELY horrific.  If the TWO SPOTS on his face aren't gone by TOMORROW morning he might either:
  1. Die.
  2. Rip his skin off of his face.
  3. Light them on fire.
All seem to be a bit of an overreaction to me.

We talked about how if you take care of your skin they will go away, but this involves using the cream we got from the doctor.  (He doesn't, because meds are stupid and don't work.)

He wants me to remind him he should take care of his face.  What?  He can't remember yet tonight it is causing his life to be a colossal failure?

Pray for clear skin and for him to not have severe burns when he lights his face on fire in the morning!
Getting the house on the market MIGHT kill Younger Boy.

Today I asked him to grab a plastic grocery bag and go all around the house and fill it with things that just need to be thrown away.  When he started he was actually in the garage.  He put FIVE things in and proclaimed we do not have enough things we need to get rid of to fill the grocery bag.

Was he in the same garage as I was?  Has he been in his own room?  Has he been in the kitchen? 

There are probably not enough plastic grocery bags in existence to get rid of the things which should have already been thrown away.

If Sophie chews up a lego...throw it away...don't put it on the coffee table.  Just one VERY SMALL example.

Younger Boy started to cry and said he just can't find any trash.

Yup...time for bed.
Some friends of ours are in the process of adopting a Haitian orphan they met on a mission trip shortly after the earthquake.  They have been back multiple times to check on him and to connect.  They have had to search for him when he changed orphanages.

This weekend they are having a garage sale to raise money to help pay their adoption costs.  We decided to make some donations.  I donated a treadmill which we do not use and a desk.  The boys donated their XBOX and all of the games.

We sat down and talked about what I knew about the little boy they were trying to bring home.  They had some questions I couldn't answer so we asked M when he came to pick up our items.

I asked Middle Boy why they decided on the XBOX.  He said it was because it really was a "life or death decision" for the boy from Haiti and if he could have a family that loved him that was important.  When he was talking about it Younger Boy started to cry.

It is moments like this where my heart nearly bursts, because these boys do get it. 

Thanking God for his compassion toward us and for the kindness and compassion of these boys.
We spent the day putting together our basketball hoop.  It is NOT done.  The backboard and hoop are not on the stand.

The boys did the majority of the work.  I helped some and T helped some when she came over.

Middle Boy is so excited about being able to play at home.  I'm excited for him. 

It has been a good lesson in a lot of things....following directions, learning that people make mistakes and that still doesn't make them stupid, patience, and attention to detail.

I am proud of both boys for hanging in there and not insisting they stay up ALL NIGHT finishing it up.
Progress is being made toward getting the house on the market.

MONDAY the painters are coming to paint the entire inside "Nomadic Desert".  It is a friend from church who owns a painting company and also volunteers at camp.  He is estimating a two or three day project.

We are going to have carpet samples available for buyers and let them select and I'll put new carpet in after we move out.  I don't want to put to sets in.  Right now I'm not sure who is a bigger offender in terms of messy carpet...Sophie, Middle Boy, or Younger Boy. Monday we will declutter AND move everything about 3'-0" away from the walls.

Praises for painting being able to be done next week.

Since the parade of homes is still going on we went again tonight to THE house.  This is the house I really hope is still on the market once ours sells.  I really like this house.  Really like it.

I have explained to the boys numerous times that I hope this will be our house, God might have other plans for us.

The had a good time tonight looking at the bedrooms and figuring out where they would put their things in "their" rooms.

I'm thankful they are excited about moving.  This might be the first time that has happened for them.

Younger Boy had a rough night.

I'm sure it is all of the stress he is going through right now.

He was up the majority of the night with HORRIBLE nightmares.  Mostly about bio dad and him killing Middle Boy and I.  At some point in the dream he morphed into a monster and was kidnapping everyone Younger Boy knows and he could never see them again.

Every time he would start to fall asleep he would start SCREAMING and CRYING in his sleep.  He did some sleep walking and talking about how it wasn't his fault.

He finally feel asleep about 4:30am and then woke up to find that he had wet the bed.  This was a trigger for abuse for him in the past and so it is always met with crying and hiding and screaming about how you can't help it.

This morning I just rocked him and told him that it is okay.  He can't help it.  It just happens.  We just need to wear pull-ups every night.  We'll take care of the laundry and it isn't a bad thing.  He can stay calm, because I am not mad and I love him.

It seemed to help some.

It is going to be a long day for everyone.  Part way through the night I had Middle Boy move in my room so he could get some sleep and I slept on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds while Younger Boy slept...which wasn't a lot.

Prayers for a peaceful day and a restful pleasant dream night.
I outlined my expectations for the boys and their part of working on getting the house ready.

I explained that while it seems like a lot of work for the next couple of weeks that is temporary.  Moving to our new house is forever.

Younger Boy is worried about the new house.  Every time he talks about it he asks if his room can be my closet.  That seems a little odd to me.  Tonight he made a comment about how he might not know his way around the new house.

Honestly I think he is worried he isn't going.  I need to do a better job of explaining that we are ALL moving...including Sophie.  All of our stuff will be there and we will be able to have more space for it and he will have his own room.

I need to do a better job of talking about how this is OUR house...not MY house.  We are a start. start.

Prayers they will be helpful in the process and not a hindrance.
We are putting our house on the market.

I know that some of you are shaking your head thinking, "has she lost her mind?".  You know...when you are running on a maximum level of stress nearly 100% of your waking hours you don't even notice one more thing.

This decision didn't come lightly.  It has been brewing with me for about 18 months.  Why now?  Interest rates and the tugging at my heart to have another foster child.  More space.  The boys will each have their own room.  The adoption will be complete this summer and I want to go from MY HOUSE to OUR HOUSE.  This house was meant for a single person or a retired couple.  The fact that two houses just like mine in our neighborhood have now sold within three days each.

Is it going to be A LOT of work...ABSOLUTELY.  Will we make our goal of June 1st?  ABSOLUTELY.

I met with a realtor tonight and signed the contract.  I know the asking price.  We talked about what I am looking for in a house.

He met with the boys and explained to them what they needed to do and told them he will come back in one week to see how they are doing at the list he gave them.

I'm super excited.

Everything will happen in God's timing.  I just need to do my part.
Apparently I do not understand how human interaction works.

I always thought that if something was said and someone felt hurt or disrespected by the comment then the comment was disrespectful.  Apparently when it is said as a joke or to waste your time that isn't true.

Middle Boy and I had ANOTHER conversation about this today.  It was because he had a psychiatrist appointment today and every question asked by the psychiatrist was met with a sarcastic, false, or exaggerated answer.  Twice during the appointment I called him on it and three times the psychiatrist said something.

When we got to the car I asked Middle Boy about it.  He told me that he was joking and it isn't disrespectful or rude.  I explained that when you are PAYING someone to be your health professional you treat them with respect.  When an adult asks you a question, you answer with respect.  It is infuriating.

Of course when you mention this to him you are being disrespectful, because you don't understand humor.

Prayers this will start to sink in with Middle Boy.  It is becoming an issue in all facets of life.
Today Grandpa went to see his regular doctor at home so he could be familiar with everything that went on in the last couple of months.

The doctor told Grandpa that he is incredibly lucky to be alive.  God just had more for him to accomplish here on earth apparently and prayer is answered.

Grandpa is progressing with physical therapy at home.  He is getting stronger every day, but still tires quite easily.  He has gone shopping at Walmart at least once.

Friends have been visiting him at home in the afternoon and I'm sure he thinks it is good to get caught up, but wishes it were under different circumstances.

Praises for healing and miracles!!
Anne's Tuesday Attachment Post...what I look forward to.  How pathetic does that make me?  This weeks post is helpful to me.  Here's her post:


Staring Game - Neither of my boys can do this.  Middle Boy doesn't make eye contact with adults.  I can get him to make eye contact with me for very brief periods of time, but only if I request it.  Younger Boy can make eye contact with everyone, but me.  We have been working on this one.

Hair Brushing - They are boys...they don't own a comb or a brush and if you have ever seen them you can tell!!

Telling Stories - They love to hear stories about me and my sisters when we were younger.  I don't hear many happy stories from either of them.  I have heard so many stories that break my heart.  Stories that I just have to turn over to God, because honestly I don't know what to do with them and if I dwell on them it paralyzes me.  These are my boys and other people hurt them.

Back Scratches - Younger Boy loves having his back massaged.  We started with the dot, dot, line, line game.  Occassionally he will seek it out.  Middle Boy loves to have his back scratched, but any type of shoulder rub or back rub sends him through the roof screaming in pain.  To touch his shoulder near his neck is enough to send him over the edge.

Rocking - As absurd as this probably sounds to those of you who have met the boys, I rock them.  Pretty regularly.  I nearly always rock Younger Boy when he is sad and Middle Boy when he is frustrated with himself.  It makes a difference...a big difference.

Anne's post today made me think maybe I am actually doing something right in the realm of attachment and not just throwing gas on a fire.

Tonight Middle Boy wanted to work on math.  Actually asked what time we were starting.

I teased him about liking math.  He said "no, but I like getting better at math".  That is a start.

Tonight was a little bit disheartening, but also eye-opening for me.  I can't remember if I mentioned that we started with third grade math.  Younger Boy is currently in sixth grade and Middle Boy in eighth.  Tonight we worked on time and money.  Not together, but things like:

How many minutes in an hour?
How many days in a year?
How many months in a year?
How many dimes in a dollar?
How many nickels in a quarter?

You get the picture. 

I think there were 25 questions about each.  The first time through each boy got one right in each category.

No wonder when I say things like lets go at quarter til five no one is ever ready.  Neither one of them have any idea when that is.  Not only that, but they don't have the confidence to ask what I mean.  I am going to change that.

Operation Math Skills is changing all of our a positive way.  It is giving them more self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their intelligence.  It is giving us more family time.  It is helping me understand more about them.  Last, but not least, they are learning math.

Praises for Operation Math Skills.
Tonight the boys worked hard.  It was obvious that Middle Boy felt guilty for the events of the last couple of days.  It was also obvious that Younger Boy does not.  He never does.

Middle Boy was trying to motivate Younger Boy to help out and he just didn't see why.  I listened while Middle Boy explained it over and over how they had both screwed up.  Younger Boy just doesn't care.  There is not a consequence in the world that he cares about...not one.  You can take everything away, doesn't care.  You can reward everyone else and not him...doesn't care.  Just a complete inability to care about consequences or show remorse.  It is hard to work on behavior with someone like that...even harder to live with them.

Prayers for a breakthrough.
When Middle Boy spirals downward with behavior he keeps spiraling until he hits bottom.  Younger Boy almost always gets caught in the vortex.

It started today with me being angry about the "bullet" holes in the blinds.  It moved on to inappropriate website searches, not doing his afterschool task (empty the dishwasher) and being no where to be found when I got home from work.  It continued with screaming about how no one trusts him and blaming Younger Boy for not helping with anything.

It continued with bargaining for something he wanted (a basketball hoop) if he promises to get his behavior and lying undercontrol.

I had to separate myself from the situation.  I usually do this by going in my room for "personal time".  While I was in my room Middle Boy knocked on the door and wanted to talk.

He confessed that he screwed up...a  He recognized that once he got frustrated he continued to make bad choice after bad choice and tried to cover it with lying.  He asked how he could make up for it today.

I explained that what he does today is just a start.  Today he can do his afterschool task and work around the house, but more importantly it is time to start being honest, respectful, and trustworthy.  Every day...not just today.  That is what I want.

I know what I am asking could be beyond his skill set, but I don't think so.  I think he just needs to be held accountable and reminded.

Prayers for behavior, honesty, trustworthiness, and respect.  Characteristics of a good man to be instilled in these boys.
I am on a rollercoaster of emotion today.  I was super excited when I was driving home for lunch, because I was going to get things together and go buy the boys a basketball hoop.  They have been wanting one so they can play in our yard.  I was going to surprise them when we got home.

I went home for lunch first and found two things which make me super disappointed in the boys.  Both damage to our house.

The first was the towel hangers being completely ripped out of the wall in their bathroom.  Both hangers.  Not just the hanger coming off the bracked, but the big thick drywall anchors that hold them into the wall as well.  Six 1/2" holes in the bathroom wall with the hangers laying on the floor.  It wasn't like that on Saturday evening.

The second are holes for a play gun that were shot in the vertical blinds.  Three holes to be exact.  It is very obvious that this is what happened, because the dart things are still on the floor.  This is after repeated requests to only shoot the guns outside and not at people.

Honestly I am considering calling the police to report vandalism, because I am so tired of this blatant disrespect for property.

Prayers about the right thing to do.
After seeing all of the bigger houses today the boys are sort of motiviated to help get the house ready.  They want to start NOW.

That's great.

I explained what it means to get ready to move.  I said we are going to start with going through all of our stuff and throwing away what is really junk.  We will give away stuff we don't need or use any longer.  We will box up stuff we don't need this summer, but label the boxes well.  Then we will clean and paint and repair.

Then I explained that when we go to bed each night the house will have to be ready for people to come and look at it the next day.  That means trash emptied, dishes put away, nothing left out, beds made in the morning.

It was at this point that they decided maybe we should just stay where we are.

I tried to explain that this will be temporary, but it wasn't sinking in.

Also...there is some apprehension on the point of Younger Boy.  He seems sad to be moving.  Part of me wonders if he thinks he won't be joining me.

Prayers for motiviation and discipline in getting this project DONE!!
We are looking for a new house.  I am hoping ours can go on the market in the next month.  Is that realistic?  Maybe if the boys and Sophie didn't live there.

This month is the parade of homes in town.  We went to all of the homes that were in our price range.  We found three that I really liked.  The boys always like the one we are currently in the best so when we get ready to move I just need to take them to the one I am buying last.

I cringe when I think about how much work this is going to be, but I am excited about the chance to move.

Prayers the right doors open for us.  I know things will work out in God's timing.  I'm excited for what He has in store for us!!
We went to our second church service this morning.  On the drive there we talked about how since it was Mother's Day I wanted us to sit together as a family.  Younger Boy asked if he could go to youth group which meets during second service.  I said no...I wanted him to come to church with me.  That was what I wanted for Mother's Day.

We got there and Middle Boy wanted our family to sit with his mentor.  Sure, no problem.  Mentor L and his wife sit in the front.  No big deal.

Younger Boy went to the bathroom before the service started.  Middle Boy left during the second song at the beginning of the service.  Neither of them came back...for the entire service.

It seems they ran into Mentor R in the upstairs lobby and he told them they needed to go to youth group with him. 

If you ask the boys what transpired from there it would seem that they said they were going to go to church with me, but that he said no.  Either way I was pretty disappointed.

The boys got up at 6:30am to make me breakfast in bed.  It was really sweet.

They made me a card and brought everything to me. 

Sophie was convinced that the breakfast was for her so they spend the entire time I was eating chasing her around the room.

They didn't make their own breakfast, because "that was too much work".

It was a nice start to the morning.

Praises for sweet boys.
Younger Boy is still reading.  At the pace with which he is reading he will be ready to write the report for second quarter next year...maybe.

Middle Boy is alledgedly out of things to do which do not involve Younger Boy so I rented a movie for him to watch.

Younger Boy is still reading!!
Thank you J!!

After we spend time together this afternoon I feel MUCH BETTER about the crafts for Boys and Girls TRAC camp.

I think we got all of the crafts planned out for both weekends.  We still need to make samples, write out easy to follow instructions, buy supplies, and box it up and get it to camp. we know what to buy, etc.

I am thankful for great help with this part of camp.  I am so looking forward to serving with J and A!!

Praises this is ready to go!!

Middle Boy talked to me today and said he had been thinking about TRAC camp.

He decided he wants me to go even though he can't.  He had two reasons.  He knows that I love it, but more importantly I made a commitment and he doesn't want me to not follow through on a commitment.

The discussion sounded significantly like something I would have said to him...maybe he is listening every now and then.

Praises for a mature decision.
Younger Boy's fourth quarter book report never got turned in.

So...this weekend...the weekend before the end of fourth quarter he is reading an entire book and doing the report.

Teacher emailed me and told me she still hadn't seen it and this was the reason for the F in reading.

He worked very hard to convince me he could either read a picture book or just one chapter of a chapter book and write a three to five sentence summary. will do what the assignment required.  You made the choice to throw away the other one you did so here is the consequence. 

You will not do anything except read, eat, and do your chores this weekend until you are finished with the book. 

This is meeting a significant amount of resistance...of course.

Prayers for staying on task and getting the reading done.
Tonight we worked on our front yard landscaping.  Actually I should call it "unlandscaping".

We had some phlox which was completely overgrown and looked horrible so we tore it all out.  We took out the landscaping bricks and added grass where the landscaping used to be. 

It looks SIGNIFICANTLY better, but still not good.

This is not something I enjoy so it likely will never actually look good. 

Prayers it doesn't look like someone ripped up our yard!
Middle Boy and I talked this evening about being on electronic monitoring and being out of town.

The reality is he won't be able to spend the night out of Omaha until he is off of the electronic monitor.  The first time he could be off the monitor is his next court date...August 21.  It is possible County Attorney won't even approve it then.  In his mind it means that you may as well break all the rules associated with probation, because your summer is going to stink anyway.  I explained how that is flawed thinking.  If he breaks the rules one of two things will happen...he will go back to the juvenile center OR he will remain on the monitor until he proves he can follow rules.

So...he is going to suck it up and follow the rules, no matter what he thinks about them.

We talked about what not being able to go out of town was going to mean for us...
  1. No Memorial Weekend trip to Grandma and Grandpa's or at any other time this summer.
  2. No possible trip to Middle Sister's.
  3. No TRAC camp.  I told him I would stay home with him during this weekend.
  4. No weekend trips at all.
It makes me sad we won't be able to do these things.  Especially not being able to go to see my parents, because Grandpa probably won't be up for visiting us this summer.

All in all the discussion went well.

Prayers for what is going to be a long summer.  Praises for "understanding".
I have a prayer request.  I need wisdom for how to break some news to Middle Boy.  I am not envisioning it going well.

While he is on electronic monitoring he can't go out of town overnight.  This means that he won't be able to go to TRAC camp this year and we won't be able to take any weekend vacations.  We also won't be able to go to Grandma and Grandpa's at all. 

Honestly I have no idea how to talk to him about it.  It stinks.  A LOT.

All we can do is hope that the tracker and electronic monitoring go away at his next court date, but that isn't until August.

This changes a lot of things we had planned for the summer.

Pray he accepts this news well, but I don't think that is going to happen.
Middle Boy wanted to "protect" me from Younger Boy by sleeping on the floor outside my bedroom.

I don't feel threatened by Younger Boy.  I don't think he would hurt me.  If I thought the situation was getting out of hand I would call 911.  It isn't like the police have never been to our house before.

I was trying to figure out if Middle Boy was uncomfortable in the same room as Younger Boy and that was why he wanted to sleep in the hall or if he truly thought I needed protection.  He has been in life situations before where he felt he needed to be the protector so I think it is part of him and his nature.

I'm tired.  Middle Boy is tired. 

As long as everyone is sleeping I guess it doesn't really matter where.

Prayers for a good nights sleep!
It started with about 4 ounces of chocolate milk.  Middle Boy has a glass of milk each evening for his snack.  If it has been a good day he has chocolate milk. 

He wanted to go to bed early so he made his chocolate milk.  He set it down on the coffee table so he could grab the book he was reading.  During that time Younger Boy took it, took a drink of it, and hid it.  Not really a big deal.

Middle Boy told him he could just have it since he drank out of it and he would make himself more.  Still no big deal.

I asked Younger Boy to finish up what was now his milk and go to bed.  Simple enough request.

Holy smokes...not so much.  He did drink the milk and then stomped into the kitchen and threw the glass at the sink.  I asked him to pick it up and that is when the downward spiral started.  It went something like this...

  1. Pick up milk glass and throw it on the floor and then scream a profanity.
  2. Be asked to pick up glass from floor.
  3. Pick up glass from floor and pick up book and throw it onto couch.
  4. Pick up book from couch and throw body onto couch and pound head on wall.
  5. Mom and Middle Boy watch in confusion.
  6. Scream you hate your life.
  7. Get up and go in bedroom and continue to pound head and fist against wall.
  8. Come back into living room throw another book.
  9. Go sit at kitchen table and keep screaming about how everyone hates you and how stupid you are and how no one has EVER wanted you to live with them.
  10. Start crying until you are sobbing.
  11. Scream/cry about how your meds are making you tired.
  12. Scream/cry about how you are going in your room, but you hate this family and wish you lived somewhere else.
  13. Cry/sob until you finally fall asleep.

It was a glass of chocolate milk.
Tonight Middle Boy and I were discussing therapy homework and my desire for him to buckle down and get it done.

I asked him to find out tonight from Therapist L what he needed to do to get done by August before school starts.

He asked why he should be motivated to do it.  When I said he should be motiviated so that we didn't have to take five hours out of our week to go to his court-ordered therapy including drive time and that he would get off the electronic monitor and probation.  His reply was "there is no guarantee that will happen".  He is right, but there is a guarantee it WON'T happen if he doesn't finish therapy.

It evolved into a discussion on effort and attitude.  He told me there is no reason to put effort into anything in life, because he is NEVER going to be the best at anything.  I asked him to name two things he felt like he puts effort into.  He couldn't name any.  So frustrating!!

Therapist L told him he will really have to work hard to finish by August.  REALLY HARD, but it is still possible.

Prayers for motivation and discipline.
When I went to training for camp a couple of weeks ago we trained about how a lot of these kiddos didn't have their basic needs met and from that their brains fire a little bit differently that brains of kiddos who had their basic needs met.  It was a demonstration done with red legos (stressors) and blue legos (calming).  Most of these kiddos have a lot of red legos going on.  I know my boys do.  Nearly everything causes a red lego reaction.

The attachment center works with a process called EMDR.  In REALLY BASIC terms it helps create blue legos.

Younger Boy and I will be going for two hours per week to the attachment and trauma center.  One hour is spent in "regular" family therapy and the other is spent working on the traumas that created the red legos.

I am REALLY EXCITED to be starting this.  It is so hard to get into this center.  VERY HARD.  We are lucky to be able to be a part of it.

Our intake meeting went well.  It is interesting to hear Younger Boy's "perspective" on his life so far.  He said "my childhood wasn't good, but now my life is good".  It was a little surprising to hear him say he thinks he is past childhood. 

Praises for therapy and help in areas of life where we need it.
Day two of Operation Math Skills is complete.

We are STRUGGLING with the negative attitudes toward math and the comparison between them and their skills.

I am using a math website to find the problems.

Tonight Middle Boy actually got through the problems with all of them being correct.  He was pretty proud of himself.

Younger Boy is still working on his. 

We have done over one hour of math the last two nights.  These boys will understand math if it kills me!!

Prayers we can keep this up for the entire summer.
Mom J called today with a prayer request.

A fully handicap accessible home in their area has gone on the market.  For three years they have been battling the state to help with upgrades to their home to help with the care of Younger Boy's brother.  He has been in their split entry home in a wheelchair for six years now.  He is getting too big to carry up and down the stairs and they have no accessible bathroom.

Here is their prayer.  That if they are meant to have this house everything will fall in to place.  They live in a very small town so their house could be on the market for a while.

Prayers for their family and their housing.
Earlier this week we passed the ONE YEAR anniversary of when we started pursuing DD services for Older Boy.  The frustration of this pursuit is one of the reasons he is no longer in my home. 

Today I got a call from Mom J.  TODAY he was approved for services.  Over ONE YEAR later.

There has to be a better way...has to be.

Prayers for the system in which PEOPLE'S LIVES are the real victims of the brokenness.
I got a call today from Foster Care Specialist telling me three things:

It is not my responsibility to collect all of the collateral information for the adoptions.  It is the responsibility of Service Coordinator.
My agency is going to pay for Middle Boy's summer child care.  They think it is not fair that I would have to pay for it when it is court ordered.
The information Service Coordinator gave me regarding subsidies following adoption was incorrect.  Service Coordinator was being really vague about it the day before at our meeting and wanted to have the subsidy meeting without Foster Care Specialist.  This will not happen.  We have to come to agreement on the subsidy terms prior to adoption.  I'll fight for everything I think the boys deserve.  I will not just take what is given.

It's so frustrating.  I don't know how people do it if they don't have a good agency looking out for them.

Praises to God for my agency and the people there.
Tonight I had a meeting and the boys were at home. 

They each had two things to do while I was gone.  I have asked Babysitter M not to nag them to get the things done, but to gently remind them once or twice.  The boys have been asking for more responsibility and want to be trusted SO these little things matter.

Both of them had three math problems left to do on their homework.  Younger Boy needed to take a shower and Middle Boy needed to put his laundry away.

None of it got done.  Not one thing.  They did have time to go to the park and to play outside with Sophie.  Babysitter M reminded them twice of what they needed to do in the time I was gone.

When I got home I explained that you have to prove you are ready for responsibility and trust and everything matters...EVERYTHING.

The past five years of my life have led me to be a foster parent.  It all started with Royal Family Kids Camp.  It is where I fell in love with the foster child and it is where I was called to action.  Maybe not quickly to action, but definitely a tug over time to action.

I still volunteer at Royal Family Kids Camp every year.  Probably always will.  I also volunteer at Teen Reach Adventure Camp.  I actually met both boys at these camps.  I love these camps.  They are run entirely on donations and have no paid staff.

This year the camps are going forward on faith God will provide as we still need between seventy and eighty percent of the funds for camp.  See, the foster kids go for free.  It is all foster kids at camp and for many of them this is the only camp they would be able to attend.  Some because of their medications, most because of the types of behaviors they exhibit.  It just wouldn't be tolerated at other camps.

Here is my wish.  That you would help if you can.  It costs $250 for each camper to attend as well as each volunteer.  The bulk of it is for housing at the campground.  Volunteers don't pay to go...they give up a week of their time.

There are two ways you can help.

If you live in our area you can join us in the Happy Camper Run.  Get a team together.  Walk with me.  I'm signed up to do the one mile.  I would love to have you.

You can find the information about registering here.  Pass the word around if you know any runners or walkers or anyone who knows how to walk.

If you don't live in the area you can make a donation directly to the camp online here.  Any amount would be appreciated.

If you can't give...pray.  Pray that kids lives would be forever changed through these camps.  I know mine was.