Tuesday, November 28, 2006

more thanksgiving photos

if you are interested in more photos, please visit the qualter's blog (jen this is especially for you.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


paulette celebrated thanksgiving with a personalized cornish game hen, a sweet potato, and a personalized size pie. she had to prepare it. but she was able to have some meat. we are sure she didn't relish it the way the kids who had been out for 5 weeks did, but we hear she was pretty happy.

we had a gathering a friends who happen to be foodies. we had an AMAZING thanksgiving with mindblowing food.

fresh organic brined turkey
mushroom stuffing
spectacular gravy
home made rolls
pineapple souffle
mashed potatoes
green bean in tarragon
salad greens from the garden
cranberry sauce

it was yummy...
berry pie
apple pie
pumpkin pie

the chefs

the food

the hedonists

the thankfulness

Saturday, November 25, 2006

week one of anasazi

paulette has been "on the trail" now for 1 week. when she left the headquarters she was given her first weeks ration of foods which included:
  • lg ziplock 3/4 full of lentils
  • lg ziplock 3/4 full of macaroni
  • lg ziplock 3/4 full of oats
  • lg ziplock 3/4 full of brown rice
  • small ziplock with 2 fingers worth of salt
  • small ziplock with 2 fingers worth of baking soda (for brushing teeth or cooking
  • powdered milk
she makes all of her meals over an open fire in a tin cooking cup. she has to start all of her fires without matches using sticks and wood she finds.

over time she may earn the opportunity to have a knife, but right now she is not allowed to.

i talked to her "shadow" today. (shadow = therapist in the language of anasazi) she decided not to write us letters this week. we are totally disappointed. we learned that she did a good job rationing her food and even had a little left over. apparently this last week was not very physically demanding and so "she has no idea what is in store for her."

she has made friends with a 17-year-old who is near the end of her walk (means that she is nearly done with the program). this other young walker is teaching her how to cook her own food, ration, find water, make a nice bed, etc. she is apparently getting along with everyone. we are a bit worried that the experience will only hit her surface and won't sink all the way in. i hope we are wrong.

we have weekly conference calls with her shadow. each call is about an hour or so. this is a good time for us to work through our own issues and try to figure out how we can help her too. the stuff we are learning from anasazi digs really deep and makes you really think about how you react and why. the main premise of the concept is that as humans we find it often easier to live in self-betrayal than in honesty. we betray ourselves when we think or feel to behave kindly or selflessly but then decide not to. in order to justify our not behaving well be find ways to blame the other person for our bad behaviour.

the example they use is:
the baby wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and you are woken up. you notice your spouse is fast asleep. you feel like you should go get the baby and comfort her but instead you decide to fake sleep and wait for your spouse. as you wait you start to feel guilty. instead of letting that guilt motivate you to get out of bed and help the baby, you start thinking ill thoughts of your spouse. "oh he is probably just feigning sleep. he never gets up with her and i always have to. and plus i am always the one that feeds her and does he even understand how many loads of laundry i do in a day. he never even says anything..." and then we betray ourselves. you are not really made at our husband for not getting up and all these other things, you are mad at yourself.

there are a number of really good books written about this. and if you feel inclined i HIGHLY recommend them.
leadership and self-deception
bonds that make us free
the anatomy of peace

lindsay and i both wrote paulette letters this week that are delivered to her on tuesday, every tuesday. we are supposed to write explaining what we are learning and what we want to change in our relationship with her. it is tricky. we also wrote a letter to her shadow all about the best things about paulette and what we hope she will become etc. it was pretty cool to do. but man, this self-exploration is exhausting.

i think we are in a real catharsis moment. lindsay and i spent the weekend cleaning. my room has never been cleaner or more organized. lindsay is a master organizer and we have just buzzed through the house cleaning and getting rid of junk. i think it is a way for us to take control back. we have thrown a ton of stuff out. catharsis is good. it is always really messy when you start but then it is SO much better than it was. i know it is the same emotionally. you just have to trust the processes and you have to let your self get messy and all messed up before you can get it all back together.

untitled post

Monday, November 20, 2006

will it rain on paulette?

this is a question that has been on my mind alot! i have this picture in my head of a rainstorm rolling in and paulette refusing to make her shelter because she is tired. she ends up getting soaked and not sleeping. she curses the rain, and God for sending the rain. all of her stuff is wet and she wants to blame someone but there is no one to blame. maybe she could blame God. she has to hike is wet yucky clothes the next day and carry a heavier pack because it is wet. she gets thirsty and drinks water from a creek that is flowing a bit more robustly. she is grateful for the water. and nature teaches her a leason about the power of her agency. if she would have just done what she knew needed to be done she would be dry. it is her responsibility and she is the only one to blame.

because this has been going through my mind i am perceverating about it raining while paulette is out there. i just spent some time combing the web for some predictions and found out that dec. and jan are the 2nd wettest months of the year (summer monsoon - some of july, all of aug, some sept are the wettest).

she is hiking in the light green part of arizona

Friday, November 17, 2006

the making of a young walker

on our way to the airport...before the torrential rain

saying goodbye to our bestest fRauntie D!

waiting anxiously to get on our plane
you can tell it is raining. but the ground stop hadn't gone into effect yet.
the real rain was yet to come.

after about 1.5 hours we had to run out on the tarmack
to catch our flight. we shared a huge umbrella
the wind and rain were too much. they soaked us all the way through.

after we arrived in cinncinati and realized we had made our flight
we remembered that we needed to fatten her up.

the flight was pretty uneventful. lindsay slept. i cleaned up my wallet.
i am not sure what paulette did. we weren't sitting by each other

jennifer, bobbi, and mark thankfully came late to the airport for a reunion.
i wish i could report a happy reunion but it was actually kinda ackward.
the moment jen saw paulette she ran and skipped to her as fast as she could
paulette just stood there with her arms folded and hip out.
jen hugged lindsay first, then me, then paulette.
it was hard to watch. their relationship will definately need some healing time

it was tough to get a photo of the 2 of them at first.

eventually they started warming up

speak no evil

our luggage didn't come so we had some running around to do
the girls left with bobbi and mark to find ice cream
then they all came back to bekki and tyler's (where we are staying)
and we got to hang out for a bit.
lindsay and i were exhausted. i am sure we were not the best company.

as we drove to anasazi in rush hour traffic paulette kept saying: it is so peaceful here.
we had been filling her full of water to make her be able to weigh-in. we were mistaken because she didn't see the nurse for a couple of hours. poor thing. at least she started the trail hydrated.

we pulled up and a woman, natalie about 23 yrs-old, was standing there.
she said "are you kimberly or lindsay"
i am kimberly
"hi, kimberly. and you must be lindsay: hello"
opening the car door: "you must be paulette"
we step out of the car and natalie says
"take as much time here as you need. say your good-byes and any final words.
as soon as you are done, paulette will go up these stairs and get ready for the trail.
you will go in that door and finialize her admission."

last minute hydration
the last licorice mint tea she will have for a long long time

saying good-bye

we had a pretty ackward, lecturey type good-bye.

our last view of her.
at least you can tell she is in good hands!

Weighing in

Kimberly just posted about all the near misses we've had on our trip to Arizona. Though we finally made it, we're not entirely out of the woods. The last requirement: weight.

In order to participate in Anasazi's program, Paulette needs to be at least 5 feet tall (check--she's 5'1''), and weigh at least 100 pounds. (She's going to carry a 35-pound pack on her back for 8 weeks). Over the last two weeks, we've weighed her at least three times, and found her weight fluctuating between 90 and 95. We rounded up on the application.

In a desperate effort to get her to gain the needed pounds, Kimberly and I have been on a mission to force-feed this girl as many empty calories as we can. It's been a little tricky since she hasn't been staying at our house over the last week, and, therefore, we can't control her diet. We have, however, given it the old Cougar try:
  • Monday. Haagen Dazs (sp?) ice cream + hazelnut white chocolate bar + Five Guys hamburger (two patties) and fries + two scoops Ben & Jerry's Cookies and Cream ice cream in a sugar cone. That was all after lunch, and before dinner. We sent her home with Chubby Hubby Ben and Jerry's with the command to eat it all so we could give her another pint.
  • Tuesday. Clif Bar + Protein Builder's Bar + Luna Bar. In addition to three full meals, of course.
  • Wednesday. Clif Bar + Protein Builder's Bar. Meals counted separate.
  • Thursday. Tuna Sandwich loaded with Mayo + Cream Cheese and Crackers + Pasta dripping in Olive Oil sauce + salad drenched in dressing + Whole Milk Steamer with Toffee flavor + Soda (3) + McFlurry. I regret that we never gave her a Cinnabon, the obvious choice. Too stressful.
  • Friday (today). We have only one meal to work with, since we take her at 8:30 am. Oatmeal + Water. And lots of it.
We report to Anasazi in about 45 minutes. I hope this works....

near misses

this entire process has been one near miss after another. i have no idea what the meaning behind it all is, but the forces seem to be simultaneously for and against us.

yesterday at 5:30pm we are asked to postpone our trip due to some administrative issues concerning the church paying for anasazi. lindsay and i both flipped out. at 9:30 last night we found that the following appeal worked to allow us to come now:
  1. Where is she going to stay. Her stay at the temporary group home ends tomorrow. Tonight is the last night she can stay there. It is not safe for her to be in our house as she has run away, been truant, (edited for paulette's privacy), while in our care. We are not able to provide for her the supervision that she needs.
  2. School. Paulette is on a 1-week school break beginning Monday through Friday (20-24 Novemeber) because of Thanksgiving. This means that she will have no place to go where she is supervised during the day.
  3. Thanksgiving. Kimberly and I have made plans for the holiday. We are emotionally drained, and need some time to recuperate and to spend time with family and friends to recharge our batteries. Delaying one week, would actually mean that we would need to travel on Thanskgiving day to enroll her the following day (they take admissions only on Fridays).
  4. Work/Jobs. This has been a huge drain on our jobs. We have missed over 80 hours of work in the past month. Since we have already alerted our employers about the necessary time off tomorrow and Friday, we fear that changing things now will only irk them further and may jeopordize Kimberly's employment.
then, today we arrived at the airport with plenty of time. we were in good shape. lindsay and i were both upgraded on the long flight. paulette seemed okay. then, 10 minutes before we were to board our plane there was a total and indefinite ground stop due to torrential storms. our layover in cincinnati was to be 50 minutes long. it didn't take long, about 50 minutes, for us to realize that we had missed our connection. we were conflicted: do we fly through cincinnati or atlanta? as we were wrestling with the decision they boarded our plane. the connection we new we were missing was the last flight out of cincinnati. as the flow of travelers moved towards the plane we were swept up. once seated we realized we never really considered what we should do, but the doors were shut. i ask God to make the plane we were connecting on in cincinnati have a mechanical problem so it would still be there when we arrived and we could catch that plane to phoenix.

40 minutes after our connection was due to depart we arrived. we walked out of terminal c onto the bus to terminal b, which left the moment we got on. once at terminal b, i ran like a bat out of somewhere to check on the status of our connection; the tv screen said it was boarding. the sign above the gate said that the flight to phoenix was leaving at 7:20 (it was supposed to have left at 4:40).

"does this mean i didn't miss my connection to phoenix?"
placidly, "sure does."
"WOW! that is awesome. can i ask why?"
"massive mechanical problems. the other plane was in no condition to fly. we are getting a plane from seattle to take yall to phoenix"

needless to say, i was kinda freaked out.

i had been really worried that paulette wouldn't see jen. that i wouldn't get to eat costa vida. and that i would not be able to keep my upgrade into first class. it all worked out, but not without some serious stress.

our bags didn't make it though.

the good thing is, we are here and anasazi starts tomorrow. i really really hope this works!

i will add pictures later, but all of my cords to get the photos off my camera are in my checked baggage which i should get tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

inching closer to resolution

tomorrow we leave for arizona. paulette is, miraculously, being admitted to anasazi. she had nearly worn out her welcome at the group home -- we were called monday night telling us that they were about to kick her out for bad and disrespectful behaviour. her therapist was convinced that she was picking up some really bad behaviour from the other residents. in reality it is the same stuff that happens here: disrespect, defiance, entitlement, anger, etc. we are very excited about this opportunity for her. we were really at our wits end wondering what we could do with her. our home was far too unstructured. police officers, therapists, psychologist, psychiatrists, all indicate that what paulette needs is intensive, theraputic, around-the-clock intervention. there is no family enviroment that can provide the amount of structure and type of intervention needed to save her from her poor judgement.

paulette will be at anasazi for eight weeks. she takes absolutely nothing with her. they outfit her with basics. she will make her own backpack. live off the land. make fire without matches. have therapy regularly. and be out of DC and in nature. we are hopeful that this will allow her to deal with her baggage and start the process of recovery.

she is excited to go. i think she really does want help. she wants to be better. she wants to be happy. she really just can't figure out how to do it right now. and she is inundated with so many horrible influences that it is really difficult.

from the anasazi website :
The Young Walkers learn by themselves to trust, to grow and to challenge old thoughts and behavior. This is done in the most supportive, safe and unrelenting environment -- nature. Nature demands the best -- it cannot be manipulated, it continues in its scheduled course regardless of the behaviors of the youth. Nature simply requires compliance and wise decisions. The adolescent has no one to blame or challenge but her self.
we feel like this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

she will write us one letter once a week and we reciprocate. she will have no other outside communication. we will post the letters on this blog. (we may edit out some information.) you are welcome to respond to her in the comments part of this blog. we plan to have her read all of the comments once she returns.

this saturday, lindsay and i will enjoy a 12 hour seminar on the philosophy of the program. much of the philosophy is captured in terry warner's bonds that make us free. lindsay and i have both read the book and found it really helpful. we recommend it! frankly, i think this seminar comes at a good time for us. we are both spent and in need of some perspective.

while she is at anasazi, lindsay and i will try to pick up the pieces of neglected work and a dissolved social life and get our bodies back in shape. we will also continue the search for paulette's family. hopefully the healing she will experience at anasazi will make her less intimidating to families and make us more comfortable allowing her to be added to a family.

this is not without its fall backs. one, it is really expensive. our Church has offered to pay for it out of the fast offering. in the mormon church, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on the first sunday of the month usually. when we fast we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, pray more, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. the offering is at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. anasazi is a LOT of lunch time hotdogs. (think $20k)

if you are inclined to help paulette out financially, this might be a good time to do it. you can make a donation to our congregation and include a note that it is for paulette and it will go towards this treatment program. if you are so inclined, please feel free to email us at raisingdc@gmail.com and we will give you the mailing address and instructions. the good news is this will be tax deductible.

our plan for now is, in january, when she is done, lindsay and i will go back to arizona and spend 3 days with paulette "on the trail". if we all survive, we will spend a few more days in arizona. paulette will hang out with jennifer and we will do something for lindsay's 30th b-day. then paulette will return to our house. she will live with us for a few months while we observe her behaviour to ensure that sustainable change has occurred. hopefully by this time a family will present itself. if not, we will probably turn her over to the district foster care system. we have learned more about the system and learned that there are some really good placements for kids with issues like paulette's.

we are excited and a bit nervous. so much hinges on the next few weeks. it is all in paulette's control. the outcome of all of this will be based on paulette's decision making. it is a bit scary, i really hope this works!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

election day

today is election day and many of you will be able to cast votes that really matter. we here in the district of columbia get to vote for a figurehead mayor and a city council that aren't able to control our taxes or really the distribution of our district budget; that is done by a special committee of the house made up of NO ONE that lives in this city. even still, raisingdc is endorsing will cobb for ward 6 council member. he is not establishment or beholden to the democrats. he also hasn't been "reforming dc government for 20 years". seriously, we have no idea why that guy would put that in the electoral briefing book. dc is not doing too well under your care mr. wells. plus, cobb supports community oriented policing (a regular soap box of mine), improvement of the dc school system and expansion of charter schools. he seems to have more of a concrete plan than wells. anyway...

today matters for all of us.

for raisingdc, it really matters. it will affect our jobs. but more importantly, it will directly affect the lives of jennifer and paulette...or at least the rest of the kids that still live at hopkins. so much of what jennifer and paulette have suffered is due to the dysfunction within our society. their fragment of OUR society is so marginalized that our worlds seem completely different. But we live in the same city. they are americans. i can't help but feel like we, the wonks and the voters, failed them. we owe it to these kids to TRY to make this different. and i can't help but think that this population is marginalized because it is hard to fix, and it is much easier to just believe they are bad, rather than that they are sick and abandoned. psychically it is much easier to absolve ourselves of our responsibility and believe that poverty happens because people are bad rather than we failed them. frankly, i believe that paulette is a representative of this entire population. in her, we can see how many ways we've failed. for years this part of all of us was told they were subhuman, unworthy, bad, lazy, dumb. too many really believe this. and it will take a TON of holding therapy to get this portion of society back to where it can function.

the raisingdc homestead is 5 blocks from where paulette and jennifer grew up. their household lived on $678/mo. blocks away we live extremely comfortably on well over $100k (our combined incomes). fear, transactional sex, drugs, violence, rodents, filth, disrespect, defiance are the norm at the housing project they grew up in. fire alarms would go off in the middle of the night for hours, for no reason. men would bust into the girls home and chase them (supposedly never touching them...) they had environmental induced asthma, which cured itself within 10 days of their staying here.

i am not sure what government could do to help these kids, but drastic reforms are needed. it is ridiculous to me that we spend on average $23,542 per year per inmate in prison (according to the federal bureau of prisons) and this family of three was living on just over $8k a year. with poverty being the most powerful predictor of juvenile delinquency and victimization, why not place that investment in preventative measures? fix the schools in the inner cities. provide housing that did not become the petrie dish to the most base of sociology.

after spending 2 hours in a family therapy session, and yet another workless day trying to figure out how to help paulette over come this muck, there is part of me that just hopes that freedom can run though all americans. that we can ALL somehow become freer to enjoy safety and security; have access to health care and education; and that all of us can be viewed as american and as equals and brothers and sisters in a human family. my socioeconomic status was not created by my righteousness/wickedness, or even the righteousness/wickedness of my fathers.

the number of poor people in america is on the rise. but even more dramatic, is that the demographic is changing: they're kids. approximately one-fourth of all children in america are living in poverty. and if he preset trends continue, the figure will reach and appalling one-third within 10 years. and we are the wealthiest of all nations?

a professor at byu that i have grown to love (and lindsay loved as a student) postulated that "perhaps the central moral problem of our time is primarily economic or materialistic, involving behaviour that is more often than not perfectly legal and socially acceptable." he went on to say that " a major point from the parable of the widow’s mite seems to be that moral judgment over the use of money is based not on how much we give, but on how much we keep for ourselves...it is no longer possible to think or even pretend that material acquisitiveness can be morally neutral. never before has it been so clear that the earth's capacity to sustain life is limited. never before did humankind realize that a high standard of living must be purchased at the cost of depletion of finite resources and pollution of a fragile environment."

please vote. we did. look how happy it made us.

Friday, November 03, 2006

when push comes to shove

so, we are at our wits end. we are not sure what to do with paulette. it is clear that our house is not as structured as she needs. she will be getting more extensive therapy the next few weeks and possibly entering one of these anasazi-type programs.

it is amazing how many families have seriously considered making paulette a part of their family, but when they hear the extent of he behaviour problems they feel like it might not be the best thing. we hold out hope that there is a family out there that is right for her (and where she is right for them) but that hope fades.

because we are at such a loss for a long-term option for her. and dealing with fading hope, we are fasting this sunday on paulette's behalf. we will offer prayers focused on finding paulette a place to live long-term, find a solution for her troubling behaviour, and that she may know we all love her. i really really really hope this helps.

lindsay told paulette about the fast this morning as she took paulette to school. apparently sasha bruce (the place she is staying) is having a horrible impact on her language. she sounds super ghetto these days. she apparently was "talking smack" for quite a bit, then lindsay explained the special congregation-wide fast to her and she fell silent. i am sure that it really struck her that this is happening.

so we invite all of you who read this board and feel inclined to please join us in fasting this sunday. us mormons do this fasting thing regularly: once a month for 24 hours. but you don't have to do that...unless of course you want.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Long time, no write.

As most of you probably know by now, silence on raising dc's website does not necessarily mean silence in raising dc. I wish that were the case. The last three weeks have witnessed some pretty serious and sensitive developments. We always struggle with striking the right balance between what information to share online—in this quasi-public forum—and what to keep to word of mouth, or to ourselves.

Since Jennifer moved to Arizona, you've read and seen pictures of her progress. We are amazed and thrilled to see what is happening there. Her new family reports how helpful she is, and that she has embraced the role of big sister. We talk to her several times a week and she really does sound like she is blossoming. From her new look (see link to eyebrows post) and her new language (I've heard the word "heck" out of her at least twice), she has enthusiastically thrown herself into this new world. It's not that she's not sad, or that she doesn't miss her family—most of all her sister—and her friends. She does. But when she gets sad, she's turning to her new parents and siblings to comfort her, and that seems to be just as it should be. Even when we tell her that we miss her and ask her if she wants to come back, she says 'no.' Arizona is where she wants to be.

Back in DC, we are struggling with a different problem. Since Jennifer left, Paulette has experienced at least two of the stages of grief we expected: sadness, and anger. For the first three weeks after Jen left, Paulette was unusually clingy and tender, and visibly sad. She would sleep in Jen's bed, for example, or listen to Jen's favorite cd of primary songs as she was falling asleep. This seemed, at the time, to be a pretty important breakthrough. (Usually, when she feels sad, or vulnerable, or lonely, she expresses it as anger instead.)

Unfortunately, the anger is back with a vengence. And so is the disrespect, dishonesty, and occasional explosive violence that marked her behavior during the first few months she lived with us (and, as we have come to learn, that has marked her behavior for years). Three Fridays ago, she took two extra hours to come home from her piano lesson, with some cockamamie story about where she had been in the meantime. Two Fridays ago, she bit me. Last Friday, she didn't come home at all.

Worried and frantic, Kimberly called the police to file a missing person's report—the second time we've had to do this in two and a half months. Paulette eventually showed up at her piano teacher's house while the police were at ours, and the police officer brought her back to the house. It would be an understatement to say she wasn't exactly repentant. Fortunately, the police officer remembered her from when she responded to a call at their old house. She says that she remembered Paulette being the "mom" of the family. The officer said that she was going to be a constant presence in Paulette's life. YEAH!!!!!

Since then, Kimberly and I have spent countless hours trying to figure out how to get Paulette the help that she needs. It's clear that the current situation isn't helping her—something we'd come to realize days before. What we know is that Paulette needs a major therapeutic intervention—a combination of medication, therapy, residential treatment, and an environment that is structured and contained enough to keep her safe. She also needs a change of heart, something all the doctors, therapy, and medications in the world can't provide.

Unfortunately, we are realizing how few options are available. Preventive mental health care in this city is atrocious. Unless a kid is suicidal, homicidal, or in the juvenile justice system, there aren't a lot of options for care.

Yesterday, we admitted her into a two-week therapeutic group home (called "respite care"). It will be a needed break for us, and hopefully a wake-up call for her. During that time, we'll amp up her therapy, and start her on some meds (something the doctor suggested months ago, but we had been reluctant to do for the obvious reasons).

Our hope (pipe dream?) is that somehow, we'll be able to find a way for Paulette to participate in an Anasazi-type program that would serve as a bridge between where she is now and where we hope she will eventually end up—with a loving family. We vacillate between being hopeful that this will work out, and certain that it won't.