All the way to therapy tonight Middle Boy reminded me over and over that he can't miss another day of school because of being sick.

In our state if you miss 20 days in a year then you go to court for truancy.  Doesn't matter if they are medical...20 days is 20 days.

Wouldn't be a big deal if you aren't on probation where school attendance is part of it.

Here's the other thing.  If you vomit at school you are sent home.

Middle Boy vomits if he is too tired.  So...stays up too late and he goes to school and vomits.  I get called and take him home.

Second semester has just started and he has been absent 17 times.  I would say I truly believe that 12 or 13 are from lack of sleep.  We talk about this every time it happens.  Every time "this will be the last time".

Here we are...cold and flu sick.  Hardly any absences left.

Somehow this is my fault.  I am not understanding the logic, but I must take the blame...apparently.

If he gets sick he is just going to have to punch all of us.

Seems excessive, but that is what he said.
Middle Boy was supposed to talk to his math teacher today.

The one who called me and told me about the missing assignments.

When he got home he told me he had talked to her and that she told him there weren't any missing.

How is that possible?  She just called me earlier this week.  You haven't made any of them up.

He gave me this big story about how there was an error in her grade book.

I finally had to stop him and say, "I don't trust you are being accurate."

Huge crocodile tears.  He did what I asked him.  He isn't lying.  Why don't I just believe him?  He hasn't lied to me in MONTHS. is killing us right now.
So...Younger Boy is coughing and hyperventilating.

Here's the thing....his RAD won't let me comfort him.  It isn't comforting.

He won't look at me and he won't come near me.

Just screaming and crying alternating with hyperventilating and coughing.

I finally got his attention by SCREAMING..."you have to calm down".

This DOES NOT make me feel like parent of the year.  What parent YELLS at their kiddos when then are scared and sick?

Honestly, it was the only way I could get his attention and calm him.  Only to make myself feel horrible, because that isn't comforting or caring.  It's harsh.

I wish it wasn't what he needed.
This morning was not pretty...not pretty at all.

Younger Boy was coughing REALLY HARD.  So hard that it was scary for him.

This caused him to hyperventilate.

On top of that his voice sounded like he had been smoking an entire carton of cigarettes every day for his entire life.

He was crying and he was scared.
Tonight at 9PM we had an emergency.

Today had been a snow day and now an emergency.

You see.  On Monday (it's Wednesday now) Middle Boy had realized that he lost his earring.  Now it is an emergency to get another one.


His ear is going to close up.  When he jams another earring through it blood will likely squirt ALL OVER THE HOUSE.  EVERYWHERE.

I asked when he knew he might need another earring.  Probably Monday.  I asked why it is now and emergency.  Was I not listening?  There would be blood everywhere.

So...survival brain at its finest.  Here is the choice I was faced with.  Go to buy earrings at 9:30PM or deal with panic and anxiety because this is an emergency (in his mind) for the majority of the night.

I'll be honest.  I chose sleep.

So I told him to get his wallet.  (I don't buy emergency replacement earrings) and that he would be going in alone.  I would not contribute money and under no circumstances was I going in the store.  Partially to prove a point and partially because I was already in my pajamas. to the store to buy earrings.  I won't do this again.  I made that clear.
It snowed about an inch here today...maybe a little bit more...not much more.

We had a snow day from school.

That means both boys (and Boarder) are home...all day.

I told them about TWENTY times the night before that if today was a snow day I would not wake them, but just let them sleep.

At 9AM I got a call from Younger Boy CRYING wanting to know why I didn't wake him for school.

It didn't occur to him that Middle Boy was also home.

Apparently no one told him if there was a snow day I would just let them sleep.  NO ONE.  Not anyone.

The solution is calling me and screaming and crying into the phone.  That usually solves things.
Tonight Middle Boy didn't help out with child care.  He went out with his mentor instead.

When I got home he had a question for me.  A question I wasn't even remotely prepared for.

He asked me if I thought it was "too early" for him to ask his girlfriends dad's permission to marry him.

EGAD.  Yes.

They haven't even been on a date. 

The only time they "talk" is at school and through texting.

After the initial shock of the question I was able to talk to him about a lot of things regarding relationship.

He SO DESPERATELY wants to know...really know that someone loves him.

He can't trust that I love him.  (Just another reason to hate Reactive Attachment Disorder.)  I don't think he believes it at all.  Not one bit.

We talked about how there will likely be a time in his life when he is ready to be married, but there is a lot of relationship building needing to be done between now and then.
Tonight I helped to coordinate child care during foster parent training at my agency.

I'll be honest.  I don't love doing this.  I don't remember how the whole thing started and honestly every time it feels like a failure.

This month I had an AWESOME team of helpers.  AWESOME.

We were able to split the kiddos up into two groups....bigs and littles.  The cutoff was six years old.  We had WELL OVER 30 kids total.  We feed them dinner.  It is chaotic.

J (such a blessing to me in so many areas of my life) planned two crafts.  One for littles and one for bigs.  She stayed upstairs and managed the bigs and her daughter, M, came downstairs and managed the crafts for the littles.  I had all high schoolers helping me with the littles and it was SO COOL to see them with these kiddos.  I also had two girls who by society standards are delayed helping me.  Those girls are not delayed.  They are beautiful and loving and just AMAZING girls.

Fun to spend time with the littles.  The bigs had a good time, too...from what I hear!

So blessed to have people who help out and love these kiddos!!
Middle Boy is on a slippery slope in school.

He has declared himself defeated and is done trying.  I can take everything from his life that is social.  He doesn't care.  He is just stupid anyway.

He gets blamed for everything...especially if it isn't his fault.  Especially in Spanish.

All of his classes are a failure.  Every single one.  He may as well just drop out.  That would be best for everyone.

I don't know what started this mantra today.  I haven't even mentioned the call from the math teacher.  No sense in adding to the pity party right now.

I wish I knew how to help him apply the brakes.
The whole thing with picking classes for Middle Boy's sophomore year is going to be the death of me.

He changed his mind today during the day and again wants to take classes relating to becoming a therapist.  "That is going to be his career."

He eliminated the career center classes.

He is mad that he has to take PE 1/2, since he is not going to continue in JROTC.  He wants to take another PE class all his friends are taking, but PE 1/2 is a prerequisite.

Luckily this thing is past due so he has to turn it in tomorrow.
This afternoon I got a call from Middle Boy's math teacher....unsolicited.  This can't be good.

She started out by telling me that Middle Boy WAS doing great when he came back after the semester.  He was turning in all of his work and participating in class.

Then about 10 days ago he started slipping.  He is missing FOUR quizzes.  Didn't even bother turning them in.  They are open book and consist of some of the homework problems.

These are the same quizzes he told me just this morning were "turned in" and handled.

She also told me that yesterday there were 30 minutes at the end of class in which they could work on missing assignments and quizzes.  He chose to instead wander around the room.  They were completely unable to keep him in his seat.

This makes me sad.  Sad that he is struggling and also sad he is choosing to lie to me about school...AGAIN.
Therapist D asked Younger Boy to come up with a place he thought was relaxing.  We are going to work on getting him to go into "low alert" or stop being so hyper-vigilant.  To relax.

He picked the beach.  We talked about all of the things you would see, hear, smell, feel, and taste at the beach.

She had him lay down and taught him to do progressive relaxation with his body.  He started with his toes and went to his head and back to his feet.  He was fairly relaxed.

Then we did some EMDR with him "sitting by the ocean".  Therapist D talked him through it.  He was laying on the couch where I was sitting and I could see him tensing up and his body not willing to relax.  His fists were clenched, but he insisted he was completely relaxed.

He got progressively more relaxed, but every time he was about to be completely relaxed his arms would jerk and fists clench again.

Again...fascinating and sad all rolled into one.

He is going to practice progressive relaxation (or spaghetti body as they call it) every night at bedtime.

After last week's therapy sessions Younger Boy's therapists had a consultation. 

Their theory is that he is so on "auto pilot" that if something requires thinking he can't or won't do it.

I had a great example coming in to the week.  I didn't realize this is what it was an example of, but in hindsight...absolutely.

Younger Boy is supposed to do three current events about Asia.  On Sunday he brought me three current events he had written paragraphs for.  He had used CNN and Fox News to find the information.  He had searched for Asia.  He used the first three articles that came up.  Two were about Asia and the third was about an Asian man living in Philadelphia.  Therapist C really asked him a lot about that.  What on earth?

She asked him about sleeping.  She asked what the two acceptable reasons are for getting out of bed (having to use the restroom and an emergency).  He could think of having to use the restroom.  He couldn't think of emergency.  He actually started crying.

She asked more questions.  They are now taking the therapeutic approach where they don't give ANY suggestions, because he just uses those as his answer.

There was A LOT of silence, because he couldn't come up with an answer.  It is both fascinating and painful to watch.

I have so many things swirling around in my head.  Things I just keep thinking about and wondering about.  Things on my heart. 

The first starts with our leader meeting on Sunday for high school youth group.  We were asked to reflect on the question, "What do you want to be?"  Not profession, but what do you want to be to others.  What do you want them to say of you at the end of your life?  I have been stuck on this since.  What do I want to be?  As you consider this and create the list of what you want to be what you are really doing is creating your own personal definition of success.

When I wrote down my original thoughts that morning I noticed there was a theme.  A strong theme.  Am I "there"?  Am I "being" those things?  Maybe...sometimes.  The one thing on the list which didn't really blend in with the others I am intrigued by.


As I looked at my words over the next couple of days and asked God to show me how they fit together I realized this.  Courageous fits.  Because with the word courageous I don't mean "jumping out of an airplane", but I kind of want to.  I mean in relationship.  Finding courage when life is hard.  Finding the courage to show mercy and forgive.  To get outside of myself and stretch to where God wants me to be.  To not hold back, but to love completely.  This is courage.  It actually encompasses almost every other word I wrote.

I'll write more about the others soon.  There are still like ping pong balls in my head.  Things I want to understand.

Thanks for "listening" as I put my heart out there.

What do you want to be?

Middle Boy needed a mama tonight.  I would equate it to a toddler wanting to snuggle.

He asked me if he could sit by me on the couch for a while and would I rub his back.  He wanted to lay his head on my lap and just be a little boy for a while.

He needs that every now and then.  I may be naive, but maybe, just maybe he is attaching.

We sat that way with me rubbing his back for a while.  Just quiet.

It was peaceful and I enjoyed it.
Tonight when I got home Younger Boy was actually in bed...SLEEPING.

It was before 10PM.  I couldn't believe it.

Maybe this new routine is helping him.  Maybe we just needed a little push to get it started.

Granted...Boarder told me he wasn't in bed by 9PM, but he was close.

I think he feels more rested, but I doubt he would admit it.

I had my women's group tonight.

I love these ladies.  More and more every day.

We laughed so hard tonight that at one point my stomach was hurting and I was crying simultaneously.  It felt good.

Next week we are having a "social".  I can't wait!!
Middle Boy is INSISTING nothing is bothering him.  You can see it in his face and in his body language.

I asked him a couple of times, but he insisted there was nothing.  I finally said "Liar, Liar, pants on fire" and he laughed and told me he had gotten into an argument with one of his friends and that he really felt bad about it.  He thinks he needs to apologize tomorrow. is improving.
The kooky stories regarding homework for Younger Boy are already slowing down.  Having to be accountable to both me and the homework teacher is hard for him.

Middle Boy is another story.  He has some missing assignments.  He swears he turned them in.   I gave him until the end of school on Friday to get it straightened out or he loses his phone until the mid-quarter reporting.

He is mad that he needs to straighten it out himself.  He thinks I should help him.  I suspect there is nothing to be straightened out, but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.

It's getting really is.
I guess the threat of me sitting in the doorway of his room reading until he fell asleep was enough to scare Younger Boy into a 9PM bedtime and not leaving his room.

Tonight he was showered and ready and in bed five minute BEFORE his bedtime.

No negotiating, no nothing.  Just in bed.

He has made it over half of the time since we talked about it in therapy last week.  Granted, he was supposed to make it every day, but I'll take half.

Praises for a good night's sleep.
We went to the gym again today.

Boarder and Middle Boy shot baskets and played basketball while Younger Boy and I rode the bikes and used the treadmill.

Younger Boy and I had a nice chat while we were biking.  We talked about all of the weight machines he could see.  We talked about how you should stretch after warming up.

Once we were warmed up we went and did some stretching and then moved to the treadmills.

I walked and Younger Boy ran.  When he was done I pointed out an interesting fact to him.

When he had to run the mile in PE he quit, because it was "too hard".  Tonight he ran 1.29 miles in 21 minutes and didn't complain for a second.  Just chatted and watched the TV screen on the treadmill.

He also talked about how a shower was going to feel good tonight.  What?  He is the king of anti-hygiene.

This working out thing is good for all of us.  Pray we can stay in the routine and make it a priority.
Both boys have homework.

We aren't going to the gym until it is done.

Can they work on it in their rooms?

Yes, but if I go upstairs and anyone is messing around they are coming down to the table to work on it.

Younger Boy has a new reporting system.  He went over all of the homework with me.  I wrote all of his kooky stories on a note to his teacher in an attempt to squelch the kookiness.

He did three current events about Asia.  Well...the assignment was about Asia.  He did two about Asia and one about Philadelphia.  Why?  I don't know.  I made him redo it.  I am mean.

Middle Boy's homework got done appropriately.  It appears as if he is really trying.  I will know for sure tomorrow when progress is reported.

Finally...homework wrapped up.
The boys have needed haircuts for a while now. 

The only time that really works for us is Sunday after church so here we are...about three weeks late.

Middle Boy wants 1/8" off of his hair.  Why bother?

I finally drew out how much an 1/8" is.  I convinced him that if he cut off 1/2" if would not be a buzz cut and it would still "swing".  Apparently this is important.

Younger Boy wants to buzz his.  He is NOT.

Both of them look much improved.
This morning I had a leader meeting for our high school youth group during first service.

Boarder brought the boys to church so we could go to second service.

When I first caught a glimpse of Younger Boy it was quite evident that he didn't look in a mirror before leaving the house and also that Boarder AND Middle Boy did not take a good look at him.

His hair was sticking out in at least five directions.  AT LEAST.

I sent him to the restroom to see what he could do.

Not great, but passable!!
We need to go to the store.

The boys have less anxiety if they go with me.  Ironically...I have more anxiety if I have to take them!!

They spent about 30 minutes going through our coupons and helping make a list while I looked at the ads.

Saturday afternoon is NOT the time to price match.  Saturday evening...PERFECT.

We went to the store armed with our list, our ads, and our coupons. 

In the end we saved $47.00.  The boys thought that was cool.

We DID NOT buy a bunch of stuff we didn't need.  Although I can see how the "sport" of it would make you do it.

So...we are ready for the upcoming week.

I wasn't home this morning.  In fact I wasn't home from 9AM to 4PM.

Boarder and Younger Boy were there.

I had put Younger Boy's meds on the table and Boarder had reminded him about them multiple times.

He didn't take them.

Therapist C had been wondering what would happen if he didn't take the morning meds.

My personal analysis...HE NEEDS THEM.

He was a MESS when I got home.  His focus was less than five seconds.

Too late to do anything other than administer caffeine. 

Finally...a little bit of relief!!
Today I decided we would start going to the gym again. 

By now everyone who made it a resolution is probably done attending.

I made it a resolution, too, but I am a big procrastinator!!

The boys shot baskets today.  It is much better than playing outside out house with frost bitten hands and a ball that seems flat because it is so stinking cold outside.

I did not shoot baskets.  I rode the bike and walked on the treadmill. 

It felt good to be able to breathe after being sick for so long.  It also felt good to finally be exercising again.

Now to fit it into our "normally abnormal" schedule.
Finally my phone came back on long enough to get one text through.

It was 40 minutes after I was supposed to be there to pick up Middle Boy.

He had texted me 28 times in those 40 minutes with increasingly frantic words.

It started out simply,

"Are you on your way?"

It escalated to,

"I'm ready.  Are you almost here?"

In the end it was,

"Why won't you answer me?  Please come and get me."

This whole things set off his abandonment triggers.  He thought I wasn't coming to get him.  He was scared.

I apologized over and over.  He was SUPER WORRIED about me.  He was more worried I had permanently left him.

When we got home I gave him a big hug and apologized again.  I would never abandon him.  I wanted to say until I die, but then he would worry about that.

Prayers for healing regarding abandonment.
While Middle Boy was at the birthday party I ran errands.  It was only two hours long and all the way across town from our house.  Had I gone home I could have stayed about 15 minutes and left again.

While I was running errands my phone completely blanked out.  It wouldn't charge and it wouldn't turn off or on.  I did a number of things to try to remedy the situation, including buying a new charger, to no avail.

I had my iPad with me and I drove around trying to find somewhere with a wireless connection so I could send Boarder a message to tell Middle Boy I was there to pick him up, but NOTHING.

I didn't want to go inside and page him, because that would have mortified him.

I was left sitting in the parking lot...praying.
Middle Boy went to the birthday party of a friend today.  He was REALLY nervous.

Generally he does okay in social situations.  He was going to a "more adult" Chuck E Cheese place here in town.

He doesn't do many social things without me.  He generally chooses not to and comes up with some sort of excuse for why he can't or doesn't want to.

I was a little bit surprised he was actually wanting to go.

I could tell all morning that his anxiety was building.  I just want him to be able to hang out with his peers.

I dropped him off and he got out of the car.

Prayers for lessened anxiety and that he has a good time.
Middle Boy only has two more assignments to present in group and then we are DONE with step two.

Today their group must have been pretty lively.  He never gives details of the group, but today he said.  Wow...someone in there is an idiot.

When I saw Therapist L coming out to one of the cars to talk to a set of parents I knew it couldn't be good.  I was just thankful it wasn't me.
Tonight at dinner we talked about what is going on in our relationship and how we both feel.

I asked Middle Boy if he wanted to go first.  He didn't.  He wanted me to.

Before we started we both agreed that we would TALK about this.  No yelling.  No getting angry.  Just work on relationship repair.

I put a lot of things out there.

I told him I am tired of being disrespected by him.  That I feel that he doesn't care about a single thing I say to him.  That I feel like he sees himself as my equal if not my superior.  How his words and actions hurt.

I don't think he was surprised by any of it.  We talked about the various ways he disrespects me.  I asked him to think of some things he does that might cause me to think I am not respected.  I wanted to raise his awareness and actually make him think about it.

Then we went on to him.  I was expecting to get completely blasted with a barrage of items.  He only had two.

The first was this.  He doesn't like it if he can't get to school by 7:15AM.  The second was that he sometimes feels blamed for things Younger Boy does.  Both valid.  Both fixable.

It was a good chat.  I felt better afterward.  Today wasn't ideal.  Consequences still stand, but now we have a better understanding.
I decided tonight was the night Middle Boy and I needed to talk.

So...I quickly got in touch with C...the one who is continually rescuing us.  Can she take Younger Boy for dinner while Middle Boy and I go to dinner and talk?

She agreed to a dinner date with Younger Boy.

I cannot tell you how blessed we are to have C in our lives.  Both boys love her.  Sophie loves her and I love her more than words. 
Finally...after much prayer....I gave him this response.

"Middle Boy, I need you to be a part of this family.  Isolating yourself and not speaking to me will not help our relationship.  This is your FOREVER FAMILY. 

You know....that's why there is forgiveness and grace.  You're right.  This day has sucked.  We're both mad and we both feel disrespected.  Both of us have a choice to make.  Forgive and try to figure it out or continue to be mad and cause further damage to our relationship.  What will you choose?"

He responded with "Depends on if you are going to change."

So I followed up with this..

"Forgiveness doesn't come with conditions.  You either forgive or you don't.  If you are asking me to never hold you accountable again you are not being realistic."

He followed it up with "I forgive you."

I told him I have forgiven him as well, but that we still needed to talk.  A LOT.
All afternoon Middle Boy just kept texting.

He hates me and is never going to talk to me again.

This is it...this is the last time. 

He is going to make my life miserable...I deserve it.

On and on...over and over.  He hates me.

All of these were met with no response from me.  Nothing.

Over and over....he hates me.  He is done talking to me.  I will get what I deserve.

Thank you God for giving me the ability to not respond.  To just ignore the rant.
Middle Boy kept screaming at me all the way to school.  ALL THE WAY.

I should trust him.  I can't just accuse him of things with no proof or evidence. 

If I give him a consequence I am just being ridiculous. 

I calmly gave him a consequence anyway.  It was met with "I dare you."

Hmmm...maybe not the best choice.

He was FURIOUS when he figured out that I could go right back home after dropping him off and remove the things he lost as the consequence.

The ride couldn't get over soon enough for me.

Wondering when OR IF he will cool down.
This morning after the money incident we had a discussion about trustworthiness.

Someone (Middle Boy) had gotten up and made a frozen pizza and played video games during the night.

Evidence....plate with piece of pizza in Middle Boy's room.  TV still on, but set to video game input.  Pizza box on counter in kitchen.  Pizza made was the kind only Middle Boy eats.

He DID NOT get up during the night.  I have NO EVIDENCE.  I am a f****** b**** for even questioning him.

He didn't steal my money.  (We weren't even talking about it.)

He wasn't playing video games.  He was in bed.

Ranting and screaming.  Happy Friday morning to me.
Last night Middle Boy brought me home some change from a purchase he had made after school.

This morning it is missing.  I asked where it was and "no one" knew.

Finally Middle Boy told me he thought he could "find it". 

You'll never guess where it his room with "his money".

He told me he must have gotten confused and put it in with his money.  " isn't like I need the money."

I am cautiously optimistic about my meeting this afternoon.

It started Director saying "I am here to hear what is going on.  I am not prepared to make a decision."

I gave the facts of the case.  The inspector general gave her viewpoint which was that this has MAJOR system implications especially considering the pending legislation.  The head of the Children's Commission talked about how the state really didn't serve our family well or Middle Boy well through this entire thing.

At one point Director said "I am just going to write a memo so she can keep her license."  This was immediately met with "you can't do that" from the attorney he brought with him.  He gave her until February 15th to find a way "within the regulations" that this can happen.

He did tell me that if I end up having to relinquish my license that I WOULD NOT have to retake foster parenting classes.  He can write a memo about that.

I was SUPER IMPRESSED with Director.  He stopped the meeting multiple times and said "Bureaucracy cannot trump common sense."

He is in the early stages of planning a foster parent commissioning (or something) and asked if I would be willing to be a part of it.  I would love to if the situation were right.  It is completely unformulated now so I will just have to wait and see what it looks like.

I am cautiously optimistic about the whole thing.  We'll see what mid-February brings.

Praises that all of the right doors were opened to hold this meeting.  Praises for Director.  He is a logical, caring man who CLEARLY has a heart for God and the orphan.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers.

I am friends on Facebook with Younger Boy's older sister.  She lives with his biological parents.  It's a complicated story as to why.

This was her Facebook post today:

"Boyfriend gave me the best high school graduation gift ever...I'm pregnant."

EGAD...she is 17.  I was appalled at the number of people congratulating her.  Mom J called me after she saw it.  When and how are we going to tell the kids?  Decision...we aren't until we have to.

Her boyfriend is also 17 and based on what I have read online...unemployed and not attending school.

Pray for these kids and for that unborn baby.
We have a visit set up with Middle Boy's older sister.

He is the youngest of nine biological children....he thinks.  Some are Dad's and some are Mom's.

This sister is in her early 20s and is getting married this spring.  He has always been allowed visits with her over the years, but he hasn't actually seen her for three years.

I have talked to her a couple of times.  She is an intelligent, hard-working woman.  When she was 18 years old she petitioned the state to get custody of Middle Boy, but since she was a student they deemed her to lack the stability he needed.

We are going to visit her on February 2nd. 

I asked him how envisions the visit.  Does he want Younger Boy and I there?  What does he want to do?  How much time does he want to spend?  All things he needs to think about, but I told him also to be prepared for it to be something different and that the important part is that he gets to see his sister.

Pray for this visit.  I am a little bit apprehensive, because I don't know what behaviors and emotions it will bring with it.
Each year the individual states have an agency responsible for doing a study of the welfare of children in their state.  In our state it is Voices for Children. 

The report was released just this week.  These are the statistics that were shared by a local news agency on the day of the release.

I read the report in its entirety.  Very interesting and alarming for the children in our state.

The statistic I cannot get off of my mind is the fact that at the end of 2012 there were 768 children in the state foster care system who are AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION. 

Pray for forever families for these kiddos.  Pray for their foster families and caregivers.  Pray for the biological families.  Pray for orphans everywhere.
Middle Boy is CONVINCED if he doesn't decide on a career TONIGHT that he is doomed for failure in life.

We are selecting classes for him to enroll in at his high school next year where he will be a sophomore.

He is FROZEN in fear with the decision about classes.

Part of the issue is the way they have the class options broken out.  You choose one math, one English, one science, and would social science.  After that the classes are in categories like culinary arts, military science, psychology and therapy, get the picture.

He has it in his mind that until he decides on his future career path we cannot choose his electives.

Both Boarder and I have tried to tell him tonight that he doesn't have to choose.  In fact high school is a time to try everything and try to figure it out.  It kind of helps that Boarder is on his third college major and finally decided.

Praying we can convince him to fill out the paperwork so we can meet the deadline.
K and J are on a cruise.

We are in charge of their trash cans. 

Tonight when I woke up from my nap we went to put the trash cans in.

I let Middle Boy drive.  He ran three stop signs, because no one told him you have to stop.

When are they optional?  Uh...never.

It was not a good day of driving for him.  It was filled with arguing and telling me that no one tells him things so how is he supposed to know?

At least we accomplished our good deed of putting the trash cans in!!
I came home from work COMPLETELY exhausted so I took a TWO HOUR nap.

I am still fighting a sinus infection and can't seem to shake it.

I'm sure stress isn't making it any easier.

Hopefully these naps will help.

Selfishly would ask for prayers to start feeling better and get my energy back.
Middle Boy continues to think all consequences are eligible to for negotiation.

He does not help his case by telling me the consequences I am giving are completely unreasonable.

Tonight it wasn't even really a consequence he was trying to negotiate bedtime.  A BEDTIME HE CHOSE.  If he wanted something different he should have chosen something different.

I am finding commitment and rules are INCREDIBLY hard for him.  INCREDIBLY.

I will not negotiate a rule you made.  I want you to keep your word.  Your life is tough.

Younger Boy was angry this morning about a consequence he received.  His answer was to kick a hole in his bedroom door.

The unfortunate consequence to the damage to the door is that you will no longer have a bedroom door and you must pay for the new door out of your allowance and other money you are given.

Physical violence is not acceptable...EVER.
For the last three months I have been in discussions with the State regarding my foster care license.

If the policy is taken literally, the adoption of Middle Boy in my home would make it impossible to remain a foster parent.  This is true when any member of the home has an allegation of any kind of crime against another person.  Had he remained a foster child I could have maintained my license.

To this point the discussion is that I need to relinquish my license or the department will revoke it.  Should I relinquish, in order to become a foster parent in the future I would have to begin the process again in its entirety...including fourteen weeks of classes.  If it is revoked I would no longer be able to be a foster parent in the state.
Being a foster parent allows for respite and allows Younger Boy's siblings to be able to spend the night at our home.  If I have no license...they cannot since they are still foster children.
Here's my prayer request...tomorrow afternoon at 3PM I have a meeting with a large group of individuals instrumental in the system.  God put all of these people in my path for a reason.  Doors were opened that I never expected, but HE KNEW.
Please pray that through this meeting parts of the system be moved to change.  Through it all the good of the children is kept as the focus and that God's will be done.  I want to glorify and honor him through my words and actions at this meeting and could use prayers as you see fit.
Praying for you all!!
This morning something occurred to me.

The things the boys do that I perceive to make no sense or really care about I view as a reflection on me.

Maybe AND ONLY maybe that would be true if I had raised them from birth.

I know a LOT of the decisions I make regarding parenting the two of them make no sense to some of you.  I have finally realized they are not a reflection of me.  They behavior is not me.

My sister friend, DD, posted this on her Facebook page this morning and I needed to hear it...

I am not saying by any means that I am strong.  I am just tired of being judged.  Partially by myself.

I called it last night.

Staying up way too late and Middle Boy can't go to school because of a migraine.  This isn't the first time it has happened this year.  Not even only the tenth.  This is time THIRTEEN.

Am I aware of the truancy policy?  Yes.  Do I know that not going to school is a violation of his probation?  Yes.  Does he know?  Yes.  Does it matter to him?  Yes in words.  No in action.

He won't do it again (as said for the thirteenth time).  He will answer to the consequences.  Of course.

Up until now I have had a hard time with letting this go.  Not understanding why he doesn't care.  I can't worry about it anymore.
Middle Boy is also making his own choices about bedtime these days.

He REFUSES to make a commitment to a bedtime.  He thinks it is "unrealistic".

Tonight I can tell you was WAY TOO LATE for no apparent reason.
The first night of self-directed bedtime.

At 8:58PM Younger Boy realized he needed to go to bed soon.

Shoot...he hadn't showered.

What's a guy to do?

I told him to think through it as his most adult self and make a decision truly not knowing what he would decided.

Lucky for us personal hygiene prevailed (and delayed bedtime).

I have to give him credit.  Not bad for the first attempt.
We have started a new nightly card game of Trash.

Middle Boy has won both nights.  Younger Boy pouts when he doesn't win.

Gotta love family game night!!
Another night of driving instruction.

More working on parking.

Less patience on my part.

Teaching someone with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and teenage attitude to drive is NOT FUN.

Tonight I said "if I have to ask you another time to SLOW DOWN I am done helping you learn to drive.  DONE."

We don't live in a video game where you speed up to the stall and slam it into the space.  We just don't.

Anyone out there want to take this on?  Anyone?
Despite the fact that it was less than twenty degrees outside the four of us went out in the driveway this evening and played horse.

I haven't shot baskets in YEARS.

Younger Boy got out first.  Then Middle Boy.  Then me.  Boarder won.

Both boys commented that they didn't know I still had such a good shot.  Heck...I didn't know I still had any kind of shot.

Maybe we will play more often.  Hopefully not while getting frostbite.
Tonight I made dinner right as I walked in the door tonight.

I knew it was going to be met with some resistance, because it wasn't one of three things I can get both boys to eat.

This was the rule set forth tonight.  If you complain you are responsible for meal planning and preparation for the next week.  No exceptions.

No one complained.  Dinner was kind of enjoyable.
This morning therapy with Younger Boy was interesting.

We went through all of the possible reasons why Younger Boy doesn't sleep at night.  Here it is...he wants to be sneaky and thinks I am mean for making him go to bed.  There you have it. 

Therapist C asked him why he does it.  No answer.  He sat there and thought about it, but no answer.

He was mad at her for making him admit the truth.  Really mad.

We went into the lobby before seeing Therapist D and he started to cry.  I am still not certain if they were tears of frustration or guilt or anger.  Tears nonetheless.

In between sessions they always theorize what to work on during the second session.  Today they decided we needed to have him do the thinking.  Their theory is that he is completely unaware of his own thoughts and feelings.  They suspect he is too busy being on auto-pilot and hyper-vigilant trying to figure out what other people are thinking or what they want him to say.

So in order to keep him in the present Therapist D played catch with him for about five minutes and then he spent five minutes thinking about the answer to the following two questions.  What do I not like about going to bed?  What makes it fun to stay up?

He had NOTHING.  We did this same thing FOUR TIMES.  We told him there are no wrong answers.  Therapist D told him her answer.  Therapist P told him her answer.  I told him mine.  We told him we knew our reasons would be different than his reasons.

He couldn't come up with ANYTHING.

So...we discussed bedtime.  At the recommendation of the therapy team he is responsible for himself at bedtime.  He knows that he is to be there by 9PM after showering.  He knows that the only regular acceptable reason to be out of your bed after that is to use the restroom.  He has one week.  During that week I am not to comment on bedtime.  Just note the bedtime for his therapy team.

They told him after our session next week if he hasn't managed it then we would come up with a plan where I would monitor him until he was sleeping and that he probably wouldn't like it.

Honestly I am not really surprised at this outcome.  It has always been in the back of my mind.

I'm ready to try nearly anything.
I took Younger Boy for his psychiatric med check this afternoon.  So much for being sick.

We talked about the falling asleep in school and the lack of sleep at night.  She made a suggestion about his nighttime meds for us to try.

We also talked about his overall spaciness.  She asked what time of day it occurs.  Geesh...I don't know...all the time.

She suggested giving him caffeine.  She said it has the same effects as meds in ADHD kiddos.  She cautioned not to do it later in the evening, because of adverse effects on sleep.  She suggested he may need to have some in the nurse's office at school.  Great...another parent of the year award for me.

We'll try it.  At this point what do we have to lose.
Middle Boy's girlfriend asked him if he could go shopping with her and her dad at Bass Pro Shop.

I already knew this was coming, because I had seen it on his Facebook page.

He was afraid to ask me.  I told him it was fine with me as long as her dad was doing all of the driving and was going to be supervising the trip.

Originally he told her he could.  He must have chickened out changed his mind, because he ended up telling her it wasn't going to work out.  At least he didn't blame it on me.

The boys had a holiday from school today.  Unfortunately I got the opportunity to stay home sick AGAIN with a sinus infection.

I just need to be able to kick this thing.

I was in my room sleeping.  The boys were trying to get a hold of me on my cell phone which was in the kitchen ringing each time they called.  It never occurred to them that I may be home sick.  Just that I had forgotten my phone.

They sent me messages on Facebook.  Never once thinking to look in the garage. 

Of course I got all of this around noon when I finally work up.

What an adventure....

Middle Boy did great getting us to the main street outside of our neighborhood from the school.

Then things went awry.

He should have turned right, but instead turned left.  We will still only about eight blocks from home on the street we take EVERY time.  I was sure that when he got to the intersection he would realize he had gone the wrong way.

I was wrong.  He turned north.  He went a couple of miles.  We only live a block north of the street we were one.  When we passed a cemetary he screamed at me "we don't live by a cemetary".  He's right...we don't.

I asked him to calm down and think.  If he was going to drive by himself what would he do in this situation.  He had no idea.  His solution was to just start driving fast.  It was the anger in him.

I told him to find a major street he was familiar with.  He didn't know how to find the names.  Finally he figured out we were on a numbered street.  He headed to correct direction toward home.

We got to a four way stop.  He asked me if he had to stop.  Really?  What would make this an exemption?  Now I am dealing with "much younger Middle Boy".

Back on the major street on the OTHER SIDE of our home.

Lots of screaming and one more wrong turn later he finally figured out where we were.

He was REALLY mad at me.  REALLY mad.  I wanted to show him that he isn't ready to be out on his own.

Father, please give him patience and understanding that he needs to be able to find his way home on his own.
Tonight Middle Boy and I went to do parking lot driving practice.  Just the two of us.  That way if it became a knock down/drag out no innocent bystander would be harmed.

We went to a building in our neighborhood.  It is a combination elementary school/library/community center.  There were still people there so there were cars to park between.

It was ugly at first.  He chooses not to listen and then gets mad when he isn't perfect.  At times it is like we don't speak the same dialect of English.

After 15 or 20 tries he was much improved AND my nerves were shot.

So...I told him to "get us home" without me telling him where to go.
This afternoon we went to look at a couple of model homes.  NOT because we were looking for a new home, but because I was curious how the basements got finished.

We are also not in the market for finishing our basement any time soon, but I like to mull these things over for a long time.

The homes were beautiful.  One of them was my second choice when I was looking early last year.

I got some decorating ideas.  Maybe in the distant future I will do some painting.  Not enough time or energy now.

I'm grateful the boys like to do this.
Boarder came to church with us today.  He usually goes to our church, but we have been going separately.  Today we all went together.

Younger Boy went to youth group.  Unfortunately it was not as his "most adult self".  The toddler went.  There has to be a correlation.

The rest of us went to "big church".  Middle Boy took a lot of notes over the sermon.  I was a little bit surprised.

I was busy being distracted by a toddler who was screeching.  I couldn't block it matter what I did.

I guess I'll have to listen online later.
Middle Boy is starting to become a fairly good driver so tonight when we went out to dinner I decided to let him try to park in a parking lot.

It was U G L Y.  Beyond ugly.

Listening and observation of surroundings were not part of his itinerary.

I about lost it when we went the wrong way down a row of angled parking.

I nearly lost it a second time when he backed up without looking in his mirrors or turning around to look.

If I would have heard him say "how was I supposed to know" one more time I would have needed psychiatric help. 

You are supposed to know, because I am trying to teach you right now.  Instead you are choosing to roll your eyes and yell at me and do the opposite of what I say. 

You will NOT be able to practice driving again until you are able to prove you have a change in attitude.
The boys and Boarder played basketball outside for the better part of the afternoon.  (After the kitchen was cleaned up.)

Sophie spent the afternoon outside with them.  She even wore her fleece hoodie.

They had a good time.  There are some discrepancies in the stories about who the winner was. 

Praises for such a beautiful day outside and for outdoor activities.
When we got home from therapy I asked the boys to please clean up their dirty dishes in the kitchen (which have been there for DAYS) and to bring their laundry to the laundry room to be sorted and I would work on laundry.

Apparently this is TOO MUCH work.

I will not live like this.  My expectation is that you pick up after yourself.  Boarder is getting just as bad as the boys. 

Things are going to change around here...TODAY.
I am SO SICK of having to spend three hours out of every Saturday driving to therapy, waiting for Middle Boy at therapy, and driving home from therapy.

It is nearly impossible to get Middle Boy up for therapy every week.

Younger Boy got up today and he didn't need to.

It makes me in a bad mood.  I wish it didn't, but it does.  It triggers me every time Middle Boy doesn't do his therapy homework, because I know it is one more week that we will have to keep doing this.  I wish I didn't know that he should have been done six months ago, but I do.  I'm frustrated.

Pray for me to have a change in attitude about Saturday morning therapy.
It was a long day today.

Not a fun day today, so tonight we had an evening in.

We mostly hung out in our rooms just having quiet time for the majority of the evening with the exception of dinner.

I think it is what we needed after this week!!
Apparently the story gets even bigger with yesterday's "adventure" at Middle Boy's school.

He told me he had a discussion with his math teacher about feeling ill before leaving class.  Another lie.

He actually got up and WALKED OUT OF CLASS.  When the para-professional tried to talk to him he just kept walking.

I just got a call from the freshman administrator at his school asking if I knew he was truant yesterday and telling me what happened in class.

I honestly believe the thinks he doesn't have to follow rules and no one has any authority over him.  He can just do as he pleases.

Pray for wisdom in how to deal with this tonight when I get home.
The consequence for all of the lying and not following directions is to lose both your phone and iPod for one week.

Losing his phone doesn't make an impact.  Losing his iPod.  No impact.

Both hurts.

I can tell by the slamming of doors and screaming about how I am unfair and unreasonable.

He came to my room to tell me that he wanted to renegotiate the consequence.  He will give up TV and movies for six weeks.

We don't negotiate consequences.  This isn't a democracy.  You aren't getting your way.

Being disrespectful and calling me names is not helping your case that you are "mature" and are going to stop lying.

Consequence stands.  No discussion.
All week long Middle Boy has been telling me he has two therapy homework assignments and that one of them is "thanks to me" for talking to Therapist L last week.

So...he has had seven days to get two assignments done.  SEVEN WHOLE DAYS. 

All week he has been telling me he is done with one assignment and has one to go.

Today the story has changed.  He only had one assignment and is finishing it up now.

So...all week you weren't done with an assignment and you only had one?  No, that's not right.

That is what you JUST told me.  All week you have been lying about the therapy homework assignment being done and the number of assignments you have.

You are NOT HELPING YOURSELF.  I can't trust you when you CONTINUALLY lie to me.

After therapy he allegedly has two more assignments.  One on anger management due on Saturday morning and the other due Thursday describing what healthy anger looks like.

I asked him to write it down so we can refer to it all week.  He refused.  Somehow I know this isn't true either.
I sat waiting outside Younger Boy's school today for 25 minutes.  He was supposed to be at the after school tutoring program.

All of the kiddos in the program came out and left.  No Younger Boy. 

I tried calling his cell phone.  Went directly to voice mail. 

I went in the school.  No Younger Boy.

I called home.  Middle Boy answered.  I asked if Younger Boy was there.  Yes, he is there.  Where is supposed to be?

I got home to Younger Boy telling me "no one told him there was scholars today".  (It is EVERY Tuesday and Thursday ALL YEAR.)

He skipped it and rode the bus home.  He calls me every day after school when he gets home except on the days he has scholars so I didn't think anything of it.  I KNOW he knew there was scholars.  That's why he didn't call.

The lying and sneaking around.  I HAVE HAD IT!!
I called the school to check out Middle Boy's story about the nurse not signing him out and there being no place for him to wait in the office.

First I talked to the head of attendance.  She said he wasn't signed out and that I needed to send a note if I am picking him up early.  I asked how I was to know he was going to be ill.  He had told her that I was coming to pick him up for an appointment.  I explained that he had told me he had gone to the nurse and she sent him home.

She was pretty sure that wasn't the case, because he had no nurse's slip with him.  So...she transferred me to the nurse's office.  There are two women who work there.  They had NO RECORD of him EVER being in their office.  Not just today, but ever.

I thanked them for their time and called home.

I asked Middle Boy to tell me again what had happened at school.  He lied his way through the entire story.

I told him I had talked to the nurses office and the attendance office and I knew he was lying.

He said "I'm sorry."

This is a big deal.  The lying all of the time has GOT TO STOP.
I was in a meeting this morning and I got this text...

"Come get me now."

Followed by...

"I said NOW."

I responded with "What is wrong?"

"I don't feel good."

"Go to the nurse's office so they can give you a medical pass to leave."

"I already did."

"You will have to wait until my meeting is over in 15 minutes."

This was followed up with FIVE CALLS forcing me to leave a meeting I was RUNNING.

I am LIVID.  Fifteen minutes. That is what I asked for.

I picked him up and he told me I had to call the school to sign him out.  I told him the nurse does that with the pass.  He replied, "I don't think she did."

I told him the ramifications of my leaving FOR MY JOB and that he is not the center of the universe. 

He doesn't get it...more importantly...he doesn't care.
Younger Boy and I went to the Champions of Character breakfast.

This award is a much bigger deal than I thought.  It only went to FOUR students in each grade at his school.  There are FIVE HUNDRED seventh graders at his school and he was one of four.

He received an award.  They read aloud his nomination letter.

"Younger Boy is courteous and polite.  He is eager to help and pays attention to the feelings of others.  He is a great encourager and willing to do whatever he can."

I hate admitting it, but I am proud and frustrated at the same time.  This RIGHT HERE is the classic definition of Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Others see a totally different boy.

I talked at length about this award with his therapist.  In the end we decided that you can't call the school and say "I'm sorry we are declining the character award."

So frustratingly proud.

Father, please take away my frustration and give me wisdom and understanding regarding my relationship with Younger Boy.
I stayed home from youth group tonight.  I felt really yucky and didn't really want to expose everyone.

My leader partner is still gone so the girls had the high school pastor as their leader.  I'm sure they were THRILLED.  The last time this happened they described it as really awkward, but that they got through the questions in record time.

Usually that doesn't happen.  There is chatter and discussion and off topic talking that needs to be re-directed.  It will be interesting to hear their take on it.

Thankful he was willing to step in.  Praying the girls will forgive me for being sick!!
Report cards came in the mail today.  Both boys were nervous when I opened them.

Not really sure why since I had SHOWED them to them online about a week ago.  Must have forgotten.

Younger Boy's was pretty good considering the number of missed assignments.  Like, if he did the assignments it would be all B's of higher.

Middle Boy...another story.  He assures me this semester will be better.  He is doing a little bit better, but I am already seeing the slide toward complacency.

For a couple of days I felt a little bit better.

Middle Boy is sick now and I am feeling totally crappy again.  Not the same kind of crappy...a different kind.

Not really how I was hoping to spend my evening...not at all.
During the night I was too hot to sleep.  What on earth?

I have one of those alarm clocks that shines the time and temperature onto the ceiling.

I woke up to see this

91 deg F

What?  Why is our house 91 degrees in the middle of winter?

I went downstairs to figure out what was going on.  Thermostat set at a cool 82 degrees.  Who did that?  Probably no one.

So...I didn't sleep most of the rest of the night.  Even with my windows open it never got below 80 for the rest of the night.  I know, because I could see it on the ceiling.
Sometimes I look at the Nebraska Heart Gallery.  I am drawn to it.  God takes me there.

Today I am saddened as I think about those lives I see represented there.

After volunteering at camp for five years I KNOW...actually KNOW the lives of fourteen of these kiddos.  I mentored one of them.  I know the stories of several of them.

It breaks my heart to see them on this site...wanting to belong.  Knowing that a forever family might not be a part of God's plan for them.

This I know.  God loves the orphan.  He asks us to care for the orphan multiple times in the Bible.

These orphans...this is personal, but is all personal.  It is all part of the kingdom of God.

Praying for each of these kiddos by name today and for all of the unlisted kiddos who are out there.
Because God works in really mysterious ways I am baffled by something today.

Ever since I saw the name of the attorney assigned to decide my case through HHS I couldn't place it.

Just this morning it occured to me...she is from my hometown and I used to babysit her when I was in high school.  She was pretty young and maybe never knew my last name, but it is absolutely her. to contact the department and let them know.

I came home from my meeting and Middle Boy is burning up.  He has been sleeping the entire time I have been gone.

I tried to get him to take some aspirin, but he refused.  He is super sensitive to taking ANYTHING, because he always thinks people are trying to drug him.

I got him some water and sat by him for a while until he went back to sleep.

Praying he will feel better in the morning and that he didn't catch this from me.
I was driving to my meeting when I received an "urgent" call from Younger Boy.  He had noticed we were down to two loaves of bread and wanted to make sure I knew.

Boarder had discussed with him that he probably didn't need to call me, but he decided he did.

The irony is that I don't recall the last time any of us used bread.  Typically he isn't super observant so I'm a little surprised he noticed.  But he did.

So...sometime soon I am going to have to address having enough bread.
When we got home Middle Boy was upstairs taking a nap.  Sometime must really be wrong with him.  He NEVER naps.

I had to leave for a meeting at 6:30PM and he was still napping so Younger Boy and I hung out for the afternoon.  We played catch with Sophie and took her for a walk.  We read out loud to each other and we discussed how banks work.  (His choice, not mine.)

It was a nice time.  It was 12 year old Younger Boy with me the entire time.  Kind of refreshing.
I had to pick up Younger Boy at scholars.  That is the name of their after school tutoring program.

He was waiting outside.  Reading.  I couldn't believe it when I pulled up.  Reading?  Really?

He got in the car and said "I should have listened when you said to wear a winter coat."  Maybe next time I won't seem so foolish.

His hands were bright red along with his cheeks. 

He could have stayed in the building.  I'm not sure why he doesn't.  At this point asking just seems silly, because the behavior will likely stay the same.

Proud of him for reading.  Working on dressing appropriately!!
No sooner did I get off the phone with Attorney N than did she get a request from the state for a continuance on the matter of my foster care license.

Interestingly enough not only are they requesting a continuance, but they have also hired an OUTSIDE ATTORNEY to handle the case.  Not someone from HHS.

N thinks this is an interesting turn of events and that it plays in our favor.  She also thinks it is a sign the whole thing will go away after "the meeting".  Wondering if she is correct.

She told me I have the option to not grant them the continuance, but that there was no reason not to since my license is in tact until the outcome of the hearing.

She is wondering if it will keep being continued until such a time that Middle Boy finishes therapy and then the whole thing goes away.  Hmmmm......that's one way to solve the whole thing.
My attorney called today wanting to know if I wanted her to be present at "the meeting".

She said "I am going to be honest with you.  This case really ticks me off and having me there may be more harm than good.  I will feel like I need to speak for you and I could fly off the handle."

She said, "I think you will do well.  I think you just need to speak your heart and ask your questions.  Be prepared for no answers, but keep asking the questions."

She asked me to call her the morning after and let her know how it goes.  She also told me there are a lot of people "talking" about it in the system.

God...thanks for making N my attorney.  Thanks for her honesty and encouragement. knew exactly what I needed.
I talked to Therapist C about the movie The Boarder.  Now I am conflicted.

She saw it just the other day and thinks that it offers very little hope which they don't believe to be the case.  She doesn't want it to make me disheartened.

Now I am conflicted.  What was my motivation for wanting to go?  Did I want to see someone who had it "worse than us"?  Was it the time to spend with DD, my God friend, who is in a similar situation?

I'm torn.  I need hope and I don't want to make myself question whether there is hope.
This morning we figured out another trigger of Younger Boy's at therapy...totally by accident.

Therapist C was asking him about school.  With each question he got younger and younger until he was helpless.

Questions from adults are triggers.  Especially if the answer involves guilt.

We spent the entire two hours working on this and role playing this.

All three therapists think that the sleepless nights are caused when he goes to bed as his four-year old self.  Case in point...Sunday.  He was four-years old all day.  Didn't sleep that night.

More theories...more knowledge.

Thanking God EVERY day for these three.  For their willingness and fascination with Younger Boy to really dig in and help figure him out.
And now for a kooky story...

This morning on the way to therapy I asked Younger Boy about last night after I got home from lifegroup.

When I got home he was in the basement looking for his nerf gun.  I had gone upstairs to change clothes.  He didn't realize that I had come home.  That's the back story.

This morning he told me he never knew I came home last night.

Allegedly he looked in the garage and didn't see the car.  If I was home I must have parked in the driveway.

Then the story morphed to him going in the garage, but not noticing the car.

Then he didn't actually go in the garage, but no one told him I was home.

Then back to being in the garage.

Finally I asked him to stop.  I asked if he had been in the garage.  No.

I are the facts you have given me and retold him the whole kooky story.  He argued with EVERY BIT.

What is he trying to gain?  Am I in an alternate universe?
Tonight was my lifegroup.  I was able to go.  No one was having a meltdown. 

I love this study of the book of Ruth.  I love the ladies I am studying it with.  I had never realized there was such a parallel between the way Boaz treated Ruth and the way that God treats his people.  Interesting new perspective.

I'm thankful I made time for this group tonight.  I am thankful I am no longer the leader, but just now a participant.  I am just thankful!!

Since Middle Boy made dinner last night Younger Boy decided he would try tonight.  With tacos.

He did a pretty good job with the actual cooking.  The clean up...must not have been a priority.

Maybe we will try this.  Maybe they can each plan AND COOK one meal a week.  Maybe I will complain about the entire meal...not really, but it is tempting.

I'm proud of the fact they are both learning to cook.  It won't take much to surpass my culinary abilities.
Neither boy has homework today.  At least no homework they will admit to.

Middle Boy did admit that he didn't take the zip drive I had asked him to put in his backpack for the Spanish teacher at least five times over the weekend.  He promised he would take it on Wednesday...the next time he had Spanish.

Younger Boy told me that he read for 20 minutes in reading and I should sign his log.  I explained that I didn't see it happen and if he actually did it there I thought his teacher should sign it and not me.  I am stupid.

Other than that we had a relatively relaxing afternoon.  Doesn't happen very often.
Sometimes I feel like messages are intended just for me.

Today my friend, K, had a link to this sermon on her Facebook page.

Breathing Room

I listened while I worked on creating a presentation and forms for a training session here at work.

I was convicted.  I noted the irony between the sermon and my multi-tasking through listening.

This was meant for me.  I get it.  I want to apply it.  I need some breathing room.
Middle Boy is having trouble with respect this morning.

He is mad, because he thinks that 11:30PM is an acceptable bedtime, because it is "working for him".

He doesn't want to clean up anything in the kitchen, because he is responsible for himself.

It was not a fun morning and I am just "plain rude" and need to "get it right".

Happy Monday to me!!
Younger Boy was in his room at 9PM last night, but he stayed up ALL NIGHT.

I don't even know what to say anymore....
Tonight Middle Boy decided he wanted to make dinner.

He asked what we had.

Every single item in our refrigerator and pantry had the expiration date checked.

Is this milk still good?  When did we buy this hamburger?  Haven't we had this bread for a while?

OK...I have NEVER fed either of you food that was expired.  I just cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry LAST WEEK.  You both helped me.

What I learned is...if they didn't see me buy it they assume it is REALLY OLD. 

They don't trust I will give them food that is safe to eat. 

There you have it...they don't trust.

After I finally convinced Middle Boy that there was NO expired food in our home he made spaghetti and meat sauce. 

He asked me to stay out of the kitchen.  Part way through he told me that there had been a MAJOR screw up, but that he thought we would still be able to eat it.  I asked if he could tell me what it was so I could help if I knew a solution.  No...he's got it.

Here is the MAJOR screw up...he used fettuccine noodles instead of spaghetti.  He was APPALLED when I didn't notice the error of his ways.  To him this was CATASTROPHIC.

We have a long way to go in terms of trust and mistake making.  What is a big deal and what isn't.

Pray for wisdom and understanding.
When we got home I sat down to go through the mail for "just a minute".

I woke up THREE HOURS later.

Hmmm....must still need some extra sleep.  That was not a minute.  I missed a meeting I was supposed to go to.

Good grief!!
Both boys had youth group meetings after church.  I was still in the worship center talking to Coach Z when Middle Boy brought me a pair of his tennis shoes, said "here" and started to walk off.

I started to stop him when Coach Z said, "What do you want your mom to do with those?  You could have said, 'Hey, I have a meeting do you mind taking these with you?'"

Stopped him in his tracks.  He thought about it and asked me to take them.  I obliged.

These are the things I have been talking to him about.  There are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing and some ways are offensive.  Choose your words and approach wisely.

Thank you God for putting Coach Z there and for having her reinforce the things we had been talking about.
Four year old Younger Boy was in the car with us on the way to work.  He was whining and complaining about how no one listens to him. 

He was mad for a multitude of reasons. 

I told him I didn't think four-year olds went to youth group and they CERTAINLY didn't belong on the leadership team of the youth group.

He said he was going to be his most adult self and he was...for about five minutes.

He went to youth group. 

What is it about church that brings out four-year old Younger Boy?  Why does this happen every Sunday morning?  What is the trigger?
Luckily I had BBQ ribs in the crock pot the entire day so I finished up making dinner.

I had to call Younger Boy multiple times.  He was in the next room, but made the claim he didn't know I needed him.

Then I remembered why I never cook at home.  Neither boy really ate anything.  They won't.  There are a handful of things they will eat and everything else has something wrong with it.

Chicken strips - nope
Chicken in general - nope - only fried, but not at home or a restaurant (not sure where it should be fried)
Beef - don't like the texture
Pork - only chops without bones and only grilled
Ham - causes the gag reflex
Sausage - one yes, one no
Bacon - one yes, one no
Hamburger - one yes, one sometimes, but not often
Hot dogs - only if made on a grill

The rule is that you must try it.  I will NOT make you an alternate meal.  You will not make yourself an alternate meal until you have tried it THIS TIME.  You can't remember it from another house or another time.  THIS TIME.

I don't really like cooking that much anyway and this just makes me mad.
I lay down to take a nap today in an effort to try to get over this sinus infection.

I work up FOUR HOURS later.  Still tired.  Still feeling kind of crappy, but needing to actually get something done.
This morning I was supposed to go to a wedding.

I am still feeling like I got hit by a truck so I canceled the alternate ride to therapy and took Middle Boy.  Younger Boy was along for the always.

Younger Boy and I have TWO HOURS of time to chat every week while Middle Boy is at therapy.  This morning we talked about school and his language arts teacher.  We talked about when he can officially change his name at school, because he is tired of writing his old name.

We talked about how he has been doing staying as a 12 year old vs. a 4 year old.  He thinks he has been mostly big.  I would say about half and half.  Some days worse than others.

Middle Boy finished therapy.  No presentation made today, so he still has about four to make to move on to the next level.  This means another month or so.

Prayers for our day.
All three of us went out to dinner and shopping tonight.

When we have dinner nearly anywhere you can count on Younger Boy to get one of the following:

Macaroni and cheese (for the same price as 10 boxes)
Grilled cheese (for the same price as 15 sandwiches)
Mini corn dogs

This night was no different.  Mini corn dogs it was.  Dinner was relatively enjoyable.  We were sitting near the waitress stand so the boys had a lot of questions about how they enter orders and how the kitchen works.  It was good for them to see that.  In the end they said, "being a waiter is kind of hard work."

Then we went shopping.  Middle Boy needed a pair or two of jeans and the coveted white hoodie.  Younger Boy needed a shirt to wear to church that actually fits him and has no hole or rip caused by scissors. 

I will not buy jeans that sag.  I am mean like that.  I make you try on EVERY pair you want to buy. 

I am unreasonable when I think that a superhero shirt is not appropriate for nice occasions.

When your jeans drag on the ground and I say "you WILL wear these if we buy them" I am being ridiculous.

So...home we went.  We found the white hoodie and a couple of pair of "dorkie" jeans.  We also found a "nerd" shirt for church.

We should be set.  The boys are now looking adequately foolish.  That was my goal after all!!
This morning it was cold out.  Below freezing.  Middle Boy was in a t-shirt and jeans.  Luckily not the shorts of three days ago.

I asked what he intended to do for a coat.  Nothing, because he only had black hoodies. 

You see, a black hoodie DOES NOT go with a white t-shirt.  In fact it is FAR BETTER to be cold than to be that unfashionable.  FAR BETTER.

This is absurd.  This is one of those times where your actions will lead to a natural consequence.  You will be cold.

Middle Boy wants a white hoodie.  He has plenty of hoodies.  Just no white hoodie.  So...he can get a white hoodie...WITH HIS OWN MONEY.

He has requested to do that this evening with his Christmas gift card from Grandma and Grandpa, because he is "tired of being cold".

To this I say...whatever.
Middle Boy wants to go back to his old therapist. soon as this therapy is over we can consider it.  I would really like to go to the attachment center, but we can talk to Therapist A to see what her thoughts are on it. 

This WILL NOT happen while you are in therapy with Therapist L.  It just won't.  You already don't want to do the therapy work you are assigned.  We aren't going to waste anyone else's time.

I would love to do attachment therapy with you, but if your attitude about therapy is what it is now I will get frustrated.

Prayers for a changed attitude.
Middle Boy thinks he is being played by Therapist L. 

So he decided to "play her". 

I don't know the details of what went on.  I can only imagine.

Middle Boy doesn't get it.  He has to pass this therapeutic program.  COURT ORDERED or RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT.  That doesn't include lying to your therapist and being a jerk.  It isn't going to help your case in court when the judge reads her reports.

On the way home from therapy he went ON AND ON about how he doesn't have to be honest or truthful with her.  Therapists just try to manipulate your anyway.  ON AND ON.

He is reconfirming to me why no progress ever gets made in therapy with him.

Finally I had it tonight. 

Therapy is about healing.  You can't heal if you choose OVER AND OVER to be dishonest.  You have to help yourself.  You have to change your perspective or we are going to be doing this for a very long time...very long.
Younger Boy has a reading log due every Thursday.  EVERY THURSDAY.

Tonight he is insisting that the reading log is different this semester.  That's fine, but is it done. evidence of completion.  It doesn't matter if the format is different.  The outcome needs to be the same. we are...AFTER school on Thursday and no reading log was completed.  So...our first missing assignment (that I am aware of) is one week in to the new semester.

Now for the consequence.
Middle Boy needs help with Spanish homework.  I took Spanish in high school.  I remember a little bit.

We are a full semester in.  You wouldn't want to let on that you are really falling behind until your mom needs to learn a whole semester of Spanish one to get you caught up.

I was able to help with last night's worksheet without having to look anything up.  Mrs. would be proud!!

Tomorrow I will email the teacher and ask for all of the power points from last semester and a copy of the textbook. 

Who knows?  Maybe I'll get good enough to post in Spanish...uh, no.

I am trying to convince Middle Boy that just getting by doesn't meet my expectation.  I told him I intend to take him on a mission trip to a Spanish speaking country and just getting by in Spanish doesn't make me feel confident about the trip.

So...Spanish for me this weekend.  I was really hoping I could take it again!
I got a scolding from the doctor.  I probably deserved it.

She told me I have a sinus infection and seem to be dehydrated.  My alert went up about that, because I think it was at this time last year that two of my co-workers had to take me to the emergency room, because I was so dehydrated I was getting dizzy and couldn't walk.  That time it was an easy fix.  Just a bag of IV fluid and I was on my way.

Hmmm...don't really want that to happen again. 

If you see me in person any time soon verify that I have water with me.  I need to drink WAY MORE of it.  I'm trying, but I tend to forget.

I was prescribed 10 days of antibiotics with the instructions that if I am not better by SUNDAY that I am to go back...ON SUNDAY. it.  Enough scolding.

Praises for having access to good medical care even though I don't always make the best choices surrounding it.

Prayers for some sleep and less dehydration.

If I am honest with myself I would probably have to admit that I have had a low level sinus infection for three or four WEEKS now.

It started out as a sinus headache, but I thought I was just tired.  I'm always tired.

Today it is a head in a vice grip, eyes about to explode kind of headache.

Today I will go to the doctor.  No more procrastination.
Just when both boys are finally to a spot where they are sleeping "near normal" hours Sophie decides to stay up for an HOUR barking.

No idea what she was barking at...NONE...just non-stop 1AM.
Tonight I let Middle Boy drive home from youth group.

It was his second attempt at driving on the interstate in town and the first when it was dark out.

I asked him to go 10 MPH under the speed limit, because he needed to practice the interstate skills before driving the speed limit.  He was MAD. 

This turned him into a REALLY POOR driver.  Skills he had improved upon went out the window.

It was a good lesson for me about his maturity level and ability to drive.

At one point he was speeding and I reminded him that if he gets a ticket he will be paying for the ticket and the difference in the cost of the insurance.  I also reminded him that if he has any violations he has to wait a year to get his license.  State law...not mine.

At one point he said "so you are telling me I am failing at the basics?"  No...what I am telling you is that you need to focus on DRIVING.  Full attention on DRIVING.

The woe is me thinking makes me crazy.  To learn to drive you need to be able to receive feedback.  If you can't receive the feedback from me we will wait until you finish therapy so you can take drivers ed and THEN you can get your license.  Since therapy and driver's ed conflict you are in charge of when you can get your license.
The big meeting is scheduled for the afternoon on January 24th. 

I will say the director of Voices is like a pit bull when it comes to these things.  PIT BULL.

She was making calls and sending email on my behalf.  She told the director his lack of returning my calls is disrespectful and he owes me an apology.

I'm in the process of gathering everything I have regarding the laws of licensure and the permanency.

Prayers for wisdom during the next couple of weeks and for changes that will honor God.
Denise our aftercare worker came to our home.

So many interesting things surrounding this.

First....I already knew her, but didn't realize it.  When I knew her 18 months ago she went by a shortened version of her first name and she worked at Older Boy's behavioral day care.

Second...the reason it took three months to get aftercare is that we were assigned a worker right after the adoption, but she never contacted any clients and now doesn't work for the state any longer.  So...this worker was assigned our case three months in.  She apologized about TWENTY times.

I gave her a list of tasks to work on.  We'll see what she comes back with.

Interestingly she also knew about an email I had sent to the "team" of people I will be meeting with questioning aftercare and the quality.  Someone is doing something with my feedback.

The meeting went OK.  The boys were marginally best.  They are kind of  "done" with the whole system thing.

All I can say about this is HALLELUJAH!!

So far this year Middle Boy's school has had the most absurd grading policy.  Basically you were better off to do nothing.  Homework was graded as pass/fail and tests/quizzes were the majority of your grade.

Now homework is graded.  It also counts for 33% of the grades.  This puts an emphasis on the homework.  It is going to force Middle Boy to engage to pass his classes.

This is what we needed.

Thank you God for changes in policy!!
Younger Boy was nominated by the staff at his school to receive an award for outstanding sportsmanship and character during football.

There is an awards breakfast next Wednesday morning with the coaches and athletic director to celebrate this achievement.

He is pretty excited about it.

It is important to have good character.  I am proud of him.
Today I had to pick up Middle Boy from school. 

He was enraged when I picked him up.  I tried to get him to talk about it, but he said it would have to wait.  He was too mad.

Praying that everything is okay with him.
Tonight Middle Boy came to my room to talk to me. 

He started by just asking if he could just hang out with me for a few minutes.  Sometimes he does that just to reconnect if he has had a tough day.

I could tell something was on his mind.  So I asked what was up.

He is worried that he won't be able to keep up with his plan and he knows he needs to and he really wants to.

He doesn't know what gets in his way.  He doesn't understand why he disrespects women.  He doesn't understand why he gets so angry.

All of these things...on his mind...making it impossible for sleep to come.

So...we prayed...and sleep came.
Tonight...bedtime with Younger Boy...NO PROBLEM.

In fact, I haven't seen four-year old Younger Boy ALL DAY.

I can't even explain how encouraging that is to me.

I know he isn't gone, but it is so nice to have a break from him.  Even for just an evening.
Probation Officer came over tonight.  I really like her.  I wish we didn't have her, but I like her.

She had a bunch of questions for Middle Boy.  She lectured him about school and told him to get his act together or she would come to his classes with him.  She said she does it all the time.

I think this will terrify him into stepping it up.

Thank you!!
More breakthrough in the session with Therapist D.

More talk about trust.

Younger Boy doesn't trust that when I ask him to do something that I am not doing it just to be mean.

Showers.  Homework.  Going to bed.  Cleaning up after himself.  Taking Sophie for a walk.

All because I am mean and not in his best interest. work on the trust.
Today at therapy with Younger Boy I think we FINALLY GOT IT. 


Of course we won't know for a few days, but there were some things we discussed that made sense...IN HINDSIGHT.

Therapist C started talking about trust.  Whether both 12-year old Younger Boy and more importantly four-year old Younger Boy trust me.  He said they love me. 

She explained how they are different.

She had me list some of the ways I provide for him and tell them to 12-year old Younger Boy so he could understand and then explain it to 4 year-old Younger Boy.

I started talking about shelter, clothes, transportation, and food.  Immediately when I began talking about food his whole body language changed.  Totally changed.

After lots of discussion we determined that 12 year-old Will doesn't believe there will always be enough food in our home.  He doesn't believe it so there is NO WAY he can convince 4 year-old Younger Boy of it.  We started talking about why.

Therapist C asked how often I go to the store.  More than once per week.  She asked if I buy food there.  Yes.  She asked if he went with me.  Yes.  She asked if there were kinds of food he needed that I didn't buy.  No.  She asked if there were kinds of food that we sometimes run out of that he needs.  Yes, sometimes milk.  She asked if there are other options when we run out of milk.  Yes.  Are those options acceptable?  Yes.

She asked why he thought we would run out of food.  He said it was because he doesn't know when I get paid and what if we don't have the money for food?


I don't talk about money.  My check is auto-deposited every other week so we rarely have to go to the bank and never to a check cashing place.  I am blessed enough to not ever have to say "we can't afford that or we have to wait until I get paid".

We explained to him that I am "smart" with my money and I have a good job and we have money and we don't have to worry about when I get paid, because there is money there.  We could buy groceries every day if we needed to.

We can't go out and buy a car, but we can get groceries...and clothes...and pay for our heat.

He didn't understand that.  It was stressing him out and he thought there would be no food.

Praises for a breakthrough.  Maybe not the only one we need for emotional progress, but wow...a big deal.
We are back in school.

Because he always does Middle Boy came to me and said he was sorry.

Honestly....I don't know what to say anymore.  I am so tired of the verbal abuse and the disrespect.

I don't deserve it.  No one deserves it.  EVER.

I explained how I feel about it.

He was ashamed.  He put his head down and cried.

That is NOT part of the pattern.

Maybe it is progress.
Middle Boy called to tell me he doesn't know why I think he is going to fail.


I asked for his plan.  Plan...not goal.

He said "You are just being a b****.  I told you the plan."

The discussion went on and on. 

I DON'T DESERVE this disrespect.  I WILL NOT tolerate it.
It's the end of the semester so it is time for Therapist L to catch up on how Middle Boy is doing.

She emailed today and wanted to know what I thought about his grades and level of commitment to school and therapy.

On a good day both are minimal.

He is smart.  He doesn't put forth ANY EFFORT.

Just yesterday I told him that getting a D is acceptable ONLY IF you have turned in all of your work and if you are asking for help.  If you are doing EVERYTHING you can, but still getting a D then OK.  Otherwise...unacceptable.

Therapist L agrees.

I talked to Middle Boy about it and he tells me he has a plan.  I asked what it was.  Here is it..."to do better".

I explained that is not a plan.  That is the goal.  What are the steps to get there?

He screamed that both Therapist L and I expect him to fail so that is just what he will do.
I went to the lifegroup leader meeting with my apprentice.

I have needed to have an apprentice for a couple of years. 

D is going to ROCK at being a lifegroup leader.  Totally ROCK!!

I can't wait to be a part of her group.

Thank you God for putting D in my life.  Thank you for her willingness to lead our group and for her humor and love.  Thank you for blessing all of us.
Today during Winter Jam I just happened to be standing next to J at the door welcoming kiddos when a set of grandparents told us about their experience with the camp.

Honestly I started to cry.

They kept saying "It is only five days, but in those five days E changed.  She came home and was able to open up for the first time since her trauma."

They talked about her excitement over the songs and the pictures.

That right there makes every bit of registration frustration WORTH IT!!

Thank you God for putting the RIGHT KIDDOS who need it most at camp.  Thank you for changing their hearts and their lives.