Hello, Timekeeper.  We haven't seen you for a while.

I said Younger Boy could stay up for 15 minutes as long as he was laying on the couch and quiet.  Timekeeper only heard 15 more minutes of being up and he isn't counting the 20 minutes of playing around with the backpack as part of that time, because it "needed to be done".

Timekeeper is FURIOUS tonight, because he didn't get to stay up for 15 more minutes after the 20 minutes and he had to take his third med and go to bed.

Tonight when it was bedtime Younger Boy decided he needed to "pack his backpack". 

I told him if he hurried he could stay up for 15 more minutes as long as he was resting quietly while laying on the couch.

He continued to "pack his backpack" for 20 more minutes.  Taking stuff in and out.  I don't really know what it was all about.

Frustrating for sure.
We went to the driving range tonight as a family to hit some golf balls.

We must have looked like we needed the practice, because I bought 50 range balls and then two separate men gave us all of their leftovers.  We must have hit about 150 or more by the time we were done.

I hit a few, but mostly helped the boys figure out their swings.  Middle Boy is surprisingly good.
Younger Boy swings like a baseball player.  Neither boys likes feedback and surely I don't know.

I suggested golf lessons and they suggested I am ridiculous.

It was a nice evening out and we had a nice time.
Today was a teacher workday so there was no school.

Boarder is out of town so the boys were home alone the entire day. 

They did fairly well today since I had given them a list of tasks I expected to have done by the time I returned home.

They only called once or twice during the course of the day.

I think they are trying to make a case for staying home alone this summer.  Try as they might...IT IS NOT HAPPENING.
This afternoon our family went out for Sunday lunch at a restaurant near church.  It wasn't too busy...which was nice.

We were seated without a wait and ordered our food.

At that time both boys got up to use the restroom.  Middle Boy came back within five minutes.

Younger Boy did not return to the table until we have received our food and Middle Boy and I were FINISHED eating.

At one point Middle Boy was going to go and check on him, but his therapist has asked him to focus on being more aware of the time it is taking him to do things.

THIRTY FOUR MINUTES.  That is how long he was in the restroom

When he came out and I asked what he had been doing he said "using the restroom".  I told him we didn't have time to wait for him to eat and we would take his food to go and he could eat in the car.

This made him angry.

It is becoming a regular occurrence, but it isn't like I can prevent him from going in the restroom.
Later in the evening I was inside doing some work for me "real job" and the boys asked if it was okay for them to go outside and play basketball.

Sure, why not.

About five minutes later I heard the DISTINCT sound of a golf club connecting with a golf ball and saw both boys running to the empty lot to go find it.

I watched from the window and saw BOTH OF THEM intentionally disobey me.  This drives me NUTS.

This evening I told the boys it was okay to swing their golf clubs in the front yard as long as they weren't hitting anything.

I was outside anyway and I gave them each a spot to stand so they wouldn't hit any of our trees, our house, me, Sophie, or each other.

The swung clubs for quite a while.

More than one time they asked it they could hit golf balls since we live next to a huge open area.  No, you cannot hit golf balls.  The only place we will hit golf balls is at a driving range or on a golf exceptions.
We had a pretty quiet afternoon.

Boarder went to visit his parents for the weekend and we are just getting some much needed home time to just BE.

The boys did some cleaning while I was at training WITHOUT BEING ASKED.

It was nice to come home to.

This afternoon is such a blessing.
Camp training today was so amazing.

The majority of the training focused on trust-based parenting of kids from hard places.  Oh how everything I heard struck a nerve.

Some of the things that were discussed are things I could immediately put into place and have the potential to change our home life.

For that I am thankful!
Younger Boy's testimony was due today.

So tonight at 11:53PM he was in my room with the laptop...SCREAMING about how no one told him to work on it.

My favorite quote "Apparently you don't want me to get into heaven."

Getting into heaven isn't about baptism.   Screaming at me isn't going to help with your testimony.

I cannot help you when you are doing this.

Again...apparently I do not want him in heaven.

It's going to be a long night!!
Tonight I had training for camp. 

I love camp season.  I love seeing all of those familiar faces of people who love foster kids the same way I do.

It was a relief to be around these AMAZING people.
Middle Boy writes and performs music.  He is pretty good.

A lot of his songs are what I would deem inappropriate and we have made a deal about it.

He is doing a CD of songs about his life history.  I told him that I know there is a lot of associated anger there and if swearing makes the story more real or releases some of the anger then it is okay, but I would prefer he didn't.

I listened to some of the songs tonight.  It was his way of sharing some of his past without having to tell me the stories.

One of them really struck me.  Before tonight I suspected certain kinds of abuse, but he had never really said anything and it wasn't documented well in his case file.  The song is about the abuse of a pedophile.  When I was listening to the song I looked at him with a quizzical look and he nodded once and looked down.  Now I know.

There is a song about his present life and his mixed up thoughts that I asked him for permission to post here.  He gave me permission, but didn't give me a copy of the song yet.

Hopefully this weekend I will have it to share with you.

I am thankful for him being able to use writing and music as an outlet.
Younger Boy wants to be baptized at youth group.

The testimonies are due tomorrow.  There are instruction sheets that go with the testimony writing.

The basic instructions are this.
  1. Write about your life before Christ.
  2. Write about how you came to know Christ.
  3. Write about your life after coming to know Christ.
Younger Boy is on attempt three.

The first attempt started with the story of Noah and continued on through other items in Genesis.

The second attempt listed the story of the scar on his head.  We are working hard to make him understand this is a "private" story.

Attempt three hasn't really started.  I brainstormed with him, but he didn't want to take notes.

He is so completely unaware of time that I am honestly not sure he can get this written without a major amount of assistance.  That makes me sad.

If he finishes the testimony I would love to share it with all of you.
C was able to have dinner with us.

It was a nice dinner.

We were able to do best and worst.  I have been waiting for this one and it didn't even take a week.  Middle Boy's worst was having to do best and worst.

We talked and laughed. 

It was a good dinner.

Younger Boy ate at about the same pace as everyone else which is a major feat these days.

Praises for a good time!!
On our way to dinner we heard about a "love quadrangle" Boarder is now a part of.

He works at an after school program for elementary kids and three second-grade girls have a crush on him. 

Last week he showed me some cards they had made for him.  One of them had hearts all over it.

Apparently today there was some full-blown jealousy as he was "paying more attention" to one of the girls than the others.

Oh, Boarder!!
Younger Boy had his spring choir concert tonight.

My friends, C and K, went with us and so did Boarder and Middle Boy.

It was CROWDED.  We ended up being on the eighth grade side.

Younger Boy was front row middle.  Some of the times he looked like he didn't know the words, but he had the dance moves down.

There were a couple of kids who added to the comedic value of the show (unintentionally).  One of the boys in the swing choir fell down and was VERY ENTHUSIASTIC throughout the performance.

His polar opposite was in the eighth grade choir.  Mr. "I'm too cool for these actions".

The show had a rock and roll them so we knew most of the songs.

I think it lasted 45 minutes.

Younger Boy was SUPER PROUD to have so many people there watching him.

Praises for good friends.
One of the topics of our conversation was trust.  We actually discussed how much trust we have in each other.

What we came to the conclusion of is that one of us is going to need to bite the bullet and trust a little bit more.

He doesn't trust my reaction to anything so he is at times purposefully deceitful. 

Generally I find out and this makes me trust him less.

It is kind of a vicious circle.

I asked him how honest he thinks he is with his words.  He thinks he is probably truthful 50% of the time he answers my questions.  That isn't that good.

I asked him how trustworthy he thought he was when he gives his word when it involves following up with action.  My perception is that it is about 10% of the time.  He thinks it is 80%.  I gave him some examples of where I didn't think that was the case.  It was kind of interesting.

I work really hard to follow through with the boys, because they have been let down so very many times before.

We are going to touch base on this again in a few weeks and see where we are.

Prayers we can both be trustworthy.
Middle Boy and I had more heart to heart chatting to do. 

It happened right after I thought I was going crazy.  I was in my room reading and the dryer seemed really loud to me.  Younger Boy was sleeping and Middle Boy was in his room listening to music.

I went in the laundry room, turned off the light, and closed the door. 

By the time I was back in my room the light was back on and the door open.

What on earth?

I knocked on Middle Boy's door.

No answer so I opened the door a little.

He was asleep, but I scared him on accident.  He had opened the door.  He didn't know why.

So...we talked more.  We talked about life and about choices and decisions.

There were a couple of times he started to get angry or use "conversation stoppers", but I was able to help him work through it.

I am so glad we are getting better at communicating and sharing our feelings.  It has been really rough recently.
Tonight was senior night at youth group.  Everyone was in attendance, but really it was a night to simply celebrate the seniors.  It is also the last youth group of this school year for the high school students.

I was sad.  Sad, because the girls in my group will be seniors next year and I have been with them for four years and I love them.

Sad, because at senior night they show kids baby pictures and then their senior pictures and I know that three years from now I won't have any baby pictures of Middle Boy.

Sad, because even though he knows that I am there Middle Boy doesn't always do what he is supposed to during youth group.  Tonight he was no where to be found...twice.  He and Z, another former foster kid, always seem to be missing at the same time. 

Sad, because when Middle Boy does that I further lose trust in him.

The was just sad.

Except the part about brownie sundaes...that wasn't that sad.
Tonight we were pressed for time so we had our dinner in the car on the way to youth group.

As a result we did our best and worst in the car.

Everyone had the same worst.  We all had a headache all day.  I'm pretty sure it is due to the start of allergy season here.

Middle Boy and I had the same best.  We were thankful for our conversation after school.  Younger Boy was thankful for everyone being happy.

I like this form of conversation starting. 
Today I had to pick Middle Boy up from school, because Boarder had to go in to work early.  I didn't have time to take him home, because I had to interview someone for a new position here at our office.

I gave him the choice of hanging out in our breakroom where there are usually two or three other high schoolers since school gets out at 2:40PM or hanging out in the car.  Of course he chose the car.

I told him it would EASILY be two hours and I was really sorry about that.

When I got outside from work he was pretty enthused.  They are building a parking garage across the street from my office so he sat outside and watched that while he listened to music.  Makes me feel a little bit better.

He had some serious questions for me and we had probably the BEST discussion we have ever had while we drove him.

We laughed and no one got mad and we were able to just communicate about the topics.

It was nice.
At the IEP meeting I was told we will be turned into the County Attorney for truancy since Younger Boy has missed more than 20 days of school due to two hours of therapy every week and other miscellaneous absences.

Honestly...I don't care.  I don't know what the ramifications are, but he can't quit therapy.  It isn't optional with him.

If it goes before the judge it will be his former judge.  He is the one that ordered the therapy in the first place.

Prayers for them to be reasonable.
I went to Younger Boy's IEP this morning.

The following people were there:

IEP Holder
Guidance Counselor
Dean of Students
Four teachers

Dean of Students didn't say a word.

The teachers and IEP holder were great.  They asked me some questions and I told them some of my concerns.

Guidance Counselor...nothing nice to say about him.

At one point it was mentioned that Younger Boy will likely remain in reading instead of moving on.  Guidance Counselor said, "maybe we can set up an incentive for him to move on".  Almost in unison IEP Holder, Reading Teacher, and I said, "He won't care.  He would prefer staying where he is because it is safe and he knows the routine."  Ah...they get him. 

I was moderately happy with the final outcome.  It is hard to be happy with an IEP.

Praying we could get a different guidance counselor.
Last night Middle Boy posted on his Facebook page, "Call me a failure.  It is the truest thing you'll ever say about me."

When Boarder saw it he said, "I didn't call him a failure, did you?"  Nope.

Come to find out he was talking about himself.

For the twenty minute drive to school this morning I told him under no circumstances is he a failure.  He is a survivor.  Many adults wouldn't be able to survive the things he has in his life.  He is smart and he is funny.

I told him I do think his expectations of himself and of his view of himself are too small.  I told him that I dream bigger dreams for him than he does and that it makes me sad that he sells himself short. 

I also explained that I can't give him motivation.  That somehow it will need to come from within.  I can help, but I can't do this for him.

I also told him he will likely never have a bigger cheerleader than I am.

He just sat in silence starting to get teary-eyed.  I know I touched a nerve.

I love this kid. 

Pray he will see his worth in God's eyes.
After I went home for the evening we had a family dinner.

Younger Boy couldn't figure out why everyone was being quiet and really wanted to do best and worst.

No one mentioned the elephant in the room.  No one.

At one point I asked Younger Boy about his call to me and his claims.  He recanted some of his earlier statements saying that he "was pretty sure that is what is was said" and maybe he didn't understand.

Boarder and Middle Boy called him on it.

We all listed the consequences of his choice to lie.  He doesn't care.  He continued to tell me that he is sure they were swearing at him and were bullying him.

The reality (according to Boarder) is that Younger Boy was the one doing the swearing and the other two went outside to shoot baskets in an attempt to not blow up at him.

I feel horrible for not getting their side of the story, but Younger Boy was convincing...really convincing.

Things are going to be rocky for a while.  Both Boarder and Middle Boy are pretty angry with Younger Boy.  Justifiably so.
Tonight was the women's spring event at church.  I had purchased my ticket and was all set to go.

After the events of today I didn't really feel like it.  I probably should have gone, but I didn't.

I didn't know what to do.  I didn't want to go home.  I was tired and was done with all of the abuse and fighting for the day.

I didn't know where to go.  Some friends crossed my mind, but most of them were at the spring event or I just didn't want to deal with it.

So...I went to the parking lot of a local Christian school and sat in my car for two hours and cried. 

In my twisted way of thinking (and because I was driving past it on a convoluted route home) I figured I would be safe there.  It also happens to be next door to a police station.

I wasn't sure how long I would be there or when I was going to go home.  It was a really deep valley moment for me.

I screamed at God and I prayed.  I'm angry and I'm tired and this isn't funny anymore.

I wish I could say a peace came over me, but it didn't.
Today has spiraled downhill so quickly.

Middle Boy has called me a number of times.  I don't even know how many, but all were to express anger.  I know for certain he hung up on me EIGHT times.  At one point I stopped taking his calls.

When Younger Boy got home from school he called and told me that Boarder and Middle Boy were ganging up on him and that he didn't feel safe.  He also said they were swearing at him and taunting hm.

I was furious.

So...I texted Boarder and told him it was time to move out.  I called Middle Boy and told him I was disappointed and angry.

It was then that I found out that nothing of the sort happened.  Younger Boy had LIED about everything.

Of course...Middle Boy hung up on me yet again after spending some time verbally abusing me.

Honestly I feel like giving up.  This isn't worth it anymore.
This morning during therapy with Therapist D we decided we weren't going to accomplish much unless we were able to work through the grief of receiving the graduation announcement.

So we started talking about it.

All Younger Boy was willing to discuss was "happy and hopeful" feelings.

Part way through we stopped the session.  Both Therapist D and I talked to him about how he needs to let the other feelings come out.  We know there are other feelings, because if there was only happy and hopeful then we wouldn't be in therapy.

We talked a lot about how those are uncomfortable feelings.  Sometimes ugly feelings.

We discussed how I won't be hurt or angry or sad if he misses him biological family.  In fact I expect it.

We talked about how it would make me happy if he would let himself be sad or angry instead of always pretending to be happy.  I wouldn't be happy he was sad, but I would be happy he would let himself feel sad.

I worry that I am screwing him up. 

I read this post today and it reminded me of our morning session.

I am so thankful for therapy and for others who feel the same (except I wish no one felt this way).
Every Tuesday before therapy starts we do a parent/therapist update.  This morning with Therapist C we had a discussion.  Does Younger Boy really not know what is going on OR is he just that good at manipulation?  Every week we waiver back and forth.  Does he really not know or is he so good at "the game"?

I told her how "belligerent" the "other parts of self" have been this week.  The Time Keeper has taken over an hour to eat nearly every meal at home and is now taking over 30 minutes in public restrooms.  The Storyteller has been EVERYWHERE.  Sleep Master was at school yesterday, but Storyteller won't even let Sleep Master come clean about it.

All of them are MAD.

I know this sounds ridiculous.  How are all of these "parts of self"?  We all have them.  It is just that most of us can continue to use our "logical/thinking brain" in most instances.

She thinks that the belligerent piece is coming from the fact that we are "on to them" and Younger Boy is really starting to think about it and his survival brain keeps taking charge.  The change is tough.

We told him that those parts of self really need to have awards, because they kept him alive and safe all of these years.  We talked about how we need to thank them, but then to suggest to them that maybe they could "retire" now and let Younger Boy take over.

They aren't ready, but maybe soon they will be!!
Roughest morning we have had in a long time...hands down.

With Middle Boy staying home we had a little bit longer before we had to leave.

I asked him to get his homework.  He already had it.

I know the routine.  He puts things in his backpack in the morning that were hidden from me the night before.  If I check the backpack in the morning inevitably they will be there. wouldn't believe this, but I was able to find his homework he had completed, but left in his locker actually in the backpack.  Not only that, but it was folded into a square about two inches across and someone must have erased all of his answers, because IT WAS BLANK.

Well, hello, Storyteller. 

He didn't know it was in there.  It must be someone else's worksheet, because he swears his is in his locker....finished.  No one told him it needed to get done anyway.  All of the other homework that isn't completed that I found...well, "I'm probably going to think he is lying about it".

He is just going to go upstairs, because apparently I think doing homework is more important than school so he'll just stay here and do it.  Why should he though, because everyone just thinks he is a big liar anyway.

Storyteller....I was hoping you would back off for a while, but I see you are angry...quite angry.

Middle Boy is something of a hypochondriac.  I think.

He is ill from school a lot.  He can vomit on command and they won't let you stay at school if you are vomiting.

Today it was his back.  He has been complaining about it for about five days now.  Allegedly this morning he cannot even walk.  Excruciating pain.

I'm sure this afternoon it will be healed in time for rough-housing or basketball or whatever the choice is.

So...I told him he could stay home, but I didn't feel like he was being trustworthy with his problem.

He is...he really is.  He means it.
Younger Boy has been working on his 30 minutes worth of homework for nearly six hours now and it is bedtime.

I told him he was just going to have to go to bed.  An hour ago he had two sentences typed and now he has three.  At his current pace he will be able to turn it in at the start of next school year.

He SCREAMED and CRIED that I can't stop him from getting his homework done.  This is going to be all my fault that he is a failure just like always.

He is going to get himself up at 3AM so that he can type the report.  In his words..."I'll show you.  You can't stop me."

It isn't going to happen.  He had six hours tonight to work on it not counting the week worth of evenings before when he was pretending it didn't exist.  I don't feel bad.  I just don't.
I spend a lot of time thinking about my failure as a parent.  How I am probably not what is best for these boys.  How sometimes it seems that things are getting worse and not better.

How I want so much for them yet things are just ugly.  It seems like all the time. 

They hate me.  They remind me every day.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe I don't deserve to be a parent.

I so desperately want to help them heal and sometimes it just feels like I am compounding the damage.

Then...God puts this in my path and causes me to change direction if only for a moment.

It's then that I know He knows.

Tonight I tried to check Younger Boy's homework folder.  He usually hides it from me.

He swore to me that his homework was done.

It was not.

There were still worksheets in the "not done" side.  There were notes from IEP Holder about missing work. 

What do you mean your work is done?  It is.  It is all done.

Please, be accurate. 

Is your work done?


I can see this work will not get done at this time.  It just isn't going to happen.
Last night Middle Boy woke both Younger Boy and I up during the middle of the night to ask us questions which could have waited until morning. 

From me he wanted to know if I knew where his white jeans were.  (Yes, I said white jeans.)

From Younger Boy he wanted to know if he had seen his music recorder.

Just because you are up in the middle of the night doesn't mean everyone else needs to be.  Please try to control your impulsivity and "need it now" thinking and show some common courtesy to others who are sleeping.

I am NOT telling you to NEVER wake me up during the night, because there are times when it is appropriate.  This just happened to not be one of them.

It is likely NEVER necessary to wake your brother and if you are thinking you need to then check with me first.

Courtesy first, please.
Boarder has started asking me for my opinion on relationships.  It is interesting.

When he moved in he was dating my co-leader from our high school small group, but that ended a couple of months ago.

I like to think of myself as his older sister, but truth be told I could be his mom.

I appreciate him talking to me about this stuff.  Not because I feel like it is my duty to help him, but because it shows the boys that it is safe and good to talk to me about these things.

I am continually amazed at the way God knew we needed Boarder in our lives.
The boys and Boarder stood outside on our front porch tonight during the storm recording videos of it with their phones.

At one point Younger Boy said, "Does this make us rednecks?"

Instant laughter from the other two and they told him to come ask me. 

Notice I was NOT filming the storm.

Younger Boy asked me about it and my reply, "you just might be".
To say that Younger Boy is in a funk would be an understatement. 

The best way to describe it is really "checked out" of the present.  In a weird way I would prefer big behaviors and feelings, because then we could talk it through.  When he is checked out there isn't much I can do to help.

"Checked out" Younger Boy is VERY FRUSTRATING.  He basically just wanders around and you have to repeat things over and over.  He fiddles and he wanders and he stares off into space.

Good thing we don't really need to do anything for the rest of the day, because the likelihood we could pull it off is LOW!!

Prayers for HEALTHY coping skills.
We went to the driving range this afternoon despite the threat of rain.

It was good to get outside and have a family activity.

Younger Boy had never really been golfing before and he has A LOT to learn (maybe a lesson is in his future), but we all had a great time.

Praises we can do these types of things as a family.
Today's sermon at church was interesting.  It was about what you do about following Christ.

There was an example given about being drawn closer to Christ.  It was technically about a marriage relationship and the three corners of the triangle were God, Man, and Woman.  The idea was that as you grow together your relationship should grow you toward Christ and if it doesn't maybe you should reconsider.

It opened up a lot of interesting discussion between Boarder, Middle Boy, and I.  I asked them both if they thought they were the kind of men that would draw a woman closer to Christ through their relationship. 

Another part of the sermon was about being in the adventure of following Christ versus watching the adventure from the sidelines.  Middle Boy admitted that he is having trouble being in the adventure, because "the adventure doesn't feel safe" to him.

This is the first real thing Middle Boy has said about his spirituality to me in a long time.

I want our home to be an encouragement to him in his relationship with Christ.  I want to be a good example and I want him to have other relationships where the men are good examples.  We are SO BLESSED to have those relationships in our lives.

Praises for open honest communication.
Today we got a graduation announcement from Older Sister of Younger Boy in the mail.  Younger Boy gets the mail and since I had NO IDEA we were getting one I didn't stop him.

It was a standard graduation invitation complete with the "we would be honored if you would attend".

It also included two photos of Older Sister.  Two different poses of senior pictures.

This rocked Younger Boy's world. 

He has never seen a graduation announcement so he thought it was addressed specifically to him.  Those words written directly for him.

It brought INSTANT tears.  All he kept repeating is "how did she get so old?" and sobbing.

This is going to cause BIG BEHAVIORS and BIG FEELINGS.  This could cause MONTHS of setbacks.

Pray for us.  Pray for him and his memories which all came flooding back.
Younger Sister's family has a conversation each night about best and worst.  They go around the table and each person in turn has to tell the best and worst thing that have happened to them so far that day.

Niece I kept saying "Worst is first," so that is what everyone did.

Her worst "I fell on my keester during circle time."

Both of my boys best "Being here with family."  Niece I quickly followed up with "and being at my soccer game".

We are going to start this at our home.  Thanks Younger Sister.
This afternoon we went to Younger Sister's house to watch Niece I play soccer and to spend the afternoon with them and Grandma and Grandpa.

Niece I's soccer game was adorable.  She is only six so they play four on four.  She has such a determined look on her face when she is on the field.  She is a funny little firecracker.

We went back to their house and the kids kind of settled into "play groups".  Younger Boy played mostly with Nephew W, his mini me.  They played all kinds of things.

Middle Boy got ganged up on by Niece I and Niece A.  They fixed his hair for him...complete with bows.  They sat on his lap and took selfies and videos.  They sang to him and told him "secrets".  They gave him tons of kisses on the cheek and he "tried" to get away.

They made a video about picking your nose.  That was Niece I's idea.  She thought it would be a good idea.

I am so thankful we were able to have this time with family.  It was a nice break from routine.
DD and I went to a class on "Attachment Informed Parenting" tonight.

I wanted to learn the class.  Honestly...I felt like I could have taught the class.  The speaker was good and the topic is important, but I sit through HOURS of trauma therapy a week.  It was simply different terms for the same things.

I did hear about a story I would like to find our more about.  It is the story of Neen.  I am hoping to be able to see the movie.  I think it will help me undersatnd that what I am doing is important....very important.
Tonight I had dinner with a friend who God brought into my life.

He sat us next to each other at a class on attachment parenting.  He prompted me to talk to her.  While the reasons we have our boys and how we ended up where we are are quite different our home lives are quite similar.  Her boys are 16 and 14 (I think).

We communicate through email and reading each others blogs.  From the blog I "know" her heart and I "know" her boys.  I think she feels the same.

Tonight we got the opportunity to have dinner FACE TO FACE and to attend an attachment class together.

The time I was able to spend with DD was healing.  She gets it.  When I tell her things that happen I don't worry for a second that she is judging me or thinking I am a bad parent.  I also know she doesn't think I am making things up or exaggerating.  She knows it is real and it is hard and that is why I love her and wish she was closer and wish we could hang out on a regular basis.

That 90 minutes I got to spend with DD was the most healing thing I have been able to do in quite a while.  It was good for my heart.

Thank you DD for being you.  For doing what you are doing.  For making me feel a little less like a "crazy".  For not judging me.

Thank you God for DD....I didn't even know I needed her!!
Early this morning I spent time on the phone with a grandma of some of our campers.

This woman has had custody of her grandkids since March.  They had been in a shelter before that.

This woman...she's overwhelmed.  She needs help navigating the system.  I want desperately to help her, but she is just across the another state.

So...I did what I could.  I listened.  I prayed for her and she started to cry.

I am going to call her this evening and offer to come over and chat.  Just so she feels heard.  I am going to take someone to play with the kids while we are there.

Pray for this grandma and her four grandkids who were recently entrusted to her care.  She is truly doing what is best for them, but she feels trampled on by the system.
When you say really ugly, hurtful words you can't get them back.

Try as you might to make the other person think they are misinterpreting them and it is therefore their fault they are hurt...the words are still out there.

Middle Boy...the words you said tonight....our relationship might never be the same.
HHS put out a call to the local media for help in finding foster families for teenagers.  One of the television stations contacted my agency to ask them for people to interview. a week or so I will be interviewed for a news story about what it is like to foster/adopt teenagers.

There will be a massive cleaning effort in our home since that is where they want to film it.  I'm more worried about that than the interview.

Pray for wise words and the right people to hear the interview and have open hearts for these teens.
Middle Boy is doing a lot of work today to pick a fight with me.

I am not really sure why.

He is being ugly for reasons he is choosing not to explain.

He is claiming to have a back injury that is preventing him from walking.  The first he mentioned it was when he was being belligerent about something else, because then it gives him the opportunity to say "you probably don't care about this either".

Pray for me to be wise tonight and not be provoked into an argument for no reason.
Middle Boy texted me a question today after school.  An alarming question.

I texted back and said "hypothetical or real?"


I nearly had a heart attack.

Now I know Middle Boy doesn't know the definition of hypothetical.  He really wanted to know the answer to the hypothetical question, so he picked real.

We are STILL talking about this mandatory JROTC event.


Middle Boy says he is not going, because it is going to be "standing out on a field for four hours for no reason" and "it isn't for a grade".

I explained to him that often times in my work I have to work extra hours beyond 40 and I don't get paid for them, because I am salaried.  I just have to do them.  It isn't optional.

There are times our office has to do work we don't get paid for, but we don't say "sorry, not doing that", we just do it.

If he doesn't see any benefit to isn't going to happen.

He still hasn't brought home the permission slip.
In recent days Middle Boy has been complaining that every time he talks to me it turns into an argument.

I saw this on Facebook and it reminded me of how he and I communicate.

Lately he has had trouble doing anything other than being verbally abusive when he is angry.

This is a wonderful goal to work toward.
We are supposed to be at youth group tonight.

Middle Boy has had a fever all day today so he isn't going.

It is hailing and both boys hate thunderstorms.  Younger Boy doesn't want to go.

So...we are staying home.  It's a rare event in this house.

We are having a Wii bowling, golf, and baseball tournament.  It's nice....and peaceful.

Hoping and praying this will continue throughout the evening.
Having traumatized kids is lonely.  Really lonely.

This post touched my heart today.  It really touched my heart.

I struggle so much with how to answer when people ask how the boys are and how things are going.  My boys scare people.  They scare some of my family members.  They haven't ever really said it, but I see it.

People don't know what to say if I tell them what is going on with us.

I don't want to hear about how strong I am.  I don't need those words of affirmation....not very often anyway.

What I need is someone else to see and love the boys the way I see and love the boys.  Do they frustrate me?  Absolutely.  What kid doesn't?

Sometimes....I just need a hug.  Someone who will just let me break down and talk about how hard this is.  Who won't be scared away by the tears I cry on a regular basis.  About how I still know to the DEPTH of MY SOUL that this is still what I am supposed to be doing and my desire to have more kids in my home.  Someone to tell me I am NOT crazy.

Don't be scared of my boys.  The reality is that they are the way they are, because they are SCARED.  Scared kids make scared adults, because they look scary.

Please just love us.
Tonight Boarder, Younger Boy, and I went out to dinner.

Somehow we got on the topic of honesty and trustworthiness.

Boarder and I are pretty certain Younger Boy has been stealing from him.  I know he has been stealing from me and from kids at school.

We asked him about it.  He got pretty distraught.  We told him we knew that he had been stealing.  Too many things just "appear" at our house and in his room.  After much discussion he confessed to stealing things nearly every day.  Mostly from other kids at school.  Out of their backpacks and their desks.  This disappoints me.

I asked him about truthfulness.  I said, "if you tell me 10 things how many of them would usually be a lie?"  I'm not certain what I thought the answer might be.  He said eight of them would not be true.  Now...this is a little complicated, because is that true?

He and Boarder talked a lot about the importance of trusting and being trustworthy.  I was super impressed by Boarder.  He confronted him about stealing his things, but was pretty loving and compassionate about it.

I am glad these boys have another adult they can talk to.  I'm glad Boarder will hold them accountable and not just be a friend.

Thank you God for Boarder.
Middle Boy is going out with his mentor tonight for dinner and to see the movie 42.

He is excited about it.  He has been wanting to see the movie since he first saw the trailer for it.

I'm excited that he has such an amazing mentor.

Thank you L for continuing to be involved in his life.
Mom J and I talked for about an hour this afternoon.

We had some catching up to do and we needed to share some things.

After our normal catch up time she asked if she could talk to me about a couple of things on her heart.


She told me not to hate her, but that she is really grieving not being able to adopt Younger Boy.  You see, they were going to adopt her about four years ago.  Things didn't work out and she never grieved it.  She kept telling me over and over that she loved me and she thinks I am the mom for Younger Boy, but she is still sad.

I get that.

She also talked about how much healthier the kids all are since the trauma bonds between Older Boy and Younger Boy and Younger Boy and Little Sister have been severed to some degree.  Knowing that doesn't make you any less sad.

I still sometimes grieve the decision to have Older Boy move out even knowing that it was absolutely the best thing for all of us.

She also asked me if I would consider learning more about guardianship for Older Boy and Middle Brother. 

I am not making promises right now, but I am going to take the guardianship class.  I want to understand my roles, responsibilities, and liability.  I want to understand the legalities.

She cried when I told her I would consider it.

I love this family.  I want the kids to all be able to remain in contact.  I love that she is my support system.
Middle Boy is filled with demands these days.  There are very few requests.

I have been explaining that requests come with kind words and a please.  Demands are spoken harshly and involve no form of gratitude.

Demands and more demands.  Take me to the store now.  Do this now.

I have stopped even acknowledging the demands.

They are slowly changing to requests, but also accompanied by sarcasm.

I wonder if this is how God feels when we pray.  Are we making demands?  Telling him what we are going to do and then expecting him to help us?  Maybe we, too, should take a step back and make requests.  Seek his guidance.

Maybe things would go more smoothly.
I got an email today from Middle Boy's JROTC teacher asking about a permission slip for a MANDATORY outing.

I have not seen this permission slip so I had no idea what he was talking about.

I was in a meeting so I texted Middle Boy and asked him about it.  He said "the one for CAD"?

What there are two?

No, the one for JROTC.  Please bring them both home tonight.

His response, "nah".

MANDATORY Middle choice.  You go.

This deceitfulness drives me crazy.  Completely crazy!

This morning as we were leaving therapy we were somewhat surprised to see Older Boy in the waiting room.

His therapist has joined the trauma center and his weekly appointment is right after ours.  So...we will be seeing him each week...or close to it.

It was fine.  Older Boy played the parental role he usually takes and when we left he said "you better be doing good in school".

I hadn't seen Older Boy since August.  He has grown A LOT taller.  He seemed a lot louder than I remembered.

It was good to see him.  Really good.
During our second therapy session we explained to Therapist D what we had talked to Therapist C about.  We "introduced her" to the parts of self.  In their office they are represented by some figurines.

We spend the majority of our time talking to Sleep Master.  He has been really in control in the last week or so.

Therapist D used a combination of EMDR and self-talk to Sleep Master to get that part of self to open up about why there was trouble sleeping.  What was interesting was there was times when Time Keeper and Story Teller tried to stop it, but we kept reminding Most Adult Self that we needed to just talk to Sleep Master right now.  We would talk to those other guys later.

Do I think some of you are reading this thinking "this is absurd"?  Absolutely.  I also know that some of you reading this don't get mental illness and it is taboo to talk about it.  Live with someone who has it for a while.  Your views will change.

We were able to get Sleep Master to admit that he doesn't feel safe at night, because people always leave during the night.  He admitted Bio Mom is going to leave in the night and he will be left there with Bio Dad and that isn't safe.  We asked Time Keeper to come into the conversation, because he has us talking about the past and we need Sleep Master in the present. 

Therapist D had Younger Boy thank Sleep Master for keeping him safe all of these years and had him tell Sleep Master that while he is still important Most Adult Self would like to try making the decisions about sleep for a while.

It was interesting, because he immediately said "that makes Sleep Master VERY ANGRY".  So we had him talk to Sleep Master about the anger and the anxiety.  We had him remind Time Keeper to stay out of it.

In the end Sleep Master wasn't "giving any negative comments, but he still wasn't happy".

It's a start.  This is going to be a long road, but today I was encouraged by our progress.
Our therapists recently attended an international trauma conference and were discussing methodology with some of other top trauma therapists in the world.  I had given them permission to use our case during discussion, because in many ways we are having trouble getting through to Younger Boy.

There was a consensus maybe they should try the "fingers of trauma" approach with him.  In most cases you can address the trauma and it will filter down to all other areas of life.  In some cases you have to start out at all of the others areas (the fingers) in order to get to the trauma, because the trauma is just "so big and hard". approach.  This identifies "characters" which are part of each of us.  We all have them and let them "be in charge" every now and then.  We identified Younger Boy's and talked about them.  We also named them all so we can talk to them in the future.  It is important to note that these aren't "personalities", but instead parts of self.

Here is what we came up with:

Most Adult Self - This is the boy who is stable and can make good choices.  This boys is smart and kind.

Sleep Master - This is the part of self who controls sleep.  He decides when Younger Boy sleeps and when he doesn't.  He takes over at bedtime and prevents sleep, but he also shows up at school when things are confusing and need to be avoided.

Time Keeper - This is the person who has no concept of time, but is also quite rigid about time.  Something supposed to happen at 8:30...8:26 is not close enough.  This person is sometimes in the past and sometimes in the present.  He has all of his life events out of order and doesn't know the months of the year in order.  He thinks five minutes is an eternity yet can't get himself where he is supposed to be in any length of reasonable time.

Foodie - This is the person who thinks we will run out of food and don't have money for food.  He is also the one who continually checks expiration dates and throws food away when he thinks we have "had it for too long".  This is also the person who takes 45 minutes to eat a single cookie or an apple.

Story Teller - This is the person who struggles with honesty.

Captain Gloom and Doom - This is the person who believes the worst possible scenario is going to happen EVERY SINGLE TIME.

We talked about how Most Adult Self has to remain the one in charge.  How we know there is an internal battle with all of these "other people", but Most Adult Self has to get stronger and take control.  He has to tell the others to pipe down and reassure them they are safe and cared for.

Younger Boy gets all of this.  It is FASCINATING to watch him think about it and "talk to" the others in his mind.

Prayers that this method will give us a huge breakthrough of healing.

This morning with Younger Boy was ugly.  U.G.L.Y.

He is a mess.

He is yelling and screaming and crying.  He wasn't close to ready to go when it was time to leave.

He was defiant.  Everything was stupid or bulls***.

When asked why he thought he was having this trouble he said "you're probably going to say it is because I didn't get enough sleep".

I asked him why I had to suffer the consequences of him not getting enough sleep.  He said there weren't any consequences.  I told him his yelling is a consequence to me.  His rudeness is a consequence to me.

He doesn't really care.  He told me so.

We have therapy in 30 minutes.  He has already told me he isn't going.
Younger Boy is having difficulty sleeping tonight.  Lots of difficulty sleeping.

He is also having difficulty taking his sleeping meds.  He doesn't want to. 

So frustrating.

I have explained to him multiple times this evening that tomorrow is going to be a long day if he does not get the appropriate amount of sleep tonight.

Prayers for a good nights sleep!
The boys have decided they want to get in shape.  As a result they have decided to go for a jog each day after school before I get home.

Today was the first day.  I asked if they took Sophie.  She would have slowed them down. 

I would have loved to have watched this.  I hope I get to some time soon.

Sophie would LOVE to be a part of this.  She runs WAY FASTER than either of them and has a LOT more stamina than either of them.  It is likely she would have been tugging on them.

I'll be interested to see how this works out.
Middle Boy is wearing an all white outfit today.  I should have snapped a photo.

He is wearing white jeans, a white t-shirt, a white button shirt, a white belt, white tennis shoes, and a white baseball cap.

It is a ridiculous look.  A lot like Mr. Clean.

He likes it though so for each their own.

I have reminded him that in the future when he asks "why didn't you tell me I looked stupid?" I will point out that I repeatedly told him and he chose not to listen.

Younger Boy is REALLY struggling in the mornings.

Since he is so short on sleep I don't like to wake him super early.

He eats breakfast at school so all he really has to do in the morning is get dressed, take his meds, get his shoes on and get out the door.

What I now know is that there is NO WAY he can accomplish this in 45 minutes. 

This morning he missed his bus.  He couldn't believe it had already been there.  He had only been up for "like five minutes".  Wrong.  You have actually been up for almost an hour.  You don't have shoes on despite my repeated reminding.  You haven't taken your meds.  I know, because I am still holding them in my hand.

What did you do?  You packed and unpacked your backpack three times and you unrolled a roll of duct tape for no apparent reason.  Where did you get the duct tape?  From your backpack?  We'll talk about that later tonight.

No amount of prompting seems to get him to move faster or more focused on the morning.

Prayers for figuring this out.
We seem to have an INORDINATE amount of laundry today.  CRAZY AMOUNT.

I can't tell if the boys cleaned their closets and just put everything in the laundry or what has really happened.

I do know they are going to have to help fold and put it all away, because it is going to take the entire day to do it. to the laundry room I go.
If Middle Boy had his way he would buy all of his clothing and accessories at a store I think is creepy.

It is a little bit goth, a little bit gangster, and a little bit freak show.  I hope I am not offending anyone here!!

I hate going in there, but since he makes less than good choices when shopping for clothing I find myself there every now and then.

Today he REALLY wanted white jeans and a white leather studded belt.  Really wanted them?  Wanted them enough that he was going to pay for them.

So...I found myself in the creepy store thinking about how glad I am he doesn't think plug earrings are cool.  He does think the bone through the ear ones are cool, but I digress.

He showed me everything he would buy if he could afford it.  I told him everything I wouldn't approve of him wearing.

Honestly though...there isn't much to say about the white jeans and white belt.  Do I think it looks ridiculous?  Absolutely.  Am I wearing it?  No.  Am I embarrassed by his clothes?  No.

So...I stood around in the creepy store for about half an hour.  Maybe we should head to the bra store next and he can wait for me.

We went to church this morning.

More accurately...Middle Boy, Boarder, and I went to church.  Younger Boy went to youth group.

We started a new series on the book of John.  We'll be learning the answer to the question "Who is Jesus Christ?"

I'm looking forward to it. 

Both boys had youth group leadership team meetings afterward so I got a bit of alone time.  Not enough to go home, but a little bit.

Prayers for the upcoming sermon series.  That each of us will learn something from it.
The boys waited until it was dark outside and then played hide and seek.

They all had glow sticks which were "required" to be worn on their body at all times.

Made the game a lot more interesting.

Lots of mud from our yard and the neighboring yards found its way onto their shoes and clothes.

They laughed and had a marvelous time.

What a blessing!!
I was the "co-host" at a baby shower today.  A pretty pathetic co-host I was.

Things I did do:

  1. Provide the addresses.
  2. Buy some of the supplies.
  3. Buy some of the food.

Things I didn't do:

  1. Everything else.

Coach Z...I am sorry. 

It was a nice baby shower.  All people from camp in attendance.  There was a BEAUTIFUL foster baby in attendance as well.  Super cutie...super tiny.

I had a good time.  It was good to see everyone.
On the way to therapy Middle Boy asked me if I had an idea what his GPA is.  As a matter of fact, I do.

I told him what it is and he said, "that isn't too good, is it?"  I told him where he currently ranked in the freshman class of his high school.  He seemed almost sad, but didn't really want to show it.

He said, "I have been kind of slacking the last couple of days, but I promise to pull it together for the rest of the year."

He says it all of the time.  I don't really listen to the words anymore, because they don't mean much to me.  Maybe I should think differently, but I don't.

I asked what I could do to help him knowing full well that is the last thing he wants.

Pray for motivation and understanding that school and therapy are important.
Younger Boy's friend is going to stay another night.  They are really having a good time and when his friend is here he seems to remain his "most adult self" which is a blessing for me.

Also...his friend is a lot more forthcoming about who did what and what they are doing.  Not secretive at all.  I wonder if the boys were taking notes that he is just being honest and no one is getting in trouble.
Tonight we had to stop at the grocery store really quickly before heading home for the night.

Younger Boy got an unplanned lesson.

We witnessed someone being arrested and searched for shop lifting.  I think it really opened his eyes to the fact that it probably isn't something you want to be a part of.

My friend, C, came with us for the evening.

We didn't really do any of the activities except for dinner.

We mostly hung out and talked.

She challenged me to figure out a way to rejuvenate myself.  To figure out a way to get some time to myself where I don't have to take care of anyone else for a while.

I know it is important.  I need to figure it out.
I had decided earlier in the week we would go bowling, go karting, and play laser tag tonight since I had some discount coupons for it.

We had dinner at the restaurant and then set out for bowling.  There was a 90 minute wait to bowl so we opted against that. 

The younger kids rode the go-karts a couple of times.  Younger Boy and his friend were marginal drivers.  I don't think they were the direct cause of any wrecks on the course, but Younger Boy was side swiped once.

Middle Boy and his friend decided not to ride go-karts, so they just hung out which is really what teenagers do best anyway.

Next all four of them played laser tag.  I believe they were in teams and if I am not mistaken the younger boys won.  Middle Boy said it was because they hid behind a wall the entire time and wouldn't come out.  Whatever strategy works.

I am thankful they all had a good time.
I am guessing neither boy has really ever had the opportunity to have friends over.

Both boys have a friend coming over tonight around 6:30PM.  Younger Boy's friend is spending the night.  Middle Boy's is not.

Starting at about 5:45PM it became almost unbearable to me.  They were both sitting in the living room looking out the window.

When Middle Boy gets excited he makes a bunch of weird noises...really loud. 

We were literally one step away from having our noses pressed to the glass. 

Every time a car drove by one of them would say "let it be them".

It is really cool that they are that excited.  Makes me kind of sad they never had this opportunity until now.
The boys live on extremes.  There is no in between for either or them. 

Yesterday during our discussion about communication and relationship I mentioned something that neither one of them do.  The first words out of their mouths every single day when I get home are "what is the plan for dinner".  I told them it wouldn't hurt them to say something else to them every now and then.

Today when I got home it was COMPLETELY over the top.  They met my car in the garage and opened the door for me.  They carried my bag in and asked about my day.

They can tone it down a little.  Maybe go for something in between the two extremes.
This morning on the way to school I asked Middle Boy to make a commitment to go today without verbally abusing me.  No yelling, no name-calling, nothing.

I told him sometimes it is probably going to need to be hour by hour, but to make a commitment today to not do it today.

He agreed that it was important to try.

That's all I can ask.  That he try.

Prayers for a good day relationally.
There is something Middle Boy said last night that I would desperately like prayers for.

Middle Boy said he doesn't really want to continue going to church.  He said he feels like a total hypocrite there, because God will never forgive all of the horrible things he has done in his life and he doesn't deserve God's forgiveness anyway.

I asked him to be honest with me and asked if he had ever asked Christ into his life.  He said, "not really".

He believes he is so undeserving and his sin is too much for God to forgive.  He was starting to cry.

I got out my Bible and went over some passages with him.  I prayed with him and over him.  I told him that God forgives all sins, but we have to accept his gift of Christ in our lives.

Would you all please pray for Middle Boy?  Everyone needs a savior and Middle Boy is so beat down and angry that he believes he doesn't deserve one.

If any of you know him personally I would LOVE for you to talk to him about it if you feel led.
I did talk with Middle Boy.  I asked him to sit down and talk. 

At first he wanted to stand and was frustrated when I told him he would need to sit down.  I don't think he realizes that it was his non-verbal way of showing he is "in charge".

He started out by saying he had nothing to say and we have nothing to work on.  I reminded him that while we were at the therapy office he said we needed to work on communication.

I did get him to open up about his frustrations.  He thinks I don't care and don't listen.  He told me some things and when I said "does that happen at THIS HOUSE?"  he had to admit that it did not.

We talked about why he is so angry at me right now.  He thinks I don't care about him and I don't love him.  He thinks I am angry at him 95% of the time and I think he is a failure in life.  He also said that yelling and swearing is the only way to get through to me.

NONE of this is true.

I asked if he treats anyone else the way he treats me.  He said he doesn't because everyone else can leave.  It doesn't really make sense considering that he is very fearful I will leave.

We talked about how therapy is hard for him.  We talked about why it is hard for me and why I get so frustrated about therapy homework.

It was a good conversation.  A couple of times he started to yell, but was able to realize what he was doing.

Praises for conversation.  Prayers it will continue and things will get better.
When we got home Younger Boy wanted to be in charge of dinner.  He really wanted to make grilled cheese.

He made four grilled cheese sandwiches.  It took 45 minutes.  He got distracted every two or three minutes.  Twice I found him in the living room playing with Sophie.  Once he was on the back deck.  Once in the garage.  Once in the bathroom messing around with a tube of toothpaste and once in the mud room.

He realized he had a problem when our smoke alarm started going off.  In his defense it goes off REALLY easy, but still. 

We talked about kitchen safety and the need to stay IN THE KITCHEN when you are matter what you are making....especially if your ADHD meds have worn off.

The grilled cheese was actually really good and I am thankful for him wanting to make it.

The entire way home Middle Boy screamed at me. 

I am a liar.  I don't do ANYTHING to help with communication in our relationship.  I don't put forth ANY effort in the relationship.  I don't take responsibility for my actions.  All I do is apologize and then I wait until after he is mad and I have done something wrong.

When I make consequences it is always something he cares about and it is always when he is mad.  He doesn't care about consequences anyway.

When he stopped his rant I asked him if I could ask him a couple of questions without him exploding.  He agreed.  I asked what he does to show responsibility for his actions and what he is doing as his part of improving communication in our home.

If I don't know then I need to figure it out.  Hmmm....I think that would be not much.

He is going to document every time I have told me some bull s*** and then on the day he "happily" moves out he is going to give me the book.

He preached and preached about how a relationship needs three parts (from his therapy)....communication, honesty, and trust.  Without those three it will fail.  He said (and I know) he doesn't trust me.  Why would he?  Every other caregiver he has ever had failed him.  In all honesty, I don't really trust him either, because I feel like he is hardly ever honest with me.

So....I asked him if we could sit down and talk about a better way to communicate when we got home.  He'll think about it.

Prayers this starts getting better soon.  It is exhausting to do this every day.
As we got in the car from the dollar store I got a text from Therapist L asking me to join the therapy session.

I went in and she asked me to tell her in my opinion what has been going on at home.  I told her what I thought and the entire time Middle Boy was getting angrier and angrier.  He never does this when it is just the two of them.

She asked him why he wasn't using his anger management skills.  That is when he decided he had enough, yelled "F*** you both" and stormed out.

We talked for a little while longer and I left.  She asked him to come back into her office and finish his session.

I'm sure he will NOT be happy the rest of the evening.
Younger Boy needed some supplies for a school project tomorrow.  While Middle Boy was at therapy we went to a dollar store to find his supplies.  He needs to make a model of a camera for journalism class.

He decided to get his own cart and look for his things while I got the things we needed.

As I came around one of the corners in the store I caught him putting items into his pocket.  Shoplifting.

I asked him to empty his pockets.  He had one item in each pocket.  He told me he was going to put them in his cart, but he got distracted when he wet his pants.

What?  Your pants aren't wet.  What are you talking about?

I had to fight really hard to keep my cool.  Really hard.

He put the items back and apologized to one of the workers.  We bought our items and left the store.

I started to talk to him about how he will no longer be allowed to be out of my sight at a store.  He will have to walk in front of me at all times so I can see what he is doing.

I was a little bit late leaving work so I called the boys on my way home to tell them they needed to get ready to leave for Middle Boy's therapy.

At that same time I told Middle Boy I had talked to Therapist L.  He hates me talking to her, because he thinks we are "all against" him.

He said, "I'm sure everything you told her was a lie," and then he hung up on me.

Exactly how I was hoping to start the evening!!
Tonight there were four baptisms at youth group.

I was wishing Middle Boy were there.  One of the testimonies was in some ways similar to his story.  A boy who struggled with depression, anxiety, and self harm.

Someone who has learned to rely on others and more importantly on God to get him through the tough times.

This is my prayer for you Middle Boy.   That you would see the hope you have in Christ.
Tonight I was blessed by simply chatting with a co-leader at youth group.

She encouraged me more than she probably knows.

I can't wait to get together with her and chat when she returns from Zambia in a few weeks.

Praying for you and your heart, D!!
Tonight I was talking with a friend about some campers who I am still waiting to hear back from regarding this summer's camps.

I was going through the list of names I know she might have some information on.  We got to one and she said, "oh...that is a super sad one". 

The story she told me is infuriating to me.

This kiddos workers have deemed him "unadoptable" and he is going to be moving homes again.

Really, unadoptable?  You have to be kidding me.

Having experience with the system and raising two kids who were also "unadoptable" I KNOW that he is adoptable.  I suspect that no one has ever taken the time to really figure out what services he needs.

The thing that makes me EVEN MADDER is that he was in the courtroom when this was said. 

I am VERY THANKFUL that Judge D put a stop to the conversation and ordered they find an adoptive placement for this boy.

Damage has been done....for years.  He is not trash.  He is a kid who is living with the consequences of actions that were not his own and his trauma has made him who he is today.  This kid is a SURVIVOR.  He just needs someone willing to step up so he can begin to THRIVE.

Praying for him today.
Therapist L returned my call tonight about Middle Boy.

I told her a lot about what has been going on and how angry he is.

She is frustrated with him, because he always tells her everything is going just fine at home.

I described some of the things he says to me and some of the ways he tries to gain control of the situations at home.

She asked about my typical reactions.  Usually I am able to not engage in the yelling and arguing, but I do keep trying to talk to him about it.  She suggested I just stop.  Use the phrase "I will not talk to you or listen to what you have to say until you can do it in a respectful way."  Keep repeating that phrase and maintain the boundary.

Her opinion is that he feels like he has to be completely in control and he doesn't trust me enough to let me have any authority so he controls the things he can.

I'm thankful for her.  She is a no-nonsense lady.

Thank you God for putting her in our lives and for her being helpful to me as well.
Since it was rush hour the drive home took a while.

I was able to begin to talk to Middle Boy with him in a rational frame of mind.

I asked him if he knew what had triggered him to become so angry.  I didn't suggest anything, just asked him. 

He finally said that he knew he was wrong for not watching for me after school and that he got carried away.  He said that he feels like I am going to have him move out or not love him anymore when he does something wrong.

I asked him what makes him think that.  Is it something I say or do?  I want him (actually both boys) to feel like this is permanent because it is.  I want the fear that they are leaving to subside.

He said when I walk away after an argument or during an argument he thinks I won't come back, because that has happened.  I explained that I walk away in frustration just to gather my thoughts.  We talked about whether or not there was something I could say to make him feel safe.

We also talked about how it hurts me when he is so verbally abusive.  When he tells me the things he does when he is angry.  No one deserves to be talked to like matter what the situation.

He said that his friends know not to make him mad.  I explained that it isn't fair to ask others to control their behavior so you don't have to control yours.  Instead you need to work on a way to release all of the built up anger and control it without exploding.

The discussion was good.  I think I remained patient and kind...which is my goal.

Prayers for healing of this relationship and strength for me until the healing occurs.
After a few minutes I told him while I agreed that his therapy homework needed to be done and it was his responsibility he also had a responsibility to the youth group.

I wasn't going to cover for him and he wasn't just going to skip.

I told him he would need to go inside and let them know he wouldn't be there that evening, because he had too much homework to do.  If he did that, like a responsible person, then I would drive him home.

His response "I'm not retarded.  You are just going to drive off when I walk in the door."

Actually that hadn't even occurred to me.  I told him it was not the case and that I would in fact be right where I was waiting to take him home after he let them know.

He went in...looking back multiple times.

He was inside talking to the tech booth adult in the hallway.  I don't know what he said, but he did talk to him.

When he came back out he said "I'm surprised you are still here."

Nope...I told you I would be here and I am.
Middle Boy is supposed to work in the tech booth at youth group tonight.

He doesn't want to, because he is "meeting his responsibility" by doing therapy homework.  True...he is meeting that responsibility, but he also volunteered to do tech booth.

So...I drove him to church after I got off work.

When we got there he REFUSED to get out of the car.  He told me I could f****** go in, but he wasn't.

So...we sat there...under the awning at church until I could figure out what to do next and gain some control.
Today I needed to pick up Middle Boy from school.  He told me this morning he would be watching for me.

When I went to pick him up he wasn't in his usual spot, but I was a little bit early.  After about 15 minutes I saw him walking from a completely different direction.

When he got in the car I asked why he was coming from that direction.

That's when the kooky story started.  What I suspect is this...he walked his girlfriend to her dad's car.  He could have just said that.  Instead he told me that he walked her to her aunt's car (still fine) and that her aunt is handicapped and she asked him to move some boxes so he did and now he is late.  What don't I want him to do good deeds?

I said "all I did was ask why you came from that direction".

No, apparently I "came at him".  I put words in his mouth and I can get the f*** out of the car.  He doesn't need this bulls*** and why don't I just drop him off wherever the f*** I want to.  It isn't like it hasn't happened to him before.

Wow...where on earth did that come from?

I said I didn't appreciate being sworn at.  It is my fault he is swearing.  I should f****** know his triggers by now and if I can't "get it right" then I should just f*** off.  I NEVER take responsibility for anything.  Just act all perfect.  Well I'm not perfect.  In fact I don't even f****** try or f****** care about him.  Haven't ever.

I don't deserve to be a parent.  He is just going to start telling people what it is at our house.

It is SO HARD not to be ugly back.  That is what he wants me to do.  If I get frustrated and start to cry or leave then he screams f****** baby or just leave....that's what everyone does.

I need help.  What am I supposed to do?  How am I supposed to handle these situations?  He is SO UGLY to me.

Prayers for strength for me.
Tonight I got the opportunity to talk to Grandma (my mom) on the phone for a while.  We usually don't have much of a chance to really talk.  In fact it is kind of rare.

Tonight was different.  We talked a lot about the boys and my current frustrations.  We talked about how NOTHING seems to motivate Middle Boy.  NOTHING.  I talked to her about my plan to have him wait to get his driver's license until he is done with therapy.  We talked about how I wish I didn't have to do that, because it would free up so much time if he could drive himself. 

We talked about how I really can't trust him to do or go where he is supposed to, because he doesn't see importance in being trustworthy.

We talked about Younger Boy and how there is some growth there, but how frustrating it is to never know if anyone is telling you the truth.

We talked about how having Boarder live with us has been a blessing even though it is sometimes annoying.

I appreciate both of my parents immensely.  I sometimes wish our relationship was different, but tonight...I really enjoyed the discussion tonight.

Praises for having AMAZING parents who love me.
Sometimes it is frustrating not knowing where the boys came from.

This is particularly true when they are busy trying to "one up" each other.

Tonight after the hail storm we were talking about the worst hail we had ever seen.

Boarder mentioned a hail storm a couple of years ago with golf ball sized hail.  Really legitimate story.

Middle Boy then talked about how when he was eight there was golf-ball sized hail and his foster parent let him go outside to play.  (Already far-fetched, but wait...)  While he was outside playing in the golf-ball sized hail he decided to look up and one of them hit him square between the eyes and dropped him to the ground.  (But wait....)  He got a concussion from it and had a huge bruise for a week.  Truth factor...maybe 10%.

So...Younger Boy's turn.  At one of his previous foster homes a SOCCER-BALL sized hail crash through his roof and fell square on his stomach while he was sleeping.  It made him throw up instantly.  Truth factor....0%.

Boarder and Middle Boy called him on it INSTANTLY which of course became the typical "why doesn't anyone believe me" mantra which we have all grown accustomed to.

Good family discussion...over.  Integrative parenting....starting now.
Tonight a HUGE hail storm passed through town.

The hail ranged from pea-sized to over golf ball-sized.  I can't honestly say what it was at our house, because we weren't home.  Luckily we weren't out driving either, but running an errand.

It was loud in the building we were in.  It covered the road like snow on our way home.

It was CRAZY to look at, but we are all safe and that is what matters.
Today I made a decision about my professional career.

There is a program in our town called Leadership Omaha.  You are selected by the Chamber of Commerce based on your involvement in the city.

Our office is allowed to have one candidate per year.  I was encouraged to apply.  I even started the process within the office.

Over the weekend though it became quite clear to me that the next year should be spent on the stability of the boys.

There are other endeavors in our office which are consuming some of my time as well.

So, Leadership will wait.  Hopefully not too long, but you will have to wait.
"I just ruin everything."  This is the automatic response Younger Boy has nearly every single time he makes a mistake.  It literally can be as little as spilling a drink.

Therapist D decided to ask him what he thinks he is ruining.  Is it the relationship with me?  Is it love?  What is it?

He is CONVINCED that making a mistake causes me to love him a little less each time and then when it reaches a certain point he will have to move.  Adoption and permanency doesn't matter.  I will stop loving him.

He is also convinced if Middle Boy or his teachers see a mistake they will not like him.

SO...he is paralyzed by fear and then lying when he has to.

We started working on this today with EMDR.  We role played answering questions and talking about love.

We talked about how doing nice things doesn't make someone love you more.

We talked about "no matter what" love.

He isn't convinced.  No where near it, but now we can work on it.
Today with Therapist C we discussed lying and the survival brain which goes along with it.

Therapist C asked Younger Boy why he thinks he lies.  He said it is because he will get in trouble.

She asked him to describe what "getting in trouble" looks like at this house with this mom.  He said "talking about it and sometimes consequences".  She asked what he thought was bad about that and to let his mind float back to a time when "getting in trouble" meant something else.

He said when I was little I used to "get beat".

She asked him if he thought maybe his mind was stuck there and so when he thought he was going to get in trouble even though his "12 year-old" brain knows that doesn't mean "getting beat" his four-year old brain still doesn't trust this mom.

We talked some more, because she told him although she thought "getting in trouble" was part of it that maybe it meant something else to him.  He went on to talk about accidents and making mistakes.  He talked about how it proved you were stupid and didn't deserve to be loved and how you "ruin everything" when you make a mistake.

There we go.  His negative self beliefs.  Now we have something to work on.
Before today I was pretty sure our trauma therapist team was nationally recognized.  What I didn't know is that they are INTERNATIONALLY recognized.

This week they have a team of German foster care therapists observing and training in their office.

We have a German man named Peter sitting in on our sessions.  He has read Younger Boy's case file and said "I can't wait to meet this boy." 

When I trauma therapist says that I can't help, but think that can't be good.

All Therapist C and Therapist D say is "wow, he is an interesting kid".

Praises for training opportunities to heal trauma all over the world.  Praises in knowing that we have some of THE BEST therapists in the world that we can meet with EVERY WEEK.
A week or so ago I had scheduled an appointment for Sophie to get her shots updated.  She needed two today...rabies and distemper.

The women who work at her vet clinic LOVE her.  They both have dachshunds and, well, Sophie is cute.  We talked about whether or not she would benefit from having a "dog sibling" to play with.  They suggested we wait until she is over two and then it will have to be a dog smaller than her and quite passive, because Sophie is a dominant dog.  You think?

She did great while she was there. 

About two hours later though her snout was swelling up like a balloon.  I called the vet and they said that sometimes they have an allergic reaction.  We were told to give her half of a benadryl and half a baby aspirin every four hours and also to keep a cold compress on it to reduce swelling. I went to buy benadryl.  Everyone here takes prescription allergy meds so we didn't have any.

She didn't want to take the benadryl.  We had to wrap it in a cheese slice.

She continued on to vomit all through the night.

I had been wanting to clean all of the couch cushions, but not tonight.

I felt so sorry for her.  She was scratching like crazy and her head was HUGE.  Poor baby.

Prayers Sophie will feel better soon.
Younger Boy got home from school today and said, "I'll be honest.  I have homework in social studies, language arts, and math and I am going to start right now."

Thank you "most adult Younger Boy" for being the one who came home today when I didn't feel well.

He finished the homework and was SO PROUD of himself he was almost beaming.  I just wish he could remember this feeling and not the avoidance.
This morning I had a root canal.  My tooth broke in half about a month ago and I have had a temporary since then.

I was at the dentist for about three hours.  I was "lucky" because my tooth had four roots instead of the normal three.  They also found a crack in the tooth next to it so they sealed that as well.

I was really sick afterward so I stayed home for the day.  I was super dizzy and nauseated.  The numbness didn't wear off completely until early evening.

They recommended I take ibuprofen for the next two weeks to keep the swelling down until I go and get the permanent crown.

It was nice to spend the afternoon at home.  I wish I would have felt better to enjoy it.
Middle Boy swears to me he has been doing his therapy homework.  I don't think he has.

Why don't I think he has?  His therapy notebook has been in the car since last Thursday night when he had his individual session.

This morning I asked him to show me the work he has been doing.

This turned into a BIG production.  First he leafed through the notebook "trying to find the work".  Then he pulled out a worksheet from the last step of therapy.  When I mentioned I didn't think that was it he seemed a little bit exasperated.

He knows I know he isn't doing it, because he wouldn't look at me.

He knows the consequence of not being done with it this Thursday.  It isn't going to be done and it isn't going to be pretty.

Prayers for it not to escalate and Middle Boy just accepts the consequence and moves on.
Last night I had THE BEST SLEEP I have had in a long, long time.

It was a little bit cooler in our house.  Everyone seemed to go to bed at a reasonable time and I think I was finally able to let my guard down a little bit and actually sleep.

Praises for a restful nights sleep.
Middle Boy wants to have a friend over this afternoon.  He generally doesn't ask to do much socially so I try to accommodate him when he does.

He has responsibilities which need to be done before tomorrow.

We discuss those responsibilities and how if he agrees to do them his word is a contract and it shows his character whether or not he follows through. 

People in his life have generally not followed through so to him not following through is "no big deal".

I want him to understand it is ABSOLUTELY a big deal.

Praying I am raising men of good character.  Worrying that I am not.
I had a meeting today about foster care at church.  There is a small focus group meeting.

We talked about what each of our passions is in the foster care area.

One of the attenders talked about Safe Families.  They are church-based and step in to help out families before the children are removed from the home.  Their mission sounds AMAZING to me considering our state pulls kids from the home sooner and the kids stay in the system longer.  If they could stay out of the system all together that is a win for EVERYONE.

When I started this journey my passion was simply just the orphan foster child in general.  I think now it is more the permanency of older kids.  Somewhere they can find a family so no one EVER ages out of the system.

We are going to touch base every quarter or so and see if there is something we can do.

It is encouraging.

I have been thinking about the permanency thing for a while now.  There were (and still are) a million reasons why I shouldn't be a mom, but there is one eternal reason why.  I chose that.

Prayers for all foster kids, foster parents and the hearts of those who are considering fostering or adoption or maybe don't even know yet they are considering it!
I am so sick of arguing with Middle Boy.  So sick of it.

This morning I told him I was sorry he would have nothing to do at church during second service while I had a meeting and Younger Boy had youth group.  I was sincere.  I was sorry.  I know that he doesn't like having nothing to do.

He thought I was mocking him so he EXPLODED.  Why don't I ever take responsibility for my actions?  I apologize, but I never mean it.  My actions never change. 

I can hear my old foster care specialist saying to me..."remember when he is saying these things to you he feels them about himself". 

Sometimes that helps. 

I am so sick of the constant verbal attacks.  Sure he is a teenager, but he is over the top with his rudeness and need to be in control.  Over the top.

If I point it out...EVER....not just in the moment I can expect complete escalation which results in name calling and swearing.  I don't like to go there.

Today I had to walk away from him in the hallway at church, because I wanted to cry.

Prayers this gets better.
Today was one of those errand/do things around the house kind of days.

The boys were able to enjoy the nice outdoor weather for the majority of the afternoon.  They have created their own game which involves sticks and duct tape and flashlights.  They tried to explain it to me, but I didn't get it.  Doesn't really matter.

We shopped for a while and got some food for meals for the upcoming week.  There were a lot of samples so the boys tried hummus (a no go), V-8 fusion (also a no go), and mozzarella sticks (who doesn't like these).  They want to make it our weekly routine to get samples and eat lunch there.  We'll see.

All in all a pretty good day.  The boys seemed to get along all day and Sophie got worn out playing outside with them.

Praises for the beautiful weather and for family.
 A couple of months ago I got Globetrotter tickets for our family on Groupon. 

I'll be honest.  I had NO DESIRE to go.

I'll was fun to watch the boys there, especially Younger Boy.  He had never seen them and to see pure joy on his face was priceless.

Middle Boy had seen them last year with his mentor so he wasn't quite as enamored, but he still laughed quite a bit.

We had a nice time.  Middle Boy drove us home and did a pretty good job of navigating the traffic leaving downtown.

It was a nice night.  I am glad I didn't cancel when I didn't feel like going.
Our dining room light fixture is not working at all.  Flip the switch...nothing.

I asked the boys what happened.  Our house is only a year old.

Allegedly sparks were shooting out of the fixture.  I asked if it was possible that all of the bulbs were burned out.  I wanted to try it before I call the builder.

No, there were sparks.  Middle Boy is POSITIVE.

I took apart the fixture (now I am being ridiculous) and changed the bulbs. works!

I am relatively certain there were never sparks.  Maybe one of the bulbs blew, but there were no sparks.

Again...I never believer anyone.
Tonight is therapy for Middle Boy. 

He doesn't like working on therapy homework.  It is HARD.  He doesn't like to think about things in his past and why he might be as angry as he is.  He would rather avoid it.

So...this afternoon after school Middle Boy cleaned our kitchen until it was SPOTLESS.  Cleaned out the cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator.

He must have been REALLY BORED.

He is still going to have to do the therapy homework, but he avoided it for today.
Yesterday I thought I was exhausted.  Yesterday was nothing compared to today.
After the lighter incident the whole remainder of the evening was kind of a downhill slide for Younger Boy.

When he is on a downhill slide he is the kind of kid who has to hit the bottom before he can turn it around and even then he needs to wallow at the bottom for a while sometimes.

He was basically throwing a toddler-like temper tantrum for the remainder of the evening.

He didn't like what we were having for dinner so he just threw his away and stood in the pantry talking about how no one loves him enough to make food for him that he likes.  Doesn't matter that just last week he said this was his "favorite meal ever".

He couldn't find the right kind of pen to do his homework.  He didn't have the right kind of paper.

Someone must have taken things out of his backpack.

Finally...I just put an end to it and had him take a shower and head for bed.

I sat in his room with him until he fell asleep.

Praying tomorrow is a better day.
After school today the boys were playing basketball out on the driveway.

Younger Boy went up for a shot and a lighter flew out of his pocket.  Middle Boy asked him what it was and he said, "a pen".  Middle Boy brought it in to me.

Here is how the discussion went:

Where did you get the lighter?

A friend dropped it in my pocket when I wasn't looking.

What is your friend's name?  I would like to call their parents and the school since they shouldn't have a lighter at school.

You can't call them.  They are moving tonight.

That's okay.  Most people transfer their phone number with them when they move.

I don't know his last name.

That's okay.  Just give me his first name I can probably figure it out.

I don't know his first name.

I thought he was your friend.

He is, but I don't know his name.

Do you know what he looks like?


Then tomorrow I will go to school with you and you can point him out.  Then I can just find out his name from the teacher.

I found the lighter in the parking lot.

I thought a friend dropped it in your pocket.

Why doesn't anyone ever believe me?

End of conversation, because then there was crying and screaming and slamming.

Why doesn't anyone ever believe you?  Hmmm....I wonder.