The deadline for weekend chores is always 6PM on Sunday.

This weekend Middle Boy mostly got the chores done and Younger Boy didn't do a single one.  The list gets created and is available on Friday afternoons.

Younger Boy thinks it isn't fair that he is going to have to work on his during the week and can't do anything "fun" until they are done.  That's the rule.

Middle Boy has to put his laundry away.  It might keep him from doing anything fun for the entire week.  We'll just see how motivated he is.

Prayers for motivation and perseverance.
B's mom is a hair stylist.

B needed a haircut on the way home from youth group and they were going to stop at her salon.  She offered to give Younger Boy a haircut for free.

I told her that was fine and as long as it wasn't something really crazy I didn't really care what she did with it.

It is a pretty cute cut.  It is VERY SHORT on the sides and longer on top.  It is likely going to take some doing to upkeep it, but she said she is willing to just do it when she does B's.

What a blessing.

Younger Boy went to church today with B and his family.

Their youth group was doing an event at a corn maze and he really wanted to participate.

B's family goes to church quite regularly.  He talked a lot about God while he was at our house.  It was interesting to listen to he and the boys talk about it.

Praises for good Christian friends.
We went out to dinner at a huge chinese buffet.  B told me it was his favorite restaurant.

B is an adventurous eater.  He got the boys to try a multitude of things...all of which B LOVES.

Here's the verdict:

sushi - Younger Boy likes, Middle Boy hates
crawfish - both boys LOVE
king crab legs - both boys LOVE
baked calamari - Younger Boy likes, Middle Boy hates
clams - Younger Boy likes, Middle Boy hates
frog legs - Younger Boy likes, Middle Boy hates

I had tried all of those in the past.  The only thing on the list that I like is sushi and not always. 

They had a blast trying new things.

Praises for opening your mind to try new things.
We got back from taking T home to find B and his mom sitting in the driveway.  Younger Boy had planned a sleepover with B for tonight.

Good grief.

I was pretty sure we weren't going to be getting anything done anyway and I just needed a break so I agreed...with the caveat that this will NEVER happen again without asking me BEFORE discussing it with your friends.

I love B.  He is funny.  Both of Younger Boy's friends are straight A students and both go to bed at 8:30PM.  I asked them.  They also both shower every night...hmmm...

When I left I asked the other three boys to clean up all of their trash while I was gone.  The mess was made by the three of them.

I also told the caregiver she really didn't have to manage it, because they should all be capable.

When I got home Younger Boy told me they were "completely done" and the house looked great.  I walked in.  Great compared to what?  An episode of Hoarders?

There was still food trash all over and dishes all over.  The furniture was still rearranged.  I will give them credit T had wiped down the bathrooms and taken all dirty clothes to the laundry room and M folded all of the blankets they had been using.  Younger Boy...nothing.

This me want to scream.  Does he really think this is acceptable?
When I agreed to these sleepovers I gave the boys a list of rules for our home.  They really aren't different from our normal rules, but I anticipate that the rules will be followed.

I told the boys that there would be three strikes allowed and then everyone was going home.  Each person didn't get three strikes.  It is three strikes total.

Strike one this morning when I woke up to find the kitchen a DISASTER of food and food trash. 

I also asked Middle Boy to shower before therapy.

I went upstairs to shower and there was about 20 minutes left until we had to leave for Middle Boy's therapy.  He hadn't showered.  STRIKE TWO.

Good grief.  These tasks aren't difficult.

Prayers for a peaceful remainder of the day.
All four boys are getting along great.

They are playing video games and basketball.  They have eaten pizza and watched TV. 

All in all it has actually been quite peaceful for me...with the exception of Sophie and T having a love/hate relationship which causes Sophie to bark if T even looks at her.

I am enjoying watching them all hang out together.
This afternoon Younger Boy and his friend came back to our house for friend M to spend the night.  He has been at M's house since later in the evening on Thursday.

They spent the day today at the zoo and had a really good time.

T is still staying with Middle Boy.  No one has even called him to see when he is coming home.  He has a pretty rough home life.  I don't mind him staying.

T generally picks up after himself...better than my boys anyway.

All four boys are getting along GREAT.

Praises for making friends and having them be good kids.
Over the last couple of days I have been BOMBARDED by automated emails from the school district.

This is a reminder that your student has this due.

This is a reminder that your student has to do this every Friday.

This is a reminder that you student has to....

You name it. 

I have SO MANY thoughts on the absurdity of all of this.  First...when was I first "told" of these requirements.  You are reminding me of something you never told me in the first place. would be helpful to know which student.  Some of them are so cryptic I can't even figure that out.  I get that I am supposed to help participate in their education, but jeepers...these email are not helping this.

I DID email EVERY SINGLE one of the boys teachers yesterday to ask about missing assignments, work habits, and some miscellaneous things.  I have heard back from all of the high school teachers and half of the middle school teachers.  One of the middle school teachers was downright rude.  You picked the wrong person, my friend.

I was reminded of Anne's post about this same topic.

Double Message

This literally makes me crazy.  At the same time I am wondering if I can get my boss to start emailing my parents when I have a project due!!
There is no school tomorrow.

Middle Boy was having B and T spend the night tonight.  T has spent the night at our home before and is actually a really good kid.  B is their other friend.  He didn't get to spend the night though.  He got in some sort of trouble today at school.  B and T go to a different high school this year so Middle Boy wasn't sure what the problem was.  B's grandpa told him that if he couldn't trust him to be respectful and follow directions at school there was no way he could be trusted to do that at someone else's house.  Middle Boy understood.  What?  Understood.  If I used this same logic with him I would be the most unreasonable person on the PLANET!!

Younger Boy ended up going to stay overnight at the home of M with M and B.  I will pick him up tomorrow after work and then take T home.

I am thankful they both have at least two friends at school.  Both of them struggle socially with peers and so it makes my heart smile to know that they are connecting.

Praises for friends and relationships developing.
We got home and Mentor R was there playing video games with Younger Boy.

They had gone and had a burger for dinner.  Sophie had gotten out of the house when they got home and they had the fun of chasing her around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes.

Mentor R told me he finally feels like they are getting back to the relationship they had three or four years ago where Younger Boy talks to him about life and doesn't give surface answers and nonsense.

I am thankful he was able to go to the football game today.  It meant a lot to Younger Boy.  I am also thankful he was able to make sure he had dinner and got him home.  It is a bonus that it was actually quality time.

Praises for good mentors...for both of the boys!!
Middle Boy passed one assignment tonight during therapy.  I think he had more done to present, but he presented the really large packet and it took the entire hour.

He was in a pretty good mood following therapy and has agreed to do at least three assignments per week (AGAIN).

I reminded him again that he will need to start paying me for mileage and time at the first of the year since he could have legitimately finished the program by now.  It will come from his allowance.

Prayers for finishing up therapy.
Yesterday I decided it would be fine if Middle Boy had a friend or two spend the night tonight.

Last week Younger Boy's friends had asked for him to spend the night, but with all of the family around it wasn't convenient.

So tonight as we were driving to therapy he called to see if his two friends could spend the night tonight as well.  That is actually fine with me.  I would MUCH RATHER have all of the chaos of extra kids on a single night than spread out over an entire weekend or multiple weekends.

Middle Boy FREAKED OUT.  He doesn't want all of those "kids" around.  It's too much.

He was relaying the information back and forth between Younger Boy and I.  He told Younger Boy I thought it would be better to do it another night or another weekend.

Nope...not what I said.  I explained to him that he doesn't get to decide.  He can give me his reasoning, but I make the final decisions...not him.  I am the parent.

I went on to explain how he had taken something away from Younger Boy that he was getting is that fair?  What if the situation were reversed?  Did he stop to think maybe I don't really want ANY OF THEM at our house, but am willing to let them since that is what kids do?

Another teachable moment on putting others first.  Prayers for empathy and less self.
It was a little bit chaotic after school today.

I had a meeting downtown which ran late.  Younger Boy had a football game.  Luckily Mentor R was there and had agreed in advance to help us out if things got crazy.  Middle Boy was at home, but needed to be at therapy 35 minutes from home by 6PM.

I got home with about two minutes to spare.  We were on gas FUMES so we had to stop to get gas.  Of course I had the "King of the Worst Case Scenario" with me so we had to discuss all of the way to the gas station what would happen if...

We got to therapy one minute late.  She was still meeting with the client before Middle Boy so...ALL IS GOOD.

I wish I could say this was an atypical night, but it was far from it.  We are frequently scrambling to get where we need to go and have to call in back up drivers at least twice a week.

Praises for things falling into place and people with a willingness to help!
So...sometimes God throws us some curve balls in life.

Over the last few days I have received three offers to attend meetings, join committees, and speak at foster care events.  Is this the ultimate path God wanted me to be on, but I needed to be a part of "the system" before I could advocate for the kiddos in it?

They are all BIG assignments but in such different ways.  All of which make me super excited.

The first is a meeting with the DIRECTOR of HHS here in our state.  How did this come about?  I think I mentioned I had met with my boss prior to him meeting with our governor to discuss the turmoil in the foster care system in our state.  It is one of my boss' passions and he was on the board of a now defunct group home.  He and I had met and he told the governor about me. we are...meeting being scheduled with the Director of HHS, my boss, and discuss foster care in our state from the my perspective.  Wow God...that is really entrusting me with A LOT.

The second opportunity I have received is to join a committee of a group called Voices for Children.  Absolutely.  Children are a large group in society yet they truly have NO VOICE.  They can't vote.  They have no say in what happens in legislature.  They can't really advocate for themselves.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Finally, and the one that makes me the most nervous/excited, is speaking at a recruiting event for a local foster care agency.  Ironically it isn't even my agency, but another agency who is "aware of" me.  I will be giving a 10-15 minute discussion on foster parenting teens. have given me a lot of responsibility here.  I hope I can be an instrument for your plan for the orphan in our state.  Show me what it is that YOU want me to say.  The words YOU need people to hear so the outcome glorifies YOU.  Without YOU I would be capable of none of this.
Last weekend a friend of Younger Boy's asked him to spend the night.  We had a lot going on so I postponed it to this weekend and possibly at our house.

When I mentioned it tonight Middle Boy informed me he was hoping to have two friends stay the weekend.  What?  That is CRAZY. 

He insisted people would feel left out if I let him have two friends spend the night and Younger Boy had a friend spend the night. 

He concluded Younger Boy could/should wait until the following weekend.

He argued there would be "so many kids" at our house...especially if we were also doing respite.

I told him I would MUCH RATHER have "so many kids" one weekend than to have guests two weekends in a row.  I also explained that if they each had ONE FRIEND it would be the same as him having TWO and Younger Boy having NONE. 

That was completely ridiculous.

As of decision about the weekend.  Middle Boy is really lobbying to get his way though.
Younger Boy FINALLY got started on the current events homework.

We still had our newspaper from Sunday so he started there.  Two articles there and an article from the internet.

The the articles and write the summary.  He didn't want to do it like that.  He basically wanted to plagiarize the article, but in his own words.  Nope...doesn't work like that.  Read the article and write the summary.

When he was reading he kept saying "you need to hear this".  Hmmm...maybe this assignment doesn't completely stink like he thought it did.

I asked if if he thought it was interesting.  He sheepishly admitted that he liked reading about "this stuff".

Prayers he can remember that when it is time to do current events again.
Once Younger Boy calmed down Middle Boy told me his school organization system isn't working.

I asked what he was using as an organization system and offered to help figure something out.  I told him we should start by emptying his backpack and figuring out what he had going on.  At least that is what I thought I asked.  He must have heard something completely different, because I thought my request was simple.  He acted like it would require a SIGNIFICANT amount of exerted energy.

Eventually he stopped complaining about how much work it would be and actually emptied the backpack.  I think it took three minutes, but I didn't say a word.

He has two days of block scheduling.  Four classes each day.  There isn't time to go to his locker, because the school is too crowded and big.  So he carries each day's notebooks all day.  Each class really needs a notebook and a folder.

He decided he wanted to buy a binder for each day and put in loose leaf paper and a folder for each class.  Great...we have all of that stuff.  Of course...not the right stuff.

He got organized...after about two hours.

I hope this works.

On a side note...Younger Boy still hasn't ACTUALLY started the current events homework.
I got an email today reminding me Younger Boy's three monthly current events were due tomorrow.

Silly me...I asked if they were done.

First he told me the teacher had told him he only needed to do two.  Really, why would that be?

Then he told me that since we don't have a printer that works there was no way to do the assignment. 

Then he told me there was no news going on in Northern Africa or Southwest Asia (also known as the Middle East).  Does he think I live under a rock?

At that point I stopped the nonsense and told him none of us were going to youth group that night until all THREE current events were completed.  You should have seen the meltdown.

Story after story of how it wasn't in his assignment notebook.  Doesn't matter.  I have this email.

The email must have been sent to me by mistake.  Nope this is the same thing the teacher talked to us about during open house.

Surely I had the wrong day.

Finally Middle Boy lost his patience and yelled, "Just do the work.  This is ridiculous." 

This shouldn't have been a surprise.  For ONE MONTH he has known about this assignment.  In fact it is the same assignment EVERY MONTH for the whole school year.  Just different areas of the world.

Prayers for one day just accepting there is homework and doing it without all of the drama.
When I asked Middle Boy what happened with the boy who wanted to fight him today he told me they had both gotten called in to meet with the Dean of Students...together.

Apparently this man is a really tall body builder (think intimidation).  He asked if there was a problem between the two of them.

They were friends. 

What they figured out in their time with the Dean of Students was that other students were spreading the exact same rumors about things each was allegedly saying about the other to them.  The reality was that neither of them had said any of those things.

The three of them concluded this sometimes happens when people "want to see a fight".

So, Middle Boy and the other boy are friends again...just like before...minus the rumors.

Praises for a peaceful and honestly, quite easy, ending.
Therapist C is a genius.

We have discussed over and over Younger Boy's showering/not showering patterns.  We have discussed that when a shower does occur they are RIDICULOUS in length.

She asked him to log the days he takes a shower and does his entire hygiene routine before bed.  He is to time himself.  He is to turn the log in to her each week at therapy.

Thank you.  Not only does it make it visually clear when showers were taken and when they weren't it also speeds up the process.

Prayers this works for more than a couple of days.  Hygiene is not at the top of his list of important things to take care of.
Middle Boy went out with Mentor L tonight.  They always go for burgers, because they are trying to figure out the best local burger restaurant.

Afterward they went to Mentor L's house and played ping pong and built a work bench.  Good bonding things.

Younger Boy and I were able to eat pancakes for dinner.  Might sound stupid, but Middle Boy hates pancakes and Younger Boy and I really like them.  So...every time he is with Mentor L we talk about having them.  Tonight we did.

It was a good evening for everyone.
On Monday night Middle Boy told me there was going to be a problem at school today.  He had heard through a number of his friends during the evening that there was a boy who wants to fight him.

He tells me he doesn't know why.  I wonder about the validity of that statement.

I reminded him of the ramifications of fighting or being suspended.  It would include a return to the juvenile center, because of a violation of probation and then he would have to go out of state to complete treatment. 

He called me today after school to tell me that the other boy did approach him after school to fight and that it hadn't occurred, because the police officer there after school told the other boy he had enough of his nonsense that day and that he should come with him.

I suspect this moves the fight to Wednesday, because from what I could tell from Middle Boy's Facebook page this boy still intends to "kick the s*** out" of Middle Boy.

We have had a lot of discussion about what you do in this scenario.  I realize that with his background my suggestions seem absurd.

Pray for peace after school and for control of anger.
Younger Boy walked home from school after football practice today.  It is just over a mile.  If you ask him it is around FIVE miles.  I imagine it to be uphill both ways and I think there might have been snow involved.  Not positive though.

He was telling me about the walk and it caused me to wonder what on earth adults are thinking.

He told me someone threw trash at him and someone else yelled "what are you a slow ho?"

Really?  He is a kid walking home from school.

Now...justifiably I am considering my source.  It could have been a ploy to keep from walking home from school.  However this is the kid who has been BEGGING to do just that...until he actually did.

Prayers for safe walks.  He only does it on days when he has football (no bus) AND I have to work late (RARE).
Today at therapy we discussed Younger Boy's meltdown on Sunday.

When we discussed it with Therapist C it became CRYSTAL CLEAR what the trigger was.

When Younger Boy dropped my laptop I was irritated, but I get that it was an accident.  In his mind though he was sent to a really ugly place where he is bad...very bad.

That is what turned throwing a pen into throwing your lamp.

Therapist C explained the dominoes which had occurred.  She explained to him that every person makes mistakes and that sometimes when you have that guilt you just have to sit with it.  You have to let it pass.  It doesn't license you to meltdown.

She practiced asking him some questions with some "real life" scenarios.  Things like "how did my charger end up in your room?" and "who left this food trash here?"  These are things that cause meltdowns for him, because he EXPECTS perfection in himself.

It was fascinating to watch him even in role play.  He couldn't do it.  Couldn't just say, "I took the charger.  I am sorry I borrowed it without asking.  Here it is."  Even the role play came with excuse after excuse and partial truths.

We have a long way to go.  A very long way.

Pray he can understand that it is ABSOLUTELY acceptable to make mistakes and everyone does.  Pray he begins to understand mercy and grace.
Mid-quarter grades were published online today.  The rule in our home is that if you are giving it your FULL effort and doing your best then your grades are what they are.

Giving it your FULL effort includes bringing homework home to complete it and asking for help when needed.  It also includes doing homework and turning it in on time.

Contrary to what the boys (especially Middle Boy) believe I do not expect straight As.  I expect effort and care.

Missing assignments make me crazy.  The way our school system grades makes me even crazier.  If you haven't done ANYTHING the entire quarter that is okay.  There is just no grade to report.  What?  Real life doesn't work like that.  If you don't meet your responsibilities no employer is going to say "It's okay.  Just do it when it is convenient for you."  NO.

Honestly the grades thus far in the quarter are surprisingly good.  Partially due to the weird grading system which doesn't take into account incompletes.

Middle story.  One assignment out of ELEVEN turned in.  F...big fat his grade.  When I asked him about it he seemed shocked.  How can he be shocked.  Surely he knows he hasn't done anything all quarter.  Of course the teacher was immediately to blame.  Must have lost every single one of his assignments.  I wish that teacher would get their act together.  It is getting him into trouble at home for "no reason".

So...based on our agreement over the summer Middle Boy as one week to raise the F to a C or he loses his phone and iPod for the rest of the quarter.

Prayers he will "get it".
We got a call to do respite this weekend.  Actually it is kind of the respite call I have been waiting for.  A call for a boy who might be a good fit in our home.  Maybe a good "permanency".

I am not positive when he will arrive for the weekend or how long he is staying.  His foster parents are adopting his two sisters, but not him.  He thinks he is included.  There are going to be some big feelings and some behavioral issues as he works through yet another trauma.

Pray for a weekend of discernment and wisdom as our whole family meets and spends time with this boy who needs a permanent home.
In our home we have had A LOT of discussion recently about the importance of keeping your word.

This is a really difficult concept for both boys, but especially for Middle Boy.

Today when he was home sick I asked him to write the six thank you notes he needed to do from the party and to also do one assignment for his weekly therapy homework.  All in all it was less than an hour of tasks.  He assured me there was no way they wouldn't be done by the time I got home from work.  He even went as far as to tell me I didn't need to remind him.  He would take care of it.  He was giving his word.

I again reminded him that giving your word showed your character and was the equivalent of a promise.  I also reminded him that not following through with your word made a dent in the trust and takes a long time to rebuild. 

He "knows".  I don't have to keep reminding him.

When I came home from work I asked about the two things he had assured me would be completed. 

Not done.  No excuses, nothing.  Just a "nope"when I asked.

I hope he starts to understand giving his word doesn't mean much to me anymore since this is a daily occurrence.

Prayers for building trust.
This morning on the way to his psychiatric med check Younger Boy told me the events of the morning....from his side.

He told me Middle Boy had went in to wake him up and slapped him in the face.  I knew this was in fact not true, because I had been the one to wake him. 

He went on to tell me that when he didn't get out of bed right away Middle Boy came into his room and threatened him.  Again...pretty sure it didn't happen since Middle Boy was either in bed or in the bathroom throwing up, but maybe.

I asked Younger Boy if he was giving me a complete and accurate story.  He assured me he was SO since Middle Boy was home sick I called him.

I told him the tale Younger Boy had given me about the morning and asked for his version.

Shockingly the stories were vastly different.  Middle Boy's story included Younger Boy coming to his room and snapping him with his shirt.  I knew this struck a chord when Younger Boy immediately said "I didn't see it actually hit him."

Wow...this is the behavior he used to exhibit with Older Boy when they were in the same home.  He would manipulate, lie, whatever, to Older Boy and Older Boy would react and look like the "bad kid".

I told both boys that from now on when they needed to tell me about something the other was doing/had done, both boys needed to be present for the discussion.

Prayers for understanding lying about behaviors is unacceptable.
Middle Boy has a CRAZY LEVEL of anxiety.  If I had to guess (be observant) I would say it revolves around the fact he is having to have to go to school after "the break-up", but I wouldn't dare say it.

He has been throwing up since about midnight so he isn't going to school today, because if he vomits at school I will be there picking him up anyway.

So...pray for peace for him.
When Younger Boy had the meltdown tonight I asked him to give me his cell phone and his iPod.

When he melts down he has a tendency to "hide away" with those things and not process through what is actually going on.

After 30 minutes later I got a call from my brother-in-law.  It seems Younger Boy had taken our extra cell phone from my room at some point and was using it to text my sister to tell her he was in trouble and that he needed help.  Really? 

He also chose to text his older biological sister who he is not allowed to have contact with.

When I asked him about where he got the phone he flipped out and threw it across the room. he has told my family that he is not in the wrong and I am being completely unreasonable and he has stolen a phone and then threw it.  Not his best day.

Prayers for figuring out the trigger behind this whole thing.
We are back to reality.  Gone is the afterglow of the adoptions.

Today Younger Boy was getting ready to do homework and he dropped my laptop on the floor.  The screen is broken and it won't boot frustrating!!

He FREAKED out.  Honestly...while I was angry, it was an accident and I told him that.  I didn't get mad, but he started screaming about how he messes everything up and he is a failure.   He escalated it to the point where he threw two things in the living room and then went to his room and kicked his bed and threw a lamp across the room.

He followed it up with pounding on his floor both with his head and his hand for THIRTY MINUTES.

Here we are again....

Prayers we can work through the feelings associated with this.
After Grandma and Grandpa left I went back to bed.

I was TIRED.  Very TIRED.

I ended up sleeping until 3PM. 

Exhausted?  I think so!!

Praises for the ability to sleep.
Middle Sister and Niece L left at 6AM today.  I didn't make it up to say good-bye to them.

Grandma and Grandpa left at 9:30AM.  I did make it up to say good-bye to them, but the boys did not.

I am kind of sad to see them all leave.  It was nice having them around to help out around the house. 

I appreciate them very much...more than they know.
As I was on my way to pick up Middle Boy and his date from the dance I got a call from him telling me that they had broken up and he had no idea where she was.

He didn't intend to look for her and would I call her mom to see how she was planning to get home. 

I called her mom and she called me back after trying fifteen times to reach her daughter.  She was going to go pick her up.  Talk about awkward.

I was instructed by Middle Boy to not ask how the evening was so I didn't.

Before we got home he had shared with me a bit about the "break-up".

Then he posted about it to the whole world on Facebook (which makes me CRAZY).

He was ANGRY...really ANGRY.

Prayers for peace for him!!
My family stayed for dinner and for part of the evening.  It was so good to just spend time with them.

Younger Boy and my nieces played Just Dance and my nephew watched them.

The rest of us watched college football, had dinner, and hung out and chatted.  It has been a long time since we have done that.  Since before Grandpa was in the hospital for sure.

We are talking about getting together for Niece C's first birthday.  Middle Sister and her family will be in the area for a football game.  I would imagine we will celebrate Thanksgiving at that same time.

It was a peaceful and relaxed evening.

Praises for family!!
Middle Boy left the party immediately after it was over in order to get ready for homecoming.

His date was arriving less than an hour after the party was over.

He got ready faster than I have ever seen him get ready.

He looked nice in his black pants, black shirt, and black, silver, and white tie. 

He cooperated for a few individual photos.

His date got there and we took some pictures.  My nieces were fixated on watching them exchange flowers and telling his date she looked beautiful.  The loved every minute of it.  That part was really cool to see.

Then he was gone.  Her parents drove them to dinner before homecoming.

Praises for another parent who is willing to help plan for kiddos who can't drive and don't really know what they are getting into.
The open house was amazing.

I don't know how many people stopped by.  If I had to guess I would say it was over 100.

The boys had a good time playing outside with all of the other kids.  Over the course of the afternoon I know I saw soccer, football, and basketball.

It was good to have so many people helping to celebrate them and to welcome them into our family.

Friends took care of EVERYTHING for me.  It was such a blessing.  In fact I am beyond blessed.  Between them, Middle Sister, and my parents it was relatively stress free for me.  I know I could not have pulled it off by myself.  By that point I was emotionally drained.

Thank you God for an amazing support system.  More than I could have hoped for!!
Denise prep.

Grandpa, Grandma, and Middle Sister were already in full swing with the party prep.  K, K, and N arrived at 1PM.  K and N set up all of the food from the volunteers.  K took Sophie to the "spa" so she was out of the way for the afternoon.

They did a beautiful job setting up the party with AMAZING treats.  Younger Boy was helpful.  Middle Boy had a lot of nervous energy and was playing basketball and being generally non-cooperative.

The house looks great.  The food looks great.

I had a lot of anxiety that no one would come to the open house.  That is why I never have anyone over...I am afraid they won't show.

Praises for good friends and family to help when I need it.
Middle Boy had group therapy. 

I took Younger Boy and Niece L with me to run errands while he was at therapy.  We were in charge of drink mixes and some cleaning supplies.

Luckily we had Niece L along, because she was able to help Younger Boy pick out a birthday gift for Bio Sister in a quick fashion.

Middle Boy is sometimes cranky and sometimes in a good mood after therapy.  Kind of potluck on what you are going to get.

Today we got good mood.  What a blessing!!
There is still a list of things needing to be done.  Not major things, but still a list of things.  Mostly those small things which are pretty important, but you haven't gotten around to them yet.

I needed someone to buy things for our family dinner.  We needed some odds and ends from the store.  Both boys needed to shower.  We needed to set up tables in the garage.

We got the list made and done in short order...thanks to my family.

Praises for getting work accomplished...quickly.
Niece L help K and I with all of the interior decorating.  She really had an eye for what would look good in certain locations.

She and Younger Boy did all of the manual labor with furniture rearranging.  In fact they moved it all twice.

We spent the evening hanging pictures.  Actually, K spent the evening hanging pictures.  I was either watching or figuring out what was going where.

I like the way things are turning out.  It is finally starting to feel like home.

Praises for help with the decorating!!
Grandpa, Grandma, Middle Boy, and I went to Younger Boy's football game today.

It was not a good game.

Grandpa and Grandma couldn't believe how unorganized it seemed.

I had completely forgotten that we needed lawn chairs so we had to sit on the ground.

Younger Boy's school ended up losing 27 to 6.

He did get a couple of tackles and a neck stinger.

Praises Grandma and Grandpa were able to see him play.  He was excited about that.
We came home and rested. 

The emotion of our lives has been exhausting...for a long time now. 

The rest felt so very good...if only for a little while.
We went to brunch following the adoption.  We added another member to the family for brunch....Camp Uncle R.

He kept us entertained throughout brunch with jokes and stories.

It was a wonderful celebration of welcoming Middle Boy into the family.
Middle Boy's adoption is final!!

His hearing was all of three minutes long and that might be exaggerating on the long side.  I couldn't help but wonder if he was disappointed.  He has been waiting for this for TEN YEARS and that was it?

I was thrilled with the turnout.  The part I was REALLY impressed by was the men of our church showing up to support him.  There were four of those men there.  All Christian men who care about Middle Boy.  What a blessing!!

He also had the majority of the CASA office there as well as some of my friends and his case team.

He shows emotion so differently from Younger Boy, but he was definitely happy!

It feels so good to have this step be over.

Praises for all of the love and support we have.
We have been needing to buy a mower for the new house and Grandpa was just the person to help us pick it out.

We went to a home supply store and looked at all of their mowers and finally settled on one.  Not too expensive.  Had the features we were looking for and all of that.

We also got a trimmer.

We came home and the boys and Grandpa put it together.  The hardest part was putting in the gas with our new gas can meant to protect the environment.  Unfortunately it also does a really good job of protecting gasoling from going into the mower.

The boys took turns doing the mowing.  Grandpa did a couple of passes through the yard as well.  I figured he would.  Mowing is one of the things he enjoys doing.

The lawn looks great.  Middle Boy insists he loves mowing so he will do it regularly.  I imagine he will love it until he has to do it regularly.

Praises for a beautiful lawn again.
Middle Boy is a MESS!!

I just talked to Therapist L and we are going to forego therapy tonight and just give him a break for the evening. 

Honestly we could both use it.
Here's my worry and my prayer request.

I am one of those people who doesn't show a ton of emotion and finally let myself relax until things are over.

After Younger Boy's adoption yesterday I started to cry, but didn't really let myself.

I am afraid tomorrow after Middle Boy's adoption I will finally breakdown and cry.  Not because I think this is the wrong thing, but because this has been a long road...a really long road.

I don't Middle Boy to get the message that I think I made a mistake, because I absolutely do not feel like that.

Pray I can keep it together until I am alone at home.
This morning when I woke up Middle Boy he asked why I am waking him up so late.  Apparently I wasn't giving him enough time to get ready for school.

He has stopped using an alarm and doesn't get up the first time I ask.

His choice was to continue to stay in bed and complain how little time he had to get ready.  I finally had to say "Each minute you spend doing this is ONE LESS MINUTE you have to get ready."

Finally it clicked and he got up.

Good grief.  Pray for smoother mornings.
We give a girl a ride home from youth group every Wednesday night.  I used to mentor her and now she has a different mentor at church.  She is a former foster kiddo who has been adopted by her Grandma.

She had a rough, confusing day.  On the ride home I think it was the first time she really had an opportunity to talk to someone who might understand and she really let loose.

Her biological mom moved in with them today with her baby brother and three extra kids who she is taking care of while her friend is in jail.  Her mom has had four kids with the same dad, but they are "just friends" and don't intend to raise the kids together.  This girl is the oldest.

She said that the reason they had to move in was because CPS came to the apartment where they were all living and were going to take the baby away, because there was "weed" in the house.  This started a whole discussion about why each of the kids was taken away.

I just listened to them talk.  She needed to get it out.  They could sympathize.

After we dropped her off Middle Boy said "I hope that never happens to me, because her mom is causing her life to suck."

Prayers for this family and especially this girl as she works through the confusion and anger.
We had youth group tonight.

The boys LOVE youth group and church.  I think they truly feel loved there.

Both boys took cookies to their groups to celebrate their adoptions.  Younger Boy wore his button.

I am so blessed to have a church family who is so supportive of us.  Thank you God for leading me here!!
Middle Boy saw the "closet" Grandma and Grandpa built for themselves in the basement.  In fact they have created an entire bedroom suite.

The window is covered with wrapping paper to keep the light out.  The closet consists of two hangers hung from the ceiling joists with a mop in between.

The boys asked if I had seen it.  No, I hadn't been downstairs.  They wanted me to immediately go down and look.

I explained I would go look, but that I had lived with these people for 18 years of my life.  This doesn't surprise me and I can picture it in my head.

I told them of other redneck creations over the years and they laughed.  They asked if Grandma ever thought they were crazy.  I'm not sure why they think it is Grandpa who does this stuff (it usually is). 

Praises for a good laugh for the boys.  Both of them said more than once "I love Grandpa!"
Grandma and Grandpa are such hard workers.

Grandpa broke down all of the moving boxes in the garage and rearranged it so we can almost get two cars in.  (Don't get any ideas Middle Boy!)

Grandma helped with laundry and the kitchen and they have both been working with Sophie.

It is so nice to have them there to help us!!  I love you Mom and Dad!!
Younger Boy chose the fanciest restaurant he could think of for his celebration lunch.  He picked Cheesecake Factory.

He invited Grandpa, Grandma, and Youngest Sister, her husband, and their youngest to kiddos.

It was a nice lunch.  Youngest Sister was trying to explain to her three-year old that I was now Younger Boy's mom, but I don't think he was understanding.  He was too busy calling Younger Boy "Bucky" and "Dave".  He started that a while back and remembers every time he seems him.

Their little girl, C, is 10 months old.  She kept us entertained and Younger Boy shared his lunch with her.  He even cut part of it up for her very meticulously.  She is a really pudgy little girl and they call her "the bear".

Younger Boy certainly felt special. 

Praises for family and feeling special.

T went to multiple courtrooms to get Younger Boy an adoption button.

When he put it on he was beaming.  It says "I was adopted today."

He is going to wear it out to lunch and to youth group tonight.  He wants the world to know!!

I asked for a second button so he had one to put in his box of  "special things" as a memory of this day.

Praises for little things that make BIG DIFFERENCES!!
The hearing started with a check hearing on the foster care case.  I don't know if that is typical or not.

During this time Judge D made small talk with Younger Boy.  They got caught up and he told him about football and school.  Judge D made him feel pretty special.  That judge is one amazing guy.

I'll be honest...the hearing itself if pretty anti-climatic.  My attorney mispronounced our last name multiple times.  He asked me less than 10 questions and then made his ruling.

Afterward we took pictures.  All different combinations of people.  At one point Judge D offered to take pictures so everyone else in the courtroom could be in them.

Younger Boy requested pictures with nearly everyone and in really interesting combinations.  That's's his day.

Judge D hugged me before he left the courtroom.  When he did he whispered in my ear.  "Thank you...I really mean it...thank you."  That touched my heart.

As we were leaving the courtroom we were still in the hall talking and we ran into T.  She is the one who placed Younger Boy in my home initially.  Our attorney was still there and he said "nothing happens by chance.  She was supposed to be here so things could come full circle."  Wow God...that was really cool. is to go.
Younger Boy was pretty chatty in the car all of the way to the courthouse.

When we parked in the parking garage he could hardly wait to get out of the car and almost ran through the building.

At one point I said "we need to wait for Grandpa and Grandma" and he slowed down a little bit.  Then I had to say "the adoption won't be until 11:30 so we don't need to hurry".

He was all smiles.  Youngest Sister called to ask if she was in the right place and then A and her son, L, got on the elevator with us.

As more and more people joined us in the waiting room for court his smile just continued to grow.

Our agency gave him an engraved picture frame and he kept looking at it.  He took pictures with a lot of people and we waited.

Finally the bailiff came to get us.  She hugged Younger Boy and told him she was so excited for him.

Praises for an amazing "fan club" for the adoption.  Younger Boy feels VERY LOVED and so do I.
It was time to get ready to go to the courthouse for Younger Boy's adoption.  Grandma was going to iron his shirt.  That would have been a great plan had we been able to find the iron. 

Grandpa, Grandma, and I all knew the ironing board was in the garage.  Grandpa and I both remembered seeing the iron recently, but neither of us could recall where.  (The joys of moving!)

So...we used the steam fresh cycle on the turned out great.

Grandpa taught Younger Boy how to tie a tie.  The outfit we had purchased had a clip on, but it was pretty narrow and he wanted to wear a tie clip.  So...we found another tie which actually matched his outfit better, they tied it and put on the clip.

I hadn't thought through what I was going to wear, but this day isn't about me I wore clothes.

You can visibly see Younger Boy's excitement growing!
Grandma and Grandpa are staying at our house through Sunday so they can go to the adoptions and the adoption party.  Their way of showing us they love us is through acts of service and they have already made a big change in the look of our kitchen.

I am so thankful they had the opportunity to stay this long and that they are so helpful in everything I do.
The boys had a great time tonight helping with childcare at our foster care agency. 

They pretty much handled the care of the elementary school boys with a game of dodge ball.

There was an eight year old girl who clearly had a crush on both boys and they were so good with her.

Many of the people complemented the boys on their ability to care for younger kids.  It is actually kind of amazing considering the kind of care they received when they were young.

I am proud of them for the work they did tonight and it was good to see them laugh.
Tonight I had volunteered us to help with child care at our foster care agency.  The boys both actually LOVE to do this.

On our way there we had our family meeting.

I started off by saying I think we all have regrets over words we have said and some actions.  I wanted us to talk about how we have been treating others and how we each wanted to be treated.  I wanted us to address each person in the family individually.

I went first.  I have not been the mom I want to be.  I get frustrated.  I yell and I lose my patience.  I come unglued more than I want to.  Sometimes I don't let things just end and I need to get the last word...prove I win.  I don't want to do that anymore, because the boys deserve a better mom than that.

Younger Boy went second.  He said he regrets getting too angry for situations and taking it out on both of us.  He regrets saying "snotty" things to Middle Boy and not listening and following directions.  He feels bad

Middle Boy went last.  He regrets bullying Younger Boy.  He regrets hitting him and using unkind words.  He regrets saying things to me he doesn't mean just to be mean.  He regrets swearing at me and not following directions.

I want to be treated with respect and I want the boys to listen to what I say.  I don't want people to yell at me or swear at me.

Younger Boy wants to be treated with respect.  He doesn't want to be made fun of or bullied.  He wants people to be patient.

Middle Boy wants others to be respectful of him and not yell at him.  He wants others to listen to him.

We talked about how we are going to hold each other accountable.  We talked about how when others in the family need space we need to give them that space. 

I asked if we were going to give up or fight for this family and whether or not this family is worth fighting for.  Both boys admitted they love this family and it is worth fighting for.

Thank you God for the right words at the right time tonight.
Shortly after our discussion I got this text from Middle Boy:

im sry tht im not the son u wnted to have
im sry I have disappointed u all the time
im mean and rude to people
im sry Younger Boy doesn't feel safe in the home
I wish I could start fresh and fix things but tht wnt happen cuz ive messed up too much
everything I say or do hurts somebody
I guess im not the son u wnt and I know I make ur life miserable
I wish I could fix wat ive dne but im in a hole no one wnts to help get me out of cuz ive hurt them all
but I really am sry
im worthless

My heart broke when I got this message.  He isn't worthless.  He hasn't hurt everyone.  He has been hurt...more than most of us will EVER experience.  He doesn't hear or see that.

Prayers for self-worth for Middle Boy.  For an understanding that he is worthy of all of the things life has to offer.
After school today I asked Middle Boy about the bullying of Younger Boy.

He didn't get defensive or make excuses.  He got really quiet.

I asked him about every incident Younger Boy had mentioned during therapy.  He said things like "that only happened a couple of times" and "I don't do that anymore".

I asked him about the incident this morning.  His version was a little bit different than Younger Boy's, but still involved him bullying Younger Boy.

I asked if he had ever been bullied in his life (knowing full well he did at the hands of an adult) and he said yes.  I asked if ANYONE ever deserves to be bullied and he said no.

We are going to have a family meeting tonight to discuss how we are going to treat each other and how we want to be treated.

For the sake of this family I hope it goes well.

Prayers for the family meeting and for wisdom.
I have been emailing with a friend this morning...just to clear my head about the bullying.

She had the following words for me...words I needed to hear this morning...

Those old patterns of behavior (how life is) and survival behaviors are going to take time to unlearn -- for both boys.  Trust will be built VERY slowly...despite all your efforts.  There is so much to undo.  You are working at it with herculean efforts, but it doesn't change overnight.  That is the sad state of it.

In your anguish, do not doubt yourself.  God has called you to a mission that I am not equipped for.  But you KNOW you are called to this and God has put a live and passion for the "orphan" on your heart for a reason.  Think of how your logic and ability to take the spewing emotion (far beyond most mothers?) has been a blessing in the progress made so far.  You are a target for the emotions they have learned with other caregivers.  Yes, it hurts and breaks your heart...but your strength and capacity for going right back out there are unreal!!

Thank you...I KNOW in my heart these are GOD's boys and He has entrusted me to raise them.  I need to step up to the plate and do just that.  No matter how hard or scary or frustrating.  This is what He asked of me.

Does it mean today's revelation doesn't stink?  No way.  Do I dread talking to Middle Boy about bullying Younger Boy.  ABSOLUTELY.  I am certain it will bring a wrath down on me like those earlier this week. 

Am I near my "breaking point"?  I don't think so.  I know I am more on edge and irritable lately.  This whole adoption thing is not a walk in the park for me either emotionally.

Pray for us today.  Pray as you feel led.
This morning I am unsure of everything I believed in about my small little family.

During Younger Boy's therapy it came out that Middle Boy is using intimidation techniques and bullying with Younger Boy on a multiple time a day basis.  This is happening while I am home and in the same room.

How have I not noticed?  Younger Boy is scared enough that he was crying.

When I asked why he never told me he said it would be just like all of the other homes and he would get beat up for telling. 

It literally makes me want to throw up.  He has been lying for Middle Boy, because of what he perceives to be the alternative.

I have to address it today.  Younger Boy's safety is top priority.  Younger Boy says he has never been hit by Middle Boy.  I am not sure I think that is true, because he went on to say it is okay for brothers to beat each other up when they are angry.  He gave examples of he and Older Boy and other families they had lived in.

I am so ANGRY and HURT right now.  I don't know what to do with this.

God give me wisdom and mercy.
Tonight Middle Boy and I were talking right before he went to bed.  Younger Boy had been asleep for about 30 minutes.

All of a sudden Younger Boy was in the hallway asking something about light, but slurring his words.  I asked him to repeat himself and he said the same slurred words.  I couldn't understand so I told him that.  He got frustrated and went to his room.

I went in and he was on his bed still mumbling about the same thing.  Again I asked what he needed.  He said "A light switch.  I think that's what it is called."

Then he was asleep.

I believe he was sleep walking and talking during the whole thing.  It was really weird.
Tonight I had my first small group Bible study in months.  Oh how I have missed those ladies.

We are studying the book of Ruth. 

We laughed.  They are encouragers and they are prayer warriors.

I can't imagine life without them!!
Both boys have missing assignments in school.  Middle Boy is missing two and Younger Boy NINE.  Yes...that is NINE in the fourth week of school.  How does this happen?

I asked him to get out his backpack and locate them, because they have never been home.  I suspected that again they would not be there.

So...NINE missing assignments.  None in his bag.  Where are they?  Locker?  Maybe.  Trash?  Probably.

He is in danger of becoming academically ineligible.  His IEP holder told him yesterday.

This is SO very frustrating.
It's that kind of day.  A day when I am searching for something, someone who can relate to what I am going through.  Not only what I am going through, but with the understanding I have gained through educating myself.  Someone who is living the less than ideal, because they truly believe this is what they are supposed to do.

Friends have been pointing me to blogs of people I might be interested in.  Those blogs link me to other blogs and somewhere along the way I am learning.  Learning from experiences of others and from the therapy I go to with the boys.  Learning from the things that I read.  All the while praying others too will be able to learn.

Hoping that in some way these words I write help someone every once in a while.  Change a perspective.  Change a heart.

My friend, J, met this woman at a conference last fall.

One Thankful Mom

She is actually in town...THIS WEEK...and taking her daughter to the Attachment and Trauma Center we go to.  I am praying for her and secretly hoping maybe we will cross paths there.

Through her I saw this link.  This woman gets it.  I feel like she would "get" me.

Invisible Disability

There are so many times when I know people don't believe the behaviors I get at home.  Surely I am exaggerating and making them up.  Nope.  I'm the mama...I get the brunt of the anger.

Then there is this woman.  Truly a friend.  We met at the Trauma Parenting Class.  This woman has done something I don't know if I could have done.  She is the guardian of two teenage boys who are the children of her ex fiance.  He is in prison.  Their mamas are long gone.  They are with her.  The things which happen in her house may as well happen in mine.  She is a blessing to me.  Thank you God.

Their Boys, My Gift, God's Plan

Thank you God....for allowing me to see into the hearts of these women.  Wishing I was eloquent and well spoken.  Hoping I, too, can help someone someday.
Middle Boy has now flopped himself on the floor outside the door to my room.  He is holding Sophie and crying. 

She keeps running into my room/he chases her there.

I asked him if he needed something, because he keeps coming in my room. 

He asked why I was kind to him when he wasn't kind to me.  Why did I want a hug after we fight? 

I asked him what he thinks making up from an argument looks like.  How should it work?  What does it look like?  I told him we could make up from a fight in whatever way he thought it should be.

He had NO IDEA.  He said he had never seen anyone apologize after an argument so he didn't know.

I told him to think about it and let me know.

He said he was sorry he hurt me and he said all of those unkind words.  I forgave him.

Prayers for forgiveness and learning.  Wisdom and grace.  Mercy and loving like Jesus loves us.
Middle Boy asked if he could talk to me.  I said yes, he can talk to me, but if he starts to yell or become verbally abusive I will leave the room.

Turns out he wanted to give me a list of everything that sucks about me and living with me. 
  1. I don't listen.
  2. I don't care about anyone except myself.
  3. I'm selfish.
  4. I expect everything yet give nothing in return.
  5. I think the world revolves around me.
  6. I think everyone around me should be perfect.
  7. I don't have any patience.
  8. I expect everything to be my way.
  9. I am unreasonable.
  10. I interrupt everyone while they talk.  So much so that it makes people hate to have conversation with me.
  11. I don't follow through on anything I say I am going to do.
  12. I don't trust anyone else.
  13. The only time I act like I care about him is when he blows up and loses it.
  14. I never give out complements.  Only criticisms.
That's all I can really remember.  I am certain there was more. 

He asked for a list of everything I hate about him.  I didn't give it to him.  Instead I gave him a list of the things I love.

That really made him mad.

Prayers I can make it through this week.  My self-esteem has really been taking a beating lately.
Today was our last chance this week to get Middle Boy's homecoming outfit and both boy's clothes to wear to the adoptions.

When we got in the car I asked Middle Boy if he could just not text while we were shopping so it could go faster and we could get home and get some things done.

No..he can't.  What he is talking about is important.  I told him to choose a two hour time window some time before 9PM that he was not going to text.  I didn't care when it was, but there had to be a two hour window.  He told me I am unreasonable and I never listen.

He screamed at me.  He swore at me.  He cried.  He told me I don't want him to live with me.  I don't care anything about it.  I never listen.  I always interrupt and I don't care what he has to say.  If I would have taken the time to listen he was going to tell me that he chose two hours and it would be after we got home.  He kept getting madder and madder.  Said that he is sick of me getting "my entertainment" from pushing him to his breaking point every single day.  I have NEVER said one kind word to him the entire time he has lived with me.  All I want to talk about is how he is bad and a failure and will never amount to anything.  It just kept escalating.

We got to the store and I calmly said Younger Boy and I are going in.  You can join us if you would like. 

We got out of the car and went in.  He apparently didn't like that, because he came STORMING into the store to tell me we suck as a family.  He kept repeating over and over "I just need you to listen to me".  I probably said fifty times "What do you need to tell me?"  Every time he would just repeat how I don't listen.  I left the store.  I couldn't take it.

When we got to the car I told him I would listen for five minutes.  He could tell me what he needed to say.  I didn't mention the fact that I didn't say a word during the entire rant on the way to the store.

He screamed at me for another twelve minutes.  The only thing he said was that I refuse to listen to him.  I started the car and drove to the other store we needed to go to.

When we arrived I told him this was his only opportunity to get his homecoming outfit.  He could stay in the car until he pulled himself together while Younger Boy and I shopped and we went in. 

Walking into the store Younger Boy said "I don't like it when he does this.  Can I just move somewhere else?"  It broke my heart.  I explained that I don't like it either.  Not one bit, but that he had some big feelings right now and he didn't know how to work through them.  It is our job as his family to help him.  He understood and told me he loves Middle Boy.

After twenty minutes we saw Middle Boy in the store.  They both got their new clothes and we left to go home.

Middle Boy's phone has been disabled for the next two weeks or until he learns to speak to me respectfully.

Prayers for finding other ways to cope with big feelings.
Younger Boy seems out of sorts. 

I asked him if there was something going on and he said he is just kind of sad, but he doesn't know why.

That's okay.  We have been learning that feelings come and go and every feeling is okay.

He is also pretty tired.  He has a lot going on.

Prayers for Younger Boy as we navigate our way through the upcoming week.
We picked up Younger Boy at Mentor R's house.

He was quick to inform me he did in fact stay up all night...well at least until 5:30AM when they left to go home.

He had a great time.  He told us all about it.

He spent the majority of his time with one of the adult volunteers.  I worry about him, because he doesn't really know how to socialize with kiddos his own age. 

He spent a lot of time telling me about a velcro suit he wore and you run on an inflatable and throw yourself into an inflatable wall with a bullseye on it.  He got a 25.  He said 40 was the best, but he didn't see any kids get that.  Just adults.

He bowled and roller skated.  He told me he used "straight line" skates, because the four wheeled with the brake on the front are too hard to use.

He ate a hot dog and drank one cup of mountain dew, one dr. pepper, and one root beer.

These are all important details.  He showed me videos of laser tag.

I am SO THANKFUL he had a good time.  He needed a break where he could just be a kid!!

Praises for our amazing church family and for Mentor R's family for keeping him for the weekend.
Middle Boy worked on therapy homework in the car on the way home.  He had been promising me for days he would work on it and for days it hasn't happened.

I told him it was okay with me if he spend some of our day working on it.

He took this to mean that I was fine with him texting all day as well.

I told him I thought it would be a good idea if he wasn't texting while he was working on the homework and if he focused it would get done faster.

I am apparently WRONG.  Did you know you can actually get homework and therapy homework done FIVE TIMES faster and more accurately if you pick up your phone to text at least once a minute?

I asked why he refuses to try ANYTHING the way I suggest.  Apparently since I grew up in 1943 I don't know about multi-tasking.

I am done arguing about everything.  I told him to do it his way since that is what he was going to do anyway.

I didn't even mention he had gone back on his word.  It wasn't worth my words.
Today is the one year anniversary of Middle Boy moving in.  When I mentioned it he told me he had been meaning to ask me, because he knew it had to be soon.  I am hoping we can have a peaceful day to celebrate. 

Maybe we will start with a nice breakfast.

Praises for the past year.  While it has certainly had its ups and downs it has been a blessing to me and has helped me grow in ways I didn't even know I needed to.
This morning before I woke Middle Boy it hit me like a ton of bricks.  The adoptions are this week.  Within the next seven days.

It seems like we have so much left to do and so many things left to discuss and so much...

Prayers for peace...for all of us this week.
Tonight when we got back to the hotel Middle Boy told me tomorrow he is going to focus his attention on hanging out with me and having a good day.  He is going to be in the moment when we are together.  He said he is giving his word.

I told him I thought it was great.  I told him that giving his word is like a promise and when you make a promise if you don't follow through the other person will be disappointed.  He assured me he was ABSOLUTELY going to follow through.

Prayers for follow-through and giving his word.
When I got back to the car I texted Younger Boy to tell him goodnight and that I loved him.

I immediately got a response.

Goodnight Buddy...sleep well.
The parking at the game was CRAZY today.  The lot where we generally park was full two and a half hours before game time so we had to find another lot.

This threw Middle Boy for a loop.  He doesn't like change.

The lot we found was actually the same price and much closer to the stadium.  Unfortunately it was a dirt/grass lot.  Middle Boy was convinced his shoes would get dirty.  THEY ARE SHOES.  They get dirty.

All of the way there Middle Boy was texting and impeding others walking to the stadium.  I asked him four times to please quit texting and be in the moment.  He doesn't want to.  Apparently I am not talking to him anyway.

Once we got in the stadium we went our separate ways to concessions.  Honestly I needed a break.

We got up to our seats and he informed me that now he didn't have a choice but to be in the moment, because his phone didn't have signal.  He actually said "you win".  Seriously?  You think I have control over phone signals?

We ended up having a nice time during the game and afterward...with the exception of him getting mud on his shoes.

Prayers for me to be more understanding and for wisdom.  I think a lot of this is stemming from anxiety over the adoption, but wow...I wasn't expecting it to be like this.
Middle Boy wanted either a flag, poster, or pennant for his room from the college bookstore.

We went into the store and I looked around.  He followed after me, because he didn't know where the things he wanted were located.

I told him I didn't know either, but he was welcome to walk around and look.  He didn't want to without me. 

It seems like we are having a much younger emotional day today.  Most fifteen year olds would immediately take off while shopping and be thrilled to just meet up with you.  Not Middle Boy...not today.

He finally found a pennant he wanted.  I could tell he still wanted to shop around.  I asked if he had other things he wanted to look at.  He said he didn't because I was done shopping and he didn't want to keep me waiting.  I told him we had plenty of time, but he insisted he was now done.

This weekend is NOT going how I wanted it to.  Middle Boy and I have really been struggling lately and I wanted this to be a good weekend.

Prayers for the remainder of the weekend.
We have season tickets to the football games at the college I attended.

Middle Boy and I went to the game today.  Younger Boy is spending the weekend with his mentor's family.  They were all at the lock-in so they will all be sleeping today.

On the way to the game I learned something about Middle Boy.  Something I didn't know.  Something frustrating and something heartbreaking.

It is a three hour drive to the game.  We are spending the night because it is a night game.

We left home after therapy.  Middle Boy forgot to use the restroom at his therapist's office before we left town.  We got about 15 miles out of town and he needed to.  I stopped at a fast food restaurant and he REFUSED to go in.  I didn't get it.  Finally he went in and then came immediately back out.  He said there were two people in the restroom and he can't wait in line.  He told me he could wait until the next possible stop.

So...on we went to a convenience store.  He went in...another line.  I told him we could wait in the car until the line was gone, but he was TERRIFIED to do that.  So...on we drove.

The third stop there was no line and he was able to use the restroom. 

When we were back in the car and on our way I asked him to tell me about what was going on.  The only things he could tell me were that he had been embarrassed and abused in a public restroom.  He wouldn't go into details.  He said it was at the hands of a foster family.  Then he dissociated.

Now I know...another thing I need to be sympathetic toward.  Another thing we will one day need to work through in therapy.

Prayers for healing.  The more time we spend together the more I realize there is SO MUCH healing needing to be done.
Middle Boy and I came home and worked on the decluttering for a while this evening.

We got a lot of the boxes on the main level to the right location and started unpacking.  We were also able to go through everything that got hung up in the coat closet during the move and started moving the items to the appropriate closets.  As best I can tell it must have been all of the clean laundry from our old house.

There is still a long way to go.  Middle Boy is pretty singularly focused most days and the cleaning and decluttering is on his radar right now.  He has ZERO trust it will get done if he doesn't do it and has volunteered at least ten times to just stay up all night to get it done.  Not an option.

Praises for the work we were able to accomplish and for Middle Boy being rational and going to bed.
There are a number of things we need for the new house.  We threw away a lot of things from the old house, because they needed to be thrown away...especially things like rugs.

Tonight Middle Boy and I went shopping for those things.  We bought rugs and other miscellaneous stuff. 

I kept asking Middle Boy if things matched or were the same color.  Hello...he's color blind!!

At one point I was kind of frustrated with myself, because I was having a REALLY tough time picking out rugs for my new bathroom.  I said something out loud and he said "You want it to be perfect, because you care about how things look and you don't get to do this often."  Pretty insightful for a fifteen year old boy.

He got a couple of posters for his room.  They were on sale for one dollar at the store.

I am really happy with the things we ended up with and excited to go home and get the house decluttered from the moving boxes and all the rugs put out.

I had a fantastic time shopping with Middle Boy.  It was calm and relaxed and we laughed quite a bit.  We have COMPLETELY different decorating styles.

Praises for a nice evening.  Praises for the ability to be able to buy new things.
I dropped Younger Boy off at his youth group lock-in tonight.  We were a little bit early and there were kids lined up outside the doors.

I hope he has an amazing time.  They have a lot of things on the schedule...inflatables, bowling, roller skating, and who knows what else.

He is determined to stay up all night, because he slept through a lot of it last year.

Prayers he can find a friend there and have a great time.
Tonight at dinner we talked about current events and past events.  Both boys LOVE history.

Middle Boy was talking about everything he was learning in US History.  He talked about World War I and World War II.  Younger Boy thought it was really interesting.

Younger Boy is studying Northern Africa right now in Social Studies.  He has to do an article on a current event in Northern Africa.  With the events of the last few days we talked about how he should have many to chose from.

The boys also wanted to talk about the Anti-Muslim film.  I was actually surprised at how much they already knew...especially Younger Boy. 

It was an interesting dinner.  Very intelligent conversation.  I liked it.

Prayers for Northern Africa.  Prayers for more intelligent conversation...with less heavy topics.
Tonight I called the mom of Middle Boy's homecoming date to figure out the plans.  This is a result of neither of them having ANY IDEA about what homecoming is like.

I was trying to explain to Middle Boy homecoming is semi-formal.  Surely I am wrong.

I asked about dinner.  No idea.

Asked how big their group was.  No idea.

Asked about her dress and the flower...still no idea.

So, I called C.

Now I know the plan.

She is going to make reservations for twelve at a mexican restaurant.  Not too fancy, but not a fast food place.  More comfortable for all of the kids.  Is twelve the right number?  Neither of us has any idea.  She knows about her daughter, Middle Boy, and five other girls.  I know about her daughter, Middle Boy, another boy and two other girls.  Are they the same girls?  No idea.

We talked about corsages.  She will get a wrist corsage.  Her favorite color is pink and she likes daisies.  I don't think we will get a daisy corsage.  When I asked Middle Boy if he wanted me to handle it or if he wanted to be a part of deciding he gave me a blank stare.  I am interpreting it as I need to just handle it.

They will come to our home and pick up Middle Boy.  They are only going to drive the two of them to the restaurant.  Everyone in the group is responsible for getting themselves there.  We are relying on Middle Boy and B to pass this on which may be a mistake, but we both agree we are NOT driving all over the city to get people to the restaurant.

We will do photos at our house.  My nieces will be there and I am sure they will LOVE that.  Middle Boy probably not so much, but he will just have to suck it up.

They will shuttle the entire group from the restaurant to the school in their two vehicles.  If they have to make multiple trips they will.

I am responsible for after the dance pick up of only Middle Boy and B. driving all over the city.  C said B had really wanted to have a sleepover with five or six girls, but she had vetoed the idea.

I feel better about the whole thing.  Partially because I now know the plans, but also because I liked this lady.  She has some of the same parenting thoughts I do. 

Middle Boy also wanted to invite them to the adoption party.  They will come over for that as well.

Praises for a nice family and a good chat with B's mom.
Younger Boy has a lock-in for youth group tomorrow night.  He is really determined to stay up all night because last year he missed the bowling and the ice skating, because he fell asleep at both locations.

The evening starts out at the church.  It is the junior high group's largest event.  I don't know how many kids go.  I believe it is over two hundred sixth through eighth graders.  When I dropped him off last year it seemed like at least two thousand.  Perhaps it explains why I am not a middle school leader.

Since he is so determined to stay up all night he decided to shower at 7:15PM tonight when we got home from Middle Boy's therapy.  He was in bed by 7:40PM and asleep well before 8:00PM.

The lock-in gets over at 7:00AM on Saturday morning.  He will be sleeping the day away at the home of Mentor R, because Middle Boy and I are going to be gone.

I'll be curious to know how it goes.  He has been exhausted lately, because generally speaking he doesn't get enough sleep.

Prayers for a great lock-in.  Prayers for safety for all of the kiddos and adults who will be there.

Praises for an amazing event for the kids.
Middle Boy started to freak out on the way home from therapy.  Screaming about how stressful his life is right now.  Just listing thing after thing that is stressful.

A little bit frustrating for me, but kind of a relief.  He is starting to recognize he can't just bottle everything up and think he isn't going to explode.

I asked him if we could talk calmly about everything when we got home.  Much to my disbelief, he agreed.

We talked about the things which are stressing him out.  We talked about the things stressing me out.  We talked about how he doesn't trust me and the reasons why.  More than one time during the discussion he dissociated.  He sort of knows when it happens, because twice he said to me "that was weird".

I find it happens when the emotion gets to be too much.  Last night one dissociative event occurred when I said I understood his brain is continually in survival mode.  I listed to him the behaviors which come with survival mode and how I know when I say something he interprets as me "being mean" or "I don't know what's best" or "I don't understand him and what he needs".  I asked him if during those times he could hear me.  It was too much.  He dissociated.

Another time happened when I asked him to tell me what defined him.  How he thought of himself.  He didn't say much so I started asking questions.  Hard questions.  Did he think anyone loved him?  Did he think he was lovable?  Did he think he had self-worth?  Did he know people cared about him?  Did he know I would take care of him and help him?  He started out answering.  No...he is not worthy of love.  Many people in his life have made that perfectly clear.  Then he dissociated, but I kept talking.  Talking about how much I loved him.  How there are so many people who love him.  How God loves him and will never leave him.

When he snapped out of it I asked him if he would list to me the people who love him.  He listed God, Sophie (our dog), me, Younger Boy, and my parents.  I asked him about other people and he said no to all of them.  I asked him how he knew.  He knows God because of the Bible.  He knows Sophie, because dogs love everyone.  The rest of us he knows, because we show him.  When I asked how we show him and he didn't know.

I asked him about the adoption.  I asked what he thought about it.  How he pictures life after adoption.  He is nervous.  Nervous it won't happen.  Nervous we will get there and be in the courtroom and I will change my mind.  Nervous he won't have the right answers to their questions.  I told him I, too, am nervous and afraid.  I am nervous I won't have the right answers to their questions and they will tell me I can't adopt the boys.  Nervous when the boys are asked if they want me to adopt them they will say no.  Afraid they will be disappointed after the adoption when all of their trauma and baggage is not gone.  Afraid they are expecting life to become perfect.

I am so thankful Middle Boy is starting to open up.  Admittedly I am working VERY HARD with him.  A lot of what I am doing with him I am doing with Younger Boy in therapy in a more childlike way.

We are getting there...for that I give thanks.
Tonight Middle Boy had therapy.  He came out of his session telling me that he REALLY LIKES Therapist L.  This is a 180 from what he usually says.  What was today a hypnosis session and she forgot to get him out of it?

Seriously though, he told me she agrees his team overreacted to the suicide post on Tuesday.  She told him I did exactly what I was supposed to do, but honestly from there I just sat back and watched.  She's was kind of insane.

She also told him there are members of his team that are concerned about some of his behaviors.  She told him it isn't me and it isn't her.  We both agree he is doing QUITE WELL with managing the anger and impulsivity.  He is developing coping skills.

Who on the team has concerns?  This is really irritating to me, because NO ONE has told me they have concerns.  NO ONE.  I am NOT the one who talked to Therapist L about it.  Whoever it is doesn't have regular contact with him, because the majority of the team hasn't even seen him since before school started.  What is going on?

So...tomorrow I have to do detective work and get to the bottom of it.  He is doing EVERYTHING they are asking of him.  Maybe not in a timely manner, but he is doing it.

Honestly this might make me madder than it does him.  He is used to this kind of thing happening to him.  I WILL NOT let it happen to my child.  If you do not know, do not voice your opinion.

Prayers I will have the wisdom to choose my words wisely when trying to understand what is going on.
After school today it was kind of peaceful.

I picked up Younger Boy at football practice and he was NON-STOP chatter about practice and his day and I can't even remember what else.  It is so nice to see him loving school and really loving anything.  I am aware non-stop chatter isn't usually peaceful, but today it seemed like it.

When we got home Middle Boy was working on therapy homework.

Younger Boy went outside and played with Sophie and I had some minutes to just relax.

We talked about the rest of the evening and what we needed to do.

No one was angry or rude or anything.  We just talked.

It was a nice thing to come home to today.

Praise God for the quiet of the afternoon...even with Younger Boy's chatter.
Today was my hour of therapy.  It was kind of a relief to be there.

We talked a lot about the stresses of the past week and most especially the stresses of yesterday with Middle Boy.  I told her about our conversation and his need to berate me and scream at me.  She reminded me the things he is saying are an outward projection of how he is feeling about himself.  I "know" that, but sometimes it is so hard not to internalize it.

We talked about how the boys are doing with the move and how I am doing with the move.  The boys are adjusting.  I'm not really.  Everything is still in complete disarray.  We will be gone the majority of this weekend and next week we are hosting an adoption open house.

We talked about the adoption.  We talked about how frustrating it is to me how neither boy has ANY IDEA when the adoption is.  IT IS NEXT WEEK.  I have told you a million times.  We discussed how this is a defense mechanism for both of them.  How if they don't know when it is supposed to happen they won't be disappointed when it doesn't.  Inherently I already knew this...still doesn't make it less frustrating.

We talked about how I feel about the upcoming adoption.  Honestly I am just starting to sort through it.  I KNOW there are big feelings on my part...really big feelings.  I am just having trouble logically defining them right now.  Really understanding what is going on with me.  I am hoping to have some alone, quiet time to just work through it in the next few days, but time like that is few and far between for me.

Praises for having this extra support through my foster care agency.  It is making a HUGE difference in my life.

Younger Boy has really been worrying, because he is being adopted and his two brothers still do not have permanency.  He wishes they were getting adopted, too.

We have been regularly praying for it.

Last night I was talking to Mom J on the phone and she shared with me that they have decided to provide permanency for both Older Boy and Middle Brother.  They are going to become guardians, because if they were to adopt they would lose the developmental delay services they both need.

They will be able to change their last names to match Mom and Dad J and for all practical purposes to them it will look like an adoption.

Because the state has some weird laws on DD services technical Mom and Dad J's oldest son (I think he is about 30) will be their guardian.  In our state a person receiving DD services cannot live with their guardian, they must live with a separate caregiver.  In their case Mom and Dad J will be the caregivers.

Younger Boy is SO EXCITED for his brothers.  Now three of his four siblings will be with Mom and Dad J forever. 

I am so thankful for this.  We will be forever joined as a large "family".

Thank you God for the blessings of permanency!
I have been praying to God...crying out help me to find some encouragement.  Some sense that I am not so all alone.

This morning I got on Facebook and literally at the top of my news feed there was a "roll call" question on one of the sites I subscribe to.

This was the question:

Roll Call Question - I'm continuously amazed...and how negative my traumatized child's outlook on life is.  (She's grousing around the house complaining about minor things.)  What is the thing that MOST amazes/frustrates you about your traumatized child's behavior, even though you understand and empathize with why they act as they do?
  1. Lying and stealing.  Our therapist told us that they would be the last things to go, if they did at all.  It just pushes my buttons.
  2. It used to be lying and stealing, but those traits appear to have lessened considerable.  But her negativity gets me down.  Nothing seems good enough for her.
  3. The lying, stealing, and negativity are sooooo draining.
  4. Her craving for anything electronic.  Was reminded this week as I read Karyn Purvis book "The Connected Child" how these kids crave this as it hypes the brain and doesn't require social interaction.
  5. The lying, stealing, fakeness, and the sense of entitlements....demanding much for littler return.
  6. The endless sense of entitlement and disrespect they feel they can dish out.
  7. The negativity and critical words are certainly draining.
  8. Complaining about everything and demanding/controlling/detailing everything.
  9. The non-stop misbehavior.  Even a good day is full of it.  So trying and frustrating.
  10. The lack of conscience...his "moral compass".  It can be so draining.
  11. The ups and downs that are constant within a day...the over the top complaining about things, but being unwilling to take suggestions or advice on anything.
  12. The thing that AMAZES me is that for everything she has been through she can still laugh, play, love, learn and have fun!  She is resilient.  She is finally safe.
  13. When they appear to be having a great time and all of a sudden it turns into a huge meltdown.
  14. When our daughter who has lived with us for TEN YEARS still does not trust that I will keep enough food in the pantry for all of us.
  15. Zinger comments and lingering food issues.
  16. Lack of cause and effect thinking and annoying noises.
  17. Lying!!
Thank you God...for these posts...on this make me feel not so all alone.

In the past few days I have gotten so many texts and email telling me I have been on people's hearts and minds and wondering how they can pray for me.

God...thank you for the AMAZING support system you have put in my life.  These brothers and sisters in Christ mean everything to me.  You have blessed me in ways I never knew existed.

My prayer is this.  That our lives and our actions be an example to others that through Him all things are possible.  That we are able to get through the rest of the month with grace and mercy toward each other, because while none of us (including me) would admit it the adoption is emotionally scary.  Pray for rest.

Thank God, because life is good...always good.
This morning I got up early to spend some time with God.

I just wanted to pray about the following verse:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28

I just prayed about this.  Cried out to God for peace and rest.  For relief from all of the worries if only just for a while.  To be able to trust and cast my cares upon him.  For him to remind me that I am not alone.

For Him to heal the boys in ways I can't even fathom.  For Him to be glorified through our family.

For wisdom and peace as the adoption nears.  For Him to take our tears and use them for His good and His glory.

Rest...He will give me rest.
Middle Boy still has residual anger.  This time it is because although he wanted me to tell his small group leader who was so concerned about his post what was going on...he didn't really.

He was mad.  He said, "Maybe I need to provide you with the exact detail of what I want you to do.  Then maybe you will do what I ask."

That's when I lost it.  I just started crying.  It was raining.  We were in the car and I had to stop, because I couldn't see through my tears.

I am trying.  I am doing what I hope is the right thing...every single time.  I am doing the best I can.  It is just never right and never good enough. 

I told him I spent the entire day thinking he wanted to kill himself and how it nearly crushed me...crushed me, because I didn't understand and he wouldn't talk to me.  Was building walls that were higher and higher.

He is pushing me away...clearly pushing me away.

When we got home I was exhausted.  This day was awful. 

I got in bed.  The boys came in.  Middle Boy needed to reconnect.  He felt guilty for the way he treated me today.  He wanted to hold my hand and just be beside me.  Younger Boy wanted to be by my side as well.

So there we sat...on my bed...surrounded by the boxes of moving and the big feelings of the day.  All of the anger and the tears.  All of the fear and the heartache and we just were.

The girls in my small group are a ray of light in my life.  To say that I love these girls would be such an understatement.

I love them.  I can't imagine my week without them.  They make me laugh and they make me want to be a better person.

Thank you ladies.  You are loved more than you know.